Thursday, February 3, 2011

Extreme Weather, Nikki Gemmell, Pandas, and Mel Gibson

1. Dreamed about my sort-of Australian cousin.  Tim, Jack, and I are going to somewhere close to their house.  We decide to cut through their home. We open the door, and just walk inside....unannounced.  I start to feel. rude.  While Tim and Jack talk to my cousin, I start to rearrange some of their books.  It makes me feel better to do them a favor; makes me feel less awful.  But then I start to think maybe I'm not doing them a favor.  Maybe they liked the books the way they had them.  Maybe I'm being even more intrusive.  Then my cousin's husband comes out.  He asks if we think Jack is old enough to have poison in the house.  I'm wondering, when is anyone old enough to have poison in their house?  He shows us a promotional video for the film.  It has graphic scenes of people dying.  I start to think that this is some kind of war weapon they're developing.   

2.  Dreamed I won a contest for The King's Speech.  I think it was some kind of trivia thing, and the prize involved going to a party.   

3. Read Snowy's post regarding a friend being okay after the cyclone.  They thought they'd return to their house to find complete devastation.  Instead they are happy to report everything is fine.   Their garden is ruined though, and a tree fell on the roof.  It's funny about perspective.  Because I think in most cases people would be VERY upset if their garden was completely ruined. I think they'd be a bit furious and maybe even a bit depressed.  But when you think your house is going to be totally destroyed, losing a garden probably doesn't seem so bad.

4. Relieved to read updates on Facebook.  It looks like Yasi is gone.

5. Looked at Julia Gillard's webpage about assistance to households effected by Yasi.  There are three grant levels.  In the lowest, they get $170-780 dollars.  That's to meet "basic needs". The next level gets $1,660-$,4980.  Why don't they round up these numbers?  What's the deal?  The third level is $10,250-$13,800.  The last one is for house repairs.

And on top of that, there are other types of government assistance available.   

I don't fully understand it.  I don't know how they decide who is in what category. And once they stick you in a category, how do they decide how much to give you?  For example, if you get put into the second category....Will you get $1,660?  $4980?  Or something in between?   

I wonder how long it will take for money to be distributed.

5. Read Alex's post about the aftermath of Yasi.   He's one of my favorite bloggers.    He's probably one of my favorite Australians.    And I have another favorite Australian who is ALSO named Alex.   It's kind of eerie.   My other HUGE life obsession (besides Australia) was Cystic Fibrosis.   And that all came about because I read a book about Alex Deford—a child who died from CF.   So maybe the name Alex is kind of like the bridge between both obsessions.  

6. Realized that these posts keep getting longer and longer.  BUT people don't have to read everything.  They can jump around, and just read the stuff that interests them. I hope the numbering makes it easier for people.

7. Got an email from Powells.   The King's Speech (and other books) is being shipped!   I'm very excited!!  They use slow shipping though.  It might take awhile...especially with all this snow everywhere.  

8. Just heard big news from Qantas.  They're going to start having flights directly from DFW (our airport).  Wow.  I never expected that!    We'll have to consider flying with them.  We were planning to fly through Hawaii again, using American Airlines and Jetstar.  It's sometimes cheaper that way, especially because we use our American Airlines points.   But then we have to factor in the hotel cost. And it looks like Qantas has a deal where you can get low-priced fairs for when you're IN Australia.  

The only thing is....I'm looking at their SALE prices.  We're probably not going during a sale-time.    But I think we WILL be doing so 2015.  So that might be a great time to use Qantas.  

9. Read that Qantas is unfortunately going to be increasing their fares because of oil prices.  The reason I was googling Qantas in the first place is I got an email from an expat in Australia.  She said that Qantas was taking advantage of Yasi's potential victims by overcharging them for flights.  I hope there's a good moral reason for it.   I do know that last minute flights are expensive, and escaping Yasi would probably be a last minute type thing.  But you'd think they'd give people a break.   I guess the question is whether Qantas could afford to give people that break?   Is it a matter of greed, or a matter of an act of charity being unaffordable?

10. Read article about climate change, and how some scientists believe there will continue to be an increase in very bad weather.  The article says, While it would take time before it was clear whether the number of extreme cyclones was growing in Australia, a recent study in the journal Nature found there had been a significant increase in the north Atlantic since the 1970s.

Climate change skeptics argue that there HAS always been bad weather. And they're right.   It's nothing new.  The question is whether there's an increase in crazy weather.

I don't know if this means anything, or if it's a random coincidence.  But in seems lately that every time we have unusually cold weather, it's preceded by unusually warm weather. For example,   now it's below freezing. There's snow, and it's taking longer than usual to melt.   Last Saturday we were able to wear shorts.  It happened over Thanksgiving as well, and maybe another time.  

Tim talks about how climate change skeptics will point to snow and say Look!  Told you global warming was a joke.   Tim says it's not about warming though.   We're not going to get hotter and hotter.  We're going to get unusual and extreme weather.   

11. Read that Wikileaks has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It's amazing how people can have such opposing views of an organization.  On one side, you have people wanting to give Wikileaks such a huge honor.  On the other side you have various important officials treating Assange as if he's Public Enemy #1.  AND you even have American credit card companies cutting off funds to the organization.

12. Listened to Mabo speech by Paul Keating.  I thought it was well done.  Keating's voice kind of reminds me of Bill Clinton's.  It's like Clinton with an Aussie accent.

 13. Participated in yet another The King's Speech thing.    The Daily Beast's Facebook page (which I just joined) has a thing where you can ask the director a question.   They're going to pick the top ten questions and answer them.   I never do these types of things, but there's just something about The King's Speech.   Anyway, I tried to think of an impressive question, and then I quickly realized I actually DO have a REAL question.  You know....sometimes you ask things just to be conversational.  And other times you ask things because you really want to know.   So in this case, it was the latter. 

14. Checked Australia's weather.  I think Hobart is the place to be right now.

15. Finished reading The Death of Bunny Munro.  I'd describe it as a surreal story of nymphomania.   The book never made me laugh outloud; and it never made me cry.  It also didn't give me any major deep thoughts.  So I can't say I loved it.  But it wasn't too awful.

16. Took a quiz about "Waltzing Matilda".   I may not know much about 1970's Australia, but I do know about the Matilda song.   I got a 9/10!  I'm very proud.   And the average score was 8/10.   I beat that.  AND I actually knew all the answers I got right.  I didn't resort to guessing.

17. Did not so good on a quiz about Aussie music.  I got a 5/10, and the average score is 8/10.   And it's classified as an EASY one.  Oh well.  

18. Googled Nikki Gemmell to see if she was the one who wrote The Bride Stripped Bare. I thought she did, but I forgot if I was right or not.   She did write it.  The reason I was wondering is I'm about to start reading her book Alice Springs.  

Lord Wiki says Gemmell is very respected in France.

19. Saw that lots of people in Queensland are going to be without power for awhile.  And it seems many don't have clean drinking water.  It's going to be rough. They're in my thoughts and prayers.

20.  Did better on this music quiz. I got a 7/10, which is the average score.

21. Did VERY well on a Prime Minister quiz. I got 9/10, and the average is 6/10. The one I got wrong was Billy Hughes' nickname.

22. Saw Russell Crowe being interviewed by Oprah.  Their conversation reminded me of the conversations that I have when talking on the phone...often very awkward.   I felt Crowe and Oprah were on different wavelengths.

23. Saw that the direct flight from DFW to Sydney is going to be 19 hours.  I don't think I could handle being on the plane that long!

24. Liked this quote from Alice Springs Small talk is not her way.  Her words often come out bitten and jagged and stopped up and wrong, so more often than not she leaves them inside.  For me, it's a perfect description of what shyness feels like.

25. Watched video of The King's Speech premiere....British one, I think.  I like how Tom Hooper mentions the British-Australian relationship.  I like that, and was totally surprised it was even in the film.  I had no idea it was going to have anything Aussie about it. I assumed Geoffrey Rush would be playing a British person.  

26. Sad to hear that someone has died from a cyclone-related accident.  It involved the thing that scares me....carbon monoxide. 

27. Had some panda synchronicity with my blog (via Statcounter).  So I googled Panda and Australia to see what I'd get. I got the Adelaide Zoo.  They have pandas there.   I also found this Australian help site for  postnatal depression.   It's called Panda  A few months ago, I read a good book about the subject.  Little Wing by Joanne Horniman.

The panda website says, One of the greatest challenges for new mothers and fathers is knowing what is normal and what is not.  This applies to understanding the baby as well as their own well being.  Many new parents try to explain high levels of distress or unhappiness as being a normal part of being a new, sleep deprived parent.  They are often told by well meaning family and friends that feelings of exhaustion, worry or unhappiness are normal because all new parents feel like that.

But I AGREE with the well-meaning family and friends.   I think the first few months of parenting ARE sad, exhausting, and worrisome.  It's also physically painful.  It is so not easy.

What is normal, and what is not?  I have no idea.  Where do you draw the line?

Maybe I'd say crying a lot, feeling exhausted, and feeling like a potential failure are probably normal.  To me, what would be beyond what's expected is wanting to kill yourself or the baby, seriously wanting to abandon the baby, and/or lacking the ability function.  I think it also goes back to what I said a few days before regarding depression. If someone is sad almost all the time, and the baby is a dark cloud upon their lives...a dark cloud that never ever lifts....that's a serious problem.   But if despite their fear, pain, exhaustion, and anxiety, they can still feel bits of joy; I would say they're okay.  

I think there's way too much pressure on new mothers and fathers to be happy.  

28. Saw part of rerun of 30 Rock that featured a bit about Mel Gibson, and then went to read his IMDb profile.   I think the quote of Gibson's that irks me the most is when he says, My dad taught me my faith. I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life. People said, 'Well, he's just an old kook.' He's not an old kook. He's very intelligent. He's in complete possession of all his mental faculties. And if he says something he has a reason why he says it and he can back it up. Mensa wanted this guy, okay? He's very intelligent.   This is the guy who denies the Holocaust happenedTo me, this sounds like it's Gibson's way of saying he agrees with his father. I'm not sure how else to interpet it.

29. Saw that Mel Gibson was roommates with Geoffrey Rush.   I hope Rush doesn't like him too much.  That would cause me some disillusionment.   Ah....but I really shouldn't say that.  I associate with people who have beliefs and opinions that I'm strongly against.   So, I don't really believe in guilty by association...UNLESS someone infers that they agree with what the person has said and/or done (like Gibson has done with his father).

30. Took a quiz about Aussie childhoods.  I got 6/10.  

31. Finally got a 10/10 on a quiz!!   I shouldn't be too proud though.   It was labeled EASY. I think for now on I'll report only when I do really good or really bad on a quiz. 

32. Read trivia for The King's Speech on IMDb.   Then I read the quotes page.    Most of them I've heard an excessive amount of times because they're in the trailer.   But I totally forgot the last one.   I love it.