Archive for the ‘Informative’ Category

Having the right Tool

Posted: 25/02/2014 by Toby in Informative
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So hey, just a quick anecdote from me about having the right tool (and knowing what you’re doing).

On the minivan, the back brakes started getting squeaky, and so it was time to change the brake pads. I’d done similar jobs before, and I thought to myself, how hard can it be? So I pulled the wheel off, loosened up some nuts and tried to put it all back together with new pads. There was only one big problem, however, and that was, the piston simply would not budge!

I finally used internet university to find out what I was supposed to be doing. I found this very helpful: http://www.paulstravelpictures.com/Chrysler-Town-and-Country-Rear-Brake-Pads-Replacement-Guide/ and in there it says I need to wind back the piston using a special tool. I went to the local car parts shop, and they had one! But it didn’t fit. I went to a bunch more shops, and all they carried was the little thingy that didn’t fit. I finally went to Chrysler and asked them what they use. The mechanic showed me a very professional looking kit, and I thought wow that must be quite expensive. I looked it up on eBay and it wasn’t too bad. Probably overkill to get a special tool for one job, but I figured I’ll probably use it again on the other brakes, so why not.

With that tool, the job was literally done in less than an hour, piece of cake. Looks like this:
(picture to come later..)

On the 27th December, we rtook a rendezvous out to the west, good Old Dubbo. I’ve only been there once before and that was to go see a Circus, I went up there in my gogo mobile, with my friend Julie. We didn’t get a chance to explore the town back then, so now seemed like as good as time as any. As I looked up what to do there, I wondered whether our 4 days would be enough time to explore in the end. I had considered doing Parkes as well, but decided not enough time! So I made a list and we did what we had time for.

The kids were a tad excited about staying in a hotel. Not that you can tell!!!

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We booked into Tallarook Motor Inn. It was located in a good location for families. Right next to a park with a long bike path. We packed the bikes, as our big plan was to bike ride around the Dubbo Zoo. totally cool idea. Everyone I mentioned it too said its awesome who’d been there before, and they were right. It was fun biking around with the kids looking at all the animals. You get a 2 day pass, so the first day it was just our family, then on the second day my brother Edgar and 3 of his kids Jordan (11), Dakota (7) and Owen (5), joined us. It was so nice getting to do a fun activity with their cousins, since we hardly get to see them as they live so far away. They get on so well.

Day 1.

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Somehow a tyre pump didn’t come with us, but thankfully the neighbour of the Motor Inn we stayed in, offered to pump up all our tyres for us ready for our biking day at the Zoo. It was nice and hot so we thathered up with sunscreen, hats and water, and set off. The plan was to get there early spend the first part of the day there then do something else in the afternoon when it gets even hotter, see sites or go swimming at the Motel.

We got to the Zoo got our passes and set off riding our bikes. We decided not to cycle from the Hotel in case the kids burned out, and good thing too since William’s bike got a flat about 1/3 of the way through and then we all had to head back since we had no pump or repair kit.

My one suggestion I’d give the Zoo is, to have pump stations throughout the Zoo for some people like us who forgot, so they can get it fixed. And either a button for help to wizz the bike back for repairs to their bike hire shop, or have repair kits in 3 spots so as to fix such problems throughout the Zoo. However that wasn’t the case, so we had to go slowly and get ourselves back to the car and see about getting his tyre fixed for the next day with Uncle Edgar. It was hard yakka for William with a FLAT tyre but he cycled it all the way back to the car, it sure didn’t help he put on TJ’s shorts and couldn’t keep them up. His dear Dad made him take them off and William wasn’t too happy about cycling in his underwear most of the way back, I don’t blame him. Toby took him part of the way then, I stayed with William and he took the other two back to the car and waited for us to get there. When we got there there was no shorts. Toby lost them on the way back. So then he had to cycle back where he biked to find them. Thankfully he did, albeit HOT!

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We went and got some food and headed over to the Savannah Safari Park for the kids to play. Then after we then had to go about getting to a store to buy the goods needed to fix William’s bike so it was ready to go again. I will say overall he took it pretty good. The Zoo is a 5km straight trek through the the Zoo, we were taking all the detours so he probably had to cycle 2 kms with a flat tyre. Then headed back to the Motel and took a dip in the pool. Dinner and to bed.

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Day 2.

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Edgar was camping in Bathurst, so he had a bit of a trek to drive. So he told us to get started, we made it all the way upto the Lions, when I finally realised that he had arrived. So we waited for them to catch up, which meant they missed several animals. So eventually we made out way back to them. A few were starting to fizzle and so we left them at the toilets why the gun ho ones came to see some more animals. Everyone had a favourite animal. Jordan were the Zebra’s, Owen the Giraffe’s and Dakota the Elephants, Rocky likes Tigers.

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Rocky crashed it, and was causing Toby some cycling issues as he was falling all over the place. We realised that he’s too heavy and big now for this seat, so we need to find a different solution after this to get Rocky about till he can keep up on his own bike. So Toby decided to head back to the car for the last part and we tropped on without him.

As we headed back it was a bit of a race. I managed to snap some shots whilst cycling :)

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When we got back we headed to the park once more and chatted whilst the kids played, got some lunch and then headed back to the Motel for all of us to cool down in the pool. Edgar had forgotten their swimmers so he took Jordan to go buy them all a pair and headed back. We had lots of fun all playing in the pool, we brought water guns etc… with us. It was a good day.

Day 3.

We got some more things in today. We saw the Sustainability Garden, Sensory Garden and Japanese Garden. I loved the Japanese Garden. The kids enjoyed feeding the fish.

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Rocky was trying out throwing stone’s at fish to see if he could get one, grrr…. the poor fish thought he was trying to give him food. We then hit, Livvi’s Playground, it was lovely and big just a shame it was so darn tooting hot, everyone just wanted to stay in the shade, hardly anyone there, not surprising with all the heat and not enough shady places to be. Then we headed over to the OLD DUBBO GAOL. We picked the theatrical tour, it was a lot of fun and the actors/employees, need to be commended for their great work. We all had fun and laughed. Toby even got picked out as a potential “aiding and abetting” a slave to escape the gaol, too fun.

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We also got to see Alladin’s Cave, not as easy to find as I would have thought. A glass bottle mud hut, kinda cool. I haven’t found a picture of that yet. All in all we all had a nice time and were glad we got some family time away together over the holidays. Dubbo was a nice town, not sure I’d like that heat though constantly.

Then we took the long trek back to home sweet home.

When I was a youth my teacher Dean, put on a Chocolate Party for our class, we had a great time and so I decided it would be fun to do the same for my youth.
They were all very excited about it, which I was glad about. They all brought their favourite chocolate and they requested my brownies and I prepared a bunch of chocolate games to play.

The Rules: you can only eat Chocolate, both solid and liquid.  No water, only chocolate, chocolate or chocolate!

We started off slowly with the dice game of rolling a 6 you put on a hat of choice then start cutting a block of chocolate, one square at a time and eat it, one square at a time. When you finish eating that square you can start on the next. Fekita, Siale and my favourite block of chocolate is Hazelnut (Cadburys), so we started with that, yum…. Issac seemed to have that block of chocolate, in his corner. He certainly got a lot more turns, than anyone else! Poor Siale had real troubles rolling a 6, we did a second block snack (Cadburys – yes a tad more messy) just so Siale would get a chance to partake. He finally did. (pictured below)

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Next we did a singular competition of who could fit the most malteasers in their mouth at one time. We all added one at a time and we were all doing pretty good till the 20′s… I made it to 22 and started feeling my gag reflex take over, however Siale and Fekita kept going. Fekita won with 30 in her mouth at one time, then Siale her brother feeling the competition matched her, but then had to spit a bunch out, very impressive Fekita! You’ll notice (below) a vomit bucket just in case, and Riley showed up a tad late because of work, but we made sure to get him to do this game also :) Solo!

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Next 2 teams were formed, team 1 and team 2. I had hoped to make them create a cool name for their teams but sadly we didn’t get that far. The game was to make a concoction for the other team to partake of.  Team 1 partook first, Alayna volunteered first to partake, the drink looked very thick, she was very brave, we thought for sure she was going to throw it up, but no she kept it down, however said she couldn’t finish it, and so her team got in there and helped, Fekita and then Issac they struggled also and then Alayna said give it to me and finished the drink off. Touche’.

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Next it was teams 2′s turn to blend something up. When the second team came in turns out Gigi volunteered to partake this time, and partake she did, it took a while but she seemed to enjoy it and wouldn’t even share with her team, right down the the toblerone chunk at the bottom she got a spoon and consumed the whole thing, WOW! Team 1 felt gipped that they’d obviously made there’s too nice and not nearly gross enough, like the concoction they had to partake of.

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Next was the taste testing. I had everyone go into the living room, whilst I made up a 7 item taste testing  tray for them to sample. Still split in there teams, for points. One came in at a time and partook. I was surprised how few knew what they were eating after all confessing their love for Chocolate. A few definitely shone in that one. Shush…. Sarah and Riley.

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Several didn’t guess any right, 2 guessed 4 right, 1 guessed 2 right, and 1 guessed, 1 right. It was totally funny to see them eat it and trying to figure out what they were eating. Alayna was using her mouth to feel up the food first. I put all the food in their mouths so they wouldn’t get to feel the food up first. Also when it came time for the drink tasting, they had troubles finding their mouths with the cup.

As time was running out to head to the youth dance we got out a bunch of the chocolate food, handed out bowls and said have at it. Then I brought out the instant pudding shots and said ok which 2 are going to go head to head, in the pudding shot competition? Riley and Issac were selected/volunteered. They had 5 mins to down as many as they could and they could only use their mouths and fingers to empty them out. It was pretty close Riley downed 13 but one was disqualified so 12 for him, and 11 for Issac. Good going guys! I couldn’t believe no one threw up :(

So as everyone ate we did one more game and that was the team that could come up with the most names of chocolate bars. Team 1 got 17 and Team 2 got 24. So yep there are seriously more than 41 chocolate bars out there to partake of, everyone!

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Then Cate showed up (YW’s President) and Toby (YM’s President) piled in the van with all the kids and headed off to the dance. When they got there, I hear they started the party! That’s one way to work off what they just ate! Sadly still no one threw up at the dance. Totally Bummed. I even said for the person  that throws up first, they get a free I Love Chocolate t-shirt. No luck :(

Toby and I had “I love Chocolate” shirts we’d made special, for the event.

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We all had great fun, and I didn’t even get to do all the games I’d come up with :(. Oh well, might just have to have another one next year :D

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Love you Guys!

Movie reviews

Posted: 14/06/2013 by Toby in Informative
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Just a few quick thoughts on the movies I have seen in theaters lately.

The Great Gatsby

To be honest the worst thing about this movie is the fact that there’s an earlier version made in 1974 which was very well done, and you could see DiCaprio trying to do Robert Redford.

From the book to Baz Lurmann’s version there’s a lot that’s lost in translation, and I think most of the cast were not the best choices. There were also a lot of extreme closeups, I thought maybe i was watching a daytoime soapie with all the meaningful looks going on.

Frankly I feel sorry for the generation that is consuming this movie, because its target audience is ADD and can’t understand nuances or long winded explanations.

The punch in the gut was smothered by the creepiness of the station attendant and his perpeutally bloodshot eyes, and the hurried explanation around the time of the funeral. There wasn’t enough left of the original story to really make us care for Gatsby and make us wish the rich were any different.

I also didn’t like the device of introducing our author as a committed lunatic fretting about how messed up he was. I think this was supposed to help make the point a different way, but all it did was take away from Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom, and why Tom wins.

That said, the performance of the movie was definitely Edgerton’s Tom. He did well despite the director’s efforts.

Iron Man 3

Just very good, very entertaining. These writers have been paying attention to all the excitement that Whedon creates, and you just feel like you’re watching something from Joss. It’s on the same trajectory that was set when the first Iron Man movie came out, perhaps as far back as the first Spiderman movie. My mind is suddenly trying to think of when comic books joined the likes of Star Wars, Aliens, and Bladerunner and became worthy of the big screen. There’s a real shift in tone from the likes of Dick Tracy (which was brilliant) and (Burton’s) Batman to Raimi’s Spiderman. Anyway I probably don’t need to go on about the trajectory of comics turned movies. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.

I just love Aussies in movies, and Guy Peirce is no exception. His crippled character sticks with you when you watch him strut in his fully Extremis’d self. I still couldn’t believe the big reveal halfway through the movie, the baddie was not what he seemed. I love movies where you don’t feel the CG too much, and this was one of them. Random comment I know but I realise that some of the fantastical stuff poses a real problem that has to be solved when making a movie, and if the CG isn’t right, you see it plain as day.

I shouldn’t really give away my favourite part, because again it’s an unexpected twist. Let’s just say that I thought everyone did a good job, except for Cheadle. He’s a good actor, but the whole time you just feel bad for him, he doesn’t seem like a hero, more like dead weight and occasionally useful.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I know the lens flare was a bit of a gimmick the first movie and frankly it’s annoying to me that I don’t mind it. There was just something that clicked and made it ok when I saw the first film, and yes it’s back in this film.First, before I lay into this movie, please understand, I was entertained. Cumberbatch was of course a very different Khan but still very entertaining as a superbad baddie.

But honestly, there were severe plot holes, to the point of being obvious to me, someone who never ever solves the mystery before the end of Columbo or Murder She Wrote. Obvious questions like,

  1. why would you bring ALL the superweapon torpedoes, wouldn’t 1 or 2 be enough?
  2. why didn’t the baddie contact them on arrival and save the trouble of tangling with the Klingons – that whole fighty bit served practically no purpose except to make the final punch out more believable because we already know Khan can take a punch.
  3. why does Spock have to personally drop a box of dry ice inside the volcano, can’t you just sortof toss it in?
  4. the whole dramatic radiation scene (to mimic the original) was robbed because we already know about Khan’s blood – it came to mind instantly.
  5. Contacting Spock prime? didn’t really serve any purpose. “Khan is dangerous don’t trust him!” They would have been better off introducing an attractive telepath as part of the crew so she could tell them “he’s hiding something.”

I’m sure there were more, but those were some of the biggies.

I hope for the next movie they take the time to craft a really nice story, now that the characters are bedded down, I want a truly logical plot and a brilliant quandary. Heck I would even take Kirk talking his way out of a killer robot situation. Or how about a reworking of Return of the Archons? or Turnabout Intruder? It doesn’t have to be big budget in my opinion, it just has to make sense. Speaking of making sense, why was it called “Into Darkness” anyway?

I’m not even going to remotely admit that Sharole and I went and saw the Hangover III, but it was a better option than The Big Wedding, and we were determined to see something that night.

Anyway just my take, hope you enjoyed reading.

Recently whilst at the hospital I had to hear about how Dr’s said, “some people think there is such a thing as a grumbling appendix but I don’t believe it”. I got this off of several Dr’s. It was obvious to me they had no intention of taking on any other information.

I am sharing my experiences so as to help other parents be on top of either themselves or their children, to make sure they get helped as soon as possible. I was one of those that got the massive cut over 5 inches long straight from north to south, as mine was emergency surgury. Most get them on an angle down lower to the right side nice and long also. Nowadays they can go key hole surgury if caught in time and has minimal invasion on the body. They tried to do mine key hole but couldn’t see a thing through all the infection so slice they did.

My Daughters Experience at age 6: Over the last 3-4 weeks my daughter has been complaining of tummy pains on and off. She’s had some days off school here or there and then she would perk up. The first time I took her to the Dr he suggested that I worm our family just in case, but he felt her appendix area and said it’s not sore there so, that’s fine. She was having temperatures on and off also. So time crept on and then, then Tuesday night she got real pail and didn’t eat much dinner and asked to go to bed straight after dinner. In the morning she woke up feeling like throwing up and almost fainted. So I decided to take her to another Dr. When I went I spoke to the Dr how this has been carrying on for a while now. She felt her tummy and couldn’t tell if she was very sore near her appendix or any specific area around her tummy, just tender and said well lets get a wee and poo sample and a blood test. We went straight in to get her blood test and headed home to work on the samples.

Gigi rested and come 6pm my Dr had called me and said that Gigi’s white blood cells were elivated and I should get her to a hospital as it looks to be an appendix. So Toby went and got the referral letter from the Dr’s and I packed a bag for Gigi and I. We then headed to Royal North Shore Hospital because I was told it’s never overly busy there and we should get in quickly, sounded good however, twas not the case.

Finally 4hrs later they took a look at her and the nurse said about getting a urine sample, I mentioned I got one late this afternoon would you like to use that, she said yes and said great and went off to test it. When she came back she said there was blood and cells in the urine so there is definately something wrong. Whilst we were waiting she had a very high temperature. Meanwhile they put in a canula so as to give her fluids since she wasn’t eating and they didn’t want her to eat in case she’d need an operation. The nurse went off to talk to her boss and came back and said we have decided to call in a sonographer to take a look at Gigi’s appendix. This was midnight so by 1am in the morning, she was looked at by the sonographer but she was unable to find her appendix, so we went back to the room and not knowing what was happening next both fell asleep on the bed. In the morning they took more blood tests and found her white blood cells still on the rise. She also had a chest x-ray at night to rule out pneumonia, apparently it can have similar symptoms. They then ruled out an upper urinary infection and then decided it was best to send us to Sydney Children’s, as it turns out Royal North Shore doesn’t operate on appendix’s.

First off they gave her 3 lots of antibiotics and anti throw up stuff. They then got all our test results together and took Gigi off the drip and I drove her over to the Sydney Children’s still with the canula in. When we arrived there we didn’t have to wait for long till we got called through to the first room. There we brushed our teeth whilst waiting, felt so good. Then finally they took us through to get another sonogram. Apparently they are skilled at it here and turns out they were right. She found it in under a minute. I could see it plain as day. It did look enlarged.

When they gave us the result they said it looked enlarged and would take it out, either tonight or in the morning. They found her to be a strange case because she didn’t have a temperature anymore and appeared to be not bad, but she still had such a high blood count of 130 million. Normal ranges are between 5-10 million. Well night came and went and so did the next morning. By night time we figured she wasn’t getting done again and then finally they took her in at 8.10 at night.

The operation went well and they said that it was strange because the appendix wasn’t enlarged, only elongated. They did find traces of infestation inside but nothing to fully identify the problem. When I spoke to my friend Nicole she said her’s was removed after quite a bit of pain and her’s was only elongated also, so what I can gather from that is, an elongated appendix is enough to cause discomfort and the need to remove it. After hers was removed she no longer had the pain so I am hoping that will be the case with my Gigi also. The hospital tested her blood once more and her white blood cells had gone down quite a lot down to 14 million. So I was happy about that. I also am glad it’s something we don’t have to worry about with her anymore.

I noticed she still had blood in her urine so we had them test that before we left also and that came up clear. Sadly it took longer to leave than we would have liked because she got a temperature again thankfully they (Toby and Gigi) got home just in time for dinner Sunday evening. That was a long 5 days.

What Causes Appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. Blockage may also occur from infection, since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?

The classic symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen. This is usually the first sign.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fever of 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Inability to pass gas

Almost half the time, other symptoms of appendicitis appear, including:

  • Dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum
  • Painful urination
  • Vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain
  • Severe cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhea with gas

If you have any of the mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately since timely diagnosis and treatment is very important.

My Experience at age 25:

I had been suffering on and off with pains in my abdomen area, and over weeks I became less and less vibrant. I had gone to the Dr with no help. Then one day at work some work mates were teasing me because I was grunting to just bend over because it hurt badly down there, they told me to stop putting it on. I ended up talking to my mother in tears by the late afternoon due to pain and she agreed to meet me at the Dr’s after work and to make an appointment. So I did. We met up and I went to the Dr’s he took a look at me and said he thought I might have an ectopic pregnancy I was tender in the appendix area he advised me to take some blood tests and sent me home. That night when my husband made me dinner I couldn’t even think of eating it and spent part of the evening on the toilet to no success, with a vomit bucket. Finally after my husband talking to my parents and sister-in-law they both said take her to the hospital. To which he did.

I could barely walk and when I came in the doors I got straight through, to my surprise after I’d heard cases of sitting for longer than 6 hrs. I guess I must of looked pretty bad. I took a urine test and they put me in a bed, and started pumping me with morphine. They eventually came back and told me I was pregnant, but that I might have an ectopic pregnancy. Over the next few hours I had several Drs come and give their opinion on what they thought I had. By the time they took my blood count and the results came through, before I knew it I was getting ran down the corridors on the bed and taken into an operating theatre, I was moved onto a tiny bed in the middle of the room and then was put out, everything went dark.

When I woke up, I was informed that my appendix had burst and I almost died, that I have been left open to prevent abyssing. That unfortunately I lost a falopian tube and that my stomach had started to rot, so they had to take out all of the infection first, apparently it was so bad they had to  get a ladle to scoop it all out. I was known as ladle lady at the hospital.

After 10 days I was sewn up a day and a half later it tore open and I was back at the hospital. This time they had to do railway stitching, which they said would cause even more scaring. To which it did. I then tore open again and they said we’d have to let it heal on it’s own, and I would have to get cosmetic surgury, after I finished having kids. Since it turned out I was pregnant I could only expect it to get worse per child. I had a nurse coming to the house for a few weeks doing dressings.

It took a good year for the scaring dark red in colour to start to fade. Sadly I had so much scar tissue my stomach it was all lumps and bumps. Eventually I found I person that suggested I get it massaged and it would break it down. That was the best news ever, because I found a sports therapist, who helped me learn exercises to help strengthen my muscles once more and break down all the scar tissue. It was very traumatic for me. An area opn my body I still dislike having to see.

It took three months before I could go back to work and I was very grateful for my dad coming to walk with me each day, as I got stronger to walk once more. I never want my kids to go through that experience.

So when my kids tell me they have tummy pains I try and listen up and do what I can to make sure they get what they need. So there was no way I was going to let Gigi get pushed aside. I was glad I listened to my intuition and followed through with the things she told me. I had a grumbling appendix, they do exist! And turns out so did my daughter.