Monday, 29 January 2007

Hernia(s) Ahoy

Ariana underwent day surgery at a nearby hospital after our family doctor verified a small hernia on her lower left-side abdomen. The whole process was very quick and (as an outsider tends to sometimes think of Germans) efficient. Her doctor's appointment was a Thursday afternoon, immediately after which the doctor called his surgical colleague at the hospital and set up an appointment for the next day. Gaynor took her along -- since her German is better and the surgeon's English wasn't so great -- and the operation was scheduled for the following Wednesday, very much to Gaynor's surprise.

The surgery went fine with Ari recovering quickly. Unfortunately the hospital was a little short on rooms and she spent some of her post-op period on a bed behind a screen in the hallway. She was ready to go home by 4pm, having arrived at 7am, and, naturally, was quiet tired and sore.

About an hour after returning home, and much to our surprise and chagrin, Ari noticed another tell-tale hernia bulge on her right-side lower abodomen! Talk about timing, total lack of. She has an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow to discuss options and while she hasn't complained about it, she is a little anxious and has asked that both parents be there for this one.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Licence Obtained

While not quite the dynamic title of a James Bond book, I'm nevertheless pleased to have completed the final hurdle -- the practical exam. You may recall the earlier ones -- to receiving my German driver's licence. It was actually the second attempt having failed the first one on the last turn into the testing centre's car park a week before Christmas. To be sure it was cruel (and I felt in error) given that we were expecting to drive to Spain a week later. There is a minimum two week wait between tests.

We agonised over our options for a couple of days and in the end decided I was too poor of a passenger to make it. So it meant that in the end we flew to Spain, instead of the expected total of 6 days in the car. Though more expensive it was, of course, much faster however we are still undecided if it was less stressful. It also gave me an opportunity to use one of my more recently frequent phrases when discussing the (now obviously simple) solution to a problem: '... and all it took was a whole lot of money.' I'm still amazed at how many problems this almost trivial solution can be applied to.

So now I'm driving again, much to Gaynor's relief (bad passenger that I am) and for those alert readers who remember my commentary on the Australian driving learner caught doing 177 km/h, I managed 130 during the exam I passed, mostly due to the short amount of autobahn and the under-powered car I was in. :D

Thursday, 4 January 2007

View from Europe

I still follow quite closely the news and current events in Australia, using the ABC website almost exclusively for this. Two recent stories in a row made me think a little about what Europe currently means to an expatriated Aussie.

The bombing at Madrid Airport made me sit up and take notice since Gaynor and the girls were only there the day before. Even though the bombed terminal was two kilometres away from the one the girls were transiting through it certainly made me stop and think about what it means to live and travel in such a place. While we feel closer, in some sense, to the centre of the world that also means being closer to world events, even the ugly ones. Certainly Europe has seen (and caused) more than its fair share of wars over the centuries and, in part, I put it down to the large number of sharply varying cultures crammed into a relatively small area. I am still amazed as how quickly culture and language change as you travel, even within a single nation. However, on the whole I think Europe does a pretty fair job of keeping it all in check -- tolerance, building on common ground and the like -- but incidents such as this bombing make you realise it's not all roses yet.

A story about a 40 year old learner caught doing 177km/h -- according to the police (and look he probably was!) -- also caught my attention. Despite growing up in Australia with a fair amount of government and traffic authorities' propaganda, I've never believed that speed alone is dangerous. Since driving in Germany, especially on the autobahns (I'm missing them already!), I'm even more convinced of it. In my opinion the Germans, at least, take a much more balanced and reasonable approach. There are very strict rules governing traffic here and they view their driving much more as a social responsibility than as a personal right. The cost to obtain a licence alone is enough to make one value it.

There have been many reasons why the time we have spent here has been very good for us and getting a different view of the world and life is certainly one of the top three.

Monday, 1 January 2007

I Wish I Was A Daffodil

I wish I was a daffodil
People would call me Billy.
I turn my face to the sun,
Now wouldn't that be silly.

a poem for english class

School Stuff

This school year I have started some new subjects (Latin, geography & chemistry) and my classes have changed from last year. I've not done much study because I am too busy playing Runescape online. I have Latin with my old history teacher and he's as blind as a bat and he reads a book the same way archaeologists examine old papyrus rolls. (Really really closely). he was absent for the 1st week of school for an eye operation and now he can see a lot better but he still looks like an archaeologist examining something very carefully. My other new teachers are all the same boring lecture giving people as most teachers usually are.