Saturday, March 26, 2011

The weekend I am grateful for... my job, my outlet and some answers

Oh that's right- I have a blog.

I was reminded by this email from my kind cousin -which will be addressed in another post (promise)- and realised that it has been more than a week since I have looked at my blog, let alone two weeks since I have posted.

The reason, and subject of this week's Maxabella-inspired, MultipleMum-hosted Grateful Post is my new job. It's awesome and it's wonderful and it's super crazy BUSY!! B asked last week, "would you have imagined that there was a job out there for you where you can claim reading newspapers and books, and using Facebook and Twitter* were all part of a day's work?" And best of all, it was what I needed (but my blog didn't)- an outlet to write.

So, dear readers, I'd be grateful for a couple of answers-
  1. is writing juice a finite resource? I feel like my reserves are low once I've fueled the work words. Or is that just my energy reserves?
  2. do your colleagues know that you blog? And do they read your blog? Mine know- because it came up in my interview- and it's been mentioned broadly, but (I think) they haven't seen my blog. Partly because I know it's got lots of unedited (in a bad way), rambly writing and isn't beautiful or highly successful or anything. Not that I'm ashamed of it... but it's just not that... professional. Is that just me, or do other bloggers feel like that?
*Yes, as of a couple of weeks ago, I tweet. @_vTg_ but so far it's been more about me than children and gardening, hence my lack of connections between here and there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This weekend I am grateful for... medical research

I heard a rumour this week that the Federal Government is planning to cut medical research funding in the May federal budget, as part of the broader savings agenda needed to pay for flood rebuilding and other spending commitments like the NBN. While I have no problem with paying for these important projects, I do have a BIG problem with the apparent presumption that Australia can afford to cut medical research funding. Facebook and Twitter campaigns have already started to spread the word about why medical research needs ongoing funding- and as of Sunday there is a website! Things are moving quickly!! I thought it was worth using this week's Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post to say why I'm grateful for medical research:

1. Medical research improves our health and saves lives.
Case in point: this is Little Bro.

Born in 2008, saved in 1928. 100 years ago I don't know if Little Bro or I would still be around. When I was 37 weeks pregnant I had bacterial pneumonia and spend a few nights in hospital being pumped full of penicillin and other antibiotics. If it hadn't been for medical researchers who developed penicillin as an antibiotic, including the Australian Howard Florey , who knows how Little Bro and I would have fared. There's so much that we take for granted in our lives- immunizations, lying babies on their backs to reduce SIDS deaths, cardiac pacemakers, humidicribs, taking folate while pregnant, IVF- which are the result of medical research.

2. Medical research is good for the economy.

I'm not an economist, but those in the know (like Access Economics) say that for every $1 that the government puts into medical research, $1.17 is returned to the economy. Medical research improves the health of the country, reduces medicare costs and decreases hospital stays.

Medical research is the best investment in your life.

Are you grateful for medical research?

Disclaimer: my entire career has been paid for one way or another in large part by the Australian and US research budgets. But I'm grateful. Very grateful.

PS. And I'm top of Maxabella's linky list!! Howzat?!

PPS on Saturday. Thanks for your supportive comments. The Discoveries Need Dollars Facebook page has just posted a touching story about Ava, a little girl given the gift of hearing with the Australian-invented Bionic Ear.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is medical research funding small change?

I guess every mum has their moments of minor indulgence: for me it's 15 blissful, uninterrupted minutes of News Radio in the bathroom every morning (10 if the natives are restless). This morning it was very nearly my last 15 minutes as I choked in the shower hearing that the budget for promoting the Coalition's failed Work Choices legislation had been a cool $100 million.

One hundred million dollars. And what did that achieve? An electoral rout and a "never again" tag (for what it's worth). And I guess there were some jobs and profits made at advertising agencies and the media outlets that ran the ads as a silver lining.

The obvious question is, what else could the government do with $100mil?

I'm no economist, but I can spout what I know about: the cost of medical research. You know, that thing that saves lives...
Yesterday it was announced that the federal government would invest $107million over the next five years on nine largescale Australian research programs addressing complex research problems like how to improve the health outcomes of Australians with developmental disabilities or who have suffered strokes and developing new treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Maybe workplace reform is about as complex a problem as any of these... But is advertising a failed campaign worth five years of medical research?

Image from

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Justine Clarke for the Senate?

I am normally a believer in the procedure of the Australian parliament, but yesterday's efforts at a speech performance by South Australian Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher (below) really did verge on the bizarre. I thought politicians' staffers were meant to prevent massive gaffes like this... Fortunately in the twelve overnight hours they have woken up enough to remove the following from Senator Fisher's wikipedia entry:

"Fisher proved herself to be mentally deficient when she decided it was an effective debating technique to do the Hokey-Pokey and the Time Warp in the senate during a discussion about a carbon tax." (You can still see it in the "View History" tab)

If this is how the senate operates these days, may I make some nominations for the next election?

This works best if you can run the two videos simultaneously :)

Candidate 1:


Candidate 2:

Let's leave performing to the professionals, Senator Fisher. Your predecessor, Amanda Vanstone, could have told you that.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Beauty in biology

And now for something a bit different: beauty in biology, from the Wellcome Trust Image Awards. If only I lived in London so I could see the exhibition for real; half a world away I'll settle for sharing the real pixels with you.

First, for my neglected gardening followers, a garden friend:



Next, a guess what...

Mouse retina


(Isn't it beautiful?)

Speaking of beautiful:

Ruby-tailed wasp


And finally, my favourite:

Blood clot on a plaster


Who would have ever thought there was beauty in a used bandaid?!

PS. Does any clever person out there know how to make my columns wider? I'm sick of good pictures being chopped off! In Blogger I tried Design>Template Designer>adjust column widths and got "this is not possible for this template".
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