Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Doubt, Money, Disney World, and Fictional Worlds

1. Disheartened by all the stuff I'm reading about the Australian dollar and tourism.  It doesn't look good for us. Tim will say we can still go, because he's nice that way.   But I think it will be hard on me because I'm so cheap and the high prices will bother me a lot.  It bothered me the last two times we went, and that was when the Australian dollar was about 20% less than than the American dollar.

So I think I'll cut back on all my travel planning.  I already finished a lot of it anyway, and I'll save it for when we are able to go.

I mean we might still go.  I'm not saying no definitely.  But I'm not going to let myself get too excited about it.  

2. Received pep talk from Tim.  He still insists we can go, and tried to cheer me up about the economic issues.  I did think of something though, in defense of going to Australia in 2012. The economic experts are predicting that this could go on for years.  What if it gets even worse?   I don't mind waiting until 2013 to go to Australia.  I'd rather not wait for 2015 or later.

I am going to cut back on my travel planning though, because maybe I'm counting my eggs before they hatch...and all that.   Maybe I'm jinxing myself.  In a few months, we'll look at how things are going.   If the Australian dollar goes even higher, we might say no to the trip.   If it's the same, we might say yes.  If it goes lower, I'll be happy.  I won't expect it to go really low like before, but anything less than a dollar or just a little over a dollar would be much appreciated.

3. Watched short video that my friends posted on Facebook of their time at a restaurant. It's very short and I haven't even yet met the man that they're filming.  But I hear my friend's voice in the background, and it makes me miss all them.  So although last night I was fairly okay with not going to Australia in 2012, now I'm feeling not so okay and really wanting to go.   

I'm silly sometimes...well, most of the time, probably.

4. Read my friend's editorial on an Australian parenting website.  It's about decorating children's room, and it goes along very well with my own philosophies about the subject.  Michelle says, While I privately salivate over images of 'magazine' houses, I have publicly railed against what I see as a modern day obsession with having a perfect home, a home that is forever 'open house' ready.  I do not understand how such homes can allow children, let alone adults, the ability to unleash their creativity.

She talks about how her daughter's walls are full of her own artwork.  That's our house.  Our upstairs are full of Jack's work, and we have a few pieces of artwork downstairs as well.  Michelle's daughter puts up her own work. In our house, I do most of the decorating.  Our general rule is Jack does the art and I have the job of taping it to the walls.  Sometimes he'll tape stuff too, usually not his own work but stuff he likes.  He taped Harry Potter pictures all over his room, and put iCarly stickers on his furniture.

Michelle also says, Beyond the bedrooms, any attempts to have adult-only spaces have been defeated by the reality of the way we interact as a family. too.   I think we have evidence of all three of us in every room in our house. Well minus some of the bathrooms, maybe.

I will admit that sometimes our house gets TOO messy for my taste.   We have way too much clutter, and that can be overwhelming.  But I'm with Michelle in the fact that I have no interest in having a designer-type house.

A few months ago, I had fun taking photos of our house in its natural state.  Some of it is messes; and some of it's just clutter that's not a mess, because it's inside a drawer, and pretty well organized.  

5. Tried to understand article about inflation in Australia, and failed.  

6. Read article that says it's not just the tourism sector of Australia that will be effected by the high value of the Aussie dollar, but Australian universities as well. Their rate of international students is dropping.  

I really don't know how these things are dealt with, because I'm not well learned in economics. Tim said something yesterday about places lowering prices to attract more tourists.   That makes sense in a way, but the people who own the hotels, restaurants, shops, etc live in Australia. Australia's going to be expensive for them too, and if they make everything cheap they won't get the money that they need to afford living there.  

7. Looked at British, American, and Australian money rates.  On the surface it seems silly to whine over Australia's dollar being equal to 1.08 American dollars.  When we went to the UK, the British pound equaled about 1.50 in American money.  So if we saw a book for six dollars, it would really cost us nine dollars.  The difference is the British prices were low. Tim had to keep lecturing me on this because I'd want to go crazy buying candy and books.   It's so cheap!  It's so cheap!   Tim would have to remind me that I need to add 50% to the price. Okay, but to my credit even then some stuff was well-priced.

When we go to Australia, I gawk at the prices.  Things seem SO much more expensive there than in America. Then Tim would calm me down by saying take off 20%.  If the prices stay the same and we have to add 8% instead of subtracting 20%, that's going to be rough.

8. Decided to try to compare Australia menu prices with American ones.  It might be a bit hard finding restaurants that I can compare.

The first thing I'm going to compare is Grill'd in St. Kilda with a restaurant in Disney World.   Now Disney has very high prices because it's a touristy place.  If Australia has higher prices, I might cry.   If it's the same, I can just say we need to imagine our time at Australia is like being in Disney World.

Well, so far it seems to be about the same.   Both places have cheeseburgers that come out to be about eight dollars.  The veggie burgers at Grill'd are three dollars more than the ones at Disney World.   The kids meal at Grill'd is cheaper than the kids meal at Disney World. I'm guessing if we averaged all the prices, it would work out to be relatively the same.  

Now how about if I compare Grill'd to a basic non-touristy hamburger place? Here's a restaurant that Tim and Jack eat at sometimes; Five Guys Burgers.   A cheeseburger here costs $5.49 and you can have unlimited toppings.  They don't have veggie burgers, but they do have veggie sandwiches and grilled cheese. All of these cost less than three dollars.

Of course none of this easily proves anything.  Grill'd might be more expensive than the average hamburger place in Australia.  But I'm kind of doubting it.

9. Decided if the airline fares and accommodations are not too horrendous, we could probably manage coming to Australia.  We're fairly okay at not spending too much on food.  We share a lot, and don't often go to expensive restaurants. We should also reduce the amount of souvenirs we buy.   That's fine because we've already bought a lot of Aussie stuff.  We probably don't need that much more.   I'm always tempted to buy books, but I'll just remind myself I can usually buy them from Powells.  If I do buy books, I'll get them from flea markets.  Those prices are usually less shocking to me.

10. Heard a cute Ben Lee song.  I like the lyrics.  It's called Boy With a Barbie.  The chorus goes, boys with their barbies and girls with toy armies
we don't have to play by their rules 

Amen to that!

I'm trying to figure out these lines:

So let them wear that dress, let them make that mess
let em take that fall, let em kick that ball
and thank to the ones that tried to stop my fun
you made me what i am, you made me what i am
you made me a man.

I guess the keyword there is TRIED. Sometimes the small-minded opposition we encounter does make us stronger.  But I don't recommend people doing it to each other, because sometimes it makes us weaker.

11. Read article about the Anglican Church in Australia's recommendation for population growth.    I think I agree with them on everything. They want to reduce growth and feel the baby bonus is counter-productive in this.  If there are enough humans in the world, do we need to pay people to have more babies?  The church isn't anti-family though. They want to increase paid parental leave.

They also want to decrease migrants to Australia.   At first I thought they were anti-immigration and anti-refugees, but the church actually wants Australia to be more generous to refugees and family reunion applicants.

The only thing that makes me hesitate with all this is I wonder if it's penalizing families who decide to have a parent stay home and raise the child.  If the $5000 helps families do that, I can't easily disagree with it.  Maybe there could be a limit?  What if there was a baby bonus for two babies, but after that parents are on their own?

I'm arguing with myself right now.  One me is saying, But what if someone has four kids and they need that money?  Should they live in poverty because they had more than two kids?     The other me is saying, we should work to encourage people to have the amount of children they can afford.     Then there's another part of me that's being a skeptical bitch and asking How do we know all these parents will spend the $5000 on their children?   I mean I think in most cases they will.   But you're always going to have cases where people allow their children to live very deprived lives, and use the money for drugs and other fun things.   Then that can take me back to the editorial I quoted the other day about keeping native animals as pets. I'll re-quote:

It would be quite right to say that if native animals were allowed as pets, some would be neglected and abused. Just like cats and dogs, some would be dumped, starved, beaten and treated in a cruel manner. Nevertheless, saying none of us should keep them as pets because some would be abused would be like saying we should all be sterilised because some parents neglect, abuse, rape or kill their children. Likewise, just because a handicapped child needs special care is no reason to remove the child and make him or her a ward of the state. Good policy rewards good behaviour and tries to correct the bad. It doesn't forbid everything just because there is a risk of something bad happening.

I really love that guy's argument.   And it does make me rethink my position.  There will be people who abuse the baby bonus, but it's not a reason to stop using it.  For other people, it might be very helpful, and they'll use it responsibly. 

I do think we need to curb population growth, but is getting rid of the baby bonus the way to do it?     I don't know.

And with Australia, it could just be a matter of moving people instead of reducing people.  It is a big space with not many folks.  Maybe people should get bonuses for moving out to the rural areas.    What if you said to refugees, yes you can live here.  Welcome!  But you can't live in the big cities.  

That's rude of me though.  If I moved to Australia, I'd probably want to live in one of the big cities.   Although I wouldn't mind living near Kiama, or somewhere like that. I doubt I'd enjoy living in one of those places where you have to drive two hours to get to the supermarket.  

12. Reminded by Tim that with American prices, we have to add in taxes.  In Australia, the GST is included in the price.  So, that's good!  If we take that in consideration, maybe Australia isn't as expensive as Disney World.  

13. Read article that made me feel better.  At first it scared me because it says the Australia dollar is likely to equal 1.13 in American money by September.   But they say after that it should go down.   They expect it to go down to .98 by the end of March.  That gives me hope.

14. Liked this modern Sydney building more than I usually like modern buildings.  I think it's because it's round. I like round buildings.   

I'm confused by the Sydney Architecture site..   I'm not sure if the building is already there, or just in planning stages.    It is (or will be) a green/sustainable building.   That's good!

15. Liked the modern Sydney architecture on this page.  It looks like it belongs at Disney World; either at Epcot or Future World in the Magic Kingdom.

I like this resort.   It's supposed to be in a place called the Entrance. I guess it's not completed yet?   Well, they don't seem to have any photographs of a completed building, so that's why I'm assuming it's in the planning stages.

16. Intrigued by this house by the sea.  I think it's kind of a fantasy-type house. I picture it as something I'd see in a movie or in my dreams. 
17. Loved looking at photos of the Sydney Opera House on the Sydney Architecture site.

18. Learned about Fort Denison from the Sydney Architecture site.    Before the fort was built to protect Australia from a Russian invasion,  the island was used to punish convicts.  An alternative name for the island was Pinchgut Island.  This was in reference to the miserly rations.  That's not all though. Bodies were hung and left there until the bones turned white.  Did they start out alive or dead?  I'm not sure.  Hopefully, they were already dead.

19.  Looked at a photo of Gladsville Mental Hospital in Sydney. It' might be haunted, and the photo might have a ghost.   It's supposed to be to the left of the door.   I see part of a face, but sometimes things in our world accidentally come together to make an image that looks like a face.   It happens. Not that I'm saying ghosts don't happen either.

I thought I saw a figure through the doorway, but when I looked closer it looked like a statue.  

20. Found  photography website of Yvette Worboys.  She's the one who took the photograph of the ghostly mental hospital door.  From May 5-June 11, she's going to have a ghost photography exhibition at Cafe Giulia.  

All right.  This is weird.  It's not a ghost thing though. I found another article about the exhibition.   It's in the Herald Sun.  They say, The exhibition takes place Cafe Giulia in Sydney from May 5 to June 11 and is part of the Head On Photo Festival.  

What's wrong with that sentence? Can anyone guess?  

The dates are written the American way instead of the Australian way. What the hell is happening?  Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about Nicole Kidman's height, and they didn't use the metric system.  

Is this just a weird coincidence?  Has it happened before and I didn't notice?  Does the internet automatically translate Australian to American if you have an American IP address?  Maybe Australians see something different than I'm seeing?  

21. Agreed with the royal ban on The Chasers and then disagreed.  Well, before reading the article I thought the Chasers wanted to go to the wedding and report from there.   I think those guys can be funny sometimes, but they can also be a bit obnoxious. I don't know if I could blame people for not wanting them at their wedding.

But I was wrong.   They just wanted to take footage from the wedding and make a comedy out of that.  They're not allowed.   That's a shame.   Life is better, and people like you more when you can laugh at yourself, especially if you're rich and famous.

Oh well.  Many people are probably going to sneak their little homemade royal wedding edited-videos up on YouTube. There's a lot of creative people on YouTube, so we might get something great.  I don't know if the Royal Family law censorship law says that's not okay either. Oh well. We can enjoy the movies while waiting for them to vanish.  

22. Did research on Kiama, not for our trip but for my Harry Potter characters.   They're going to be moving in a few weeks.  They've been in a holiday park in Gerroa for almost three months now.   That's getting a bit costly, plus they're going to end up being kicked out for being disruptive.   I'm moving them to a house on 10 Chapman Street.    Thanks to Google Maps, I can get an image of the outside of the house, at least.  I'm not sure what the inside has, so I'm going to use my imagination.

I wanted a home near a beach, and next to a holiday park. It's right near a holiday park.   Or maybe it's in the holiday park.  That would be a mistake.

I just spent about 15 minutes researching to figure out that their house is not in the holiday park.  So that's good.

I do all this research and none of it will actually be in the story.  I just like to have it in my head.   And well...I guess I have it in this blog as well.  

Now I'm trying to figure out how far they are from shops.

I remembered there were shops near the blowhole, so I looked in that direction.  The blowhole is only a 22 minute walk for them.  That's cool.  They can walk via Manning Street, and that has a lot of stores.  Well, they need to buy groceries, and they might need to underpants or something.  

I'm wondering if I should have a wizarding village around there...hidden somewhere.    Maybe not.   I think I'll have them go to Sydney for that.   Of course the wizarding village there is in the Rocks. Argyle Street, maybe?  Or George Street.  Maybe it will be near the puppet store.  Maybe the puppet store will be the gateway.  Yeah.   I like that idea.

Yes, I'm nuts. But this really is SO much fun. It's really nice for me that I figured out a way to combine my Harry Potter and Australia obsessions.