Monday, February 27, 2006

1 year of Sitemeter

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of having sitemeter tracking who's checking out my blog.

In one year I've had 6,322 visitors, which is an average of 17 visitors a day. I didn't think I knew that many people... How's about that?

I'm interested in who's reading my blog, so if you could possibly leave a note to let me know who you are, that'd be great :) I'll take off the restriction that allows only registered Blogger members to leave comments, so you can comment without registering.

Thanks :)

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Photos from:

Along the way to Glamis
At the Glamis dunes
In and around Phoenix

Phoenix/LA road trip

Whew - we're back.

I've managed to pick myself up a nice case of food poisoning which has lasted all day, but thankfully the most unfriendly part of it managed to hold off until we got home from LA after the 6 hour drive.

So as a result I really couldn't be bothered blogging about the trip, and since Andrew has done a big report, I'm going to be lazy and just link to his Phoenix road trip report.

Basically, it was good fun, we drove 2700km, enjoyed Phoenix, and I had big expectations of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and was a little disappointed. It had cool stuff like Graumans Chinese Theatre and the handprints, we got to hold an Oscar and stand where all the Oscars action will be this time next week, but I thought the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard would be moe exciting. Oh well. Still plenty of things to see in LA, so I'm sure next time will be more exciting.

Back to sleep for me....

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quick update

Andrew and I drove to the Glamis sand dunes which is down near the Mexican border to meet friends there as it was a long weekend, so spent a mad weekend sand duneing with 10,000 of our closest redneck friends. We were referred to as tree hugging hippies for driving a Prius, so they became rednecks. :-)

After that we drove to Phoenix where our friends live, spent a night with them, and are here until Friday (Andrew's working from the Phoenix office this week), and I'm pottering about checking out the place.

Friday we drive to LA where we'll be staying in Hollywood for 2 nights, so should have all of Saturday to look around which will be great fun, then will head home on Sunday.

Arizona is nice and warm and full of cacti! It's a nice place, and probably the most suburban place we've come across so far. If we were planning on staying, I reckon I'd consider moving out here!

Longer post when we get home....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Google culture

I have to say, Google is so cool. The people are so happy and relaxed, they enjoy their jobs, and they get so many amazing opportunities. Andrew is certainly loving everything that comes with being a Googler!

The best part though (for a wife...) is the food. There are multiple cafes at the Googleplex and they all serve fresh, tasty food - and they do their absolute best to serve fresh, local, organic produce.

There's usually only the main cafe open for dinner which is called Charlie's. Charlie's has multiple serving areas, one is Italian, one is Indian, one is Mexican, one's a bistro, and the other one is Chinese type stir fries. This is a typical evening from Namaste - the Indian place:

Konju Curry

Shrimp sautéed with onions, garlic and ginger then covered with a konju curry that contains tamarind pulp, red chilies, coriander, cumin, turmeric and grated coconut

**Moong Dahl

Lentils simmered with onions, turmeric, cumin and red chili powder

*Sabzi Paneer

Paneer cheese with green peas, carrots, red bell peppers, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, onions, green chilies, tomatoes, cardamom, cream and fresh coriander leaves

**Cardamom Basmati

**Steamed Cauliflower

Tonight, the No Name Cafe opened its doors for dinner. No Name specialises in vegetarian, organic, freshly made to order food. You choose your own salad materials, and the chefs toss it in front of you. They also have sandwiches and things like that you can make yourself.

For dinner, they had the range of salad materials as well as Free-Range chicken breast with a citrus-thyme marinade, grass-fed rib-eye fillet steak with a cranberry chipotle glaze. They also had a pasta bar going. You chose what vegetables you would like (basil, cucumber, garlic, carrot, baby spinach leaves, roasted pumpkin and so on), then chose from tonights choice of pumpkin fettuccini, herbed spaghettini or spinach fusilli, and then a sauce - butternut squash, arrabiata or pistachio pesto, and they throw it all together in front of you, and a few minutes later serve it up steaming hot to you.

I also got them to slice up a bit of the steak and throw that on the side as well.

The steak was perfectly cooked, nice and tender and delicious, and the pasta was fantastic as well!!

We don't eat dinner at Google all that often, but when we do it's always a great experience! Might I add that this is all buffet style food, and free, so that makes it all the better! They really know how to look after their staff.

As well as that, Larry Page (ie. the guy who "invented" Google), came in to the cafe while we were there, and took his place in the line with his tray, got his dinner, and sat down at the tables with everyone else to have his dinner. It's great to see Larry and Sergey around doing things like that with everyone else. You get the impression they're very down to earth, and approachable, which is something I think is important - you don't want to think the people running the company you work at are people who you could never say hi to.

Heart update

I went to a new cardiologist, Dr David Liang from The Stanford University Center for Marfan Syndrome and Related Aortic Disorders on Monday. As you can probably guess from the title, he's an expert in aorta problems, with a particular interest in problems caused by genetic issues.

As you can probably also guess, he's the perfect person for me to be seeing! Both Dr Liang and his nursing staff were fantastic. They went through and did measurements and checked me thoroughly for any physical signs of any genetic conditions they know about - such as checking the roof of my mouth, and the little dangly thing at the back of my throat, as there's specific conditions that affect those parts of the body! It was really interesting, and they filled me with absolute confidence that they knew what they were doing. While my cardiologist, Dr French, back in Canberra was also excellent, these guys are specialists in this field, and know exactly what to look for.

Dr Liang looked at my results from previous tests that I had, as well as the cardiac MRI I had just before I left Australia, and confirmed that the measurements of my aortic root showed that there's an aneurysm there. The upper limit of normal is 3.7cm for someone my age and height, and mine's around 4.2cm.

It's not considered serious enough to operate until it reaches at least 5cm or so (unless it grows a fair bit in a short time, in which case they operate earlier). It's hard, because everyone is different, and in some cases they operate earlier, other cases, they operate later. We're trying to find out at what size my dad and aunt's aortas were when they split (as my enlargement is in the same place theirs split), so odds are mine will very possibly follow the same trends as theirs.

It's a bit frustrating because they can't do anything at the moment, because fixing it means open heart surgery, so because of the risks of that, they won't operate until they feel there's no other choice.

At the moment they have no idea what mine's doing. It might have been this size for years and might stay this size forever, or it might be starting to get bigger. So for the moment I have to stay on beta blockers, keep my heart rate under 120 bpm. Dr Liang found it hilarious that I bargained with Dr French to let me exercise up to 130bpm, but said that's probably a bit high, and to stick to 120bpm, and don't get to the point where I feel as though I'm straining during exercise.

I also need to keep going back for regular echo's to keep an eye on things, and just try not to worry too much. I'm actually a lot less stressed about it then I thought I would be. When I first got the results from the cardiac MRI back in December, I looked at the measurements and realised that it probably meant I had an aneurysm, and had a freak out then, and kind of dealt with it at that point, so when Dr Liang confirmed it, I was ready for the diagnosis.

I feel very relieved to have it confirmed, rather than having the previous "maybe" diagnosis, and I am also a lot more comfortable knowing that I have Dr Liang and his team watching over me, knowing that they successfuly deal with these sort of cases all the time. I'm also getting a Medic-alert type necklace to wear, so if something does happen, medical people know what to look for, and to call Dr Liang's office to get him involved immediately.

So while it's not good, it's not THAT bad either :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wallace and Gromit - Curse of the were-rabbit

The Wallace and Gromit DVD is out now, and it was only US$15 at Target, so we bought it straight away!

I love this movie, it's just got so many clever lines, a good story and had me cracking up so many times while watching it.

I love the bunnies in it, particularly when they're waving - they just look so cute :)

If you haven't already seen it, make sure you get out and see it for a good laugh!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Exciting day!

Short version - went and saw Corteo, a Cirque Du Soleil performance, came home and found out I'm going to be an aunty again!!

Long version - my sister-in-law Kirsty is pregnant again, and due to have her baby in September. My nephew, Seth, is a gorgeous, sweet, happy 2 1/2 year old boy, and I wish them another healthy, happy child. I'm very excited :)

I've watched the Cirque du Soleil performances on tv a number of time and they've always fascinated me. The sounds, the colours, the acrobatics, it just seemed amazing. So when we came here, we discovered there's 2 shows permanently at Las Vegas and a show that was in San Francisco and coming to San Jose (which is a bit closer to us) soon. So we waited for it to come to San Jose, and tonight we finally got to see it.

It was as amazing as I hoped. I was squealing constantly as performers went flying through the air, amazed at the strength and grace of the performers, laughing at the funny acts and surprised over and over again as we would watch one part of the stage, only to look back to the main part of the stage and discovered that it had been completely changed in the moment we were looking away!

It was set up on a round stage in a big top tent with everyone around the stage, and was a smallish tent, so while I made sure we had good tickets, I would think that any ticket would have a really good view. They made great use of the stage, and the big top itself, and it was a lot of fun.

I'm looking forward to going to Las Vegas and experiencing that and seeing one of the shows there! That'll be cool...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Alcatraz and Harry Potter reviews

Well. I just finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I won't ruin it for those of you who have not read it but oh my god. The ending was completely different to what I thought would happen that's for sure. It also shapes the last book up to be an absolute doozy!

The book was excellent, very well written once again and an absolute page turner. I started it last week I think, and the first chapter or two were confusing as I couldn't remember what had happened in the last book. Once it started coming back though, and I'd gotten a few chapters in, I couldn't put it down. I had time on Monday to start getting into it again, and I've barely put it down again in my spare moments.

If there's anyone in the world who hasn't read it, GO GET IT NOW!!!!

Anyway, so that's that book. Before that I read Last Train to Alcatraz, an autobiography of Leon Thompson, one of the prisoners who was there. It was certainly an interesting book. The start of it turned me off a bit, as he seemed the sort of person who thought the entire world was out to get him (granted, he had a crap childhood), and it was littered with expletives, and him being very violent to a lot of people. It was also his view on how things happened and how people treated him, and I got the impression that a lot of people tried to help him but he wouldn't accept any sort of help, and was generally very aggressive towards everyone. It was hard to read it and not think "just shut up and listen you fool!!!!".

But it's interesting to read what led to him being at Alcatraz, how events at Alcatraz actually made him a better person (whereas previous prisons made him worse), and what life was like on the island, and how he adjusted to being released directly from Alcatraz.

So definitely interesting, but probably not a book I would read again in the future.

Now I have to decide on my next book....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bunny update

Maybelline the bunny has gone back to the shelter now as she's big/old enough to be spayed and therefore adopted. So she got spayed last Thursday, and on Friday she already had someone looking at her!

As well as that, our neighbour Carol dropped by today to give me a news story in today's paper - about Maybelline!! Well, it was actually about a serial bunny dumper in the area, but it talks about Maybelline. Apparently in all of the recent dumpings (65 rabbits over 6 months), Maybelline is the only bunny who was saved! Unfortunately the rest had to be put down because they had open wounds, were very skittish and generally in a bad way.

So I feel very pleased we were able to help this bunny. She is now quite used to people, and will quite happily come to you when you call her. She has progressed a lot in the time we had her, and I think will make someone a very nice pet.

The whole story is here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Working at an animal shelter - the hard part

There were a bunch of kitties missing this week from the shelter. Peanut, who'd been at the shelter a while and was one of my favourite kitties, found a home, and Twinkletoes, another sweet kitty who'd been there a while found a home, and the people who took her came in today looking for a friend for her, and I think will take Josie, another who's been here a while.

My other favourite kitty Silvia who was as sweet as sweet can be and quite shy, but wonderful once she gets to know you was also missing. I assumed she'd been adopted, but I found out from another volunteer that they'd put her down because she apparently bit someone. This is definitely the hardest part of working here. This kitty has been at the shelter since I started there, and I took to her from day one. She was such a cuddly cat, with big beautiful eyes, and when she was in her cage she would hide under her blanket, and you would just see her big green eyes looking at you. If you ignored her, a paw would come out and tap you to remind you she was there.

I find it very hard to believe she bit someone, and given her shy nature, I wonder if it was in self defence. Either way it's incredibly sad. It also makes me wonder if any other kitties were put down that I assumed had just found homes.