Thursday, September 30, 2010

Google Map Fun Part 5

I'm going to play my game again.

I'm not feeling well. Maybe it will cheer me up.
 
I think it will actually.

I'm in Tasmania now; 1733 Mud Walls Road, Jericho.  

Jericho reminds me of Flashforward.  In the show, there was some kind of evil mysterious organization called Jericho. It was related to the Iraqi War.

Mud Walls Road is pretty. There's lots of shades of brown, and a little bit of green. The road is paved, but narrow.

Jericho is near the Tasmanian place I "visited" last time; Oatlands. I wonder if Jericho has sandstone buildings as well.

They're actually very near each other. It would take about 15 minutes to get to Jericho from Oatlands.  That is...if you drive. If you tried walking, it would take about three hours.

It might not be a bad walk....if you're up for a long walk.

Lord Wiki says that Jericho DOES have sandstone buildings.   

This Tasmanian tourism site says the first recorded church service was held in Jericho, in 1823.   I'm not sure what they mean by first. First church service in Australia? Tasmania?  Or maybe just the first service in Jericho.

Anyway, guess who led the service at St. James Anglican Church?  

Samuel Marsden.  If I recall correctly, he's an ancestor of John Marsden.

According to this National Trust website, the church building is having problems, and needs repairs/restoration.

I'm going to move onto Victoria.

The image I got is a bit hazy.    I don't know if this is due to the weather, or the photography.   It looks dreamlike....kind of cool.

The address is 276 Wallacedale  Byaduk Road in Wallacedale.

There's a narrow road and lots of trees.  The sun shines brightly. I think that's where I'm getting the hazy dreamlike imagery.

I zoomed out of the map. Wallacedale is pretty far west, fairly near the South Australia border.   

Wait.  No.Actually it's much farther than I expected....16 hours.  Or maybe Google Maps is messing with me.

I don't know. It LOOKS close to Mt. Gambier. But Google Maps is telling me it would take about 21 hours to drive there.

And now it's saying it would take two days to drive from Wallacedale to Melbourne.

That CAN'T be right.

Yeah.  There's definitely a mistake.

I just plugged in the directions to Melbourne to Mt. Gambier, and that's only a 5 hour drive.    Wallacedale is inbetween those places, so there's no way it should take 16 hours to get from Wallacedale to Mt Gambier.

Okay. I redid it. It takes about 4 hours to get from Mt Gambier  to Wallacedale.

I'm not sure what went wrong there.

Oh well.

Now I'm on Kinka Road in New South Wales. I'm in a parking lot actually. There are five cars.  It looks like some kind of natural park.  I see one of those warning/guideline signs.

I zoomed out. Kinka Road is on the coast of New South Wales. It's about two hours north of Newcastle.

On Kinka Road, there's a place called Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Holiday Accommodations. I see it on the map. Let's see if they have a website.  Here they are, and now I know what the town is called.  Seal Rocks.  I wasn't sure before.  

They won a Qantas tourism award in 2009.  Cool.

It doesn't seem like they come with air-conditioning. That's fine in nice weather. But what if it gets really hot?   

I sound very spoiled....sorry.

They do say they provide heating, so maybe it's more likely to get too cold there.  Maybe because it's near the water?

Wow. It's kind of expensive! It's $2660 a week in the summer.   For that price, I'd definitely expect air-conditioning. I'm guessing either it's not needed in that area, OR they have it, and just forgot to list it.

Ah.  Now I see that Google Maps DID try to inform me that Kinka Road was in Seal Rocks. I just didn't listen well enough.

This holiday park in Seal Rocks looks much more affordable, AND it has air-conditioning.    There you can get a cabin for about $900-1200 a week.

Now I've jumped up to Queensland. I'm on 3976 Wide Bay Highway in Kilkivan.   

Kilkivan is about 45 minutes north-west of Gympie.

Here's a travel article about the town.  They say it's a rural type place.It has a mining history, but now its main industry is cattle.

I'm not back on the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory.Instead, I'm on the Barkley Highway.   It doesn't look much different from Stuart. Oh!  I'm in Warumungu.  Is that where I was last time?   I thought it was, but Firefox is saying the spelling is wrong.  If It was the same place, I would have added it to my Firefox dictionary thing.

Oops.  Never mind.    I just spelled it wrong.   It IS the same place.  

Ah!   In Western Australia, I've come across red dirt.  I haven't been seeing enough of that in my virtual travels.

I'm in Nepean Road in Victoria Rock. I see unpaved road, and then paved road. There's lots of the red mud.

Victoria Rock is somewhat near Kalgoorlie.  I'm not sure of the distance though, because Google Maps refuses to tell me.

This tourism website has some information about Victoria Rock.  They say it's about an hours drive from Coolgardie.    I think that's one of the places I visited recently....well, VIRTUALLY visited.

Now I'm back on the Stuart Highway...not in the Northern Territory, but in South Australia.   I kind of cheated, and didn't close my eyes.  A lot of Australia isn't covered by Google Maps Street View, so if I keep going COMPLETELY random, I end up getting just photographs, and not street views.

Anyway, this view I'm looking at now is SO Australia. I mean it fits my stereotype of Australia pretty much perfectly.

There's a road, lots of dirt and mud on the sides of the road, and very little trees. I think I see one tree off in the distance. There are some little bushes though.

Well, I think that's it for now.

Parents Should Not Give Babies Baths, Let Them Ride in the Car, or Sleep in Cribs

How many times do I have to see this on the news?   Co-Sleeping is dangerous!   Babies have died while sleeping with an adult.  Parents need to stop co-sleeping. It's bad bad bad!

Today the advice came from Mark Johns, a South Australian coroner.  According to The Australian, Johns made the passionate announcement after studying the death of five babies who died between 2007 and 2008.  I'm guessing this was five babies in South Australia?  Were there five deaths total in South Australia,or five deaths that Johns studied?   I'm not sure.

It's sad. It's tragic. The death of babies is a HORRIBLE thing.   

And co-sleeping can be very dangerous. Definitely. So can cars, bathtubs, and cribs.   Babies die in these too.  Do we have "experts" shouting out to avoid sticking babies in cars, bathtubs, and cribs?    No.  Well, some attachment parenting gurus shout out against cribs, but that's another story.

When a baby dies in a crib accident, we either blame it on the mysterious SIDS or we blame it on the crib manufacturer.  If it's the latter, the crib is recalled, and parents are advised to take new precautions regarding crib sleeping.

Cars are very dangerous for babies, so experts and manufactures have created car seats. This increases the chance that the infant will survive an accident.

It is very easy for a baby to drown. Do we tell parents to skip the bath, and just wipe the kid down with a sponge?  No. We create special devices to make bathtubs safer for babies, AND we repeatedly warn parents not to take their hands and eyes off the bathing baby.    

Why can't we treat co-sleeping the same way we treat cribbing, bathing, and auto-transporting?   Instead of saying, Don't do it.....the experts SHOULD be saying. It's okay to do it, but there are some important safety precautions you need to take.

These safety precautions were not taken for some of the babies mentioned in The Australian.

One baby died on the couch with his father. Couches are known to be one of the most dangerous sleep surfaces for a baby.

One baby slept with his mom and sibling. Another safety advisement with co-sleeping is to NOT to let siblings sleep with an infant.  

I'm not sure about the other kids. It could that other safety precautions were not taken.   It could have been that a freak accident DID occur, and the baby died from as-safe-as-you-can-get co-sleeping.   But what if we compared that to the number of babies who died in "perfectly safe" cribs?

Another expert was interviewed for The Australian article; Roger Byard, a forensic pathologist. I like his take a little better. He recognizes that co-sleeping does happen safely in other cultures, but he says our Western beds are different.

That's true.  Our beds aren't really safe for co-sleeping. We have head boards, fluffy pillows, heavy blankets, soft mattresses, etc.  

If parents want to co-sleep, it's a really good idea to make adjustments to the bed.  When we co-slept with Jack, we did have a headboard. So demerits for us on that one. But we took the heavy blankets off the bed, and we used only one pillow each.  What I had heard is that you'll likely wake up and notice your ONE pillow missing, but you might not notice if one of your two pillows is missing, and laying on top of your infant's nose.  

Later to make things more safe, we moved to the floor. We slept on mattresses. That way we didn't have to worry about Jack falling off the bed. 

Each co-sleeping family is different, and chooses their degree of safety. I'd say on a scale of 1-10, we were probably a 7.  You could go for the 10, but then when your kids gets older....you might as well force them to wear a helmet all day and night.  

Personally, I don't think families are divided by co-sleeping and not co-sleeping. I think (outside a few exceptions) they're divided by official co-sleepers and dabblers.

Official co-sleepers believe co-sleeping is a good thing. They're not usually ashamed of it. They read about it. They understand what's safe and what's not safe.  They take precautions.  

Dabblers think co-sleeping is wrong....and shameful. They end up doing it out of desperation.  Sometimes they do it accidentally. The exhausted mom gets out of her bed to retrieve the crying baby.  She sit on the couch and breastfeeds.  Then she falls asleep.  She can't help it. She's so sleepy.....  This is not safe.   I'm ashamed to say I did these things before we decided to become co-sleepers.    When you're tired...you're tired.   And another co-sleeping safety precaution is for parents not to sleep with their babies if they're extremely tired.  I think parents have some level of heightened awareness, even when sleeping.  It's part of being a mom or dad. But if you're extremely tired, this lessons the chance of that being true.  The same goes for parents under the influence of drugs.  As drugs and sleepiness don't mix with driving, the same goes for parenting!

Now that I think of it.  Why do I often see articles advising parents to stop co-sleeping, yet I rarely see articles suggesting that parents not drink while taking care of young ones?  I definitely think we should be more concerned with intoxicated parents.   I'm guessing that a drunk parent is more likely to roll over on their baby, not watch it carefully in the bathtub, not put it in the car seat correctly, not give it the correct dosage of medicine, etc.  

If co-sleeping is a reasonable practice and can be relatively safe if done correctly....why ARE parents given the simplistic message of Just Don't Do it! 

I think the answer is easy.   It's a cultural thing.  Our society is still dominated by the idea that children need to be pushed into independence.  Parents shouldn't just avoid sleeping with their baby.   They should put them in daycare as soon as possible.  They shouldn't hold them too much. Put them in the stroller or swing!  They should wean them from the breast as soon as possible. They shouldn't spoil their kids with too many cuddles. Apparently strength of character comes from having cold parents who limited the amount of love you received.   Who knows. Maybe there's merit to that. I doubt it though.   And scientists are doing studies to show the opposite is true. In July, there was news about a study that showed kids who were showered with affection as babies grew up to be able to handle stress better.  

Now I'm not trying to say that parents NEED to co-sleep in order for babies to get the right amount of affection. Sleep-sharing doesn't work for all families, and these families can still have high levels of love and affection.  I just think when we see co-sleeping villainized, we need to consider the real motivation behind the message. Is it really about safety? Probably not.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Please Forgive Me, Australia

For some reason, when I ordered my first jar of Vegemite, I got it from the British Food Shop.  I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't know of an Australian food shop in America?   Well, I probably just googled Vegemite, and got the British shop first. Who knows.

Anyway, by ordering the Vegemite from them, I got on their mailing list.  I just got an email from them, and I went to look at their website.  They have the candy we fell in love with recently.   I want to order some! But I feel really conflicted and guilty because I was going to soon order a shipment of Aussie goodies.  I know. I can order from both. But that does make me feel a bit gluttonous. 

Well, I'm not going to order anything right this minute because we're going out of town in a few days.   I don't want my packages sitting out on the porch for a long time. Maybe I'll order them while we're on the road, and they can be waiting for us when we get home. That would be nice.

I really shouldn't feel guilty for loving British food. Right? I can have enough love in my heart for two countries.   AND....guess what.  I just thought of something.  In one of my earlier (way back when) crazy dreams of Julian McMahon, Jude Law had been there too!! So maybe all along I was supposed to become obsessed with two countries. 

I'm really NOT obsessed with the UK though.  Seriously. I can't even remember the name of their Prime Minister.   I just like Harry Potter, their sweets, and some of their actors.  

Too Many Pets and Making Up My Own Song

I had some Australia/Australian related dreams last night. 

1. Jack and I are with my friend from Ballarat. She has two pet lions, and that disturbs me. She seems to feel they're not dangerous, but I worry they'll end up hurting Jack.   

Then later this friend comes to live with us in Texas.  She brings all her pets with her. Now there's no lions. Instead she has two jaguars....or some kind of big cat that has spots.  Maybe it was a leopard?   

When she's not around, I sneak upstairs to Tim's game room where she keeps all her animals.   I want to see all that she's brought.  She has a TON of animals. There's a fish tank with fish.  There's a bunch of cats in cages. And there are other animals....too many animals. I think about how it's probably not legal to have all these pets in Texas. I decide I'm going to have to talk to my friend about this, and tell her it's not okay.

I end up being fairly harsh. I tell her she collects animals the way I collect Australian books, and it's really not right to treat animals that way. To my surprise, she doesn't get angry.  She doesn't even act hurt. She accepts what I say, and agrees with me. She agrees to make changes in her life, and she says something really sweet like I'm like a cousin to her.    

I really have a LOT of these big cat dreams.  Seriously. I know I've written about some of them in this blog, but then there are others as well.  Something is probably trying to tell me something. What? I don't know. 

2.  I'm part of some kind of performing arts group or school.  For some reason, I'm expecting/wanting Julian McMahon to show up. It's as if he's SUPPOSED to be there. But he's not.  

I don't really fit in at the school, or participate.  I'm too shy.  I act aloof and sad.  

Then I'm in a big seminar type environment. I'm acting very quiet and solemn.   We're all planning to go to some event.  These two girls sitting near me, turn around and ask me not to come along.  Sad people aren't welcome. Their tone and words are gentle, but their meaning is harsh. I get angry, and suddenly lose my shyness and inhibition. I stand up and start singing in front of all these people.   I make up my own lyrics, and insult the girls who rejected me. I sing about how they have no talent, even though I think they DO have talent.   

Oprah is there.   Maybe she's the teacher?

People seem very amused by my outburst, and impressed with my singing. Then I feel bad about insulting the talent of my fellow students. I think I sing a sort of apology. 

3. I'm swimming in the ocean, trying to get to Port Stephens. As I swim, I write a blog post in my head.  I talk about how Port Stephens ended up disappointing us, but we still had fun.  

4. (maybe a continuation of #2).  I'm at a school.  It's like I have control of the story.   I get to decide who I am in the story, and everyone else simply follows along. I decide to be a child star who's TV show has ended.  Now I'm back in the real world.  I'm a solemn lonely kid.   I have trouble finding a place to sit.  I think we're supposed to join a group, and I don't know where to go.  The teachers are very nice, and help me.  Instead of being this child who brags about being a celebrity, I'm very serious and honest about the whole thing. I say it's unlikely I'll ever get another acting job. And I say when I grow up and find another career, people will remember my TV show and tease me about it. 

In this story I've created, my co-stars are supposed to visit me.   I've decided that Julian McMahon is one of them.   I wait for the visit.

They show up.  One person is a young Asian woman. I think she may be holding an instrument...like a violin.   But I've decided she was my friend, the costume designer.

Julian McMahon and the other actors finally show up.  The other actors are nice and play along.   Julian McMahon does not.  He doesn't seem happy at all to be there.   And he's the one person there who knows this is all my made up game. He's not happy about being brought here under false pretenses, and he's not happy to play my game. He doesn't want to pretend that I'm a child actress, and he's my co-star.

But then we talk...I don't remember too much. But he's less angry, and things become okay between us.

Later I hear there has been a drowning around the school.  Some man in a suit drowned.  I worry it was McMahon because he had been wearing a suit.   I rush off to see.   Then I'm in the water with these young people who have drowned.  They try to pull living people into the water to drown them too.  The idea is that if you can get yourself to dry land, they can't reach you, and you're safe.   I manage to escape, but it's all very slow and tedious

Google Map Fun Part 4

I'm ready for another virtual adventure.

Actually, this is probably the way we SHOULD travel for awhile. Get the airlines to beg us to come back.  I'm tired of being charged for stuff we used to get for free.

Anyway....

I'm going to start in Tasmania.

I've landed on a fairly wide paved road called the Midland Highway.  There's an exact address this time (sometimes there's not).  It's 6246 Midlands Highway, in Oatlands, Tasmania.

I wonder if they eat a lot of oatmeal in Oatlands.

Blogger has changed their post thing, and it's really driving me nuts. When I press enter to start a new paragraph, it doesn't work.  Sometimes the curser just sits there, and sometimes it jumps back to the beginning of my sentence. What's the deal with that? Is Blogger trying to give me a nervous breakdown?   Probably.

Oatlands is around the center of Tasmania....if we're speaking north/south. It's more towards the east than west.  

Lord Wiki says there's a lot of sandstone buildings in Oatlands.

Here's a tourism page about it. It seems to be a good place to stop if you're driving from Launceston to Hobart.  And it's an excellent stopping place if you happen to be a fan of sandstone buildings. I'm not....yet.  I might be someday.

Now I'm on 139 Rothwell Road in Little River, Victoria. I see two parked cars, and farmland.    There's some silos, and stuff like that.

I've zoomed out of Google Maps. Little River is between Geelong and Melbourne. The drive from Melbourne would be about 45 minutes.

Lord Wiki says the Little River area has been used in film/television. A road there was used in Mad Max.  Some scenes from Blue Heelers and We Can be Heroes was filmed there.  

There's an Aussie music group named after the area; Little River Band. Let me see if I can listen to one of their songs....

Here 's a video.  Cool.

Let's move on to New South Wales.

I've landed on 2 Mulgowie Road, in Crooked Corner.

It looks rather dry and dusty, but slightly green.

Here's a property for sale on Mulgowie Road.  For $650 thousand you get 1297 acres.   It would be really cool to have all those acres to yourself. You get a house, sheep and cattle yards, stables, silos, etc.

I admit it. I have a farm fantasy.

You know what used to shatter my fantasy. Jeans.  Farm folks wear jeans.  I hated jeans.  But I wore jeans in London, and I was fine with them!  So maybe this farm dream can open back up to me.    Well, there is that slight issue of me totally not having a green thumb.

And I went to the Stock Show in Texas, and didn't like that. It might be a sign that farming is not the thing for me.  

I'm probably better off doing virtual gardening with my Sims.

I zoomed out on Google Maps to see where this Crooked Corner is located. It's south-west of Katoomba. It would take about three hours to get from point a to point b. Then it's about an hour and a half away from Goulburn.

Now I'm in Queensland, probably far from the colorful Barrier Reef.   Isiford Ilfracomb Road looks more of the outback variety.  This is a good place to eat a Bloomin' Onion.    Don't worry.   I'm joking.  But you probably should pack SOME type of food. I'm betting there aint many shops and restaurants nearby.  

I zoomed out on the map. Ilfracomb is around the center of Queensland.   It's not one of those tropical coastal places.  

This tourism article about the area says that Fred Schepisi owns land in the area.

There's a meditation author/guru from there; Paul Wilson. I've never heard of him.

I wish I was good at meditation. I'll keep trying.

For the Northern Territory, I got myself back on the Stuart Highway. I'm in Warumungu.  I think I was there the other day.

You know what's going to happen to me. I'll be traveling in Australia a few years from now.  Forgetting that I played these map games, I'll end up on some road that looks extremely familiar. I won't know why it feels so familiar, and I'll start guessing that I had a past life there.

Now I've landed on Kondinin Narembeen Road in Billericay, Western Australia.   The landscape is interesting, kind of hard to describe. It's kind of otherworldly. Maybe dreamlike?  I can imagine dreaming about the place.

I zoomed out of Google Maps. Billericay is east of Perth. There doesn't seem to be any big towns nearby. Perth is about four hours away.  Well, that's not too far, really. I think there are other Australian villages/towns that are much farther from any major city or town.

Now I'm on Barndioota Road in South Australia. I'm not sure of the town. Google Maps doesn't say.    The scenery is lovely though.  It looks very Australian...or well....it matches my stereotypical view of Australia.

I zoomed out, and plugged in Barndioota into the map.   There's a Barndioota town.   I guess the road is in there.

The town's way north of Adelaide.

Oh wow!   I looked up Barndicoota on Google, and ended up finding a Australian government site dealing with public toilets.  How cool is that?

Sadly, they list no toilets in Barndicoota.

I've bookmarked this website.   It might be VERY useful one day.   We probably won't have internet on the road, so I should map out the toilets before we go.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald Agrees With My Niece

We went to California Kitchen Pizza with some of my family on Sunday night. There, one of my nieces (Ellie) informed us that they had seen Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga'Hoole.  She said she didn't like it, which made us rethink our mild desire to go see it.  Jack's been in the mood to go to the movie theatre, and we were thinking we'd go see that.  Besides being Australian, it didn't look all that exciting to me.  Although once when I saw the trailer, I got all teary-eyed.  That's not such a big deal though. I get teary-eyed when watching Nickelodeon tween sitcoms.   

Upon hearing my niece's review of the movie, I didn't immediately discount us seeing the movie.   Although I share my niece's love of iCarly and Drake and Josh, it's not like we're twins. I might like something she doesn't like.   Right?     

But now I see that the Sydney Morning Herald has also given the movie a negative review.   The reviewer, Jim Schembri say it's ...an ambitious, technically accomplished, clumsily told and emotionally sterile Aussie 3D adventure that looks good but feels numb.  Ouch!  That's cleverly worded criticism though. Schembri says the movie is one of those that has children as their target audience, but is too dark, scary, and boring for most of them.   

It's an allegorical type thing...about Nazis.   And sometimes that works for children.   JK Rowling succeeded. The later Harry Potter books are very dark and allegorical. They're popular with adults and popular with kids.  Why?   JK Rowling is MAGIC.  That's probably the real reason.   It could also be that she hooked the kids with the earlier books.   She made them care about the characters and situations, so they were willing to later take her hand and travel with her to more serious places.  

Schembri says...the film is also hobbled by a grand lack of humour.  Ah!  There were go. Harry Potter is full of humor.

I don't usually like stuff that lacks humor. Then the story becomes melodrama. Real life has humor...even in some of it's darkest moments. 

Of course, not everyone is going to agree with my niece and Schembri. Some people might like it. I MIGHT like it. I doubt we'll see it in the theatre, but I might end up catching it on TV someday. 

I am curious to know if anyone has given it a positive review yet.....

Ah!  I found one.   Lindy West from the UK's Telegraph liked it.  Actually, if I'm reading this right...West is a Seattle writer.   I guess she blogs sometimes for The Telegraph? ?   She says the Aussie owl movie is completely good.   And she disagrees with Schembri on the humor bit.  She says, the owls look like actual owls, only with emotions and jokes.   

I was going to go and compare more reviews, but have decided to take the lazy route.  Actually, Jack came over here and gave me the idea.   He suggested consulting our beloved Lord Wiki. Great idea, but I'm going to visit the Rotten Tomato site instead. They do a consensus of reviews, and then give it a score. Our owl movie got a 52%.  That doesn't seem very impressive. Still. In the end, you never know.  A movie or book can get excellent reviews, and you'll end up hating it. A movie might get horrible reviews, and you could end up loving it.


Movies are expensive though.   If I'm going to do the theatre thing, I usually prefer to see movies that have gotten a lot of very positive reviews.   It seems then there's more of a chance I'll like it.   For the most part, my opinion usually does match the majority. The exception would probably be that blue people movie. It seemed like EVERYONE was seeing that, and recommending it.   Maybe I would like it if I tried it. But I couldn't get myself motivated to try it. It looks really boring to me.       




Some of My Random Views on Religion

Note: I wrote this post yesterday, and had it scheduled to appear in a few days.   But seeing recent American news about religion has inspired me to post it today.    For those who haven't seen the story yet, a religion quiz was given to a variety of Americans.   Those who answered the most questions correctly were Atheists and Agnostics.   Jews and Mormons were close behind them.    Catholics and Protestants did pretty damn awful.    There seems to be a disturbing correlation between ignorance and faith.     What's the deal with that?




I've started looking at a new Australian website today. I mean the website isn't new. I'm just newly looking at it. Am I making sense?  Anyway, it's called That's Melbourne.

I read about this current exhibit in Melbourne called A New Jerusalem: Faith and the City.   It's about various religious faiths.  One of the guys involved in the project is Christos Tsiolkas.  He's the guy who wrote The Slap.   I've been wanting to read that.  Shit.  I went to the library today.  I should have checked to see if they had it.  Instead I got more supernatural young adult stuff. What can I say? I LOVE that crap.  

On top of seeing this website about the religious exhibit, one of my friends asked me questions about my level of Jewish observance. AND when we walked to the library, Tim, Jack, and I cut through the parking lot of the synagogue.

All of that makes me feel I have an excuse to blab about my views on religion. I shall warn you. If you ARE religious, I am likely to say things that make you uncomfortable. I apologize for that. I AM somewhat sorry, but not sorry enough to keep my mouth shut.

Also, not much of this is really that new.  I think I've said most of it  before; either in emails to people or buried deep within some of the biography posts. But I feel like saying these things again. So here I go.....


1. Sometimes it seems absolutely silly to me that educated people in modern society have beliefs in God.  And some of them have strong enough beliefs that they actually attend a building of worship on a weekly basis. Sometimes I'll see something about Obama going to church; believing in God, and I think....he might as well believe in vampires, werewolves, and forest fairies. Really?  What's the difference?

It's all so silly.   It's all a fairytale.

That being said.....I personally tend to believe in fantasy stuff. I believe in life after death. I believe in reincarnation.  I believe in angels.   I believe in spirit guides. I believe when I dream, sometimes my soul goes off to some weird astral place.

I'm a believer, AND I think it's really silly to believe. That probably doesn't seem to make sense.   Maybe it doesn't.  But it's how I feel.

I also think it's a bit rigid and ridiculous to NOT believe in any fantasy stuff....to rely so heavily on science, and to believe in only what can be currently proven in a laboratory.     

Basically, what I'm saying is that I think all humans (including me) are either silly or rigid and ridiculous. Many are both probably.  

2. It's not that I necessarily disbelief in the Christian version of God. it's that I don't LIKE him. (at least as how he's portrayed by many Christians) Sometimes I think maybe Jesus IS the truth. Maybe I am wrong about Christianity being fictional.    But I hope I'm not. I don't like what I've heard about this Jesus guy. He seems so vain. If you don't declare faith in him, you're sent to hell. You'll burn for all eternity.You'll experience the worst pain imaginable....and it never ends!

Despite all this, Christians will call Jesus a loving God. They'll say Jesus is their friend.They'll say he's their heavenly father. They also say that God gives us a choice. He doesn't force us to believe.We have free will.

I think I have a totally different definition of the word choice. If I say to Jack, you can have chocolate cake for dessert, or a bowl of ice-cream....THAT is a choice. If I say to Tim, you can watch Medium with me, or I can watch it by myself....THAT is a choice.  

If I say to Jack....Go outside and yell out....I have the best mom in the world!   And if you don't do that, I will lock you in the closet without food for three days....that is NOT a choice.   That's a threat.  Some people might call that love. I call it abuse. If you truly love someone, you don't send them off to burn eternally in hell.  

In my opinion, if Jesus truly was a loving God, he'd love you and be there for you no matter what you believed. He'd understand that having a book declare him as being real is not enough evidence of his existence. He'd understand that there are a lot of religious texts out there, and it's all a bit confusing.

Many Christians do give a more gentle view of Jesus.  Their Jesus doesn't send people to hell to burn.  He just sends you away. He punishes you by separation.  It sounds a bit immature and spiteful. Well, when you were alive....you refused to believe in me.   Bye bye.   I hope you have fun without me. But you won't, because I'm so awesome, and all good in the world comes from being NEAR me.   

God rejects you in the afterlife because you rejected him while you were alive. Is that fair? I mean, for arguments sake, let's say this Jesus is real. Couldn't we say he has much more evidence of our existence than we have of his?  Wouldn't a nice God appear when we've died and say Hi Sam!  I know you didn't believe in me when you were alive. Hey, no worries. That Scientology stuff IS pretty convincing and interesting.   But now you can see I AM the truth. I've been watching you all along.  I watch and love EVERYONE.....whether they believe in me or not.  Want to join my club?  Oh, and you don't have to.   You can still reject me, and go off on your own. I wish you well though, and I shall be here if you ever want to hang out.    Here's a box of Tim Tams to take on your journey.  

Now THAT is my type of God. But wanting a certain type of God to exist, doesn't mean he IS going to exist. For all I know, God may be the cruel, homophobic, racist, and sexist God that some people speak of. I hope not.

3.  I am very bewildered by people who pray, get what they want, and then say God is good. God is good because he answered your prayers?  But then what if you didn't get what you wanted?   Is God then bad?   Or does it mean you didn't pray hard enough?  Did you not pray well enough?   Did you not gather enough people to pray with you?  Did you pray at the wrong church?  Did having a Wiccan pray for you piss God off enough that he then decided to not give you what you wanted?     

I also have a hard time understanding people who have faith, and then lose it when something bad happens. Did they expect only good things to happen to them? Did they not realize shitty things happen in the world?  I'm guessing they did.  Right? So did they believe they were special, and immune to horror and tragedy?

Some people refuse to ever believe in anything because of badness in the world. They think if there were a God, he'd have the power and goodness to prevent bad stuff. I personally disagree with this, but at least these people are more consistent than those I mentioned above. They don't wait for their own personal tragedy to lose faith.

I don't often believe in God, but if he or she does exist, I don't think his job is to make things comfortable, happy, and easy for us.  My silly spiritual belief is that life is a learning opportunity.   Shit happens to teach us. And shit happens because we're not evolved enough; and because of this, we cause shit to happen to each other.   

I do think that sometimes prayers are answered. But it doesn't mean your good God answered your good prayers because you're one of his personal favorites.  It MIGHT sometimes mean that.    It could also mean that what you asked for was going to happen anyway. It's fate.  It could mean that God was going to kill your pet turtle in the apartment fire, but then he realized you're emotionally weak, and couldn't handle such trauma.  So he let your turtle survive.  He decided he'd have to wait until you emotionally evolved more before throwing you a curve ball.  It could mean that your weirdo cousin offered a sacrifice to the Purple Haired Cockroach God, and it was THAT God who gave you what you wanted.

Google Map Fun Part 3

I'm longing for another Google Map adventure.

As I promised previously, I will amend my neglect of South Australia by starting with that state this time.

There's only a small chunk of that state on Street View. I landed on a place called Salt Creek, on the Princes Highway.

Lord Wiki says the highway is a coastal one. It goes from Sydney to Port Augusta. You end up going through (or near) Wollongong, Geelong, Melbourne, Mt Gambier, and other places.

Now I'm on 7930 Midland Highway, in Woodbury Tasmania. In the picture, it looks like a storm is brewing.

I see signs of human life...fences, and a house-like structure.

Lord Wiki says that the Midland Highway connects Tasmania to Launceston.

There's a place where you can take flying/gliding lessons in Woodbury. I'm not sure exactly what that means. It looks a bit scary though.

Now I'm on Connangorach Road, in Connangorach Victoria. It has a farm aura to it. I see fences.

I can't find much information about Connangorach, unfortunately.

I'm going to move on to New South Wales.

Oh! I got a neighborhood for the first time! There's lots of red brick houses.

The address is 22 Beamish Street. That sounds happy.

The city/town is Padstow. Lord Wiki says it's part of Sydney; 22 miles southwest of the CBD.

Now I'm in Queensland, on 9 Mundubbera Durong Road. The road is in the town of Mundubbera.

Lord Wiki says that People in Mundubbera pride themselves on having lots of citrus fruits.

If you like fruit, go to Mundubbera.

I like fruit, but I'm beginning to believe it's might be the cause of my stomach problems.

Here's a holiday park in Mundubbera. The cabins and villas aren't the prettiest I've seen. But that's okay. They still might be really nice. And it costs only $88 dollars a night for an ensuite cabin. That's a pretty good deal. They seem to have the amenities I usually require (demand!).

I tried to get something besides the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory. So instead, I got Carpentaria Highway, in a town called Arnold. Lord Wiki doesn't have much to say about it.

In the Street View picture, it looks quiet...peaceful...desolate......

For Western Australia, I got a place called Paynes Find. And I'm on the Great Northern Highway.

Lord Wiki says Panes Find is another Gold Rush town. And there's something about a golden battery, but I don't really get that.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Google Map Fun Part 2

I'm going to play my Google Map game again.

I like it.

I'll start back in Tasmania.

I've landed on Safety Cove Rd. I wonder if it's especially safe.

I see something I haven't seen in the game thus far.

A car!

It's a gray convertible of some type.

I also see beautiful mountains beautiful clouds, and a beautiful ocean. And it's all safe...maybe.

This Bed and Breakfast website indicates that Safety Cove is a a beach in Port Arthur.

Here. Someone took a video of Safety Cove. Is that an American accent? Maybe Canadian? Wait. Now he sounds kind of Irish or Scottish.

Well, according to his YouTube Page, JohnnyScottBlair is from the United Kingdom. He has a lot of travel videos. He seems to have an adventurous soul.

I was trying to land on a place in Victoria, and kept getting photographs instead of Street View. But now I'm on 769 Western Port Road, in Yannathan. Lord Wiki says Yannathan is a rural locality. Okay.

It looks farmish. I think I see a windmill.

There's a kennel in Yannathan. They provide 5 star accommodations for your dogs and cats.

Now I'm on Turpentine Road in New South Wales. It looks very dusty. I'm going to move on.

Queensland is next. I'm on Brown Lake Drive. The road looks a bit tight. I don't think I'd like it too much.

I did some more map studying. The road is near Brown Lake. It's on an island actually; North Stradbroke Island. Lord Wiki says there are leaves at the bottom of the lake, and these leaves turn the water brown. Interesting.

For the Northern Territory, I'm back on the Stuart Highway. I'm betting that's the only road mapped by Google. The section I'm on now is in Burt Plain.

Now I'm in Dundas, Western Australia. I'm on Coolgardie Esperance Highway. I guess maybe it's near Esperance?

Lord Wiki says that Dundas is an abandoned town. I guess that would be like a ghost town. Cool.

The highway lives up to its name by connecting Coolgardie to Esperance. I don't think I've actually ever heard of Coolgardie before. Lord Wiki says it was the gold rush of the 1890's that helped the town prosper, but then eventually it became a ghost town. It's not completely dead though....thanks to tourism. Maybe Oprah will help it gain even MORE visitors.

Well, I'm late for dinner, so I'm going to skip South Australia this time. Sorry if that offends anyone. I'll begin with it next time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun With Google Maps

An email from a friend inspired me to play with Google Maps Street View.

It's fun. I close my eyes and randomly pick a place in Australia. Then I try to see if Lord Wiki has any exciting information about it. I've already done it about 7 times, and I've yet to see any buildings. I see just roads and trees. It's very beautiful.

Anyway, I decided I could maybe turn the game into a blog post. Why not? I don't think I can link to what I see on Google Maps, but I can provide the address. That way...if people want to see what I'm seeing, they can plug in the address as well.

I'm actually going back and forth from doing this, and reading a Monica McInerney novel. Lainey has moved from Melbourne to Ireland to take care of her grumpy wacky (and dead) aunt's run-down bed and breakfast. Will she end up getting back together with chef Adam in Melbourne, or will she end up with that overly bearded Irish guy?

Okay. Let me pick a place.

I found that it's easier to close my eyes and be random state-by-state rather than doing the whole country at once.

I'll start with Tasmania.

Damn. I ended up in the sea. Let me try again.

Funny. I got a place I've already had. It's Huon Highway in Sandfly Tasmania. Lord Wiki didn't have an entry on Sandfly, but he did have brief words on Huon. I forgot what he had said though. I'll look again. Wait. I DO remember. It's in south Tasmania. It connects Hobart to something.

Lord Wiki just reminded me that it connects Hobart to the more southern parts of Tasmania.

Next, I'll pick a place in Victoria.

Okay. I'm at 3438 Mansfield Whitfield Road. That's a mouthful. The town/city is Tolmie. I've never heard of it.

The road I see is one of those thin curvy ones. I don't like those too much. But it IS pretty, and to it's credit....it doesn't to be frighteningly high or anything.

Lord Wiki says the Tolmie had a population of 528 in 2006. I wonder if there's more of less people now.

In February, Tolmie has a family sport event day thing. It looks kind of fun.

Now I'm going to move on to New South Wales.

I've landed on a beautiful dirt road called Beech Road. It's in Eland. Lord Wiki doesn't have an entry on that place.

I'll just move on.

I'm on Owens Road in Cressbook Creek Queensland. I don't see humans, but I do see some type of farm animal!

This is likely someone's property...maybe one of those huge ones.

Lord Wiki doesn't have anything to say about Cressbook Creek.

The Northern Territory doesn't have much mapped out by Street View, so I didn't really close my eyes to pick a place.

I kind of just knowingly picked a place, and that ended up being the Stuart Highway. I've heard of that.

It looks pretty much exactly how I'd expect Australia to look....a perfect stereotypical image of Australia.

The town I'm in is Warumungu.

Lord Wiki doesn't have an entry on the town/place, but he does have an entry on the Warumungu people. Some of them live in Alice Springs.

Lord Wiki also has an entry on Stuart Highway. He says it connects the Northern Territory to South Australia. It's named after Scottish born explorer, John McDouall Stuart.

Now I'm in Nanarup, Western Australia, on a street called Two People's Bay Road. What's the story behind that?

Lord Wiki doesn't have an entry on Two Peoples Bay Road, but I did find another website that has information on it.

It's part of a National Park near Albany; and it has beautiful beaches. Cool.

I'm going to end with a place in South Australia. I'm having fun though. I may do more of these later.

I've landed SOMEWHERE on the Barrier Highway. I've heard of that road too, probably during my trip planning.

This is another one that looks stereotypical Australian. I picture people with a broken down car. They yell at each other about conserving water. Then....

What happens next?

Maybe a crazed serial killer steps towards them?

A jolly kangaroo? Maybe a jolly TALKING kangaroo.

Zombies perhaps?

We could have a wise and mysterious Aboriginal man with warnings of doom. That might work.

Maybe no one will appear, and our protagonists will simply have an artsy type conversation.

Oh! How about rabid koalas!?

An appearance by Randall Flagg would work as well.

Lord Wiki says Barrier Highway goes from South Australia to New South Wales. Maybe it's the route we plan to take to get to Broken Hill. Let me check....

Yep. I'm right. If all goes well, we shall be riding on that Barrier Highway.

I hope we don't meet any zombie serial killers with pet talking kangaroos. But if we do, let's hope at least we've brought enough water, so we don't have to be thirsty while fighting the enemy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crap! How Did I Miss That?

I've been totally out of the Loop.

I was reading an article about the Commonwealth Games, and how the Foreign Minister advises Australians not to flaunt their nationality because of terrorism.  That's interesting. But the thing that totally got my attention is the fact that Kevin Rudd is the Foreign Minister.  I totally missed that news.  I guess I was too busy eating scones and worshiping JK Rowling.

Anyway, I'm very glad Gillard put Rudd back in her ministry.  I was very impressed that Rudd didn't want to back away from it all after the big coup; and I didn't like Gillard when it seemed like she wasn't going to accept Rudd's offer to participate in ministry action.  

Lord Wiki is informing me about all the new ministry jobs.  Peter Garrett is now in education. That's interesting.  I wonder how he'll do with that.  Tony Burke's the new environment guy. I've not heard of him.  Lord Wiki says he has the seat of Watson in New South Wales. That's about all I want to know...for now.

Chris Bowen now has the immigration portfolio. I think that used to belong to Chris Evans. What's he doing now?

Okay. Evans is in tertiary education and workplace stuff.

Jenny Macklin still has the Indigenous Affairs portfolio....and that still doesn't seem right to me.   I wonder if there are ANY indigenous Australians in the ministry.  

Oh....I guess I could quickly look.   

I'm not seeing anyone yet, but I do see now that there's another environmental guy besides Tony Burke.  Burke is Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.  Then there's Greg Combet.  He's Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Anyway.   No.   I don't see any Aboriginal Australians in the Ministry. That's unfortunate. The good news is things don't have to stay that way.    Just like I was ignorant about the new ministry, and that's sad.   But it didn't stay that way.   Now I'm all informed....or at least more informed. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Suggestions?

Spending a week in London has made me realize I don't want to spend full weeks in big cities while in Australia.

We had a great time in Canterbury, so I'm thinking of doing that in Australia. I mean…No, we're not going to hop over to Canterbury while in Melbourne. That would be slightly difficult. I'm just thinking we could do short day train trips.

Do any of you have suggestions of places we could go?

We want cities/towns that would take less than 2 hours to get there by train. And we need places where it's easy to get to the fun stuff from the train station. It's especially great if it's a short walk to the town center/fun stuff.

I think we're also going to do a guided tour thing of Great Ocean Road. So that will break up another day.

Please email me if you have any ideas!

Thanks.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Second Thought....Maybe It's Not a Great Idea

I've been keeping up with the controversial breastfeeding news.  Ha.  Yeah.  Really.   When is breastfeeding news NOT controversial?

This piece of news is regarding the opinions of a breastfeeding expert; Jennifer James. She's from RMIT University. I'm guessing she's a professor?  

James thinks that infant formula should be available via prescription only. The Australian Breastfeeding Association agrees with her.   Many formula-using moms strongly disagree.

I've heard the idea before. And I liked it....at least on the surface.

Formula is too readily available, too often advertised and marketed, and way too normalized.

It seems it might help increase breastfeeding rates if you made it prescription only.  There would be an underlying message.  Breastfeeding is what's NORMAL. If you can't breastfeed, you have a genuine medical condition, and you need a prescription.

I guess it would be kind of like insulin. Healthy people make enough of their own insulin. But some people have problems with that, and they need an insulin prescription.

There's a big difference between insulin and infant formula though. Insulin can kill someone, or put them in a coma. Remember that movie with Jeremy Irons? 

Infant formula increases the chance of various medical problems, but as far as I know...it can't be used a murder weapon.

When I think carefully about the prescription idea, I can't quite support it.

There ARE cases where breastfeeding doesn't work for people.  And there are cases where women have valid reasons for not wanting to breastfeed.   I wouldn't want them to go through the hassle of having to get a prescription, fill the prescription, refill the prescription, etc.  I have to go through the hassle with my birth control pills, and I hate all that.

Hey, why ARE birth control pills by prescription only?  It's kind of ridiculous. Yeah.  There are health risks, but there are risks with a lot of drugs available over the counter.

Maybe I don't like the prescription idea because I'm weary of medical professionals.  I don't like the idea of people having to over depend on them. It's awful to imagine parents having to talk to their doctors to get food for their baby.

And how DO we know it won't backfire?  Why wouldn't doctors actually encourage mothers to use formula?   Oh, I'm sorry the baby's keeping you up at night. You know, if you switch to formula you might be able to get some more sleep.  Here, I'll write you a prescription. 

I do strongly agree with another idea that Jennifer James and The Australian Breastfeeding Association have.  They think infant formula should not be advertised to the public. I'd love to NOT see formula ads on TV, and in parenting magazines.  I'd like to stop seeing them on websites.

In addition, I think that there should be a law against medical businesses and professionals handing out free trials of infant formula. It disgusts me that, when I gave birth to Jack, my hospital gave me a cute diaper bag containing formula samples. What the hell is that all about?   I know. I know. It's just in case I had problems with my milk supply.  How sweet of them to worry about me.

Why don't hospitals hand out free wheelchairs to everyone....you know, just in case some of us end up not being able to walk?  How about an oxygen mask?  Some of us might end up having breathing difficulties?

The free diaper bag is generous. But they should fill it with chocolate instead of formula.   That would be nice. In Australia, they could give you a free box of Tim Tams.  

The other thing that needs to be done is to make bottle-feeding seem less normal.

I mean I don't want formula-using moms to feel like complete weirdos. But they should take SOME of that burden.  It shouldn't be totally left to the breastfeeding moms to feel like social outcasts.    

When we buy baby dolls for our children, what do they usually come with?  A bottle.

When people have baby showers, what object is often used as a decorating motif? Baby bottles!

When characters on children's shows feed their baby, what do they use? Usually a bottle. How often does a baby on a children's TV show get breastfed instead of bottle fed?  I think it's probably pretty rare. We're taught from an early age that bottle-feeding is the normal and cute thing to do.  

How do my Sims feed their babies?

They bottle-feed.

I think it would be great if the Sims creators would allow at least the OPTION of breastfeeding.   I don't think the graphics for that would be too difficult.

I think it's great that there's a breastfeeding doll.   Although it's a bit ridiculous.  You don't really need a special doll.   A child can just take any old doll, lift his or her shirt, and pretend to nurse.

I think it's probably enough to simply reduce the amount of baby dolls that come with bottles.

Oh....I have to admit it though. When I was a kid I loved those bottles.  You know, how it looks like there's really orange juice or milk in there.   SO cool.

Well, we have things that the medical community, media, and toy companies can do to decrease the amount of people who choose formula over breast milk.

There's also things that regular old moms can do. You can go to grocery stores, find moms about to buy formula, wrestle them to the ground, and spray paint their babies with a scarlet F.  That would definitely help the cause.

No, I'm joking.

I think a better idea would be to just get out there and breastfeed.

If you're brave enough to ignore all the nasty comments about public breastfeeding, go for it.

And it's really NOT that scary. I breastfed everywhere...in airplanes, in restaurants, while walking around shopping, at parties, in front of dinner guests, etc.  I didn't get any nasty comments. No one ever insisted that I stop.   I know people DO have horror stories, but I'm betting they're rarer than the media portrays.  I think for the most part, nastiness about breastfeeding stays on the Internet. And on the internet, there's nastiness regarding anything that relates to parenting choices.  

Anyway, the more people see breastfeeding....the more normal it becomes.

It takes a brave women to be the only one at her playgroup to whip out her breast. But if she's NOT the only one, then it's less intimidating.   

If children are at the playground and see mothers breastfeeding they'll start getting the idea that breastfeeding is what moms and babies do.  

There's that whole controversy about the breastfeeding cover-up blanket.   Is it good?   Is it evil?

I didn't use one.

Some lactivists from upon it.  They think it promotes the idea that breastfeeding is embarrassing. Something to hide.

There could be some merit to that.

However, some moms are more modest about their tits, and that should be respected.

In terms of promoting breastfeeding, I think the blankets are VERY beneficial. When a mom uses one of those blankets, it shouts out blatantly. Breastfeeding is happening over here!  I think when a mom does NOT use the blanket, it's less easy to notice that she's breastfeeding. Unless you're close up, it might just look like holding and cuddling.

Now that I think of it though....I'm not sure they do help that much with modesty.   My sister uses one (religiously, I suppose) and I've gotten some....mammary imagery.      

Anyway, blanket or no blanket.....I think moms should be applauded for public breastfeeding.   No one should be pressured to use a blanket, and no one should be marginalized for using a blanket.

I also think formula-using moms should stop whining about being made to feel guilty by other moms, the medical community, the media, etc.   Again, I'm sure there are SOME true horror stories....attacks in the grocery store.   But I bet most of the guilt is self-inflected. People feel guilty about their choices, and they over-interpret comments and meaningless glances.

Guess what though....guilt and insecurity are part of parenthood.

If you're a mom or dad, and you DON'T feel this insecurity or guilt on a fairly regular basis.....well, you are one lucky bastard. Count your blessings on that one.   






Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cold Hard Truth

On the plane ride home, I read a fantastic Australian young adult novel; Feeling Sorry For Celia. It's written by Jaclyn Moriarty, who I THINK is the sister of another Aussie author I like.

Let me go check......

Okay, yes. Moriarty's website confirms that she's the sister of Liane Moriarty.

Cool.

Feeling Sorry for Celia is told through letters written to and from Elizabeth (the protagonist). There's really nothing new about this type of novel. What makes Moriarty's novel stand out is that it also includes imaginary letters that Elizabeth receives. I suppose they could be described as Elizabeth's self-esteem. They're like those little voices inside of us who question everything we do, insult us, rain on our parade, and make sure we don't develop any delusional ideas regarding the fact that we might be worthy of good times and happiness. Sometimes Elizabeth receives positive versions of these imaginary letters. They lift her up, making her feel hopeful and good about herself. Then often these letters will be followed by one from the Cold Hard Truth Association.

I'm plagued by letters from the Cold Hard Truth Association. I'm guessing a lot of people are. Right? And in some ways, it IS a helpful association. It prevents us from getting overly swelled heads. It keeps us down to earth. In small doses, the Cold Hard Truth Association is probably a healthy thing. It's only bad when we get too many letters from them, and not enough letters from the associations telling us we're decent.

Some of us (or maybe all of us?) don't just have that inner organization bringing us down. We have people in our lives who take it upon themselves to do the job as well.

Feeling good about yourself? Feeling hopeful about something? Wanting to share some happy news? Well, share anything positive with these people, and they'll make sure to do some tall poppy trimming. With these people, saying anything positive about yourself equals bragging. And they won't tolerate it.

Friend #1 and I were discussing praise, and whether it's a good thing or bad thing. I talked about how friend #2 had recently said she thought I sang very good. Friend #2 had given me VERY nice compliments about my singing. I had been extremely touched by this, but also somewhat sad and conflicted because prior to that, I hadn't gotten much positive feedback about my singing. With a sort-of smirk, friend #1 said that maybe friend #2 had been lying. Yeah. Silly me to have imagined that maybe friend #2 was giving me a genuine compliment. Why didn't I realize that I'm a HORRIBLE singer, and that friend #2 was just blowing smoke up my ass?

Friend #1 left me not only feeling defensive about my singing, but even more so...defensive of friend #2. Not only was friend #1 accusing me of bad singing, but she was also accusing me of having a dishonest friend. That didn't make me feel so hot. Why couldn't friend #1 been kind enough to give my singing and friend #2 the benefit of the doubt?

When Jack was a toddler, we visited someone's house. Jack has a phenomenal memory, and Tim wanted to show these people what he could do. Now excessive bragging in parents is tacky, but I think mild amounts deserve to be tolerated.

What Jack would do at that age is point to things and make a noise to indicate that he wanted us to tell him what it was called. We would teach him, and then quiz him on what he had learned. He seemed to love doing this, and we didn't pressure him to perform when he wasn't in the mood. We weren't awful. I promise.

Tim did a brief demonstration of what Jack could do. The people could have said. That's awesome! Good job, Jack! He's so clever! Wow! That's how most people in our lives responded to Jack's intelligence.

At this house, we got a different reaction. One of house owners said something like, Well, let's just hope he doesn't become one of those kids who never learns to speak.

Now I'm guessing she was referring to Autistic-Savants. And maybe there's a way you could gently express concerns about such things...if you were truly concerned.

But this was NOT like that. This was someone unable to tolerate someone being pleased about their child's abilities. She wanted us to make sure we weren't too pleased with ourselves. She wanted to bring us down a notch....several notches.

Sometimes I think the cold hard truth is not about blessing others with your impressive honesty. It's about making sure others feel small so you can feel bigger.

On the other side of the coin, you have those who do the opposite. They shower you with compliments and hope, which you KNOW are not deserved or warranted.

You tell them that your crush said hi to you in the hall. They tell you to start planning the wedding. They even start buying you bridal magazines. They always say what you want to hear, but eventually you realize their words are empty bullshit.

In response to the crush situation, the cold-hard-truth friend would say something like... well, don't get excited over that. He's way out of your league. He was probably saying hi to someone behind you.

Maybe in the middle, there's a reasonable friend. They let you have your hopes and dreams, but won't fluff you up with complete crap.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Oprah News

I was informed very recently that Oprah is going to be doing her show in Australia. This is supposed to be a great thing for Australia tourism. So, that's good. I guess everyone wants tourists these days. It brings money.

I'm not really a fan of Oprah though. I probably don't dislike her for her actual self. It's more of a dislike-by-association type thing. I don't like Dr. Phil and she stood behind that guy. I don't like Rhonda Byrne, and she stood behind that woman.

That's really not a good reason to dislike someone....I suppose.

And I do like some of the books on her reading list.

The worst thing is I failed the Oprah test about Australia. I got a 4 out of 10. I'm not sure if it turns out I'm NOT so educated about Australia....or the Oprah test is crap. I'd prefer to believe the latter. The other option is way too depressing.

I'll go take another test. If I do okay, it will cheer me up.

I'm going to try the Australian Citizenship practice test.

Good. I did well on that one.

It was a little TOO easy though.

Okay. Here's a test I like! It's from National Geographic. I liked the questions, and I got a 90%.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lions, Rides Through Australia, and Dr. Doom Pajamas

I guess I have that jet lag thing going on.

I went to bed at around 6:30 last night, and woke up around 2:30.

I'm usually better at getting myself quickly on a reasonable schedule. But I wasn't feeling well last night, so it was hard to keep myself up.

Anyway, I had a few Australia/Australian related dreams last night. Here they are.

1. There's this zoo that lets a lion roam free. I think it's wrong...horribly dangerous. I refuse to go back to the zoo. I later talk to a zookeeper from there, trying to confirm that they really DO let a lion roam free. I guess I thought maybe I had imagined it, or misunderstood what I saw?

The zookeeper confirms that they do let a lion roam free. She says they do it because otherwise the lion won't sleep. She assures me that he's very gentle and well behaved. He's never harmed any of the guests. I argue that a wild animal can turn on you at any time. She seems to see my point, but then my argument starts to feel weak to me. I start thinking maybe it IS okay to have a lion roaming about. Yeah, it could suddenly go on the attack. But so could a dog.

Later I go to the zoo with Tracey (My Tassie/Hawaii friend). We approach the sleeping lion, and pet it. Tracey seems to have done this before. I remark that the lion makes me think of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

2. I go pajama shopping with Jack and another adult. I think it was either my mom or Tim. At the shop, there is a advertisement with Julian McMahon promoting Dr. Doom underpants or pajamas. I look at large kid pajamas thinking some might fit me. Jack seems less interested in finding pajamas for himself, and more interested in looking at girl pajamas to buy his cousins.

3. We're on a ride in Australia. It's like a sled bathtub type thing. You ride through the landscape. I'm not sure who we is. I'm pretty sure Jack was there, and then later my dad was there. Tim was probably there too. Anyway, we see beautiful scenery on the ride....lots of rock formations. They look like mini Uluru type things. I start to worry that the ride might be dangerous. What if we hit a rock, or fall off a cliff? I begin to wonder if we need to put a lot of personal effort into keeping ourselves safe. Is this a ride where we need to take charge of steering and braking? Or is it the kind of ride where you can sit back, relax, and you're likely to stay safe?




P.S-If anyone is interested in looking at the London photos/videos, I've put them up on Flickr.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

London Diary

I've decided to keep a diary during our little British holiday. Then I'll post it at the end. It might be fun. Well, it's a good thing to work on when I have insomnia, wake up to play, and find the Internet isn't working. I need SOMETHING to do….well, besides scratching mosquito bites.


ENTRY 1

London Time-1:50 am (Sunday)
Texas Time-7:50 pm
Sydney Time-10:50 am

I'm awake with jet lag insomnia stuff. Hopefully, I'll be able to fall back asleep eventually.

So far, our London time has been dominated with trying to get our phones working so Tim and I can contact each other while roaming about this lovely city; and figuring out how to get our clothes dry. I had this brilliant idea of packing light. I figure we'd bring just a few outfits for each of us, and then do laundry. It turns out there's no real dryer at the Allen House. I had actually seen a guy complain about that in a review the place, but I guess….Well, I tried to believe things would be different for us.

It's a weird set up. The washing machine is supposed to turn INTO the dryer. It's like a washer and dryer in one. I think what it does it simply spin your clothes without water. It seems like it COULD work. Right?

The reception folks put a sign up suggesting that it helps to dry half a load of wash at a time. Okay, so we put one pair of child's pajamas, one pair of child's jeans, and a pair of underpants. Is that not a small load? We spun them for about an hour, and the clothes were all very damp afterward.

Tim tried hanging them in the bathroom on the towel warmers. Towel warmers. That is something I haven't seen before.

It's a few hours since he tried that, and I don't see much progress happening.

The online guy who mentioned the dryer thing said he came up with some solution. That's why I wanted to go online….see what worked for him. But the internet is not working. I've taken all the clothes, and I have them draped them over chairs in the main rooms. Maybe that will work?

At home, we're ugly wasteful Americans, and use dryers. But I do end up hanging SOME stuff after each wash. I usually hang up my hand-washed stuff outside. The dries VERY fast. I hang up don't-put-in-dryer stuff in the closet. That dries….Well, I've never timed it, but I'm guessing it would dry within 3-6 hours.

I think it's a matter of humidity. Fort Worth is dry, and helpful in getting clothes dry.

Our London apartment is NOT dry and helpful in getting clothes dry.

I don't have internet access to play with right now, but I have saved iGoogle page. One of my little widget things has Aussie news. It says Wong is now going to be for finance in the Gillard cabinet. Interesting.

I wish I could see the rest of her chosen bench folks. Well, I'll look when Tim gets the Internet back on.

Anyway, our apartment is pretty big. There's a kitchen, two bedrooms, a LONG hallway, and two bathrooms.

The size is nice. The location is nice.

I'm a bit unhappy with the amenities. The sheets are those awful stiff starchy ones. The blankets are super itchy. The toilet is hard to flush, and once you manage….it's loud and frightening. ANY use of water at this apartment is pretty damn loud.

I'm finding it hard to form a positive relationship with the loud and difficult washing machine. The shower is very small.

The chain lock is hard to work. Tim managed to win that battle. Last night, I tried it, and thought maybe it was broken/unusable.

I thought, well maybe London is one of those places where people don't need to lock their doors. Then I remembered….NO. London is that place with a major criminal history. Remember? They shipped a bunch of the criminals off to a mysterious continent in the south?

Plus, there's the whole Jack the Ripper thing.

The elevator here is small. No, I mean it's…SMALL. I've never seen such a small elevator. We tried it once. The reception man showed us into the coffin, and it would have been too embarrassing to say "No thanks!" and rush off. But since then, we've decided to walk up the four flights of stairs.

It's good exercise.

All the crap things about this apartment are kind of cute and adventurous. But I'd be more enchanted by it, if we weren't using up our Disney Vacation Club points to stay here. Those points are expensive. It's not like I expected a four star hotel. But I guess I expected something a little more…..

I'm not sure of the right word.

It IS charming. I'll say that. It feels like a real British apartment. I've never BEEN in a British flat though, so the feeling is a bit meaningless. Maybe British people would stay here and say this is SO not a British thing.



ENTRY 2

London Time-8:20 am (Sunday)
Texas Time-2:20 am
Sydney Time-5:21 pm

I ended up having a good sleep! I'm happy about that.

I'm planning to wear jeans today. I'm nervous about that. I've never liked wearing them, but I realize that although they're uncomfortable, they're more comfortable (maybe) than my black knit pants.

Hopefully, they won't ruin my day.

The clothes dried fairly well by leaving them out in the main rooms. I put them back in the dryer to finish them up…fluff them a bit. Tim and I are both worried, we're doing it wrong and re-wetting them. Then we'll be back to square one.

I painted my toenails before we left America. They look a bit awful. I hope no one notices.

ENTRY 3

London Time-4:35 pm (Sunday)
Texas Time-10:35 am
Sydney Time-1:36 am

We've had a busy day.

I called Tracey (our Tassie/Hawaii friend) this morning. We had a brief chat. Hearing her voice made me a little sad. I miss her. But sometimes you don't realize how much you miss someone until you hear their voice.

We took a bus…rode through Notting Hill. I really did that only to make my sister jealous. She loves the Notting Hill movie. From the bus, it didn't look all that exciting.

We went to King's Cross and saw the Platform 9 3/4. That was nice. You know though…it's kind of disappointing and depressing.. It's like calling your friend who lives on a whole other continent. You think it will make you happy, but it just ends up making you a bit sad. It's nice to see the trolley stuck in the wall. I'm touched that they made this tribute to Harry Potter. BUT then it's really not that great, because you can't magically go through the wall and travel to Hogwarts. It's kind of a slap in the face.



We went to Covent Garden and bought goodies at the Australia Shop. That was fun. They actually had a fair amount of stuff. We didn't buy a lot; we got a variety pack of Shapes, and some Arnott's cookies. I've never seen them before. They're 100's and 1000's. I'm not sure if they're new, or I've just missed them in the past. It's kind of like fairy bread in a cookie form.

We didn't need to get a lot because we can order Aussie food almost anytime from Texas. And I figure we should spend our calories/money on British food.



After the Australia Shop, we headed over to The London Eye. Tim already opted out of that program. When I saw it, I wanted to opt out too. But I already promised Jack, so….

I offered a big allowance bonus instead of The London Eye. He wasn't interested in the trade. That kid is keen on going.

We have reservations for tomorrow. I'm hoping since it'll be a Monday, the line won't be so long.

I'm going to go eat a cookie now.

ENTRY 4 (Sunday)

London Time-10:44 pm
Texas Time-4:45 pm
Sydney Time- 7:45 am

Right now I'm not happy with London or the Disney Vacation Club. I think this Apartment is probably one of the worst places I've ever stayed at.

Hopefully…maybe….something will happen to change my feelings.

We shall see.

We're having a good time, but not good enough to make up for the 8-9 hour plane ride.

ENTRY 5 (Monday)

London Time-3:46 pm
Texas Time-9:46 am
Australia Time-12:47 am

I survived the London Eye. We did good. We got there right when it opened, and there was no line.

It wasn't so scary. You're enclosed in glass. I sat there thinking back to the bridge climb. THAT was scary, because you're not enclosed in glass. I'm not sure how or why I managed to get through that experience.

I was thinking today. When we talk about temporary insanity, we're usually referring to bad behavior. But I think temporary insanity can also explain brave behavior.

My sanity has returned. I shall not be climbing more bridges anytime soon.

I did some online reading on these washer-dryer combo things. Apparently, they're fairly popular in London. From what Lord Wiki says, it seems they don't dry as well as a tumble dryer, but they DO dry. Ours doesn't seem to be drying at all.

I really don't know if our dryer/washer thing is working properly, and these things are awful in general. Or do we have a defective machine?

We went back to the Australia Shop. It wasn't my idea. I promise. Jack kept asking over and over to return. I told him if he loved Australia so much, we'll take him to the shop. But that also means we have to move to Australia. I was joking…sort of.

It turns out he wanted a Milko candy. I forgot to mention that purchase yesterday. We had bought one Milko for each of us. I guess they left a very positive impression on Jack. He wanted to return for more.

We went to some used book shops. I got a Janette Turner Hospital book.

ENTRY 6 (Monday)

London Time-4:19 pm
Texas Time-10:19 am
Sydney Time- 1:19 am

I just watched an iPhoto slideshow of our London photos. For music, I used "Here Comes the Sun". Anyway….

The photos have convinced me that we ARE having fun.

It's not yet one of my favorite family holidays. But we're definitely having an enjoyable time.

ENTRY 7 (Monday)

London Time-9:17 pm
Texas Time-3:17 pm
Sydney Time-6:17 am

We went to Buckingham Palace at night. It was a very nice experience. I usually hate touristy experiences like that, but night made it different. It was less crowded…kind of eerie, but like in a magical adventurous way.



Entry 8 (Tuesday)

London Time-4:11 pm
Texas Time-10:11 am
Sydney Time-1:11 am

One thing I have to say for London…..They seem to be over their bad food issue. We've had really yummy stuff here.

Today we shared a Knickerknocker Glory sundae at Harrods. Jack picked it out, because he remembered it from Harry Potter. It's not what I would have chosen, but it was REALLY good.

This morning, my bad feelings about the apartment diminished a bit. I went to talk to the reception about our dryer. They asked me a few questions and then concluded our dryer IS broken. It's supposed to get warm/hot, and ours doesn't do that.

I had thought I was just one of those spoiled Americans who wants quick drying.

Well, Tim just went down to talk to the reception. They can't fix the dryer in time for us. But they were VERY nice, and said to give us our wash, and they'll dry it.

I like nice people.

I talked to a nice adorable British child on the bus. He was so friendly….VERY cute.

Yesterday we were on the train, and I kept myself busy by periodically glancing at the women sitting across from us. They looked indifferent and unfriendly. Blah train people….the kind you see in NYC. I'm sure I was one of them.

Then I thought, wait! Maybe they're not indifferent and unfriendly. Maybe they're minds are churning away….coming up with the next literary sensation! British folks seem to have talent for writing children's books.

Then one of the women started watching Jack and I play a silly game together. She smiled as she watched us. I felt warmed by this. She seemed to find us cute and entertaining. Then later I thought….crap, what if, by watching us, she lost her train of brilliant creative thought?

Speaking of books, I found another Australian book today; a Patricia Shaw thing.

ENTRY 9 (Tuesday)

London Time-11:36 pm
Texas Time-5:36 pm
Sydney Time-8:36 am

Here's a question…

Let's say there's a person who's an artist. He thinks his work is a lot like Sidney Nolan's. He has the same style as Nolan. Then he goes to the museum with his partner. The partner sees a Nolan painting, and says he doesn't like it. He says he doesn't like that style of painting.

Does this mean the partner also doesn't like his significant other's paintings? He won't admit to that directly, but he'll admit to not liking a successful artist who does similar work?

Or does it mean that the partner doesn't see the similarity between his lover's paintings, and Nolan's? Could he like his partner's work, and not like Nolan's work…even though their style is so similar?

Anyway, ponder upon those deep thoughts…..

We went to the Tower of London tonight, and saw the London Bridge. I didn't enjoy it much because I had to pee. Having a full bladder makes things a bit less enjoyable.

ENTRY 10 (Wednesday)

London Time-9:19 pm
Texas Time-3:20 pm
Sydney Time-6:20 am

We went to Canterbury today, and LOVED it.

I'm wishing we stayed there instead.

But a waste of time to regret stuff.

London is nice too.

Canterbury is full of thrift stores and book stores. Plus, they have some nice candy stores. What more could I want?

AND it looks like Harry Potter land.

We went to a haunted restaurant. I've always wanted to go to a haunted place. I've been too scared to really pursue the plan. This was nice because we didn't know it was haunted until we sat down and read the story in the menu. I didn't have to mess with figuring out if I wanted to go there or not.




ENTRY 11 (Thursday)

London time-8:04 am
Texas time-2:04 am
Sydney time-5:04 pm

I wish Australia had high speed trains. I really liked riding on one yesterday. It ends up taking you there FASTER than a car. I've looked at trains in Australia, and from what I see…it takes longer on the train (vs. driving) I don't want to spend 11 hours in economy on a train….not after super long flights.

I hope America gets high speed trains as well.



ENTRY 12 (Friday)

London Time-7:19 am
Texas time-1:19 am
Sydney time-4:19 pm

Yesterday we returned to the natural history museum, and later Tim dragged us down to visit the shrine of Abbey Road.

We ate at a random italian restaurant. There were two other tables of people upstairs with us. Very loud and slightly drunk Americans or Canadians. One of the groups left without us finding out what they were. We chatted with the second group. They were Canadian.

Today I'm hoping to eat more scones.

ENTRY 13 (Friday)

London Time-10:36 am
Texas Time-4:36 am
Sydney Time-7:36 pm

I finished reading the Steven Toltz book. I thought I was ready for it to end. It turns out I'm wrong.

I think I become more emotionally attached to novels than people…sometimes.

Jack and I finished reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the other day. It's a big deal to me because I've wanted so badly for Jack to read the books. And now it's finally happening.

We finished it on a train back to London (from Canterbury). I thought that was cool…reading Harry Potter in England. Well, I guess a bunch of British people did it. Still, when you're not British, it's a pretty cool thing.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention….

They fixed our dryer!!

ENTRY 14

London Time-3:30 pm
Texas Time-9:30 am
Sydney Time-12:30 am

We went to a cute little restaurant called The Muffin Man. There we got scones, crumpets, tea, and cheese and date sandwiches. It was all delicious.

I'm a bit full of bread though. On top of that, I bought rock bread. Why? I remembered it being mentioned in Harry Potter. I think it's what Hagrid served to the kids. But now I can't find it in the book.

Going to London when you're obsessed with Harry Potter can turn you into a total geek.

Our big excursion of the day was Liverpool. Jack wanted to go to a random place we knew little about. So we hopped into a train, and headed to that stop.

I know Liverpool is important for something? Maybe Paul McCartney's from there? Daddy Warbucks?

We have limited Internet access left, but maybe I'll quickly look it up.

Well, the Liverpool I was thinking of was probably the town/city. We were just at Liverpool STREET. Lord Wiki says Liverpool is highly associated with The Beatles. If I was a music geek instead of a Harry Potter one, I would have already known that.

Let me look up the rock cake thing….

Yep. I'm right. It's the cake the Hagrid served the kids. It was described as being awful…probably because Hagrid is at my level of cooking skill. But the one we ate today was actually quite delicious.

ENTRY 15

London Time-7:54 am
Texas Time-1:54 am
Sydney Time-4:54 pm

We're packing now. This morning we have to move to a new hotel. With Disney Vacation Club, they do week by week reservations for their RCI exchange thing. But the plane tickets that Tim found needed us to stay an extra night. So he found us an hotel.

We're going south towards the river. I hope the area isn't too nice. Otherwise, I'll be sad that we're only spending a day there.

Here's the thing. I've spent a week in London. I still can't distinguish British accents from Australian ones. In my eyes (ears) there's very Aussie accents, and very British accents. Then there's a bunch of variety in between, and I think there's a lot of overlapping. When I say very British... To me, that's people who sound like Jude Law or a Harry Potter actor.

The Pope is here now.

Exciting. I hope his visit doesn't mess up the trains too much.

ENTRY 16

London Time-4:22 pm
Texas Time-10:22 am
Australia Time-1:22 am

We are living in LUXURY.

Tim got a very good deal on a hotel room. I think it's a 4 star type thing. He used points to get it for about $130 dollars. On top of that, they upgraded us to a suite.

The location of the hotel isn't too exciting. You have to walk a bit of a way to get to shops and restaurants. Or maybe we went the wrong way.

There's a train station near us….the overground one. And the next stop is Clapham Junction. Lord Wiki says this is where JK Rowling was traveling to when she got the Harry Potter idea. I'm not sure if that's accurate information, or not. But we decided to visit.

We walked around a bit. I found a thrift store, and we bought a Harry Potter trivia book. It was only 1 pound! Then later we went to a costume store, and Jack bought an overpriced Harry Potter wand. 9 pounds for a stick. Oh well. It's his allowance.

We found an Aussie restaurant. Unfortunately, we had already eaten lunch, and were not hungry.

It seemed to have actual Australian food, and not ridiculous stuff like Texas Aussie restaurants.

We might go back for dinner. I guess it depends on everyone's energy level and mood.

I hate last days of holidays. I get this sudden feeling that we missed stuff.

I feel crazy saying this, but I already miss our old neighborhood.

And even though we're staying in this fancy hotel, I'm kind of missing the apartment.
It was sort of awful in some ways, but I guess I formed a bit of an attachment.