On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger


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Chapter 2: Adventure & Reminiscences

This is chapter two in a blog series of the book “The Curse and its Cure. Vol I: The Ruins of Brisbane in the Year 2000”, written by Dr TP Lucas in 1894. You should probably read this post first: The curse and its cure. Vol I: The ruins of Brisbane in the Year 2000

Having now learned a little about the events that lead to Brisbane’s demise, our narrator and Mr and Mrs West are back on their (singular) boat on the Brisbane River. Mrs West notices a bird …

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The Curse and its Cure. Vol I: The Ruins of Brisbane in the Year 2000

Everyone in Australia knows (and probably loves) Dr Lucas’ Papaw ointment, in its iconic red tub. Great for chapped lips. But did you know that Dr Lucas was also a bit of a loony? His passion for pawpaw ran deep, including running a hospital devoted to the stuff in New Farm, Brisbane. His obsessions did not end at pawpaw, though. He also fancied himself a bit of a novelist, and wrote what is widely considered to be the first novel set in Brisbane. The novel, reportedly, is set in the year 2000, after Brisbane has been destroyed in a civil war between the Australian states. How did Brisbane come to lose the war? Because NSW, the dastardly lot, sent lady parachutists up into the skies above the city, and then shot us all while we were looking at their bloomers.

Well, that certainly got my attention. I set out to read the book …

The world is upside down. Every thinker acknowledges the fact. Everybody is dissatisfied and unhappy because it is so. All intelligent observers are satisfied that the world cannot be at rest until it is again righted, right side up. The question with the multitude is, “can it again be placed right side up.” (From the Preface, dated February 28, 1894)

In this post series, I’ll be summarising each chapter for you, starting, naturally, with …

Chapter I: A Sail up the Brisbane River

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Old and Antique Books

A photograph of a bookshelf, showing two shelves of old and antique books of various sizes and colours.

I am certain that it will surprise exactly no one that I have a large number of books in my (very small) apartment. The prize of the collection, though, is these two shelves. They hold a couple of books of modest value, and a large number of books that I have, for one reason or another, found interesting enough to purchase.

I have never bothered properly cataloguing them, but if my house were to burn down I would miss them very much, so I thought I would make some attempt to document what I have. Perhaps they are of interest to others, as well.

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Facebook, Dynamite, Uber, Bombs, and You.

This is the transcript of a talk I gave at WriteTheDocs Australia, in Melbourne, on 15 November, 2018. A video is also available, see the Videos page for a link.


This little story starts with the American son of German migrants, Herman Hollerith. He was born in 1860, got a degree in engineering, and then went to work in the US Census Bureau in 1879. At that time, the census was just a headcount, they didn’t collect any real data on the population, simply because they didn’t have the ability to process that information. As it was, they only ran a census every ten years, and it took them several years to process all the information. This meant that the big concern of the department is that before too long it was going to take them longer than ten years to do the calculation, meaning the next census would have started before the last one was complete. 

These days, we call that overwhelming technical debt.

So young Master Hollerith was a bit of a bright spark, says “there ought to be a machine for doing the purely mechanical work of tabulating” and set out to build one. By 1884, he had a prototype, and the US Census Bureau used the machines for the 1890 census.

Herman Hollerith, Bright Spark.

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OMG my ACL! Two weeks post-op update

Well, here we are, two weeks out from surgery! There’s a lot to go through here, so I’ve broken it up a bit.

Day of surgery

The day went pretty smoothly, I had a quick coffee before 7am, and was fasting from then on. I headed over to the hospital at 10 and checked myself in. First thing was to change into a gorgeous hospital gown, with a compression stocking on my good leg, and delightful paper knickers and booties. You’ll forgive me for failing to instagram this, I hope!

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OMG, my ACL! Pre-surgery update

In the last month, with the aid of lots of physio (and, more recently, hydrotherapy) I’ve managed to get my knee to the level of movement that my surgeon wants (130°! Whee!), I’m getting around without using the brace or my cane at all, and so I’m all booked in to have the surgery on Monday. So this week has been all about preparations. Here’s what I’ve organised:

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OMG, my ACL! One month update

Some good news, I’m getting around without any walking aides (although I keep my cane close by, I’ve started referring to it as my ‘moral support’ because I really don’t need it any more). While I’m at home I’m also walking around without my brace on, too, trying to strengthen muscles in my leg and knee. With help from my wonderful physio Greg, I’ve got movement between about 2° and 100°. The visible swelling has more or less completely gone, although it’s still swollen inside, which is why it’s still so hard (and painful!) to bend and straighten it.

But, my surgeon wants more! So, surgery has been put off for now, and the physio continues until I can get to around 130°. Dr. Davies tells me this is will greatly help my recovery, and will mitigate the risk of the joint freezing after surgery (which would require more surgery, and I’d rather not do that!). So life is more or less back to normal, although I’m still being quite careful about where and how far I walk, I can get around pretty easily again now, which is a great relief!

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OMG, my ACL! Second week

I saw my GP again on Tuesday morning (12 days after the injury), and we decided that going to a private surgeon at this point would be a good idea. Waiting times for ACL surgery through the public system can apparently be six months or more, and I was eager to get back on my feet. By this point, I could fully weight bear on my bad leg, and had ditched the crutches for my trusty cane (which I bought years ago when I hurt my calf muscle, and was quite pleased to be able to put back into service). My knee was still swollen, although it was going down ever so slowly, and I still had zero stability in the knee, although that’s not terribly surprising.

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