Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Budget, Korowal School, Nolita, and Graffiti

1. Talked to Tim and Jack about my Australia decision.  It took awhile for me to get Tim to understand, but finally he did.

2. Had a hard time sleeping, and woke up earlier than usual.  I went back and forth from grief and relief.  I've been planning this trip since the beginning of 2009, so there is definitely a sense of loss.

3. Thought of something that made me feel better.  I'm not canceling this trip.  I'm postponing it.  I'm kind of switching things around.  A month or so ago, I had plans to visit Australia every three years.   I planned for us to go in 2012 and 2015.  Then I decided that I couldn't keep doing these long and expensive plane rides.  So I decided to cancel 2015.   We'd go in 2012 and then maybe we'd go again MANY years later.  Now I've decided to cancel 2012, but we'll be going in 2015.  Hopefully.  It could get worse.  It could get better sooner and we end up going in 2013 or 2014.  Who knows what will happen.   There could even be a miracle for 2012.  The dollar could do the unexpected.  We could win the lottery.  Tim's business could do fantastic things. 

I do know though that I'd rather say we're not going and then be pleasantly surprised; than say we might go and then have to be disappointed. When I say we might go, I keep planning, and get more attached to the idea of going.  

4. Saw stuff on Facebook that made me feel sad—like a picture of an Aussie child looking at an Aussie lizard.  It's random little things like this that get to me.  I love lizards.  Texas has lizards and I love them, but not as much as Australian lizards.

I'll be okay.

5. Watched an I Expect Better Video.   Miles Rider says he was excited when Australia got its first female Prime Minister, and then he lost that excitement when he learned she wasn't going to support gay marriage.  That's pretty much the same way I have felt about the whole thing.

6. Saw a lot of Facebook updates and links about the Australian budget. I'll read a few of the articles.  I probably won't understand too much of it.

7. Read article about the budget.  They have a list of winners and losers. I like some of the winner things, at least from the little I know and understand.  I might like the infrastructure investments, depending on what those are.  When I think of infrastructure, I think of transportation.   Maybe they'll build some fast trains?

I like the mentorship program for apprentices.  Personally I think we should have more apprenticeships and less schooling.  

8. Started to read about the budget on the Labor Party's website.  Of course, they're going to give it a completely positive spin...since they're the ones who came up with it.  

I think this statement here pretty much sums up Julia Gillard's main objectives.   
The Budget will build a bigger workforce through better and more targeted investments in skills and training, and measures to encourage participation.  Julia Gillard wants everyone out working at a job.  She wants equal job-opportunities for everyone.  It's too bad she doesn't extend the same feelings of equality towards marriage. 

What I'm wondering is whether Australia has a severe shortage of workers?   Is that why Julia Gillard is obsessed with everyone getting a job?  Or does she feel you can't be happy and worth anything unless you're employed? 

The budget information sheet says unemployment is at 5%.   Are these 5% of people looking for jobs, and there's no jobs available?  Or are there jobs available and these 5% are refusing to work? 

If there's a shortage in the workforce, why not train all these asylum seekers?

9. Learned from an article that one of the Bali Nine drug smugglers has been spared the death penalty. That's good, but not that good because he still has a life sentence.

I don't quite support selling heroin.  I've heard that can turn people's life to shit.  But I think life sentences and death penalties are way too harsh for that crime. 

10. Cheered up a bit by Hurley's girlfriend.  Okay, it's really Jorge Garcia's girlfriend.   She wrote a post on her blog about places to go in Hawaii.  Tim and I talked about going to Hawaii as an alternative to Australia.   I love Hawaii.  I had so much fun there.   That might have been partly because I had some of my favorite Australians with me, but I'm not sure.  And with the 2009 trip, Hawaii was our gateway to Australia.  Would I still love Hawaii if I didn't have Australian friends with me, and we weren't soon heading off to Australia?   I don't know.   A part of me thinks that I won't like it as much.   So maybe I won't go to Hawaii unless Australian friends agree to meet us there.

11. Cheered up by making other travel plans.  We're going to go to NYC next month.   I'm very happy about that.  We've been talking about going for months, but now Tim is booking the flights and the hotel room.  There're some Australian restaurants and shops in the city, so I can go to those to satisfy my Australia cravings.  

12. Cheered up by an email from a friend.  She was sympathetic and understanding about the cancelation.  She called me "prudent" for caring about the cost of the trip.  And she had sympathy for the long flight issue.  It's kind of the thing I need to hear right now, so I'm grateful.

13. Watched a performance of From Little Things Big Things Grow with John Butler, Missy Higgins, and Dan Sultan.   I got the link from the Adopt a Cycle Yasi Affected Town's Facebook Page.  I like John Butler's voice in this.  I'm not sure I like Dan Sultan's performance.   I think I'd need time to get used to it.  

14. Read article about migration and skills shortage.   It seems there IS a skill shortage in Australia, especially in the regional and mining areas.  Now I wasn't completely ignorant.  I knew there were certain skill shortages, such as doctors and nurses.  But I didn't know if there were shortages in other areas, and whether or not it was a huge problem.

Well, there's always going to be skill shortages in countries no matter what the employment rate.  You're always going to have jobs in which many people are competing for positions and jobs where employers have to beg for employees.

So the plan is to entice skilled workers to go to regional areas to work in the mines. The workers will be given temporary visas, and then promised that this is a quicker path to permanent residency.

I think it's a smart idea, especially if they can get people who NEED to come to Australia for desperate reasons rather than people like me who simply desire to live in Australia.

15. Read article about the Korowal School in The Blue Mountains.  The parents staged a boycott of the NAPLAN test by keeping their kids at home.   Only six kids showed up for the test.   The article says some of the parents like the test as a measurement of how their child is doing.   But they don't like that so much emphasis is being put on the test, and that schools are being judged with the test.   A parent interviewed says, Many would have been interested to receive their child's test results, as would their teachers, but realise that they would now be 'competing' with students and schools who teach to and practise for the test.   

Exactly.  I admire this Korowal school for standing up against the craziness. I hope more schools follow in their footsteps.  

16. Looked at the Korowal School's website

I like the information I see on their FAQ page.   They say, We do not rank students against each other. We do not rush them to achieve measurable targets at an early age. We allow time for childhood. We aim to develop all learning skills in an integrated way. We balance learning and social skills.   I like that a lot.  

I LOVE what they say here.  We know that the age of beginning reading bears no relationship to later skill or interest in reading.    I didn't learn to read until I was six.  That's not late, but it's not super early like some people.  Once I learned to read, I loved it and became a bookworm.   If someone learns to read when they're three, that's fine. But it doesn't mean they're going to end up a better reader than someone who learns when they're six, seven, or older. 

17. Went outside to water my plants.   I saw a beautiful honey bee and a lizard.  All of that is a blessing.  I don't like Fort Worth much, in terms of the culture and politics. But our backyard is really beautiful. I'm grateful for that.

We haven't gone in our pool yet.  Usually, I get overeager and start in April; but it's freezing!   We have very good shade in our backyard...a bit too good.  This year I'm going to wait until June or July. 

Anyway, we have a pool at the lake house, and we've been going there every weekend.   That has less shade, so the water's fairly warm.    

18.  Decided to read my old post Americans in Australia and Australians in America because I think I wrote about Aussie places in NYC.  I tried to find it through Google search, but was unable to.  That kind of surprised me because it's one of my fairly popular posts.   I wonder what people search for to get there.  I can't say I tried for too long though. I gave up and went through my archives.  

A lot of it is not about NYC.  I'm kind of skimming through all that. 

Nolita is known as Little Australia.  I remembered that.   Now I have to remember where Nolita is.   I have a general idea, but I don't know the specifics.  It looks like it's near Chinatown.   I recognise Chinatown Streets (Mott Street, Canal Street, etc.).  There's an Aussie restaurant there called Eight Mile Creek.   It's probably too fancy for me.    Rice to Riches is there.   It's not Australian (as far as I know) but it's good.  We can eat there and peak into Eight Mile Creek.  

19. Decided the Tuck Shop will be a definite stop for me.  I like that they say things like chook and brekkie.   

It's in the East Village near Tomkin's Square Park. There's actually two near Tomkin's Square Park.   They're about ten minutes away from each other. That's kind of funny.  

20. Looked at The Australian NYC's website.   It's a restaurant and bar.  The woman in the photograph on the main page looks like Julia Gillard.   What's up with that?  Was she there?  Is that a look-a-like?   Photo shop? 

21. Wondered why Nolita is nicknamed Little Australia.  Is it just because of Eight Mile Creek and the two Tuck Shops; or is there more?  

22. Started watching episode 4 of Offspring.

23. Tried to find out the age of Linda Cropper.  She plays the mother (matriarch) on the show.  I think she's very beautiful and elegant for a woman that age.  What age?   I don't know because neither IMDb or Lord Wiki mention her age or birth date.  I guess it's a secret.  

24. Looked up Damon Herriman.   He plays a character that was introduced in episode 3.   His facial features slightly remind me of a guy I went to college with.  Jesse Woodward.  I internet stalked him the other day, and found out he's a big time graphic designer.   Here's his website.  I had a crush on him which is a bit disturbing because now that I look at his photo....he looks like my uncle and cousin.  Actually, he looks more like my uncle and cousin than he looks like Damon Herriman.

Jesse doesn't mention my university on his resume, probably because he was there for only one year.   He also doesn't mention that he's British.  That's sad because it's what I liked best about him.

I'd probably have a crush on my cousin and uncle if they had British accents.  

25. Decided that I think John Waters (the Australian one) is very sexy.  And his character on Offspring is very sweet.   

26. Decided to read my old post on Deborah Mailman.  I really should read my old posts more often; review what I learned.  

We're the same age! That's cool. 

She's part Maori.

She was in Bran Nue Dae.  I think I forgot that. Does she sing?

27. Started to watch interview with Mailman about Bran Nue Dae.   I love her accent.

28. Checked on the Australia Dollar. It's gone up. 1.08 dollars. It's nice of it to do that for me.   I mean how would I feel if it went down today?   That would be like taunting me.  Are you sure you made the right decision, Dina?  See.  We're going down? You spoke too soon.  You gave up too easily. 

29. Looked at a website about the history of the Aussie dollar.  From 1971-1982, it was higher than the American dollar.  If the same thing happens again, I probably won't be going to Australia until I'm fifty.    

30. Read article about police chief in Adelaide who wants to make vandals pay to help repair property they damaged with graffiti.   What if they don't have money?    Then they don't have to pay until they have an income.  It's the same way Australians pay back their university debts.   Tim had to explain this to me a few weeks ago, because I didn't understand it.  I apologise if I get this wrong, but I'm going to try to explain what I learned.  In America, if you get a loan for college you have to pay it off, and that means you might get stuck in a job you hate in order for you to get out of debt. In Australia, your repayment of the loan is determined by your salary. If you never get a job, you don't have to pay back the loan.  

I think the Australian system is a much better system than the American system.  And I also think the graffiti idea is a good one.  The poll on the article shows that most people agree with me.

31.  Had another moment of sadness because I started thinking... what if Australia completely changes by the time we get back.  But then I realised that's a bit silly and unlikely. It will change a little, but a lot will probably stay the same.   We were looking for our favourite NYC restaurants today on Google Maps.   Most of them still seem to be around.   The last time we were in NY was 2006.   It will be five years since we've been back.  I'm guessing it won't have changed too much.

32. Remembered that there were some changes in Australia from when we were there in 2007 and when we came back a year later.  A food court had closed down.   That's about all I remember.   So yeah.   We'll have to expect some differences. But I think my fragile little soul will be able to handle it.  

33. Found another Australian restaurant in NYC.  It's called Ruby's Cafe.  Here's their menu.  It looks pretty good to me. 

34. Felt a twinge of sadness because I was looking at our saved maps on Google and there was one for our apartment on Goulburn Street.  I don't remember making a map thing, and there was just that one location on the map.   I think I must have accidentally created a map, and didn't even know I did it.   Still though...seeing it made me sad.

35. Compelled to admit that there's this tiny naughty part of me that is still hoping the universe will surprise us with the gift I'm trying to deny myself.  I don't know.  I was going to start listing things that could happen in our favour, but I feel I'm jinxing myself if I spend too much energy imagining it.  We're not going to Australia.  We're not going to Australia. The next time I go to Australia, I'll be in my fifties.

See?  I believe in the OPPOSITE of The Secret.   You expect the worst, and the universe might surprise you.   But if you're secretly expecting (or hoping for) a surprise, it doesn't work.   So I need to throw all of this out of my head and think negatively.