Bad news after good news plus some okay news

MailChimp socks Good news Bad news Gary Lum

Bad news after good news plus some okay news

00:00 / 5:34

Bad news

Last week, I mentioned some good news, sadly this week, I have some bad news.

I had been planning to have a busy and fulfilling week as I prepare for a meeting away from Canberra next week. Unfortunately, on Wednesday I received some bad news about a close family member and a serious diagnosis. To protect my relative’s privacy I won’t go into detail. The news hit me like a hammer to my head.

I pretty much lost all enthusiasm for shooting any photographs (or anything else for that matter) so I don’t have much to share. I’m in a melancholy place.

Going home

Well sort of. There have been some changes at work and I have to move workspaces from my current area to an area I used to occupy. I’m pretty happy with this move.

I’ll be on a lower level which makes walking up the stairs from the basement to the floor I work on more realistic every day. There are also fewer men on the floor, so the toilet experience will be substantially better. I also get a better view out the window. Not only that but I’ll be closer to colleagues working on projects and programs I’m especially interested in. It’s kind of exciting to think I’m coming home.

I won’t be able to move in completely until the new year.

I’m also heading ‘home’ in the sense to Brisbane for a couple of weeks to assist with my ill relative. It’s funny, Brisbane is my hometown but when I think of home I still think of Darwin.

Packing for a trip

So I’m headed somewhere cold and because I have a few tight connections, I really don’t want to use a bag I have to check in. I want to go with just two carry-on bags. I also need my MacBook plus all the paraphernalia associated with working and travelling. My biggest concern is having enough warm clothes in a small bag which I will need to walk with and catch trains. Fortunately, I won’t be gone for long.

People who know me also know I have Ichthyosis vulgaris and so I have significant moisturiser needs. This means carrying bottles and I’m concerned that one bottle is 150 mL rather than 100 mL. I don’t want to be pinged at security.

I bet you’re wondering, “where the hell is Gary going?” All will be revealed in the next post.

I checked the weather and when I arrive it will be –1 °C (30.2 °F). I think I’ll be carrying my Driza-Bone oilskin coat. I mustn’t forget gloves and a beanie. If this wasn’t work-related travel I reckon I’d go with something lighter and warm, but the Driza-Bone looks good and can be worn to a meeting.

Highlights of the week

I received 200 likes on the Medical Fun Facts Podcast blog thanks to sweet Kaia from Here in the silence. She gave me a whole heap of like-love. ❤️

Bad News Good News Kaia Here in the silence WordPress stats likes Gary Lum

I also received some socks from MailChimp. MailChimp is an automation platform and the tool I use to send e-mails to subscribers.

MailChimp socks Good news Bad news Gary Lum

Weight loss update

Steady going, no real loss but no gains. I worry about the next few weeks with travel and the festive season coming up.

I think 2018 will see a renewed effort. I still want to get to 77 kg (170 lb) and remain about that weight. I’m currently hovering around 81 kg (178 lb) after starting the weight loss process at 87 kg (191 lb).

What did you have for dinner tonight? Salmon and stir-fried kale salad I put some shredded kale, cabbage, carrot, red onion, bird’s eye chillies, and spring onions in a frying pan and stir-fried it with some olive oil. I then added some salmon and cream. I garnished it with fresh spring onions. #lowcarb #weightloss Bad news Gary Lum
A healthful meal. Salmon and stir-fried kale salad
I put some shredded kale, cabbage, carrot, red onion, bird’s eye chillies, and spring onions in a frying pan and stir-fried it with some olive oil. I then added some salmon and cream. I garnished it with fresh spring onions.

Medical Fun Facts Podcast this week

Over the last couple of weekends, I’ve recorded four shows. Yesterday I finished and uploaded the Christmas Day show. This means I won’t have to worry about recording anything until 2018 begins. I’m getting close to the end of the alphabet and while I’m away I need to plan and prepare for how I want to take the Medical Fun Facts Podcast into 2018.

Cover art for the Medical Fun Facts Podcast Christmas special Bad news Gary Lum
Cover art for the Medical Fun Facts Podcast Christmas special

This week’s show drops Monday at 7 pm Canberra time. The topic is the Uvea. While you wait for that show to drop, check out last week’s show on tetanus.

Podcasts I listen to while walking, driving and working around the flat

Worlds collide

A photograph of my boss, the Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy on the cover of a journal. I’m on the editorial board for Microbiology Australia. In this issue, Brendan and another colleague write about immunisation (vaccination) policy in Australia.

Bad news Gary Lum worlds collide vaccination immunisation

Getting ready for 2018

My Brisbane Broncos membership card came in the mail.

Brisbane Broncos membership Bad news Gary Lum NRL

Have a good week friends

Take care of yourselves and take care of your health needs.

Gary Lum Square photograph Blue shirt

Good news

Good news Gary Lum JEE WHO IHRs

Good news

00:00 / 5:49

Good news but I can’t say terribly much

Good news is always worth sharing and this has been a good week. That said, there’s not too much I can say. You see, I had a brilliant work week.

I’m mindful of not sharing too much about work. As an Australian Public Servant and a member of the Senior Executive Service, we’re reminded appropriately that ‘at all times’ we must conduct ourselves in a way that maintains the integrity of what we do.

What that means is I should not publicly discuss matters that relate to the policy areas I am actively engaged in. While some colleagues see it as a restriction, I see it as a freedom. It’s why I feel comfortable with this blog, my food blog Yummy Lummy, and my professional blog and podcast The Medical Fun Facts Podcast.

Last Friday, we welcomed evaluators from WHO who came to evaluate Australia’s compliance with the International Health Regulations 2005 and specifically the core capacities. This is part of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) process that WHO has been undertaking since the recent change from self-assessment to external assessment.

We had evaluators from WHO HQ, WHO WPRO (Manila), WHO One Health Office, OIE, USA, Canada, Japan, China, and New Zealand.

The IHR core capacities are those required to detect, assess, notify and report events, and respond to public health risks and emergencies of national and international concern, as stipulated in Articles 5 and 13, and Annex 1, of the Regulations.

It was great to meet with the external evaluation team on Friday. Over the weekend, members of the JEE team plus colleagues from the department spent time reviewing external sites relevant to the core capacities.

On Monday, my focus was on routine work and a special stakeholder meeting relating to a very important part of my work.

On Tuesday though, the process of formal evaluation took place and began in earnest. This involved nineteen separate panel sessions covering all the core capacities. I had the privilege of chairing four sessions which meant I got to present information on those core capacities. I was really happy to be able to speak about Australia’s capability and capacity in our national laboratory system, biosafety and biosecurity (pathogen security), linking public health and security agencies, and finally radiation emergencies. These are all areas I feel strongly about and for which I have a good working knowledge. This formal evaluation took three whole days of solid questions and answers. It was thoroughly enjoyable though. Needless to say, I was pretty happy with the process. Good news.

Good news Gary Lum JEE WHO IHRs


The only downside of these sorts of meetings is “meeting food”. Don’t get me wrong, meeting food is usually tasty, but when something this big happens, it usually means there are regular breaks and regular opportunities to indulge in scones, spinach and feta rolls, chicken and mayo wraps, freshly cut fruit and litres of filter coffee and tea. Not so much good news!

My weight loss desires took a back seat as you can see in this week’s graph.

Good news Weight Chart Gary Lum JEE WHO IHRS Good news Weight Chart Gary Lum JEE WHO IHRS

Busy weekend

No, not with Christmas shopping but with podcast recording and uploading. I’m going away for a week soon and I needed to prerecord three podcast episodes so I don’t have to worry about them while I’m away. This kept me busy all weekend while the rain was falling steadily across the south-east of Australia.

JEE Mug Gary Lum Good news Core capacities WHO JEE IHRs

I won’t say where I’m going just yet, you’ll find out soon enough. If you don’t subscribe to My Thoughts and Stuff, now is a good opportunity so you don’t miss out on the surprise!

Connecting and reconnecting with friends on social media

Good news, this week saw a return of K to blogging over at Here in the Silence. It is great to reconnect with her and to read her writing. She is such a wonderful person, beautiful in all ways and a terrific writer of prose and poetry.

I’ve mentioned before the podcasters I ‘hang’ with online. We’ve recently moved to Slack as a platform to chat. It offers so many opportunities to share with one another and has the ability to connect with other productivity tools like Trello and Evernote.

It’s funny, most of the people I chat with on Slack are fellow podcasters, but we tend not to chat that much about the mechanics of podcasting. We normally discuss things relating to food, video gaming, and popular culture.

I’ve mentioned before but in this group, we have podcasters from Mouthy Broadcast, Zombie Anonymous, Dork Trek, and the Promenade Podcast. Check them out if you dare.

Podcasts I listen to while walking, driving and working around the flat

Then, of course, it’s great to chat with people on Twitter and Facebook. What I like about this is that after getting to know some people, we’ve built up such a good rapport we now spend quite a bit of time chatting via Messages or e-mail or Twitter DMs.

So what have you been up to this week?

Do you have any good news to share? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Hit me up on social media like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to share what’s been good in your life this week.

This week on the Medical Fun Facts Podcast

This week I’m talking about Tetanus. The show drops on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time. You can listen via your favourite podcatcher or watch an Apple Keynote presentation on YouTube or read the show notes at The Medical Fun Facts Podcast.

Good news The Medical Fun Facts Podcast Gary Lum JEE WHO IHRS

Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency

00:00 / 00:10:06

Iodine deficiency

Hello Friends,


I missed blogging last week because I went to Brisbane to visit my daughters and parents. I had a fantastic time. It rained heavily the entire weekend. I love heavy rain and I love driving in heavy rain. It reminded me of driving from Darwin to Katherine once with a colleague. It was February and the Monsoon was upon us. I could barely see what was in front of me and bear in mind this was the time of unrestricted driving, meaning, no speed limit. My colleague asked if I could see the road because he couldn’t. I replied, “No, but I can feel the road.” He elected not to join me for the return drive and decided to hire a car at his own expense for the return journey the next day.

I bet you’re wondering how I went with my weight loss dream while in Brisbane and visiting my family. Gee, I ate well. But I ate sensibly, well, in my opinion, I ate sensibly.

Weekend food highlights

I flew up on Friday evening and decided to only eat the chicken in the chicken curry that was served as a meal on my flight. I left the rice behind.

Chicken curry

iodine deficiency

🐓 Sorry for the crappy photo

On Saturday morning, I took Ms22 and Ms20 to breakfast to Cafe 63 in Chermside and enjoyed a big hearty breakfast of pork sausages, BBQ pork belly, bacon, beef, hash brown (I ate one of two), scrambled eggs, and a grilled tomato. I left the toast behind.

Cafe 63 big breakfast

iodine deficiency
BBQ pork belly, bacon, beef burger, pork sausage, hash browns and eggs

At lunchtime on Saturday, Ms20, Miss16 and I went to the Sandgate Fishmonger and I had a piece of grilled cod along with one of two crumbed squid tentacles.

Sandgate Fishmonger grilled cod

iodine deficiency
Grilled cod 🐟

For dinner, I took my parents along with Ms22 and Ms20 to Motto Motto in Chermside. It’s an interesting Japanese restaurant. Sort of fast food, order at the counter, speedy food service, eat and leave. I had a bowl of seared salmon, avocado, green salad leaves and Teriyaki sauce. I also had a side of two soft shelled crabs. I also managed to snag a piece of karaage chicken, a Teriyaki chicken wing and a pork gyoza dumpling.

Motto Motto seared salmon and avocado with soft shelled crabs

iodine deficiency
Seared salmon and avocado and salad
iodine deficiency
Seared salmon and avocado and salad

iodine deficiency

After dinner, Dad treated us all to a gelato. This is the first gelato or ice cream I’ve had in months. Gee, it tasted good. I licked that vanilla creaminess like to was the most important thing in my life.


iodine deficiency
Vanilla gelato

On Sunday, I was able to enjoy breakfast with Ms22, Ms20, and Miss16. We went to Hermosa in Chermside. I constructed my breakfast by asking for bacon, poached eggs, wilted spinach and avocado. The avocado was coated with seeds and crushed nuts and was really very nice.

iodine deficiency
Poached eggs, bacon, avocado and wilted spinach

All in all, I ate well on the weekend. When I weighed in on Monday morning I wasn’t shattered with the result.

See for yourself in the chart below.

Weight chart

iodine deficiency

Canberra is continuing to crush salmonella but not in a good way

iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency

On Tuesday night I attended a monthly meeting of medical officers who work in the Australian Government Department of Health. Our guest speaker was Prof. Creswell Eastman, AM. Prof. Eastman is a legend. He is best known for a lifetime of work on iodine deficiency and the role iodine plays in a person’s intellectual development. He’s shown time and again the problems of iodine deficiency not only in Australia but also in China including Tibet.

Check out my Twitter feed.

Click on the tweet and you should be able to follow the lecture from my Tweets.

I learned that in China, Prof. Eastman assisted the people by igniting the government into making a humungous change and iodise the salt which rapidly raised the intelligence quotient of millions of Chinese people living in remote and rural settings. Reducing iodine deficiency is the key.

I also learnt that at the time, Tibet became an unintended control group. There were villages in Tibet where the majority of people had goitres, cretinism still occurred and in addition to intellectual retardation, growth retardation also occurred. Prof. Eastman went in and assisted the locals by introducing iodised oil. The effect was dramatic by reducing iodine deficiency.

What Prof. Eastman also revealed was the population problems in terms of poor intellectual development in Australia. His collaborators used the much-maligned NAPLAN process to compare intellectual development in Australian children.  His group discovered that some time ago the Australian dairy industry made a decision to change milk vat disinfection from iodophors to chlorine without telling anyone. This had the effect of reducing the available iodine in dairy products. Iodine is inimical to bacterial growth so it was a fabulous disinfectant.

In addition, there has been a general move to reduce salt intake and to not add salt to food. While there is nothing wrong with that, instead of buying and using good old-fashioned iodised cooking salt people started following cooking fads and started to buy sea salt and rock salt and sadly Himalayan rock salt. I say sadly because that Himalayan salt, according to Prof. Eastman is murky and dirty looking because of the presence of noxious trace metals that don’t do anything positive for our health. The bottom line was that the little added salt people did use was not iodised and possibly had harmful effects.

Iodised salt is used in bread but with so many people eschewing bread because they believe they have a gluten intolerance (rather than having fair dinkum cœliac disease, this had led to a further reduction in iodine in our diets.

Prof. Eastman’s advice is that pregnant women in Australia should supplement their diets as soon after conception as possible with iodine. The risk of not doing this is having a child who may be a slow learner and all the consequences of that.

If you want a salty recipe you can use iodised salt for, check out this great looking pork crackling on Yummy Lummy.


Should Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?

When you look up Wikipedia and search for Thanksgiving it’s a revelation to see just how widespread thanksgiving celebration is.

While I know a lot of Australians resent following Americana on everything I wonder if we should spread the message that Thanksgiving could also be an Australian holiday but for different reasons when compared with our American friends. If we did it correctly we could do something to ameliorate the angst associated with Australia Day and the concerns expressed by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who consider 26 January to be what they regard as “invasion day”, that is the day the British arrived and began colonising Australia. I think we should still mark Australia Day (26 January) as an important day but we wouldn’t need a public holiday. We could transfer the public holiday to Thanksgiving which could be celebrated on another day. Thanksgiving could be a day to celebrate reconciliation.

Here is where I reckon we should look at the American tradition and use a specific day of the week, e.g, the third Friday of January every year. This way the public holiday isn’t ‘wasted’ on a Saturday or Sunday and we get a long weekend. Another possible day would be the second Tuesday of November so while the Victorians are having fun getting pissed at a horse race, the rest of Australia could enjoy some nice seafood and a mixed grill on the barbie followed by a pavlova. Morning tea could be filled with vanilla slices (bloody Victorians call them snot blocks) and lamingtons. After lunch, people would have time without affecting the national productivity to watch the horserace and waste the arvo drinking grog so by dinner time they can sober up and get ready for work the next day.

When Australia becomes a republic I want to run for President on a platform a long weekend every month.

I did not know that Thanksgiving is celebrated on Norfolk Island.

What do you reckon? Should we celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia?

Black and white

So if you’re on Facebook and/or Instagram you’ll have probably seen if not participated in the black and white challenge. It’s been fun shooting a photograph every day editing it to black and white and then posting it to Instagram and then out to Facebook and Twitter.

I wouldn’t say these photographs are any good but it was fun. The idea is not to include people you know and you don’t provide any explanation as to why you shot the photograph.

This is a gallery. Click on one photograph and then scroll through each image.

This week on the Medical Fun Facts Podcast

This week I talk about scabies. The show will drop on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time. I’m trying something different. Rather than a ‘fake video’ I’ve produced an Apple Keynote slideshow with a voiceover. This will be available on YouTube (also on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time).

YouTube thumbnail for Monday’s show

iodine deficiency

Have you ever experienced stalled weight loss?

Weight chart at Sunday 12 November 2017. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.

Have you ever experienced stalled weight loss?

So I’ve experienced stalled weight loss. I started trying to lose weight at the beginning of October by eliminating bread, rice and pasta from my diet. I also stopped milk in my coffee and haven’t added sugar to anything except for the occasional sauce like the Sichuan Teriyaki dipping sauce from last week. I haven’t changed my intake of vegetables or fruit, except that I haven’t been eating potatoes. It’s been great enjoying mangoes and avocados.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve experienced stalled weight loss and haven’t been able to continue the steady decline that I had been enjoying. I know that so-called experts say daily weighing is not useful but I have an obsessive personality so I like to measure my mass, blood pressure and pulse rate. I managed to breach 83 kilograms last week and I’ve touched 83.0 kilograms twice. I need to get below that and keep going.

Photograph of weight chart up today

Weight chart at Sunday 12 November 2017. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.
Weight chart on Sunday 12 November 2017

The answer is obviously to keep avoiding sugar and other carbohydrates but I also need to reduce the portion sizes. one of my downfalls is my love of nuts. Yesterday, I went to see Thor: Ragnarok at the local Hoyts cinema. I booked a seat in the theatre with an extreme screen and reclining seats. I knew I’d want a snack. To avoid choc tops and popcorn, I bought a bag of salted Queensland nuts. I love Queensland nuts. I’ve been eating almonds and Queensland nuts over the last couple of weeks and it’s been difficult to only eat a small number because they are so moreish.

Thor: Ragnarok (with spoilers)

What a fun movie that was. It was really very funny and much more casual than previous Thor and Avenger movies. It was also good to see Thor get a haircut.

It was nice to hear Australian and New Zealand accents throughout the movie.

Photograph from inside the cinema

Nope, I wouldn’t breach the copyright 😂

Hoyts Thor Cinema 5. What a great movie! Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum
Hoyts Thor Cinema 5. What a great movie!

2 Yummy Super Tasty Boneless Duck

After the movie, I walked over to 2 Yummy and got myself some Super Tasty Boneless Duck which is on the Chef’s specials list. The duck from 2 Yummy is really nice. I brought the duck back to the flat and stir-fried some coleslaw with butter and added a little cream to finish it off. The combination was indeed super tasty. Read my review of 2 Yummy.

Photograph of duck and stir-fried coleslaw

2 Yummy super tasty boneless duck with stir-fried creamy coleslaw. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.
2 Yummy super tasty boneless duck with stir-fried creamy coleslaw.

Photographs from this last week

Click on one of the photographs and then please scroll through the gallery. You can also read the comments.

You can probably see why I’ve experienced a stalled weight loss.

Podcast earworms

Regular readers know just how much I enjoy listening to podcasts. Two of my favourites are Mouthy Broadcast and Dork Trek. This week’s shows have left earworms in my head. The common factor between these two podcasts is Jennie Zell.

If you don’t mind some explicit language and NSFW themes, feel free to listen to both shows.

Slowly roasted pulled lamb meat from lamb bones

While I’ve been using my Tupperware Micro Pressure Cooker a lot, these lamb bones needed slow roasting.

Lamb bones ready for slow roasting with smokey BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.
Lamb bones ready for slow roasting with smokey BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock.
Pulled lamb after slow roasting. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum
Pulled lamb after slow roasting
Slowly roasted pulled lamb meat from lamb bones served with coleslaw. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.
Slowly roasted pulled lamb meat from lamb bones served with coleslaw

I desire mutton flaps

This week on The Medical Fun Facts Podcast

I’m talking about Q fever and its ætiological agent, viz., Coxiella burnetii.

The show drops at 7 pm Monday night Canberra time.

I’d love it if you subscribed so you get an e-mail each time a new show drops.

The Medical Fun Facts Podcast episode 92, Q fever. Stalled weight loss. Gary Lum.
The Medical Fun Facts Podcast episode 92, Q fever.

Final thoughts

I hope you enjoy the week to come. Let me know if you have any ideas for helping me keep my weight loss going. My aim is to stabilise around 77 kilograms.

If you’ve just stumbled upon this blog, I’d love it if you subscribed so you get an e-mail each time I write a new post.

Other posts you may enjoy reading

Weight loss challenges when travelling

Four weeks and four kilograms

Is my drawing getting any better?

Podcasts I listen to while walking, driving and working around the flat


A story about Sichuan dipping sauce

Always Think fungus Gary Lum

A story about Sichuan dipping sauce

Have you heard of or made Sichuan dipping sauce? Apparently, it’s a big deal in McDonald’s restaurants in the USA. I was recently listening to the Broads at Mouthy Broadcast and the introduction to episode 174 (warning NSFW humour, some triggers and explicit language) was about the furore from fans of the TV cartoon show, Rick and Morty who were going insane over getting some of their favourite chicken McNuggets (hereafter known as Nugs) dipping sauce. Apparently, someone gave away a car for a packet of the dipping sauce. People were queueing for the dipping sauce. I mean, I’ll line up at a good restaurant, but I can’t imagine lining up for a dipping sauce to dip my Nugs in, no matter how good it makes my nugs taste.

I’m not very familiar with Rick and Morty; as far as I know, it wasn’t a big deal on TV in Australia (if I’m wrong, please let me know). I did a little searching in Google and in one episode (check out the YouTube video) Rick starts on about Sichuan dipping sauce for his Nugs.

Plugging the Broads

If you want to hear what the Broads had to say, visit their website and you can play the audio from the webpage. If you like what you hear, then please subscribe. The more subscribers they get, the more likely it is they will stay podcasting. If you like them and their NSFW ribald humour, you may like to become a Patreon Patron. For as little as a few cups of coffee a year, you get to see them record the show every two weeks. I have to say, watching Jennie, Lauren and Peter do their stuff adds so much to the aural experience. You might ask, why am I plugging this podcast? Well, the fact is, I’ve become quite friendly with the broads and some other podcasters who are all based in the USA. It’s been a bit of a revelation to develop some online friendships with some genuinely nice people who all have a similar nerdy geeky sense of humour.

The dipping sauce

I’ll post the recipe over at Yummy Lummy soon, but basically, I used the recipe from My Recipes with some minor modifications.

The sauce tasted pretty good. I didn’t have any nugs so instead, I used roasted pork rashers which in my opinion are better than nugs although Jennie would probably disagree given her passion for Macca’s nugs.

Sichuan dipping sauce in the saucepan Gary Lum
Sichuan dipping sauce in the saucepan
Sichuan dipping sauce poured hot from the saucepan Gary Lum
Sichuan dipping sauce poured hot from the saucepan
Pork rashers ready for the oven Gary Lum
Pork rashers ready for the oven
Pork rashers and Sichuan dipping sauce Gary Lum
Pork rashers and Sichuan dipping sauce

What else happened this week?

Work was work, but outside of work, I had fun using my new Tupperware® cookware. The Tupperware® Micro Pressure Cooker and Tupperware® UltraPro are great. I made a nice fast pork rasher dish in the pressure cooker and combined microwave oven and conventional oven cooking in the UltraPro with a chicken thigh dish.

Weight loss update

So I stalled a little this week. There was no actual drop in weight but no sustained increase.

This week’s weight chart update

This week's Weight chart Gary Lum

Think fungus

A specialist friend I work with on Fridays brought me a present from a medical mycology workshop she attended last week. I tease her regularly about liking moist yeasty goodness.

Always Think fungus Gary Lum
Always Think fungus

I learnt something new

I never realised there is an international standard for dental notation. I was authorising a result on Friday and a faciomaxillary surgeon had referred to us a specimen from an abscess at 37/38. It puzzled me because most adults have 32 permanent teeth and I had no idea what the notation 37/38 meant. After looking up dental notation I found a wikipedia page which described ISO 3950 which is the dental notation standard.

Dental notation
Dental notation

Here’s a cute cow to look at

Cute cow on Lake Ginninderra Gary Lum
Cute cow on Lake Ginninderra

This week on the Medical Fun Facts Podcast

This Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time, episode 91 drops. The topic is Pathology. I recommend listening to this one. Here why I have a passion for Pathology. Sign up so you never miss an episode.

MFF0091 Pathology

Awesome cloud porn

This one looks like a tardigrade

Cloud porn that looks like a tardigrade from Star Trek Discovery Gary Lum
Cloud porn that looks like a tardigrade from Star Trek Discovery

Other posts you may like to read

10 reasons why podcasting is fun

Is my drawing getting any better?


Four weeks and four kilograms

Weight chart Gary Lum four kilograms

Four weeks and four kilograms

In the last four weeks, I’ve lost four kilograms. So far so good, but I must remain diligent. My goal weight is 77 kg, so I have another six kilograms to go. My aim is to get slightly under that and then stabilise around the 77 kg mark. At 77 kg, I won’t huff and puff when walking around the lake, I’ll be able to tackle stairs more easily and I will be able to fit in my business shirts more easily.

Weight chart Gary Lum four kilograms
Weight chart

After losing four kilograms, I’ve already noticed that my trousers are more comfortable; getting in and out of my car is more comfortable and I can wear a necktie more comfortably. Sleeping has also been easier, although; I’ve been experiencing the odd night of insomnia. I don’t know why. I’ve got a bit on my mind at the moment but nothing life-threatening.

It’s reassuring that I can tighten my belt without feeling uncomfortable all day. Wearing a suit is also much more comfortable sans four kilograms. This last week I needed to wear a suit to attend senate estimate hearings at Parliament House over two days. It’s been a long time since I felt comfortable wearing a suit.

How am I losing weight? Four kilograms so far.

As I’ve written before I’m modifying a low carbohydrate way of living. No bread, no rice, no pasta, no added sugar to anything, but I’m still eating vegetables and fruit. For example, last Saturday I enjoyed nude wonton soup and then on Sunday had yuk biang.

The fruit is mainly for a dessert treat. Mangoes are a great treat at this time of year. I’ve also added some slices of pear to some of the salads I’ve been making.

How about exercise?

Yea, well, there hasn’t been a lot of that. I’ve been busy with work, and when I did this while living in Darwin, I began daily walks when I’d reached my goal weight as a means to stabilise. I hope to do the same now that the mornings are getting warmer.

Are there any new cooking ideas?

Well yes, there is, at least a couple of techniques I can easily describe.

Non-Asian stir-fry

The first is to stir-fry but not using Asian foods or ingredients. For example, I’m a fan of tightly shredded cabbage, sliced green beans, sweet corn, sliced asparagus, sliced bird’s eye chillies, tomatoes, sliced celery plus lots of chilli flakes. In a wok, I melt butter until it foams and then add the vegetables. I wait until the cabbage and tomato have softened and lost shape and then add a splash of cream and allow the liquid to reduce to a nice spicy sauce that coats all the vegetables. To this, I’ll serve it with whatever meat I’m preparing for that evening. Lately, it’s been chicken thighs roasted in a moderately hot (200 °C/400 °F) oven for one hour. When I have salmon, I dice it raw and add it at the end of stir frying my vegetables in the buttery cream sauce.

Microwave oven pressure cooking

You will have read previously that I’ve recently purchased some Tupperware®, included in my recent purchases is a Microwave Oven pressure cooker. I made a lamb forequarter curry in less than half an hour. Doing something similar without a pressure cooker would take hours of slow cooking to get the lamb forequarter meat soft enough to fall off the bone. You can find the recipe over at Yummy Lummy.

Lamb red curry in coconut cream
Close-up of Lamb red curry in coconut cream

What’s the next big challenge?

Tomorrow at work there is a Halloween bake-off. There will be lots of cakes and sweet treats. We have a regular bake-off event to raise money for charity and also for a work Christmas function. Tomorrow may have to be a ‘cheat day’.

Photograph gallery

Please feel free to check out all the photographs.

What’s happening on Medical Fun Facts this week?

MFF Episode 90 Oncology

I’m talking about oncology and cancer. I also do a public service announcement on phallic health and hygiene, along with a shout out to some fellow podcasters.

The show drops at 7 pm Monday night Canberra time. 

MFF0090 Thumbnail Gary Lum four kilograms
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Weight loss challenges when travelling

Owl statue, Belconnen Gary Lum

Weight loss challenges when travelling

Weight loss and travel don’t always go well together, especially when the itinerary and program is out of your control. This week saw me chairing an all-day meeting on Tuesday in Canberra, speaking at a scientific conference on Wednesday in Hobart, and attending a stakeholder community committee meeting on Thursday in Melbourne. Each event had catered food and beverages. Most of the time the food at these things will consist of sandwiches or wraps and occasionally there might be a hot treat like a party pie or sausage roll or even a deep fried spring roll. Morning tea, if it’s available is often a muffin or if you’re lucky scones with cream and jam. The beverages that are usually on offer are black tea and coffee with the ready availability of milk. Sometimes fruit juice or a carbonated soft drink will be available too. More often than not the ‘juice’ is high in sugar, low in fibre and contains only about 35% juice. The carbonated soft drinks tend to be full of sugar too.

People with dietary needs like a vegetarian or vegan can usually be accommodated and these days gluten-free and dairy-free options are more readily available. What isn’t as obvious are options for people who are reducing the amount of bread, pasta and rice in their diet who also eschew added sucrose as well as complex carbohydrates.

On Tuesday, the meeting was in Canberra so I was able to bring in a cold piece of chicken. I roasted some chicken thighs the night before and brought one in. I ignored the scones for morning tea because the scrambled eggs I ate for breakfast had me happily sated. On the flights that evening to Hobart via Melbourne I was able to pick out leafy salad greens and eat some small chunks of chicken from the meal.

On Wednesday, I enjoyed a hotel breakfast of eggs and bacon with no toast so that worked well. I had to eat something at the airport for lunch and bought some ham and cheese. I got home in time to make a light supper of leftover minced beef and eggs.

Bacon and eggs with Hollandaise sauce, Wrest Point, Hobart Gary Lum weight loss
Bacon and eggs with Hollandaise sauce, Wrest Point, Hobart
View from dining room, Wrest Point, Hobart Gary Lum
View from dining room, Wrest Point, Hobart

On Thursday, I was awake at 4.30 and had a 6.30 flight to Melbourne so I chose to buy some bacon and eggs at the airport. The meeting I attended had a catered lunch and this was my ‘cheat’ meal. I had a mini-bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese along with one deep fried spring roll with a little sweet chilli sauce.

Canberra Airport bacon and scrambled eggs Gary Lum weight loss
Canberra Airport bacon and scrambled eggs

A food competition to beat all food competitions

I was recently invited to join a Facebook group whose members include quite a few podcasting friends who are all USA-based. They were all engaged in this really compelling food competition. Everyone picks one food. During the first week of competition, everyone must eat one serving of that food once a day. In the second week of competition, everyone must eat two servings each day. The third week of competition, everyone must eat three servings each day. By this time people may start to drop out especially if inappropriate choices were made like bowls of ice cream. In the fourth week, it’s four servings each day. When the contest stretches beyond that, it escalates so the changes occur daily. Five servings, then the next day six servings, then the next day seven servings and on and on it goes. People have chosen foods like pineapple (1 cup), salad (1 cup), scones (or what American friends call biscuits) (1 normal size scone), eggs (eaten any way) (1 egg), chicken, rolled oats (1 cup), strawberries (1 cup) and even broccoli (1 cup). This year there were three people left at about day 38 (L had strawberries, A had salad and F had eggs). That’s when A stopped because she couldn’t be bothered buying salad anymore. At day 40, L conceded to F when she realised she had spent $USD60 on strawberries that week (that’s nearly $AUD100)! On day 40 L needed to eat 17 cups of strawberries and F had to eat 17 eggs. At one stage, L had a hiccough and to let her back in she had to complete the JT Challenge with JT being the initials of a challenger who last year ate eggs but because he wanted to go on a date with his girlfriend stopped one day. To let him back in, he had to eat 12 eggs in an hour. So this year L had to complete the JTC and she had to eat 12 cups of strawberries in one go. She live-streamed the event and she was absolutely amazing.

There are obviously some drawbacks to this competitions. One competitor this year who chose rolled oats quickly found how effective oats are for bowel regularity and was spending significant time in the toilet. Last year, L chose pineapple and fully appreciated the action of the natural digestive enzymes in a pineapple when she developed what is affectionately known as pineapple herpes.

I’m not sure who will manage next year’s competition, but I’m tempted to join in the fun. The question is, what food should I choose? It has to be a regular serving so it can’t be something silly like a handful of sultanas. It would need to be something like a ½ cup of sultanas or dried apricots or something like that. This year, L and F got to day 40, 17 serves in a day. I don’t know what I could eat 17 of in one day.

What food would you choose?

How can I focus on weight loss during such a competition? I’d have to choose a protein, but eating so much protein would be really filling.

What other fun stuff happened this week?

I had my performance review at the hospital for my honorary position and I completed compulsory training in fire, emergency and security plus working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Weekend fun

So, after the usual washing, ironing, cleaning and grocery shopping plus a walk around Lake Ginninderra, I had a bit of fun cooking this weekend. You can see my efforts at making nude wonton and hairy melon at my food blog. I had enough leftover to put in the pressure cooker for dinner tonight which I will eat with lettuce leaves. These meals are low in sugar and hopefully help with weight loss as I have some for lunches this week too.

Lake Ginninderra in HDR Gary Lum
Lake Ginninderra in HDR
Nude wonton ready for mixing Gary Lum weight loss
Nude wonton ready for mixing

Click on this photograph and check out the recipe

Nude wonton and hairy melon Gary Lum weight loss
Nude wonton and hairy melon

This morning I had breakfast at Ricardo’s cafe and patisserie and enjoyed a nice smoked salmon and poached eggs dish. On my walk there I came across some interesting street art on the road nearby.

Wood fungus on the way to breakfast Gary Lum
Wood fungus on the way to breakfast
Street art while out walking Gary Lum
Street art while out walking

My smoked salmon and poached eggs breakfast. Not really weight loss friendly

Ricardo’s smoked salmon and poached eggs Gary Lum weight loss
Ricardo’s smoked salmon and poached eggs
Owl statue, Belconnen Gary Lum
Owl statue, Belconnen

The Medical Fun Facts Podcast

This afternoon I recorded episode 89 of my podcast. This week’s show is on norovirus and norovirus infection. I have a lighthearted dig at cruise ships which I think of as floating buckets of vomit and faeces.

The show drops at 7 pm Monday Canberra time

If you want an e-mail each time the show drops sign up

So how is the weight loss going?

This week’s chart shows steady loss

Leftover prawns, pork and water chestnuts

Photographs of pressure cooker ‘steamed’ pork, prawns and water chestnut loaf

Pressure cooker steamed pork, prawns and water chestnut loaf Gary Lum weight loss
Pressure cooker steamed pork, prawns and water chestnut loaf
Close up of pressure cooker steamed pork, prawns and water chestnut loaf Gary Lum weight loss
Close up of pressure cooker steamed pork, prawns and water chestnut loaf

Other posts you may like to read

An interesting observation after reducing my sugar intake

Getting back into diet coke


Getting back into diet coke

Cow in Ginninderra Gary Lum Diet Coke

Diet coke and weight loss

I haven’t let a drop of Diet Coke pass my lips since Good Friday this year when I broke a tooth gnawing on a beef rib. I’m regularly reminded that Coca-Cola is bad for the enamel of my teeth and when that tooth broke and I knew it would be weeks before I could get it repaired I figured I should lay off the black stuff.

After the tooth was repaired, I’d been off Diet Coke for more than a month and hadn’t really missed it. So until last week, I hadn’t touched a drop.

What has changed?

Well, the major change has been my determination to lose weight. Even though I had stopped drinking Diet Coke I was still drinking other soft drinks (or what friends in North America call soda or pop). For example, every day I was enjoying a 375 mL can of Solo or Sprite. When I decided a couple of weeks ago to stop consuming food and drink with added sugar I did what I had done before which included chewing sugar-free gum and increasing my water intake plus drinking more black tea and black coffee. Years ago when I was motivated to lose nearly 23 kilograms, one of the mainstays of my diet was sipping a can of Diet Coke each day. It helped with the cravings for sugar. So whether I like it or not, for the time being Diet Coke is part of my weight loss strategy.

Weight chart Gary Lum Diet coke

So, this week, I took my first sip of Diet Coke in months. It was good. I enjoyed it. I’m now a Diet Coke consumer again.

What else has happened this week?

Work has been enjoyable and the Canberra weather has been improving in terms of daily maximum temperatures, I wish the humidity would move along with it but sadly it remains dry.

Thursday marked fifteen years since the 2002 Bali Bombings and I noticed the NT News posted a photograph that I was in.

Yesterday I managed a walk around Lake Ginninderra and enjoyed getting up and personal with a cow. I also saw what I think are some Australasian darters. I wasn’t able to get that close to them, the birds were high in the branches of a tree.

Cow in Ginninderra Gary Lum Diet Coke
Cow in Ginninderra
Darters in Ginninderra Gary Lum Diet Coke
Darters in Ginninderra

Best salad ever

Last night for dinner I made a really nice scallop and chilli bacon salad. Hopefully more salad will help with weight loss.

Scallop and chilli bacon salad with cabbage, lettuce, green beans, spring onions and bird’s eye chillies Diet Coke Gary Lum
Scallop and chilli bacon salad with cabbage, lettuce, green beans, spring onions and bird’s eye chillies

Bacon and poached egg

For breakfast this morning, I poached an egg. It’s not something I do very often. I’m pretty hopeless but I want to get better at doing it. I think every weekend I’m going to poach eggs until I get it right.

Crispy streaky bacon and a poached egg Diet Coke Gary Lum
Crispy streaky bacon and a poached egg

Tupperware® Party

Last week I wrote a review of the Tupperware® FusionSystem mincer and today I attended a Tupperware® party.

My friend at work who is a Tupperware® consultant arranged with another friend at work to host a Tupperware® party. I had a good time. I ate pizza and self-saucing Cherry Ripe pudding. So much sugar, so many carbohydrates. I now feel bloated and full and on a sugar high. Sadly this won’t help with weight loss 😜

I bought a small microwave steaming container in an auction and got a citrus peeler and funnel as free gifts. I will now proceed to order an ice shaver module which will fit on the FusionSystem Mincer.

Tupperware Diet Coke Gary Lum

I like Tupperware® parties. This is my fifth. I think I’ve been the only bloke at each party!

The Medical Fun Facts Podcast

Monday night’s show is about the Measles virus and measles. This week, the show will only be posted to the new website and not to the old website. I hope I don’t lose too many listeners and subscribers. If you want to subscribe to the e-mail newsletter and never miss an episode here is the link.

Medical Fun facts Measles virus Diet Coke Gary Lum
Click on the Thumbnail to be taken to the website

The show will drop Monday at 7 pm Canberra time.

I hope you have a good week. Feel free to subscribe to this blog so you never miss a post at this link.

An interesting observation after reducing my sugar intake

I made an interesting observation after reducing my sugar intake this last week. While I’m not about to discuss weight loss after a week, I have noticed I don’t feel as bloated and my trousers and belt don’t feel as uncomfortable. There’s also less farting and my stools aren’t as loose.

Lifestyle change

I’m not suggesting for a moment that I’m advocating for any particular lifestyle change. I know with my concerns about irritable bowel syndrome, my weight gain and a desire to take better care of myself it would be easy to start looking at various popular lifestyle trends like low FODMAP, Paleo and Atkins.

I’ve previously gone full Atkins and had a pretty stunning result with a weight loss from 100 kg to 77 kg in less than a year. I kept it off for about 5 years but last week when I weighed myself I saw that I was close to 90 kg and if I kept on eating the way I was not only would I proceed to >90 kg but I’d feel crap with it.

Abdominal bloating

The abdominal discomfort was getting to be too much. My belt was feeling too tight. My trousers were feeling very uncomfortable in all the wrong places. My shirts were getting tight in the wrong places too.

The last thing I wanted to do was buy a new wardrobe. Business trousers and shirts are very expensive and buying a size up would mean a minimum of two pairs of trousers and five shirts. At least it’s spring, so buying a new suit could potentially be delayed. No, the better option is to make an effort to lose weight. This is what I will do.

Diet changes

This week I changed to black coffee. I ate no bread. I ate no rice. I ate no porridge and I didn’t have anything with sugar added to it. I’ve been tempted by soft drink but I’ve resisted by chewing sugar-free chewing gum. I’ve increased the amount of fruit in my diet and it’s been a pleasant sweet treat. My meat intake has increased especially chicken. I’ve also increased the amount of cheese in my diet but I’ve tried to be careful not to overdo it.

What I have significantly increased is the volume of vegetables like lettuce and cabbage and especially Savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage is particularly good because I can shred it finely and then cross cut it. The cabbage remains crisp and crunchy.

Cabbage is also really good boiled. When boiled with some stock, it takes up the flavours nicely.

Eggs have also become a feature of my daily ‘bread’. Boiled, fried, scrambled and cooked as an omelette.

No added sugar is how I must persist.

Charting change

One of the things I like to do when focusing on my health is to chart or record data. To this end, I’ve started a daily spreadsheet recording weight, blood pressure, heart rate and steps.

While most authorities recommend against daily weight measurement, I like to do it.

Weight chart

Tupperware® FusionMaster Mincer Review

To help vary my meat intake I’ve purchased a Tupperware® FusionMaster System Mincer. I wrote a review for it today after making some beef and blue cheese mince burgers. No sugar in these burgers.

I’d love it if you signed up and received Yummy Lummy posts by e-mail.

Tupperware® mince grinder Gary Lum
Tupperware® mince grinder

How is The Medical Fun Facts Podcast move going?

The move mentioned in the last post is now complete and on Monday 9 October, the last post will occur on the old site and all future posts will occur on the new site.

I’d love it if you signed up for the newsletter.

Tomorrow night a show on Legionnaires’ disease will drop at 7 pm Canberra time.

So what have I eaten this week?

Here is a gallery. You can click on one photograph and a gallery will pop up. You can then scroll through the photographs and let me know which ones looked the most appetising. There’s not much sugar in these dishes.

I’d love it if you would sign up for each new blog post.

Other posts you may enjoy



A Kransky for your thoughts


My thoughts on Floriade 2017

Sir Robert Menzies Gary Lum

I missed the beginning of Floriade 2017 because I was in Bendigo for the weekend watching Miss 16 compete in the 2017 National Clubs Gymnastics Carnival. For the last few years, I’ve tried to attend Floriade on the first weekend, mainly because it’s less crowded because the bulbs tend not to be as well developed.
Check out the map. If you click on a place marker it will open up information including photographs.

Fishing in Lake Burley Griffin

I have no idea what these blokes will catch but there’s no way I’d eat anything from one of Canberra’s artificial waterways.

Fishing on Lake Burley Griffin Gary Lum
Fishing on Lake Burley Griffin

Hello Sir Robert

I like how the sculptor captured Sir Robert’s face.

Sir Robert Menzies Gary Lum
Sir Robert Menzies

My thoughts on Floriade 2017

The surface area is smaller this year.

The parking is more difficult because the usual parking area is undergoing maintenance. I wonder if this was thought through in advance knowing the parking for Floriade is always tight. I suppose for the ACT Government event management like this is tough.

The nook the gnomes usually occupy was roped off so the gnomes had a new spot. It doesn’t seem to be as ‘cosy’ for the gnomes. There seemed to be fewer gnomes this year.

The biggest change was in the placement of stalls. Usually, the purveyors of various goods and services you find at fetes and carnivals are lumped in one main area so that you can easily go from vendor to vendor. It meant you could get this part of the Floriade experience over and done with in one hit. Not this year though, all the stalls have been scattered and I didn’t notice any particular theme. Given the cost of parking, I didn’t have enough time to visit each and every stall across the entire ‘Floriade footprint’. I expect some people like it that way. I hope it helps for the tourist numbers.

Here is a gallery of photographs. Click on one and then scroll through the gallery.

Captain Cook Memorial Jet

In the ten years I’ve lived in Canberra, I’ve only ever seen the jet running a few times. It has required significant maintenance over the last few years. It’s good to see it working again. I hope it has continued trouble-free operation.

Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin Gary Lum
Captain Cook Memorial Jet on Lake Burley Griffin

Will I go back?

I might, Floriade is ‘free’ in that there is no entry fee. There are parking costs and the prices of goods and services are way overpriced. I bought a small long black coffee (essentially dirty water) for $4.80. I bet the food is overpriced too.

Is there anything better?

Yes, Tulip Top Gardens is much better but it’s a bit out of the way and there is an entrance fee.