Monday, May 16, 2011

Texas, Ghosts, Books, and Tobacco Companies

1. Received red email-alert from Qantas.  Today is their inaugural flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney.  They're offering round trip flights for $719.  I don't think that's much cheaper than flying to Los Angeles, and then flying to Sydney.  It might not be cheaper at all.   I just can't imagine being on the plane for 19 hours straight.  Hanging out at the airport is not that much better, but at least you can walk around, buy things you might need, use a proper toilet, etc.   

2. Read Andrew's post about an Australian bird book.   He says he wrote on the inside cover as a child.  THIS IS A GOOD BOOK.   That's very cute.    The book is a field guide.   It makes me think of the paperback Aussie field guides we bought Jack in Australia.  His favorite was a book of dangerous animals.  We used to look at it quite often.  

3. Remembered that I forgot to mention that I've started reading The Seance by John Harwood.    It's good so far.   I kind of felt hesitant about reading it because I've read Harwood's other novel; The Ghost writer.    It was a great novel, but very creepy.  I think there's two types of horror: adventurous with a somewhat uplifting/positive ending, and depressing, creepy, hopeless horror.  The Ring and Ghost Writer would be examples of the latter.   Or maybe I'm wrong about The Ghost Writer.   I don't remember the very end. 

I'm pretty sure it wasn't uplifting.

4. Impressed by Statcounter's new design.   I'm usually more annoyed than pleased by website changes, but I think the new Statcounter looks really neat.  Plus, there's some cool new features.   They'll tell you where your site ranks for certain keywords on Google.   My blog is #1 on the Google search engine for "Judith Durham Stalker"  I'm #5 for "Bin Laden alcohol".  That's really cool.   I mean it's not cool that I'm #1 for Judith Durham Stalker.   It's cool that Statcounter provides that information.  I like knowing that kind of stuff; and it was kind of a pain to figure it out on my own.   I'd have to sign out of Google to see, because if I was using my account, my blog would come up higher in the search engine. 

5. Continued to read The Seance.  There's a scene where the protagonist has a conversation with a sceptic.  Constance has begun to involve herself in the world of mediums.  She's not a firm believer yet, but is somewhat open-minded.  She started going to seances because her mother had entered a severe and long-term depression after the death of Constance's sister.  Then, at a seance, Constance encounters a psychic investigator, someone who is trying to prove that there's no way to communicate with the dead.

Constance says, It is all very well for you, Mr Raphael, who are clever and confident and at home in the world, but for those like my mother, who are simply crushed by the weight of grief, why deprive them of the comfort a seance can bring? 

Mr. Raphael replies that it's wrong because it's false comfort.  And people like him will often dedicate much of their time and energy proving the falseness of this comfort.

Why?   If someone could convince me 100% that there is no such thing as reincarnation; that when we die, our consciousness completely ends, how would that improve my life?   Would it make me a better person?   Would it make me have stronger or better morals?   Are atheists happier and better people than those of us who believe in an afterlife?  

Personally, I don't think so.  I wouldn't say they're worse as a whole.  But I definitely don't think they're happier and better people.  

6. Saw photos on the Qantas Facebook Page about the pre-flight Texas party in Sydney.  That's cute.  Actually, maybe it's a bit disturbing.  The Australians do too good of a job looking like the stereotypical Texans that make me want to run off and move to Australia.   

7. Saw Facebook messages about Offspring being on tonight.  I think they're talking about the season 2 premiere.  I'll try to avoid too much information on that.  I'm still working my way through the first season.  I don't want spoilers.  

8. Wondered if we should expect to see more Australians hanging around Texas now.   I'm guessing they'd more likely go to Dallas than Fort Worth.   I'm also guessing people might use it as a gateway to other places.    It's probably a good way to get to New Orleans.   It's not too bad of a drive from here to Disney World.   See....if any of our Aussie friends decide to visit, they can spend some days at our lake house, then drive to Florida. 

I'm sure some Australians would be interested in Texas as well.  If they like the whole western/cowboy thing, they'd probably love Fort Worth.   I mean those type of things don't play a role in our daily lives; but it is here....and available.   

Then there's other places you can drive to from here.  Austin is pretty fun.  I haven't been to San Antonio, but I've heard that's nice.   You can take cruises out of Galveston.    Houston has the NASA stuff.  If someone is into the whole alien thing, they can visit Roswell, New Mexico.

9. Thought of an awesome idea for Qantas.   It could be like that group deal thing.   What if they offered discounts to people willing to do an exchange?   If we could find three Australians willing to fly on the same days that we fly, then we all get a discount.   I mean the plane's going to have to go back anyway.  Right?   So...the Australians fly to Texas, and we get on that same plane to go to Australia.

It would be better if the exchanges didn't have to be exact.  That way if you entered the deal with friends, you could at least spend some time together—in Australia, America, or both places.  

It wouldn't have to be a huge discount.  Maybe $200 off per exchange ticket?   

10. Had another idea for Qantas.   How about a promotion called Bring a Friend Home. We go to Australia. If we find some Australians to take home with us, then all of us get a discount on our flights.

I like these ideas.

Or maybe it would be that only the ones bringing friends home would get the discount.  How about if you get $100 off for each person you bring back with you.  Then those people can find other American friends (or relatives) to take back with them Australia.  Then they'd get the discount. And it could keep going and going.   It would be like a tag-team type thing. 

11. Saw that Malcolm Fraser won a NSW Premier's literary award for his memoirs.  I've been trying to avoid buying nonfiction books because I often end up not liking them.   But memoirs and biographies are different.  I tend to like those.  Maybe I'll see if the book finds its way to Powells.

Well, I went to Powells.  They have the book, but not a used copy. The new copy costs more than I'd want to spend.   I learned though that there's another Malcolm Fraser in the world. He's a speech therapist

Oh. Actually he WAS a speech therapist.  According to Lord Wiki, he died in 1994. 

12. Found the website for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.  This is good because it will give me ideas of what books to order next. 

13. Added a book by Cath Crowley to my Powells wish list.   She won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature.   Powell's didn't have Graffiti Moon, the book that won her the prize.  But they had something else that looked good. It's called A Little Wanting Song

14. Saw that an Aussie vampire book was a runner up in the Ethel Turner Prize.  It's called Saltwater Vampire; and it takes place in Western Australia.  Unfortunately, Powells doesn't have it yet.  

15. Happy to see that Jaclyn Moriarty was a runner up for the Ethel Turner Prize as well.   This is for Dreaming of Amelia.  This is her most recent Ashbury school novels.  I love those.  I hope she writes more. 

16. Took a short nap on the chair in the office.   I think maybe I dreamed about The Seance.   But I can't remember anything specific.  

17. Read article about a tobacco villain named David Crow.  I'm sorry, but he really does sound like a villain.   I'm picturing him with a very wicked type laugh.   Crow, who works for the British American Tobacco company isn't happy with Australia's attempt to reduce smoking in their country.  He doesn't like the idea of generic cigarette packaging, and is threatening to flood Australia's market with very cheap cigarettes.   Crow says, When you look at the four Ps (product, price, place and promotion), pricing's the big one and that's the only one we have left. We will end up fighting on price.    Then Crow says something about low prices encouraging more people to smoke, including kids!   Does this guy have any moral decency?   Well, he probably does.   But it doesn't seem like he has very much.

18. Looked at the British American Tobacco website.   On their front page, they have information about the packaging thing.   They say the packaging plans won't directly reduce smoking.   I can't easily disagree with them there.   As I've said in past posts, it doesn't really seem like the best plan.   To me the packaging looks kind of cool....probably because if reminds me of the Dharma products on Lost

All that doesn't matter though.   It just seems incredibly evil to threaten the government with plans to get more kids smoking.  That's horrible.  I understand that corporations are greedy and want to make tons of money; but to openly admit you'd risk the health of people to do so?  

19. Decided to watch episode 11 of Offspring

20. Greatly enjoyed episode 11 of Offspring.  I like the scenes between Alice and Nina.

21. Had one of those awful moments where I feel like I have a major problem and there's no one in the whole world I can talk to about it.  I thought of various friends and thought.  No, I can't tell her.  No, I can't tell her either.   No, I must not tell her.   Then I thought, I'll tell an imaginary friend.   Did I tell my little Wizard/Muggle family in Australia?  Nope.   They have way too much shit going on in their life right now.    So guess who I chose as my imaginary friend.   Julian McMahon.   That choice was racked with guilt, because I dreamed about him last night.  And in my dream I told him to fuck off.   I mean I didn't say it directly to him.  But I left that as a message with someone else to pass on to Julian McMahon.  I said that and I said something like I just wanted to ask you a few questions.   I guess I was mad that he wasn't answering my questions.   What were the questions?   I have no idea.   That's a bit frustrating.

I wonder if they're important.  Or maybe they're really stupid, like.... should I throw away my old pajama shorts that no longer have elastic, or should I be frugal and keep them up with a safety pin? 

Tonight I shall go find him and say Answer my questions...NOW.   And while you're at it, please remind me what the questions were.  Thanks.

I'm joking.  I don't have that kind of dream control.   Hell, I barely have any dream control.   If I did, I wouldn't have been so rude to Julian McMahon.  

Anyway...as for my problem (which is not too serious, but more serious than broken elastic)....I ended up telling Tim.  He was very supportive and helpful.  So that was good.  

22. Thought about those novels in which a writer's character comes to life and wreaks havoc....like The Dark Half.   So my little wizard in Australia is extremely angry right now.  When she's angry she makes bad things happen.  The electricity goes crazy, and stuff like that.   In her last outburst a few weeks ago, she broke the microwave.

Anyway, today she's upset again.   This morning Tim was cooking and the smoke alarm went off.   Tim was bewildered because he said there was only steam...not smoke.   It was slightly strange, but not a huge deal.   Then we were in the kitchen.  Tim was making dinner.  He shouted out in dismay because he saw he had forgotten to turn the stove off.  The pasta was burning.   He was explaining to Jack that the pasta was fine, but it would be a pain now to clean the mess on the pot.  It was a bit strange because Tim's good at cooking.  He doesn't usually leave things on like that.

Then Tim shouted again.  There was a fire in the oven. Something happened and the element in the oven broke.

We usually don't have incidents like this, so it's weird.  And for it all to happen in one day? Very weird.

If this was a story, I can see three ways of going about it.

a) It's all just a coincidence.  BORING.  Who'd want to read a story like that?   Not me. 
b) My characters have come to life and are haunting me.   I love that storyline.  Although it can be dangerous and end in complete disaster.   The good news is happiness is on the horizon for my wizard/Muggle family.   So I think we'd all end up in peace, and there'll be no horrific kitchen explosions on the horizon.  
c) It can be a supernatural/psychological thriller.   Maybe I have all this deep anger and I'm passing it off to my fictional character.   That's not enough, so I also use my secret unconscious telekinetic powers to cause cooking disasters for Tim.

My favorite is the the second one, but the third story has potential.