Pawgust 2018

This August, Mayo (also known as “dog” on Twitter), Richard (also known as “partner”) and I are taking part in PAWGUST 2018 on behalf of Guide Dogs Australia. During the month of August, we will be walking at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days (that’s roughly 2km every day) to raise vital funds for Guide Dogs and support their puppies currently in training.

Oh. Yeah. This blog hasn’t been updated in forever. There was never mentioning of our buying a house, getting engaged, adopting a dog, growing older but not growing up and so on, huh. Well, there you go. We bought a house in Sydney and went into 30 years of debt, got engaged and are set to marry at the end of the year, and adopted my now-8-years-old, made-to-order, dream female Siberian Husky from the shelter.

Pawgust Selfie
Pawgust Selfie: Mayo really isn’t a fan of the camera

So anyway, this August, my dream dog best puppo ever Mayo and I will be walking 30 minutes a day for 30 days. Pawgust made a whole deal about it being in winter and dogs getting extra walk and all that, but truthfully, both my winter dog and I prefer the cooler season, and she on average already gets 45 minutes a brisk walk a day (two walks on Saturdays). The only effort I’m making is posting adorable-if-I-do-say-so-myself pup pics and asking for donations.

I imagine the donation page will go down some time after the event, so this is the blog post for archive of said adorable pup pics.

But there’s still time to support us! To do so, please visit our Pawgust page and follow the steps! You can remain anonymous and any donation above $2 is tax deductible. Even a few dollars help!

All in Vein

Alternative post title: The Day I Decided to Become a Plasma Donor.

In school, they taught us all the things about blood type compatibility; about antigens on the surface of red blood cells, anti-A / anti-B antibodies, Rh positive / negative, phenotype and genotype, how O- is the universal blood donor, AB+ the universal acceptor, so on and so forth.

My mother was the one who first brought me to a donation centre to donate blood, and over time, helping others via donating blood became my own passion. I’ve been a regular whole blood donor for a while, and donated every 3 months except during the period when I was iron deficient (I was donating regularly and restricting food at the same time; long story). Donors don’t get financially compensated in Australia, but the knowledge that my blood could save three lives, as Red Cross heavily promotes, was enough.

My blood donation centre of choice was the mobile centre near work. They would appear every 3 months, and because my boss also supported the idea, I could often pop out during work for a quick donation. Every time the staff at the mobile centre would make me feel like I was doing the right thing. They would thank me like they personally and directly benefit from my deed.

Blood Donation Jul 2015: Last Whole Blood Donation
Blood Donation Jul 2015: Quite possibly the last whole blood donation

Today, something changed. The finger pricking was done on a painful part of the fingertip. It bruised. Two staff frowned at me and asked if I’d made an appointment (I did), both at interview and the donation chair, and told me they wouldn’t normally take my blood type. They completed the procedure and hurried me along. It was as though I was wasting their time.

I was fully aware of the fact that my AB+ blood is only useful for the also AB+ population, the only ones who could take the blood type transfusion without ill effects. But it was only then, today, a staff handed me a brochure about plasma donation. People with AB+ blood are universal blood recipients because we don’t have anti-A and anti-B antibodies to react to the antigens that may be present on the red blood cells in other blood types, and for the exact reason our plasma has the opposite effect: AB plasma doesn’t contain anti-A and anti-B antibodies and can therefore be received by all blood types. So essentially by donating my full blood the whole time I’ve been wasting their time, my time, and my red blood cells.

ABO Blood Type
ABO Blood Type from the Wikipedia article

I was never taught anything other than blood transfusion in school; the theory was all there but I just never made the connection. Even Mum didn’t seem to know about the “opposite” compatibility until I told her for the first time. In some obscure way, I feel slightly more humble today realising that I apparently could only take AB plasma and nothing else.

But Red Cross really, really has to promote plasma and platelet donations as much as they do whole blood.

I suppose it is more effective to sell one message at a time. I suppose “save 3 lives” is less complicated a message than “make 17 life-saving products”. I suppose most people’s whole blood is far more useful than my own, which I only share with 3% of the world population. I suppose one of the criteria for plasma donation is having successfully donated full blood at least once within the last 2 years. I don’t condone making a donor feel unwelcome (it probably wasn’t even their intention), but I suppose it all worked out in the end.

From the next donation on, I’ll be giving my universally accepted AB plasma. It’s a much longer procedure and one that cannot be done at a mobile donation site, but helping other less fortunate, donating what I can, is my passion.

Today is the day I decided to become a plasma donor.

Oh Whale

Richard spotted a few whales on his Oxfam training walk, so on this gorgeous 19°C day today, we had no excuse not to drive out to the Cape Solander lookout at the Kamay Botony Bay National Park. It was such a pleasant day the jacket came right off!

Highlights of the event: whale jumped people cheered! Another whale jumped people cheered again! Yet another whale jumped… Whale watching is actually more fun than what this blog post suggests.

Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Sydney
Whale Watching at Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Also more fun than what this total lack of whale phone camera picture suggests…

Whale, at the very least, it’s definitely an improvement to last year‘s zero whale spotting!

A Flash in the Pan

“How much is in a serving size? Watch how much food you eat with these easy-to-remember references from everyday life.”

Easy Way to Estimate Shotgun Shell Size
“How much is in a serving size? Watch how much food you eat with these easy-to-remember references from everyday life.”

Ah, so a typical shotgun shell is about the same size as a 28g sausage. And now the non-gun owning population of the world knows. #Murica rolleyes

Half Business Half Pleasure Work Play Trip in Cairns

This is it! The long overdue actual post of my half business half pleasure work play trip in Cairns, referred to on so many previous posts! Richard joined me on the 7-day/6-night trip for full pleasure, and because he was the one with more knowledge of the place and more importantly free time, organised everything leisure.

The Business Half

28-31 May 2015 (Thu-Sun)

Our company was one of the dozen exhibitors at the 4-day biennial ASCCP Scientific Meeting (XXIVth) that ran into the weekend. I normally work behind the scenes, but this wasn’t my first exhibition (first here), only the first outside of Sydney.

iCIMS at ASCCP XXIVth Scientific Meeting (2015)
Our exhibition table at the ASCCP XXIVth Scientific Meeting (2015) (from the event organiser camera)

The most stressful part for me were the conference dinners, in which I wanted to enjoy because foooood, but it was all still business, and portions were ironically tinier for the bigger of the conference dinners. I survived. It was only a small exhibition at this fantabulous hotel and I was in safe hands working alongside veteran colleague and good friend Ali. The zero commute time and change of scenery were of course a plus.

Meanwhile, Richard had to entertain himself by fishing, taking walks and not working. Poor thing.

The Pleasure Half

31 May 2015 (Sun): Short Cruise

It was all holiday from the afternoon on after we packed up work stuff and said farewell to everyone. We didn’t have a lot of free time, but Richard thought doing something different would get me out of my work mindset. He got us tickets on the Sunset Cruise that goes out to Trinity Inlet. Usually there would be a sunset view, but it’s just our luck to have been getting rain in Cairns.

We had the front deck to ourselves for the first half, until they took away the finger food served aboard and people gradually discovered the better view outside. It was a very relaxing cruise even though we didn’t spot any crocodiles and I came back with 3 mosquito bites.

1 Jun 2015 (Mon): Crocodiles and Waterfall

Pleasure day 2 wall of thumbnails before wall of text:

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

We hired a car and drove about 40 minutes to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures with the help of a navigation app, which decided that our word of the day shall be “roundabout”, because there’s a roundabout at just about every intersection in Cairns. We arrived on schedule mid-morning.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventure, June 2015: Crocodile Feeding Show
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure, June 2015: Crocodile Feeding Show (Saltwater Crocodiles)

We watched the crocodile feeding show and I learnt the difference between saltwater crocodiles (dangerous!) and the freshies (not so dangerous), but mostly just my preference to not have anything to do with any of them whatsoever thank you very much. We saw other animals like cassowaries, emus and koalas, but the highlight unexpectedly came to me when we walked into an enclosed petting area, where even though we had zero food with us, a hopping thing still chose to hang out with us the whole time when I had only intended to pet the sleeping thing for a little while.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, June 2015: Kangaroo
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, June 2015: Sleeping Thing and Hopping Thing

Yeah, Richard had to reassure me that the sleeping thing and hopping thing were different species when the latter headed straight for me and I panicked, thinking the sleeping thing I petted was the baby of the hopping thing. tongue

We explored the attraction a little more before packing up and returning to the hotel to set off for our next destination.

Millaa Millaa Falls

Millaa Millaa Falls, June 2015
Millaa Millaa Falls all mine!
There were two routes from the hotel to Millaa Millaa Falls, a natural tourist attraction with a beautiful waterfall. Richard chose the shorter of the two routes, which was still a 100 km, 1.5-hour drive, along a winding and windy highway in the light rain. We didn’t get to the waterfalls until after 5 pm.

Millaa Millaa Falls was lovely, if still a bit cold and rocky at the bottom, and empty except for the other older couple who showed up briefly to take pictures. We did the same ourselves and took a quick dip in the lake, and then it was time to brave the drive back — back along the winding road in the wind and rain, quickly losing daylight and eventually in the dark, all the while in the hire car with horribly placed pillars that limited vision further. Kudos to Richard for handling the stress well and bringing us back in one piece.

A hotel staff later told us that some 20 years ago, a whole school bus steered off the same cliffs and many died. Mad kudos to Richard for bringing us back in one piece…

2 Jun 2015 (Tue): Helicopter Flight and Snorkelling

Second last day, last full day of the trip!

Helicopter Flight

Great Barrier Reef Cairns, June 2015: Reef View from Helicopter
Great Barrier Reef from above
Tickets for the half-day fly/cruise trip for the previous day were all sold out, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because today was pretty much the only sunny day of our entire trip. Win! We took the shuttle bus to the helicopter fields, signed a form to acknowledge that we might die today, weighed ourselves and went into denial about our weight, and waited for the two others who were meant to join us. They didn’t make it in time from their tight schedule so we had our own helicopter. Double win!

This was my first helicopter ride ever and Richard let me take the front seat. The view of the Reef from above was gorgeous and gave me a sense of just how great the Great Barrier Reef was. The flight was only 20 minutes and we had to land far too soon to get on the boat to prepare for our snorkelling session at the Hastings Reef.

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

This was actually also my first time snorkelling. Despite proclaiming to be a relatively good swimmer (well, I did only tick “average” on the death safety survey), I relied on a noodle to float so that I could focus on breathing, which was still ridiculously hard and I gulped a lot of salt water. Things became a lot easier once I switched to a better fit than the standard gear that was too big for me.

Great Barrier Reef Cairns, June 2015: Snorkelling
Great Barrier Reef Cairns, June 2015: First time snorkelling! (Richard cam)

The reef! The fish! The water! The sound of fish biting off the coral! If only the weather had been better today. 2 hours of snorkelling didn’t look much on paper, but it was quite a workout. I enjoyed my time more than I thought I could for a first snorkelling trip. (I might or might not have also accidentally dropped a snorkel. tongue )

Night Fishing

After dinner back on land, we ended our night on a bit of fishing at the poorly lit purpose-built jetty. Richard retaught me how to cast since it’s been a while I last tried this. We didn’t catch anything and there’s still much for me to learn.

3 Jun 2015 (Wed): Last Morning and Bonus Photos

There wasn’t enough time to do anything else on the last morning. We checked out of the hotel after our last epic breakfast at the buffet, and headed to the airport for home, Sydney.

Thank you work for giving me this opportunity, and thank you Richard for making yet another trip of ours fun and memorable. If putting on almost 2 kg from that one week doesn’t prove that I had a good time, I don’t know what does. smile

The Link Dump

Date/s Post Link Food? Description
28 May 2015 A Girl’s Gotta Eat flying out
28 May 2015 Flight Meal on Qantas Flight QF924
28 May 2015 Corea Corea, Orchid Plaza, Cairns late lunch
May-Jun 2015 La Pizza Trattoria, Cairns dinner, 2 nights!
May-Jun 2015 Devine Gelato, Cairns dessert, 3 nights!
31 May 2015 Sushi Express, Orchid Plaza, Cairns quick lunch
31 May 2015 The Raw Prawn, Cairns seafood dinner
2 Jun 2015 Riki Yakiniku Dining Bar, Orchid Plaza, Cairns
May-Jun 2015 Food and Catering at Pullman Cairns International various hotel meals
May-Jun 2015 Pullman Cairns International Hotel the hotel itself
3 Jun 2015 Flight Meal on Qantas Flight QF925