Thursday, April 28, 2011

Walking Backwards, Internet Shopping, Simply Australian, and Disney World

1. Had very illogical dreams.  Remember when CNN put Queensland in Tasmania?  Well, this was probably worse.   We're in Tasmania.   In a few hours, Jack and I are going to take the long flight to Australia (because obviously Tasmania is not anywhere near Australia).  Tim isn't coming with us for some reason, and I'm nervous about doing the long flight without him.  He will be flying back with us, and I'm happy about that.   

In the few hours before the flight, I go to the door of our used-to-be-Tassie friends.  (but in the dreams, they're still in Tasmania).  There's a note on the door that says they're in Tasmanian Park, but I don't have the idea that the note was written for us.  There's three parks, and you get to them via a hallway.  Each park has a door.  I think of going to Tasmania Park and surprising my friends, but I feel shy about that.  Maybe I worry that they won't be happy to see me?

At one point, I think about how Tim will be staying with our friends and gets to spend time with them. I'm a bit jealous about that.   

When we're on the plane and it starts taking off, I worry about it crashing.   I think about how it will be all my fault, because I'm the one who got obsessed with Australia and made us take these long flights.

There's more to the dream, but I don't want it to get too dragged out.  So I edited it a bit.  

2. Remembered that I have some Australian cash leftover from our 2009 trip.  It's too bad I didn't save even more since that stuff has increased in value so much.

3. Read some of Andrew's old posts that he mentioned in an email.  One is about the Coffee Palace.  He and his commenters do what I did, complain that it was torn down.   I think I actually read the post back when it was written.  I do remember people on Andrew's blog complaining about a building being demolished.  But I don't think I gave much thought to the name or appearance of the building. 

The other post is about Andrew's tour of Melbourne Town Hall.  I love Andrew's line here.  What I could not get over was how poor the lighting was, even with daylight coming in. At night it must be very gloomy. If you have issues with City of Melbourne councillors, maybe it is because they could not read properly during council meetings.    That's pretty funny. 

Andrew mentioned a piece of trivia I've heard before.  Kangaroos can't go backwards.   That's supposedly why they're featured on the Australian coat of arms, along with the emu.   It has some kind of symbolism.  Let's only move forward!

But then I started thinking—when was the last time I saw my cats walk backwards?   I really can't remember a time that they've done that.  The family dogs?   I can't imagine them walking backwards.  Have I ever seen a squirrel in the park walking backwards?  I don't think so.

Lord Wiki says that kangaroos and emus can actually walk backwards, but rarely do. I'm guessing it's the same for most animals.  He also says the real reason those animals were chosen is because they're unique to Australia; they're well known; and their similarity in size makes it easier for them to appear holding the shield together. It might be awkward if the kangaroo was holding the shield with a koala.  He would have to bend down, or the koala would have to stand on a stool.  

4. Touched that an Australian mentioned the tornadoes on Facebook.  It's a bit scary, and very sad.   I guess it's America's turn to be attacked by Mother Nature. 

Now I'll be a bit more nervous when we have tornado watches.  We have them quite often in the spring.  I usually don't give them much thought or concern, but 200 casualties make things a bit more worrisome.  

We're not in the current line of fire though; so I'm not too concerned about our personal safety.  For now I'm just more sad for the others who are in the path of destruction.  

5. Liked this Greek song on the Australian Screen website.   It reminds me of World Showcase at Epcot. Maybe they played it there once?  Although there's no Greek pavilion there; so I don't know.  

6. Looked at photos of University of Sydney buildings on the Sydney Architecture site.   I liked the picture of the Main Quadrangle because it reminded me of Hogwarts.  For this reason, I thought Jack and Tim would like it too.  I decided then to look at photos of Hogwarts to make sure they really looked the same.

They hardly look anything alike.  And I don't really love how Hogwarts looks.   I'm guessing I imagine it differently in my mind, and I've just ignored the images in the movie all this time. 

7. Saw a photo of Glebe Town Hall.   I like it.  I'm trying to figure out what type of architecture I like.  Sometimes I feel I'm all over the place.   I suppose my favorites are Gothic and Second Empire.  Maybe?  The Glebe Town Hall is Victorian Free Classical, so maybe I like that too. 

8. Found another modern building I don't mind.   It's the Horizon Apartments in the Eastern Suburbs.  It's on 184 Forbes Street. I'll try to find it on Google Maps.  It's only about a 15 minute walk from where we stayed last time. I wonder if we saw it.  

Lord Wiki actually has an entry on the apartments.  He said it was controversial because it had a shadowing effect on nearby buildings. 

9. Did research with Jack and learned the Fort Worth Zoo is older than the Taronga Zoo.  Our interest was sparked when we looked at Northern Suburb buildings on the Sydney Architecture site.   A building from the Taronga Zoo is on there, and the site says it was finished in 1912.

I pointed it out to Jack, and he wanted to know when our zoo was born.  We looked that up. It was 1909.

Lord Wiki says the Taronga Zoo didn't open until 1916. Why are there four years between the building's birthday and the opening of the zoo?  Maybe one of the sites is wrong? 

The Taronga Conservation site says the current site was established in 1916, but they say their origins go back 1884.  This was when a zoo opened in Moore Park. 

Their website says the government granted the zoo land in 1912.  So maybe dates on the Sydney Architecture site refer to the year the land was obtained for the building, rather than the year the building was completed. This might explain why yesterday I saw buildings with the date 2010, but they didn't seem to be in true existence yet. 

10. Read article that says the popularity of  internet shopping might cause many in the retail sector to lose their jobs.  Although this is not completely the fault of the rising value of the Australian dollar; the dollar may play some part in it.   It's often cheaper to buy things overseas than it is to buy things in Australia.  I'm thinking Australia stores must be really expensive, because it's so expensive to ship things back and forth.   But maybe that's just America to Australia.  It could be cheaper to get things shipped from other countries. 

11. Went on to see about international shipping, and I came across a Sookie Stackhouse book.  There's a new one coming out on May 3.  I didn't know that. I'm so out of the loop. 

Anyway, I'm going to try to pretend to ship this book to Australia.   I'm using the address of the apartment we stayed at in Sydney. 

Okay.  There's three types of shipping.   A) standard international which takes 18-32 days B) Expedited international which takes 8-16 days, and  C) Priority International Courier which takes 2-5 days.   I'm pretty good at waiting, so I'll choose standard.

Shit.  They want me to re-enter my credit card.  I don't have that handy.  I guess I'll go get it. I hope I don't accidentally go through with the order.  Otherwise, some random person doing a short-stay in Darlinghurst is going to end up with a Sookie Stackhouse novel. 

Okay.  I got my credit card.  The shipping cost is $9.98.  The total for the book is $24.68  I'm trying to see what the price is in Sydney, but I can get only online prices. 

At Gleebooks, it's $29.99.   At Dymocks, it's 22.99.   So Dymocks could be an alternative to Amazon...unless there's a way to get free shipping from Amazon.  If we ship something from Amazon here, spending a minimum of $25 will get us free shipping.   Is there any free shipping minimum for Australia?  

12. Checked to see if you can get free international shipping from Amazon. As far as I can see, you can't. 

13. Excited to see that the Sydney Architecture site has a section where the buildings are divided by architectural styles.   This might help me determine what type of architecture I like and dislike.    I just looked at Old Colonial Georgian.    I don't think I'm a big fan of that.    

14. Read Facebook comments about the shopping online vs. local Australia issue.  Stefan Kotzamanis says, You have to look at the products such retailers sell. If shops, especially clothe retailers want to sell simple t-shirts for $80 and jackets for $250 then expect the common Aussie to purchase overseas from America and the like. So, bottom line? Reduce prices and people will shop.

I guess my question would be whether retail places could lower prices and still make a profit.   The materials they have to use might be expensive as well.  One solution I can think of (and I'm sure smarter people have already thought of this) is to heavily tax imports for the retail consumer, but do not tax businesses that are importing wholesale.   Make it cheap for Aussie companies to produce products.   Then maybe they can have lower prices and still make a profit.   Yeah.  I would find a way to make it very expensive for Australians to do international online shopping.   But that would be awful and people would get angry.  SO...then you also have to make local retail shopping very affordable.  Then people will prefer shopping local.  The exception would be if they wanted international products that can't be found in Australia. But you have businesses import the products and they sell to the locals. It would be like the store in Washington that sells Aussie goodies. They import the stuff, and I do the buying.   

15. Went to my Washington Simply Australian shop, and it turns out they're not in Washington.  They're in Ohio.   I could have sworn they were in Washington.  I'm so confused.  Did they move?   

16. Asked Jack if he remembered where we ordered Australian food from.  He said Washington!  He has a good memory, so I'm pretty sure he's right and I'm right.  

17. Wrote an email to Simply Australian, and asked if they moved.   

18. Started to read some of the comments on Simply Australian's guest book.  Many of them are very sweet. Some people are like me and just enjoy Aussie food.   Others are homesick Australians in America.   

19. Offended slightly (but also amused) at Michelle Pitman's commentI love this site. I am australian living in the US and it is impossible to find good food here.   Excuse me!!!???  We actually do have good food sometimes!  But Michelle later mentions being very homesick.  I think sometimes expats have a hard time liking food in their new country because they miss their country's stuff so much.

20. Found confirmation that I didn't dream up the Washington thing.   Carmen Sadler from Washington says, Love the website and the music - very Aussie indeed. Just bummed though that Simply Australia moved as I was able to drive when I wanted to and pick up my groceries, but now it is too far away, but none the less, I can still get my favourite comfort foods. Thanks Simply Australia for providing me with what I need.

21. Wondered if we should order all our Australian snacks from America and then have it sent to Australia when we go there. That would be very scary if we actually saved money that way. I seriously doubt it.  But they do ship internationally. 

The irony would be too funny.

22. Decided to look at Aussie t-shirts on Simply Australian.  Now with THAT, it truly might be more economical to buy from them.   Plus, then we don't have to worry about fitting it in our suitcase.    Jack has the yellow shirt on the top right.    He has the third shirt on the left in yellow.   It was his favorite, but I think it's too small now.  He used to wear it all the time...well, not literally. He did wear it a lot though. 

He also has the 6th shirt on the left.   I think next time we order food from Simply Australian, we'll get some clothes as well.   Maybe.

23. Decided to show off Jack and his Aussie t-shirt wardrobe.   I'm very amused because I'm looking for photos, and I think in about 80% of Jack photos, he's wearing Australian clothes.   And I promise....I don't force this on him!  

He does probably wear those shirts less now.  They're getting smaller and/or some have stains.    Yeah.  I just looked at our last trip to Disney World, and I don't think he's wearing any Aussie shirts.  He wears the Harry Potter one a lot! 

Anyway, here are the photos of Jack with Aussie shirts. 

Jack wearing his favorite Aussie shirt at Disney World
Another Aussie shirt at Disney World

It's hard to see, but that's a Luna Park shirt.
Again, at Disney World.
Also...Disney World

24. Looked at the website for Welcome To Australia.  They're trying to make new people feel more welcome by throwing parties for them. I think that's very sweet. 

They're asking people to throw welcome parties June 19-June 26.

This is making me have a little tear or two. 

Maybe my expat cousin will go to one of the parties.   That might be nice. 

25. Read the facts on the information sheet you can download from Welcome To Australia. They say it's not illegal for asylum seekers to enter Australia without a visa.  

From 2009-2010, there were 169,623 people who permanently migrated to Australia.   Out of those, only 8% were refugees.  

From 1948-1992, there were 452 thousand refugees who entered Australia.  Back then there was no mandatory detention.  

The last fact sounds like something I'd say to an American complaining that we take in too many refugees.   Some Americans think everyone wants to come to America, and it's unfairly on our shoulders to save the whole world.   I guess some Australians feel the same way because the fact sheet works to counter that mindset.     They say that in 2010, Australia accepted .03% of the world's refugees.   In 2009,  twenty other industrial nations took in more refugees (per capita) than Australia.  Interesting that they're comparing 2010 Australia to 2009 in other countries.   What's that all about?

26. Looked at the list of Welcome to Australia parties.  There's not a lot listed yet, but the date is close to two months away, so there's time for people to do some planning.