Saturday, February 26, 2011

Schools, Shame, Annette Kellerman, and Pandora

1. Finished reading Vernon God Little.   By the time I got to the last few chapters, I liked the book a lot.  It took me awhile to fully understand what was going on.  I think I'll blame my initial feelings towards the books on a) my being distracted b) my mood c) my prejudices about the author

The book is partly a parody and criticism of reality TV.  Since I'm not often a fan of reality TV, I enjoyed seeing it criticized.  

Last night (after finishing the book) I started having blogging doubts. Is the love for reading blogs connected to the fascination with reality TV?  And by having a blog, am I helping to feed the monster?

It seems our society has this fascination with the lives of real people.  And yes, I AM feeding into all of this.

Blogs are better though...I believe.  At least we're in control of what we share about ourselves. We're not edited into something we can barely recognize. We're not manipulated into misbehaving. We can share what we want to share, and hide what we want to hide.  

I do try to keep at least SOME of my daily and personal life out of the blog. So I don't feel like I'm living in a fish bowl.  

2. Dreamed about one of my Australian friends.  It wasn't that exciting, and it was too vague to explain.  But it was one of those dreams where geography is meaningless. There was no sense of me going to Australia or her coming to America....yet we seemed to live in the same place.  

3. Got an email from someone who said Sydney's Bourke Street is in Darlinghurst/Surrey Hills and not Bondi Junction.  I'm looking at Google Maps now, and see the  Surrey Hills Bourke Street.  It's a major street.  The one I saw yesterday was tiny.  I'm not sure if there are two Bourke Streets, or if the one I saw yesterday was part of the big one.   

4.  Saw that the big Bourke Street starts up at around The Domain.  Then it goes down past Surrey Hills.

I now see the Bourke Street I saw yesterday. It's this tiny little street connecting Queens Park Road and Birrell Street.  It's funny (and somewhat embarrassing) that I found this road yesterday, and not the major one.

5. Checked with Lord Wiki to make sure that Tom Robert's Bourke Street painting is about Melbourne and not Sydney. I started to wonder since it looks like a pretty big street in Sydney as well.  But nope....the painting refers to the Melbourne Bourke Street.

6. Felt like a total American tourist when I saw Ann O'Dyne's blog post about seeing kangaroos.

7. Read article about wealthy schools spending a lot of money on students.   The article says, Some private schools securing millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, including Melbourne Grammar, have retained earnings or assets of $100 million-plus, whereas others, including Cranbrook in NSW, have previously disclosed surpluses in excess of $8 million.

I don't understand.   If a school is getting money from taxpayers, why is it classified as private?

The article has a picture of Peter Garrett. He looks a bit frightening.

8. Read editorial about funding private schools.  Oh! This is cool. It's not one person's opinion.  The piece gives opinions from different sides.  

Michelle Green is FOR giving money to private schools.  She has a convincing argument. I guess it's different in America....or I just don't know much about it.  I think here private schools are usually not given money by the government.  Government money goes to the public schools.

Green explains that private schools in Australia are a mix of private and government funding, but more money comes from the families of the students. She talks about how private schools save taxpayer's money since not as much money has to go to those schools.

Trevor Cobbold has very compelling arguments against government funding of private schools.   If I'm understanding it correctly, schools are not given money by need.  So private schools in wealthy areas are given more tax money than private schools in disadvantaged areas.  I think this is what happens with American public (government) schools.  

Anyway, this is another one of those articles that make me very glad we homeschool.  

9. Distressed to see that I missed another Australian birthday! I had it on my calendar, but didn't look at my calendar.  I feel extra bad because it's one of my favorite people.  Well, I hope he's forgiving of my belated birthday message.  I feel guilty, and regretful. He's one of the few people who often comments on stuff I post on Facebook.  I really appreciate that, and hate that out of all the birthdays to miss....I missed his.   

10.  Watched video clip about Adaminaby, the town that was literally relocated.  It shows the houses being moved to the new Adaminaby location.

The old town was drowned out for the Snowy Hydro thing.  But then a few years ago, there was a drought and bits of the down started to resurface.

I really like that story.

11. Started reading Love Song by Nikki Gemmell. So far, I'm confused by it. Maybe I'm too distracted again.  I'm TRYING to pay attention. 

12. Embarrassed to find that some of my links on my trip report page were totally messed up. I think I've fixed them. Hopefully. 

13. Saw a poster for an Annette Kellerman performance.  Her name sounded familiar. I asked Lord Wiki about her.  He says Kellerman is the Australian swimmer who's credited for inventing synchronized swimming.  

Her story's inspirational.  When she was a young child she was diagnosed with a leg weakness problem,  and she had to wear braces. Her parents decided that maybe swimming would help. And it did.  It's awesome that someone chooses an activity for therapy; and they end up excelling at it so much that they become famous for it.

There's lots of interesting stuff here about Kellerman.....  

She advocated the use of one piece swimming suits (rather than cumbersome outfits).  

She was the first major actress to do a nude scene in a movie.

She wrote books, even a children's book.

She was a vegetarian. 

14. Watched a video clip of Annette Kellerman in Neptune's Daughter

15. Read some of Kellerman's autobiographical writing on this website.  She says that her mother was a musician, and that Nellie Melba had instructions from her.

Kellerman talks about how the doctor recommended swimming, and her father thought it was a good idea. Kellerman herself was scared and embarrassed. Her parents pushed her, and she eventually became a swimming hero. I guess that's a good story in support of parents pushing their kids.

16. Looked at website for the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Center. It's in Marrickville, where Lord Wiki says she was born.  

The aquatic center boasts that it is very environmentally sustainable. That's neat.

The prices look pretty good. It's six dollars for one visit, but you can get an unlimited monthly pass for $65.  

17. Rediscovered Pandora Radio, thanks to my mom.  I'm so excited to play with it!   I think I was into it a couple of years ago, but then I stopped using it.  I made some stations with Aussie singers I could think of off my head.  So far I have Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, Jessica Mauboy, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins; and my mom suggested Helen Reddy.  

I have some non-Australians too: Miranda Cosgrove (yes, you may laugh), Michael Giacchino, and Israel Kamakawiwo.  Jack added a Harry Potter station, and a Victoria Justice song station.

Oh!  And I added a station based on my new favorite song; "Don't Let Us Get Sick". 

18. Continued to read Love Song. It's getting a LITTLE bit more interesting for me.   

19. Tried to encourage my dad to read The Book Thief, and Tim encouraged him to read a John Birmingham book.  

20. Created a Sarah Blasko station on my Pandora page.  

21. Created a The Whitlams station on my Pandora page.

22. Created a The Wiggles station on my Pandora page.  Yes. Go ahead and laugh again.  And I can't really use Jack as an excuse anymore.  

23. Created a Bernard Fanning station on my Pandora page.

24. Created a Ben Lee station on my Pandora page.

25. Created a Lior station on my Pandora page

26. Created various other Pandora pages, but I'm tired of writing it down. So I'll shut up. 

27. Remembered that at my parent's house they had a travel brochure.  There were all these cruises, and some train rides.  There was this 70 day cruise that went from Seattle to Sydney.   You stop in Hong Kong, Singapore, Honolulu, Exmouth, Perth....and maybe Melbourne.  It sounds SO awesome, even though I don't usually like cruise ships anymore.  

Maybe if we win the lottery someday......

There was also a British Isles cruise I'd love to do.  We could go major Harry Potter crazy. 

28. Found the 70-night cruise online.   You're at sea for the first 12 nights. Then you spend five days in Japan.  You get a day in Korea, and several days in China.  You also go to Indonesia, Vietnam, American Samoa, and New Caledonia.  Of course....Australia is in there too.

29. Heard cool Kate Miller-Heidke song on Pandora. It's called "The One Thing I Know".   It has a slight Asian feel to it...or maybe Indian?  Here's a fan video someone made with the song.  

30. Laughed so hard at this video that someone posted on Facebook.  It's about people who are horrible at spelling...like me.  

31. Realized that I do not know of any Australian film composers....at least not off hand.   So I consulted Lord Wiki.  

32. Added a Gheorghe Zamfir station to my Pandora Page.   He's not Australian, but he did some of the music for a very famous Australian movie. Can you guess what it is?  

33.  Loved Percy Grainger's "Mock Morris".  Awesome song!   Here's a video for it.  

34. Practiced spelling Eucalyptus.  To my surprise....I was able to spell it in two tries.

35. Heard another Kate Miller-Heidke song that I like. It's called Mama. Here's the video.  

36. Grateful that I have such a good memory, and can remember which Australians I've researched.     Yeah. I'm being sarcastic here.   I decided to learn something about Kate Miller-Heidke, and I then remembered I wrote a whole post about her.  That was back in August 2009.  I guess I can be excused for not remembering much.