Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beginnings, Martha Stewart, Vocal Chords, and Natalie Tran

1. Continued to Read Kirsty Murray's The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong.   I'm not too fond of it.   The dialogue and the situations don't ring true to me.  On the positive side, it's not boring.

I just read a part in the book with a major coincidence happening.  Coincidences happen in real life, but I think you have to be careful when putting them in fiction.   Well, I think it depends on what the coincidence does for the character.  If it's just a synchronocity thing; that can work.   It's believable, and can provide symbolism for the story.  I don't think it's the best choice to use coincidences to help a character.

I'm trying to think of examples.

Okay.  Let's say there's a story about a girl at the train station.   She's rushing and knocks into a man.   He's wearing a t-shirt with a cow on it.   Earlier that morning she watched a cartoon with her toddler cousin about cows.  She thinks about the coincidence.  

To me, that's plausible. Things like that happen to me all the time.

In another story, a girl is at the train station.   She is rushing around town to find a certain book to buy her girlfriend for her birthday.  She hasn't been able to find it anywhere.  Then she knocks into a man.  He happens to be holding the book she wanted to buy her girlfriend, even though it's a rare book.  She mentions it to the man.  He says he's done reading it, and gives it to her.

Things like that do happen in real life.   Solutions appear miraculously in front of us.  We savor the story and repeat it on numerous occasions. You will never believe what happened at the train station.....

When I hear about these things in real life, I think.   Wow.  That is SO amazing.  When I read it in fiction, I feel it's kind of like cheating. It's taking the easy way out.  

2. Thought about a conference we might go to this summer.  The last time we went to the conference was in 2007. It was a few weeks after my extreme obsession with Australia began.

I remember reading an Australian book at the conference; a library book. It was about a female convict ship.  Maybe Juliana? Or something like that.

Okay...yeah.  Lord Wiki confirms that there was a Lady Juliana ship.

I had a Tarot card reading and we talked about my Australia-issue.   I kind of forgot what was said.  But I've had two readings with this tarot card reader, and both times I got the sense that she thought I was a total fool.    It could have been my imagination.   There's certain people who just give off this subtle aura that makes me think they're thinking, Are you for real? or Do you know how pathetic you sound? I don't know if they really feel that way about me, or if they have that same type of attitude (imagined or not) around everyone.  

Anyway....I love the fact that I'm still obsessed with Australia; that it wasn't some passing phase that fizzled out a few months later.  Maybe that's what I sensed from the Tarot card reader; that she thought I was like a silly child who declares her undying love and then is over it a few months later.

Or maybe she didn't think that at all.  Maybe there was a part of me that saw myself in that way, and I projected the negative feelings onto the Tarot card reader.

Who knows....

3. Started reading The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay.  I've only read a few pages; but so far it's very interesting.  There's a mother and daughter who own a hat shop in Tasmania. The daughter was born on Anzac Day.   

4. Dreamed about an Australian friend.  I want to send her a link to something— something related to myself.  I go to her Facebook Wall, and see something from my friend that says if people want to contact her, they should click here.  I click, thinking it's an email link.   Instead it takes me to another Facebook Page.  While her other Facebook Wall was pretty empty and quiet, this one is very active and full of photos. I look through the photos to find my friend.  She's in one group photo.  I feel bad that I didn't know about this Facebook Page earlier because my friend spends a lot of time reading my blog.  

The dream sort of reminds me of something that happened to me in real life. It was back when I had commenting on my blog.  There was someone who used to comment every so often.  Now when anyone would comment, I would click on their name to learn about them and see if they had a blog of their own.   This person had a profile, but there was no blog attached.    Then later I saw a blog on my Statcounter; it indicated that someone had come from there.  So I went to the blog.   By reading a bit, I found out the blogger was the one who comments on my blog sometimes.  She had a link to my blog on her blog.   I was kind of at a loss about what to do.  Did she not want me seeing her blog?   Did she just not realize she could provide a link to her blog when she commented?  Did she know I could find her through Statcounter?  Did she want to be found?  I wanted to read her blog, but I also worried I was intruding. 

I can't remember what I did.   Maybe at first I left pretty fast?   I remember feeling intrusive.  But eventually down the road....Well, I know now that I have her blog on my followed blogs list.

And then I had a similar situation at another point.  

5. Found an old dream about Australia.  It's from September 13, 2006.   I might have mentioned it before.

 I see pictures of Sydney opera house and feel very connected to it. Reminds me of old dream. I want to go there and think of how maybe we can fly to hawaii...stay there for awhile and then fly to Sydney. Wondering if that is possible. Before that, my mom says something about how we'd have to have 4 stops to get there. But they're very weird stops. Like in the middle of U.S.

It's a pretty weird coincidence; maybe some type of premonition.  This was eleven months before we decided to go to Australia.   In August 2007, Tim came home from work one day and I asked him if we could go to Australia.  He said yes, and that night we started looking for tickets.   I was shocked and disillusioned by the prices.  I figured there was no way we could go.  Then one of us had the idea of flying to another country, and then getting a ride to Australia from there.    The idea SEEMED new, but it turns out I had the idea months earlier in a dream.

We ended up flying through Japan.  I don't remember even considering Hawaii that time.  But the next year, we ended up taking the Hawaii route.

6. Found another old Australia-related dream.  This one is from September 25 2006.   I'm thinking I was pretty damn obsessed with Australia way before I became out-of-the-closet super obsessed.  I knew I a little secret obsession for a year or so before we went to Australia.   But maybe it was less little than I imagined.  

Here's the dream.  There is some fair/event that I'm at. And within the fair is an exhibit about racism. Everyone is raving about it. I am thinking whether or not I want to go. I think about how I'm reluctant to go to serious/life changing media things. I see people being changed by it. But think that I should go because then I'll change with everyone else. I won't be left behind. I think I ask someone whether this is really amazing or one of those things that everyone says is amazing because they feel they're supposed to say that.

I hear someone say the owner, or someone who works there, is Australian. I decide I'll go...if only for the Australian accent. I go to it. The Australian man (who is older and gray) and his family are all behind the exhibit in another room.  I begin to notice they seem annoyed I'm there. Like it is too late. At first I think I'm embarrassed and apologetic. But then I'm annoyed. I tell them they should put a "Closed" sign on the door.

It's interesting.  I'm not sure what it means.

7. Saw from Statcounter, that I have a lot of people coming to my blog for Patrick on Offspring.   That guy is pretty popular.  

8. Learned from a Facebook friend that Martha Stewart had Australian chefs on her show.   My friend sent me a link that has video clips.  One chef made something with squid—not really my thing.   The other chef made a beetroot with goat cheese thing.   I'm wondering if it was vegetarian.  There was some brown stuff that may have been meat.  I think on the show they referred to it as "soil".   I wonder what it is. The dish looks pretty good to me.

9. Decided to watch the video again so I can figure out what's in the salad.

That didn't help.  I followed the link to the Martha Stewart website. They have a longer clip there.

Oh crap.  I think it's just the squid chef's segment.

10. Found the recipe for the beet root salad. The brown soil like stuff is mashed up toasted bread with olives. That sounds good to me.  

11. Enjoyed James' post about lasagna; and his use of the word inseminated.   

James provides a picture of his meal.  There's lasagna, chips, and a salad.  I'm trying to figure out the identity of the vegetable on the lower left hand corner.  Is that a green tomato?

James is going to Sweden very soon. He's all excited and happy.  Sweden to him is like Australia to me.

I like knowing of other people who are madly in love with countries in which they don't live.   We should all start a blog ring thing.  Maybe I will someday....if I find more people.   So far I just know James who loves Sweden and Maggie who loves America.  I know of a Melissa that loves America, but she doesn't have a blog.  HappyOrganist loves Mexico, but it's not really the focal point of her blog; at least not yet.  

12. Read Maggie's very sweet post about having her own little American child.   When Maggie lived in America, she gave birth. So she gets an American child.  She gets to have a child with an American birth certificate.

I don't have an Australian child.

I kind of consider this blog to be my Australian child.   While other kids have to compete with their siblings for their parent's attention; Jack has to compete with the blog.  Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much rivalry.

It's good for teaching Jack patience though.  He often has to hear.  I'm busy right now. I'll talk to you in about twenty minutes.    

It's good for kids I'm sure.  I'm not sure what would happen with the child who always had his parents at the exact moment he or she wanted them.  I suspect they'd grow up to be very demanding.    Of course, it depends on the age and situation.  Babies should get immediate (or close to immediate attention).  And if Jack was screaming because he cut himself, I wouldn't say, Give me five minutes.  I need to finish reading about Gough Whitlam.  

13. Excited to see that one of my Facebook friends likes Offspring; or at least she likes it enough to join the Facebook page.  I really have not had any Australian say to me.  Hey, I watch Offspring too.   There are Offspring fans coming to my blog; but none of them talk to me.  Maybe that's my fault for not having commenting.    

14. Worried a bit because my sister is about to get surgery.  It's a vocal cord type thing.  After the surgery, she's supposed to refrain from talking for a week or so.  So, she's going to be a bit like Reade Ainsworth.   Hopefully it's just temporary!   When my sister talked about the surgery a few weeks ago, she said the doctor said there's a chance things could go wrong and she'll lose her voice forever.   I was thinking...SHIT.  And how weird because I just recently talked about Reade Ainsworth and how it's probably rare for people to be mute because of physical (vocal cord) issues. And here it could happen to my own sister.

My sister has had way too many surgeries.  Remember that if you ever get the urge to drink and drive. She was hit by a drunk driver over twenty years ago, and she still has problems related to it.  

15. Saw article that compares the price of things in Melbourne to the price of things in different cities around the world. I'm guessing they've converted everything to Australian dollars.

In NYC, it costs $2.23 for public transportation.  In Melbourne, it's $3.70. In London, it's 5.75.   Really?   I didn't know it was that expensive!  Is that per ride?  Yeah. I was bad and let Tim deal with all that while we were there.

For some reason, fast food is cheaper in Melbourne than it is in other cities.

16. Went to the London Tube website.   It's 1.9 pounds for a ride in zone one...whatever that is.   How much is that in American dollars?    This converter site says it's $3.30.   It would be $2.84 in Australian dollars.   But that's with the Oyster Card.  If you pay cash, it's 4 pounds.   That equals $6.38 American dollars.   So, it's good to get the Oyster Card.   Although you have to pay an extra fee for that. 

Well, maybe not.  I'm looking at the Oyster information, and it says there's just a three dollar activation fee.   That's not bad at all—unless I'm misunderstanding it.  

Yeah.  I am misunderstanding it.  I forgot to convert pounds to dollars. It would be 4.79 American dollars.

The Myki card in Melbourne has a fee of 10.67 American dollars. That's fine if you're living in Melbourne, or plan to be there for a long time.   It's not so great if you're going to be in Melbourne for only a week.  

17. Watched a video from communitychannel on YouTube.   Tim told me about it yesterday.  



Community Channel sounds like it some kind of nonprofit group; but it's just a fun girl in Sydney making funny videos.  

The channel is very popular. One of her videos has 34 million views. Wow.



It's pretty funny.

Here's her top-rated video.



I can totally relate to the part at 1:06.

18. Consulted Lord Wiki about Natalie Tran, the girl who does the very popular videos.   She's so popular, Lord Wiki knows her.  Lord Wiki doesn't like talking about people who aren't famous enough for him.

Natalie's parents were refugees from Vietnam.  They came in 1981—before their was mandatory detention.

Lord Wiki blabs on and on about Natalie's popularity.  Some internet people are super popular, and really don't deserve to be.  Okay, it's sort of cute that a baby bit his older brother.   But how in the world has it become one of the most popular videos on YouTube?  That bewilders me.

Natalie deserves to be super popular.  She's funny, and she's very creative.   She does the whole Hayley Mills Parent Trap thing, and has conversations with herself on video.   It looks pretty hard; but I'm guessing it's even harder than it looks.  UNLESS....there's some program out there that you can buy that makes it easier.   Sometimes we're not aware of the technology out there.  We see something and think it's amazing.  How did you do that?!   But then it turns out it's really easy if you have the right program.

I doubt that's the case though.  Even if you have a great video program that creates a twin effect; I would think it's really hard to get the timing right.  

19. Heard from my family.  The surgery was majorly delayed because the surgeon had a very complicated prior surgery.   According to my dad, he helped someone who hadn't spoken for twenty years.  Sometimes my dad exaggerates, so it might not be the full story.   But you know what...maybe there's hope for Reade Ainsworth. Although I think he functions pretty well with the sign language and note-writing.

20. Read article that says Qantas engineers are going to protest work dispute things by stopping work for sixty seconds.  Along with that, two right-handed engineers are going to work with their left-hands only for a week.

That's....interesting.

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind that.

21. Pet my cat while trying to understand the point of not working for one minute.

I still don't get it.

I'm going to forget about it, and move on. 

22. Read article about Noni Hazlehurst making a video of herself reading Go the F--- to Sleep.    It's a promotional thing for the book.  The article has some clips of her reading it.  She does a good job with it.  

I also like her thoughts on the book.   It's very funny, and it's cathartic for struggling parents.   Hazlehurst points out that there's a serious underlying issue. People need to understand when they're talking about how nice it would be to have a baby that it's a huge undertaking.  


When I was pregnant, I imagined that Jack would stay in his little bassinet most of the time.   I'd go about my life.  Then every three or four hours, I'd take him out for feeding time.   I'd change his diaper, play with him, and then put him in his bassinet.  I knew there would be rough times—here or there.  But for the most part, I figured it would be fairly easy.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I did worry about it being difficult.   I didn't know how to change a diaper yet; so that seemed very overwhelming.  And I read the directions on how to make a bottle of formula—all this sterilizing and measuring.   So stressful if you're horrible in the kitchen. 

Reality turned out to be a baby who wanted to eat almost every hour.  

And for most babies, it's not a matter of sticking them in the bassinet and playing a lullaby until they close their angelic little eyes.  You have to rock them to sleep or breastfeed them to sleep....or drive them around town until they fall asleep.  Then you try to go to sleep, but you can't because you're stressed out by what you read in the parenting books.   They say you shouldn't have helped your baby to fall asleep, because now he'll be dependent on you for life.  He'll never know how to fall asleep on his own.  Your boobs will have to follow him to college.    

23. Wondered if my sister has had surgery yet. The last I heard was 2:30. My sister wrote on Facebook that she still wasn't in surgery.  Now it's 4:00. 

24. Went to Tallygarunga.   I'm going to read Fun For The Family; the story with Artemisia meeting Reade's parents.  It seems somewhat appropriate to read about a guy with voice problems while my sister is getting her voice problems fixed.    My sister's voice isn't actually that bad.   It's different from when she was 20 (before the accident).  But it doesn't sound abnormal—at least not to me.   I mean you wouldn't talk to her and think, what's wrong with that woman's voice?    The problem is more with her breathing, and without the surgery it would get worse. She has some kind of scar tissue in her throat area.  It causes breathing problems, and some voice issues. Hopefully, the surgery will fix those things.  

25. Started to read the story.

I can't remember where I left off. I might end up rereading a bit.

26. Intrigued by this part in the story.   The last thing he had wanted Arti to know was about the humiliating experience of having a support teacher with him throughout his primary school years. He hadn't made many friends in primary school and Ms Briggs had been largely the reason. No one wanted to be friends with the weird silent kid who had a teacher trailing after him all the time.

How do kids usually feel when they have a shadow teacher?   Well, maybe there's no usual way to feel. Maybe some kids have self-confidence, and it doesn't bother them.   Other kids might be more insecure about the whole thing.  I didn't have a shadow teacher when I was young, but I was pulled out of class for occupational and physical therapy. I remember being embarrassed about it. But I've always had self-esteem issues. I've always worried about being too different.  

27. Continued to read the story thread.   Reade's parents seem very ignorant about the magical world.  I find that hard to understand.   Hermione Granger's parents were the same way; supportive of their daughter's identity, yet a bit apathetic about the whole thing.    I can't imagine being that way if Jack turned out to be a wizard.   I'd be excited.  I'd want to learn all about it.   Or maybe Reade's parents do want to know, and Reade is reluctant to share it with them.   It's like the kid who's picked up from preschool.  What did you do today?

Nothing.

What did you learn about?

Nothing.

Sometimes Jack wants a lot of attention.  Watch this.  Come here!   I need to show you something. 

Other times, he wants his space.  He wants his world to be his world, and he wants me to stay out of it.  He's only nine now.  I'm sure in a few years there'll be even more instances of him politely asking me to go away.  

28. Learned that my Australian of the day is an architect named Sydney Edward Cambrien Ancher.    He lived during the 20th century.

Sydney was born in Sydney to a Kiwi Dad and an Australian mom.    In his early twenties, he started working for architect firms.  Through education and work experience, he gained the needed architectural qualifications.  

Sydney spent some years in Europe.   Then he returned to Australia.  

One of Sydney's buildings is the Prevost house in Bellevue Hill.  Here's a picture of it on Flickr.  

Lord Wiki says the house is on Kambala Road.  That's a cool street name. 

Here's the street on Google Maps. I'm not sure of the house's address.  

29. Learned form Lord Wiki that Sydney also built a house in Killara, North Curl Curl, St. Ives, and Neutral Bay.

I know where Neutral Bay and North Curl Curl are...I think.   North Curl Curl is part of the Northern Beaches?   Neutral Bay is North Sydney—near Mosman, Luna Park, etc.    I don't know about St. Ives and Killara. 

30. Consulted Google Maps. 

St. Ives is up north too; and so is Killara.  

31. Got news that my sister's surgery went well.  So, that's good.  It took a long time to get news, so I worried a bit.  

32. Went to the website of the Great Southern Rail.  I figure if I can no longer plan a real Australia trip because we're postponing it; I can instead plan fantasy trips.  

If money wasn't an issue, what would I do? 

Maybe I wouldn't go on the train.   It looks less appealing to me now than it did in the past. 

I think what appeals to me most about the train is seeing the various cities. 

Or the train might be fun.   The toilet thing worries me a bit.   Twin Berth Sleeper Cabins have private en suite facilities with a hide-away compact toilet, wash basin and shower.   What do they mean by hideaway toilet?    I'm picky about my toilets, and that sounds a bit intimidating. 

33. Saw photo of the hiding Ghan toilet on Flickr.  

I probably wouldn't be bothered if I was one of those people with a strong bladder. 

34. Saw a photo of the toilet when it's not hiding.   It doesn't look too awful.    I suppose you pee, and then take out the sink.   Otherwise, you'd have to squish your head down and stuff.   That wouldn't be comfortable.

35. Saw a photo of the toilet room for platinum service.  It looks nice and normal. Since this is a fantasy holiday, I'm taking that one.  

36. Decided to waste more time planning fantasy trips.  I'm going to do one without the train.

We have six months and tons of money. And on all those days, I have good hair days.

We never get sick. 

There's no cyclones, no bushfires, no attacks by hungry crocodiles, and no running out of water and petrol in the middle of the outback. 

37. Started my planning. 

I think we'll do about a month in each state. 

And maybe I'll just plan one state at a time. 

38. Came up with my New South Wales trip. Here it is on Google Maps.  

We start in Sydney.   We'll probably spend a week there.   Then we'll drive to....

Wollongong
Eden
Wagga Wagga (so we can pay homage to the werewolf)
Canberra
Parkes
Dubbo
Tamworth
Coffs Harbour

We could drive back to Sydney, and then fly to another state. Or we could drive to Brisbane and do Queensland. 

39. Realized I forgot Newcastle, but we can stop there when we go from Coffs Harbour to Sydney. 

I also forgot Kiama.   I'll probably want to go back there since that's where my Harry Potter blog takes place. We can do that when we drive from Wollongong to Eden.

I'm scared of all the mountains in New South Wales; so in my fantasy I'll have to have overcome that fear. 

40. Thought about how my fantasy trip would result in really awesome Flickr sets.   And it would be really fun to do my blog on the trip.   We'd have internet access the whole time, of course.