Monday, July 18, 2011

Drinking, Eating, Separatist Feminism, and Weather

1. Looked at website for the Hog's Breath Cafe.   Someone mentioned it in an email I replied to today.  I think we also heard about it while in Sydney.  Our friends daughter wanted us all to go to some restaurant, and talked about huge sundaes. I'm pretty sure it was  Hog's Breath Cafe.  

2. Saw that even though Hog's Breath Cafe is a meat-oriented restaurant; it still has vegetarian options

I like that.

This weekend we went to a place called Lieu's Vietnamese Restaurant.   We've been there before for their bubble tea.  This time we went for an actual meal.  They have a HUGE menu; but not one single vegetarian dish on it. It's been a long time since I've seen a restaurant like that.

Then when we asked for a vegetable dish—you know, just give us one of the meat dishes and hold the meat—the waiter looked at us as if we were insane. It's like he thought we were joking.

Vegetarianism has become so mainstream in the past few years. It's been a long time since I've been made to feel like a total freak.

On the bright side, their bubble tea is FANTASTIC. And Jack got to try frog legs for the first time.   He loved them.

3. Read Gleeful's blog post about visiting Wallhalla for her birthday.  She loved it, and does a great job describing all her traveling glee.  My favorite part was the breakfast in which they were visited by various birds.  She has a photo of a kookaburra sitting on the railing.   It looks like there's another bird right on the table; but maybe that's some kind of teapot (or something) that looks like a bird?   

4. Read Fruitcake's disheartening post about problems in Alice Springs.   I'm watching one of her embedded videos. It's pretty depressing.

The problem is related to the infamous intervention.  Part of it involved outlawing alcohol in remote Aboriginal communities.  The problem is this didn't stop the drinking.  The Aboriginal people who want to drink go over to Alice Springs.  So the problem wasn't reduced. It was simply moved.

Fruitcake points out though that non-Aboriginal people get drunk and obnoxious too  She says,   The Aboriginals in this clip – not representative of all Aboriginals – are simply doing in public what some whitefellas – not representative of all whitefellas – usually do behind closed doors.   

Alcohol doesn't discriminate.  No matter what your ethnicity, if you drink too much of it, you're likely going to obnoxious; disgusting and awful.

It would be great if there was some trick to stop people from drinking.  But it's really not that easy.   Fruitcake talks about how the government is planning impose a minimum price on alcohol.   She says, Eliminating cheap grog will do nothing to rid communities of drugs, petrol or glue sniffing, or prevent them resorting to alcohol substitutes. Has no politician ever watched an American gangster movie about the prohibition era.

That's a very good point. So what do you do to fix things?  

I have no idea.  It's one of those uphill battles.

How do you get people not to do drugs?   Why do some people take that route, and some don't?   I'm tempted to say it's about hopelessness and despair.   But there are people with very pampered lives who start taking drugs. And there are people with horribly difficult lives who don't start the habit.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of people who stay away from alcohol and recreational drugs; especially those who never showed interest in trying them in the first place. Is there some kind of commonality?  And is there a way of taking what's learned and using it to reduce drug abuse and experimentation in others?

I'm doubting it would ever be that easy.  The division between those of us who abstain from drugs and those who are users is probably similar to the division between those who can make a bag of candy last for months and those of us who devour within a day or two.  We all have our battles; or as Alex says in Modern Family...We all have our stuff.   

The world is full of people with bad habits. The self-help book industry has probably made millions trying to convince people it's not too hard to change. But it's really not that simple.

5. Read Maggie's post about visiting grocery stores in America.   Her love for American grocery stores is very much like our love for Australian ones.  I think that might be one of my main pieces of advice for people doing international travel.  Visit the grocery store!   It's so fun to see all the different products, and to make comparisons.  If you can stay somewhere that has a kitchen, it's even better.  Than you can buy food and cook. If you don't have a kitchen, then you can at least get some snack food.

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about grocery shopping and making international travel more home-like rather than overly touristy.  

My upcoming pretend trip is very touristy.  But that's okay.   That's probably what I'd change, though, if it was a real trip.   I'd probably go to less places and spend more time in each of the places that we do stay.  That's hard though because then you have to eliminate places on the itinerary.  My problem is I want go to to too many places.  I want to spend a long time in each of them.  AND I want to go back to places I've already been because I love them so much.  Who has the time and money for all that? 

6. Advertised Tallygarunga to people moaning about the end of Harry Potter.  Why are we saying it's the end of Harry Potter?   It's just the movies that have finished.  And they're not really finished because we'll have the DVD promotion and then the cable premiere promotion.

I do feel very sentimental for the actors.  A huge aspect of their lives is over now. I imagine that's very difficult.  But hopefully they'll all have wonderful post-Potter lives.

That being said. Well, I'm probably being hypocritical.   I think I've had some of the it's-all-ending mentality.  Now I realize it's foolish though.   It ended (to some degree) when the books were finished.   But all of the fans have managed to make it continue....in various ways.   The movies were ONE way of doing that.   That part is over.   We still have fan websites and role-playing sites.   We can reread the books.  We can have Harry Potter themed parties.  We can talk about the books. We can join the Pottermore thing next October.  People can still be obsessed if they want that.  
 
7. Read alarming article about obese children in Victoria.  I read some of the comments. Almost all, that I read, blame the parents.

Is it really that simple? I doubt it.

I don't remember being especially active as a child.   I've never been very athletic. I hated PE, and didn't play any sports outside of school. I was the type of child who sat around reading books most of the time. We probably ate fast food once or twice a week. We ate a moderate amount of Twinkies, candy, ice-cream, etc.

I was a skinny child.

There's this idea that in the last few years parents are suddenly feeding their kids tons of crap and not encouraging their kids to exercise. It's like we're supposed to believe the parents of the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's had their kids exercising all day and eating fruit, plain yogurt, and salads.

If fast food hadn't been popular in those decades, they would have gone out of of business.

Weight is really not an indication of good or bad parenting.

It's like our cats.   They have both been overweight.   One is now fairly thin, and the other is still fat.   You would think by looking at them that we give them human-food snacks multiple times a day and feed them every time they ask.   It's not true!   For a very long time, they were eating diet dry cat food. Last summer we switched to a mostly canned food diet upon the vet's suggestion.   Our fat cat is still fat.   I feed him a half a large can in the morning for breakfast.  He gets 1/8 a cup of dry food for lunch.   For dinner he gets a full small can.  He gobbles all that up, and whines for more.   He would like to eat all day—eat, eat, and eat. We don't allow this.  But our strict cat-parenting hasn't made him thinner.

We play with him.   We give both our cats loves and cuddles.  One of them is still fat.   I'm not sure why the other stopped being fat.  I don't think we changed anything.   I think he just stopped being so interested in food.  When I give him his dry food, it'll be there for hours usually. The other cat will finish his food within two minutes.  He's an eating machine.

That's the thing about parenting. We're NOT given a blank slate. We're given children with different appetites, different metabolisms, and different activity levels. Parents get a child who prefers raw apples to cookies and they imagine it's because they're better parents than the one with the child who's gobbling down a cookie.  There're the parents who's children will try anything.   That's me.   I'm such a brilliant perfect parent.  I've never had any struggle with Jack regarding new food.   He's usually willing to try anything, even sometimes food he's not liked in the past.  Plus, he's thin. That proves I'm a wonderful mother, right?

Wrong.  It just proves we're lucked out in those areas...for now.

8. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read a story thread called Double Dog Dared.  It's a new and very active thread. It started just two days ago, and there's already 18 posts.   

The story takes place on the staircase of the Southern Cross Tower.  This is the section of Tallygarunga that holds the Bourke dorms and common room.   It also has the game room, and classrooms for history of magic, divination, astronomy, arithmancy, and elemental magic. 

What is arithmancy?

I just asked Lord Wiki.  He says it's numerology.  Cool. I like numerology. 

9. Looked at the characters involved in Double Dog Dared.  It's a group role-playing thing, like the Spencer party story.

Some of the characters I'm already familiar with (Tamarah Blair, Riley Lightfoot, Blake Harper, Artemisia Bellerose, and Reade Ainsworth). Then there's other characters that are very new to me, or vaguely familiar.

10. Started reading the story.  It starts with a sixth year Bourke student—Nyssa Jones.  She's been given the dare to stay up all night.  That's probably not too hard. But she's' also supposed to find evidence of a werewolf.

Tamarah comes along and calls out to Nyssa, saying she knows about the werewolf hunt.  I'm not sure if she's there to tease Nyssa or to help her.  She howls like a werewolf at one point, so it seems she may be trying to tease her.  

I'm thinking it's a joke-thing.—like the snipe hunts we have in America and the drop bear stories in Australia.   Then again this story exists within the Harry Potter universe.  And in that world, there really are werewolves.  So, it's a little different.  

11. Started to get a clearer picture after reading a few posts. There're other students coming out to help Nyssa.  I think Tamarah was one of them.   They want to help find the werewolf.   At the same time, there's a bit of joking.  That makes sense. If people are hunting for something that may or may not be there; it's probably typical for them to try to scare each other.  

12. Liked this part from Tam's post.  Just then one of the younger Bourkes joined the fray demanding to know what was going on. "Werewolf hunting," Tam told her matter of factly, but made a point not to offer an invitation. Asking someone so small to join them for something so dangerous seemed irresponsible, even by Tam's standards, but at the same time she could also remember being a shrimp and she wouldn't have let anyone stop her either. Best to let the kid determine her own way.

I'm trying to figure out why I like it. I guess it just seems like the wisest choice in that type of situation.


Maybe it does a good job of illustrating those conflicting feelings when we're trying to be adults, but also greatly empathize with the children around us.  Or sometimes we say no because it feels that's what we're obligated to do; but we're really feeling the answer should be yes. In those cases, it might be best to do what Tamarah did. Say nothing. 

13. Learned that there really is a werewolf. It's one of the professors. 

14. Realized this story takes place AFTER the winter break. So this takes place after the Spencer party; and it takes place after Arti's visit to Reade's house. 

15. Finished reading the story thread.   In a nutshell. One girl (Nyssa) plans to go out alone to hunt for werewolves.   Other students want to help her.  One student (Tamarah) jokingly makes a howl to scare her. A professor hears and returns with a REAL howl of her own.  

16. Decided to read the biography of Nyssa Jones.  

She was born in Melbourne.  She's sixteen, and her Patronus is a mink.  Sadly, I associate that with fur coats.  Where are minks from? 

Lord Wiki says there are American minks and European minks.  They're in the same family as weasels, otters, and ferrets. 

17. Went back to reading about Nyssa.  I like how her body shape is described.  Nyssa is someone most would called “soft”. She’s not fat by any means rather she’s not very athletic nor is she a walking twig.

I think that's kind of like myself.  I exercise a fair bit, but it doesn't usually result in me developing major muscles.  I'm not fat.  I'm not thin.  I'm just...soft.  Yeah, I like that.  

18. Loved the part about Nyssa's hair.  It made me laugh.  She likes long hair simply because she can do more with it long than if it was short. She usually wears her shoulder length wavy blonde hair down simply because it’s easier to just leave it down -- sort of defeating the purpose of why she likes long hair in the first place.  

19. Related to one of Nyssa's fears—cars and heavy traffic. 

20. Intrigued by Nyssa's feelings towards Quidditch.   She likes watching the game.  She's attracted to people who know about the game.  Yet, she doesn't like the actual players because they're usually jerks.

I guess that makes sense. Fans are probably different than the players. 

21. Learned that Nyssa's mom is a witch.  Her father was a Muggle.  Nyssa's mom went out with a bunch of friends.  For the fun of it, they tried to pass themselves off as Muggles.  Nyssa's mom ended up sleeping with a guy; and she ended up with an accidental pregnancy. 

Nyssa's mom is a feminist, and so is Nyssa.  But it's explained here that they follow two different types of feminism.  Nyssa's mom is a Separatist Feminist.   She thinks all men are useless. Nyssa is a Equality Feminist.  She doesn't necessarily assume that all men are useless.  What she believes is that women are as capable as men.

22. Consulted Lord Wiki about Separatist Feminism.  To me, it sounds like a pretty hateful philosophy. And it sounds fanatical.   What if Nyssa hadn't been born female?  What if she was a boy baby?  Would that have made things different for Nyssa's mother?  

23. Read a blog post about Separatist Feminism.   It's written by someone who's against the philosophy, so the view is negatively skewed.  Then again, I'm really not sure how you talk about such a thing in a positive way.  I think most of us women have had moments in our life where we think, screw all men.  All men are assholes.  I'm never dating again.   But I think most of us don't maintain those feelings because we have men in our life that we do like. 

It's an especially horrifying philosophy when you have a son that you adore.  Do any of the followers of the practice have sons?  If they do, how do they reconcile their love for their children with their hatred of men?   Or do they not have children?  You do need male bits for procreation.   I'm all for reducing population growth, but no men would equal no growth. That might not be a good thing.

I'm sure though that the movement is not popular enough to make a dent in the population.  I wonder though how they feel about having kids.  Have most of them chosen to forgo parenting?   Are they willing to adopt?  And if they adopt, do they want only females? I guess they could start a female community that takes in rejected females from the mainstream communities.

I think the movement would work as an isolated one. A group of females could live without males, and probably be okay. But if they're evangelical about it—wishing all women would give up their romances and friendships with men; then it seems a bit nuts to me.   

My feeling about men is that all of them are assholes some of the time; and a few are assholes most of the time.  I don't think women are much better. I'd say all of them are bitches some of the time; and some of them are bitches most of the time.  

Statistically speaking, I do think men are more dangerous than women.  I think they're more likely to murder, rape, and abuse others.  But there are many men out there who don't do those things.

24. Read James' post about his upcoming trip to Sweden.  He's in that stage where you check the weather and decide what you need to pack.   When I'm at that stage, I usually have a mixture of excitement and anxiety.   I hate getting bad weather news; learning that it's going to be colder than expected, and I can't wear shorts and dresses the whole time.  When we're packing for winter or summer, we usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect.   But if it's fall or spring, it gets a little more suspenseful.  It could be cold. It could be hot.  You never know. 

It also depends on the climate of the area.   Texas is full of surprises during the winter, spring, and fall.  Last Thanksgiving we had one day where we were wearing shorts; then the next day it was freezing.  The other day Jack brought up New Years.  He wanted me to guess/remember what we did.  I finally remembered that a day or two before we had my nieces visit.   We took a long walk, and I remember wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  That wouldn't be strange if we were in Australia. But in America, December is supposed to be winter.  

Summer is pretty predicable.  It's usually above 90.  Even in the evening, it hardly cools off.  It's hot hot hot.  

I'm looking at our ten day forecast.   It's 100, 102, 102, 100, 102....oh...wait...next week, it's going to be cooler.  Then it's supposed to be 98, 99, 90, 97.  Then we get 100, 102, 97, and 94. 

There's some rain in the forecast.  Hopefully that will make some bit of difference in the drought.  

25. Saw that my Australian of the day is Arthur Jeffery Anderson. He worked in the gold mining industry, and he was a soldier.

He was born in Western Australia, and married a nurse; not right after he was born though.

When Arthur was in the military he'd often respond to complaints by saying, I'll fix it.  This earned him the nickname Fixit.

Did he really fix the problems?  Or were they empty promises? Did he ever try to teach the others to fix their own problems?  Some people like fixing other people's problems because it helps them feel needed.  And there's nothing wrong with feeling that way. Nor is it a bad thing to help others. But sometimes some people take it too far. 

There's those times where we're stressed out about something.  We just want to vent and be comforted.  Then we're told, Don't worry.   I'll take care of it.  I have to admit it.   Sometimes I DO like hearing that. Oh.  Okay.  You will?  Thank you!  Other times, it makes me feel angry and inadequate.  What I hear is, I can do it and you can't, because I'm a better person than you.  

Tim and I had problems with this when Jack was first born. I was very stressed about being a new mom.   I never held an infant until Jack was born.  I had no idea how to change a diaper.   I was tired.  My womanly bits were bleeding and painful.  I wanted my family to give me more help with housework, and I was a bit direct about asking.  Tim was annoyed that I was asking for help.   I think it embarrassed him.  He insisted that it was fine and he could do it.   But he too was stressed out, and moody.  I felt if we both had less work, we'd feel less tired and stressed.    But the message I got from him wasn't,  we'll be fine.  We'll work together.  You'll be a good mom; it was, I can do this. I know how to take care of babies.  I've done it before. Stop worrying.  

Anyway, I did learn to change a diaper. I caught on pretty fast.  But I think Tim is still better than me.  We babysat my nephew last year.  Tim ended up doing the diaper changing. 

26. Decided I should shut up and read more about Arthur Anderson.

27.  Changed my mind.  I have more to say about the subject.

I was thinking how do people know when to help and when to just be supportive?

Well, it's probably not too complicated.  For me it goes like this.   If I ask for your help, I want your help.    I'll usually be direct.  Can you carry this upstairs for me?  I'm going to have a lot of work in the next few months.  Can you babysit Jack at some point? 

If I moan and complain about my stress level, I usually just want a supportive ear.  If I say, I'm so stressed out about packing.  I don't know how I'll get it all done;  I really don't want to hear,  I'll do it then.  I want sympathy!  Just because I'm stressed about a job; it doesn't mean I'm incapable of doing it. 

I wouldn't mind offers of help.  Do you want me to help you at all?  That's a fair question. But I don't want anyone to try to completely take my job away from me. It just makes me feel inadequate; and/or it makes me feel I'm not supposed to complain.

Complaining should be classified as a human right...as long as you don't do too much of it.  

28.  Realized I'm a hypocrite because sometimes Tim is carrying something heavy, and I'll say, Do you want me to carry it?  It's ridiculous because Tim is much stronger than me.   And I'm probably insulting his manhood, or whatever.   Of course if he's carrying multiple things, it makes sense for me to carry some of the load.   It would be rude and selfish of me not to help...or at least offer.   But if he's carrying one heavy thing, I should stop with the offers of carrying it.  I should just cheer him on, offer him sympathy, etc.  

29. Went back to reading about Arthur Jeffery. 

It sounds like he was well-liked and had a relatively fulfilling life.   Yet when he was 73, he shot himself.  The Australian Dictionary of Biography doesn't say anything about it being accidental.   I'm guessing it was a suicide.  I wonder why he chose that?   Was he avoiding a long illness?  Tired of living? Upset about something?