Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gay Shame

I'm done with documentaries on The Australian Screen website.  Now I'm on television shows.  I just watched a clip from a 1997 episode of Australia Story.  The clip is from an episode about a gay man.  He talks about his in-the-closet days....the shame and denial.

When I was in middle school and high school I kept diaries. At one time, I loved Nightmare on Elm Street, and I thought and wrote a lot about the actress from it; Heather Langenkamp.  There was nothing sexual about it. It was more of a I-wish-I-was-awesome-like-her feeling. And there was a fantasy of having her as a best friend/sister figure.

The thing is I felt GREAT shame and embarrassment about these feelings. I worried about being gay. I worried so much that the diary, in which I wrote these feelings, is the one diary I locked.  

I don't know why I felt horribly worried about being gay. Did someone say something to me?  Did I overhear something?  Did I see something on the news that bothered me? Was it simply the fear of being different?  I have no idea.

Somehow I changed, though. By college I lost my fear of homosexuality. And for some reason it became one of the social issues that I'm most passionate about.

So I changed.

I no longer keep my girl crushes locked in diaries. I proudly shout it out.

The cool thing is I'm not the only one who has changed. Society seems to have really done a huge turn-around.

Yeah.  We're not there completely. There are still laws that need to be changed. I think that will happen...almost everywhere....eventually.

There are bullies who encourage gay teens to commit suicide. That unfortunately won't change. No matter what laws change and how open-minded mainstream society becomes, there are still evil pathetic bigoted losers.  But I DO think we're coming to the point (in most communities) in which the overtly homophobic person is the outcast rather than the homosexual person.

There are some exceptions, but attitudes seemed to have changed regarding homosexuality. None of my female friends cringe or give me weird looks when I talk about girl-crushes. Most of them admit to having their own....even those who are religious.  Men are becoming more relaxed about such things as well.  Outside of Roveland, I'm not sure they admit who they'd turn gay for, but the UK is saying that heterosexual men are becoming comfortable with kissing each other.  

It's not just the left who are becoming more open-minded. Some of my VERY right-wing friends have admitted that they see nothing wrong with homosexual relationships.  Now that's just two people.  I haven't done a scientific survey or anything. Then some of my friends are not in support of homosexual relationships, but they don't see it as being evil and/or disgusting. Even some of those who oppose homosexuality for scripture reasons, manage to sometimes be compassionate and sympathetic.  

I still do see homophobia. I think it mostly comes from parents, making little comments about their kids not becoming gay. A fellow mom and I talked about taking kids to Hooters. I said I didn't mind Jack looking at breasts...and liking them.  She said something back such as Yeah, it's better than them NOT liking breasts.    

I chose not to quietly accept her comment, and instead said firmly that I'd be fine if Jack was gay.  

I don't know if my parents would have said the same for me....back when I was a child. I DO know without a doubt that they wouldn't have been the type of parents to throw us out of the house. They would never have rejected us.  I think that they would have simply wished for us to change our mind.  I think they would have kept loving us but maybe kind of denied that part of us. They'd probably be like Jay from Modern Family.  They'd come around, but it might take them awhile.  

It's different now, though. They've become more open about such things as well. My parents are changing with the time.

Several weeks ago, my dad told me that he, my sister, and maybe some others talked at night about how people have levels of heterosexuality. They scored all of us, and they said I rated the highest in terms of being potentially bisexual.  It was all casual and nonjudgmental. No offense intended and no offense taken.  I thought that was cool.   

There are all these videos now telling teens it gets better.  I think it's a bit of a lie, because life for each individual is different. For some kids, it will NOT get better.   It might get even worse.  Hopefully that's not true for a lot of kids. But anyway, as a whole (for society in general) it's definitely getting better.  We're changing. We're going in new directions, and I'm one of the people who LOVES the direction in which we're moving. 

She Needs To Write More Blog Posts!

I was reading this unschooling blog, and found a comment that appealed to me.  The commenter sounded very down-to-earth.  I hate to say this about my fellow unschoolers, but I will.  Sometimes they seem a bit out there.  And I'm out there.  Of course.  I KNOW I'm weird.  But I feel other unschoolers we meet are even MORE out there....far away from where we are.  Am I making sense?   Probably not. Just nod and pretend you understand what I'm saying.

What I should really say is that we have not yet met an unschooling family we click with yet....minus my niece's family. 

But this commenter (Jonni) seemed cool to me....just by her comment.   I decided to follow the link to her blog. Her profile says she gets obsessed with stuff. TOTALLY my type of person.  What is one of the things she's obsessed with?  Harry Potter! This woman could be my soulmate.  I had a brief fantasy of her living in Fort Worth.  I think this is because I just finished reading One Whole Perfect Day by Judith Clarke, a book about things falling perfectly into place.   

Anyway, I don't think she lives in Fort Worth.

She seems to be an Australian. Well, the fact that she likes Paul Jennings gave me that idea.   Although some outside of Australia might have heard of him.  But then in her blog, she says right as rain. Isn't that an Aussie saying?   

Oh wait. No, it's not.  Or maybe it's not. I'm looking at Google, and not seeing it mentioned as being Australian. She could be British.

I just noticed in the comment that she wrote (the one I loved), she said mum and not mom.  

I wish Jonni would write more blog entries,  She hasn't written any for several months.   In her last entry, she says she's begun to unschool her kids.  From her recent comment on the other blog, I can see she's still doing it. I guess she just doesn't blog about it.

You know what.   There's a good chance that she's British or Australian.   BUT....she could be an expat.Maybe she's living in Fort Worth. Maybe she decided to homeschool because the schools are so bad in Texas.

Yeah.   I know.   I'm crazy.  

There Are Hundreds and Thousands of Reasons to Love Australia

I ordered new Australia shirts from Zazzle, and they came today.  I'm excited about that.

For the photo on the shirt, I used my fairy bread photo. It's the same photo I use for my Facebook Page.  It was taken at my friend's son's birthday party.  It's kind of funny that I'll be wearing my friend's culinary creation on my shirt.  

The back of the shirt has my blog address. I feel very vain advertising my blog. Yeah...very vain.    But oh well.

I like the shirts.

Here's a photo of the pink shirt.   I also have a white one, but I didn't like the photo.   

Friday, October 29, 2010

Billy....What's His Name

I had to rush to talk to Lord Wiki, and ask him to give me the names of all the Aussie Prime Ministers.  Why?  I was exercising while watching my massive photo slideshow, and I saw a photo of Billy Hughes.  I could NOT remember his last name.  It's really annoying. My memory is getting worse and worse.  

Okay.  I know.  It's not that strange to forget someone's name.  It happens to people all the time. But there's other stuff.  Like.... I do stuff, and I don't remember doing it.  Crap, that makes me sound scary.  

No.  It's not that bad.  Really.  I'm not unknowingly selling drugs, or anything.  I hope!   

It's more stuff like I go to put the clothes in the dryer.  But when I get there I see that I've already put the clothes in the dryer.  But I don't remember doing it. Ah. Maybe Tim did it?

The sad thing is, I'm not even sure I'm telling the truth here. Why?  Because I can't remember.  I just know there was SOME chore that I went to perform recently, and then found I had already done it.

The other day I suddenly feared that we never returned this DVD that had been due two weeks ago.   We were going to return it on the way to the frozen yogurt place but forgot to. So we planned to return it on the way home. I have no memory whatsoever of returning it.  It feels like it never happened. But it did. Tim checked his library account, and there's nothing overdue.

Hey, but Tim didn't remember returning the DVD either. That's why he checked.

So maybe I'm not so messed up.   Or at least....if I am messed up, Tim is too. We'll make a good pair.

And I should look on the bright side. I forgot a lot, but in other instances, I have a good memory.

I remember that Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister for the longest time, and Francis Forde had the shortest run. 

I remember that the Tent Embassy went up during the McMahon Ministry, and that John Gorton had a facial injury from the war.

Kevin Rudd ate his earwax...maybe.

Holt disappeared.

If I think hard enough I can probably remember more.  But I'm too tired for that right now. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insecurity and Uncertainty

I'm not sure that I like my new blog title.  I keep seeing it on Statcounter, and it doesn't give me a happy feeling.  I miss the old name.  I don't want the old name back. I really do think it was time to move on. But I'm not sure I'm satisfied with the new name.

I was thinking of putting a poll on my blog; have people vote on whether they like the new name or not.  Maybe put potential blog titles up as well....see what people like the best.

Then I started thinking of an episode of one of Jack's favorite TV shows, Victorious. It's about a new girl at a performing arts school.  Tori takes a drama class where she has to perform some infamous bird scene. It's some kind of initiation thing. She can't move on to other things in the class until she does this. Tori does the scene for the class and the teacher. She asks the teacher if she did okay. He says no.  She tries a second time on another day.  Once again, the teacher doesn't give her performance any credit.

Tori goes nuts on the third try—adding all kinds of props.  She even trains a live bird to perform in the scene with her.  She puts her heart and soul into the performance. She might not be Meryl Streep, but it's hard to see why a teacher would be unhappy with her performance.  Yet the teacher tells her again that she didn't pass the assignment.  Angrily, Tori protests.  She says she doesn't care what the teacher or class think of her performance.  She likes it, and she's happy with what she did. Then the class and the teacher applaud with relief. She has passed. The whole purpose of the assignment is to get the students to have self-confidence....rely less on the opinion of others.

That episode REALLY struck a cord with me because I am always seeking validation from others.  I know I need to have more faith in myself, and not rely on others to tell me if what I do is okay or not.  We don't live in a vacuum. I WANT people to like my blog.  I want people to be okay with the title.   I can't lie about that. And I'm sure actors want others to like their performance.  The point is that you'll never get 100% consensus about anything.  If I asked people what they thought of my blog title, some will probably be happy with the change, and some will think it's awful. In the end, it's better to just decide on my own what to do.

I think I shall give it a week or so.  Then I'll decide if I want to keep it, or change it. 

In other news.....Jack just gave me a near heart attack. He asked me why it sounded like someone was trying to open the door.  I assumed he meant the front door.  I thought someone was trying to break in.   My impulse reaction was to rush down and check the door...make sure the major anti-break-in lock was locked.  It wasn't.  That's the scary news.  The nice news is no one was there. And when I asked Jack what door he meant, he said it was the kitchen door—an interior door, not an exterior one.

I'm wondering...did I act like the smart horror movie survivor, or the not-so-smart horror movie victim?  The last time I had a break-in scare, I locked us into the bedroom so no one could come in.   But I was half asleep then.   Maybe when I'm tired and disoriented, I make safer choices. Maybe when I'm wide awake, I act foolishly brave.  

I Changed the Name of My Blog

I just changed the name of my blog.  The possibility has been on my mind the last few weeks. Jack changed his blog title yesterday. That might have made the seed in my head sprout a bit.

Then today I got a VERY angry email from someone. They thought I was saying that the subject of one of my biography posts is the one who wants to be Australian. This would mean that I was inferring that for some reason this certain Australian celebrity was not truly Australian.   

They're not the only person to be confused by my blog title lately.

Besides that, it's not really accurate anymore. I was in a different place when I started this blog. I was miserable and didn't like being American. I wanted to be Australian. I thought it was my destiny to live in BECOME Australian.

I would love to live in Australia. That would be great.  But I doubt it's going to ever happen.  And....

For now, I'm satisfied with being an American who loves Australia from afar.

So...that is that. I hope this change isn't too emotionally traumatic for anyone.

Oh!   I just remembered another reason why I wanted to change my blog title.  I am hoping to keep up with this blog going until the day I die.  I hope to die when I'm past past my 80's. It  might seem awkward to call myself "The Girl" when I'm an old woman. Although I guess, even when I'm old, there will be a part of me that feels like a young girl. Anyway.  Whatever. I feel better changing it.   Plus, I like having my name in the title. It's VERY vain, and I am vain.  So it fits.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jesus Cheese

I have this new awesome friend.  She could be my soulmate...or one of them.  But she's not perfect.  She has a very disturbing shortcoming.  She doesn't like Modern Family.  I was shocked when she made that confession.

Anyway, I decided to make my own confession.  If I was going to still love her after she revealed that, she'd have to love me after I revealed I don't much like Kath and Kim.  I confessed that, and she was okay with it.  She's much more tolerant than I am.

I told my new friend that there was ONE joke I liked from Kath and Kim.  I liked when someone told someone else to order a statue of baby Jesus, and the directions were misheard. They ended up with a statue made of baby cheeses. That totally cracked me up.

So here I am this week having these conversations about Modern Family and Kath and Kim. Tonight Tim, Jack, and I watched Modern Family.  Gloria ordered her husband the baby cheeses that he loves. They open up the package and find a baby Jesus.  It was the Kath and Kim joke in reverse.  Was it a coincidence? An homage to Kath and Kim? I don't know.

As I was writing this, Jack came in the room and told me he thinks they (someone) should make a Menorah with a baby Jesus on it. If someone orders it on the phone, they might end up with a Menorah with baby cheeses.

In other news, we had an awesome Harry Potter party today. You can read more about it on our homeschooling blog, or look at our Flickr photos.   

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So When Are You Going to Give Him A Sibling?

Australia National University did a poll about population growth in Australia.  It's been reported in a few Aussie news sources. If you go to the university site, you can download the actual report. I'm looking at it now.

52% of Australians want Australia's population to stay the same size, or shrink.  You know a good way to shrink the population? Cannibalism!  That would WORK!  Zombies might be the right path.  

44% of Australians want the population to keep growing. They want more Aussies.

It's interesting to read the arguments for and against. I think they both have good points. For example, those in favor of population growth say they need more skilled migrants for economic growth. That makes sense. If there are shortages in jobs (for example....doctors) bring some people over.  But then the counter-argument is train OUR people instead of bringing over newbies.

You know, though, that makes sense in some career-areas.  It's kind of a supply and demand thing. There are some jobs that a lot of people cooking show host or rockstar.  But then there are other areas where people are needed, and not enough are showing up. In that case, Australian citizens AND newbies are probably needed.

The survey asked people if couples should take the environment into account when family planning.   The highest percentage of respondents said families should have as many children as they want.    The next most popular response was that families should consider having just two kids. The least popular response was having families consider having NO children. I think I'd pick all of the above, probably.  I think people should seriously consider their options. I know of happy couples who have chosen to have no children. This is a choice that works well for some people, and it's nice on the environment. Some people want to have a house full of children.  Some people are happy with two or three.  In our family, we love having one child.  Different strokes for different folks.

The Australians in the survey prefer to increase population with Aussie baby making rather than accepting more immigrants.  Am I racist if I say I'm sympathetic to that?  

It would be nice if the rest of the world could take care of their own people. Then Australia could be made up of mostly of Australians. This wouldn't be all white people with British/Irish heritage.   There'd be Aboriginal people, Asian people, Middle-Eastern people, Swedish people, Americans who are luckier than me, etc.  Australia already HAS a great mix of people. They really don't need anymore from elsewhere. That's my opinion.


Australia might not need new people, but new people need Australia....just like some people are needing America.  There's a lot of people in the world who NEED a place to go. It's nice to open up your doors and heart to them.

I should put my money where my mouth is and adopt a bunch of children.

I should, but I won't.

Australians surveyed said if people ARE going to come over from elsewhere, it's preferable that they be skilled migrants rather than refugees.  This is a bit silly to me. You can TRAIN refugees to be skilled migrants. Maybe there's a training/education shortage?  Is that the problem?   Well, you'd also have to get the migrants out of the detention centers. Or you could train them IN the detention centers.

I'm assuming someone has already thought of that, and it's being done. I'm trying to get information via Google, but I'm kind of not sure what search terms to use.


Lots of people are concerned about old people in Australia, and the fact that there shall be MORE old people in the future.  Maybe legalized euthanasia would help? I know that sounds awful.  I'm not in support of a Logan's Run type thing. I promise.  But some people WANT to die.  If your health is failing and you want a doctor to help you have a peaceful death, is that so wrong?   I guess the concern would be that people would pressure other people to off yourself.  You really do complain about your arthritis a lot. We love having you around, but do you ever wonder if it's worth all the pain?  You know there's a way you could make a HUGE reduction in your carbon footprint.     

The thing is, though, I said before....different strokes for different folks. Some people get cancer and immediately want a Game Over.  They don't want to deal with any of it. Other people like to play and play. They play through the pain. They fight and fight.

It's just like the baby-making thing.  Does Australia need to make it unlawful to have many kids?   I don't think so.  People want different things. Someone might want ten babies. This is probably fine, because there's not a lot of other people wanting the same thing. There are many people who can balance it out by wanting only one child, or no children.

I'm going to stop reading the poll, and whine about the crap I've encountered from people. People judge you on the number of children you have (or don't have). I know I'm not alone in this. I think it happens to EVERY adult.

We got a lot of pressure about having more babies after Jack was born.  Most of it came from my parents, probably. That died down eventually, after I reached a certain age.   I think people realized it wasn't going to happen.   I also think it helped that I had a younger sister talking about her future baby-making. She kind of took some of the pressure off of us.

People have annoying arguments about why you need to throw away the birth control pack.  See, it doesn't matter that you don't want a child. You need to give your child a sibling!  It's horrible not to.   

 Can you imagine being born to parents who didn't want you but had you anyway for the sake of your brother or sister?  That's a bit nuts.  Jack has never much wanted a sibling, but if he did....forget it!   This is not like asking for a new video game or donut at the grocery store. People tell you not to spoil your child, but then you're supposed to base your family planning around your child's desires?

Another argument I heard from a friend (with three kids of her own) is that you need more kids because how sad it would be if your only child died.  Yes, because if I had five kids and one died, I'd simply shrug my shoulders and say One down, but four more to go.
It would be nice if people could be accepting of other people's choices.  And if not, we should at least try to refrain from making rude comments. It might also be a good idea, though, if we don't get paranoid. The other day my sister wrote me this sweet email thanking me for my help. She said I love having sisters!  For a brief second I thought....wait, is that some kind of passive aggressive dig at the fact that she has two boys and I only have one.?  Is she trying to make me feel bad about not giving Jack a brother or sister? I quickly shut my paranoid self up and decided it was most probable that my sister was simply and truly being NICE.   

I love having one child.  We're lucky in that Jack doesn't have siblings, but he does have cousins that he's VERY close to. My family is very close.  It's stressful and psychologically traumatic for me sometimes, and wonderful at other times. We're kind of like the Aboriginals in the way our family works.  Well....not exactly.   But I see my nieces enough to feel not robbed out of having daughters.   I think of them as my little girls.  We don't go as far as having them call me mom, but I definitely feel I'm an important part of their lives.  And in addition to Jack, I have two other fantastic little boys.   I have another niece (on Tim's side) but sadly we don't see her too often.   It's a shame because they're unschoolers like us. We really need to go see them.  

I'm rambling. I should probably shut up.  

Monday, October 25, 2010


The last time we were in Sydney, I managed to lose two cameras.  I lost one. We splurged on another because we figured we can't be in Australia without a camera.  Then about a week later I lost the new camera.

We bought a new one again.

We were very careful and managed to NOT lose it for 18 months.  Then the last time we were at the lake house, we lost it. This time it was Jack's fault....not mine.  I just want that to be on record.

Tim went back to the lake house, and searched for it. He didn't find it. We figured we'd try again as our trip to Disney World got closer. Tim went back to the lake house tonight after a meeting. I really doubted he would find it.  But I just got an email from him. The camera has been found.  

I probably shouldn't feel all happy and smug. Our luck....we'll probably lose it at Disney World.

We're good at losing things, unfortunately.   

Letters, Emails, Diaries, Notes, and Blog Posts

Last night I finished reading another brilliant novel by Jaclyn Moriarty. I am loving this woman.

The book was The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie.  It's one in a group of books involving kids at Ashbury High School in New South Wales.  The school is fictional, but it's in a real town called Castle Hill.  It's not too far from Sydney, but I'm not sure if it counts as a Sydney suburb. I'm confused about that.Lord Wiki says it's a suburb north-west of Sydney, but he doesn't say it's a suburb OF Sydney.  So if he's telling the truth, then I guess it's NOT a Sydney suburb. Or I could be misunderstanding Lord Wiki.

Anyway.....I've read three of the four books already.  I have one more left to read; and I ordered it from Powells yesterday because they have a free shipping deal going on.  

The books are connected by the school and the characters, but they're not really sequels of each other.  I've read them totally out of order, and it wasn't much of a problem.  Each book concentrates on different characters and situations.  For example, Bindy is the main character in the book I just read.   Prior to that I read The Ghosts of Ashbury High.   Bindy was mentioned in that one, but she didn't have a pivotal role.  There's an Elizabeth in the Bindy book.  Her role isn't too huge in that book, but in Feeling Sorry for Celia, she's the main character.  I'm REALLY hoping that Moriarty continues to write more of these.  She might not though because the last book has the kids in their last year of school.  I guess she could follow them to uni? Or maybe she could do some prequels.

The books are epistolary novels, so they're made up of various documents.  This is what  Bram Stroker did for Dracula.

Lord Wiki says a modern example of an epistolary novel is We Need To Talk About Kevin.  One of my new email pals told me about that book. At first I thought it was about Kevin Rudd....well, because we had talked before about how we were both fond of Rudd.

Moriarty uses blog entries, emails, notes left around the house, journals, dream diaries, meeting transcripts, etc.  I think it's a really fun and easy way to read a novel; and I think it's a fun way to write one as well. That's how I did my first novel.  It was the diary of a girl with Cystic Fibrosis.  

If I ever write another novel, I think I'll use that form again.

I don't think I'll ever write another novel.

Usually when I'm in the young adult section of the bookstore or library, I have a twinge of jealousy.  Sometimes I have a LOT of jealousy. When I was at the library a few days ago, I had the complete opposite feelings.  I imagined my novels being on the shelf, and the idea horrified me. I don't know.   It's hard to explain. Maybe it was like standing outside naked in front of everyone? Yeah. I think that was the feeling.  I've never had that feeling about being published before. I usually adore the idea of my books being at the library and bookshops. And you'd THINK that having this blog would make me more open to people reading stuff that I write.

Then again, I don't feel weird about my book being on sale online. Maybe because not many people buy it?  What is the difference if it's on a bookshelf?

I'm not understanding me right now. I probably need major psychoanalysis.  

Oh well. Let's move on to something else.

I'm looking at Moriarty's website. She's a funny one. For her FAQ page, she doesn't have questions that her fans ask.   Instead, she asks questions that people ask in general.  Examples:  Why not?  Why don't you just quit your job?   What can you offer to this firm?  Can I borrow that?   

On her bio page, Moriarty lists her favorite authors. JK Rowling isn't listed as one of them. I'm a bit horrified over that.  I try to be a tolerant person, but I fail sometimes.  I can't tolerate the fact that not everyone loves Harry Potter.  

Moriarty says she always wanted to be an author, but she knew it was a wise idea to get a back up job. So, she did law. Eventually, her books were published and she was able to write full-time. 

I wonder what are the best career/job and education choices for aspiring writers. Off the top of my head, it seems a lot of them have a background in teaching. John Marsden was a teacher, and so was Melina Marchetta.  I think Stephen King taught high school.  

What else?

Rowling did a French and Classics degree. Stephanie Meyer got a degree in English.  I think Catherine Jinks did medieval studies. Yep. Lord Wiki confirms that. She did medieval history. 

Stephanie Laurens was a research scientist.

I think probably anything works. And I'm not even sure a degree is necessary. You could do independent learning....spend part of the day reading and researching, part of the day writing, and part of the day making money (as a bartender or something). There are benefits to a university education though, such as meeting like-minded people.  

Well, I better quit before I go off in a million more tangents.   

Pigs in Australia

Last night I dreamed......

It's months after my parents have gotten back from Australia.  They have finally received a souvenir they bought while there.  It's a stuffed boar; like a taxidermy thing. It's very big, and it's animated.  I mean it moves and makes sounds. I wonder aloud whether that's because the manufacturers have given it animatronic abilities; or is the boar's soul trapped within?

Later I go to write a blog post about the boar.  I start by saying that my parents went to Australia last March (they did in real life).  But then I start thinking that a boar isn't really an Australian animal.  

I think MAYBE this was a dream within a dream thing.  I might have been writing a blog entry about my dream of the boar souvenir rather than writing about my parents actually getting the boar. But I'm not sure. 

I may become burned out of writing blog posts if I keep writing posts in my dreams as well.

I'm guessing there probably ARE boars in Australia, but I don't think they'd be indigenous. Let's see....

Here we go. Here's an article.

The piggies are causing problems. That doesn't surprise me. And it's estimated that there are 23 million of them.  There's about a pig per person.  Yikes. I wonder how that compares to the camel population in Australia.

Wait.  No. There's only 21 million humans living in Australia. So, there's more pigs. Plus, you'd also have to count the farm and zoo pigs. But then with humans, I don't think the 21 million includes all the tourists visiting.

Anyway, the pigs have the typical story. They are descendants of domestic pigs brought over by the Europeans.

This Australian animal control site has more information about the boars.  

It's estimated that they cause about 100 million dollars of agricultural damage a year.

I should probably take these statistics with a grain of salt. I mean how do you even count the pig population in the first place? Does someone walk around and do a census.  Hello little piggy.   Can you please tell me how many children you have? And what is your income level?  

The website lists ways that the pig situation is being handled. There's trapping, baiting, hunting, etc.   I hope that these deaths aren't in vain.  Hopefully, a lot of the dead pigs are being eaten! Jack and Tim had some wild boar when we went out for Jack's birthday lunch.

Oh.  Good.....

This article talks about how the pigs are being eaten, and how their meat can bring in a lot of money.  

I'm much more in support of this type of meat-eating; hunting animals that have an overabundant population. They have a nice life of freedom. Then they become our dinner. It's better than the sad, abused factory farm animals.   

I'm thinking maybe I should go back to eating meat....not factory farmed stuff, but hunted wild animals.  I don't have any ethical objections to that. For me, it's more.....

I don't really know what it is. 

So MAYBE I will.  If we go to one of those exotic meat restaurants, I might try a bite of boar, or something like that.  Maybe a rabbit?  Kangaroo?  I'll just have a bite or two because I've heard if you eat a lot of meat after being a vegetarian for awhile, you can make yourself sick.

I HAVE eaten one type of meat since being a vegetarian. I ate a mealworm. I'm TOTALLY in support of insect-eating. The mealworm didn't taste very good, though.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tjanabi in Melbourne

Today I was looking at the Aboriginal Tourism Victoria website.  They have a link to an Aboriginal website that looks REALLY nice.  It's called Tjanabi.  How in the world do you pronounce that?  I have no idea.   

It's on Flinders Street, in Federation Square. I think it's likely that we can make our way over to that area.   

The founder of the restaurant is Carolynn Briggs.  I googled the name, and found websites naming her as a Boonerwrung elder.  I'm guessing this same Briggs is also the one who owns the restaurant.    Briggs isn't a common Aboriginal name, is it?   

Oh!  Okay.  I should have simply read the restaurant website more closely.  This page has information about Briggs, and she IS a Boonerwrung elder.  

I've looked at the menu.  It looks ideal for Tim, Jack, and me.  They get their meat from decent places, not factory farms.  And if you're still stubborn like me regarding animal flesh, they provide vegetarian options.     

Jack will love the restaurant because they have all kinds of exotic meat.  He loves that kind of stuff.

They have a tasting menu which we love.  The prices are VERY reasonable.  You can get 4 items for $20, 6 for $28, and 8 for $35.   If each of us was going to cost those amounts, it would be a bit much.   But these plates are made for sharing.  Only one thing in the selection is vegetarian, but I'm fine with that.

Anyway, I think there's a good chance we could love this place.  I hope we remember to go there.

Wait!   Another mistake. I failed again to read carefully enough.  There are TWO non-meat items in the tastings selection.   Awesome.  I think the menu is seasonal, though, so they might have totally different food by the time we're there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

There's a Land That I See Where the Children Are Free

I'm not fond of formal education.  I don't believe it's necessary. I won't say I think it's awful, but I will say that I do NOT think it's a good thing.  

I feel so bad and conflicted saying this.  I TRY to be supportive of other people's choices. But do you have to like someone's choices to be supportive?  I don't think so....not really.  You kind of seek out the positive in that which you don't like. People might think our choice of unschooling is awful; but if they're polite, they don't blurt that out. They seek out the positives and comment on that. I do the same for school. No, I don't like that your child spends six hours a day away from home, is forced to study stuff that she's not interested in, and then comes home to do hours of homework.  I don't like the philosophy that children are empty vessels needed to be filled with information that most of us adults don't remember, don't care about, and don't need in order to function in our daily lives.  But I can downplay that in my mind, and gush about the cute diorama your child is making for her social studies class.  

I do wish more kids homeschooled. Although Tim says I shouldn't wish too hard about this. See schools trap  most of the kids inside, and then the world is less crowded for us homeschoolers.   When kids are in school, there're less lines at Disney World.  The zoo is nice....quiet. The world is peaceful.

I'm so selfish.

It's not really about school vs homeschooling though. To me, it's really about educational and learning philosophies. Some people believe learning is a chore that needs to be forced upon children.  It's awful, but everyone must endure it. If you're lucky you'll get some entertaining teachers who can make some classes less boring.  After a few tough years, you can graduate and life will get better.

Other people (like me) believe learning comes natural to humans at EVERY age. Not only is it natural, but it's one of the most pleasurable activities available to us. The reason we see it as a negative is it's forced upon us.  It's like chocolate. Most people like that.   Right?  But what if you were forced to eat a large bar of chocolate every day from the ages of 5-18. Not only that, but you couldn't even choose what bar of chocolate you ate. What if it was chosen for you?  Would we still love chocolate as much?  What would we do when we're 18....keep eating chocolate, or vow to never eat chocolate again?

Chocolate isn't a perfect analogy because you COULD stop eating it after making the vow. You can vow to stop learning when you're 18, but it's a promise that will be broken within minutes. Learning happens whether you want it to happen or not.   

Some homeschoolers follow the first philosophy I mentioned. Education must be forced upon children; but instead of sending the children off to a local school, the parents do the teaching themselves.  Other people (like us) give our children educational freedom.   

Educational Freedom doesn't have to be an option open to only homeschoolers. There are actually schools that follow the philosophy that children should be free to learn what they want.  

There's the Summerhill School in England.  I've had my eye on that boarding school since Jack was a baby.  By now, I'm thinking I wouldn't be too excited about Jack going off to live in a far away land.   If he wanted to, I think I'd be a good parent and support it.    But I can't say I'd heavily promote the idea.  And if I'm going to be honest with myself.....I think my fantasy is not to be a parent of a child at the school.   I think I'd want to be the student.  Or I could be a teacher.   Maybe our whole family could live a the school.  Living in England would be a problem for us though.  It's hard enough flying to Australia from America.  I really don't want to endure the journey from Europe to Australia. 

I decided to talk to Lord Wiki about whether there are such schools in Australia.  I don't think it's likely we're going to move there, and make Jack one of their students.    But....

Okay.   Here's the truth.  I've been thinking of these freedomish schools lately. I've wanted to read and write about them.   I figured if I looked at Aussie ones, I could turn my research into a blog post. That's my wicked game plan.   

Lord Wiki has a short list of alternative schools in Australia.   I don't think all of them provide the amount of freedom that the Summerhill School provides, but they might to some degree.    I'm going to check them out.  I'm going to skip John Marsden's Candlebark school because I already wrote about it when I did my post about him.  I KNOW his school is not a freedomish school because he explicitly (and somewhat unkindly) says this on the school's website.  

I'm going to look at the other schools now.

First, there's Preshil in Melbourne.  I'm just going to go through and find things that look appealing to me.  Maybe I'll also mention stuff I don't like .

They don't make the kids wear uniforms.   I'm not against uniforms because they're really cute.  If there's one thing I like about schools, it's seeing Aussie school kids looking adorable in their uniforms.  But if I was going to send Jack to school, I think I'd prefer one that didn't have uniforms.   The Preshil website says, Preshil students are asked to come to school in neat casual clothes of their choice. This encourages diversity, expression of individuality and responsible personal choice.   I like that.  At one point, Jack showed mild interest in going to school. I tried to be okay with that, but it became harder when I realized I'd have to buy the kid a whole new wardrobe.

Preshil DOES require kids to wear hats outside. I like that. I definitely don't think kids should have absolute freedom. I welcome reasonable rules regarding health and safety. That being said, when we're in Australia, we usually neglect to make Jack wear a hat.  Bad parenting there.

They don't allow thongs. This I don't like.  I like thongs.  They're cute. I will admit that they're usually not the best for walking.  But if you're not walking a lot in school, why not?  What I'd love is a school where you could go barefoot.  That would be AWESOME. Preshil isn't that school.   They require shoes.

Preshil's philosophy page has a quote from a past principal.   She says, Preshil is not a place where kids do what they like, but rather a place where they like what they do.  

WELL....I think there's more of a chance you'll like what you're doing if you choose to do what you're doing.  That's not saying that sometimes we're forced into an activity, and we end up liking it.   It happens sometimes.  But I think there's more chance of enjoying your activity if you chose to do it.

I do like what the say here.  The child is not a blank slate waiting to be written on but an active participant in the learning process who brings to the teacher/student relationship a depth of experience and a creative and intuitive mind. Thus the learning process takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect, using inquiry, dialogue and discussion.    

I like that. I feel bad for children who spend a large fraction of their life in environments that don't believe in this.

This page of the Preshil site says that the school does not give grades.  Jack doesn't get grades.   He doesn't get tests. By some miracle the kid still learns.

Instead of having the teacher as a front-of-the-room lecturer, Preshil uses group discussions with the teacher as a facilitator. I like that.

Preshil uses mixed-age groupings for their junior school (ages 5-11)  Their reasoning: In this way we don’t impose grading divisions that serve only to develop preconceptions about what level children should be at and what arbitrary performance targets they must reach.   Amen to that!   I think it's still hard to place children though. What if you're really advanced in math, but you're behind in reading?

According to the FAQ's.....Although the kids don't get marked at Preshil, parents do get reports.   I wonder what's in these reports.  Maybe they just describe the child's progress?  Jack got a report thing when he took drama class.  I thought it was well done. The teacher was very positive, but she didn't shy away from sharing her concerns (annoyances) regarding Jack.  

All right.   I'm going to move onto the next school.  This is Allia College in Melbourne.  They pride themselves on being nonreligious and tolerant. I'm not sure if they give kids a lot of learning freedom.

Allia says they have a pleasant atmosphere.  Okay.  Whatever.  That's nice. Kids call teachers by their first name, and there are no school bells.   I like all that, but I'm not sure it's a huge thing.   I mean that alone doesn't create a school I'd like for my child.

They provide a standard mainstream education, but the teachers at Allia... are more cheerful, interesting and subject oriented.   Sure.   I don't know. It sounds like a commercial.   It sounds like something ALL schools would claim. What's so entertaining about Allia teachers? And why are they so damn cheerful?

There's no staff room.  During their breaks, the teachers mingle with the students.  Interesting.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.   In some ways, I feel teachers NEED and deserve a break from kids.  On the other hand, if the environment is truly a cheerful and comfortable one, maybe the teachers and children have the type of relationship where they don't need to escape each other. I guess what I'd want to know is whether the teachers LIKE not having a break room. Is it something not needed, or is it something not provided?

Their FAQ page has their views on rules.  It makes me a bit dizzy.  I think basically they're against arbitrary rules, but they do have rules.  It's hard to explain and understand the difference.  I'll try.  I think an arbitrary rule would be you must go to bed at 7:30.   The other type of rule would be You can go to bed when you want, but you have to be quiet so you don't wake up those who are sleeping.  

Allia has rules, but they try to have an environment that's not punitive.   I guess we have that in our house.  We don't really punish Jack. We don't ground him. We don't usually take things away. We don't spank him. But we do express our disapproval.  We let him know and understand that we don't like what he's doing. He does the same to us; and Tim and I do it to each other.  

I like what Allia says about learning disabilities: We don't necessarily believe in the existence of many so-called learning disabilities. If a presumed disability seems to disappear when you act differently towards the student; then did the disability really exist or was it merely something related to the way others reacted to it?

They don't see Aspergers as a disability. I like that. Just because you're different from the doesn't mean you're disabled.

I find Allia's website a bit hard to follow.  A lot of it sounds like bullshit public relations.  I think it's one of these cases where I'd actually have to actually experience the school to form a valid opinion.   Is it really a place of happy children, cheerful teachers, and minimal bullying?  I don't know. Maybe it is, and that would be nice.

There's the Village School in Croydon North Victoria. It's a northern suburb of Melbourne, pretty far from the CBD.  

The exterior of the school is appealing. It looks like a house. Does it feel like a house?

They have a maximum of 20 kids per teacher.  That doesn't seem especially small.  I mean it's better than some schools. But if I was going to pride myself on having small classes, I'd have less than ten kids per teacher.

Instead of using the term classroom, the Village School uses the term "home group".  Changing the word doesn't change the definition.  I think this school is big into giving off a home vibe.  But if a home had 20 kids, they'd get their own reality show on the Discovery Channel. I wouldn't call it a typical home.   

On this page of the Village School's website, they explain what's unique about their school (compared to the mainstream ones).  They say that teachers spend half of their time giving one on one instruction.  I like that. I think individual time with the teacher is more helpful than listening to a teacher address the whole class.

They measure children's progress by how much they have grown and changed within themselves, rather than comparing them to their peers. I like that too.  

They don't expect the same volume of work from every child.  I LOVE that.  I like writing excessively long blog posts.  Does that mean everyone should want to do that?  No!  Some people like reading five novels in a week, other people like reading one novel every six months.   We all work at our own pace.  Of course, you could take that philosophy too far.   It might not be a good thing if a student writes one paragraph the whole school year.  I think you have to have SOME amount of expectation; and I'm assuming the Village School has that.    

Oh!   I love this too.  They say they don't Withhold teaching a concept on the grounds of inappropriate age when the child is showing an interest in learning.   This is big in the unschooling philosophy   When a child is interested in something, you let them learn it. You don't tell them they're too young.  It shouldn't be about age. It should be about interest.

The Village School also does not...Give 'prescriptive' instructions that result in identical end products for art/craft, model making etc.   Amen to that! I'm not into cookie cutter art.

The school has a farm.  That's cool....well, as long as they treat the animals well.    The children sell horse manure and eggs. That's pretty awesome. I'm betting their chooks ARE treated better than those in factory farms.

I think the Village School is my favorite of the schools so far.

What's next on Lord Wiki's list?

Currembena School in Lane Cove, New South Wales.   This one could beat out the Village School as my favorite because Lord Wiki says it follows the philosophy of A.S Neil, the guy who started the Summerhill School in England.

Where is Lane Cove?

Oh!   It's in Sydney; part of the North Shore.  And here I thought the North Shore was full of mainstream people.  I'd picture a progressive school more likely being in a place like Glebe or Newtown. I love when my stereotypes are shattered.

Here's Currembena's website. They have only a preschool and primary school. That means the child has to find a new school when they get to a certain age. OR they could homeschool.   

The front page of the website has endorsements from the kids. I'm not too impressed with this. All schools could probably find a handful of kids who like their school, and would be willing to say warm and fuzzy things.   

Currembena  is another school with mixed age classrooms.   When children are ready to progress to the next class, they can do so. They don't need to wait for a new term or school year.

Instead of using tests, the school uses a more individualized type of assessment. I'm not sure of the details regarding that.  It sounds nice though.

There's homework, but the amount is negotiated by children, parents, and the teacher. I wonder how true that is. I mean sometimes we give children the ILLUSION that their input matters, but in reality it doesn't.  It's like the high school English teacher that told us when we talked about symbolism there are no wrong answers. Then one day I shared my idea of what a train symbolized, and he told me I was wrong.  

The Currambena site says that the children make their own rules for the school.  One rule they created was no sweets at the school. No sweets?!   That makes me a little suspicious. It makes me imagine that this rule was heavily influenced by the opinion of the adults in the room.  I could be wrong.....  Maybe.

I like some of the stuff they say on their philosophy page.  The nature of the child to be active. In a physical sense, this means the child freely moves within the school environment and does not spend most of the day being quietly seated. In intellectual terms, children actively create their knowledge. They are not viewed as empty vessels to be filled.   

At least twice my sister has reminded us that children should not get more than two hours of screen time a day. Children shouldn't be sitting that long! I wonder if she'll make sure her child's future school doesn't have more than two hours of sitting time.  Maybe typical schools have changed these days, but I remember doing a LOT of sitting when I was a child in school. If sitting in front of a computer is unhealthy, is it any more healthy to sit at desk for hours at a time?

Here's Currambena's policy page.

They say the topics for the class are chosen by the kids.  I like that. Although I think homeschooling is preferable in that regard.  If you have a whole class, how do you decide which interests to follow?   Do you vote?  What if you don't like the subject that's been voted on?   They could allow kids to work on individual projects.  I've seen schools that do that. It seems to work pretty well.

Most work at the school is done individually and/or in small groups. There's not a lot of whole class instruction. I think that's good.

Currambena seems like a lovely school when I compare it to typical traditional mainstream ones.    But I don't think it's that similar to the Summerhill School.  I'm impressed, but not overly impressed.

The Melbourne Community School is VERY small....less than 25 students.   It was started by parents.   It sounds kind of like a homeschooling co-op type thing.  

I sort of like what they say on the homepage of their site.   Education of the children does not rest solely in the hands of the teachers, but is also the responsibility of parents. It is not confined to the school hours, but also extends to the home so that there is a continuum between home and school life.   I agree with that.   Learning shouldn't be seen as something that happens solely in school (or while doing homework).  However, I dislike the fact that they didn't include the most important person in the equation....the children themselves!   Tim and I teach Jack, but for the most part he teaches himself!  Crazy?   Impossible?    Nope.   I don't go to school anymore.   I don't have my mom and dad constantly around to teach me.  But I still manage to learn.  Jack does the same.

I think the focus of Melbourne Community School is parent involvement.   I'm not sure if that's a big deal, because most schools claim to strive for that.  I do like the size of the school though.   With less than 25 kids, you probably will get a family atmosphere. Still, I'd rather homeschool....personally.

Collingwood College is ANOTHER Melbourne school.  This one is in/near the CBD.   A lot of these alternative schools are in Melbourne, unless Lord Wiki just didn't want to mention schools elsewhere.   I don't know.   Maybe Melbourne is the place for alternative education.    I do remember that when we were thinking of moving to Australia, and I was looking at various state homeschooling laws, Victoria's seemed the most lenient.  

Collingwood is a government school.  That sets it apart from the previous schools. I'm pretty sure those were all private.

On this page of the site, Collingwood says they use a Reggio Emilia style approach for kids up to year five.   I like Reggio Emilia, and I think it's inspired the way we homeschool Jack.    It involves letting children learn about what interests them; and it also involves interest and documentation of a child's work and progress. This is DEFINITELY something I do with Jack.  Our upstairs walls aren't filled with store bought art.   They're filled with Jack's artwork and stories. We don't keep EVERYTHING he's done, but we do keep a lot of it.

Do you know what your child currently loves?  Do you know what his favorite movies are?  His favorite toys?  What are his catch phrases?   What projects did he work on today?   If you can answer these questions, you're a Reggio Emilia parent. If you have no idea...and are thinking more about what fantastic knowledge you can pass on to your're probably not a Reggio Emilia parent.

Collingwood has a kitchen garden program.   Each week, the kids in year 3-6 spend 40 minutes gardening, and 90 minutes working in the kitchen.  Now THIS is one time where the school beats out our fantastic homeschooling set up.   We unfortunately don't have a garden.   We're not green thumb people.   We do cook though.   Jack gets a fair amount of kitchen time.   Tim's the chef in the family, so he does most of that type of educating.   I do some though.   Yesterday, Jack and I made rock cakes.   They weren't very traditional because we didn't have raisins and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store. We used chocolate chips instead.   

Well, guess what.   This post is very long, and I'm getting tired.  Plus, these schools are starting to sound all alike.   

I think I'm going to shut a few minutes.   I will first list the links to the other schools that Lord Wiki mentioned, so I don't feel like I'm neglecting them completely.    If anyone is interested, they can follow the link.   

1. Fitzroy Community School  (Another Melbourne one!)

2. Lynall Hall  (Melbourne!)

3.Berengarra (Queensland....just joking!   It's Melbourne) 

4. Brisbane Independent School (Melbourne.   Just joking.  This one really IS in Queensland).

I'm going to point out one little thing I like here.  They say, The children are free to use the toilet, get drinks and have a snack when their body tells them although we do have a set break time at midday to ensure that the teachers get to eat too!   I like that.   When I talk to Jack about school, I think the thing that bothers him the most is the idea that he can't eat when he's hungry.   I mean sometimes I make Jack wait if he wants me to make him something and I'm busy.   I'm not his on-demand slave.    But if he's THAT hungry, he can go grab a snack for himself.   I think it's sad for kids to have to ask permission to go pee, and to have to wait until a certain time each day to eat.    I like that this Brisbane school gives kids some basic human rights.  

5. Pine Community School (also in Queensland)

6. The Pavillion School  (Melbourne)   This one looks interesting.   The students have 2-3 classes a week, and each of those classes last only about two hours.  There are no more than six kids per teacher, and they start each class session with circle time. It's like preschool!   Brilliant.    I think ALL schools should be modeled after preschool.  I LIKE least the good ones.  But instead....preschools are becoming more and more like elementary and high schools. I think that's sad.

If Pavillion students want, they can have more school time by filling up their schedule with electives.   That's really cool.   I think some kids might benefit by having more classes.   Other kids don't do the extra classes, and instead use the time to work or participate in other outside programs.

If I'm reading this right, Pavillion is not geared towards anyone who's interested.   It's for kids who have shown that mainstream education is not working for them.   Their site says, The school is designed as a transition and/or re-integration centre for young people of secondary school age who wish to access educational support that is tailored to meet individual needs.   Well, I think MOST kids would benefit from a program like Pavillion's.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are Western Doctors God, Or What?

Before I started this blog, I tried starting another big Internet project.  I wanted to do a ratings/review website for new age/occult/spiritual services. Sometimes people want to see something like a medium or past life regression therapist. They may want their Tarot cards read. They might want to go to some type of spiritual healer.

I thought it would be nice if people had somewhere to go for recommendations and also a place to read warnings about bad experiences.

Some people would think this is absolutely foolish. They think ALL occult/New Age workers are awful. There is no bad and good ones. They're all out there for steal your money. Period.

I disagree with those beliefs, and I wasn't making the site for those types of people. I was making it for people like me.  I'm a believer in that stuff, but I also believe there are total fakes out there.    Some fakes know they're fakes, and are just trying to trick people into parting with their money.   Some people believe they have powers. They fool themselves as much as their gullible customers.    But I do think there are some who have talent, and there are some who provide a helpful, comforting, interesting, and/or entertaining service. 

My project failed.  Well, I guess I should say I failed my project.  I tried to use Joomla, and I found it to be too difficult. I guess someday I could try again. Maybe use a blog, and have people do reviews on it?  I don't know. It's hard to find participation on these things. At least it's hard for me.

I COULD go around the country and go to these spiritual healer occult people on my own. That would be fun. Maybe. I think it might get expensive. though. Plus, I don't think I could handle it. I hate having appointments.

Anyway, I thought about all this when I saw an editorial about naturopaths being regulated in Australia.  It was written by Jon Wardle who is the Director of the Network of Researchers of Public Health in Complementary and Alternative Health.  This network is part of the University of Queensland. I'm not sure if they're believers in alternative health or are just open-minded about it. I do know that Wardle is in support of the regulation, though.   

I'm looking at their website.  From a quick glance, it seems they do support least somewhat.  

What I get from Wardle's editorial is that he believes NOT having regulation of naturopaths can be dangerous.  Despite what some people believe, it's not just a fringe thing.  It's become quite popular.   He says that 1/10 Australians see a naturopath, and the statistics go up for people dealing with a serious illness.

When something is not regulated, it's very easy to just open up a business and start treating people.    People can make money this way without any training or credentials.

Oh....I'm reading this editorial more closely the second time. Wardle says this new regulation is going to be an independent entity.  He believes it needs to be handled by the government.

Here's their website.    Their site says, the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists has been established to provide minimum standards of education and practice for naturopathy and herbal medicine. The Board will develop this independent register which aims to mirror government requirements for the regulation of health practitioners. 

One thing that would concern me is that they'd turn it into another profession where people are needlessly forced to get a university education.  Uni is definitely a valid choice for some. But I think there are other ways to be educated. For example, someone might educate themselves by reading, going to seminars, acting as an apprentice to other practitioners, etc. I would hope there'd be some way of testing someone's qualifications rather than insisting they have a degree. 

Some folks don't have one little concern. They're outraged that this regulation thing is happening.   They think it will lend credibility to something they see as being complete crap.  That attitude seems a bit arrogant to me.  But besides that.....this alternative healing stuff is already very popular. So instead of worrying that it might become more popular, I think it's more important to concern ourselves with those who already do believe.

It's interesting, and sometimes actually aggravating to read the comments on Wardle's editorial.    Professor Rosseforp says Entry to standard medical courses is extremely high -- only the brightest get in. They are taught by the brightest people who are well-schooled in the scientific method.
By contrast, entry to naturopathic colleges is open to anyone who will pay, and is taught -- in some cases -- by people who are unable to spot errors of logic, or who are simply incapable of interpreting statistics to create a strong evidence base.

I wish I lived in Rosseforp's universe!  I've  encountered several medical professionals (nurses, doctors, dentists, etc) who are NOT that bright. They might be intelligent in some narrow ways, but then in other ways they're incredibly ignorant. When advising patients, they often use their own opinions (based on cultural biases and NOT science).

A lot of other commenters agree with Rooseforp. They love their scientific method and western medicine docs.

Then there's some out there who agree with me. I like what Gary Borman says.  He reminds us that...Modern drugs are just that - modern - with limited knowledge on long term use and side effects. The trials to allow them onto the public are often short, and history has shown misleading, as a few years later products are pulled from the market for increasing incidence of heart attacks and cancers. Many modern drugs DO NOT CURE, they simply band aid and cause the victim er patient to have to take the drug for the rest of their lives and wear the associated side effects.   

THANK YOU!   Why aren't these drug creators and pushers called charlatans? Why aren't there more complaints of them taking people's money and endangering lives?

What's so damn brilliant about the scientific method if it tells you something is safe and then later tells you it's deadly and dangerous?

People share personal stories in their comments.  Dean says,  These people are mostly charlatans. My wife is terminally ill, and the number of times she has been told "You have turned the corner" by some freakin idiot who has no freakin idea is unbelieveable. Their attraction lies mainly in the fact they tell you no bad news. Their culpability lies in confusing people with bullsh*t cures and fake diagnosis.

I give him credit for using the word "mostly", and I wouldn't necessarily debate him on that. I wouldn't doubt that there're a lot of clueless folks in the business. That's why regulation would probably be a good idea.  Maybe it would weed some of the complete bullshit out.

While Dean has had negative experiences with alternative medicine, George complains of problems with western medicine.  He says,  I have lost my Mum and sister to cancer in the last year and yes they were treated by the "real" doctors and conventional medicine but we were shocked by the standards of a few of these "real" doctors.   It was a naturopath that gave some relief to my girls. We only wish we had gone to them earlier.  There are good and bad operators in all walks of life.   

I definitely agree.

It's disheartening to see the venom exchanged between the two sides. It's sad when people are so rigid in their beliefs.  On this particular editorial, more of the venom seems to be coming from the haters of alternative medicine.   But elsewhere I've seen alternative medicine practitioners being way too closed off to Western Medicine. I think the truth of the matter is that people have their beliefs, and they can't handle the fact that other people might believe differently. They look at treatments they don't believe in, and call it harmful....yet they refuse to see the potential harm in the treatments they personally believe in.


Maybe THIS Is a Dream Too!

Last night I had a dream within a dream within a dream.  Three layers. It's all a little hazy to me, but I'll try my best to explain it.

Layer # 1- Tim, Jack, and I are staying at some house with a bunch of other people. It's kind of like a retreat, I suppose.  he other people seem to be Australian and/or British.  There's one part where we are in a kitchen.  Charlie from Lost is there.  He has made some kind of yummy mousse dessert.   I look forward to eating it. But then this hybrid combination of Claire from Lost, and my friend Tracey, sticks her feet into the dessert.  I'm a bit disappointed, and annoyed.   But it's not like I'm extremely angry.  My reaction is more of an amused....I can't believe you did that!   Charlie has some of the dessert on his face. Since this is the only way I can taste the dessert, I use it has an excuse to kiss him.  This is not something Tracey/Claire would usually approve of, but I feel she has to deal with it since it's her fault the dessert is gone. 

I go to take a shower, and the bathroom is full of other people's shampoo and conditioner. The bathroom feels so crowded. I realize it's morning, and I usually take my showers at night. I decide I'll come back later. I'm not happy with the crowd.I don't like sharing a bathroom with so many people.    

There's also this sense that I wish I felt a connection to these people, but I don' least not yet.   I feel out of place, and I don't like that feeling.  

Layer #2- I'm in a room.   Maybe a den.   I start to write a blog post starting with saying something like right now we're at this retreat. But then I realize we're NOT at a retreat.  It was a dream, so I'm going to have to write a dream post.

Layer #3- I'm writing a post about the dream which I had once thought was a retreat. I then decide to not waste too much time writing about dreams vs. real retreats, and instead make my post be about how we fit into some groups, but within other groups we feel a bit alienated.  

Why do we bond with some people almost immediately, but you can spend a whole weekend with other people and feel no real connection to them?

Within one of the layers.... I look at a magazine. There's an article written by an Australian. It has a list of advice type stories.  In one of the items, she says if you're an Australian visiting America, rub powder from Doritos on your swimming suit so the customs people will think it's an American swimming suit, and not an Australian one.  She's not being serious really. It's her way of introducing a story about how American customs gave her a rough time about her swimming suit. 

I'm not sure why my subconscious mind associated Doritos with being American. And I think Australia actually has Doritos.

Within another one of the layers....I'm writing something while sitting with my parents.  Or I'm working on SOME kind of project that my parents are aware of. My mom sheepishly complains that there's no Jews in my story.  I'm a bit annoyed at my mom for saying this.   I tell her that there's also no Australians.  She's amused and surprised by this.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Page Twenty-Six

I really love this quote from Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish.

The Book of Fish with its myriad wonders and its horrific, unfolding and ever-growing tale, was gone.  I had lost something fundamental and had acquired in its place a curious infection; the terrible contagion of unrequited love.

I can totally (100%!) relate to that. I won't share the details of least not now. I've written too much today already. AND I'm trying to be all mysterious like Amelia and Riley.

I do love when an author perfectly expresses MY feelings. It saves me the job of trying to explain myself.

And yeah. I'm betting there won't be many people who understand my Amelia and Riley reference.   That makes me feel even MORE mysterious.  

Library Visit

I walked to the library today (good exercise, but it was too hot!). I only got two books because I just started reading a Richard Flanagan book that I own.  It might take me awhile to get through it, and I don't want to feel rushed.

One book I planned to get.  It's another Jaclyn Moriarty thing. This one's The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie.    It's a bit hard to get the Moriarty books straight because they're titled differently in the US.   I actually thought there were two Bindy books, but it turns out I was just seeing different titles for the same book.  In Australia, the book is called The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie

Lord Wiki is helping me keep things straight now. I have to read the Bindy book and then Finding Cassie Crazy which is The Year of Secret Assignments in America.  In that particular case, I think I prefer the American title.   

Then Moriarty wrote some other books that are not connected to the ones above. I shall probably read those too. Hopefully I can find them.

I really had planned to just get that one book.  But then the walk was so hot and surreal in an icky way(because I had just finished watching a bit of The Lovely Bones). It seemed nuts to come home with only one book, so I searched for another. I wanted another Australian book. I looked for Marsden and Jinks. No luck there.  

I couldn't think of any other authors off the top of my head, so I was a total loser and started with the A's and flipped to the back of each book to look at the author biographies.  I gave up after three rows of books. I did a quick glance of other shelves. I found an Australian book I had read before; a collection of short stories. The author (Judith Clark) had another book there called One Whole and Perfect Day.   I took that.  

I've been reading mostly young adult novels lately. I think the last grown-up book I read was the Steven Toltz one.    So....uh....I think I may have lowered my reading level ability a bit. The Richard Flanagan book (Gould's Book of Fish) looks incredibly long and daunting.  Hopefully, I can handle it.  

I Don't Much Like Oprah But I Kind of Wish I Was Her

I'm a bit jealous of Oprah.

People in Australia want her so much, that they're willing to give her free accommodations.  North Queensland is offering to let her stay at a $4000 per night place for free. Is that fair?  Well, probably....she's Oprah.

I wish I was so desperately wanted.


I wish we'd get offers of free accommodations! $4000 per night would be totally unnecessary. I'd be happy with something much less expensive.  

Then again, if we did get offers....I'd feel obligated to write a positive review on a place.That would be an uncomfortable situation. And even if I didn't have to write a positive review, I'd feel obligated to at least write a review that was entertaining.  I hate feeling pressured to be entertaining. 

Oprah is going to be spending 8 days in Australia. No one knows which places she will visit, but it does seem highly likely that she'll be doing Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. Will she do Melbourne?  Canberra?  Hobart?  How about Darwin? We'll she make it out west?  Will people be offended if she doesn't visit their town?

I'm not like Oprah. I don't get a bunch of free offers. I don't get the mass outpouring of love and adoration.  I do however get people persuading me to visit the places they live and/or love. You need to come here! Make sure you go there. You'll love it here!  

Sometimes I don't know if I'm visiting a place because I want to go there, or because I feel pressured to go there.

I'm very easily pressured to do things. I mean I don't always say yes. I can say no. Really. But I feel all guilty about it, and I worry too much about offending people.

It's really hard to pick places to visit. There's so many new places in Australia I want to visit.  That's fine.  The problem is we can't exactly afford to go there every year.  We have a limited time.  So we have to work with the time and money that we have.  THEN there's the fact that we get attached to old places. Jack and I are very attached to Sydney. We can't go to Australia, and not go to Sydney.   No way.  But then I started thinking....what if we also become attached to Melbourne or one of the other places we visit in 2012?  What if we feel we must also go back to Melbourne on our 4th (we hope!) visit?  Then how are we going to fit in any new places?

Plus, there's places OUTSIDE of Australia.  I kind of want to return to London someday. We were thinking of doing a driving trip to NYC this spring.  I love NY and really miss it.  But then we really loved Pensacola recently, and a part of me is thinking we should drive there again instead.

We want to go to Spain. We want to go to Scotland, so we can further our worshiping adventures of JK Rowling.  

The place I don't much like is Fort Worth. So what we SHOULD do is sell our house and be one of those nomadic families. We should just travel nonstop.  How would we make money? I'm not sure.   Maybe we'd plant one of those Sims 3 money trees. Yeah. That would definitely be a great idea.  

The problem is we have our cats, and can't abandon our feline loves. 

Oh well.

I should remember we're lucky to do ANY traveling in the first place. We may not be as blessed as Oprah, but we are VERY blessed.   

Lady Gaga Videos and Bad Weather in Melbourne

Here are my Australian dreams from last night:

1. Jack and I make a video of us dancing to a Lady Gaga song. It turns out to be surprisingly awesome. It has cool flashing light effects and great editing. We put it online, and we can see from Statcounter who views it. We get a lot of hits from Melbourne. 

2. We're in Sydney. It's the beginning of our Australian holiday. We plan to go to Melbourne next, but it's not written in stone. We haven't gotten flights yet, nor do we have arrangements for accommodations. Someone tells us NOT to go to Melbourne,  because the weather is bad; we should wait.  I'm thinking it's nice we can be flexible.  But then I start thinking if we don't go to Melbourne next, it will mess up our other plans. I'm thinking maybe the weather isn't as bad as the person suggested, and we can go anyway.  

Oh, and then I had this dream.   It's not Australia related.   It's one of those weird-random-celebrity dreams.

3.  I'm with some girl (I don't know in real life). We're outside somewhere, and from a distance we see Naveen Andrews. My friend is starstruck, and wants to bother him with her gushing. I'm embarrassed by this. I don't like the idea of bothering celebrities, and I don't want any part of it. I decide to stay back.  But then somehow I end up in the midst of the encounter. I think she says something to Andrews, but instead of talking to her, he talks to me. I think I hear him use my name.   I find this to be strange, and figure I must have imagined it.  

I really have no idea why I dreamed about Naveen Andrews.  He hasn't been on my mind lately. It's so RANDOM.

Lady Gaga was less random. We listened to her music on the way to Dallas yesterday. Then I reminded Tim about how his uncle was talking about her as if she was the Messiah. His uncle seems to be a huge fan. I'm not knocking him. I tend to believe that JK Rowling is some type of Messiah.    She's probably the one entity in the world I'd be willing to worship.     

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nuns and Saints

Congratulations to the Catholic church for gaining a new saint. Very cool that she was an Aussie, and that she fought against child abuse. 

The other night I watched Sister Act. I love that movie, and I love this scene.  

Despite my antagonistic feelings towards Christianity, I do sometimes have an attraction to Catholicism. 

I like the nuns in The Sound of Music, and the priests in The Exorcist.

I loved Mermaids, where a Jewish girl wished she was a nun.  

Okay. Mostly I like fictional Catholicism. BUT I know there's SOME great priests and nuns in real life as well.  Mary MacKillop was one of them.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great! But Can You Change That Before We Come To Visit?

The Australian dollar was equal to the American dollar today. That hasn't happened since 1983.

I'm not an economics expert, but I figure this is good news for Australia. And since I love Australia...of course I'm happy about this.

However, I shall not be happy if the Aussie dollar is equal to the American dollar when we come to visit. Then I shall selfishly wish for it to go lower then the American dollar....just for the weeks that we're there.  Once we leave, it's welcome to rise again.

To be fair (because I TRY to be a fair person), if/when Australians, I love, come to America, I shall hope for their dollar to be stronger than ours. Then they can do some fun cheap shopping.  

I think that's a good deal.  

Speaking of our in-the-not-near-future-visit.....After thinking, conversing, and reading, I'm now thinking good places for us to stay in Sydney might be either

A) One of the eastern beaches
B) Haymarket/Chinatown area.
C) Ultimo/Pyrmont area
D) Glebe

The beaches would probably be our first choice because Tim loves being near the beach.  I know some of those areas are in/near the CBD, and I said we didn't want to be in the CBD. But then I started thinking that maybe Tim is sick of the specific areas of the CBD that we stayed in, and not the whole area in general.  I don't even know if those areas ARE in the CBD. I think it's more precise to label them as places included on the basic tourism maps. 

I thought maybe we'd be cool, and step off the beaten tourism path. But it might be that I like that path.  Sorry. 

I think we DO need to go west at some point, at least for a visit. Maybe we'll take a train somewhere. I mean besides The Blue Mountains. We could go to Parramatta or Dulwich Hill. Maybe. We did spend part of a morning in Croydon last time. That's fairly western. 

Oh!  And we dragged our friends to the Outback Steakhouse. I'm pretty sure it was the one in North Strathfield, and that's out west too.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Edward's Fish

I'm looking at photos from a UK guy who visited Queensland.

He has some really cool fish photos. This is one of my favorites.  

We had fun fish in Pensacola last weekend.  They weren't exciting in terms of color. But there was lots of them swimming with us.  I liked that.  I like friendly casual animal encounters. I prefer it to the artificial ones—the ones where you have to pay a lot of money, and the animal is forced to be touched by you.   

Vaccine War

I'm reading an article, on the ABC website, about the Australia Vaccination Network. They've lost their right to solicit money from the public. I think this is a bit disturbing.  Is it up to the government to decide what charities are acceptable or not?  Have they done this before? Have they stopped any other organizations from soliciting money?  

Someone named Meryl Dorey from the AVN group says, This is the way that they handle dissent: by shutting organisations down that don't agree with their policies, and it's not the sort of move that you would expect in a democratic nation.

I think she has a good point.

On the other hand.....

WHY do they need the fundraising?  Why do you need money to get the message across?  I'm writing this post right here. I'm getting a message across. All I needed was an Internet connection and my free Blogger account.  It's pretty cheap and easy to spread messages these days.

It's not like the government has forbidden the anti-vaccination group from least from what I know. Their website is still up.  

One of the problems the government had with the group is they refused to explicitly mention that they were anti-vaccine.  And the name IS a bit misleading. Australia Vaccination Network doesn't sound like a group that questions vaccines. It sounds like an organization that would have either a balanced viewpoint, OR be pro-vaccine.

The AVN has a whole page about the controversy.  I'm going to try to read it, but it may go over my head.  

This is what the government wanted the AVN to put on their site:

1. The Australian Vaccination Network's purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
2. The information provided should not be read as medical advice; and
3. The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider."

I think that sounds very fair. And it sounds like the same stuff that's said on most health-oriented sites. Why would the AVN refuse to say it?

Well, they give their reasons.  For the most part, I think it's crap. They're pretty much against the government body (Health Care Complaints Commission) because the government body has taken the pro-vaccine side.  Well....duh.   What do they expect?  In most cases, the government IS going to take the side of the mainstream viewpoint.  Everyone takes a side.  Despite the HCCC having an opinion, I think they were fair about it. It's not like they wanted the disclaimer to say. This website is completely wrong and provides dangerous information.  Read it at your own risk!

Goodness. Usually, it's the pro-vaccine people who annoy the hell out of me, but today it's the anti-vaccine folks.  Both sides are annoying, though.    

Speaking of vaccines....Jack and I got ours today.  I got the Tetanus/Whooping cough one and the flu. Jack got the flu.  Honestly, it's a pain in the butt.  We get them at our local grocery store.  They make it sound like it's going to be this easy drop in thing, but it's not.  You have to fill out forms....not a big deal.  But then they say they need to type up the information, and that takes about 20-30 minutes. We have to sit around waiting. It's crazy because there's really no line.  Maybe it's just this particular grocery store?   Maybe at other places, it's easier to get the vaccine.

I really think it would be better if the pro-vaccine people would stop battling the anti-vaccine people and instead work to make vaccines more convenient.  When there is worry about an illness outbreak, just have shot people out everywhere. Have tables at the library, parking lots, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.  Don't make it a hassle. Have people sign a simple waiver and stick them quickly with the needle.

I had a friend tell me that she was pro-vaccine, was annoyed by anti-vaccination people, but she hadn't actually gone out to get the shots yet.  People are busy. People are lazy. I gotta admit it. I'm one of them.  I've been meaning to get that Tetanus/Whooping shot for about two years.   

There's a lot of people NOT getting their vaccines.  But I'm not sure it's all due to being anti-vaccination. I really think that sometimes it's just laziness or....Well, sometimes we know what we SHOULD do, and we don't do it.  Like last night, I knew I should have one of my healthy soups for dinner.  Instead I had nachos. I knew I shouldn't have a second helping of nachos. But I did it anyway.   

Anyway, I'm looking more at the AVN website. They're still soliciting money there.  Did they not shut it down yet, or is the government forbidding some other type of fundraising?  I'm confused.    They say the money doesn't go to just spreading their gospel.  They use the money to support lobbying the government?   Is doing that expensive?   Couldn't you just email government people?   They also use the money for a hotline in which parents can report vaccine reactions, and they use the money to test vaccine for heavy metals.   I can understand why you might need money for that.

This article here says the AVN can still solicit money from AVN members. But they can't solicit from people outside of that.   I think I might understand.   So, if you're a member of AVN, you might get solicitations; and if you go to their website, you can donate. But they can't send random solicitations out to people.  I think that's totally fair. conclusion.   This is my feeling about the whole vaccination thing.

1. The AVN should stop whining.  Nothing bad or unfair is happening to them (from what I can see).

2. The pro-vaccination people should work on making vaccinations more convenient and accessible.  And maybe in Australia, it's different. Maybe it's easier to get your shots there?

How many of you out there believe in vaccinations but have not gotten your shots yet?