Next year I am getting a flu shot

Oriental two-minute noodles!
In my flu-addled state
I can’t tell if that’s racist
or just correct
and I don’t want to be racist
(even though I am very tired
because that’s only acceptable if you’re Collingwood
and I’m Sydney
since 1996
until they repeal the No Dickheads policy
or I die
whichever is last)

but I do like to be correct
and it does say “oriental” on the packet
so I guess I’ll go with it
and let Maggi take the rap

Oriental two-minute noodles!
You take longer than two minutes to cook
and you’ve changed the instructions
I swear the packet used to tell me
to boil up the noodles
and then add the flavour sachet
and then drain off the broth
I mean–
what’s the point of that?
Which explains why you changed the instructions
I guess

I have evolved too
I used to add tinned peas
now I add frozen peas
it’s cheaper
and produces less waste

Oriental two-minute noodles!
I used to enjoy you
for breakfast before primary school
for lunch at uni
and now
for dinner
when I have the flu
which is now

Oriental two-minute noodles!
I have a confession
I have been cheating on you
with Fusian soy and mild spice
they’re not the same
but they’re all that Coles Wingham had
I have the flu
and couldn’t make it to Taree
especially after I accidentally went to Vinnies
and accidentally bought some ankle boots
they’re nice
I like them a lot
but they couldn’t get me to Taree

maybe next week
if I’m feeling better
did I mention
I have the flu?

Chlorine risotto

I like risotto. It’s a good way to use up vegetables and it’s tasty. I do have to stand there stirring all evening, but as our kitchen, dining room and bedroom are all the same room and it’s cold and wet outside, this is not currently a hardship.

Today’s risotto featured the following:

  • the green bits of a leek and some of the whiter bits (did you know you can plant the rooty bit of a leek and have it grow? I didn’t either until I tried it)
  • one red capsicum
  • one yellow bullhorn pepper
  • some sundried tomatoes
  • about two cups of leftover onion ‘n’ garlic soup masquerading as pumpkin(*)
  • various stock
  • some chopped up calabrese salami for protein
  • and the last of my cooking wine.

I cooked it as usual, more or less (I don’t usually use leftover soup so I had to improvise a bit) and it risotto’d up nicely – the vegetables went all nice and soft and the rice went all creamy and starchy, and it turned out particularly well.

Except… every time I bit into a piece of salami, my nose exploded as if I was back at the Warringah Aquatic Centre the day I didn’t have my post-swim shower quickly enough and came out in a rash.(**) We both ended up very politely and tastefully picking out the salami and not eating it, which will be a nice bonus for the chickens, assuming they don’t mind chlorine.

I have no idea what might have caused it. I had a look at the ingredients list and the most exotic thing on it was sodium ascorbate. Maybe leeks react oddly with salami? Perhaps there was a critical garlic mass? Maybe “intended to be served uncooked” means “for god’s sake don’t put any heat to it”? I don’t know. But the rest of the salami has been set aside for scientific enquiry.

(*) I put too much french onion soup base and roasted garlic in the soup when I made it for lunch yesterday. Note to self: butternut pumpkin soup requires two ingredients aside from water, and the other one is salt.

(**) This was over 25 years ago and I’m sure they have changed their ways since then.


Forgot I had a blog…

The bridge is back, incidentally. I didn’t get to go to Melbourne, and apart from the acute disappointment at the time, I spent the next few weeks thinking “why didn’t I get [ginger drink | more spices | Lush soap | a better lens | etc] while I was in Melbourne? Oh yes, because I didn’t go to Melbourne. Sad face”.

But I did get to go to Port Macquarie, so it wasn’t a complete loss. And the Car Park Deli(*) sells ginger drink, so I just have to remember to pick it up off the shelf next time I go in there, which is not as easy as you might think considering I haven’t managed to do it yet.

And I won a set of Red coasters because the bridge wasn’t there (it’s slightly more complicated than that), which makes it even less of a loss.

Hopefully I’m going to manage to update a bit more frequently now. Given that all the comments I receive are spam, I think the main victim will be myself, but still! We can only hope.

(*) This is a real thing. There is also a Car Park Doctor; I went there once because I forgot prescriptions expire after a year, had to wait for 90 minutes to see a surly doctor who knew more about my health than I did, and was bulk-billed to compensate for the wait. I have a different doctor now.

A bit of a whinge

We’re still cut off, as you’d expect, with the bridges being underwater and sideways and all. Council estimates a week. This does not help me get to Melbourne.

One of our neighbours is on the other side with her car, so we might be able to get a lift into town on Saturday if we can cross the raging Caparra Creek, but I only have enough Lexies to last me until next Thursday, so I emailed the council to see how I could get some more, who told me to ring the SES. They told me three times, in fact, which is excellent (I am not actually being sarcastic here)

So I called the SES. Continue reading

Cut off!

This may be the last picture of the intact Granny Fahey bridge ever taken. I stopped on the way home on Friday (when only about 60mm had fallen) and took a few photos for my Project 365, which is rapidly growing into a Project 1000.

The old Granny Fahey bridge, from the Wingham side.

In happier days…

This is what it looked like on Tuesday when I attempted to go to the shops:

The Granny Fahey bridge, on its side and underwater

“Proceed with caution.”

But Caparra Road is not a dead-end! Maybe the reports were wrong and we might be able to get out the other way?

The Goldsmith bridge on Caparra Rd, washed about 20m downstream. The flood marker is on its side in the foreground

Floods in Australia sometimes happen sideways.

Maybe not.

The SES helicopter has been over a couple of times – council staff are touring the affected areas, and people need food and medicine. Apparently we’re the priority when it comes to fixing the recent storm damage, which is nice to know, but doesn’t change the fact that it’s going to take at least a week for a temporary bridge to be installed.

Stay tuned for more thrilling details!

Inundated (again)

So on the last weekend of February(*) the heavens opened and Sub-Sub-Tropical Storm WTF rained down upon us. Port Macquarie disappeared beneath the waves and here at Nerdhaven we had 150mm of rain in one day

“Surely this won’t happen again,” we said.

“I’ll do the washing on Friday,” I said. “And I won’t fill up the empty gas bottle or get layer pellets for the chickens, because I can do that on Saturday when I go to the farmers’ market.”

So on Friday we had the entire average rainfall for March.(+)

Then on Saturday we had the average rainfall for March, again. Roads were closed. Bridges were underwater. Goats were cranky. Dogs were pitiful. Taree disappeared beneath the waves. The farmers’ market at Wingham may or may not have gone ahead; I decided it was best not to tempt fate, which was a good thing on account of all the closed roads and underwater bridges.

On Sunday the clouds were tired and we only had half the average rainfall for March. The flatmate dug a drain behind our camp so we don’t have water flowing under our back step any more. I brought in the lid from our rain barrel, so we can stand somewhere dry while we take off our gumboots. The dog has been clearing the mud from the outdoor area by tracking it into the caravan, because he likes to help out where he can.

At least the washing is now on the line. It has been on the line since this morning, when there was a random patch of blue sky and I was so surprised I said some very rude words (don’t tell my parents). And the rain keeps on coming, so it will probably be on the line until this time next week, unless we get the entire mean rainfall for March next Friday as well. But with any luck I’ll be in Melbourne then, and it never rains there.

(*) It’s a testament to how much I love my football that my fingers automatically typed “September” there…

(+) Mean rainfall 140mm, median rainfall 124mm. (We were closer to the mean rainfall – 139mm, 142mm, 60mm.) We’re right in the middle of the wet season now; it’ll keep raining until June and then stop until November, and we’ll look back fondly on these times and shed a single tear, while leaning carefully over the rain barrel so as not to waste water.

[**] Why do all the spammers love this post? In any case I’m sick of moderating all the spam so I’ve turned comments off. Sorry, hypothetical legitimate commenters! Please feel free to comment anywhere else. :)


I went to the RTA today, because I’ve been living in NSW for ever so slightly under three months, no more than that, please don’t fine me.

“I don’t know the first issue date of my Victorian licence,” I said.

“Just make something up,” she said.(*)

So I did. And it went through the system. Note to people getting their Victorian licences converted to NSW ones: make up a first issue date and then you won’t have to pay $8.50 for the letter! But don’t tell the RTA!

For eye tests they have a cunning setup where you look into a mirror suspended above the desk and the RTA person opens a cupboard under the desk and the eye chart is reflected in the mirror. It’s really cool. I want one to go with my box of lenses.

“Can you read the fifth line from the top?” she asked.

“I can read the bottom line!” I said.

“That’s the same as the fifth line from the top,” she said, shattering my illusions. But I read it anyway and was rewarded with the removal of the S of shame from my licence. (Not the S of my middle name, though.)

Another note for people getting their NSW licence: as with passports you’re not allowed to smile in your photo. Knowing this will make you want to smile when they take your photo. Also, you can’t have floppy emo hair or anything in your face (although heavy-duty concealer to hide dark circles appears to be OK). Unlike a passport, if you make a mistake on your form you don’t have to go and stand in the naughty corner while you think about what you’ve done.

So now I have a shiny piece of plastic with my current address on! Now I can join one of these new-fangled video libraries. I think there’s still one in Wingham.


(*) Actually she said “do you know approximately when it was? Just put down the month and year”, and then she said “put the 8th for the date, go on”. Don’t tell the RTA.

I am a miracle of modern science

So last week I went to get my eyes tested, since it’s been three years since the last time. I’ve had glasses since approximately age 4 (this is what happens when you start teaching your children to read before they can talk) and I’ve always loved getting my eyes tested. I want to go to an optometrist’s closing down sale and get an eye testing machine of my own, or at least one of those cool boxes full of lenses. (If you’ve never had your eyes tested you are seriously missing out.)

The optometrist’s assistant sat me down in front of this machine that looked a bit like a printer and made lovely futuristic noises, and balloons suddenly appeared before my eyes as I peered through the viewfinder.

“Is that it?” I thought, disappointed. But it was just a preliminary thing to give the optometrist an idea of what my eyes were like. Of course she could have just looked at my prescription, but that’s not nearly as futuristic and involves many fewer balloons.

I went into the room with all the cool machines and sat down in the comfy chair and read various lines on the eye chart (and might I say they could do with a better font, it was hard enough to distinguish P and F even when I could see the line clearly), and went over to the other machine so I could have air blown in my eyes (twice, because I’m a flincher), and then came my very favourite part of the eye test – the bit where you have to look at the optometrist’s ear while she shines a bright light in your face and you can see all the little veins in your cornea.

This time the optometrist looked worried.

“You have a big ulcer on your cornea,” she said. I’d had an optometrist notice this before so it wasn’t a shock.

“The cornea has the largest concentration of nerve endings in the body,” she continued.

This is also good information to have.

“You really ought to be screaming in agony right now.”

I guess I could try?

So some incident in the past that I can’t recall has given me an active ulcerated scar on my cornea, about 5-7mm across, a sort of oval shape, just below the pigmentation line and out of my field of vision. You can see it if you look closely, and if I could get my macro lens to cooperate, I could take a decent picture. And the size of it means I should be in extreme agony. The words “vomiting from pain” and “verge of hospitalisation” were used. Sadly this has not got me out of a single night’s washing up duty.

On the bright side (well, semi-bright side, since it’s going to cost) my weaker eye has improved to the point where it’s on par with my good eye, although there’s a bit of astigmatism so it’s still my less good eye. I’ve been getting around without my glasses on quite frequently (when I don’t need to drive a car, anyway; I’m short-sighted so I don’t need them for reading, and my camera has auto-focus) and my inner 14-year-old wants all the cheap $2-store sunglasses that I could never wear when I was an outer 14-year-old. Enormous polarised mirror wraparound cat’s-eye sunnies, here I come!

35-70mm macro lens

I love op shops.

In January I wandered into my local Vinnies (actually my local Vinnies is in Wingham; this was the Taree one. But close enough) and idly perused the front display cabinet, to see (among other things) a camera case. “Ooh! I need a camera case,” I thought. And this one had the enticing words “Canon EOS” and “Working”, not to mention “$10″.

So I had a look.

The EOS in question was a film camera with a 35-70mm lens on it, which looked like it would fit my beloved EOS 600D. Fortunately I carry my camera around almost everywhere with me, and the lovely Vinnies staff were quite happy for me to try out the new lens. It fit, but there was some kind of issue with the connection, so they knocked $2 off the price and said I could bring it back if it didn’t work. Did I mention I love op shops?

I cleaned the connections about 100 times (estimated) with isopropyl alcohol and an eraser, and managed to get it working at the widest aperture. I could then increase the aperture value, except for the random occasions when the camera would chuck a hissy and refuse to recognise it.

Then one day I looked through the viewfinder and everything was very dark. Unfortunately I was out in nature at the time and didn’t have another lens (I don’t have a proper camera bag and I’ve spent the past few months with only one working lens anyway, so I’m not used to carrying a lot of kit). Back at home I investigated and found the aperture blades were stuck on what I estimate to be about f/22. Judicious whacking and use of the depth of field preview didn’t help (and the camera sooked out when I tried using anything other than the widest possible aperture anyway) so I put the lens aside to be used only in very bright conditions.

Then I discovered that on some lenses you can remove the front element and get a macro lens. This was relevant to my interests. I spent many fruitless hours trying to find a tutorial or at least a set of pictures for the 35-70mm, but all I could find was “here is a detailed description on how to take your 28-80mm lens apart, and btw it works for 35-70mm also”. So I dithered. And dithered. And then there came a day when I was in a bad mood and felt like taking things apart, so I took it apart. And shamefully I forgot to take photos of the process.*

But it worked!

The focal length is about an inch, which is really fun when you’re trying to sneak up on bees, and there’s no autofocus; apparently the front element has three lenses in it, and if you remove the outer two and put back the inner one then you can get autofocus, but I haven’t tried that. For now I’m having fun (for some values of “fun”) improving my manual focusing skills.

Here’s one I prepared earlier:

A picture of a plastic ruler taken with my macro lens.

I love my macro lens <3

I still don’t know if the film camera works…

(*) There’s a grub screw on the side; I’m not sure if it’s an actual screw and mine was stripped, or if it’s just a plug, but I ended up pushing mine into the lens body. This allowed me to unscrew the front plate. Then you have to do some other stuff that I can’t remember because I was in a bad mood and didn’t document it, and the lens surround doesn’t come out of the lens but it does pivot, and you then have to undo three screws and the front element will screw out and you can ease it past the pivotty bit if you’re careful. If you put it somewhere safe you can undo the process. Hope this helps!