Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Education in Melbourne

Hopefully some of this will be a review, because when I did the biography posts, I encountered a lot of schools.

Lord Wiki says that in the book Who's Who in Australia, many of the famous people listed went to Melbourne schools. If I'm understanding this right, the book ranks the schools that produce the most renowned individuals.

For boys, Scotch College is number one in Australia. It was founded in 1851. That's sixteen years after Melbourne was settled by the white Batman people.

I'm looking at the school on a map right now. It's about fifteen minutes east of the CBD–unless you hit bad traffic. If you hit bad traffic, it will probably take you much longer to get there.

Alumni names I recognize: John Monash, Peter Singer, Jesse Spencer, Jim Bacon, and Andrew Peacock. There's a ton of names I don't recognize; lots of sport people.

Melbourne Grammar School is second on the list. It was founded in 1858. They have a couple of campuses around Melbourne. One is right near the Royal Botanical Gardens. Maybe we'll see it when we're there.

Alumni I recognize from that school: Stanley Bruce, Julian Burnside, Alfred Deakin, and Barry Humphries.

The third school on the list is a government one. That's pretty cool. This is Melbourne High School. It was founded in 1905. Lord Wiki says it was Victoria's first state secondary school.

It's in the South Yarra area which is south-east of the CBD.

Alumni names I recognize: Lindsay Fox, Bruce Woodley, Simon Crean, and Max Gillies.

It's time for more Geelong confusion. Lord Wiki lists Geelong Grammar School as a top Melbourne school. But I THINK it's because their Toorak campus is in Melbourne.

Lord Wiki says the Toorak campus is for preschool through year 6 kids.

Alumni I recognize: James Fairfax, Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Peter Carey, Portia De Rossi, Helen Garner, Missy Higgins, Joan Lindsay, John Marsden, Alexander Downer, and John Gorton.

For some reason, Lord Wiki skips the fifth school on the list. He jumps to the sixth which is Wesley College. This school is on St. Kilda road, and was founded in 1866.

Alumni names I recognize: Holt and Menzies. That's all.


The number one girl's school in Melbourne (According to the Who's Who in Australia) is Presbyterian Ladies' College. It was founded in 1875, and it's out east in a place called Burwood.

Alumni names I recognize: None. That's sad. Although Alfred Deakin's sister went there. So at least I recognized a last name.

Oh wait. Dame Nellie Melba went there. I know of her. I missed her name at first.

Okay. Now I understand why the fifth boy school was missing. These are not the top schools in Victoria. They're the top schools in Australia period. So Melbourne has the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth top Australia schools for boys. That's impressive. They have the top first, third, fifth, sixth, and tenth girl's schools.

Methodist Ladies College is the third. It was founded in 1882, and is also east of the CBD. I think these renowned schools tend to be in the east. I haven't encountered any schools to the west yet.

Alumni names I recognize include: Cate Blanchett and Nicola Roxon.

School number five is Melbourne Girl's Grammar School. Ah...I guess this is in conjunction with Melbourne Grammar School. It's also near the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The only name I recognize in the alumni is Portia De Rossi. I guess she went to multiple schools. I did too.

School number six is Mac.Robertson Girl's High School. This government school was founded in 1905, and is in the north area of Albert Park. It's also south of Royal Botanical Gardens. That might be a fun school to go to. You'd be near all these parks.

The only name I recognize is from their alumni is Alice Garner.

The University High School is the tenth on the list. The school is celebrating it's 100th birthday this year, so I guess it was founded in 1910.

It's a public school, and is NOT east of the CBD. This one is north of the CBD, and slightly to the west.

Alumni names I recognize: Elizabeth Blackburn, David Williamson, Noah Taylor, and John So.

I guess when they say girl's school or boy's school, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's a gender specific school.

Wow. This has gotten a bit long.

I think I'll put the universities in the next post.

Melbourne Government

Lord Wiki says Melbourne is governed by The Melbourne City Council. But they're not governing the WHOLE city of Melbourne....just the CBD, and inner areas.

The Lord Mayer though, is seen as being a representative of the entire Melbourne area. I'm still unclear whether or not that includes Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula.

Wait. Here we go. Lord Wiki lists the government divisions for Melbourne. Geelong is NOT on that list. But the Mornington Peninsula is.

Victoria's State Parliament is in Melbourne. It's on Spring Street. I'm seeing it on Google Maps. It's slightly west of Fitzroy Gardens, and a little bit south of the Melbourne Museum. Maybe we'll visit it.

What else?

The Lord Mayer of Melbourne right now is Robert Doyle. He's had the job since 2008.

Oh! I've encountered this guy before. He's the one who said he didn't want bogans in Melbourne. And he's the one who wanted to bring back cars to Swanston Street. Fortunately, it looks like this has been vetoed.

I wish more streets were pedestrian-only. That would be nice.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Media in Melbourne

Lord Wiki says there are three main Melbourne newspapers. I think I've seen all of them. They are the Herald Sun, The Age, and The Australian.

The homepage of the Herald Sun says that Ryan Kwantan is going to write a sex guidebook. Interesting.

Oh wait. I got that wrong. The three newspapers aren't published in Melbourne. I had been about to say that I didn't realize The Australian was published in Melbourne. It turns out it's not. The three newspapers above are ones READ in Melbourne, not published.

Lord Wiki uses the term served, actually. I think he's saying that these newspapers are the ones readily available. Although MANY newspapers are available if you go the online route.

Now I'm onto television stations. They pretty much have local versions of national networks. We have that here. There's ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc. Then each city has a local station that broadcasts the network.

Australia has 7, 10, 9, ABC, and SBS.

What I don't know yet is the national headquarters of all the stations. I think, in America, most of our network headquarters are in NYC. Although then there's studios in Los Angeles.

Where are most of the studios in Australia?

Lord Wiki says there's an ABC studio in the Melbourne suburbs of Ripponlea and Southbank. But I'm not sure if that's the national studio, or the local version.

Melbourne has a community television station. This is C13. I encountered this in one of my biography posts. Maybe it was when I wrote about Rove? Or maybe it was Hamish and Andy? I forget.

Awesome! C13 has videos you can watch online. Maybe I'll do this site when I'm done playing on the Australian Screen site. .

Now for radio stations....

Well, actually there's too many to name. I'm feeling lazy.

I've heard of Triple J and Triple M.

This is my first time hearing of NOVA 100...well, as far as I can remember.

And there's others.

I used to listen to the upcoming artist stuff on Triple J. That was fun. I haven't done it in awhile.

Here it is. Triple J Unearthed.

Good! I remembered my password.

I'm trying to listen to "Welcome Here" by Penny and the Mystics. I picked that one because it's number 7 on the chart, and 7 is my favorite number.

Melbourne Demographics

Now I'm onto demographics. I'm excited. I like statistics. Well, I like the basic stuff that I can understand. The complicated stuff confuses me.

Lord Wiki says that Melbourne is multicultural. I like multicultural places. You get more interesting food. Fort Worth is kind of boring when it comes to cuisine.

Melbourne has the most Indian and Sri Lankan folks in Australia. I think this means we'll find a lot of good Indian restaurants. See with me, ethnicity all comes down to food.

Now let's go back in history. Before the gold rush, all the immigrants (or almost all) were British and Irish. I wouldn't want to visit Melbourne back then. I don't think I'd like that food too much.

The gold rush brought Americans, Germans, and Chinese folks. Good. Chinese food! That's what we had last night for dinner. Fort Worth Chinese food is not that great though.

World War II brought even more variety to Melbourne. A lot of Greeks and Italians came aboard, and also many Lebanese and Turkish.

Thirty-four percent of Melbourne's population is foreign born. That's pretty impressive.

The most common spoken-at-home language besides English is Italian. Greek is third, and Chinese is fourth.

Lord Wiki has a population chart. It says that the projected population of Melbourne in 2056 is 7.9 million. That's a bit scary. Right now it's at 4 million. So it's going to almost double. Things are gonna get way too squishy. Well, hopefully some of us will be living in space by then.

There's also a chart about where folks come from.

The top ten source of immigrants are: the UK, Italy, Vietnam, China, New Zealand, Greece, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and The Philippines.

I just went to Lord Wiki's main page on Melbourne demographics. It shows what neighborhoods have which groups. That's fun. Oh wait...and down here, he shows where to find the different foods.

Lygon street is for Italian food. I think they're the ones that have the festival where Gabrielle Cilmi was discovered.

Little Bourke Street has Chinatown.

Lonsdale Street has Greek Cuisine.

Central Footscray has Asian and African. Tim and I have bad luck with African food, although we've done only Egyptian and Ethiopian. Actually, it's only the Ethiopian that we've had problems with.

Caulfield has Jewish food.

Speaking of Jews, now we get into religion.....

The most popular religion in Melbourne is Catholicism, but that's only at 28%. The next most popular religion is NO religion. And that's MY religion. I'd fit in well there.

Forty percent of Australian Jews live in Melbourne, and it has the highest number of Holocaust survivors in Australia. It's the highest per capita outside of Israel. That's pretty amazing.

Sixty-four percent of people in Melbourne are Christian.

There's 300,000 Muslims.

And then there's other religions as well.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia seems to believe that the 20% of nonreligious people in Australia are also nonbelievers.

I'm a HUGE believer. I'm just not religious. I don't go to a place of worship. I don't have a religion. But I'm not atheist.

It annoys me when people confuse nonreligious with nonbelieving. It's not just atheists who do this. Christians will do it as well. To some, if you don't go to church, then you're atheist.

There might be a lot of Atheists in Melbourne though. The Atheist Foundation says a study done in 2008 found that 31% of Australians didn't believe in God, an afterlife, etc.

The numbers add up in an interesting way. If there's 31% of people not believing, and only 20% of people don't have a religion.....Well, that would mean there's some people with a religion and not believing in it. There's Jewish people like that. They go to Temple or Synagogue, yet they don't believe in the spiritual stuff.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And Now It's Time for Economics

Lord Wiki is going to teach me about Melbourne economics.

I'm having so much fun writing these posts. I wonder if anyone is having fun reading them. I kind of hope so, but I'm not going to worry about it too much. We watched this documentary about The Simpsons yesterday, and someone on there said you should write what YOU think is funny. I think that's good advice. I like writing stuff that's interesting and entertaining to me. If other people happen to enjoy it, that's a bonus. If no one else likes it....well, at least I had fun writing it.

Lord Wiki says Melbourne is home to five of Australia's largest corporations. These are ANZ, BHP Billiton, the National Australian Bank, Rio Tinto, and Telstra.

I've heard of Telstra before. That's the phone people. We used their services when we were in Australia.

BHP Billiton is a mining company. They have their mining thing all over the world, including my country.

Rio Tinto is a mining company as well.

Both of the mining companies also have offices in the UK.

Lord Wiki says that Melbourne has the busiest seaport in Australia. I wonder why it wins that contest instead of Sydney....or other ports.

It has the second busiest airport. I'm assuming that Sydney has the busiest.

Melbourne is known as the center of the Australian automobile industry. That's nice.

Melbourne makes a lot of money from tourism. In 2004 it had 7 million domestic tourists, and 1.88 million international tourists. There's about 22 million people in Australia. Does that mean 1/3 of them visited Melbourne? Or maybe some folks made multiple visits? Yeah. That's probably it.

Lord Wiki has another whole page on tourism in Melbourne. Here he says, that in 2009, there were 15.9 million domestic tourists. I guess Australians really love going to Melbourne.

The Location of Adelaide

I had an Australian related dream last night:

I am talking to my sister Melissa about her past trip to Australia. She says they stayed in these little cabins, and she didn't like it, because there was a busy body there who announced all your comings and goings. You couldn't go to the toilet without many people hearing of it.

I agree that this sounds annoying. But she shows me photographs of the cabins, and they look really cute to me. I find myself somewhat attracted to the place. Then Melissa says something like The cabins are in Adelaide. It's a city on the south coast of Australia. I'm offended that she thinks she needs to tell me where Adelaide is. I'm wondering how she could not know that I'm so obsessed with Australia, and have this whole blog. Wouldn't it be expected that I know the location of Adelaide?

I say something snide to her (but I forgot what I said). Tim is there, and I'm wanting him to somehow show support for my annoyance. He doesn't. In fact, I get the idea that he's annoyed with me.

I try to explain my feelings. I give an analogy, saying it would be like someone trying to tell a England-obsessed person about Stratford-upon-Avon. When Melissa is gone, I blab on and on to Tim about how I'm annoyed that my sister doesn't know me well enough to know I'd know about Adelaide. Tim doesn't take my side...at all. He tells me that tomorrow he's going to go to some office and pick up divorce papers. I'm very hurt by this.

Later, Tim comes over to Jack and me and tries to pretend nothing happened. Actually, he shows affection, but I'm unable to tell if he's showing affection to both of us....or just Jack. Either way, I make sure to act hurt and angry. I want him to grovel.

At another point, I ask him about the divorce paper thing. I expect him to reassure me, saying it was just a joke or that he was angry and overreacted. But instead he says he's undecided about the whole thing. He's not yet sure what he's going to do.

It wasn't the happiest of dreams.


Sports in Melbourne

Lord Wiki wants to talk to me about sports in Melbourne.

I really don't want to hear it, but I'll listen anyway.

The Olympics were held there in 1956. I knew that.

In 2006, they had the Commonwealth Games. Unlike the Olympics, these games aren't for all nations. They're for countries in the Commonwealth. It makes me feel a bit left out.

I guess it's a good argument for Australia not becoming a republic. If they become a republic, would they be banned from the games?

Well, they'd still have the Olympics.

Lord Wiki says there are three big important international sport events that take place in Melbourne.

There's the Australia Open...the tennis thing. In college, I had crushes on three members of the tennis team. But not all at the same time.

The Australia Open takes place in January.

There's the Melbourne Cup. I've heard of that. I think kids have the day off of school? Well, Lord Wiki says it's a public holiday for people in Melbourne.

It's held on the first Tuesday of November. That's election day for us here over in America.

And there's the Australia Grand Prix for car racing. That goes on in March.

Melbourne has the National Sports Museum. I don't think either of the three of us are really into spectator sports. I don't think we'll go there.

That's about all I want to say about sports.

So....short post this time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

And Now a Lesson in Melbourne Culture

Now Lord Wiki is going to teach me about Melbourne culture.

Maybe.

My computer is acting extremely slow right now. I hate that.

Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds impressive.

I'm waiting to find out what it means.

Waiting...and waiting....and waiting.....

Okay. Here we go. To be a City of Literature, you have to meet several criteria. I was going to list some of the criteria, but it's probably easier to just summarize it. The city needs to be one in which writing, reading, and publishing is seen and shown as being valued and important.

According to Lord Wiki, only three cities meet the criteria: Melbourne, Edinburgh Scotland, and Iowa City in the United States. That seems a bit off to me. What about New York City? London?

I'm guessing it's not something you're simply awarded with. Maybe you have to join as well. There's probably cities that DO meet the criteria, but they haven't bothered with joining. Does it cost money to join?

I'm waiting impatiently get an answer.

I think I shall take a break, and come back later. Maybe the Internet will be faster by then.

I'm back. Let me see if it's gotten faster.

It doesn't feel like it.

I'm slowly looking at the UNESCO website, and it seems like they're inviting cities to join.

I found a how-to-apply page, and it's loading. So I shall hopefully find out more about this.

The city applies, and then they have to wait for approval. There is NOT a fee. So, that's good. But the application is supposed to be about 50-80 pages. I guess it would be kind of like writing a grant?

My guess is that it hasn't become a big deal yet, and cities aren't really jumping for the chance to join.

Melbourne has had other honors. The magazine The Economist has labeled Melbourne as the most livable city three times. One of the attributes that earned them this honor is their rich cultural environment.

Lord Wiki lists the current winners of that award. Melbourne is now down at number three. That's still pretty awesome. The winner is Vancouver, and Austria is in second place. Four of the ten cities are Australian. None are American.

There's some festivals in Melbourne; well, of course.

We have the Melbourne International Film Festival. That's going to start on 22 July. It's coming up. Anyone planning to go? It costs $340 for a passport, and there's cheaper ticket for those who don't need to go to every event.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival had their 2010 event in April. But they do roadshows through out Australia. Currently, they're in South Australia. Although I think that shall be over by the time I post this.

The Melbourne Fringe Festival is an art thing, and they'll be having their thing in September.

Australia's national ballet company is based in Melbourne. I don't get too excited about that stuff. My parents like it though.

Like most cities, Melbourne has an orchestra. My cousin is a violinist, and has been in orchestras. I'm not sure if she does that anymore. She's gone into modeling. But maybe she does both now.

There's the Victorian Opera. I'm really not into ballet, orchestras, or opera. I'm not very cultured...in that sense. I guess you'd call that high culture? I'm more of a pop culture type person.

I do like orchestra music if it's in a movie, or I have it on as background music. I don't like sitting there, and watching musicians play. It's not my thing. I don't mind watching it for short periods. It IS interesting to see musicians do their thing. But then I get bored if I have to watch it for too long.

Melbourne has many music and theatre venues. I'm not going to list them all.

I remember reading about the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. That's an outdoor theatre thing.

There's a group of theatres called the Marriner Theatres. Their venues include the Regent Theatre, Plaza Ballroom, Princess Theatre, Comedy Theatre, and Forum Melbourne.

In August, there's going to be a Beatles song event. We have a friend who's really into that.

On the day before my birthday, John Edward will be there communicating with dead people....and living people too.

The Jersey Boys are going on right now at the Princess Theatre.

I do like theatre, at least watching it. I get nervous about having to pee though. Then I hate standing in the long line during the intermission.

Melbourne has a lot of art galleries. We usually don't do art museums, but I'm thinking we will on the next visit. We've done a few with Jack, and he seems fairly okay with them. I think now that he's getting older, he might like them a bit more. I don't mind them, but I get overwhelmed and lose interest fairly quickly. I couldn't spend several hours in one.

The big art museum in Melbourne is the National Gallery of Victoria. It's on St. Kilda road.

From their website, it look like right now they're having a lot of European stuff. That's fine, but I'd be more interested in seeing Australian stuff. I'm sure they have it.

Yep.

Right now they have an Australian fashion exhibit. And they have other Australian stuff.

Admission is free, but there are special exhibits that cost some money. I think we should try to go there.

If we get too lazy, we can get our art quota by walking around Melbourne. Lord Wiki says there's a lot of street art.

In fact...there's a whole website about it.

You can click random, and get a random photo. That's cool. I got a weird smiley face on Caledonian Lane.

You can totally do fortune-telling with this. It would be like that iTunes shuffle fortune-telling game.

Let's try it!

What will our time in London be like?

Melbourne Street Art says.....

I got a picture of a crayon box, and a message saying we should color our city.

I'm not sure how to apply that picture to our London trip. Maybe it's telling us to bring crayons, so we can draw when we're bored. Maybe we'll just bring pens. Jack's more of a pen and pencil kid than a crayon one.

Next question: What will our next Australia trip be like?

I got a pink dog from Hosier Lane.

You know, maybe iTunes fortune telling is better.

While we're here, let's do that.

What will our time in London be like, oh Holy iTunes God?

I got the Quidditch World Cup song from Harry Potter. Well, that fits!

What will our time in Australia be like, oh Holy iTunes God?

I got a Lisa Chapell song; "When Then Is Now". I think it's saying that right now our Australia trip is pretty far off. But the next thing we know, it's going to be now. Time flies.

Let's get back to Melbourne culture.

Lord Wiki says Melbourne was the birthplace of Australian film and television. The world's first feature film was made there. That's The Story of the Kelly Gang. You can see clips of the film on the Australian Screen website.

The Australian impressionist movement called The Heidelberg School began in Melbourne.

A type of dance originated in Melbourne. It's called The Melbourne Shuffle. Here's a video demonstration of that.

And there's a whole documentary about the dance.

Well, that is it for now.

Enviromental Issues in Melbourne

Now Lord Wiki is going to give me a lesson in Melbourne's environmental issues.

I know a little bit already. Well, at least I know about some of Victoria's problems. There's those big massive horrific fires. The weather can be extremely hot. You mix that with dryness, and you've got a dangerous situation. Then other times you get too much rain, and there's flooding.

Lord Wiki says that Melbourne has been in a drought since 1997. I didn't know that. It's pretty scary. As far as I know, Fort Worth has droughts on and off. We can see this by the dock at our lake house. Right now, we have no beach area. The water level's high. So I'm guessing this means we have no drought. At other times, the water level's low, and we have a little beach. I would guess that this means there's a drought.

Well, there may be other factors that I don't understand. Maybe lake levels aren't a fully reliable way of knowing if there's a drought or not. This news article says Fort Worth is currently dry, and we have a drought looming.

I guess I should wish for rain.

Melbourne tries to deal with their water shortages with water restrictions and water recycling. There's also something called the Wonthaggi desalination plant. It was a project proposed in 2007, and it's due to be completed in 2011. From what I understand, desalination is removing salt from water.

There's a lot of controversy over this project. The Australia Green Party doesn't support it. And then there's the action group called Your Water Your Say. I personally feel some of the font on their website is hard to read. It might be the fault of my old computer though.

On this page, they explain why they're against desalination. They say it'll be a threat to various marine animals. This includes those penguins on Phillip Island. Why is it a threat? Toxics from the desalination factory will go into the water. That's not good.

The other problem is the factory would cause a lot of carbon emissions. The website says, Ironically, it is carbon emissions that increase climate change that reduce rainfall that is driving Government’s misguided decision to pursue desalination, resulting in this lunatic and irresponsible vicious cycle.

Yeah. From what I know now, I'd probably want to side with Your Water Your Say.

Melbourne's planning to go Carbon neutral by 2020. They came up with that plan in 2002, when 2020 was eighteen years away. Now it's only ten years away. I think it's easier to have grand plans when it's far off in the future. Sometimes when the goal becomes closer, things seem a bit less likely. But hopefully, Melbourne WILL reach their goal. It might be hard with that desalination plant though.

Lord Wiki says Melbourne has a large carbon footprint because of urban sprawl. People are packed together enough, and in the outer areas, people often rely on automobiles.

I can understand how that's a problem. When I was wanting to move to Sydney, I really wanted to live in the inner suburbs. I'd love to live close enough that we could walk to many places, and/or easily take the trains and buses....ferries too, of course! The closer to the CBD the better. But could we afford that? I don't know. We'd probably live farther out. I guess we could get by without a car, but there'd be times where it would feel inconvenient. I think we'd probably own a car, but use it sparingly.

I'd like a situation where we could very easily walk to shops and restaurants, and then also have a train or bus station that's less then fifteen minutes (walking) away.

Lord Wiki says that a problem with Melbourne is the outer areas don't have good public transportation. I don't know if most folks would agree with him or not. I guess later we'll learn more about transportation over there. How hard is it to go out to the suburbs?

Melbourne has a lot of foreign vegetable, and foreign animal invaders. Since the guys couldn't have really swam over, I'm going to assume that humans brought them (purposely or accidentally) So, that's an issue. I'm not sure if it's a huge issue or not. But one of the invaders is the European wasp. I do remember reading in the news that Melbourne was getting some nasty stings. Here's an article.

I'm not a fan of wasps. Neither is Jack.

What other problems does Melbourne have?

There's E coli in the Yarra River. Yuck. Lord Wiki says this comes from sewage.

There's litter....lots of cigarette butts. I have a hard enough time understanding why people would smoke. It's bad for your health, and it makes you smell bad. So, what's up with that?

And then on top of everything else, some of these people litter.

Why?

Here's an anti-butt website. They say cigarette butts are Australia's number one type of litter.

Some might think that the butts are harmless, and it's simply a cosmetic concern. According to this website, it's much more than that. The butts release toxins in the soil and water.

Oh! This website isn't a nonprofit special interest group. They're trying to sell something....special eco ashtray things. It looks pretty cool. The company is Melbourne based, but they're planning to expand their business through out the world. I wish them well. It's nice to see companies working to improve the world.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Melbourne Buildings and Stuff

Royal Arcade, Melbourne, Australia. Taken by m...
Royal Arcade, Melbourne, Australia. Taken by myself with a Canon 10D and 17-40mm f/4L lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lord Wiki's next lesson is entitled Urban Structure. I think I'm going to be learning about buildings. Maybe? Perhaps we'll get into road plans as well?

The Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) has something called the Hoddle Grid. Is that a type of grid system that many cities use, or is it specific to Melbourne?

People have told me that Melbourne's grid-organized, and because of this, it's easy to get around. I like that. Part of Manhattan is like that. It's easy to find places if you know in which order the left to right avenues go. For example, we lived on Madison Avenue between 27th and 28th street. So to find it, you'd just need to know that Madison Avenue is between Park and 5th.

Okay, this is sad. I had to actually go look that up. I forgot the order of the avenues. Yikes!

Lord Wiki says that Hoddle's specific to Melbourne. It's a grid system named after Robert Hoddle. He designed the thing in 1837, which is only two years after the area got the white settlers.

The city center has arcades and lanes. That sounds cute. I guess they're little streets?

Yeah. Lord Wiki has a list of all the arcades and lanes in Melbourne, and photos. They remind me of Chinatown in New York. Oh, and we saw some stuff like that in Italy....Paris too, probably.

It looks like some of the arcades are indoors. I prefer the outdoor ones....at least in appearance. If it's raining or hot, I'd probably like the indoor ones.

One of the famous arcades is the Royal Arcade. Here's their website. They say on their history page that it was opened in 1870.

Lord Wiki says that Melbourne has less building height restrictions, and therefore has five of the six tallest buildings in Australia. Wow. Does Sydney have the other one? Or wasn't there a really tall building in the Gold Coast?

Yep. Lord Wiki confirms that. And this Gold Coast building's actually the tallest one of all. Not only that, but it's the tallest residential building in the world.

The second tallest building in Australia is the Eureka building in Melbourne. They have a sky deck for tourists who want a good bird's eye view of the city. I don't. Stuff like that rarely appeals to me. To me, most big cities look alike. And they REALLY look alike from above. But if my traveling companions want to go, I'm happy to be dragged along.

There are lots of gardens and parks in Melbourne. That's good. I like parks.

Lord Wiki talks a bit about housing. It seems getting a home is fairly difficult. Demand's exceeding supply. I remember reading about that awhile back. Australia has a thing about everyone having a house, but now it's a bit expensive to achieve that.
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What are Kangaroos???!!

I had Australia related dreams last night.....

1. We are living in Australia for awhile. On our property, we have some kind of insect room/house. It's this room where various bugs are on display. But it's free-flowing. Bugs can come and go. So each time you visit, you might see something different. I'm amazed by the variety of bugs in Australia.

I have other animals on my mind as well. I start thinking we should make some kind of bird feeder. I consider just spreading peanut butter on trees, and sprinkling it with seed.

In the midst of all this, I become very thankful that we're living in Australia. I remind myself how lucky I am, and vow to never take it for granted. At the same time though, it feels a bit scary to be so far away from America. It makes me feel somewhat disoriented.

I've gotten that feeling sometimes when we've been in Australia. It's not really homesickness. I don't miss America. It's more a feeling of....nervousness? Maybe. I guess it's just that sense of being so far away. Although we're really not that far away since there's planes that can take us home in less than a day. It's not like the past where you'd have to do months on a ship.

2. I'm with my friend Tracy and her daughter Tara. I have a kangaroo stuffed animal. But in
the dream, Australians don't call them kangaroos. They have some weird name for them, involving the number 7. I forget, and use the word kangaroo. Tara's completely confused. I have to explain what I mean, and tell her that kangaroos are the American word for that animal. I'm embarrassed by it all.

3. I'm at some event where we sit in an audience. My sister Dawn's with me. The people doing the show/speech are talking about universities. Dawn, all of a sudden, says that there should be colleges for black people. She says it with innocence and enthusiasm. Some members of the audience snicker, and mumble about her being racist. I talk to some people who don't seem annoyed at what she said. I say there actually ARE schools specifically for Aboriginal Australians. Then there's confusion about the American word college, and the Australian one. I conclude that it's good to have schools for Aboriginal Australians, but it's not good if those schools are there for the purpose of keeping them out of other schools.

There were some non-Australian dreams. In one....

4. I've just recovered from the stomach flu. While sick, I had missed time with guests that my parents had. Now that I'm better, they have new guests. We're all with them. I suddenly suspect that my dad thinks I faked the whole stomach flu thing. It seems he doesn't believe I was sick, and that he thinks I was faking it to avoid the whole social encounter thing. I bring this up, (in front of the new guests)sort of hoping/expecting he'll reassure me that he DID believe me. But he doesn't. He doesn't defend me. Instead he confirms what I suspected. I ask if, next time, I should have them come see what I leave in the toilet. He says yes. I'm thinking he should believe me because my mom knows I had the stomach flu. He should take my mom's word for it. But then I realize she never saw any proof either of my sickness. She seems somewhat doubtful herself, but more willing than my dad to take my word for it.

I act astonished about the whole issue. I say I had been so bothered and shocked by the fact that they hadn't believed I had an eating disorder. But how could they ever take my word for something complicated like that, when they can't even take my word for something straightforward like the stomach flu.

And now for Geography with Lord Wiki

Okay. Now Lord Wiki is going to teach me geographical stuff. That might be cool. I like geography. I'm going to open Google Maps as well. That will be my visual aid.

Wow. This gets technical. We're not just talking location here. There's geological stuff.

Melbourne's built on top of Quartenary Lava, and Silurian mudstones. Then there's also Holocene sand. Do I know what all of that means?

No.

I DO know what lava is. Lord Wiki says Quartenary refers to a time period.

And actually....it turns out it's our time period. This National Geographic website says it's from 2.6 million years ago until now. When are we going to change? I think it would be fun to give us a new time period; although not too soon. I just found about this whole Quaternary thing. I'd like some time to get used to it, before it disappears.

Silurian is another time period. It's 400 million years ago. I'm always astounded by how long the Aboriginal people have been in Australia. 40,000 years! But if you compare it to 400 million years, it makes the Aborigines seem like newbies.

Mudstone's a type of rock. This website says it's pretty much just hardened mud.

Now Lord Wiki is explaining the boundaries of Melbourne. It's really confusing. I'll TRY to figure it out.

Wait. Lord Wiki provides his own map. I think it might be more easy to understand than Google Maps.

If I'm looking at this right, Geelong is part of Melbourne. Is it? I didn't know that. It also reaches down south to the Mornington Peninsula. Did I know that was part of Melbourne?

I must be reading the map wrong. The Visit Victoria site makes it sound like Geelong's not part of Melbourne. They say it's Victoria's second largest city.

You know...forget it.

I'll get to better geography stuff at a later date.

Let's skip ahead to climate.

Lord Wiki says Melbourne has changeable weather conditions. I think this can be translated to scary crazy weather. One hour it's hot. The next hour it's cold. And there's also some freaky storms.

It reminds me more of Florida. Lord Wiki says there will be crazy heavy showers. Then it quickly goes away, and it's hot again. That's totally how things are at Disney World.

Fort Worth isn't much like that. We don't have random showers. We have rainy days. On rainy days, it's often rainy and dreary all day. I guess sometimes we do have a shower here and there. But it seems it's usually an all day thing. I mean there's not constant rain. But often the sun will hide for most of the day.

The last time the Melbourne CBD had wintery white stuff was in 1986. In the suburbs, there's been snow more recently.

Now I'm going to look at the weather chart....see in what months I'd like Melbourne the most. I'm very picky about weather. Celsius speaking, I really like only around 22-28 degrees. I can probably deal (unhappily with 28-30) and I'd be fairly okay with 20-22. Anything below or higher than that will probably make me grumpy.

I'd be fine with January, February, and March if it did the average thing. It's about 25 degrees. That's lovely. But then there's record highs in the mid 40's. That's not okay.

The averages in April through October would be a little too cold for me. But I guess I could hope for a warm day. Not too warm though.

One thing that surprises me here is that Melbourne doesn't get as cold as I imagined. The winter seems fairly mild. The record low is -2.8. That's 27 degrees Fahrenheit. It wouldn't be fun. But it's probably not that awful.

I'm having a glance at Fort Worth records. They've had much lower lows.

Well, that's it for now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lord Wiki Teaches Me about Melbourne in the 20th Century

Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne
Okay. Now I'm going to do the 20th Century.

Does that begin in 1900 or 1901? I think that's a bit confusing. I thought 2010 was the end of the 2000's, but then I've heard some people say that it begins in 2001. So, I'm not quite sure.

On 1 January 1901, Australia did the Federation thing. I already knew that...thankfully. I'm glad I remember at least SOME things.

Before Parliament moved to Canberra, it was held in the Melbourne Exhibition Building. Well, that I did NOT know. I knew Parliament was originally done in Melbourne, but I didn't know the exact building.

The first meeting was in May. It's kind of funny that it took three months to have the meeting. I'd think they'd be excited to get things started. Then again, the American president is elected in November, and then has to wait over two months to get into office. I suppose these things take time.

Here's the website for the Melbourne Exhibition Building. It looks very modern. Did they tear the old one down, and make a new one?

Oh! Never mind. I'm looking at the wrong place. Oops.

Here's the right one. It's the ROYAL Exhibition Building. This is the one in Carlton Gardens. I remember it a bit. Was there a fire? Or am I thinking of a Sydney fire? Yeah. I think I'm thinking of the Sydney one.

The Australia Parliament was in Melbourne until 1927.

What else.....

Melbourne prospered, and it's population grew after World War II. There were a lot of immigrants/refugees coming in.

In 1956, the Olympics were held in Melbourne. I remember that. An Asian-Australian guy convinced those in charge to do a march thing with people from the various countries walking together. I really like that.

What was that guy's name again?

Here we go.....

It was John Wing. Here's a whole website about him. I think it's a beautiful story.

There was other fun stuff going on in Melbourne during the post-war era. Lord Wiki says the CBD was spiffed up a bit. I'm guessing maybe that was done for the Olympics. You gotta dust when expecting visitors.

In 1960, the Chadstone Shopping Centre was opened. I guess that's important. Is it a mall?

I'm seeing a map on their website. It looks like one.

We went to a mall in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. Tim had a work event to go to. I was a bit excited, because we don't go to malls much. But then after being there for an hour or two, I remembered why we don't go to malls too much.

And American malls are very aggravating because they serve most of their drinks in Styrofoam cups. I hate that. I think Australia has less of that.

Then there's all the people with their shopping bags. And it seems like a mass of excessive consumerism. Everyone looks like MALL people. You know, it's those people who don't care much about anything except fashion and getting new stuff. Although it's probably just a perception thing. A small percentage are probably like that. The rest are probably people like us...ones who rarely do the mall thing. Plus, I shouldn't be insulting. I was once kind of a mall person myself.

Let me get back to history. This post is getting long, and I was hoping to avoid that.

Sometime in the 20th century, there was a public housing controversy. I'm not in the mood to go much into that. I think it was basically about getting rid of the old to put up high rise buildings. That usually gets people a bit itchy.

Lord Wiki says that the 1970's were a prosperous time for Melbourne. They were Australia's business and financial center. Then in the late 1970's, Sydney took over.

From 1989 to 1992, Melbourne was having financial problems. It sounds like things improved fairly quickly. That's good.

Well, that's it for Lord Wiki's history lesson.

Next, he'll be teaching me geography and climate. All I know is that it's hot as hell in summer.
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Lord Wiki Teaches Me About the Gold Rush in Victoria.

So, now I'm on the gold rush segment of Lord Wiki's post on Melbourne.

The gold wasn't actually in Melbourne. Well, at least not all of it. I'll check in a minute to see if some of it was there. But the reason Melbourne grew is that, people needed a town to go to, and Melbourne ended up being that town.

Lord Wiki says that the gold was found in Ballarat, Bendigo, and Beechworth. I was looking at the Visit Victoria website yesterday. They divide Victoria into regions, and one of the regions is the Goldfields. I'm not sure if that's an official name, or something the website created.

I know Ballarat's west of Melbourne....Bendigo too; so I'm guessing the others are nearby.

Melbourne's population grew because people from other lands came to test their luck. Lord Wiki says there was a lot of Chinese and Irish people in that mix of new migrants. I kind of already knew that.

I'm not sure how many people ended up lucky in the gold game. One group of people who got shit luck were the Aboriginals. The masses of new people brought more Smallpox. Lord Wiki says the Aboriginal population of the area decreased 80%. That's not good.

Aside from the Aboriginal tragedy, Melbourne was doing quite well for itself.

The gold rush began in 1851. By the 1880's, Melbourne was a very wealthy city. Lord Wiki says it was the richest country in the world? Is that really true? I need to confirm that.

This Melbourne guide website says that Melbourne was ONE of the richest cities. It doesn't say it was the richest of the richest, but who knows, Lord Wiki could be the correct one here.

Rich Melbourne (if perhaps not the richest) had many big events in their fancy shmancy Exhibition building. Tourists flocked to the city, and hotels were built.

One of those hotels is still standing. It's called Hotel Windsor. I have a feeling that place is not in her price range.

Actually, it's not as bad as I imagined. A basic room in September is $148. I just chose a random date.

Maybe we'll stay there.

But probably not.

I have a place in mind that will probably be a better fit for us.

The thing that annoys me about Australia hotels (from what I was seeing yesterday) is it seems many rooms have beds for only two people. It seems there's usually one queen bed, one king bed, or two single beds. I think usually in America, hotels offer one king size bed, two queen size beds, or two double beds. So a family of three or four can easily fit. You don't need to hire an extra bed, or get an extra room. Also, we find that in Australia you often have to pay extra for the third person (child or adult). In America, children are usually free.

Back to Victoria's happy wealthy time.

Well, guess what. All good things must come to an end...or most of them, at least.

You boom, and then you bust.

In the 1890's, things went sour, and there was a depression.

Lord Wiki says the cause of this downturn (or one of them) was something called Boosterism. This is one a town tries to pump up their image. I guess they spend lots of money....uh, maybe too much money.

I guess it would be like someone throwing a huge wedding to impress their friends. Then later you don't have money to pay the living expense bills. That would kind of suck.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

More History of Melbourne

I'm back with Lord Wiki...trying to learn more about Melbourne's history.

Now we get to the Aboriginal folks, although they came before the white folks from Van Diemen's land.

Lord Wiki says there were three tribes: Wurundjeri, Boonwurrong, and Wathaurong.

Well, I got that far before I was interrupted by a lake house drama. The lake house's full of drama. Why? Because it's my family that's here.

Anyway, I think I remember the Wurundjeri. Aren't they the ones who hung out with that convict guy? What was his name again?

William Buckley. Thanks, Lord Wiki.

And I was wrong. He lived with the Wathaurong people. I think I'm remembering Wurundjeri from the Rachel Perkin's First Australians documentary.

Let's see. What else?

The three Aboriginal tribes, and a few others had a collective term for themselves; kulin. It makes me think of the lovely Cullen vampires. I wonder if it's pronounced the same way. Probably not.

In my last post, I said that Victoria was first settled by white folks in 1835. Well, that's not quite true. Another group came in 1803. I guess they weren't pleased with what they saw. They left.

Earlier, Jack and his cousin were fighting over toys. Sharing...such a difficult concept for humans. Although it seems the Aboriginal folks were fairly good at it before the white people invaded.

Anyway though.... in 1835, some white people DID manage to share. A Tassie dude named John Batman found the Kulin land, and decided to settle it. He just had to return to the little Diemen island first. But when he got back, another Tasmanian (John Fawkner) wanted the land as well. Oh no!

But they decided to share.

Is that sweet, or what?

What's also sweet is that Mr. Batman actually made a treaty with the Aboriginal people. He didn't try to play the Terra nullius game.

Lord Wiki says that Batman's Treaty was the only time white people showed formal acknowledgment that the land, they were taking, belonged to someone else.

Batman basically bought the land with various trinkets. I'm sure it wasn't exactly a fair deal. And was it really a choice for the Aboriginal people? What if they said no thank you? Would Batman and his friends have gone back to Van Diemen's land?

Maybe.

I think it IS nice that they tried to be halfway decent about the whole thing. I give kudos to Batman for that.

Then New South Wales came along and nullified the whole deal. Yeah. That's lovely. New South Wales folks wanted to pretend the black folks didn't exist. Or were they trying to pretend the black folks WERE there, but they weren't human enough to count? Either way is a bit nasty.

This Melbourne settlement of white folks began in 1835, but Melbourne didn't officially become a city until 25 June 1847. The anniversary of that's coming up soon! Actually, now that I think of it....I had planned to post this on the 24th, even though I already have a post for that day. I'm kind of getting ahead of myself these days (with posts) so I I've been planning to start posting two posts day....sometimes.

Anyway, so I guess I'll be posting this on 25 June...Australia time.

That's kind of cool. And honestly, I had planned to post this on 24 June BEFORE I read about the date of Melbourne being officially designated as a city.

It does seem a bit far-fetched, but a lot of my truths seem that way. What can I say?

Well, it's not too big of a deal anyway.

One more thing. I'm not a fan of using Lord Wiki as my only source. And I'm not going to. It's just for now, I'm going to read his post. Then later, I'll seek out other more specialized websites.

I'm going to learn, learn, and then relearn. I'm going to make myself an expert on Melbourne.
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Prime Minister Frozen Yogurt

Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies in Se...
Our new favorite dessert place is Menchies Frozen Yogurt. They have this fun concept where you fill up your cup by yourself with yogurt and various toppings. Then you pay by weight. My only complaint is the cups come in one size only, and they're huge! This tricks you into getting more than you usually would. That's not good in a country with an obesity problem. And I also think it's environmentally irresponsible. They're using more than the needed resources to make the cups, and that also creates more garbage. So MAJOR shame on Menchies for that. But Kudos to them for making a fun little yummy place.

Anyway, since we've started going to Menchies, I've been mispronouncing the name. I wasn't trying to be cute, and I wasn't doing it on purpose. I've been calling it Menzies. The weird thing is, I didn't make the connection until today. While Jack and I ate lunch, we talked about Menchies, and once again I called it Menzies. Jack corrected me. Then he said, I think Menzies is a place in Australia.THEN I made the connection. Finally. It's very weird that I didn't before. Oh well. I told Jack it wasn't a place in Australia, but a person. I was overly impressed that he had heard of Menzies, and knew it was Australia related. I asked him how he had heard of Menzies, and he didn't know. Maybe it IS a place in Australia? Maybe there's a place named after him, and we encountered it when we were there? I don't know. I used to do Australia flashcards. A few times, Jack watched me. Maybe he remembers from that? Or the day I wrote about Menzies, Jack might have asked me who I was writing about....

I told Jack that Menzies was the first Liberal Prime Minister. Jack looked a bit confused, and asked who Edmund Barton was. I said that was the first Prime Minister in general.

We then talked more about politics. Jack amazes me with what he knows and understands. He brought up Obama and Sarah Palin. He asked (jokingly) if he could get a fake ID so he could vote in the next election. We figured out the first presidential election he can vote in legally will be 2020. He told me he'll vote Democrat, UNLESS there's a Republican candidate who is not too much on the right. Actually, I think he used the phase a Republican Candidate who's not too Republican. He said McCain was kind of in the middle while Bush was more on the right. Then he said his Papa is in the middle, but a little bit more Republican.

I love how he knows all this stuff.

I'm not the most politically education person, so I'm sure very soon he'll know more than me (at least with American politics!). Fortunately, Tim's very politically aware/educated, so he'll be a good mentor for Jack.

Oh! We also had some Australian political talk yesterday. Of course, I told Jack about Gillard replacing Rudd. I brought up our time in Canberra and said that maybe we had seen Gillard while in Parliament. (I gotta go read my old post to see) I THINK we saw her, but I can't remember. And I said to Jack that I think we actually saw her face, and not just the back of her head (like we did Rudd). Then with enthusiasm, Jack said something like And we saw Malcolm Turnbull's real face! Yeah....instead of his pretend face. I knew what he meant, but it still cracked me up. We had a good laugh over that.


P.S-I went to read the old post. We DID see Gillard, but just the back of her head. Then Tim thought we were seeing Turnbull, but I had thought that it didn't look like him. We were kind of far away, so it's possible I wasn't seeing things correctly.




Warning: I'm way ahead on posts right now, and for the next week or so I'll be doing at least two posts a day. SO, if you're subscribed to this blog, and don't want the excessive email, I highly suggest you unsubscribe. I won't know you've done it, so it won't hurt my feelings. I might know if you stop being one of my followers on Google. But I won't hunt you down or anything.....

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Trying to Bond with Melbourne

We plan to go to Melbourne the next time we visit Australia.

Tim's eager to go.

Various people keep telling me we need to go. Some people even say that Melbourne's better than Sydney.

For some reason, I don't have the same spiritual-type urge to go to Melbourne as I did for Sydney. Out of all the places in Australia, Melbourne's the one that least appeals to me. I don't know why.

I kind of DO want to go to Melbourne though. Why? I want to settle this issue. I want to know how I'll end up feeling about Melbourne. Will I end up not liking it? Do I have some kind of precognitive aversion to the place? Or will I go, and love it? Maybe I'll surprise myself by loving it even more than Sydney.

We shall see......

I want to spend the next several months learning about the places we'll visiting. I think I'll start with Melbourne.

I know a little about it....

Peter Singer and the Costello brother are from there. I know there's many more famous people from that area, but those are the first that come to my head. What can I say?

I know Luna Park's in St. Kilda.

I've heard of Fitzroy Street, and Carlton gardens.

I know the serial killer Frederick Deeming hid a body in a house in Melbourne. Wasn't it on Andrew Street?

Okay, yeah. Lord Wiki confirms that.

And I think in my Melbourne bonding and education, I'll start with the great Lord Wiki. What does he have to say about Melbourne? Maybe I'll just read and pick out facts that jump out at me.

1. The Yarra River is the one in Melbourne. I've heard of it.

2. Melbourne was founded in 1835 by settlers from Van Diemen's Land. So there was forty-seven years between the time that the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson, and the time Melbourne was settled by white people. In my mind, stuff like this happens pretty much at the same time. It took me awhile to stop imagining that the First Fleet came soon after Captain Cook.

3. Melbourne's named after a guy named William Lamb Melbourne....or William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. I am totally confused about all that. Is Melbourne his name, or a title? Anyway, he was the Prime Minister of the UK around the time that settlers from Van Diemen's Land found their new home.

4. In the 1850's, Victoria had the gold rush, and Melbourne became a very wealthy city. We'll hopefully visit some historical gold tourist stuff in Ballarat.

Well, you know what.....

I think that's it for now.

I don't want to go back to bombarding myself (and others) with excessive information. I'm going to make this short, and continue later!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Australia Trip Plan D

So....I've changed our plans again.

It's kind of sad that I'm busying myself with planning the Australia trip, when we have London coming up much sooner. But what can I say. That's me.

Originally I had us going to four states: NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. Then I decided to change Western Australia to Tasmania. Now I've decided to increase our time in Victoria, and subtract Tasmania.

This is our current plan:

Six Nights in Sydney-The most important thing here is seeing friends and our sort-of Australian cousins. We'll probably visit some of our old faves, and go to the places we didn't manage to go to before. Maybe we'll do one of the beaches we haven't done before.

I'm thinking of maybe doing a bus tour. Maybe Hunter Valley? Jack and I don't drink wine, but we can watch Tim get drunk. I'm sure there'll be lovely stuff for nondrinkers as well.

Eight Nights in Melbourne (like Chanukah!) I'm hoping our friends will meet us there. That'll be awesome. We'll probably visit zoos, museums, parks, etc.

I think we'll do a bus tour of The Great Ocean Road. I'm way too scared to be driving on that thing. I'm already researching tour companies, and this Go West one looks good to me.

Two Nights in Ballarat We'll go here on the way to Adelaide. We'll see the historical gold-mining stuff, and visit friends.

Two Nights in Horsham Another stop on the way to Adelaide. That's another one of my changes to the plans. I had us getting to Adelaide in about two days. Now we're taking about double the time. I think it will be nice because it will give us a chance to see and experience more of Victoria.

Three Nights in Adelaide I'm not quite sure what we're going to do there. I have to do more research. All I remember off the top of my head is the Central Market thing.

One Night in Gawler McLeod's Daughter's Land!

Two Nights in Broken Hill We can pretend we're in Wake in Fright land.

One night in Burra. I don't know much about this place. Right now it's kind of just a place to break up the drive. I'll do more research later.
Then we'll drive back to Adelaide, fly to Sydney, and then fly back to Texas.







P.S-So....I'm wondering. Is Julia Gillard going to become Prime Minister today? I'm still confused how this all works. Well, I'll keep checking online to see if the change is made. I'm excited about it all, but sad for Kevin Rudd......


Well, it looks like it's official! Congrats to Gillard. I hope she does well.

I have so many people coming to my blog looking for information on Gillard's astrology stuff. Very interesting.....

For those looking for the information: Gillard was born in Wales on 29 September 1961.

Julia Julia Julia Julia Julia

Sometimes I can figure out what's going on in Australia simply by looking at my Statcounter.

There's so many people searching for Julia Gillard this morning! Actually, I already knew about her leadership grab though, because I went to the Australian Politics blog before Statcounter. If I had gone to Statcounter first, I'd really be wondering what's going on. It's happened at times. I'll see a name popping up on Statcounter, then I go to Google News to see why.

I had this when Dawn Fraser was robbed, and then I also had it when Victor Chang's murderer was released.

One day I had a lot of people searching for Paul McDermott. I never figured out what that was all about.

Anyway, here are the Julia Gillard keywords bringing people to my blog.

1. Julia Gillard photos June 2003
2. Julia Gillard Wiki
3. Where did Julia Gillard grow up
4. Can Julia Gillard become a Prime Minister she was born in Wales
5. Julia Gillard become a Prime Minister she was born in Wales
6. Julia Gillard's history as a radical student activist
7. Where does Julia Gillard live
8. Julia Gillard history
9. Julia Gillard forgot when Australia Day
10. Julia Gillard's birthday (maybe they want to do an astrology chart? See if she'll work as Labor Party leader?)
11. Julia Gillard's first boyfriend
12. Julia Gillard law firm partner 4 years
13. Julie Gillard's partner hairdresser

Well, I hope my old post provided at least SOME of the answers people were looking for.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who Decides? Who's To Blame?

One of the things in the Australian news right now is a homeopathic drama in Perth.

A woman was diagnosed with rectal cancer in February 2003. She refused the conventional treatment that COULD have saved her, and instead opted for homeopathic medicine. That did not save her. In October 2003, she finally agreed to go under the knife. I guess it was a bit too late. The cancer had spread. In August 2005 she died.

Now an Inquiry is underway to see if there's someone we can blame for this. I'm not sure why this is suddenly in the news five years later? Why is an inquiry is being done now? Does it usually take these things that long to get under way?

It seems no one can know for sure what happened here. But here are four possible situations.

1. Penelope Dingle had more faith in homeopathic medicine than Western. She decided to go the alternative route. Whether or not her homeopathic healer and/husband agreed with her, they decided this was her body and her choice. They let her make the decision over her treatment, and they stood by her. This is the story the husband stands by.

2. Dr. Dingle (the husband) was a big believer in homeopathic medicine, and convinced his wife to go that route.

3. The homeopath healer guy was very zealous and managed to convince the Dingles that this was the best choice. I've seen both Western and alternative medicine folks who are extreme in their beliefs, and give the idea that if you don't follow their advice, you're a total fool.

4. Dr. Dingle forced his wife to go the alternative medicine route. Well, I'm not picturing her held at gunpoint. But maybe he threatened her? Belittled her? Maybe he lied and manipulated her.

The fourth situation disturbs me the most....of course. I'm picturing a Rosemary's Baby type situation. That would mean not only did the husband push his wife to do something she didn't want to do, but now he's lying to the media. He's twisting the story to make himself look like an innocent victim. It's scary, and possible.

The third would bother me just because medical folks annoy me with their pushiness. I know I've told this story before, but I'll do it again. When Jack was two we took him to the dentist. The forms asked when we had weaned him, and we didn't write a date....since it hadn't happened yet. The dentist told us we MUST wean him. Two-year-olds shouldn't be breastfeeding. He was a dentist with a degree, and so he must know everything. We'd be pathetic fools if we didn't listen to him. Right? Fortunately I had previously done a ton of research (I'm big into that whole research thing) and knew that many organizations and experts believe that it's healthy and normal to NOT wean a child before their second year.

Some medical folks don't like people doing independent research. I heard of one story where a doctor told his patients to not read any pregnancy books. He was their doctor, and it should be him alone that the patients listen to.

Yeah. Stuff like that bothers me.

The second scenario seems fairly okay to me. People who love each other sometimes persuade each other to make certain decisions. Maybe Dr. Dingle truly believed homeopathic medicine was the best choice for his wife. Maybe Mrs. Dingle trusted her husband's opinion. Although if this is true, it's bad simply for the fact that Dr. Dingle is now telling the media that it's his wife who wanted the homeopathic stuff. That would make him a liar, and I don't like that.

I am totally fine with the first scenario. If I was in Mrs. Dingle's shoes, I might make the same choice. Since I'm a mother and wouldn't want to leave my child motherless....if I had cancer, I'd likely do everything in my power to stay alive. I'd probably try every treatment available, both Western and alternative. Hell, I'd eat smoothies made of dog shit if I thought it might help.

Penelope Dingle did not have a child. In fact, that's why she started going to homeopathic healers. She wanted help with fertility issues before the cancer issue came up.

If I didn't have a child, I'm not sure how far I'd go to stay alive. I mean I love life. But I don't know if I'd love life enough to endure surgeries and radiation. I think I'd opt for prayer, flower essences, acupuncture, Reiki, etc.

Or maybe I'd go for the Western stuff. I really don't know.

I think people have the right to make their own decisions regarding their health. If they're children, that's probably a different story. But adults....definitely.

This other article here is shedding some light for me.

Penelope Dingle's sisters are the ones who turned this into an inquisition. They don't like that their sister died (who would?), and now they're trying to find someone to blame. Well, I shouldn't be hard on them. It makes sense to want to find out why someone you loved died. But if she died from her own decisions, I think this needs to be let go.

Should the husband be blamed if he was simply a supportive husband who stood by his wife's decision? I don't think so.

Tim is the opposite of controlling. I make my decisions, and he supports them....even if they might be unhealthy. He'll give me his opinions in a subtle gentle way, but in the end he lets me do what I feel is best...even if it involves going on weird extreme diets. At times, I've wished I had one of those husbands who puts their foot down, and makes sure their wives do what's healthy. But I've realized, in the end, I need to find my own way, make my own mistakes.

I think husbands can and should do some persuading. But once someone makes a decision....

Oh, I don't know. That might be wrong. Sometimes a spouse DOES need to step in. Sometimes it's obvious that someone is doing something unhealthy. Sometimes it's a very black and white situation, and the spouse should probably step in and lead the sick one in the healthy direction. But often there are grays.

I think alternative medicine is definitely a gray. Conventional cancer treatment is not a 100% guaranteed success. Alternative medicine is not a 100% guaranteed failure.

If a woman went to get surgery for cancer, and died under the knife....should her husband be blamed for allowing her to partake in Western medicine?

I'm looking at a third article here. Information presented in this one makes me think we might have more of a #2 situation. They say that Dr. Dingle had once written a paper saying that surgery and chemotherapy are ineffective treatments for cancer. This isn't the first time I've read something like that. Tim was telling me about the Freakonomics book he had read. They had stuff along the lines of chemotherapy not helping cancer victims as much as the general public imagines. I can't say I fully understand their reasoning or research, so I won't go to much into that. But it does raise questions in my mind.

So.....

I'm not sure what to think now. If Dr. Dingle wrote this paper, it seems he did have some feelings against Western medicine. But now he's making it seem that it was all his wife's decision, and he simply supported her. I guess it could be true. Maybe he questioned conventional cancer treatments, but didn't necessarily feel they shouldn't be tried.

I question Western medicine, but I still often use it. The same goes for the alternative stuff.

I guess I'd need to know more about this paper. Was Dr. Dingle speaking out against surgery and chemotherapy for cancer; or was he simply questioning it?

I question vaccines a lot. I do research. I'm one of those people who distrusts the big pharmaceutical companies. BUT Jack has had his shots. After doing research, I usually conclude that although I don't fully trust vaccines...I also don't fully trust NOT having vaccines. So we do the vaccines.

Questioning a medical treatment is way different than absolutely refusing it.

The third news article is entitled Cancer Wife Dies in Excruciating Pain. Good dramatic pull there. But isn't death by cancer usually very painful?

Now death might have been avoided....and it seems doing so would have been fairly likely if Dingle agreed to the surgery immediately. Statistics in the article say that there's a 77% survival rate if the surgery is done, in the stage of cancer Dingle was in, when she was first diagnosed. That's a pretty good prognosis. But Dingle still could have ended up in the 23%. And when she ended up dying..... wouldn't it have been extremely painful?

Maybe it's my imagination, but I feel I've encountered many cancer horror tragedies. I don't think ALL of those people were ones who said no to Western medicine. Sometimes Western medicine fails people too.

It reminds me of the arguments against unschooling. There are those who think that unschooling promises failure. If you don't give your child a formal education, they're never going to learn anything. They won't be literate. They won't know how to add, subtract, and multiply. They won't know what the Civil War is. They'll never get a job, and they'll be on government assistance. Ah! The horror!

From what I've seen....some unschooling kids develop into very intelligent adults. They get jobs. They're HIGHLY literate. They read. They write. They can do math. They know lots and lots of stuff.

Unschooling works. It doesn't work all the time, I'm sure. I'm sure some kids do end up illiterate lazy failures. Of course. I wouldn't deny that it's a possibility. But there are a lot of unsuccessful people out there in the world. There are folks without jobs. There are folks who can't answer very basic history questions. There are homeless folks and lonely folks. I seriously doubt that all these individuals were unschooled. I'm betting many of them had a public and/or private school education.

I guess that's my feeling. Unless something is absolutely guaranteed to work, I think we need to respect the fact that people might want to try an alternative path.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Bullying Society

Another teen has committed suicide as a reaction to bullying. At the end of the Sydney Morning Herald's article about it, they provide suicide hotline information. I'm wondering...how do hotline people convince teens not to commit suicide? How do they convince them to keep living in a world where bullies are so prevalent, and often celebrated?

Tim and I talked about this recently. He said people keep talking about bullying in schools. But how can we stop bullying in schools when it's such a part of our society in general?

In the season finale of The Simpsons, Moe suddenly becomes famous and appreciated because he discovers he has talent with distributing insults. When he decides to go in the direction of nice, he loses the popularity he had gained. I think unfortunately it was a fairly accurate representation of our society.

I'm not saying we should live in a world of constant sugary sweetness. That wouldn't be fun. It would be creepy.

When I was a preschool teacher, the head teacher of a classroom I worked in, made a rule saying the kids weren't allowed to call each other names. I thought that was a bit ridiculous. Sometimes calling people names isn't about being mean. It's a game. It's a competition. It's entertaining.

There's nothing wrong with good-natured teasing between people who like and respect each other.

To me, teasing/insults becomes wrong when

A) It's done with the purpose of hurting someone
B) It's done to gain power and popularity. Ha ha. Look at me. I'm so funny. And there's no regard given to the target's hurt feelings.

I had a bad experience on the Internet awhile back. I disagreed with some harsh things someone said on their blog, so I wrote a civil but pointed comment. They responded to my polite disagreement with name-calling and profanity. Then their friend (who hated me for a previous POLITE disagreement) dedicated a whole blog post to how awful I am. There were several comments on the post. People I don't know (and who don't know me) were very eager to rally behind all the hatred. A fellow blogger tried to step in, defend me, and diffuse the situation. They then attacked this woman. I tried to defend her. Then I was re-attacked.

The stuff written was extremely cruel. I actually didn't read all of it, because it was too hurtful. I did catch some of it though, and I was a bit traumatized for a few days. Maybe I was too sensitive. But you know what....I'd rather be the too sensitive victim of the bully, than the cold and callous bully herself.

I was LUCKY though.

First of all....to the mad woman's credit, she did not harass me. I didn't get emails. She didn't try to comment on my blog. The bitchiness stayed on her own blog. To stop seeing the cruel words, all I had to do was make a conscious decision to stop visiting the blog. This was a little hard sometimes, because one or two well-meaning people thought I should be updated on the dramatic situation, but I think I finally got them to understand that this was NOT in anyone's best interest.

Second, I had a lot of support from Tim. He was there for me. He was there to remind me that despite what people were saying about me, I'm still an okay person. I felt loved.

I imagine that these people who commit suicide over bullying are not as lucky. They might be in situations where they can NOT escape. It's fairly easy to stop visiting a website. It's not so easy to quit a job when you need the money. It's not so easy to stop going to school.

And how much support do these victims get from those who love them? And I'm betting they ARE loved. But sometimes it's hard for people to give the support and empathy needed. There were many witnesses to my internet drama. Several of those witnesses joined in the fun. Let's see how many clever ways we can ridicule Dina! And many just kept quiet. Like Rose and Bernard....they didn't want to get involved.

I told some of my friends. One or two were sympathetic, but I don't think they realized the extent of how it was emotionally affecting me. Others were fairly dismissive. I sensed an attitude of Goodness, how did you get yourself in that mess? Oh well....just ignore it, and move on.

I imagine that when some people are bullied, they get the quick drive-by sympathy:

Yeah. That's life, Kiddo. Sorry.

You have to learn to roll with the punches.

Well, no wonder people are picking on you. Stop looking so gloom. Smile more, and people will like you.

Oh that's too bad. Now let's change the subject. What dress looks better on me?


I'm sure it's not always like that. I'm sure the loved ones of some victims try to give extensive comfort and support. What scares me (as a mother) is that...with teenagers would that be enough? Teens have such fragile self-esteem sometimes, and there's such a desire for peer acceptance. If the whole school seems to be against you, would it matter that your mom thinks you're the most wonderful daughter in the world?

I don't know.

How do you restore hope in a person who feels so hated and belittled?

What can we do to prevent other people from finding themselves in such a situation?

I really don't know if there's a way to stop the actual bullies. I'm not sure what their deal is. Maybe they're psychopathic? Maybe they've been abused themselves, and this is there way of lashing out? Maybe they're a bit demonic?

Who knows....

I think we need to put more effort in training/advising the bystanders, friends, and family members.

From my OWN experience, this is what I'd wish more from people.

A) Do NOT follow the Rose and Bernard rules. Life is not about avoiding drama. Now you don't necessarily have to step in...putting yourself in danger. But let the target of the bullying know that you stand behind him or her. Let them know you think they're being unfairly treated. Let them know that they're NOT alone. A private email sent to the person can do the trick.

B) If someone you love mentions being bullied, give them a LOT of love. If they don't talk much about it, don't assume everything is okay. They might be keeping it relatively quiet because they assume, like everyone else, you won't be there for them.

C) Although it may be fun to join in a bandwagon of insults and hatred....take a step backward and consider the situation. Is this cause really worth it? Do you truly know both sides of the story? Is there a chance that the horrible person being ridiculed might not be as bad as they're being portrayed?

D) If someone you love is very sad, don't assume they'll simply get over it. Time does heal most wounds. But if a person commits suicide.....they won't have that time to deal with it.

Some say that suicide is a selfish act. I disagree. I think it's a DESPERATE act, done by people who feel their life, and the world in general, is hopeless.

We can do the suicide prevention thing. Know the signs. Know which professionals to call. All that has it's place.

But it might be better if we simply tried to make this world a kinder place. Maybe then less people would have the temptation to off themselves.






P.S-After writing all this, I later finished reading Stephen King's new novel (Under the Dome). I think he does a beautiful job of dealing with the whole subject of bullies. So....I recommend the book to anyone who cares about that subject.