The Rod Blog

26 August 2006

Flash Pics

No Story today. Just a collection of some of my favourite pics.
Only the first one is taken with my new fancy pants SLR. The others from my old 3mp Samsung.

20 August 2006

This month marks the first anniversary of The Rod Blog, and I pause for a moment to ask why I do it. Tap away at some random topic for God-knows what purpose.

In my very first entry I questioned whether I'd stick with it. Knowing my habit of meandering from one project to the next, it is a reasonable question. But I guess the random bite pieces suits my short attention span.

Having one blog story broadcast on ABC radio, and another published in the Herald is certainly has been rewarding. The opportunity to marry digital photography with my spontaneous warblings is lots of fun; and sometimes my readers seem to enjoy it too.

I’ve thought quite a bit about this topic and could write major essay on it. But I feel I am already starting to bore you. I mean, how far would you really want to gaze into the Rod Navel?

Ergo, you can skip all the above, and read the following abridged version in thirteen words.

The Rod Blog is a kind of graffiti. It says simply

I exist

19 August 2006

Santa calls

The deed is done. I've been putting off the expensive digital SLR for a long time. A kind of reverse snobbery on my part. I like having taken nifty pictures on a really basic camera.
I'm looking forward to finding out what new tricks are possible with the up-market baby.

Hey! I just discovered you can take blury shots with an expensive camera. Cooool!

17 August 2006


Bereft, I am! The heart-wrenching pain of separation!
I had to get up this morning in time for the bus to meet the plane to take my precious bundle off to the UK. For nearly eight weeks we are to be parted, oh woe!

Yes, my camera is off on a European holiday. Oh, yes, and I should also mention – the camera is attached to the Peg Master, Anne.

What a generous girl. She’s said it’s okay for me to go looking. We have a very honest relationship like that. So tomorrow night I’m going into town to see if I can find another, more upmarket model that will make me feel young again. One of those sexy new things which responds enthusiastically to deft handling. But do you think I am buying myself into trouble here?

I think I’ll go for a Canon 350D digital SLR. Very swish. Nearly all the pictures on the blog so far have been taken with a fairly modest 3 Mega pixel Samsung. It might be pretty basic, but I think I’ve caught some pretty cool pictures with it. Let’s see how we go with the new fancy-pants job.

Right now, Anne’s been airborne for about 7 hrs, which puts her about a third of the way there. International flights, oh what a drag. And we’ll be interested to hear the news on how it goes with all the new security blah-de-blah.

04 August 2006

The Rod Belch is National News!

Woo hoo! Much excitement tonight!
Anne & Claire are down the coast. Claire for a performance, Anne to do some work.

I was just preparing for bed, and went to fetch the crossword for my nightly wind-down ritual...and guess what! I spotted the Sydney Morning Herald, there's the Health & Science section - and it's has my story in it!

I sent this off a couple of weeks ago, and forgot about it. They didn't tell me they were going to publish it, so it was a bit of a surprise. That means the Rodblog has been on national radio and newspaper.

Okay, brag, brag, but I'm excited. I even got my own cartoon.

But I know that Rod's law says that every ego boost is invariably followed by an ego boot of the same proportion. This means that within the next few days I will do something that makes me feel like a complete git, and then everything will be back to normal. Balance restored.

The SMH story is reproduced for your pleasure. Originally titled "On with the Wind".


I never thought there was such a thing as a life-threatening belch until I discovered gastric reflux. Family members learned to recognise the signs. It probably starts with a facial expression which fortunately I can’t see. Then walk away with hand on stomach, emitting a long buuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrp. On a bad day it’d go on for minutes, to the point where I’d feel nauseous.

People experience reflux in a variety of ways, and it seems remarkably common. Basically, it’s caused by an ineffective valve at the top of the stomach, allowing gastric acid to escape. You’d expect to then encounter heartburn, as the acid tries to digest your oesophagus, but for some reason I almost never get this.

Being a man, I put up with this for ages before seeking medical advice. The specialist explained that I am swallowing air as my body produces its own natural antacid – saliva. Simply eating often helps too, since it also absorbs the acid.

But eating – there’s the rub! What do you eat? Launching into my favoured comfort food – cakes, alcohol, beer, fatty food can make it worse. This is where I and my condition are at war. I can’t resist daring it to bite.

One day I made a deep incursion into Reflux territory. Beer, chips, and a small salvo of malt whisky. Bad move. The reprisal was not particularly swift, but it was merciless. The next day I was a misery of searing stomach pain. Reflux let me know it would not tolerate such transgressions without consequence.

Subsequent examination revealed an oesophageal ulcer, but thankfully no “Barrett’s oesophagus”. Good thing: you don’t want a visit from Mr Barrett because it can be a precursor to cancer.

Thankfully the ulcer healed quickly and, to my delight, I have discovered that I can tolerate the occasional nip of whisky. A glass or two of beer is usually fine, and I have become good at judging the signs of when I can push it.

One of the drugs that is supposed to help me sounds like it belongs in a nuclear research facility. The technical blurb for omeprazol casually calls it a “proton pump inhibitor”. This simply means that it suppresses the secretion of stomach (hydrochloric) acid.

It sounds weird to have no stomach acid, but apparently with a modern diet, you don’t need it anyway. I certainly have never noticed any side effects, and internet research has convinced me that it’s pretty safe. So even though I always avoid drugs if I can, I have few qualms about popping these when the belches are looming.
Oddly enough, studies have shown that a drug like this means you are more likely to suffer colds. Fewer bugs survive the acid journey through the stomach.

In the early days I was nearly driven mad by the endless gassy episodes, to the point where I even investigated surgery. The specialist told me the old-fashion O-ring around the top of the stomach is, well, old fashioned and not recommended.

Then I discovered a thing called “fundoplication” where the surgeon wraps the oesophagus with a portion of the stomach, helping to tighten the seal. A variant is called the “toupee wrap”, which only goes part way around.

The former sounds like a mathematical procedure; the latter like Turkish take-away. They both sound like hospitals, pain, and expense. Besides, I was concerned about other possible consequences of this internal tweaking, so I decided to give it a miss.

These days the reflux and I live in an unsteady truce. I still lob in the occasional naughty, and by some weird logic of its own, it either ignores it, or pays me back double. And then on other days it, even though I’m good, it’ll bung on a turn just to let me know who’s boss.

02 August 2006

Good and Evil

One thing that I really struggle with is the extremes between the good and the bad of people. The vile, stinking, shitty things that people do leave me despairing against the shining, inspirational acts of others.

It’s easy to fall into a sense of hopelessness about the crappy side of human nature. The endless news reports of murder this, or war that. I try to switch it off, but the fetid stuff leaks though the media.

I walk though pretty parks and look away from the rubbish dumped by some thoughtless turd who can’t be bothered.

Last weekend Katie and I went for a walk through a nearby plantation and found that half a dozen trees had been maliciously chopped. Why, oh why! Maybe not a big deal in the scheme of things, but if you saw only these things one could despise humanity.

Luckily I also have an eye for the wonderful works of people and nature, and acts of friendship truly make the world worthwhile.

Cash gives better value

Another day for laps. I arrive at the pool, and music is playing over the PA…if you could read my mind / what a tale my thoughts would tell… (it’s hard to sing in text). The singer is powerful and on key, and backed up by the driving accompaniment of a big band.

By odd coincidence I’d just been listening to the same song at my desk. This singer could not be more different. His creaky, wavering voice struggles to hold a note. He’s backed only by a strumming guitar.

The big sound of the glitzy version reminds me of the interior of a shopping mall. All chrome and glass, but lifeless in spite of the lavish production. It sounds like the triumph of marketing and money over something less tangible.

I am far more affected by the low budget effort. The lone singer expresses with a soulfulness I finding moving. Even the teenage girl who sold it to me said as much.

This is why I did something new recently. Don’t tell anybody: this can be our little secret. I bought a Country music album!

Johnny Cash’s America V was made in his bedroom during his last days and, in spite of the obvious effort it took him, his honesty shines through.

For my money, the flashy edifice is easily beaten by the humble shack.

Happy Birthday Michael!