Image saga update

This post relates to my previous posting on being an internet sensation.

As of today, I’ve had one response from to say that they are looking into it after my post–no doubt after it started to garner some wider attention from people who were friends of friends (we all know how that can go). It’s been another two days since their response to my post on their wall.

I’ve sent two online queries under two different sections, unsure of to which category my query related.

So, to upping the ante, which is apparently the only way to get a response out of anyone…

There’s this post over on the Facebook Page (where I got my response):
(Update 01/07/2020: This post has now been deleted. Not by me, as far as I can recall)

And also this post on Twitter:

I even posted it on Google+.

If anyone wants to help me get answers, please comment on the Facebook post or like it. Twitter users, retweet or write a tweet of your own while sharing the original tweet as a retweet. Resharing or commenting on the Google+ would be cool too, if anyone has the time.

Blood donation: other ways you might not know you’re helping

I’m a big believer in blood donation. My grandfather had an aggressive leukaemia and in the course of his treatments received bucket loads of blood. I’m sympathetic to haemophiliacs and burns victims, cancer patients, mothers and babies in distress childbirth, or those in surgery who need our blood. I try to donate as often as I can, but mostly donate plasma these days, as I feel less fatigued afterward.

I made a discovery when I came back for my first donation since I returned to Australia. When I had to sign to update my new release form, I noticed it now recorded my cytomegalovirus (CMV) status.

CMV is a herpes virus. It manifests for most as no more than a low-level cold. Around half of us have already contracted it without knowing. The largest risk is to immuncompromised people, more so for those who haven’t had it, and pregnant women in their first trimester. It can be a congenital condition, infecting 33% of babies and causing a myriad of problems where the mother has contracted CMV for the first time while pregnant. There’s less risk when the mother has had an infection.

The Red Cross Blood Service screens for it because they don’t want to give CMV to someone who hasn’t had it, or to a baby or to someone immunocompromised (like my grandfather fighting leukaemia), in the same way they screen for ABO (blood type) and Rheusus groups (that good old positive or negative next to your blood type).

But, apart from identifying those who’ve had the virus, they also use blood products to treat the mothers, by using hyperimmune globulin, which is a blood component created by our bodies in an immune response. These immunoglobulins are collected from the donors blood to be bottled and given to  Receiving this immune product allows for a passive immunisation, where someone else’s immunoglobulins fight the disease, like your own would if you had the antibodies. In the same way, nursing mothers protect their baby with the colostrum and antibodies in their milk; another great example of passive immunisation.

This realisation is important to me for one reason. My best friend caught CMV in her first trimester. We didn’t know much about it at the time because it’s not really talked about. And there’s not much in the way of treatment to allay some of the worse problems it can cause in a baby’s development.

Image supplied; copyright to photographer.
Happy little girl who is a congenital CMV survivor

Because of the generosity of many Australians who rolled up their sleeves, my friend was able to be treated and her unborn child was able to be protected.

Baby is here now, and she’s still on her journey, which will no doubt still have some ups and downs. But blood donors like you and me gave a little girl a fighting chance to beat the effects of CMV.

So I’d like to thank you if you donate, and for having tried even if you don’t fit the very strict Red Cross standards. I’d like to encourage people who haven’t thought to donate for a while, for whom it has just fallen off the radar, to ring 13 14 95 or visit to see if you qualify.

On being an apparent internet sensation

So today, my mum tagged me on a Facebook link and said, “don’t know how they got a hold of your photo.”

We always check out Christmas Island posts if we see them. And this is where she made her discovery.

There’s a photo of me, probably about 5 years old, next to a wall full of mature red crabs on Christmas Island’s Greta Beach (I think) during the red crab migration.

Here’s the photo, if anyone is interested:

Wasn't I adorable? Those Christmas Island red crabs migrate to the sea to shake off eggs and then go back to their normal lives.
Wasn’t I adorable? Those Christmas Island red crabs migrate to the sea to shake off eggs and then go back to their normal lives.

So I have been famously in photos with red crabs before–I’m the (infant) model on the back of a David Attenborough documentary called Kingdom of the Crabs, when the larval crabs return from their sea sojourn. There’s a possibility that this is in the book my dad contributed to with John Hicks and Holger Rumpff. However, if that’s the case, Dad (who really is the only one who would have taken the photo) has not been asked.

I’m genuinely astounded at how far it’s travelled. The photo is on over 450 sites (barely one with attribution, may I add) and one site attributes it to Christmas Island Tourism, who tell me it’s not part of their media package (thanks folks!). It’s made it to Italian Huffington Post, San Francisco Times, random blogs in German, Pinterest and apparently originally Reddit. The earliest Greg and I have found is 2011. I haven’t been able to find the Reddit post with my photograph on it, nor has Greg at this stage. Viralnova seems to be the place most of the sites got it from. I have to say, it has freaked me out a little to see myself all over the world.

Despite the fact that neither my parents nor I have uploaded it, and it’s a 25+ year old photo, it’s a real lesson in how once an image is out there, it’s really hard to retain control of it. It’s also a lesson to those using images, particularly those of children; if you can’t find an attribution, it’s likely that the original owner doesn’t know it’s in use. And on the other end of it is probably a reasonably freaked out adult…

Update: Greg has now narrowed it down to a 2011 NewsCorp post. I’m going to pursue this just to find out.

Zen tea

Zen_teaTea is one of my favoured past-times. It’s bracing and calming, and hell, some cups may even be good for us (a good summary of studies from the University of Maryland). My dad would bring me gifts of delicious varieties when he came to visit the impoverished little student, back in my undergrad days. When we moved to Canada, I had an exorbitant collection I had to disperse.

I’m not a huge green tea drinker, except for the blends you get at Chinese restaurants which I can never seem to find, but my to-be mother-in-law–the master of tea appreciation and collection–introduced me to this delightful experience. She also introduced me to Tea Leaves, a shop on the main street of Sassafrass in Victoria that Greg and I always stop at. I could spend hours between the tight shelving smelling the many varieties of green and black teas, gazing longingly at gorgeous tea pots and Japanese tea sets.

On the left is a teapot containing a Pink Chrysanthemum China Ball tea from this delightful shop. The pleasure of this tea is when you put it in a clear pot, as shown. It starts as a dry, tightly wrapped little ball. As it absorbs the water, the bubbles ease from the leaves, unfurling the flower by gentle degrees. The flower is buoyed to the surface for a moment, before sinking again to the bottom.

Watching these moments of change, of becoming, block out everything. For a minute or two, there were four people in the kitchen, watching tea steep. A collective sigh as the flower sunk in the last strains of its finale.

I wish that I did that more; shut out the world so there’s only you and the art, the experience. It reminded me, yet again, that I need to go back to my writing work in an environment where its me and the story. My breath and a world unfolding.

So tonight, I leave you with the last moments of the china tea ball’s becoming, and a thought for more mindfulness in your day to day. May you find where and when you need it most.

Zen tea

zen tea3