Monday, May 9, 2011

September, Hawaii, Flights, and Gertrude Abbott

1. Enjoyed looking at the National Library of Australia's collection of historical Australian tourism posters.  I love this one with the parrots. 

This one is a bit spooky.  It makes me want to run away from Australia.   Then again, it kind of reminds me of my weird dreams and the birth of my Australia obsession.  Well...maybe that makes it even more spooky for me.

2. Thought about advice somebody gave me in email a few days ago.  They said we should look out for travel deals.   If it's too expensive to go to Australia in March, we could go during the early spring.  I looked at Qantas and they had a pretty good price for flights July through September.  I know accommodations are often cheaper then as well.   Well, at least I'm pretty sure they're cheaper in June-August.  I'm less sure about September.

I prefer traveling to warm places where I can wear shorts and dresses. I don't much like wearing jeans and other pants.  But I had to do that in London, and I still had a fantastic time.    

3. Looked at a few hotels and holiday parks. I saw only peak periods and normal periods.   I didn't see any cheap periods. But there might be special deals that come out for those times.

4. Talked to Tim about my September idea.  He liked it. He's really fond of that type of weather.   We're not sure if we'd go in September 2011 or September 2012.   If we do 2011, it will probably be a last minute type of trip, because Tim said he'll know in a few months if he can leave around that time.   So we probably wouldn't know until July. Who knows though.  They might have good last minute deals.

I'm fine with either one. I won't feel too panicked about going in four months because I already have a lot planned.  So we'd just need to get accommodation reservations.    

5. Dreamed about sharing my Hawaii idea with my Australia friend.  I meet up with Tracey in some kind of weird virtual way.  It's like we're in the same room, seeing each other and talking together.  Yet, the idea is we're not really together.  (It's hard to explain).   I tell her about my idea of going to Hawaii together in 2014. I joke that we might be poor compared to them, and we'll probably have to eat rice all week.

6. Realized we will likely run into Australia's spring holidays from school if we go in September.   I'm not sure if that will cause a bit problem for us or not. My guess (hope) is that people deciding to travel will more likely go to where it's warmer.  

7. Read article that says students in Australia will be taking the NAPLAN standardised tests this week.   It's for years 3, 5, 7, 9.   The article talks about how opinions about the test vary.   Some people think it's an important and valid measurement tool.  Other people believe that one test shouldn't be used to judge a child's ability and worth; nor should one test be used to judge how well a school is doing. 

The article says that last week an educational advisor to Barrack Obama labeled the test a failure.  I didn't know that.  

8. Found article about the advisor to Barrack Obama; Linda Darling-Hammond.   I thought she told Obama that the test was a failure, but it looks like she talked to Australia about the tests.  And the article says Darling-Hammond is a some-time advisor to Obama.  So I don't think she was one of his full-time advisors.

Anyway, she talks about how America is slowly realizing the NAPLAN tests are a bad idea.   Meanwhile, Australia is trying to follow in America's footsteps.  It's okay to follow in someone's footsteps, but kind of foolish if they walked in the wrong direction.

9. Read article that says Qantas engineers are going on strike for an hour on Friday.  It's nice that they're just doing an hour strike, but it might still effect passengers.   I'm really not sure who's right in this case; the managers or the engineers.  I'm guessing it's the engineers, but I could be wrong.   Whatever it is...I hope they can all work it out.  

10. Read article that says researchers have found a link between obesity and mental illness.  Brilliant!  How did they ever guess that this might be the case?    I mean personally I would have never guessed that fat people would have trouble fitting into a world where thinness is overvalued; people obsess about losing weight; and we rarely see anyone over a size 6 on American television.   Really.  I think if actresses wear anything over a size 8, they're seen as big. How is a young women going to feel if she's size 18?

The article talks about getting kids to lose weight so they don't have to deal with this horrible side-effect of obesity.  I suggest that once these kids are thin enough, they should also receive special fashion lessons and therapy.  We don't want them to be teased for wearing last year's styles. Is there a way we can change people's racial identities?  Some racial groups are less accepted by society.  That might not be good for a person's self-esteem, and the alienation might lead to mental illness.

Oh!  What about the whole gay and transgender thing?  We'll need to put a stop to that. Those kids get teased and bullied all the time.  It's really hard to be gay, so we should make sure to end gayness.

Really.  It's all such bullshit. If someone needs to lose weight for physical health reasons, then they should lose weight.  But I think it's absolutely nuts to encourage people to change simply so they can fit into society's rigid and superficial standards.   

11. Started watching episode four of Offspring

12. Finished watching episode four of Offspring.  I would like to watch episode 5 today, but I'm thinking I shouldn't watch them all at once.  I should space them out a bit so it lasts.

If I was really good, I'd watch one a week.   But I don't see that happening.

13. Read about Isaac Aaron on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website.   He seemed like an interesting man.  He had intelligent ideas, but an abrasive personality. It seems he wasn't often liked by people.

Aaron was a doctor in the 19th century who promoted the importance of sanitation.  Dirty conditions causes illness.  That was his message.  It doesn't seem like he got much support.

14. Found a Hunter Valley website that mentions Isaac Aaron.  They say he lived in Raymond Terrace. That sounds familiar.  Where is that?

Well...duh...I guess it's probably near Hunter Valley.

Google Maps show it as being about 1.5 hours east of Hunter Valley.  

Maybe it's in Port Stephens?  The Hunter Valley website mentions a Port Stephens road.  And since we stayed in Port Stephens, it might explain why Raymond Terrace sounds familiar to me.

Okay. I just checked. Port Stephens is about 55 minutes away from Raymond Terrace.

Aaron's wife died when she was 37. According to the Hunter Valley website, she was buried in Newcastle.  That's in the same area as well.

15. Guessed that Isaac Aaron was Jewish.  His name sounds Jewish at least.  Lord Wiki talks about someone named Aaron Isaac. He was Jewish.

16. Played around on the Qantas website.   I'm looking at their multi-city booking option.   It's around $6600 for us to go to DFW to Hawaii, Melbourne, and Sydney. That's a lot of money, and I forgot to have us come home again.  Oops.

17. Tried the Qantas thing again. This time I'll have us coming home.

Okay that costs us about $7700 dollars.

Now I'm going to take away Hawaii. It's fine. We'll go there another time.  

It's about $4600 for all of us without Hawaii.

18. Played around more with Qantas and figured out that it IS much cheaper for us to go in September.

19. Looked at Melbourne weather in September for 2010.  I'm not liking the temperatures I'm seeing.  I much prefer October.

20. Went back to Qantas and found out it will cost us about a thousand dollars more to go in October.  Yuck. But who knows, maybe there'll be some kind of deal that appears.   

21. Found another person obsessed with Australia.   Her name's Lucy, and she's British.  Her website is more informative than persona—kind of a travel advice thing.  It looks like she hasn't updated her site in awhile,unfortunately.

22. Read Lucy's post about why she doesn't live in Australia.  She has four reasons. I can relate to the first one the most.  She says,  They won't have me!  seriously – I looked into it before and my 2 degrees, experience and business know-how weren’t on the ‘wanted’ list.   It's sad when you love Australia, and it doesn't quite want or need you.   But like me, Lucy has other valid reasons for not moving there.   One of them is that she doesn't want Australia to be her working place.  She wants it to be her holiday place.  I can kind of relate to that.   Although I'd make Tim work; and I'd take Jack around the city (whichever one we lived) and enjoy life.  I'm mean that way.   But I think I've talked about this before.   If we went to live there and had a traditional job in the family, we'd get a limited time off.   I mean it's better than America's allotment of holiday time, but still. We'd probably want to use our holiday time to go visit family in America.  So we'd be stuck in one city for the most part.   Would I mind spending around 48 weeks a year in one Australian city?  Honestly?  No.  I'd love it, especially if it was a big awesome city like Melbourne or Sydney.

So for me, it's really about the cats.  If Australia would have me, my reason for saying no is that I can't leave behind my precious kitties. If after those guys have lived out their natural life spans, Australia decided they wanted me, I could probably say yes.    Would I miss my family?  Hell no!   No, I'm joking.   I'd miss them terribly.   But my parents have money. They can fly out to visit us.   Or we can all meet in Hawaii.

And we'd go back to visit the family every year as well.

Plus, my parents and sisters are VERY good at emailing and keeping everyone up to date. Even though we'd be geographically distant, I can't imagine we'd be emotionally distant.   

23. Wouldn't want to leave my nieces and nephews at this point.  The thought makes me want to cry.   So that's an issue too.   But by the time the cats die, my nieces and nephews will likely be teens.  They'll probably want nothing to do with me by then, and the rejection will be painful.  Good for me to be far away. My niece was helping me clean the playroom this weekend.  I was so tempted to turn to her and say, Darcy, can you promise to still love me when you're a teenager?  Please?  I didn't say it, because I figured it might sound a bit too pathetic. But I dread the time that she rolls her eyes every time I say something or acts like she dreads being in the same room with me.

Of course I've already fretted over this happening with Jack.  Now I've added other kids to the worries.

I figure from about ages 13-17, the kids will all think we're embarrassing losers. Hopefully, my delicate little heart and ego will survive.   

24. Figured that I would never move to Australia, at any point, if Jack (or Jack and his family) didn't move too.   If I'm going to be an ocean away from my offspring, I'd probably only let it happen because he was the one that wanted to move somewhere.   For example, if he wanted to move to Japan, I'd give him my blessings and we'd come and visit as often as possible. I don't want to say we'd follow him wherever he goes, because then I'd sound like a stalker parent.  But I'd probably want to try; and I probably will try if adult-Jack doesn't give me dirty looks.  

25. Decided this is all silly speculation and I don't need to ever move to Australia. I'll be happy just to visit, and I'll be very happy if one day I get to spend three to six months there.

Even if I never visit Australia again, I'll still be happy enough.  Reading and writing about Australia makes me happy.  Ordering Australian food and books makes me happy.   Listening to Australian music makes me happy. Watching Australian TV shows makes me happy.

Often the little things are totally wonderful.  As long as I can connect to Australia in various fun ways, I really don't mind living in Texas.

26. Decided what would make me super happy is if someone invented a very fast (and safe) plane that used very inexpensive fuel.

Maybe that will happen someday.

27. Looked at Australian and American exchange rates on this website.  I didn't realize this, but when we went in 2009, an Australian dollar equaled about .65 American dollars.   Why didn't I give more appreciation to the wonderfulness of that?  Then after we left, the Aussie dollar started going up and up and up.

In 2010, the Aussie dollar's monthly average ranged from .85-.99 American dollars.

The year 2000 would have been a very cheap time for Americans to visit Australia.  Oh, and 2001 was very cheap as well. Okay, actually it looks like the Australian dollar was worth much less than the American dollar from 2000-2003.  Then in 2004 it started picking up again.  

29. Saw on Facebook that it's cold in Melbourne today. I hope everyone there manages to stay warm.  

Well, I just looked at the weather page.  The forecast is 15 (59) degrees. That doesn't sound too cold for the end of Autumn.   But right now, it's 5 (41) degrees.  That's fairly cold.  

Maybe we should go to Australia in May. I mean if 41 degrees is considered unusually cold, that's pretty good.   It's not that I like 41 degrees.   That's cold for me.  But since they're making a big deal out of that temperature in May, I'm guessing most days in May are much warmer.

30. Played around on Jetstar's website.  Flights from Melbourne to Sydney (round trip) cost $354 for all three of us.  That seems so cheap compared to the international flights!  

31. Read about Gertrude Abbott on the Australian Dictionary of Biography site.   I'm actually planning to read all the biographies.   We'll see how that goes.   I've read a few today.   A few are interesting to me, but others are quite boring.   Gertrude Abbott was one of the interesting ones.   She was a nun with the order started by Mary MacKillop.   Then she and another nun claimed to have visions.   It was brought to light that the other nun was faking the visions, so both nuns got into trouble.  The ADB says Abbott was blameless in the situation. I'm not sure how they could know that for sure, but I might as well take their word on it.  

Abbott was kicked out of the order, and that happened four months after she took her final vows.   She could have committed suicide or hid under a rock somewhere. Instead she continued to do good in the world by creating a home for pregnant unmarried women.  It took twenty years though for her to open the home.   That started with a police officer bringing her a pregnant woman.  Anyway, Abbott may have had a rough time when she was initially fired from the whole nun thing.   But eventually she pulled herself together.

32. Found the location of Gertrude Abbott's first home on Google Maps. It was called St. Margaret's Maternity Home, and it was located in Sydney at 561 Elizabeth Street.   

Seventeen years later, they bought another place near Taylor's Square on Bourke Street.

33. Consulted Lord Wiki about Taylor Square.   He says it's a popular place for nightlife type stuff, especially gay nightlife.    There used to be three palm trees in Taylor Square, and that led to the area having the nickname Gilligan's Island.  That's cute.

34. Saw that there's a Gertrude Abbott Nursing Home on Bourke Street now.  I wonder if it's in the same building as the old home she founded.

The nursing home is associated with Mary MacKillop, so eventually Gertrude Abbott was brought back to the fold.  

35. Learned that there's now a St. Margaret's Lodging place around the old hospital area. It's about $305-$533 a night; way out of our price range.