Category Archives: And then melvan hastily ranted…

Public Transportation for Dummies

I need to get my rant on! All my previous public transportation rants have been aimed at the system. This one’s at the users. Funny how your perspective changes when you have insider information. Not that I don’t think the system still has problems – it certainly does, but some of the users just beggar belief.

  1. Be at the bus stop on time. Yeah, we all run late sometimes, but it’s how you handle being late more than the being late itself. If you’re running for the bus as it’s pulling up, and the bus stops for you, don’t then slow to a walk. The driver’s been nice enough to stop for you even though you aren’t technically AT the stop hailing the bus, so at least do him/her the courtesy of hurrying up (at least a brisk walk) so everyone else can get to where they’re going reasonably on time as well.
  2. Hail the bus. Come on, it’s not that hard to stick your arm out for a few seconds when you see your bus driving toward you. It avoids confusion all around if you just let the driver know you do actually want to catch the bus! Your driver is (probably) not psychic. Simply standing by the bus stop as the bus approaches does not constitute ‘hailing’ the bus. It just means you’re standing by a bus stop. Anybody can do that. And sitting on the bench talking on your phone just means you’re talking on your phone. How is the driver supposed to know you want to catch the bus if you just sit there? My own rule of thumb is to hail until I see the bus’s indicator start flashing. Only time you can get away with not hailing the bus? If you’re married to the bus driver and you’ve discussed earlier the potential for you and your kids to be out at a particular bus stop at that time. 😉 (But even then I think I still hail the bus, if only for Caleb’s sake because he’s still learning.)
  3. Have your ticket or money ready when you get on the bus. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to stand there at the driver’s seat digging through your handbag/pocket/wallet, counting out your money, realising you’re 10 cents short, and then go rummaging through another pocket for the rest of the change. Your bus driver is often trying desperately to keep to the timetable. Every second you stand there looking for your money or your ticket is another second you’re holding up everyone on the bus. And don’t try to pay the driver with a $50 note, because you just look like you’re trying to scam a free ride.
  4. Hang up your mobile phone when you’re purchasing your ticket and actually tell the driver which ticket you’re purchasing. Or you may just end up with the most expensive one on the list for failing to pay attention.
  5. If you throw up on the bus, don’t laugh about it and then use your mobile phone to post on Facebook that you threw up on the bus, and then announce to the whole bus that you just posted to Facebook that you threw up on the bus. Head. Bang. On. Desk.
  6. Don’t whine at the bus driver that the bus is an older one. Believe me, when given the choice, no driver picks the ones with stairs and crap air conditioning. They all hate them too – not only are they hideous to ride, they’re hideous to drive.
  7. Be aware of which buses are express services. And then don’t complain if you go to the bus stop, hail the (express) bus, and it doesn’t stop for you.
  8. When it’s time to get off the bus, do it expeditiously. (Yes, we watched Oscar this weekend.) Don’t sit there playing with your mobile phone and wait till the bus starts pulling away (after sitting at the interchange for up to a full minute) to jump up and say ‘Hey! I wanted to get off the bus!’ because that’ll just annoy everyone. If you’re lucky, the driver will only mutter under his/her breath. If you’re not…well, can’t say I didn’t warn you.
  9. Those signs on the back of buses that say to give way to the bus when it’s pulling away from a stop? OBEY THEM! Seriously, your little Nissan Micra (or whatever it is you drive) against an articulated bus? Who do you think is really going to come off best in that match? It won’t be you, I can guarantee it!
  10. Oh, and if you fail to give way to a bus (which in Australia you are legally obligated to do, by the way), you look like a complete idiot if you then honk your horn at the bus every time you go past it at another bus stop. Because you ARE a complete idiot who just can’t let it go.

Pre-emptive strike

I am 26 weeks pregnant. Those of you who can do basic counting can probably work out roughly what week I’m ‘due.’

However, I don’t believe in due dates. I believe babies come when they’re ready, regardless of what we’d like them to do. It’s only in very extreme cases that we need to actually DO anything about making a baby be born at a certain time (things like severe pre-eclampsia and heavy bleeding come to mind). I have a friend who gave birth, at home, at 33 weeks, and her baby is perfectly healthy. I know of another woman who had a baby at around 45 weeks, also at home, and again, her baby is perfectly healthy too.

So far I’ve been ‘lucky’ in that my babies have been born before their ‘due’ dates, so I haven’t gotten too much harassment about being ‘overdue.’ But I thought I’d write this all out in advance anyway, so that I can shove this in the face of anyone who starts harassing me when I get close to birthing. Because harassment is exactly what a soon-to-birth woman DOESN’T need, and I’m sick to death of hearing about other women going ‘over’ and getting phone calls, emails, texts, and whatever else asking them when that baby’s coming, and all it causes is stress for the poor pregnant woman who should just be allowed to relax!

If the only thing you have to say to me is something along the lines of ‘Hasn’t that baby been born yet?’ then DON’T bother contacting me. Yeah, because we’re really going to forget to tell all our friends and family that we’ve had a baby. Get real.

If you’re going to suggest that I should get induced because the stillbirth rate increases after whatever gestation, DON’T bother contacting me. Besides, you’d be wrong – the stats I’ve seen (which unfortunately I can’t find at the moment! if you have that link please comment) clearly show that the highest risk of stillbirth is BEFORE 40 weeks. So suck on that.

If you’re going to tell me horror story after horror story about big babies, long labours, dead babies, etc. – save it. I don’t think you can compare anything with the horror story I’ve already lived. And how dare you try to scare a pregnant woman anyway.

And if you even THINK of mentioning that I should go to hospital this time because of what happened last time – GET LOST. You clearly don’t understand the situation and I don’t need people like you in my life.

End of rant. For now.

So just how hard is it to get your lawn mowed?

It’s been ages since I blogged.  I had to take it up again just so I could tell this long, twisted tale.  And it ain’t even finished yet!

So a friend of mine started a gardening co-op group on Facebook a few weeks ago. Basically we all go around to each other’s houses and do some gardening work together and get heaps more done in one day than one person could get done over a longer period of time. And I volunteered to have the first one here, because of so many reasons. I’m pregnant again (did I mention that?) so I haven’t been able to do much. And Darrin’s driving a bus all the way at the other end of the city, and away from home for up to 15 hours a day sometimes, for 5 days a week, so he can’t do much either. Things are seriously falling behind here. The grass is up to 40 cm high in some places, and the dandelions – you don’t even want to know. And now the sour sobs are starting up for the winter too. So something seriously needs to be done.

I didn’t think it was fair to have everyone come over and make them mow my jungle of a lawn, so I started looking for lawnmowing services to come do it. On Friday the 8th, I contacted one that slashed the lawn about a year and a half ago and was told that someone would contact me. And several days went past. So I emailed them again on Thursday the 14th, and the guy said that someone would contact me soon, and he did. He left a message on my phone to ring him back. Rang back immediately and got voicemail. Sent an SMS. Next morning I still hadn’t heard anything more from him so I rang again. He said he could come over Saturday just after lunch.

Now here’s the problem. My gardening day was supposed to be Saturday at 11 am. The mowing has to be done before anything else can be. So I postponed the gardening day till Sunday. So far, so good. Sunday actually worked better for some of the people who were planning to come.

Saturday came. I went out in the morning to do some shopping, came home, and we had lunch. And we waited. And waited. And waited.

The guy never turned up. Never even rang or texted to say he couldn’t/wouldn’t be here. I’ve heard NOTHING from him at all. That company has lost my business (and if you’re in Adelaide and ask me nicely, I’ll tell you who they are so you can avoid them too, but I don’t want to post their name here in case they decide to sue me for libel or something).

Anyway. So that evening I looked up a few other local businesses. I contacted three of them and heard from two almost right away. One said he could come to do a quote Sunday afternoon, and I told the other one Monday morning. The Sunday guy texted me early in the afternoon to ask if he could come Monday instead, so I said that was fine, but it would need to be afternoon. No problem – at least he bothered to contact me.

And now it’s Monday morning. About half an hour ago, I was sitting here at my computer, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walk past the window. WHAT THE?! My first thought was that the morning guy forgot/neglected to text me before he came over, because he hadn’t rung the doorbell or knocked or anything first. I went to get my keys and watched him write something on a piece of paper, just outside the lounge room window, then walk down the driveway and stick something in the letterbox before crossing the street back to his vehicle. I waited a couple minutes, then walked out to check what it was.

It was NOT the Monday morning mower guy. It was the third one of the three I’d contacted Saturday evening, the one I never heard anything from. He thought he could just turn up at my house, look at my lawn, leave a note, and it would all be okay. Yeah, because I like random strangers walking past my window and freaking me out.

Not that I’m going to hire him after the lack of contact, but his hourly rate is lower than others I’ve hired in the past. But only by five dollars. And he said to ring him after Wednesday NEXT WEEK. Okay, so he wants his Easter break, fair enough. Doesn’t help me now though.

Now the original Monday morning guy turned up, and sent me a text beforehand! and came to the door! and told me a really low price! and said he could do it this week! Very tempting indeed. I think it’s because he’s just starting up and trying to get known – a general handyman business. I had to tell him I’m waiting for one more quote so I’ll let him know later today. But just between you and me – I think he’s going to get the job.

Modern pet peeve

So I read a lot of blogs, and because of this, I have all the ones that use RSS (really simple syndication) come to me through a feed reader. And it really bugs me that certain ones only have a summary of whatever the new post is about (first few lines or whatever) rather than the entire post. The whole point of reading blogs in a feed reader is so you DON’T have to go to each web page individually.

“What did I say about singing?” “Can I whistle?” “No.” “Well can I hum?” “All right.”

Name that quote. 😉

So here we are in our hotel room in Cooma, south of Canberra. The weather was wet and cold but it didn’t put us off. My estimate: a few thousand adults & older kids and probably an equal amount of babies & younger children. Not an insignificant amount. People organised buses from Melbourne and other areas.

So the population of Australia is about what, 22 million now? And half of those are women and girls, so 11 million there. And ‘only’ one percent of women birth at home, right? That’s 110,000 women and girls in Australia right now who will want to birth at home in their lifetime. That number is nothing to sneeze at.

And the legislation, if/when it goes through, will NOT stop me birthing at home next time. Yeah there’s a few publicly funded home birth programs, but I wouldn’t qualify for them now because one of my babies died. Never mind that Ian was damaged long before his birth, and in the unlikely event I had another baby with the same issues, there’s nothing the almighty ‘they’ could do about it anyway. One of the doctors who looked after him said even if I’d had an ultrasound, they wouldn’t have picked it up. So for me, there’s no point in going to hospital.

But anyway, I’ve gotten off topic. We have no TV in our hotel room tonight so I don’t know if I’ll see anything about it yet. But there were lots of cameras so hopefully someone will take it all seriously enough.

The obligatory Telstra rant.

10 am Thursday morning, I’m innocently sitting at my computer trying to look at one of my regular web haunts, when I get a ‘cannot connect to server’ message. I tried another site thinking that one was just having trouble, but I got it again. So I went to power cycle the modem, which is usually my first port of call when Darrin isn’t home and the internets are broken. Nothing happened. Checked all the cables, tried again. Still nothing happened. Pick up the telephone receiver…dead silence. Ah. So that’s the problem. Got out our brand spankin’ new laptop and tried to find an unsecure wireless network. Only one wireless network comes up, and it’s a secure one. Drat. Eventually I rang up the Telstra fault report number on my mobile, punched in our phone number, and was told by a computer that a line had been cut somewhere and they expected it to be resolved by 7pm that night. Okay, so one day with no internet is annoying, but not the end of the world. I can cope. I’ll just go do some sewing & gardening, stuff I’d been meaning to do for a while anyway.

7pm comes and goes. Still no dial tone on our phone. So Darrin’s home by now and rings the fault number, and stays on to talk to a real live person. They tell him it’s been pushed back to Friday evening at 7pm. Boo, hiss.

Friday morning, keep checking the phone to see if there’s a dial tone. Nope. Rang it from my mobile a few times and it RINGS. From past experience setting up my phone line when I lived at Campbelltown, this tells me maybe they’ve hooked it up to the wrong house. But anyway. I keep ringing the fault number now & then to see what’s going on, and all they say is ‘service difficulty’ and ‘as soon as practical’ for return of service. That doesn’t fill me with confidence.

So anyway. I was catching up with some friends in North Adelaide, so I thought I’d take the laptop along and see if I could find a wireless network while I was there. Nope. So when I left I started looking again, with the laptop open on the passenger seat. North Adelaide was looking pretty good for wireless networks, even unsecure ones (for instance Internode, our ISP, has several around the city). But I couldn’t connect to any of them. I’m thinking being in the car was interfering with the signal. So anyway, we start driving home. And I decide what the heck, McDonald’s has free wireless, and a playground, and I’m desperate. So we stopped for lunch and Caleb played in the playground while I surfed the net a bit. And then we went home.

And I kept checking the modem/phone/fault number for updates, but nothing changed. And Darrin decided to ring them just as I was going to bed, and talked to a real live person again, and they told him: Monday.

MONDAY?! Could they be any more slack? (Well, yes, it’s Telstra. Slack is their middle name.)

Oh, and also Friday evening, I was trying all night to get into online banking from Darrin’s Blackberry, but it kept telling me the service was too busy and to try again later. Argh.

So Saturday morning I got up, tried the Blackberry again, and still no luck. And then I showered, got dressed, and headed off to the library to use one of their computers. And here’s where it starts to get funny. Not.

I sat down at a booking computer and punched in my card number & PIN. And it told me that bookings aren’t allowed on my account. Huh?! I’ve used computers there before, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t been ‘naughty’ with them, so why the heck is it telling me that? I tried another one. Same message. So I go to the desk and tell the librarian what’s happening, and she checks my card, and tells me there’s a fine on my account that has to be paid before I can use a computer. Great. So I check in my wallet, and as I expected, I don’t have anything even closely resembling two dollars. And I tell the librarian that I need to get into online banking, so I can transfer money into another account, so I can withdraw it and pay the fine. She doesn’t look too happy about it, but gives me a temporary login so I can get in and transfer the money. Yay.

So then I walked down to the ATM, got the money, went into the shops, got some meat for tea, and went back to the library. Paid my fine, sat down at a booking computer, and it told me the next available computer would be 45 minutes away. And have I mentioned that Darrin needed the car that afternoon to go orienteering? Yeah, so that wasn’t gonna work. So I went around to one of the quick use computers, 15 minute sessions, and used that one. Logged back in when time was up, went for another 15 minutes. About 4 minutes from the end of that session, Darrin sends me a text to ask what we’re doing for lunch and that he WAS planning to leave in 40 minutes. Oops.

So I went to a takeaway shop & grabbed a couple schnitzel packs. Came home, had lunch, Darrin sat down at his computer and said “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” I gave him a funny look. He said “The good news is our internet’s back. The bad news is our internet’s back so we can sit around wasting time.”

And there was much rejoicing (yay).

We’re not gonna take this lying down.

I know you’re all probably wondering when we’ll blog about our experience with Ian and what exactly happened, and we’ll get to that, but for now I need to let you know what’s happening in another arena.

See the countdown on the right side of the page? That’s no joke. From July next year, Australian independent midwives will face a $30,000 fine for attending a birthing woman at home. The proposed legislation states that all midwives have to have personal indemnity insurance, but it won’t be offered to independent midwives. This includes Lisa, my midwife and friend, who has seen me through two pregnancies and births, and stuck around when we got the shock of our lives, even though she’s had all the training and been a registered midwife for the last 20 years. So basically anyone who gets pregnant after September this year has one less option when deciding where and how to have their babies.

Why? In a nutshell, because those in government just don’t care. So home birthers across Australia are out to show them just how much WE care about the issue, show them how many people this legislation is going to impact.

This is more than just a home birth issue. This is a basic human rights issue. Nobody else has the right to tell me where I can or can’t give birth, and with whom. Whether you agree with home birth or not isn’t the issue here. If women can choose a hospital birth with an elective caesarean, or an epidural, or an induction, then why single out a natural, drug-free home birth, which has hugely better outcomes for both women and their babies?

So on Monday the 7th of September at 11:30 am, there’s a rally happening on the steps of Parliament House in Canberra. I’m going one way or another. Are you?

Save Birth Choices

I’ve been working on this one for a while, in my head at least.

{mosimage}And I’m probably gonna annoy some people with it, but what the hey. This is the space for MY opinions – if you don’t like ’em, don’t read ’em.

There’s much debate about the current health care system in certain parts of the world. Namely, there are many politicians and lay people in the US who want to have a nationalized health care system. And there’s a lot of people who definitely DON’T want that. And now, having lived in both types of system, I can see points on both sides.

I don’t use the system here that much myself (I’ve seen a GP a whole 6 times in the last 5 years, and really most of those appointments I didn’t need in the first place), but I’ve got some thoughts on how to make any health care system better. The answer isn’t to make everything private, or make everything public, like many people seem to think it is. No, the solution rests squarely on the shoulders of the consumers and practitioners who actually use the system. We can make any health care system we’re currently in work better by doing one simple thing.

STOP USING IT WHEN YOU DON’T NEED IT!

Too many people today go to a doctor when they have a cold, to get a prescription for antibiotics. But antibiotics only kill bacteria, not cold VIRUSES. And any first year medical student knows this, but of course they like to play God and be able to write down that they did something for the problem. You’re better off taking a high dose of vitamin C (till you start getting the runs – that’s how you find out you’ve had enough) than going on antibiotics. All the antibiotics will do is put some money in a big pharmaceutical company’s coffers and strip your gut of all its bacteria, good AND bad kinds alike.

Too many women assume that hospital is the only place you can give birth, and the stories of quick babies in the media, where baby comes out before mum gets to the hospital, are portrayed as ‘horror stories.’ I just don’t understand how it’s horrific to have your baby come out the way nature intended, with no instruments, no drugs, on their own terms. Intervention, in most cases (except when medically indicated) only causes more problems, leading to more interventions. The solution? Educate yourself about birth. Even if you’re not planning a home birth or freebirth, read up on what to do if the baby arrives before you have a ‘professional’ there to assist you. It is ALWAYS a possibility. And open your mind to the possibility of home birth, do some SERIOUS research about it, and you’ll find that home birth is as safe as OR SAFER THAN giving birth in a hospital (except in extreme life-threatening circumstances).

Third point: prevention. Stop eating crap! And I’m pointing the finger at myself here as well. We have a 24/7 shop across the road from us that sells chocolate, chips, soft drinks, ice cream…you name it, if it’s sugared, they’ve got it. And ever since we moved here 28 months ago, it’s been far too easy to go over there and grab whatever it is we’re craving. So I know first hand how hard it is in our society to cut out the junk food. But it’s gotta be done if you want to prevent yourself getting sick. And who among us likes being sick, except hypochondriacs and those with Munchausen syndrome? Do you know that most of our chronic ailments these days can be prevented? Diabetes, cancer, arthritis – all of these respond well to a fresh food diet. Meat & eggs, fruit & vegetables, nuts & seeds, dairy if you’re not lactose intolerant, and the occasional whole grain.

So there you go. Three ways to make any health care system better. But of course it’s never gonna happen, because it won’t make anyone any money.
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