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>> Proud moments as a father

Fri, May 30th 2:40pm 2008 >> Family

You know you're a geek (and probably raising geek kids) when a conversation with your then 4-year-old daughter goes something like this:

Amelia: (after glancing at my laptop keyboard for about 2 seconds) "Daddy, why are all the letters in the wrong places?"

Me: "It's a different way of arranging the letters so I can type faster and it doesn't hurt my fingers so much"

Amelia: (Immediately, without even thinking about it) "Except the M. That's still in the same place".

Yes, I know that the A is also in the same place on Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards, but just the fact that she spotted at a glance that the M was still in the Qwerty location on a Dvorak keyboard is pretty impressive at 4 years of age!

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>> Goodbye Jessie

Mon, Apr 21st 10:44am 2008 >> Family

The Zorro-dog is no more. Other than a bit of arthritis that developed as a result of years of jumping off high things she was perfectly healthy and happy until just a month or two ago, when a very aggressive tumor developed on the side of her mouth. We thought she'd be able to go on for quite some time but it grew really fast and we didn't want her to deteriorate to the point where her life ended in suffering so on Friday we had to do the heart-breaking task of taking her to the vet one last time. Jessie the Zorro-dog Goodbye, Jessie. I hope you knew how much you were loved and how much joy you gave.

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>> Secret lives

Mon, Jun 25th 12:07am 2007 >> Family

I got an interesting phone call from my Dad this afternoon: he's currently on a boat just approaching Broome, having sailed about 700 nautical miles along the coast of Western Australia. He grew up in WA, mainly around the Kalgoorlie area, and he's spending a month or so back over there with my step-mother to wander around the state and look at the sights. The interesting bit of the call was that he's discovered an interesting bit of trivia about my grandfather, Gordon Oxer. Old Gordo was a bit of a slacker who didn't get up to much in life: he was a doctor, a pilot, an explorer, a cartographer, and probably about seven other things as well. You know, the sort of person who brings the family name into disrepute. He's even got bits of WA named after him including a mountain and a lookout at the spectacular junction of Joffre Gorge, Weano Gorge, Red Gorge and Hancock Gorge. Tourist info here, with better photos here and here. He was the first white man to explore certain parts of WA and some of his original maps are preserved in a public library somewhere. So anyway, the point was that there's an unexplained chunk of my grandfather's life that my Dad has never known much about until now: he knew Gordon was way off in WA somewhere, but not where, why, or what he was doing. Turns out Gordon spent the time stationed at Corunna Downs air base, a top-secret joint US-Australian facility located just outside Marble Bar and used to launch bombing raids against Japanese forces. Because it was located in such a remote and unlikely area the Japanese never figured out where the raids were coming from, and it seems quite likely that their repeated pounding of Darwin (64 times in 1942-43!) may have been at least partly a frustrated effort to stop the source of the attacks. Something else I learned a little while ago is that Gordon once got himself into a spot of official hot water by flying an aircraft into an open-cut mine, causing just a little consternation to those unlucky enough to be trying to go about their business of digging stuff out of the ground without being buzzed by a demented pilot. Told you he was a troublemaker.

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>> White Christmas in Melbourne

Tue, Dec 26th 9:37pm 2006 >> Family
White Christmas in Melbourne
It was only a couple of days ago while the temperature was somewhere in the high 30's that Ann and I were talking about how nice it would be to have a white Christmas. Or maybe we were just trying to justify a trip to England ;-)

So it was pretty bizarre to turn up at my mum's place for Christmas lunch and find hail so thick on the ground that it looked like snow! Amelia and I scooped some up and put it in our drinks which she thought was pretty funny.

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>> Amelia the schoolgirl (almost!)

Sun, Jul 10th 8:02pm 2005 >> Family

Fantastic news: we just received a letter offering Amelia a place in prep next year at a school not too far from here. This particular school is really hard to get into (waiting lists years in advance, and very few places available unless you're a sibling of a student or child of an ex-student) so it's a relief that she got in. She did really well at the interview: communicated well, did very well at the numeracy and literacy tests, and just generally seemed way too old to be only 4 and a bit years old :-0

She can't wait to go to school, she keeps talking about how she'll be allowed to go after she turns 5. What really gets to her though is that they have a place called a 'library', where they have walls full of books and she can borrow any book she likes, and then when she takes them back she can borrow even more! Heaven for her. It's so cool looking at the world through the joyful eyes of a child, seeing how amazing some things are that as adults we take for granted.

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>> Emergency Room? Yeah right, hurry up and wait!

Wed, Mar 23rd 4:37pm 2005 >> Family

My wife had a bit of a scary experience this morning. She was outside with Thomas and Amelia, but Amelia was playing in a different part of the garden out of sight and Ann heard her give a big scream. She put Thomas down in the pram and ran around the side of the house to Amelia, who just said "Jessie did it" or something and then passed out, stopped breathing and wet herself. Her eyes rolled back in her head and Ann tried to hold her up (she's getting mighty big!) and half dragged, half carried her around toward the front of the house screaming for someone to help her. At that point Ann thought Amelia was dying, so she was just a *little* bit stressed!

Our neighbour Barry heard and came running, then jumped over the fence and just about as he got to them Amelia started to regain consciousness. Barry's daughter then got another neighbour to come and take Thomas (who had been left in the back yard), they called me at work to tell me what was happening, loaded Amelia into the car and picked me up on the way to the hospital.

Whew. Hectic few minutes!

Jumping to the end of the story, Amelia is fine now. The doctor thinks what may have happened is she had an accident of some kind (we're not sure what since she's got no lumps or bumps and no memory of the event), then went into shock. Low blood pressure and a falling heart rate then deprived her brain of oxygen and she passed out. They don't think there's any head trauma so right now there's not much to go on.

But anyway, what got me really mad is what happened when we got to Maroondah Hospital. Inside the emergency room is a little sign that shows emergency categories, and the time taken to be seen by a doctor in each category:

1: Seen immediately.
2: Seen within 10 minutes.
3: Seen within 20 minutes.
4: Seen within 1 hour.
5: Seen within 2 hours.

An ER waiting room is where they're meant to do triage, right? As in, immediately assess each incoming case and classify them based on urgency? Then once classified you're likely to wait the period of time listed above?

Yeah, sure thing.

Here are the approximate times (later ones are more accurate because by then we were less panicked and I was actually getting pissed off and taking notes):

10:15am - event occurs.
10:40am - arrive in ER.
11:30am - get to front of triage queue (!)
12:01pm - triage assessment complete.
12:07pm - moved into assessment room.
12:12pm - doctor arrives for assessment.
2:21pm - we're told she's OK to go once paperwork done.
2:44pm - given paperwork and leave.

Once we actually got to the point of having a doctor look at Amelia everything went pretty well - but getting to that point was a farce! It took 50 minutes from the time we arrived in the ER until the first words were spoken between hospital staff and ourselves. 50 minutes without even being asked if we had a serious problem! Then when we made it to the front of the queue the triage nurse started the process of finding out what the problem was, then was called away to deal with some internal issue and didn't come back for over 15 minutes! In that time there was *no-one* doing assessments and there was a queue of people behind us who'd been there for up to an hour by that time as well.

So a full 1 hour and 21 minutes after we arrive in the ER they get to the point of making a decision about how serious her situation is, and decide it's probably pretty serious and she should see a doctor right away. Well, derr!

And at 1 hour and 32 minutes after arriving a doctor actually looks at Amelia for the first time.

So much for their urgency classification. I suppose they can justify it by saying she was seen by a doctor only 11 minutes after they finished assessing the urgency of her case. Like that makes up for the time taken to get to that point. When we started talking to the doctor she asked when it had happened, and when we said 10:15 she was a bit shocked and wondered why we'd taken so long to get her in to hospital. When we explained that we'd been out in the waiting room all that time she was even more shocked.

Anyway, I'd better stop ranting now. I didn't know whether I should categorise this as an "Evil People" entry or a "Family" entry, but I eventually decided that I wouldn't label all of Maroondah Hospital as Evil because there were a couple of very good people we encountered today, and I don't want to tar them all with the same Evil brush.

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>> Thomas says Daddy!

Tue, Jan 16th 10:59pm 2001 >> Family
Thomas says Daddy!
Big moment for a father. Thomas said his first word this morning, and it was "daddy". Just after I walked out the door to go to work he said it twice to Ann, and then again three more times a bit later.

So cool :-)

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>> Marriage and Death

Tue, Jan 16th 10:59pm 2001 >> Family
Marriage and Death
Well, it's been a very mixed couple of days for me. Yesterday my sister Jacinda got married, which is one of the happiest things ever for me. There are a whole lot of different factors that made it really special: quite apart from the fact that I love my sister and it was great to see her so happy, the actual wedding and reception was in the same venue as where Ann and I had our wedding reception 3 years ago. And Ann was a bridesmaid for Jacinda, and our daughter Amelia was the flowergirl, so it was a pretty cool event. Jacinda's fiance, Ed, broke his leg 4 weeks ago in a motorcycle accident (if you can call it that: the bike was turned off, and he was rolling it at maybe 5km/h when it fell on his leg!) so he was on crutches for the wedding. Then when he was doing his speech he got up and did it like an awards acceptance speech and thanked his mum, the bridesmaids,... and Maroondah Hospital ;-)

It was pretty funny.

But it was also a really bad day for me because about lunch time Dan and Ian, a couple of my friends, were out for a casual bike ride in the sunshine when something went wrong and Dan ran off the road. He was unconscious when Ian got to him, and died a short time later as he was being transported to a local oval where the air ambulance could land.

My sister knew he'd been in an accident, but didn't know he'd died. We had to spend the evening at the reception trying to keep up the party spirit and sidestep questions about Dan by saying we were waiting for more information, which was one of the hardest things ever when I just wanted to go off somewhere and cry.

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