Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Tesla Model X - Sparrowgal review

My car is finally here! Just in time for Christmas, making it a wonderful Christmas present for myself.

There are many things about the Tesla which I didn't know (but thought I did) but I'll go through every little thing that surprised me about this car.

1. Range

The first thing people ask me is about how far it can go. Officially, it's 420km. BUT, in reality it's more like 300+ km. Why the great difference?

Think back to The Martian (one of my fave movies by the way!)

In the movie, Watney (Matt Damon) takes the Rover out and finds that it has a range of 35km fully charged. However, he could double it when he didn't have the heater on.

I may not need a heater on in the car, but I do need air conditioning in this sweltering 35+ degrees celsius heat this summer. Having that on does cut my car energy a bit!

2. The Enhanced Autopilot

I have driven a friend's car (HK's Ford Mondeo) and it has adaptive cruise control. I really liked it - it meant I could follow people and not worry about my car getting too close because the car senses the car in front and slows down to accommodate and speeds up as well to your max speed limit you have set.

But, when you turn on the auto-steering and lane change assist, suddenly long distance driving became a whole lot easier.

The car now not only keeps the speed and following distance right, but it will also stay between the lines of the lanes by itself. You can feel the car turning under your grip on the wheel and a medium amount of force to take control back is required. Even the lane changing - which I thought was just pure laziness, because how hard is it to change a lane - is cool. The car accelerates sometimes to get into the lane and then inserts itself nicely after checking for obstacles. Just turn on your indicator to change the lane and the car does the rest. Turn off the indicator to stop it.  Seriously, this is the cruise control I've always wanted that I never knew that I needed.

3. That Christmas Easter Egg

I didn't know it had these fun things, but this Christmas dance is absolutely hilarious. One of friends told me about it, so I went home to look for it and found it.  I played it for my parents and they were embarrassed by the noise, but the neighbours clapped when the show was over. Here's someone else's video of the Christmas thing.

4. Headrests which are convex... not a fan

You don't realise it until you drive (or try to sleep), but these headrests are uncomfortable. When you lean on it, your head tends to roll to the side because they're slightly convex. Now, if they were a little concave (or had the side wings like aeroplane headrests) then your head wouldn't roll off the seat.

5. Supercharging whilst on long trips

One thing I noticed when I was at the dealership picking up my car, was all the hire cars parked in the charging bays. I thought that was clever. Never have to pay for petrol or for servicing and you get free charging so you can drive around. However, that's about to change - I saw that in 2018 cars registered for business can no longer use the superchargers for free, to allow the superchargers to be used for personal travel.

I did a drive to Canberra on Sunday and we had to stop at Goulburn to charge the car for half an hour.

It wasn't so bad. We stopped at Macca's just before the charger, told the kids they can't eat it until we get to the charging place, and then they could get out of the car to eat. By the time we had finished eating, gone to the toilet/washed hands, it was half an hour.

So, the drawback is that it now takes half an hour longer to get to Canberra than it used to. But, it's for free. My hubby told me to look at it like a toll - because using a petrol car, the petrol cost would be about $80 return to go to and from Canberra from Sydney. Would you pay a $40 toll to save half an hour of travel?

6. Speedy? Yes!

The pickup is impressive. As I am used to a non powerful car, putting my foot on the accelerator with the same force leads to some stomach sinking acceleration, which my hubby found uncomfortable (my driving, that is). However, I can set "Chill" mode on my car and the acceleration is gentler, and much more to my liking.

The Chill mode caused a bit of an uproar earlier in the year because people started complaining their car was going too slow, and some articles suggested that people who had it on were "boring". Well, I'm boring and I have it on, and I like it.

This is funny because I knew they had a "ludicrous" mode on the P100D which made it go EVEN faster - this Chill mode is the exact opposite of that!

7. I use Tidal not Spotify - not a problem!

I noticed that the car can choose music, as it comes with a premium Spotify account (though, the Spotify account isn't working for me. Apparently this is a common problem, popping up on Tesla forums all over the place).

I have a Tidal subscription, and the cool thing is that the music starts all by itself once my phone connects to Bluetooth. My fave playlist pops up and it works perfectly. I can even navigate the songs from the car with the forward/backwards buttons.

Reports on the internet say that it doesn't work with Apple Car Play or Android Auto, which could be annoying for people using those streaming services.

8. The doors are not as annoying as I thought

I didn't really want falcon wing doors. I thought they were gimmicky. However, they really are good for getting out of tight spots. I park close to the passenger side wall in my garage to allow people room to get out, and you can still activate the falcon wing door to get into the car, which is great considering you can't get in the passenger side front door on that side in that same space (about 40cm).

I have closed the door on myself once or twice as I rushed to get something out of the seat after I pressed the close button and the door hardly hurts me as it taps me on the back. It LOOKS terrifying to others (like I'm about to be chopped in half) but it's about as uncomfortable as a thump on the back.

9. Door Unlock with Key Fob issues

I like the idea of having the car unlock as I approach it. However, when the car was sitting in the garage and the key was just next to the door on the table, the car would be unlocked and be ON, which was annoying me.

With the car on, the fan would be running because the music would be playing as my phone would connect to the car and then the garage would be insanely hot because of the fan and whatever it was the car was doing. In the end, I had to turn it all off, and have to manually unlock my car with the key. At least it stopped the car turning on in the garage and playing music because my key was nearby. I wish that wouldn't happen though.

10. No storage for back seat passengers

With falcon wing doors you can't have door storage anymore, as everything would fall out, and there are no back seat pockets to slip things into - as a parent, I find that a rather restrictive thing in the middle seats. Emergency drink bottles, school hats, pencils to do homework - these are the kinds of things I'd be looking to be storing for the kids in the back seat.

I will have to reinstall their mini desks into the back of the seat again from my old car so we can do homework whilst we wait for Taekwondo class to start.

There is however ample boot space, but it just means getting out of the car to access it.

11. NO more Car Services

I found this hard to get my head around. No car service? Really? What about all the electrics and stuff? Well, you do have car services but not for the engine. Just all the maintenance stuff like wheels, alignments, wipers, brakes etc... and you do it once a year. However, the guy at Tesla told me there are some people who have never brought their cars back for service!

So I am still going to get my car serviced, just once a year though. Probably save me $1000 because every service I had on my old car was about $800-1000 every time!

But this is the best....

I never have to care about THIS ever again. No more petrol. No more worrying about when to fill my car when the prices are low. People ask me if I worry about running out of battery when I'm driving but who runs out of petrol when they're driving? And there are lots of chargers around, and I can always go home

However, what excuse do I have now to stop at 7-Eleven to get a slurpie?

Monday, 11 December 2017

A surprise in my humane rat trap

So you know that rat problem I was having with the chickens? And that I caught 2 rodents in it - one mouse and one small rat?

Well, I hadn't caught anything for weeks (nor had I seen any rodents around) except for a Sunday a couple of weeks ago, where the kids started yelling "Mum, mum there's something in the rat trap!"

Oh great, I thought. Now I have to drown another rat. Depressing.

But, when I went outside, that's not what was in the trap at all!

Hard to see in this picture, but it's a small black kitten with white paws!

Anyway, I was worried that it was going to be unwell as I had no idea how long it had been in there, so I took it straight to the RSPCA who said that they were full on kittens but they took it in anyway. I had a few of them saying "I've never seen a kitten in a rat trap before..."

Mind you, the trap was unbaited. The kitten must just have been exploring.

I put the trap back in its spot and a few hours later, there was ANOTHER thing in the trap!

It looked so cute when I took it out!

So I was going to take this one to the RSPCA the next day as it was too late in the day to go. However, that evening I saw a mother cat with another kitten prowling around  my garden, who was a long haired tabby of some sort with a pale coloured kitten. Oh dear, I thought to myself, poor mother cat.

But as the night went on, I found myself wanting to let the kitten go back to it's mother. What if it wasn't weaned? What if it was cold? I had put water and fish out for it but I don't know what kittens eat! And to top it all off, the poor kitten was crying non stop. I felt bad and at 9pm I went out and let it out. I even managed to pick it up, and it felt solid, not starving. Maybe someone was looking after them. However, it's very irresponsible to let kittens walk around with their mother!

I thought that was the end of my story. But, 3 days later, the final kitten walked into the trap (also unbaited!)

And it was SOO CUTE!

I was going to home this one, but because I only saw it 5 mins before I went to work, and I quickly put it in the hutch, I forgot to lock it properly and the kitten escaped. I had even found it a home on Gumtree and then had to tell them I had lost the kitty. Awww.

Now here was my dilemma - do I let these cats roam around? I really wanted those kittens homed and the mother desexed. I tried contacting various agencies and nobody was willing to come and trap stray animals - not the RSPCA, not the pound, not the council. The Cat protection society recommended I hire a trap from Kennards - which I thought was a good idea. But they were $60 for 3 days! And it was less than that to buy one. So I bought one and thought about how I could catch the mother and have her desexed then release her back, because maybe the reason I had no mice problems was because of the cats.

But, the cats did not visit anymore. Hopefully they found a good home somewhere, or their owner decided to be more pro-active in looking after them. Whatever happened, the next time I catch kittens, I'm rehoming them!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Chicken Diaries - Dealing with A Prolapsed Vent

I had my first encounter with a prolapsed vent, and it was ugly. Fortunately, being a doctor, means that I know what needs to be done, and am not fully grossed out by it.

Warning, there are some rather gross pictures coming up.

Snowy was wandering around the yard and hubby noticed that her bottom was "very dirty" and looked like it was bleeding. I peeked out the window and saw that it was very soiled... and then she turned and I saw a big red mass protruding from her cloaca. A quick google search to confirm what I thought it was and what I should do, and I was outside, washing my poor chicken's sore looking protrusion and gently putting my finger into her cloaca to make sure there was no impacted egg or faeces in there.

Ouch! So what they say is to make sure your gloved fingers are well lubricated - they used haemorrhoid cream, but I washed the area gently with warm water, and then applied slow pressure to reduce the prolapse. Unfortunately, as I was examining her, she tried to push my finger out, making the prolapse HUGE!

I could not feel an egg stuck inside, and I held her and applied slow pressure to the prolapse. The problem was, that I was sure it could happen again and I was worried about that. I hoped she wasn't constipated - though she had a lot of vegetables the day before.

There is the vent, prolapse reduced. I needed to clean all those dirty feathers, and keep her isolated, so I have put her on a one day fast with just water and multivitamins so that she doesn't make so much poo and give her cloaca a rest, as well as discourage her from laying eggs. If she lays another egg, it would happen again.

The causes of vent prolapse include:
- obesity
- large eggs
- malnourishment
- low magnesium/calcium

Snowy is not a prolific egg layer, as she goes broody so often, but she does lay large eggs. She lays the largest eggs of all the chickens, and she is not the largest chicken. She is also not overweight, and has plenty of free range room. Could she be malnourished? She is often bullied by the other chickens, but she always looks like she is eating well. Calcium insufficiency seems unlikely since her food has adequate calcium for egg layers (and she doesn't lay all the time), so I am putting it down to large eggs.

I am hoping that she recovers well. I wish she would go broody right now so she can have a break from egg laying!

The next morning the prolapse was back but to a milder degree and I again washed her bottom and I was afraid she would start getting vent gleet. I hope that she recovers well so that I don't have to euthanase her. Fingers crossed for a good recovery!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Chicken Diaries - The Unfortunate story of Lucky Omelette

Before we went to Hawaii we had all our fertilised eggs and I thought it would be fun to hatch some eggs. However, before we went on holidays we came to the decision that the rooster had to go to another home. I took him to a colleague's farm and Luke seemed quite happy there.

Now we wouldn't have anymore fertilised eggs! But once mated, the eggs are fertilised for a month so we still could hatch chicks. Snowy was broody so I took 3 eggs (2 of Princess Layers and 1 of Mary's) and put them under her.

When we came back 2 weeks later from holidays, I candled the eggs and only one had something in it. So on hatching day, I was disappointed nothing hatched. I told the kids we'd give it 2 more days and if it didn't hatch, we'd take it out and do an egg-topsy.

Sunday rolled around and still no hatching and Snowy was busted not even sitting on the egg (she was sitting on different eggs) and the egg was cold. I took it into the house and smacked it with a teaspoon to crack the shell so we could look inside, and as I was showing the kids the egg, the embryo inside MOVED.

Screams from the kids about me killing the egg, should have left it longer... I honestly thought it was dead!

So I tried to cover it with glad wrap to keep it moist (which later I found out was a bad idea) and try to keep the membrane moisty. Unfortunately it got very dry and looked like paper. We also used the heat lamp to keep it warm.

The next day a beak popped through the membrane and on Wednesday early hours, the chick was hatching. I did help it a bit, because that membrane was a bit rubbery, being so dry.

So we had a fluffy little chick for a few days, but the poor thing never wanted to eat or drink, just sleep. I thought that was normal for a newborn chick but as time got on, it was obviously not well and it died about 6 days after hatching, poor thing.

So now I now how NOT to hatch an egg. Next time I'm letting the chooks keep them.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Hawaii Day 8 - Haleakala

We spent the morning on Wailea beach - so this is the kind of beach I could get used to (but that's because we had service from our hotel!)

As a hotel guest we get a cabana and umbrella, iced water and sunscreen and the kids had a great time playing on the beach. The view is just gorgeous.

After morning beach time we went to have lunch at Flatbread Company which makes pizza and salad, all organic. Seemed very hippy but it was yum!

Then the drive up the volcano. There is a town on the way, Makawao, which has a lot of artists. There was a glass blowing gallery there and we bought our glass jelly fish there. Cheaper than at the art galleries!

Debated whether to watch sunset from Haleakala but we were getting tired and hungry. It is pretty cool that we're above the clouds.

We had dinner at Maui Thai Bistro, and had a decent Thai meal and we were so full we couldn't finish our food! Ah, how I love sticky rice :)


Tom Yum soup 

Chicken and Cashew nut

Pad Thai
Goodbye Maui! Off to Oahu tomorrow!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Hawaii Day 7 - The drive to Hana

I had to take a picture of our leis before they withered away! We placed them on tables outside on the balcony in the shapes of hearts, and kept it like that for the rest of our stay.

We had breakfast at Duo's, with me having a ranch style breakfast with eggs (which I passed off to the kids) and hubby had poached eggs. My daughter had waffles and her brother ate our leftovers.

Our plans for the day were to head to Hana on the east coast of the island via the picturesque yet narrow and winding Hana highway. Many guides will tell you how it's a great drive, but it really is best enjoyed over a day or two, with an overnight stay in Hana, in my opinion. We drove there and back (to make it back for a dinner appointment) so we were a bit rushed.

Our first stop along the highway was at Twin waterfalls. A short hike to get to, and people were swimming in the clear pool.

Great views of the coastline abound along the highway.

Unfortunately the drive was not very relaxing due to the amount of people on the highway and being stuck behind slow drivers in this often one lane highway. There are 600 curves and 54 bridges, making it a slow drive and there aren't many places you can just pull over to take pictures. There are a few 2-3 car spots where you can stop but they were often full. There was also some kind of roadwork which caused a halt for about about half an hour (which is when I took the picture above). The queue of cars was long and we were getting hungry by then, eager to get to Hana to find some lunch.

We stopped at Bruddah Hutts Island BBQ and had the pulled pork and the chicken. The chicken was well enjoyed but we weren't that hungry (having brought snacks galore for the long drive) and so the pulled pork though nice wasn't able to be finished.

We drove down to O'heo gulch, which is part of the Halakalea national park (lucky we had our 3 park pass) to do a quick walk and see the seven sacred pools.

We were short on time so we elected not to do the 2 mile long Pipiwai trail, and just do the Kuloa point trail instead.

There were lots of Pandana trees around which pine like fruits which reminded me of Bunya nuts. The walk was quite easy to do and we made it back to the car and started the long drive back. If we had more time we would have liked to stop by Wai'anapanapa State park and the lava tube, as well as have a look at Hamoa beach.

We did stop at Wailua falls on the way back for a quick photo - it would be more impressive had I walked further in but it was crowded (there was even a little food stand there) and plenty of parking.

Some gorgeous sunset views of the volcanoes as we drove back to Wailea. Haleakala with the clouds descending was nice as well as the sunrays over the volcanoes behind us.

Dinner was at Morimoto's in the Andaz Wailea resort, and it was a bit hard trying to find the restaurant! Masaharu Morimoto, Iron Chef America, has a number of chains throughout the states, the original in Philadelphia. Maui's Morimoto restaurant opened in 2013.

Whist we had the 10 course degustation, the kids had their own menu and chose sushi tuna and avocado, and chicken teriyaki. Their meals came out quite quickly.

The good thing was it kept them quiet. The bad thing is that they finished before we were through our 4th dish!

Tom yum soup with mushroom and radish. Nothing super exciting about this dish, just a standard Tom Yum flavour.
Toro tartare with 6 condiments - nori, wasabi, cream cheese, guacamole, sweet onion, japanese crackers and dashi sauce. An interesting way to present toro (though in my opinion I prefer the flesh as a slice so I can savour the way the fatty tuna melts in your mouth) but it was interesting. Points for originality, not so keen on the flavour or having to dig it out with my flat paddle.
Amberjack carpaccio. I liked it, the condiments may have been a little overpowering.

Bagna Cauda with Anchovies and olive oil. This is an Italian dip which was different. Happy to have some green vegies!
Oyster with foie gras and uni with chawan mushi. I always like chawan mushi. Foie gras not super strong flavoured.
Palette cleanser - cucumber herb sorbet with gin pipette. I think the pipette is cute.
Sushi plate - maguro, aji, monk fish liver, striped jack and Hawaiian prawn. Monk fish liver is the foie gras of the sea. I actually like it a bit less seasoned - but apparently they put a lot of sauce on it to drown out the fishy flavour. 
Duck breast in Thai red curry sauce. I like duck. I do feel like I'm having an international meal with dishes representing many different countries.
Surf n turf - Grilled Haawaiian octopus with red miso and chickpea bakes, and Wagyu. The Wagyu has too  much sauce on it. I really like my wagyu plain, the flavour is in the meat. I didn't like this dish very much. 

Chiffon cake with white chocolate pearls, strawberry meringue, lychee jelly and grapefruit. Very sweet dessert. Americans love super sweet desserts.

Overall a nice experience, but I think I had a better time at Merrimans. Morimotos was good for a casual pricey dinner. Service was decent, but I wish the kids food lasted them a bit longer!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Hawaii Day 6 - Maui

Time to leave the big island and head to our second island stop, which was Maui. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands.

We landed really early and grabbed our hire car, which was a Mazda CX5, and set out to explore the NW corner of the island but after driving for more than an hour along the winding Kahekili highway, we found that the road as blocked before Nakalele point! I took some pictures to prove we were out that way, and then we headed back to go from the other side, with a stop in Lahaina for lunch.

Lahaina was the former capital of Hawaii, and the Front Street seems to be where all the tourist action is. We had lunch at the Paia Fish market, which was quite popular and the fish was quite well done as well. The kids enjoyed their fish and chips, whereas I had the fish tacos and hubby had grilled Mahi Mahi.

There are some huge Banyan trees in the park!

We then drove further up to Ka'ananpali looking for the Whaler's museum which turned out to be closed for renovations, so the kids went to the beach which was quite lovely.

Further up we got to a blowhole and heart shaped rock which needed a bit of walking to get to (but the blowhole could be seen from the car park). If you caught it at the right time, there was a rainbow in the droplets from the blowhole!

We stayed at the Four Seasons in Wailea, which was our splurge hotel of the trip, and it was a really lovely hotel. When we arrived our car was valet parked (which unfortunately was at a cost of $30 per day and not very convenient to us) and we were given leis of flowers and nuts as a welcome. The children were made to feel very welcome too, with an octopus soft toy and sponges near the bath spelling out both their names. Small notes to the kids, and room amenities like beach bag, nice slippers, and robes for all four of us made it feel that much more luxurious.

And the view from our balcony was pretty awesome!

After cleaning up we went down to have dinner at Spago's, which was one of the restaurants within the hotel. It's an upmarket modern hawaiian restaurant, and they had a kids menu as well as colouring to entertain them.

I ordered 2 mocktails - one for the kids which my daughter quite liked.

Entrees were Japanese Hamachi and Ahi Poke cones. I quite liked the crispy cone that my poke was in (poke is raw sliced fish salad, and ahi is tuna) and it was quite spicy. However, it clearly wasn't for everyone as the next table barely touched theirs, and I almost felt like asking to eat theirs for them so it wouldn't go to waste!

For mains we had caramelised pork chop and macadamia encrusted mahi mahi. Both of which were on a beetroot flavoured poi base (taro) which made the poi so much more palatable.

For dessert we had Kaiserschmarren creme fraiche strawberry souffle pancake, which basicallly looked like an exploded souffle. It was very tasty, but we were so full by then, it was difficult to enjoy. The restaurant looked over the pool which was nicely lit at night. Time for a well earned sleep in our comfy 5 star hotel beds!