Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Poop, Mistakes, Akmal Saleh, and Blake Harper

1. Liked Fruitcake's blog post because it includes some book recommendations. I like that. Some are nonfiction, and I sometimes try to avoid that; but these books sound like they might be good.  Plus, Fruitcake is an excellent nonfiction writer.  If I like her writing, it seems I might her choice of reading material.

You know what. That might actually be a good general rule.  If there's a blogger and I find their writing difficult, maybe it's best I avoid their book recommendations.  

There was a blog I used to read about Australia.  I wanted to like it because it had a lot of Australian information in it; but I usually didn't. I didn't like the writing style.  The blogger highly suggested I read Henry Lawson, and I dutifully tried to do that.  I didn't like it.  I'm sure he's a great writer. He just doesn't write the type of stuff I enjoy.  

Another time I found an Australian blog all about literature. I was so excited and planned to dig through it for a treasure load of book recommendations.  Then I realized I didn't like the blogger's writing style.  She was too wordy and intellectual for my taste. Is that how I should say it?   Or I could say she wrote at a higher grade level than I prefer to read.  I don't know. 

I also noticed I had read some of the books she loved, and I didn't love all of them. Some were boring to me.  I decided to stop using her as a book recommendation source. 

2. Added Fruitcake's book recommendations to my special Aussie-author bookmark folder.    I was going to list them here, but I figure anyone interested could just go to Fruitcake's post.  

3. Read Andrew's post about verifying facts.  He says, In the early days of my blog, I was pretty careless about statements and details. I have improved muchly, but I find myself checking spellings of place names, looking at maps, etc etc, which all adds to the time it takes to write a post. I can remember not publishing at least one post because the verifying became just too hard.

I work hard to verify facts. I sometimes even go look up stuff that I'm pretty sure that I already know. I'm very insecure about my knowledge sometimes. I guess my concerns are valid though, since I tend to have such a bad memory.

Still, even with my hard work, I make mistakes.

If I read something from a fairly trusted source and the fact sounds plausible, I probably won't check other sources.   So that can lead to mistakes.  But I think usually it doesn't.

If I read something surprising, I'll usually try to verify it with multiple sources. But those other sources could have the same misinformation as the first source I saw.  So that's another way mistakes happen.

Then there's the likely case that I read something that's true, but misunderstand it.

4. Read about cat poop coffee in Red Nomad Oz's blog post.   It costs $50 a cup.  The coffee beans are fed to certain cats, and then the cats poop them out.  Then people make the coffee out of the coffee beans.

Jack would probably want to try it.  He likes trying exotic food.  A week or so ago, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant.  Jack wanted frog legs.  I tried to talk him out of it because it was slightly more expensive than other dishes on the menu.  It wasn't too bad, and if it was a food he had before, I would have had no problems with it.  But I worried he'd eat a few bites, and it would go to waste.

I gave in and let him have it.  

He loved the frog legs.

As for the cat poop, in comments Andrew asks I've known for a while about this coffee bean and you have made me think, why do cats eat coffee beans? Force fed?  

That's a good question.  It seems a bit cruel to force an animal to eat something they don't like.  But maybe they do like it?

5. Consulted Lord Wiki about Kopi Luwak (cat poop coffee). He says the cats eat them naturally.   The story is actually quite fantastic.

There were Dutch folks who were in Indonesia with their coffee plantations.  They had native workers and refused to let the native workers partake in the delicacy they were farming.  The native workers then noticed that some animals were eating the coffee bean things and pooping them out.   The native workers decided to try to make coffee out of that. It worked quite well for them.

It sound almost like a legend—like the Chanukah oil story.    I'm going to believe it's true, though.   It's one of those stories that's hard to verify, mostly because it happened in the past.  I looked at other websites—like this one.  It gives the same story as Lord Wiki.   But Lord Wiki could have gotten the story from that website; or that website could have gotten the story from Lord Wiki.

Who knows.....

The coffee website has a page about the pooping animal.  It's known as a Luwak, Asian Palm Civet, or Toddy Cat.  I don't think it really is a cat.  The site says it's cat-sized.     

6. Found out that I'm wrong.  I looked up Feliformia because the coffee site says this is the animal's suborder.  It does refer to cats.

No wait.  I'm wrong again.

They belong to the same suborder as cats.  It's a group that includes cats, civets, and hyenas.  Then they're further divided, and cats get their own family.

I'm trying to put this in perspective with the help of Lord Wiki.

Okay...Here we go.   

We're in the same suborder as all monkeys and apes.  So a cat to a civet would be like us to a baboon.

7. Read Andrew's post about visiting Victor Harbour.  The story involves another scary road; and it includes a road that has earned itself a world record.  It's pretty interesting. The road is a one way road; but it changes directions depending on the time of the day.

8. Learned from Lord Wiki that Victor Harbour is spelled without the u.  Lord Wiki says it's due to a spelling error, and that other harbours in South Australia are misspelled as well.

9. Learned from this website that Australians and Americans spell gray differently.  Americans spell it gray and Australians spell it grey.  I always forget how to spell that color, and figure I might be getting it wrong.  Now I know either way is correct.  

The other word that confuses me is judgement.  I think that's how I spell it, and it's the Australian way.  Americans are supposed to spell it as judgment.  

10. Found my new favorite Aussie comedian thanks to Fruitcake's other blog post.   She has a clip of his stand up routine and I laughed out loud many times.

His name is Akmal Saleh.   He's Arab obviously.  He pokes fun at certain Muslim stereotypes and Islamic Fundamentalists.  That's nice to see. I really do think comedy is the best way to combat prejudice.  Lately, I've had some anti-Muslim feelings. Then I watched Akmal Saleh, and those feelings melted away.

11. Read article that says Jetstar is exploiting their cabin crew.  That's pretty disturbing.  If it's true, this means Qantas is doing a disservice to their employees and to their customers.  

Apparently the working hours are not regulated.  When there are flight delays, the cabin crew sometimes ends up working 17-20 hours.  They're exhausted.  If workers are exhausted, then it's likely they're going to be less pleasant towards the people they're serving.   But that's a minor problem compared to the fact that if there's an emergency, the tired workers might be too fatigued to think straight.

Jetstar employs some Australians, but they also employ many people from overseas.  Some of these are from Thailand.  These workers get a base pay of $258 a month and $7 dollars for each hour they fly.   They don't get any sick leave.   So if someone has the flu, but needs money; they might decide to tough it out and be your flight attendant.  

I hope Qantas is ashamed of all this, and tries to make some positive changes.

12. Decided to watch another Akmal Saleh video.

I'm loving him, and having many more laugh out loud moments.  

13. Went to Tallygarunga.

My subscriptions are all gone.  They were fixing the site yesterday.  So maybe something got lost along the way.

I'll go look at the forum list. I'll find something to read that way.


I'm going to read One Heck Of A Night.   It takes place on the grounds of Tallygarunga.

I think it's a continuation of the werewolf story.

The characters in the story are Nyssa Jones (the one who accepted the dare to hunt werewolves in the last story), Blake Harper, Tamarah Blair, and Professor Anna Maria Rodrigez.

15. Tried to remember whether I've read a Blake Harper story before.   His name sounds familiar.  I skimmed through his biography just now, and I don't think I've read it before.   But I might have read a story thread that featured him.  

16. Started to read the story thread.

In Nyssa's post, it says She had totally forgotten there was a human mind in that wolf’s head and it was less likely to attack her then an owl was. Right now she was running off of pure instinct – pure it-is-bigger-then-you-run-like-hell instinct.  

I got the sense from Harry Potter, that the human part of the mind was diminished when the person turned into a werewolf.  Lupin seemed pretty dangerous.  Or was it just a perceived threat?

17. Went to consult with Lord Wiki's cousin about werewolves in the Harry Potter universe.   She talks about the time that Lupin forgot to take his anti-werewolf potion and says, Lupin's now werewolf mind prevented him from recognising Sirius and the three students as his friends, and so would almost certainly have hurt them without Sirius's intervention.   

Maybe Australian werewolves are different.

18. Saw that Blake and Nyssa are having some herbology drama.  They were trying to get the wolfsbane which is used for the potion.  They ran into some devil's flair and Nyssa mistook it for Flitterbloom.   Flitterbloom is harmless.  Devil's Snare is not.   Oops.

19. Consulted Lord Wiki about wolfsbane.  He says that in Harry Potter it's used in a potion that allows the werewolf to keep his human conscience while he's turned into a werewolf. I assumed it stopped the transformation all together.

SO maybe this is what Nyssa was referring to.  Werewolves lose their humanity.  But maybe she assumed the werewolf in Tallygarunga was properly medicated.

20. Felt bad for Blake.  He tried to help Nyssa, but did the wrong thing.  He killed a lot of plants, and pissed off Nyssa.

It's really hard when you try to do something good, and cause a disaster instead.  And I hate being in the position when I know someone has tried to do something nice, but they've caused problems.   And then I'm struggling not to be nasty.  I can't think of any examples of this in my life; but I'm pretty sure they've happened.  

21. Decided to give the biography of Blake Harper a closer read.  I just skimmed through it before. 

He's a fifth year student in the Flinders House.  He was born in Sydney in 1995.   My fictional blog is at June 1998 right now.   I can imagine Alex and Julia meeting almost three-year-old Blake when they visit the wizarding areas of Sydney.  Although maybe he already left for Melbourne by that point.  

22. Liked this from Blake's biography.  He isn’t one for weight-training though he does like to keep in shape by picking up jogging every so often when he realizes he is gaining a tiny belly from the junk food he likes to eat.

I'm guessing a lot of people have that type of exercise program.

I have an exercise routine I do everyday....not that much, though. If I feel blah or guilty from eating too much, I'll often add some extra movement to my day.

23 Felt that I could relate to this aspect of Blake, Blake appreciates the little things. He was raised to count his blessings and never take anything or anyone in his life for granted.

I rarely take anything for granted.  In fact I'm the opposite. I often fear I'm going to lose it.

And sadly as much as I appreciate the little things, I also get very stressed over little things.

24. Learned that Blake wants to become a veterinarian for magical creatures. That's very sweet.   I was going to compare him to Hagrid.  But I don't think Hagrid was medical.  He was more of a caretaker.  

They do share a love of animals though.

25. Saw other stuff about Blake that reminds me of me.  Good and bad.  

He hates to see people and animals suffering.    Me too.   Of course, almost everyone is going to relate to that.   How many people would read Blake's biography and think, That's not me at all.   I don't mind seeing people suffer.

I think what does make me slightly unique is I sometimes have inappropriate empathy.  I'm not sure if inappropriate is the right word, really.   Maybe it's misplaced?    If someone does something wrong and is punished with anger or rejection, I'll sometimes feel sad for them.    It can be a small thing; like a family member who says/does something ridiculous and offensive and the whole family gangs up on them.  Or it  could be a big thing like Voldemort. I think he's a horrible evil wizard, but I also feel sad for him.  

It doesn't happen all the time though.  Sometimes I feel anger and disgust with no sympathy.

Anyway, I said slightly unique because although I don't think this kind of empathy is super common; I also don't think it's incredibly rare.    

26. Remembered that I almost forgot to mention the negative part about Blake that reminds me of me.  He hates being overlooked or cast aside and can be a bit of a show-off at times—though he usually sees these acts of show-offiness as having to prove himself.    This is totally me.   I hate being ignored.

I don't know if I'm ignored more than the average person; or I'm just more sensitive to it.

I'd say a little bit of both.   I imagine there are people in my life who'd say it's all in my head.  But I think they're the same people who are showered with attention.  So I can't imagine they'd relate or understand.

27. Saw that there are aspects of Blake's wizarding story that are similar to my fictional blog's story.   Blake has a genius older brother that's deaf.   He got extra attention for both those things.    Then he has a younger brother who got attention for being young and cute.   Blake felt ordinary.   Blake was neither a star athlete nor a future MENSA member nor deaf nor spoiled. He was intelligent, could sign as well as his brother, and he was in good shape; but he wasn’t extraordinary

Then he found out he was a wizard.

In my story, the younger child (Alex) is the smart one.  At the age of three, she learned to read.  Her five-year-old sister (Julia) couldn't do it yet.  The parents probably wouldn't admit it, but Alex was the favored child.  Then they all found out that Julia was a wizard.

Blake's parents reaction to his wizarding identity is also similar to Julia's and Alex's parent's reaction.  They weren't frightened by it or embarrassed.  They were very excited.  And Alex was especially excited because she loved fantasy stories.

Ironically, Julia had no interest in magical things.

28. Felt that there were some small things about Blake's biography that sounded familiar to me; and other things that I don't remember at all.  I wonder if I read his biography at some point, and then the role-player since then has rewritten it?

The two main things that sound familiar is that his Patronus is a Shiba Inu Pup.  And this line seems familiar to me.  He is straight but hasn't had any girlfriends.

Ah!  But I do think I've at least read a story thread with him.   He's a Beater for the Flinders Quidditch team.   I remember reading a story about him and another Quidditch player.

29. Found the post where I talk about the story thread with Blake Harper.  That day I read the biography of the other character, Jareth Fischer.

I'm really hoping that today was the first time I've read the biography of Blake Harper.  

30. Found out that my Australian of the day is Frank Struan Anderson.   He was a mining engineer in the 20th century.  And he was a werewolf.

No, I'm joking.   But who knows....  It could actually be true.

31. Learned that Frank was born in Victoria.  His father was a Kiwi, and his mother was from Australia.

Frank went to the university of Melbourne; and he also did mining stuff.

I wonder if he studied mining-related stuff at uni.

32. Found this bit interesting.  Far-sighted and courageous, he fought for high-quality engineering design and equipment. He was convinced that cutting capital expenditure was 'usually a certain route to high total costs.    That makes sense, and I think it's true most of the time.   I think there are exceptions.  Although maybe I'm thinking more about high-cost rather than high-quality.   I think there's a mistaken belief that if something costs a lot it's of better quality.  I don't think that's always true.

I usually buy my clothes at thrift stores and other cheap places.   My mom prefers to buy clothes at very expensive places like Neiman Marcus.  Several years go, she was nice enough to take me shopping.  She bought this really nice t-shirt.  I wore it very few times, because soon it had a hole. I don't know how it got there, but I have lots of cheap clothes that last a long time before they develop holes.

The other thing with clothes is that if they're made from high quality material, it isn't a guarantee that you won't get a stain that's impossible to remove.

But I should shut up.  Maybe mining is a whole different story; and not at all like clothes.

33. Started to watch another Akmal Saleh video.  This one isn't stand up comedy.   It's a...what do you call it?   Sketch comedy?    It's about a terrorist.

So far, I'm not finding it as funny as the stand-up stuff.   I'm at 2:43 and haven't laughed yet.   The best I've done is have a small sort-of smile at 2:38.

At 3:36, Akmal's voice reminds me of Eddie Perfect's voice.

34. Laughed a bit at the stuff around 5:30.

35. Consulted Lord Wiki about Akmal Saleh.

He came to Australia when he was eleven.

He was born in 1964.   He looks young for his age.  I thought he was around my age, but he's older.

I like finding people that are older than me.

I assumed Akmal was Muslim, but he's not. He's agnostic.  Before that he was Christian.

I'm slightly disappointed.   I thought he was a good example of a Muslim with a self-deprecating sense of humor.  But he's not.  I mean he does have self-deprecating humor about being Arab.   But he can't have that type of humor about Islam, if he's not a Muslim.

I still think Akmal Saleh is fantastic.  And you know...even if he was Muslim, it wouldn't be the miracle cure for my prejudices.   It comes and goes.   It went away a bit when I found out Don Hany has an Iraqi father.   Although who knows...maybe he's not a Muslim either.

36. Read this website about Don Hany.   It says, Don’s father, Taffy Hany, was born into a Muslim familyI'm guessing that means Don isn't Muslim.   Otherwise, wouldn't they say Don Hany's family is Muslim; or Don Hany is Muslim.     Maybe they're trying to please everyone.

Anyway, Don Hany reduced some of my Muslim prejudices...or at least my Iraqi prejudices.   But these things come and go.  I am ashamed to admit that when I heard about Norway, I imagined it was a case of Islamic Terrorism.   Instead it was a right-wing Christian. I have prejudices against them too.

There's few people that I'm not prejudiced against, so Muslims shouldn't feel singled out.   I even prejudiced against my own Jews.   And I'm prejudice against other homeschoolers, especially unschoolers.

37. Decided I'm just prejudice against humans in general.   

I do like them, though. Sometimes.

They're better than hornets, at least.   And I certainly prefer them to fire ants.

38. Went to listen to a song from Mousie's Aussie database.  

The next song on the list for me is "Rock It" by Little Red.  I've heard it before; I think because of Mousie.  

I like the song.

39. Saw that Neville W. Cayley's book What Bird Is This?  plays a part in Nick Earl's 48 Shades of Brown.

I think Andrew mentioned the bird book in his blog once.

40. Found the blog post.  I used Google search rather than searching through Andrew's blog.   I find that method works better for me.  

41. Amused by what Nick Earls says about the bird book.   But how do you actually use the book when there are birds around?  Stand, there quietly panicking through its thirty-nine colour plates (and their maybe seven hundred birds) for the bird in question doesn't have much to do and will stay there for an hour or two.

The book would work well if you had a camera handy when you saw the bird.