Monday, April 18, 2011

Political Agendas, Relationships, Myki, and More Premature Trip Planning

1. Regretted transferring all my Facebook Likes to my Facebook page.  I realize I feel awkward commenting as That Weird American Who's Obsessed with Australia.  Oh well. I'm not changing it all back.  I'll either get used to it, or I won't comment.  Maybe I'll just go around liking other people's comments.  That's usually easier, anyway.

It might be one of those cowardly things.  Most other people aren't using their Facebook pages to comment, so I feel awkward being one of the few.  It's silly really. If more people were doing it, I'd feel better. I really hate being like that. I should be a pioneer and not a follower.

2. Realized that maybe I'm a little bit embarrassed to shout out that I'm a weird American obsessed with Australia.  That's silly too, because I shout it out every time I publish a blog post.

I really am a coward sometimes.  But I'm not going to be too hard on myself, because sometimes I'm brave.  Well, I mean I'm brave when it comes to embarrassing myself on the internet.   Like I sing on YouTube.  That takes a certain amount of courage.

3. Finished reading Grace.  I think I shall try to read more books by Robert Drew.

4. Consulted Lord Wiki about Robert Drewe.  He wrote a book called Our Sunshine.   It was about Ned Kelly, and was the basis for the Heath Ledger Ned Kelly film.

It seems his most famous novel is The Shark Net.  It involves a serial killer.  I don't often like those types of stories...crime stuff.  But I suppose sometimes I do.  I liked The Silence of the Lambs.    I liked Grace, and that involved a criminal.  I was interested enough in Frederick Bailey Deeming to remember that one of the murders took place on Andrew Street.   Maybe I should just say I might like the stuff less than the average person.  I don't watch a bunch of crime/forensic shows like a lot of people seem to do.

5. Started reading The Prosperous Thief by Andrea Goldsmith.   It's about the Holocaust. 

6. Had another one of my recurring Australia dreams in which I forget to tell people we came to visit.  I actually dreamed about the trip, but I don't remember much; except for a part where kids are watching Snow White.  I think we were in Australia for about five days,   When we get home, I plan to write a blog post about the trip.  I decide it's not a big deal that we visited only one family of friends.  The others will understand that we were there for a short time and didn't have time for visits. Then I remember another friend who might mind that we never told her we were there.   I decide I'll need to keep the visit a secret.  

I have no idea why I keep having this type of dream.

7. Read article about a Liberal leader  (Campbell Newman) who personally supports gay marriage, but won't work to lift the ban because he feels it's not supported enough by the public.  He's wrong about that. Polls have shown that the majority DOES support gay marriage.   

It seems Newman isn't paying attention to the polls.  He's going by the fact that not many people have approached him about the issue.  The article suggests that will probably change now.  People will probably be approaching him like crazy.  Will he then fight for gay marriage?

There's a man mentioned in this article that makes me want to scream.  It's Jim Wallace, the head of the Australian Christian Lobby.  He's says the gay marriage issue is not at the head of anyone's political agenda except for gay activists.  That's complete bullshit.   I'm not gay, and gay marriage is a very important issue to me. There are whole organisations for straight people supporting gay marriage.

Wallace says, I think his position is like a lot of the community who misunderstandingly think that this is an issue of discrimination in some way when it is not, It's merely a political agenda run by the homosexual lobby.

How in the world does that make sense?  How is denying marriage rights to homosexuals NOT discrimination?   And aren't most causes political agendas?  Wasn't it once a political agenda to end slavery?  Wasn't it once a political agenda to allow women to vote?

8.  Read about poll done by The Australian regarding who voters would want as Labor Leader; Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, or Wayne Swan.  

The winner for the poll is Rudd. Gillard comes in second, and Swan comes in fourth. The third most popular option chosen was no answer/none of the above.

I wonder if there's a chance Rudd could become leader again.

9. Read article about something called singular relationships. These are people who have a partner, but they don't live with that partner.  A study done by the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that 24% of people reportedly single are in a relationship.

We have friends like this.  They've been together since the mid to late 1990's.  For the most part, they've lived in different cities. At one point, one of them was living in New Zealand while the other was in Florida.

They seem very happy together even when they're not physically together.

I think it's a good option for people who like their independence.  It's kind of the best of both worlds. You get companionship and love, but you also get a lot of space.  

10. Read a story in an Aussie parenting newsletter.  It's written by a mom who still hugs and kisses her teenage sons; and frequently tells that that she loves them.

I like reading that.  We're still very affectionate with Jack, and he's VERY affectionate with us.  He loves hugs and cuddles.

When he was younger for some reason I got the idea that all that would stop when he was six.   I don't know.  Maybe someone warned me?  Enjoy the cuddles now, because when he's six he'll hate all that.   Nope....not Jack.

My family can be very judgmental about all of this.  We had a family party several years ago.   My cousin sat on his father's lap.  He was close to fourteen years old.  I remember people in my family being very creeped out by all this.  It's not normal.  It's not healthy. It's a little off.  That's what my parents says about people who display behavior they see as being unacceptable.

My cousin turned out quite well.  He's in his twenties now.  He's happy, smart, cool, and seems to be pretty popular.  Affection between older kids/teens and parents might not be normal, in the sense that it's not exactly common. But this likely has more to do with social norms than what is healthy and not healthy.  Who knows. It could be the lack of affection between older kids and parents that's unhealthy.

11. Thought more about the parental affection thing. In my family, it's probably more of a gender-prejudice thing.  My parents had three daughters, and both my parents have always been affectionate with all of us. They're very demonstrative.  I'm guessing they felt it should be different with boys.

The good news is I don't think they still feel this way though. My dad loved and framed a photo of Jack sitting on my lap last summer. Then again, maybe he's never had a problem with parent-son affection.  It might not have been him that was bothered by my cousin sitting on his father's lap.   That might have been my mother and sisters. I know some people in my family complained about it, but I can't remember exactly which ones did and which ones did not. It would be funny if it had been me.   But no...I don't think it was.  

12. Talked to Tim about trip-planning stuff.   The conversation made me realize I can probably worry less about finding restaurants near attractions we visit. If we're hungry, we'll grab a snack.

For the most part, we'll probably eat near our hotel or apartment. So when we find out where that is, then we should do restaurant research.   

If I happen to see or hear of a place while doing other research, reading, or getting recommendations, I'll mark it down. It might be near a place we plan to visit. Or it might sound so great, we'll be willing to take a tram just to eat there.

13. Listened to a recording of an eighty-one year-old man singing a folk song on the Australian Screen website.  He sounds old, and it got me wondering why the elderly have a certain type of voice.

14. Found a website about elderly voices. It says when we age, changes happen to our larynx.   These changes are called presbyphonia.

The website offers some advice in keeping the voice sounding younger for a longer time.   I don't know if these are really effective or not. They say to drink lots of water—keep the vocal cords moist.  And they say to avoid yelling, screaming, and talking excessively.

15. Started planning another Melbourne day.  This is where we go to the library and Cook's Cottage.   I thought maybe Tim and Jack would take the train out to Scienceworks, but we talked it over and decided we might skip it.   Jack seemed okay with instead going back to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.  He likes that, mostly because of the exhibition that spits out chocolate chips.  It's funny because we are not the wholesome type of parents that deprive their kids of sugar.  He gets plenty.  

16. Found the State Library of Victoria on Google Maps.  It's on Swanston Street. Now I'm going to switch to the other map site

I'm looking around the area to see if there's anything exciting.

If we walk south on Swanston and then turn east on Little Bourke, we'll end up in Chinatown. That might be nice.

17. Got directions from Google Maps.  They say  go east on Lonsdale, south on Exhibition, and then east on Flinders.  That will get us to Fitzroy Gardens.   Jack can play in the park, and we can take a peak at the cottage of Captain Cook's parents.

18. Went to the website for the State Library of Victoria.  I remember they have some kind of video game room there. Jack might like that.  

Here we go.  Yeah.  There's a video game room.   I don't know if it will be that exciting for him.  He has a lot of the stuff mentioned at home. But then again, he'll be away from home. He might miss all his video game stuff.  

19. Went to website for Fitzroy Gardens.  

20. Thought that Jack might like the fairies tree; although I can't see him getting overly excited about it.

You know what Jack likes to do.  He likes to sit in the grass, pick up clovers and pieces of grass and use them in his imagination play. He gets really into it.   He's also big into playing with sand.   When we were in Hawaii, we went to a beach.  Tim and I were most excited about the fact that it was a set from Lost.    My friend was most excited about the fact that there were sea turtles on the beach.   Jack didn't care much about Lost or Sea Turtles. He was too busy making hamburger patties out of wet sand.  He loves that kind of stuff.

21. Decided to leave the rest of that day open.  If we're bored, we can take the train to the science museum.  We could also make it easier on ourselves and just return to the Melbourne Museum.  I think that will have enough stuff there to keep us busy for multiple visits.

The thing about science museums is each one is pretty much the same. It doesn't matter what state or country you're visiting.  Jack loved them when he was young, but the past few years he seems less interested.  We went to Questacon in Canberra, and weren't overly impressed.  Jack had more fun at the children's area at the National Museum.  We also all had a great time at the old Parliament House.

22. Decided these days it's harder to predict what Jack will like and not like. When he was young, it was easy:  playgrounds, zoos, and kid's museums. These days it's more complicated.   Mostly, it's better though, because we're not completely dependent on kiddie stuff to make him happy.

23. Remembered in London, Jack got really into riding the trains and learning all the different train lines. So in Melbourne, he might love just riding the trams and trains.

24. Remembered another favorite holiday past-time for our family—visiting grocery stores. We all love this. 

25. Explored the Metlink site.  I looked at trips to various places outside the city. They all look tedious to me.  I think we'll stick to the city for the most part.   The exception will be visiting our friends who are moving to the suburbs.  That will be our opportunity to get out of the touristy area.  

26. Looked at the myki seven day pass.  It's $30. That seems reasonable. Concession is $15. Would kids be included in that? 

This is just for zone 1 though.  I'm hoping our friends don't end up living in zone 2.

27. Read on Metlink's Children page that kids do get concession. And that includes any child under sixteen.  That's really nice.  

28. Struggled to figure out the different zones on Metlink.

29. Figured out our friends are probably going to be living in Zone 2.

30. Learned that you can put myki money and a myki pass on the same card.  So we can probably do the myki pass, and then add a little money to it to get to our friends in zone 2.  Although it could end up being cheaper just to get the zone 1/2 pass.   

31. Saw that Myki has its own website. I think I have managed to figure out the difference between a 2 hour and daily ticket.  I guess really it's self-explanatory.  But I'm slow sometimes. A two hour ticket is cheaper, but it's only valid for two hours. I'm guessing though that travel is unlimited for those two hours?  Then with the daily ticket, you can use it all day.

32. Learned that you have to pay a $10 fee for a myki card.  Is that on top of what you pay for the myki pass?   If it is, I don't know if it's worth it.  The site brags that it will last us four years. But we're not going to be in Melbourne for four years. We're going to be there only for a week!

I'm thinking (hoping) that if you buy the pass it includes the $10 fee.  Maybe they charge only those getting the card for the myki money.  That would make sense. You wouldn't want people wasting the card if they're only going to use it for a 2 hour fare.   

33. Decided if we have to pay a $10 extra fee for the myki thing, we'll just go for the Metcard; if they're still using them by then. 

34. Found an article complaining about the myki and tourists.   It says, How are tourists going to use Melbourne’s public transport system. Each car costs $10 and that doesn’t include any trips. You have to order a myki card online so how are tourists going to use the system. It won’t look very good in the tourists eyes when a simple task of catching public transport becomes a hassle.

One idea for a solution might be to charge us tourists the $10. Then if we manage to return the card (so it can be reused by someone else) we get a rebate.   If we're too lazy to return it, and take it home for a souvenir, then we lose the $10.   

35. Came up with a better solution.  We'll just go ahead and move to Melbourne. With all this research, I'm already feeling a bit attached.  Then we can put our little myki cards to good use.

36. Felt my excitement for visiting the State Library of Victoria diminishing.  The thing there much information there that I couldn't find online?   There's so much great information about Australia online. You could learn so much by just the Australian Dictionary of Biography alone. 

It would be cool if we lived in Australia, and I could go to a library to check out hard-to-find novels and biographies.  But I can't check out any books.

I still want to go to the library. I just don't think I'm going to stick to my plan of spending hours alone there. When I do stuff like that, I usually end up overwhelmed with glazed over eyes.  

A good place to casually look at Australia-related books is the Australia Museum. They have this nice search and discover room with taxidermic animals you can touch, maps, computers, etc.   Then it also has a bunch of books to read. It's really great.

37. Decided to see if the Melbourne Museum has something like the search and discover room.   I couldn't find that; but I did see that the Melbourne Museum has one of the world's oldest computers.  It's one of those things that pretty take up a whole room.  I think Jack and Tim will like that.  Actually, I  might kind of like it too.  It's fascinating.  

38. Looked at the website for the See-Melbourne card.  You pay a certain amount of money and then you can have unlimited access to several attractions.  It looked good until I saw the price

It's confusing because they say it's valid for 12 months, but then on this page they say you can get 2, 3, of 7 day passes.  I think what they mean is that the pass is valid until you begin to use it. Once you use it, it expires within 2-7 days.  

A seven day pass costs $32 per day for an adult, and $23 for a child.  A day at the Melbourne museum costs $8  per adult, and is free for kids.  The only way I can imagine this pass would save people money is if they plan to go crazy and do multiple expensive tourist attractions everyday.   

39. Saw that the Melbourne Aquarium costs $33 dollars for  adults.  We might think, that if you want to go to the aquarium everyday, the See-Melbourne card might be an investment. You can go to the aquarium everyday PLUS go to other attractions for free. 

The other option is to just get an aquarium membership.  A family pass is $175. That comes out to $25 per day if you're only staying for seven days.  Oh, and that's $25 for the whole family vs. $32 for each adult.  

It would cost Tim, Jack, and me $88 per day for the See-Melbourne pass. That's CRAZY!  

40. Asked Tim about our London transportation cards.   He said those had a fee as well....about 7 pounds.  You could get a refund, but there was a line, and we ended up skipping it.    I could understand the fee for that though.   It wasn't a pass. It was one of those cards where you deduct money from it.  It wouldn't be right if some people bought a card, put five dollars on it, and then threw it away.

Then again, they could just have a minimum requirement on the card.  

I wish Melbourne would do that. They could say if you initially spend $25-30 dollars on the card, then you can have it for free.  

41. Heard a song I liked on Pandora.  It was "More than Life" by Whitley.    Here's a video for the song.  I think it's a very good slideshow and/or montage song.    I didn't realize it until about five minutes ago, but yeah...I think there are songs that are especially good for montages. 

42. Heard some of "Hollywood" by Angus and Julia Stone on Pandora.  The lyrics sound really fun.   I'm going to go read them.  Well....they're fun in a depressing way.

They all would have been killed
in the sound of music,
they would have found out that
Pinocchio could never tell the truth.

She never would have made it to shore,
the little mermaid. He would have married a whore
from a wealthy family, after all he was royalty.

That's not true.   The Sound of Music is a true story.   They did survive, and they did escape.  

43. Liked this passage from The Prosperous Thief.   It's beautifully sad.   Heini wasn't accustomed to kindness and the old man's kindness was making him soft.  The Jew was just like his cake, a luxury Heini couldn't afford, so he tried to visit less often.  But he couldn't stick to his plan, and in the end-it was hard, so hard-he forced himself to stay away altogether.

I was trying to think of what that reminded me of.  It took me a few moments, but I figured it out.   It reminds me of food.   In some way, I think it's easier to go on a very restrictive diet than to just reduce intake of something, or eat in moderation. Moderation is actually very challenging. 

I never succeeded at reducing the amount of dairy and eggs that I ate.   But when I decided I'd avoid  eggs and became fairly strict about it....that's been pretty easy.   If I decide to relax my rules for vacations, I fear that I won't manage to do it in moderation. I worry that I'll be eating omelettes, pancakes, waffles, macaroons and Pavlova left and right.