Monday, January 26, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Land of the Long White Cloud

Last weekend, Tanya and I went to New Zealand. We landed in Auckland, drove to Rotorua, and came back to Auckland via Goat Island. Then Tanya flew home and I flew to Wellington for the CATS 2009 conference.

In Australia the insects and animals are constantly trying to kill you. In New Zealand, the earth itself is constantly trying to kill you. Rotorua is exploding. You can hardly step anywhere without falling into a thermal spring, geyser, or sulfur pit. Here are some pictures. We might have a movie later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's down with BPPV?

Me, that's who. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a condition in which the patient feels like they just stepped off the playground spinner, only the feeling doesn't go away. It makes it impossible to focus on anything, causes sea-sickness, and makes standing up difficult. It's caused when a calcium rock forms in the inner ear and finds its way into the semicircular canals that provide the body's sense of orientation. The treatment involves the Epley Maneuver: Imagine playing one of those handheld games where you navigate a ball through a maze by tilting the maze, only the maze is in 3D and the whole thing is inside your head.

I didn't know this yesterday morning when I woke up. All I knew is that I had trouble standing, and the world appeared to be spinning around me. After a few rounds of staggering to the bathroom to throw up I called Divers Alert Network (since I had been diving recently) and their on-call physician deduced that my symptoms were probably not symptoms of decompression sickness, but may have been symptoms of an inner-ear injury. I should get to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

With Tanya's help, I got cleaned up and took a taxi to the hospital. The triage nurse took my blood pressure, sitting and standing, and I guess she didn't like what she saw because I was very quickly sent to get a 12 point electrocardiogram. The ECG nurse asked me if I had a history of heart illness and sent me back to the waiting room.

After sitting in the waiting room with my eyes closed for some amount of time, the doctor called me in and did a neurological exam to see if my symptoms were an indicator of a stroke. After all that, she deduced that I had BPPV in my left ear, performed an Epley maneuver on me, gave me a script for some very strong anti-nausea medicine, and sent me home. I spent most of the day lying in bed with my eyes closed and after doing a couple of home Epley maneuvers on myself I was starting to feel better by about 10pm. This morning, after being careful to sleep on my right side I'm feeling much better.

All in all, considering what could have caused these symptoms, BPPV is probably the best possible outcome.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Dugongs from Pat Morin on Vimeo.

This weekend Tanya was sick, so I had to go on my own to see Sydney Aquarium's newly acquired dugongs, Pig and Wuru. These cute sea creatures are a mix between elephant and mermaid. In fact, it's conjectured that sailors who spotted dugongs for the first time thought they were beautiful sea-women (mermaids). Those old-time sailors must have been myopic or extremely horny, or both.

Here are a few pictures.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

V for Vampire

Tanya and I went to the Maritime Museum to have a look at the HMAS Vampire, a Daring Class destroyer, and the HMAS Onslow, an Oberon Class submarine. I was amazed at the number of knobs, dials, gauges, buttons, monitors, tubes, pots, pans, wheels, valves, and bunks they could cram into the sub.

I learned that I'm too tall to spend any length of time in a submarine. Here are the pictures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coolest thing ever

Yesterday Tanya and I went to the Powerhouse Museum to see the Star Wars Exhibit. They had lots of models and costumes used in the filming of the original trilogy. For a Star Wars fan it's pretty cool stuff. The most impressively detailed model was the coffee table-sized Millenium Falcon. Conspicuous by their absence were any models of the Death Star (first or second).

Here are my pictures.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A bastard of a place

Our trip to PNG was fantastic (a selection of pictures here) – we even had a two day extension courtesy of Air Nuigini. We were meant to come home on Friday but they cancelled our flight so we stayed at the resort an extra day and ended up with a day in Port Moresby. Apparently cancelling flights for no apparent reason is quite common in PNG so it seems we truly had an authentic experience. The day in Moresby we could have done without as it is considered unsafe for non-locals and unfortunately for us it is very obvious that we are not locals. It is recommended that you do not go outside of your gated complex unless accompanied by a tour guide or armed guard - no kidding. Unfortunate really, as our hotel was only minutes from what looked like a beautiful beach. That said, we did get a brief tour of the city before we left so at least we can say we saw it.

As you would expect, we spent much of our holiday diving. While diving we had the chance to swim with dolphins and sharks and take a few pictures with our new macro lens (Thanks Mom and Dad). We did manage a few hours above water during which we went for a walk in the village, a mountain rainforest walk, and a trip to the hot river (43C).