Saturday, June 25, 2011

Alki Steven, Apples, Autism, and Mahomet Allum

1. Saw a little bit of Along Came Polly, and saw a scene with Bryan Brown.  He said something about injuring his coccyx bone.  Tim didn't understand, and looked at me for a translation.   I told him it wasn't an Australian thing.  Tim was confusing human anatomy for Aussie slang.  

 2. Showed Tim the I Expect Better Campaign.  Tim, my sister, and I were joking around about making a video for a stressed out mom.  Instead of it being about life getting better for gays as they get older; it would be about life getting better as your babies get older.  The punchline would be that while we talk about how easy our lives are now that are kids are older, we'd have our kids screaming, crying, and fighting in the background.

My sister never heard of the REAL It Gets Better campaign, so we showed her part of one of the videos.  Then I told Tim I prefer the I Expect Better Campaign, and I showed him two of the videos.

3. Went to sleep and dreamed about Offspring.  I decide to write to the Lifetime Network in order to suggest that they put Offspring on their channel.  I'm planning to work hard on this email— be very professional and persuasive.  I plan to find Offspring clips on YouTube so I can put the links in the email.  But then I get distracted with something else.  I end up writing the email without giving it much thought. It's just a few lines, and doesn't sound very intelligent.  

4. Saw very stupid video that Bernadette had on Facebook.  It made me laugh so much. It's very silly, and fun.   It's about coning....the new alternative to planking.

5. Looked at Alki Steven's YouTube page.  He's the one who did the coning video.  

6. Showed Jack the coning video. He didn't think it was that funny.

7. Watched another Alki Steven video called Dreams Can Come True. I didn't like it that much.  

8. Didn't like this Alki Steven video either.  The punchline didn't work for me. Some of the banana bit made me laugh a little though.

9. Watched another Alki Steven coning video.   I liked that.   I think maybe Alki Stevens does best when he's coning.  But I've only seen four of his videos, so it's probably too soon to make a judgment.

10. Had Tim watch the coning video.  He didn't think it was that funny either.  But that's okay.  Tim laughs hysterically at things, and I don't find them funny. Sometimes our sense of humors match, and sometimes they don't.

11. Read article that says Western Australia's Labor Party is backing gay marriage. I love that, along with New York's big news.

Not everyone in the Western Australia Labor Party supported the gay marriage motion though. One MP , Kate Doust talked about how it was a big city issue and not a regional one.

Yes, because homosexuals are only born in the big cities. They're never born in regional areas.  

I remember reading something about Peter Allen— someone talking about how when we go to small regional towns and see children. Some of them may be young Peter Allens, meaning they're children growing up in areas where it's a struggle for them to fit in because of who they are.  

12. Started watching an interview with Tim Freedman about Peter Allen. I think he might have been the one who said the stuff about children in small towns.   

I love "Tenterfield Saddler."

Okay.  I found the quote.

Freedman says, I always found it amazing that this exotic creature came from Tenterfield. And if you drove up the New England highway, you'd know what I'm saying. It always gives me hope when I drive around Australia, looking at the van and looking at the no trees and no blacks and the milk and the meat...that there could be a little Peter Allen in one of those country towns, practicing his tap dancing on the veranda.

Oh..that gives me tears.  
13. Went out to the pool with the family.  My mom mentioned that she thinks it's creepy for a girl to kiss a girl...depending on the type of kiss.  It made me think about how I was probably one of those kids who grew up in a family whose culture and values is very different from their own.

Sometimes the apples doesn't fall far from the tree.  But other times, it falls very far.

My mom is very much a Republican.  She proudly owns a fur coat and eats veal without a second thought.  She loves expensive jewelry.  

I wonder how being so different from one's parents effects a child's development.   I'm sure there are pluses and minuses.   On the minus side...if I had these differences when I was young, I may have felt there was something wrong with me.   In my young eyes, different could have equaled wrong.   This may have especially been the case if my parents said negative things about people that I saw as being similar to me.  They do this to me now, and it makes me uncomfortable.   But I do the same to them (at least on this blog,) so we're even.

Maybe that's why they avoid my blog.


On the plus side,  I'm aware that not everyone thinks the same way that I think. I wanted to say it made me more tolerant.  But I don't think that's true. I still have trouble tolerating behaviors and opinions that are so different from my own.

Maybe what I've learned is to try to be polite and civil about differences.  I don't love what my mom said in the pool, and I calmly drilled her on it a bit. But I'm not going to scream, throw a fit, threaten not to speak to her, etc.  I know that I have to accept her opinions because she accepts mine.  

It's really not about tolerating. It's about agreeing to disagree.  

14. Saw that the Australian dollar is equal to 1.0495 American dollars. That's the lowest I've seen it in several weeks.  It's usually been between 1.05-1.07 American dollars.  

I'm going to hope it keeps staying under 1.05 American dollars.

15. Started to read editorial about Go Back To Where You Came From.  I still haven't seen the second or third episodes.  Hopefully I'll find a way to see them soon.   The person who uploaded the first episode didn't upload the rest; at least not the last time I checked.  

16. Read more of the editorial.   Helen Razer doesn't like that some of us are saying the show preached to the choir.   She says, SBS did not "preach to the choir". Instead, they kicked the choir off its bum, booted it out of the Church of the Holier Than Thou and made a popular reality show that people who'd never sung the Battle Hymn Of The Smug Progressive watched and discussed.

You know what.  I think she has a really good point. I look at reality TV with distaste, but a LOT of other people don't.   These shows are very popular. SBS might have attracted reality TV fans who were not previously part of the pro-refugee choir.

It's kind of like the SBS preached to the choir; but then handed out cupcakes to the other people so they'd stay and listen as well.  

Razer says, It was an extraordinary effort and will change minds; not just bolster the soft left's beliefs. Say it with me: this show matters. This show made a difference.

I hope she's right.

Sometimes people do make extreme changes in attitude.   I'm not sure how common that is though.   It would be nice to hear from people who were anti-immigration before watching the show, and now feel differently.

17. Read article that says researchers in Melbourne did a study that shows lack of gesturing in toddlerhood is a sign of autism. 

I kind of thought that was determined awhile back. I remember (maybe incorrectly) that this was something to look out for in our children.  Do they point?  Do they make gestures?

Jack pointed a lot.  He didn't really start talking until he was three.  Before that, he would point to things and make a questioning type noise.  He liked to know the names of things. 

18. Looked at autism symptoms on the MayoClinic site.   One of them is lack of gesturing.  So, I'm not inventing memories in my head...well, unless they just added it after the recent Melbourne study.

It's interesting to look at the symptoms and think of Jack.  Some stuff doesn't match him at all.  Resists cuddling and holding.  That's the total opposite of Jack.  He loved to be carried, and he's always loved cuddles.

As for traits that match Jack....

Starts talking later than age 2, and has other developmental delays by 30 months.  Well, he talked late; but I'm not sure he had other developmental delays.

Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech.  Jack did this a bit when he first started talking, but it faded on it's own after awhile.  

Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping.  He did the hand-flapping.

I guess my question is whether all kids with mild autism need intensive therapy. Or do some of them just need a lot of parental attention and acceptance?  

We spent time recently with a child who seemed a bit autistic and/or developmentally delayed.  Should we say she's disordered, or just say she's a bit different?  If she's not getting treatment, are her parents being neglectful?  I'm doubting this child will ever grow up to be homecoming queen.  But she may grow up to be the quirky quiet film director.  

I'm not saying I'm against all autism intervention. If a child's not speaking or connecting to others, I think therapy is likely a very good idea.  But if a child is a bit immature and/or weird, I'm not sure we need to see it as a mental health emergency.  

19. Thought of a student we had when I was a preschool teacher in New York.  I'll call him Peter since it probably wouldn't be right to use his real name.

Anyway, Peter would probably fit the definition of autism or Aspergers, just by the fact that he was very obsessed with the subway system.  He knew all the trains and their routes.  He would ramble on and on about it.  He also tended to play with little vehicle toys in a repetitive way that was seen as not being appropriate.  The other teacher (my immediate supervisor) would take the little car toys and hide them up in the cabinet.  I think the plan was to remove the objects that might inspire him to play in an autistic manner.  

I don't know.  Maybe she did the right thing, and I just don't understand things correctly. But a part of me wonders if twenty years from now we'll look back at this type of intervention and view it the way we now view anti-homosexuality type intervention.

If a child moves a toy car back and forth for ten minutes with a glazed look, should we remove the car from them?  Or do we accept this is their thing, and that the repetitive action isn't hurting anyone?

If it's in a child's nature to open and close the cabinet, is it best to let them do this; or is it best to prevent it from happening?  Well, if they did it for hours upon hours, I'd probably want to at least try to distract them.  But if they do it for twenty minutes here and twenty minutes there, I'd probably just go with the flow. Maybe their brain does it's best thinking when they're in the midst of some kind of repetitive action.

20. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read Reflections.   It's really hard for me to pick one thing, in my subscriptions, to read each day.   I think I've come up with a method though.   I'm going to read the story thread with the most recent update, unless I read that story thread the day before.   In that case, then I'll read the story with the second most recent update.   

Reflections stars Trevor Lairrims and Sareian Locke. They met each other while hanging out at Korrowi Creek. 

Trevor is a Tally student in the Bourke house. Trevor is a young adult searching for a job.  

21. Started to read.

Sare drew a cat, and became curious about what Trevor was writing.  That's about all that happened...for now. 

22. Decided to read Sareian's biography.

He's 20 years old, and was born in Ireland, on Valentine's Day.

My nephew was born on Valentine's Day.

23. Wondered why Sareian's Patronus is a black fox.   I didn't think a Patronus had any color.   I thought they were kind of white-clearish.  I also didn't know there was a such thing as a black fox.

24. Found an article about the black fox. They're rare these days. Endangered.   I'm not sure if they're that much different from the red fox.  Lord Wiki says they're just a fox that's black.

I'm just not sure if it would matter if someone's Patronus was a red fox or black fox. Without the color, they'd probably look the same.  

25. Learned that Sareian has a limp.  Well, I guessed there was something up with his body. His occupation is listed as a job hunting/cripple.  I wonder why that piece of information was included in the occupation category.   Maybe the role-player didn't know where else to put it?

26. Learned that Sareian smiles a lot and doesn't much like playing sports.

He likes quiet.

He likes being outside.

27. Related strongly to this aspect of Sareian.   His weakness is that he often feels left out or alone, which makes him pull away from even the kindest person.   I probably have a strong fear of being rejected by people, so I'll retreat from them.   It's one of the reasons I sometimes tend to keep my distance.  Well, and there's the fact that I like to be alone.  

I don't like feeling left out.  So I'd rather be alone than in a group where I feel lonely. But I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. I don't think I'm rare in that regards.

28. Learned that Sareian received his injury in a car accident.  Fortunately, neither he nor his parents were killed.

29. Learned that Sareian hates bugs.

I love bugs...well, at least some of them.

30. Went back to the pool for our after-lunch swimming session.  I rescued a blue damselfly...or dragonfly from the pool.

He was all wet.  I took him out and sat with him, hoping he'd dry and be able to fly.  His wing looked a bit messed up.  I was thinking if he didn't fly, I might take him inside where it's cooler and maybe more comfortable.  I was carrying it at one point, and he kept escaping me.   I wasn't sure if he was blowing away from the wind or having small flying successes.  Then he went very far from me and I couldn't see him anymore.  I'm HOPING his wings felt better, and he flew away. I'm worried though that a strong wind gust carried him away.

Who knows...

While this was happening, the others at the pool thought they saw a bald eagle flying up above. That was exciting for all of us.

It all seemed kind of spiritual. I love dragonflies and it was sort of a blessing to be able to hold one in my hand for a long time.  I feel guilty saying that though because the reason I could do that was he was injured.  Then we got to see the bald eagle...maybe.  

31. Decided not to feel too guilty about my dragonfly feelings.  It's not like I wanted him to be injured.  I was actually sad and worried.  I wanted him to fly again, and be free.  But I did like spending time with him.  I guess it's one of those examples of having small blessings in bad situations.

32. Started to read chapter ten of Fruitcake's book/blog.  

33. Learned something new from Fruitcake's book/blog.  She says that people wanting to migrate from Europe were more likely to choose American over Australia.  Why?   It was a closer trip...two weeks versus 7-10 weeks.

There's some other interesting facts here.

Fruitcake says 20% of Australians are a great distance away from medical and other important services.

Australia has a small population and a lot of empty spaces.  Is it best for these spaces to remain relatively empty?   Can the land itself support a larger population?

Fruitcake talks about a lack of infrastructure in those areas.   If you get enough people to agree to come to the more remote areas, can the country then afford to build up the infrastructure?   

What if the government gave priority to asylum seekers willing to live and work in remote areas.  Or do they already do that?

I think with the skilled migration program, priority is given to those willing to forgo the big cities.

34. Went to the Australian government immigration page.  They have a page called Regional Initiatives.   There's not much information provided, but basically...yeah.   They're trying to get people to come to regional areas.  

35. Remembered to mention that I've brought my Australian map towel back to the lake house.  My sister decided we need to have a new rule of not sharing towels (for hygiene reasons). I mean it's okay once towels are washed.  But before we'd use whichever towel was lying about even if it hadn't been washed since the last person used it.

So now I can claim my towel.  I'll probably take it home though to wash it.  Otherwise it might get mixed up with the other lake house towels and someone may take it before I get to it.

Yes.  I know I sound very selfish and possessive.

36. Saw that I have an Arab for my Australian of the day; Mahomet Allum.

I'm hoping he'll be interesting.

37. Started reading about Mahomet Allum.

He was born in Afghanistan in the late 1850's.  The Australian Dictionary of Biography isn't exactly sure about his year of birth, but they're guessing it was 1858.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography is also unsure about when Mahomet migrated to Australia.   They think it was between 1884 and 1890.

He had a variety of jobs, including camel-work, storekeeper, butcher, miner, and herbalist/faith healer.    

In the late 1920's, Mahomet moved to Adelaide.

What's interesting (and nice) is he didn't charge money for his healing services.   He accepted donations though, and gave to charity.

38. Learned that not everyone saw Mahomet as a nice guy.  Just as there are skeptics about alternative medicine these days; there were also skeptics in those days.  He was charged for posing as a medical practitioner. Mahomet fought back saying he never claimed to be a medical practitioner.   Many patients stood by him.

Mahomet was a popular guy. Before the charges were made against him, he did a trip back to Afghanistan.  Ten thousand people in Adelaide participated in a petition to keep him in Adelaide.   I guess they worried he'd stay in Afghanistan?

I wonder if he lost popularity after the charges were made about him.

Well, no. It looks like he remained popular.  He had many mourners at his funeral.

The guy lived a long life.  According to his death certificate, he was 106.  But some say he was 108.

Mahomet left most of his money to institutions that helped children.

39. Decided that not only did Mahomet Allum turn out to be interesting to me; but he also seems like a very good and heroic person.  

40. Found website that has a letter written to Mahomet.  It was sent from New Zealand in 1952. 

Mahomet would have been in his 90's at the time.

The letter's from a patient that's worried he won't be able to get her medicine when Mahomet returns to Afghanistan.

Okay...uh...but Mahomet was a bit old.  Did this patient consider the possibility that Mahomet might die soon?  Would she be able to get the medicine then?

She's nice though.  She doesn't want to lose Mahomet, but she is understanding and supportive of his desire to return to his birth country.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says that Mahomet did plan to return to Afghanistan and remain there for the rest of his life.  But he ended up returning to Adelaide a year or so later.  

41. Found further information about Mahomet Allum on the same website.   It's actually a government site called Uncommon Lives.  From what I can see, it's all about Muslims in Australia.

42. Saw letter written from Mahomet to Menzies, offering to treat a sick King George VI. That's the King's Speech king...right?  

43. Saw letter from parent about Mahomet.  Their child had medical issues and doctors said he was incurable.   Then the parents took the child to "The Wonder Man". Mahomet removed a piece of led from the child that was apparently hiding inside of him.   Then the child was cured.

44. Decided that Mahomet Allum reminds me a bit of Lionel Logue. They're both kind of miracle workers.  

45. Had interesting discussions at dinner.  My dad said something that I took as a huge compliment.  He said I don't easily believe anything, whether it's on the left or right.   I listen (or read) and then do my own research.   It's not ALWAYS true.  There are exceptions where I'm more open to easily believing things.  But for the most part, I try not to put 100% faith in anyone or anyone.

I already knew I had that strength. And I do personally think of it as a strength. But it's nice to know that someone else has noticed it.

46. Went back to learning about Mr. Allum.  Here's an editorial written by a patient.  It's full of praise.

The writer says...mention of the name Mahomet Allum brings to the minds of hundreds of people recollections of an erect fearless Afghan who could bristle with anger over an unjust action to another; but whose winning smile and kindly nature soon lightened the injury.

Someone needs to make a movie about this guy. I want that movie, and I want my movie about the prison reformer.  I forgot his name. It's something like Marchonie?

Crap.   I can't find it in Google.  

I'll scroll through my blog posts.  It's somewhere in there. His name is in a blog post title, so it shouldn't be too hard to find.

47. Found the old blog post.  It's Maconochie, not Marchonie. 

48. Figured I need to get back to the editorial on Mahomet.

It's fascinating.  The writer says Mahomet would work in the mines of Broken Hill.  Then he'd give his wages away to charity.  Wow.

This is a case where I will just trust what I'm reading, because I don't think there's enough documentation from that time period to prove it wrong or right.  I'm going to guess most of this stuff about Mahomet is true, and some might be more legend type stuff.  

49. Read letter from Mahomet to customs officials in Adelaide.  He asks for a passport because he wants to go away.  He talks about feeling mistreated by the Australian public, and the Australian press.  So even though he was heroic and respected to some, he was not liked by others.  

Mahomet's wish was to leave so the Australian public would realize what they were missing and stop taking him for granted.

50. Went back to the Australian Dictionary of Biography.   I wanted to figure out where the letter fit in with his biography.   It was written in 1932.  This was two years before Mahomet took the trip to Afghanistan that inspired Australians to petition for his return.

I guess his plan worked.  He got people to miss him and demand his return.

51. Decided to look up Mahomet Allum's address in Adelaide. It's 181 Sturt Street.

Sturt! That's one of the houses in Tallygarunga.  

Here's the address on Google Maps. It's near a park called Whitmore Square, and it's not too far from Central Market.  

52. Made my family listen to Sally Seltmann's Heart That's Pounding.  I don't think they were overly impressed.  

53. Listened to Six at Best from Offspring.

Actually, I wanted to listen to both songs and couldn't decide which one to listen to first.   I ended up trying to listen to them at the same time.  That might be an example of taking multi-tasking a bit too far.