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30 September 2009

The big news!!!

Barb's Facebook status caused a flurry of comments, so I guess I should fill in the details.

As you may or may not know; Barb is in Australia studying medicine while I am still in Canada waiting for my working visa (GSM subclass 175).  When I applied processing time was about six months.  I had applied in July 2008 with Barb starting in Jan 2009.  We then found out it was taking a bit longer because of backlog from a rule change in 2007.  Then more months passed.  Then in May 2009, the Aus Immigration department cut back the number of people they were letting and changing the priority the were processing the visas in.  Then just last week the changed the rules again.  The estimated time of processing moved to 2012.  That's right, four years to process a visa application.

We began experimenting with a few other possibilities.  We thought of me coming to Australia and then applying in-country because processing is much faster.  But, that doesn't work because Aus uses a points system and because I am now 40 years old, I get 5 less points than when I was 35-39.  This means I no longer have enough points.  I could have gone as a spouse on Barb's student visa, but I would only be allowed to work 20 hours a week.  It's pretty hard for two people to live on one part-time salary.  We were even toyed around with Barb coming back to Canada and try again to get into a Canadian med school.

Then out of the blue, my mother comes up with a plan.  She was planning to leave some of her farmland to each of her kids in her will.  She decided that the two quarter sections that I would be getting would be much more useful to me now than after she is gone.  Her plan was to sell the two quarters and give the proceeds to Barb and I.  With  money in the bank, plus me working part-time, we would be able to live TOGETHER until Barb graduates med school.

So, last Thursday she put the land up for sale.  By Sunday she had two offers, plus a third interested party.  She accepted the offer tonight with possession taking place October 16.  The offer was for the full listed amount. If nothing goes horribly wrong, this means that I will be able to fly back to Australia with Barb after her Christmas break in Canada.


For all of you praying for us, please continue to do so until the sale is final (and afterwards is good too) .

26 September 2009

The “Oh, S%#t trees” are blooming!

jacaranda.jpgUniversity of Queensland is covered with Jacaranda trees, along with gums, tulip trees, sausage trees, bunya pines and more. But the Jacaranda has a special place with students. It's known as the "Oh s%#t tree", because it's blooming signifies that exams are near, and one had better be getting catching up on studying. It is actually superstition on campus that getting hit with a falling blossom is bad luck for exams!
They are apparently blooming early this year, because of early rains and warmer weather than usual. The story can be viewed at:

I think it's just for us med students, who have our two day finals on October 20 and 21. Oh, s%#t.
In other news, Brisbane got hit with a whopper of a dust storm, the worst in 70 years. It blew up from Sydney (where planes were being rerouted to Brisbane because of visibility), and covered everything in an orange haze. Brutal for anybody who has lung problems, such as asthmatics. For the whole day, I felt gritty, tasted grit and smelled grit. Inside and outside. It apparently even made international news! My flatmate Brady got some amazing pictures:Story bridge in the dust storm
Jacarandas in the dust
And the next day, just like that, it was gone, and we are back to regularly scheduled beautiful weather. Freaky.

19 September 2009

Help! I’m being Aussified!!!

On the drive to school today, I said out loud, "I hope I can find a park...." And stopped myself. It came out without thinking, and it is exactly how the Aussies would say they hope they find a parking spot. So I am absorbing (or being absorbed) into the Aussie culture. Some other things I have caught myself saying or thinking:
How ya going?= How are you?
Sunnies= Sunglasses
Arvo= afternoon
Esky= Cooler (as in Colemans)
Brilliant!= Awesome!
Beyond the Black Stump= the Boondocks
Bogan= Trailer trash
Bottle Shop= Liquor store
Winge= whine
Macca's= McDonald's
Sparkie= Electrician
Postie= Mail Carrier, or the dirtbikes they ride on the sidewalks
Truckie= Truck driver
Bull bar=Moose rack
Ute= think the old "el Camino" half truck-half car. For some reason they are popular here.
Try= Goal in a game
Panel beaters= (car) body shop
Uni= University
Sister= Nurse (I still don't know what they call male nurses yet)
Feeling crook= feeling sick
bub= baby/toddler
dunny= toilet or (more usually)outhouse
stuffed= broken
hire=rent (unless it's a place, then it's still rent)
lollies=candy (including chocolate)
TimTams= fabulousness incarnate!!!

In other news, the cat, Apollyon, has had a growth on the inside of her cheek since June. I thought it had to do with losing her baby teeth and getting her adult teeth in. The growth persisted, however, and when I did some PubMed searching (how researchers Google), I found that most oral growths in cats are malignant. Yikes! So I took her to the vet, who after examining her thought it was very strange, and didn't look like a cancer or anything else he had ever seen. So he pumped Polly full of antibiotics and an antiinflamatory to see if it would reduce. It didn't, and so today Apollyon had mouth surgery. I just got back with her. She is doped up on morphine and feeling NO PAIN.........
My wallet, on the other hand, is in pain. $400 worth. Ooog. Expensive cats should come with a warranty...

17 September 2009


I just came back from a talk by Dr. Richard Deichmann, who is the chief of Medicine at Memorial Hospital, In New Orleans, Louisiana. He recounted the crisis of the Katrina Hurricane and what happened at his hospital, where 2000 people came to shelter at the 350 bed facility. After a few days the generators supplying emergency power failed, and people began dying. The dead were left in their rooms, as the basement morgue was underwater. I cannot imagine the smell, combined with the human and animal waste in a Louisiana summer. They somehow managed to evacuate the survivors to a field hospital and safety. Not only was that an amazing story, but he also detailed the aftermath- friends and colleagues committing suicide due to Post Traumatic Stress, and the emergency preparedness plans that have now been put in place.
The comment that stuck out at me the most was from his colleague: "It was both the most difficult and yet most rewarding time to be a physician. Totally unencumbered by getting paid or area of specialty, we were just HELPING people." Awesome. cover_import.jpg

15 September 2009

The Countdown is On!

So..... 4 weeks left of classes. Aii-ya!!!!!
The last couple of weeks have been fairly uneventful. Studying, avoidance of studying, too much facebooking (the noun that INSISTS on being verbed! English will never recover!!!! Oh, wait. It's been doing this for centuries. I highly recommend Howard Richler's "A Bawdy Language: How a Second Rate Language Slept its Way to the Top" for an amusing exploration of English's evolution.)
Last week, some group decided it was a fantastic idea to have a rock concert in the parking lot behind the flat. The dishes were vibrating until well after midnight Wednesday and Thursday nights. They were pulling cats backwards through vacuum cleaners at one point, I'm sure. Makes me feel like a grumpy fist-shaking old codger ("You kids get off my lawn!"). But really. People do like to sleep at night sometimes, as it makes getting up 7 hours later that much easier. To go to jobs. and stuff. Ah well, that's the Valley for you. And I'm getting too old, I guess. It's too loud.
This past Saturday was the opening of the Brisbane Festival, with a half hour fireworks show called Riverfire. The Roulettes (the Aussie equivalent of the Snowbirds) performed, and an F1-11 did a dump and burn over the river. Amazing show!
Riverfire from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

Riverfire from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

More Fireworks from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

More Fireworks from Brady Bouchard on Vimeo.

Our musculoskeletal block is coming to a close with a drunk idiot who destroys his radial nerve. No delusions about what most ED calls will be for. Alcohol is only second to "Hey guys, watch this!" in precipitating an acute medical problem.
Lastly, I have decided to run for the VP spot in next year's TROHPIQ club (Towards Rural and Outback Health Professions in Queensland) This is mainly motivated by my keen-ness for what they do, but partially strategic too. Just like in undergrad, those waiting at the end of graduation want to see that you can do more than just study. So hopefully that works out.
Thanks for reading guys!