Thursday, February 28

Love in Practice

I found the following video very inspiring – What is Love < accessed 28 February 2013 >. It tells of the love of a man for his wife, based on how Christ loved the Church – indeed how Jesus Christ loves you. When one gets married, for better or for worse, I dare say that few think about what the “for worse” could ever mean, or the implications of “in sickness” – perhaps a day off with the flu, but never the need to care for your partner-for-life, who can no longer recognise you, and who will never get better. I have met Bill and Glad. Bill is a wonderful Bible teacher, with years of experience from missionary work in many countries. I once spent a weekend listening to the implications of the writings of Amos (a book of the Bible) on my life, although I cannot remember much now. However, what did strike me, and I do remember today, is that Bill had read the book more than 40 times in order to prepare for the weekend (it could have been an Easter long week end). It was a salient reminder to me how little I knew of my Bible and how little regard I give it.

Houseboat Trip

We have just returned from five days on a houseboat on the Murray River (with Church friends) - the cliffs, as shown here, are beautiful especially in the evening and in the early morning (my wife, an avid photographer, took the photograph shown here). The weather ranged from very hot >37'C through to raining (the first in 6 months) - and the water was a wonderful 24'C - ideal for swimming.

Tuesday, February 19

Diclofenac and other NSAIDs are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular events in some patients

Highlighted in Medscape:

“The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac , a drug that is frequently used for the treatment of pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, is associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular complications and should be removed from essential-medicines lists (EML), according to a new review [1].” The study showed that diclofenac increases risk of an cardiovascular event occurring by 38% - 63% (absolute 95 th percentile range across all studies -15% to 199%).

It is clear that long term use of some NSAIDS is associated with increased risk of coronary events, especially those with previous myocardial infarction. I don't think at this stage the report needs to be acted upon by withdrawing from sale all diclofenac, but rather, a much better targeting of its use is required, with better appreciation for its potential interaction with those with cardiovascular disease. Like America, diclofenac is not the most commonly used NSAID here. The Australian Statistics on Medicines 2010 report < > (accessed 18 February 2013). It (and other drugs) also affect the kidney and can cause significant renal impairment (e.g. Lobox, K.K. Drug combinations and impaired renal function – the ‘triple whammy' Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 February; 59(2): 239–243. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2004.02188.x)

To put this into perspective, paracetamol (not combined with anything else) is the seventh most commonly used drug in Australia amounting to 28.172 defined daily dose (DDD) units (each daily dose is equivalent to 6 tablets of 500 mg each) per thousand population per day. In 2010 there were approximately 3.302 DDD/1000/day for diclofenac (The DDD is 2 tablets of 50 mg per day) and for naproxen 3.567 DDD/1000/day (two tables of 250 mg per day), noting that since some of these products can be purchased without a prescription the statistics are gained from survey data which always require some caution when applying to comparisons.

The DDD is a WHO definition based on the assumed average dose per day of the drug in an adult.

McGettigan P, Henry D. Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that elevate cardiovascular risk: An examination of sales and essential medicine lists in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. PLoS Med 2013; DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001388

Saturday, February 16

Building a shade house from poly-pipe

I grow many of my vegetable using hydroponics, and have done so for more than 25 years. However, the summer heat is too much for tomatoes and many other vegetables, so I usually drape 50% white shade cloth over them This is not very satisfactory, so at the end of 2012 I set about constructing a shade-house. What I wanted was a simple and cheap structure that would enable shade cloth to be hung over the vegetables, but allow it to be removed in winter. Searching the web gave some ideas, and with a bit of experimentation I arrived at a structure, which is functional but not yet completed.
The hydroponics is laid out in a rectangle about 7.5 metres by 1.5 metres, which consists of a number of long containers – troughs, and large diameter pipes cut in half or 90mm storm-water pipe filled with perlite.

I purchased 50 metres of 50 mm agricultural green “poly pipe”, which comes in large 100 m rolls. The irrigation shop was very happy to cut 50 metres of his large roll. This cost $183. I did try 25 mm poly pipe but it was not strong enough to maintain the shape I wanted – rounded hoops about 3 metres high.


To keep the poly pipe hoops in the ground I used 1800 mm fence “star” iron- droppers which cost $6.14 each. Don’t get these from your local garden shop, they will charge almost double; I went to a steel outlet that sold farm and fencing steel. They sold the droppers in packs of 10.

I made seven hoops from pieces of poly pipe each with a length of 7100 mm. The base for each is 2200 mm wide, so the height turned out to be approximately 2900 mm which was adequate to pass over the top of the tomatoes. This is easy to work out.If the base is 2200 mm wide, the circle part of hoop will have a height of 1100 mm (i.e. the radius) and the total length will be pi x 1100 mm (remembering it’s only a half circle). Hence we have:

Length of top    3450 mm (pi x 1100 mm)
Sides            (7100 – 3450) ÷ 2 = 1825 mm
Total length    of pipe 7100 mm
Total height    1100 + 1825 = 2925 mm


Inserting iron droppers
I placed the iron-droppers 1300 mm apart along each side of the area and 2200 mm from each other, across the structure, forming a nice rectangle. One could use closer gaps or ones that were wider, although I don’t think that gaps greater than 1500 – 2000 mm would be useful.

Poly-pipe hoop The iron-droppers were hammered in about 400 mm which was easy since the soil is mainly clay with few rocks – although it is very hard in summer. To bend the poly-pipe without kinking it I laid it out in the sun over lunch. This made it very easy to bend into a nice curve – which was slid over the iron-droppers. (As a teenager, I grew up on a farm and my father’s pet hate was kinked poly-pipe, as it often split, and certainly produced a narrowing that slowed the water flow. This taught me how to handle poly-pipe, which can have a mind of its own!).

All poly-pipe hoops

Since the pipe fitted very nicely over the iron-droppers, it was easy to adjust the height as the area sloped away on the northern end. I simply slid the pipe a little way up the iron droppers, and with a self-tapping screw held it in place.

Saddle tie To tie the poly-pipes together one could use a range of materials. I chose 25mm polyvinyl chloride (PVC) water pipe which I painted green. These were held onto the poly-pipe with 25mm saddles, screwed in with 10g x 25mm self-tappers.

I intend to tie the hoops together with five lengths of PVC pipe. I thought I might need internal braces, but with the 50% shade cloth under 75 km winds (we get severe winds in summer here), the structure has not moved an inch.

PVC pipe struts

Shade house The shade-house is still not completely finished. I had a piece of 50% white shade cloth, which I had from seasons, which I just draped over the plants, but it is not long enough. This means one end of the shade-house is covered well with white cloth and about 2m with a heterogeneous collection of green. Sometime in the future I will purchase sufficient to cover the remainder.

The (nearly) finished structure

The Beginning

This is the very beginning, therefore I am still learning how to manage blogger. Therefore, much more will come in the future.