Saturday 16 July 2022

Suddenly Super

Poppy Lu's learning to fly her grandpa's plane when she discovers that she doesn't need a plane to fly.

Embracing her pilot power, Poppy becomes an intern at a corporate super hero team. But it's not all costumes and combat.

And when they accuse Poppy of murder, she goes on the run, with half a dozen super powered adults trying to bring her down.

Suddenly Super is part 1 in a YA adventure series! And it's exclusively available at the Amazon Kindle Store.

I'd appreciate it if you'd leave a review there, as it really helps people to find me in the future.

If you like the look of the cover, please hire my talented illustrator Karoline Kent.

And book 2 is also out now! Get Surprisingly Super at the Kindle Store too.

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Friday 15 July 2022

I've had a hell of a month

Close up of Joel's eyes, the left one is bloody, swollen and dilated. He has a dark bruise under it.

It started with a speck in my vision, which turned out to be a stroke. But not caused by your garden-variety clot! No, I have cat-shit in my eye.

Well, that's what everybody thinks when I say "toxoplasmosis". Which is the likely culprit.

As it turns out, you don't only get toxo from the cat's litter box, you can also catch it from swimming water, badly cooked meat, or even in utero - some folks are born with this parasite swimming in their bloodstream.

Who knows where I got it? My antibodies say I picked it up some time in the past.

The Opthalmologist wanted to be sure that's the cause of my eye problems, so he took a tiny sample of my eyeball fluid for testing. But the lab got no result.

So now it's time for more drastic measures.

This week I've had a vitrectomy. He basically sucked all the jelly out of my eyeball and reinflated it with new goo. It left me with a great shiner, more blood on the eyeball, and a very dilated pupil.

This surgery gives the lab a lot bigger sample to work with, so they can run more tests.  And the material is from right next to the infection, so there's a better chance of identifying it definitively.

It also cleared the cloudiness out of my eye. I've had a soup of crud in there and a million floaters, so it's a blessed relief to see more clearly.

I have finally started on the toxo medication, which is quite a complex cocktail - 17 pills a day!

It took the hospital pharmacy a while to find all the drugs I need. One of the components is an old fashioned sulphur based antibiotic which has been surpassed by modern medications... except in treating this one disease.

It's rarely used and out of copyright, so very few drug companies can be bothered making it. The hospital Pharmacist found some packets in Spain which were imported (and translated!) especially for me.

You start with a superdose, so last night I had to take this massive amount of medication with dinner and it left me wired. I didn't sleep for a second.

It's the first all-nighter I've pulled in years. I'm still wired as I write this the next morning.

So yeah, a hell of a month.

July was meant to be a glorius mid-winter holiday for me; fishing with my son, writing some new chapters, working on my fitness.

Instead my boy got Covid and I got the evil eye!

But I won't let this crappy month be a complete loss. Today I'm publishing my new book. I've been sitting on it for weeks but I realised that there's absolutely no reason to wait.

Front cover of "Suddenly Super" by Joel Rheinberger. Illustration of an Asian teen wearing a jumpsuit, she is flying, surrounded by the outline of a fighter jet.

Please allow me to introduce Suddenly Super, a teen super hero adventure set in Australia. It's a really fun read and particularly suitable for the young adult in your house.

It's available now at the Kindle Store!

UPDATE 30/7/2022:

My opthalmologist has confirmed my diagnosis with the lab and the latest scans of my retina show the disease is retreating. So the medication is working and my eye is getting better! I may even get a little of my lost vision back again.
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Friday 8 July 2022

I spy with my crimson eye

You know when people sarcastically say "I'd rather get a needle in my eye"? Well that's how I started my holidays. Now look at me...

Last time I wrote, I was getting hyperbaric treatments after a clot caused a stroke in my retina.

But when I went back to my opthalmologist for a check-up, the blight on my retina was spreading. And there was some cloudiness in my vision too.

That's a clear sign of an infection. So in all likelihood I never had a clot, instead I have some sort of disease in my eye which caused the stroke and is now spreading.

But the specialist has never seen anything like it. There are a few bugs that attack the retina, but they don't present like this. He's sent my scans out to his experts and they all say the same thing: it's a medical mystery.

So they arranged a biopsy. Which means they gave me happy-juice and stuck a needle in my eye, extracting some fluid for testing. A great way to start my time off work!

All the blood around my eye in that picture is just eyeball bruising from a needle poke. It doesn't hurt at all and should fade in the next three weeks.

Earlier this week we were waiting for the lab results to come back, so we could target the infection with the right drugs.

But then my blind spot grew bigger. It's a bit frightening, to be frank. It's not in my central vision yet, but it's getting close.

I told my opthalmologist and we re-did my peripheral vision test, which uses this thing.

You stick your eye on the little circle in the middle. The panel at the back flashes these tiny individual lights and you press a button each time you see one. At the end you get a map of your visual field.

My map is like the start of book two in a fantasy trilogy, where the blackness spreads across the land.

So we can't wait to treat this.

They've put me on the strongest antibiotics they can get, while they try to import the super-strong stuff into the state. My opthalmologist almost never needs to prescribe it, so he's put me into the care of an infectious diseases expert, who uses this sort of medication much more often and can help me manage the potential side effects.

But right now I wait.

For better medication. For an expert to look at the MRI scan I just had. And for those bloody lab results from my biopsy!

Here's the kicker: if those lab results aren't conclusive, they have to do a much more intrusive biopsy, all the way to the retina.

And I'd rather not get another needle in my eye.
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Monday 4 July 2022

Wedding Themed Whisky

Five men holding whisky bottles in a kitchen.

The theme for our latest whisky club tasting was “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.

We gathered at Michael’s house under the usual rules: each taster brings a 700ml bottle he bought for under $100, they are wrapped in brown paper for a blind tasting, we score them before revealing their identity.

Here’s what we drank, in the random order in which we drank it. Scores are out of 40.

Five bottles of whisky on a bench.

Paul John Peated (55.5%)

Michael said this fit the theme by being a new distillery he'd never heard of.

It starts with sweet peat and a little bite, before the oak makes its presence known. It’s a very well rounded drink with a lingering aftertaste of caramelised citrus.

There’s lots to appreciate here. You want to drink it slowly and spend an hour with a glass!

Water improves it, releasing hints of liquorice and stone fruit


Paul John Christmas Edition (46%)

Tim says this is also a new release and relatively young.

The first thing we noticed was the intense colour, almost like coffee.

It has much less attitude than the peated whisky, softer and easier. We suspect a sherry cask was involved in the making.

There’s plum on the nose, cocoa notes, and raisin after-taste.

It doesn’t need water, but adding it makes the whisky incredibly smooth.


(This is the first time we’ve had two whiskies from the same distillery at a tasting! They were quite different and both good.)

Penderyn Myth (41%)

Simon says the name of the whisky suggested something old.

It has a sweet nose and a sweeter opening taste, with vanilla notes and lots of spices. It makes you want to bake some pies.

This is a breakfast whisky, soft like a cloud and way too easy to drink. You could make Bircher muesli with it.

Water opened it up nicely, releasing even more flavours.

The scores were split, two people gave it high marks and two people gave it low marks. So not for everyone.


Callington Mill Emulsion (46%)

This was my pick. It’s something of a cheat, because I got a discount voucher at a tasting event and that brought the price under $100. It’s a brand new offering from a brand new distillery.

This is literally like nectar, with a rich blend of dried fruits on the tongue. There are raisins, sultanas, and dried apple. It reminds us of Christmas cake - fruity, spicey, and a little sour.

The flavour is almost overwhelming. Water helps too cut the sweetness, for those who don’t appreciate such bounty.

We think this is a gateway whisky, the sort of thing you give to someone who’s never had it before.

Once again, this had a mix bag of opinions, with a couple of very high scores and the single lowest score of the night.


Kilchoman single malt (46%)

Tim chose this because it’s a relatively new Scottish distillery.

The first thing that hits you is the scent of peat! But when you drink it, it’s almost clear, a cleansing smoke.

The flavour has a rosewater sweetness with a hint of marmalade. It’s very polite on the palate compared to the aroma. Like someone with a face tattoo complimenting your shoes.

This is vastly improved with water, taking away the bite, making it easier.

We all thought this whisky was missing something. The flavour doesn’t linger at all - it hits your palate with a bang and then it’s gone. There’s not enough substance and the score shows we all agreed.


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