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Everything old…is new again….or just rehashed into a new form January 16, 2007

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Hey!

If any of you are still out there, I have a new old blog!

Go and visit the ALL NEW version of 2 Blog or not 2 Blog!

I won’t be updating this one any more, but it’ll serve as a nice reminder of my year in the States.

Quick! Click! Go! See ya.

Australia….Bloody F*#king OATH! December 29, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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I’m home!

Back in sunny, easy-going, friendly, normal, warm Australia.

It feels so nice to be back. I have had a rollercoaster of a year, but that feeling of flying with QANTAS back in to Sydney, seeing the harbour and the beaches and the cliffs was one of relief and joy.

There is definitely no place like home and I definitely know that Australia is my home and always will be. I am sure I will travel again, but I am not in a huge hurry to use that passport again.

So I got back to Canberra, via Sydney, via KFC at Sutton Forrest and immediately I rejoiced at the KFC staff being friendly and actually responding to their customers (unlike the robotic customer service you get in US take-aways). I had a zinger and felt at home. (the KFC tastes a LOT better here than in the US). Actually all food tastes better here.

I am still yet to have my Burger with the Lot, but it is coming and boy will it taste good.

I am going to shut down this blog after this post, but I will be starting another one some day, somewhere. It may still be called To Blog or not To Blog. It may not. I may start an anonymous blog, I may not. I ma not start another blog at all for a while. I am not certain.

You see, I enjoy being able to write and to dump random thoughts or ideas onto the screen, but I find it hard to not write personal things as well. i want to be able to write personal details and spill whatever may be in my head that day. But there are times when I don’t have a need to write it. I can just share those thoughts with the people close to me or pick up the phone and share with a friend or family member.

So, maybe I don’t need this. Maybe there is no point.

The only thing I think i would miss is not being able to get my opinionated views on trivial issues out to the masses. But really, who actually cares about what I have to say about things?

But that’s blogs for you. No-one really cares that much, but we like being able to blog-jump and get a little bit of a insight into someone elses head. I guess it’s the voyeur coming out in all of us.

So….I might be back, but I might not be.

At the moment I need to find a job, a place to live and contentment. Until I find that, there really is no time to be crapping on in a blog.

So, have a great new year everyone. Here’s hoping 2007 is as great as I am hoping it will be for me.

Mick

Shocking upkeep of my blog… December 4, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Well, it’s been nearly a month since my last post on my eyes.

What’s been happening? (says that pointless voice in my head)

Well I am winding down my year in the states and getting ready to head back home. (Yes. Home. Australia will always be home.)

It’s getting frigging freezing here and I am looking forward to the 35 degrees when I get off the plane in Sydney in 2 weeks.

So, I am hoping to line up my previous job as an IT contractor. I am hoping to move back in with my Dad (for now) and I am hoping to spend lots of time with the kids around Christmas.

Throw in the Ashes, some Tooheys Extra Drys, some burgers with the Lot and some golf and I am really starting to looking forward to getting back to Aus.

There is nothing like Australia, and all of the people who are posted or work at the Embassy look forward to their trips back home no matter how often or infrequently.

I would love to catch up with my fellow Canberran bloggers when I get back to the motherland. Perhaps some sort of meetup around Christmas would work? I’d love to get back and find out what everyone has been up to.

I will be rejuventating To Blog or not To Blog when I get back, but will probably move it from Blogger to here as I have found wordpress to kick arse in the blogging stakes.

So, anyway. There’s a post. I’ll get back to my Corona Light (not quite a good as a Corona Full) and talk more soon!

Holy Crap! I can see! (or..My experience with PRK Laser Eye Surgery) November 9, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Yesterday at around 11am, I underwent laser-eye surgery on both of my eyes.

It’s something that I have wanted to do for a long long time, but have avoided because of the expense in Australia and also the risk that I would still have to wear glasses at the end of it anyway, making the reason for the surgery pointless.

However, I had seen an advertisement in the paper here offering Lasik for $299 for each eye. It always sounded too good to be true, so I didn’t do much about it, but over the last 6 weeks I had thought more seriously about it, especially seeing as though I am going home in just over a month. So, about a month ago, I went for the free consultation to see if I was a candidate for it. As it turned out I was. My prescription (-4.75 in each eye) was in the range to do it, and I only had a slight astigmatism in my left eye. My prescription has also stayed pretty much the same for 5-6 years.

The only problem was that because my cornea was a little thin, I would have to opt for the flap-less surgery, called PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratotomy) The difference, is that instead of cutting a small flap in the cornea and performing the laser treatment through there, they would ‘melt’ off the superficial layer over the cornea and then do the laser surgery through the cornea. The upside is, there is no cutting of the cornea. The downside is, there is a longer healing process.

I was actually hoping for the flapless surgery anyway, so I was glad to hear that the doctor was suggesting this route. I never liked the idea of anyone cutting anything near my eye.

So, after avoiding the first pre-op exam until last week, I took the steps to do it. Last Tuesday I had an eye exam where the doctor dilated my pupils and checked that my eyes were healthy and ready for the surgery (dilating is strange, and lasted a couple of days). Then I made the appointment for the surgery for November 8th at 10am.

It was a nerve-racking night before hand, but also exciting at the possibility of not having to wear glasses or contacts ever again. After another nerve-racking wait in the waiting room for an hour, I was ushered into the room.

The Surgery

I was told to lie down on a reclined chair and it was rotated under the laser device. The doctor explained the procedure to me previously in another room so I was feeling fairly calm about it. But it’s hard to keep calm when you know a laser is about to be zapping your eye in a matter of minutes.

So, the process for PRK is as follows. You are given anaesthetic drops in your eye, while the other is covered up with some gauze. The eye numbs and then he used a speculum to hold open my eye to make sure that I would react ok to it. Once he was sure that I was going to hold still he placed a small ring over my eye and dropped some liquid onto my eye which effectively ‘melts’ away the epithelial layer on my cornea. that stayed there for 25 seconds and then he carefully scrapes that layer away.

Mind you, I couldn’t feel any of this. I felt a little pressure on my eye, but there was absolutely no pain. Once the layer is removed, it’s time for the laser.

Now, the technology is so advanced with the laser that it follows your eye where you move it during the surgery. The doctor informed me that I couldn’t move my eye faster than the laser could follow it. Of course I was still pretty nervous and wanted to keep my eye as still as possible.

There was 7 seconds of zapping on my eye, but it felt like more. The sound is like those little lightning rods you see at Science shows, and there was the dlight smell of burning (freaky!). I tried to concentrate on breathing smoothly and not moving my head as it was going on. Afterwards the doctor put some steroid and antibiotic drops in my eye and then it was on to the next one.

The same procedure happened with both, although because my left eye had a little astigmatism, he did something a little different. with the laser setup. He also placed clear contact lenses over each eye which I guess is used to protect the eye for a couple of days till he removes them.
So, it was done. It only took 15 minutes from start to finish for both eyes, which is pretty amazing. He gave me a little pack with eye drops, pain relief drops and sunglasses and told me that he liked doing surgery on an Aussie because I was a lot more relaxed, did as I was asked and didn’t complain at all. He was great during the surgery though, talking calmly to me and letting me know exactly what to expect.

I sat up on the chair afterwards and felt a little light-headed, but after a few seconds I felt fine and walked out to the waiting room with my littl goggles on (to protect me from rubbing them mostly).

My vision was quite blurry, but I could already see that my vision was way way better than before. It was hard to keep my eyes open for long periods of time though and there was a definite scratchiness and discomfort.

I felt pretty disorientated on my way to the car, but thanks to Pip for someone to grab on to, and to Aggie for the transport as I don’t know what I would have done if I had to metro or cab it home!

So I have a selection of drops that I need to keep using. There’s Zymar (Antibiotic drops which are $50! ouch), Pred Forte (Steriod Drops) and he gave me some Refresh Liquigel. I had also bought Refresh Plus and Refresh Celluvisc as comfort drops. The Liquigel is to be used if the pain gets bad, but I am supposed to avoid using it too much as it hinders the healing of the epithelial layer.

The Afternoon of the Day of the Surgery.
That afternoon was spent mostly closing my eyes and trying to sleep. It’s not easy to sleep when you had so much gloop in your eye and you are wearing clumsy goggles (that look a bit like ski goggles) and trying to forget about the irritation. I had some Panadeine Forte, thanks to Michael, and I took one to try and take away the stinging in my eyes. It came and went, but I almost always had a throbbing in both my eyes. When I could open my eyes for any length of time I was happy to see that I could see pretty well! Still very blurry and hard to focus, but I could definitely see much better than before.

The evening was spent trying to watch a bit of TV, but it was not easy to really see too much and I am sure my eyes were closed at least a quarter of the time.

So, I went to bed after putting the regime of drops and tried to relax.

The First Night

I slept well until about 3.30am, and then I woke up. I glanced at the clock and was happy to see that I could read it clearly! Sweet! I decided that I may as well put my drops in. So I did and then dozed back to sleep.

I woke again at about 5.15am and felt a strong pain in my right eye. It was also weeping a lot every time I opened it. My left eye felt pretty good in compasion, but the pain was pretty bad and I took another Panadeine. I slept on and off until about 8 with my right eye still giving me grief. At 8 I decided that I should put in the Liquigel to try and relieve the pain. It seemed to help and I slept some more, until around 10.30.

Day 2

So I am writing this on Day 2 at about 1:30pm. When I woke up at 10.30, my eyes felt a lot better and I looked around a bit and tried to appreciate my new sight. I put the drops in again at 11am and then the pain and discomfort seemed to come back. I don’t know why the drops seem to bring it on but every time I put them in I find it really hard to keep my eyes open for any length of time. Right now I am 30 minutes before the next lot of antibiotic drops and I am feeling ok. The screen on my laptop is not clear at all though and I am blinking every few seconds.

I took another Panadeine at around 12:30 and I think that really helped. I have my followup appointment at 5.30 this afternoon, so here’s hoping that they’ll tell me things have gone well.

Day 3 & beyond…On Day 3, the doctor said that my epitheal layer had pretty much grown back 100%, but he left the contact lens in for one more day. After other appointment on Day 2 he put in some drops to dilate my eyes and the pain went down considerably. By Day 3, there was no more pain at all and my eyesight improved.

On Day 4 he removed the contact lens and I could see the 20/30 & the 20/25 line on the chart.

Day 5 was great and I even went to see Cirque Du Soleil and could see everything. No halos on lights and things were generally clear, although I had to keep applying the tear drops to keep my eye lubricated.

Day 6 was the best yet and I was really happy with what I could see, but then Day 7 – 10 my eyesight deteriorated, and I found it hard to focus on things and there was a definite blur to things, even close up. I called the surgery at this point, and they advised that it was normal and I should expect fluctuations in my eyesight for the next couple of months.

Today is Day 13 and it has been great over the weekend. I have another appointment tomorrow, but I can definitely see clearly at the moment and have been to the movies, using the laptop and have not had any problems at all.

………

I will update this entry with the progress over the next days, weeks and months (I’ll also fix all the spelling mistakes that I couldn’t see!) and I hope it helps other people who are thinking about getting PRK Surgery done. I read some other accounts of the surgery (including this great comparison with LASIK), and it definitely helped me get an idea of what to expect.

The Countdown… October 30, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Well. Time is running out.

I am only going to be in this country for 47 more days.

I made the decision a couple of weeks ago and basically decided that I don’t want to miss any more of my children’s growing up, particularly when one little boy starts kindergarten next year and the other is talking, growing and becoming a little man before I know it. I had never made my final decision on when I was coming back until now, which is why really I didn’t appreciate the attacking and disparaging comments that were made a month or 2 ago.

It has not been an easy decision at all. I have reasons to stay, and also reasons to go. If I made a list, there would be more reasons to go, but sometimes it’s not the amount of reasons, but the importance of those reasons.

This year has been a roller-coaster ride, but I have loved it all.

From finding the best American beer (Yuengling, in my opinion) , to downing way too many on a weekday night after work.

From consuming 20 too many chicken wings on a Tuesday night to throwing up in the same bar’s toilet on my birthday.

From checking out bands at the local venues (The 9:30 Club is awesome), to seeing Guns n’ Roses live in Baltimore (Oh yeah baby. Only 2 more weeks!)

From only knowing 3 people in the Embassy, to knowing dozens and making lots of friends.

From living on couch to couch every night, to staying with a wonderful person who has let me into their home and heart. (Thank You so much, Pip)

I hope that I won’t regret this decision, but I basically feel that it is the right one for me and my kids at this time.

DC to ACT
So, time to start thinking about summer, cricket, Tooheys Extra Dry, Westies, Triple J, people saying ‘Mate’ and my friends and family, but it’s also time to not forget my time here, the things I have experienced and the people I have met.

HalloGiving October 15, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary, Food.
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So, over the next couple of months we have 2 definitive American holidays that I am keen to experience.

The first is of course, Halloween

There are already pumpkins everywhere. And these are the orange kind. The green kind that we have in Australia are called squash here.

I am looking forward to seeing a carved face pumpkin, but I guess that happens closer to the day.

We are going to have a dress-up Halloween party at the Embassy on the day. I think I’ll just get a scary mask or something so no-one knows who I am 🙂

Then we have Thanksgiving! I am looking to head to Chicago for the weekend before Thanksgiving for a get together with a bunch of people that I have known for years online, but have met hardly any of them for real. (‘cept, Hi Amber!). Then on the actual weekend I hope to be a part of a real Thanksgiving dinner with some friends.

Although I really want to try a Turducken. A Turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. It’s ridiculous, but hey It’s gotta taste sooooo good.

Looks tasty hey?

Anyway, things have been going well! I have been very happy lately and enjoying the transition into Autumn (aka Fall, which I refuse to call it).

Happy Birthday to my Dad for last week, and hope everyone had a great Labour Day weekend in Australia!

Being an Aussie in the States at Footy Final Time…. October 1, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary, Sport.
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Friday night at the Embassy of Australia was the place to be if you were an Aussie in DC.

We broadcast the AFL (Aussie Rules) Grand Final live, and we were one of the only places in town, because the Satellite wasn’t in the right position to be able to watch it easily in the DC area. So around 200 Aussies and wide-eyed Americans came down to the Main Hall of the Embassy to watch the game on the big screen along with Aussie beer (VB, Crownies, Hahn Premium and Aussie tucker (Sausage Rolls and Meat Pies, damn they were good).

Not only did we have the big game on the big screen, we had a big name there. Bruce McAvaney turned up (after flying in that day) and I served him some pies during the game. I must admit I have never been the biggest fan of his commentary over the years, but he’s a nice guy in person and it felt good to be complimented by name from the guy. (he liked the pies :))

So yeah, the game was good. I am not the hugest Aussie Rules fan, but it was an entertaining game and when it comes down to 1 point, it’s always going to be exciting!

Then there was the NRL (Rugby League) Grand Final this morning. Melbourne vs Brisbane. I slept. I wasn’t going to get up at 4.30am for those 2 teams! At least my Eels won the Premier League, but is a little bit of consolation after their tumultuous season.

Feels very strange being in another country for the footy finals though. It’s traditionally a time in Australia where the weather is warming up and you have some BBQ’s, beer and mates while watching the games. Instead, here I am on a Sunday arvo, washing my clothes and watching the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans go at it while drinking Coke.

Well, we have to adapt 🙂

Enough is Enough. September 25, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Now I know why I prefer not to make ‘personal’ posts on here.

It’s my own bloody fault, but I did not expect to be attacked by people on my own blog.

I’ve removed the post, the comments and am close to removing this whole thing, but will not.

I’ll keep my personal life to myself and my family and friends, and unless you actually are a friend then stay out of it.

People all think that they know it all, and know how to deal with things. Why don’t you all go back to watching Dr. Phil and take the easy packaged up DIY options.

May not post on here for a while, but will revert to sending emails to the people I care about.

So long….

Tubing = Fun September 11, 2006

Posted by Mick in Diary.
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Ok picture this.

Me.

A big round inflated tube.

A 36 pack of Coors Light in a mini inflated tube attached to my bigger tube with a rope.

The Potomac River.

A beautiful 27 C/84 F degree day.

Floating down a river for 4 hours with dozens of other young people.

Sweet.

Check it out. 

Crikey…. September 4, 2006

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“A bloody good bloke” is how Steve Irwin has been described, and even though I’ve never met the guy he always seemed very genuinely nice and a decent all-round guy.

Very sad day for Australians and for animal conservationists as a whole. He has done a lot around the world for animals and I am not impressed with comments from people, saying that he ‘asked for it’ by poking and prodding animals all these years. In my view he’s always had the animals best interests at heart and the fact that he made a living out of displaying animals in close proximity with humans should not lessen the tragedy or his legacy.

Lots of coverage about it here in the States, which is fair enough seeing as though he broke it big here before he did in Australia anyway.

Sad day indeed.