Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sponsors, The Sound of Music, Aala, and Quick Lamb

1. Suddenly remembered this Disney TV movie I used to love. It's called The Girl Who Spelled Freedom.    It was about a young Cambodian refugee (Linn Yann) whose family was sponsored by a family in America.   They came to live here—terrified, traumatized, and not knowing any English.   Then a few years later, Linn won a local spelling bee and competed in a national one.

It was very inspiring.

But this is before America had mandatory detention for asylum seekers.

I'm wondering if America or Australia still allows sponsorship of refugee families.  Did the mandatory detention practices do away with that?  Or are people in detention ones that didn't receive sponsorship?

2. Found this website about sponsorship of refugees in America.   They say, the refugees sponsored for resettlement are chosen and referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Of the 10.5 million refugees under the auspices of UNHCR around the world, only about 1 percent are referred by the agency for resettlement.

I'm guessing the people sponsored are those who immigrated in the way that's preferred by government.  

3. Found a website for something called Sanctuary Australia Foundation.  They raise money to buy airfare for refugees.  The money is paid back, but it's interest free.  Then it's recycled back into the program and used later for other refugees.

It sounds like a good thing.

4. Looked at Sanctuary Australia Foundation's advice to refugees.   They say In the current political climate in Australia, onshore refugee boat arrivals are being given the majority of Humanitarian 202 Visa places, which means that offshore applications are unlikely to be successful at the present time.

So are boat people making it harder for other people to come in via offshore applications?  I would think the trick then would be to make it easier for people to come via offshore, and more difficult for them to come on boat.

If there's hardly any opportunities for offshore applicants, it's not hard to imagine people getting desperate and doing the rickety boat thing instead.  

5. Looked at the Liberal Party's website.   They want to have a program where community groups  sponsor refugees.   They say, The number of places would be in addition to those established each year for our regular refugee and humanitarian programme.  

They say their plan is to raise the refugee intake to 15,000.

It doesn't sound that bad to me, but maybe I'm missing something.  I get a little nervous when I find myself agreeing with the Liberal Party.  

6. Found this refugee website.  They say right now Australia takes in 13000 refugees.  They have a lot of information.  I'm going to try to read it.  

They talk about the difference between asylum seekers and refugees—something that often confuses me.

An asylum seeker is a person who is waiting to be given refugee status.  The site says, All refugees have been asylum seekers but not all asylum seekers are found to be refugees.

I think I understand it now.

The website says that out of the 13,000 refugees, 7000 have a proposer. This is like a sponsor.

Then there are about 70,000 people who don't have a sponsor, and want to come to Australia.  Very few of those applicants will be chosen.  So I guess that's why they get desperate and jump on a boat.

7. Learned from the website that asylum seekers usually apply for refugee status after they leave their country of origin.  They go to another country and apply there.  This country is called country of first asylum.  But why don't they apply from their country?  Or why don't they stay in the country of first asylum?

I suppose some countries are safer than the original country, but not a good place to permanently migrate.  

8. Thought about how the refugee program is so difficult and overwhelming.  There really are no easy solutions.   No matter what, though, not everyone is going to be saved and given a better life.   Not every refugee is going to write bestselling books or win spelling bees.

I think the best thing we can do is make improvements and hope for many happy outcomes.

9. Suggested to Tim that he read John Marsden's Tomorrow series.  He just finished The Hunger Games, and I'm thinking they might be similar.  I read a book in the Marsden series.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  I think my mistake was I didn't start with the first book.  I felt like an intruder—like I didn't belong.  When you start a series in the middle, it's kind of like you're interrupting.

10. Went to bed and had this dream.

It's the presidential elections. There are no secret booths or ballots.  You stand in line; then go up to a table which has the candidates listed in a row. Then you give your choice to the attendant at the table.

My dad is one of the candidates. I feel obligated to vote for him, but I'm not sure he'd make a great president.  I'm also not sure if enough people would vote for him to make a difference. Still, it seems rude not to vote for your own father. I tell the attendant I'll vote for him.

Then I see the name Alex Proyas.  I'm thinking he's from the Green Party, and I change my mind about voting for my father. I vote for Alex Proyas.    

Later I hear someone say something that makes me think I was wrong about Proyas.It sounds like he's not from the far left.   He's from the far right.  

When I woke up I remembered where the name Alex Proyas came from.  He's an Aussie film director.    

I read about the Dogville movie director before going to bed last night; and how his movie is one of the favorites of the Norway killer.  That's probably why I dreamed about film directors mixed with politics.  Also, a few days ago, we saw The Adjustment Bureau.  I thought about how it sort of reminds me of Dark City.   That was directed by Alex Proyas.  

11. Read article that says Mike Rann has agreed to step down and let Jay Weatherill be leader of the South Australia Labor Party and Premier.  However, he's not going to step down immediately.  He has some projects he wants to see through, and those won't end until September or October.  He also wants to do some mentoring with Weatherill.

I think that's probably fair. 

12. Thought that Jay Weatherill kind of looks like Malcolm Turnbull; at least in the picture provided by the article.

13. Read article about the first asylum seeker boat arriving under the Malaysian deal.  I don't know what's wrong with me lately, but what I read in the article makes sense to me.

I think instead of complaining so much about the asylum seekers being sent to Malaysia, I'll be happy for the fact that Australia is taking in 4000 refugees from Malaysia.

The government insists that the asylum seekers sent to Malaysia won't be treated like complete shit.   I don't know if we could trust that or not.  But I do know that asylum seekers don't live super happy lives in Australian detention centers.  What's the difference then?  And if we're worried about what will happen to these boat asylum seekers when they go to Malaysia, why aren't we worrying about all these refugees already IN Malaysia.  I think it's probably a good thing that Australia is taking in 4000 of them.  I thought I read somewhere that these 4000 won't be sent to detention centers...that they'll be accepted as residents.   But I may be wrong. 

14. Struggled to find article to confirm if I'm right or wrong.  Here's one. It says the 4000 (1000 a year) will be accepted in Australia as residents.

According to the Gillard government, the 800 asylum seekers sent to Malaysia will be allowed to work and live in the Malaysian community. Other refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia don't get those privileges, unfortunately.

They get some special benefits because they landed in Australia first.  However, where they don't benefit is the processing queue. The article says, But they will have to join a long and lengthening queue of people waiting to be processed as refugees, which the Federal Government believes will deter boat arrivals. 

15. Read James' blog post about seeing a performance from Benny Andersson of ABBA.  

Andersson had a cameo appearance in Mamma Mia.  I thought that was kind of neat; although I didn't even know who he was at first.

Anyway, James greatly enjoyed the performance.  He's a big ABBA fan, so I can imagine it was a huge treat for him.  Well, I really don't have to use too much imagination.  James does a great job describing the concert and his enjoyment of it.  He did mention long lines to get a beer, but I don't think it detracted too much from the experience.  It might have if he had been extremely thirsty. 

16. Enjoyed Red Nomad Oz's tribute to red things in OZ in the style of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  It's funny because James mentioned The Sound of Music in his post too.

I'm having Sound of Music synchronicity today.    In honor of that, I shall watch this video.  

The puppets remind me of my wizarding village.

17. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read a story thread called Double Dutch.   It takes place in the wizarding village of Melbourne; Oliphant Lane. 

The two characters in the story thread are new to me.  There's Máire Townsend who's a healer and also an executive for something called Townsend Industries.   The other character is Owen St. Thomas.  He's a Beater for the Australian National Quidditch Team.  National. Wow.  That's a pretty big deal.

18. Started reading the story.

If I'm understanding things right, Owen is looking for sponsorship from the Townsend Industries.  So Máire comes out, as one of the representatives of the corporation, to meet Owen and discuss the whole thing.  

19. Got the idea that Owen has an excessive amount of self-love.  His post says, Sometimes you wanted to make sure you were getting what you were paying for and Owen liked to think he was a pretty impressive investment. The sort you wanted to make right away but had to at least go through the motions of pretending like you were going to kick the tires. 

Well, it might not be excessive.  I don't know.  Where do you draw the line between healthy self-confidence and arrogance? I'll have to read more to see what kind of guy he is.

20. Got answers to my question in the next paragraph.  The redhead had been fun, a little clingy when he tried to leave but she knew how to make a man want to stay a little longer than he should. Not that he wasn’t welcome in the little thing’s room. At least he didn’t give her false hope, she sort of knew when he left he wouldn’t be back.

I think Owen is a well-written character, but he's not very loveable.   

21. Saw that Owen's plans to impress the potential sponsors didn't work out quite as he planned.  He ended up getting hit in the face with a bludger. 

Máire and her corporate buddies laugh at him.  This annoys Owen.  Well, even if he's a conceited ass, I don't condemn laughing at someone when they're hurt.  I'm understanding of people who see a mishap that's comical.  Sometimes you can't help but laugh.   Modern Family had a good episode about this.  It's human nature to laugh sometimes.  As long as you try to stifle the laughter and also show concern; I don't think it's a crime against humanity.  What's more bothersome to me is people who loudly and purposely force out a mocking laugh when they see someone having a hard time.  It's like Nelson from The Simpsons

22. Continued reading the story.

23. Intrigued by Máire.   It seems like she's trying to balance two sides of herself.  She's a mother and a healer.  At the same time, she's trying to fit into a male-oriented corporate world.

There's an interesting scene where Máire has an urge to heal Owen's bludger injury. Máire had to squash down the healer instinct for the time being to maintain the much more professional business woman identity she wore whenever around any of the other corporates.  

Sometimes we feel pressured to hide parts of ourselves so we can be accepted into a particular group.

24. Decided to read the biography of Máire Townsend.  Okay, but I'm going to be lazy and call her M.  I'm tired of typing out the accent on the a.  Sorry.

M is 5'3.  That's how tall I used to be.  But I've shrunk an inch. If I keep shrinking, I'll qualify as a dwarf.

25. Liked this about M. On occasions, she may straighten her hair, but prefers to leave it natural most of the time, not particularly fussed it seems with trying to keep up with the latest looks and hairstyles unless she's making an appearance somewhere.  I like when people have a relaxed attitude towards beauty and fashion.

26. Learned that M. was a child prodigy.

27. Reminded of myself when I read this about M.  And to be quite honest, Máire would rather indulge in playing with her children, than pay attention to most adult conversations. She has a strong inner child that she keeps secret from most people, and loves games and toys and things.   

I definitely prefer child-like things to adult things. I'd rather get ice-cream with Jack than go out drinking with adults. I'd rather go to a zoo than a modern art museum.     

28. Started to read M.'s history. She had a rough childhood because her mother was a spoiled princess. She used M.'s grandparent's money to live a wild partying life, and having an accidental pregnancy didn't slow her down.  

When M. was five, something happened. I'm not sure what.  M. was taken from her mother and was raised by her uncle and grandparents.  It seems like things got better for M after that.

Then when M. was seventeen, she ended up with her own accidental pregnancy.  She became a single mother. 

29. Saw that my Australian of the day is Harry Ross Anderson.  It's fitting because today is Harry Potter's birthday.  It's also JK Rowling's birthday.  I didn't realize it until about an hour ago; and I felt bad for not noticing.  JK Rowling is one of my heroes.   It would be nice if I remembered her birthday...not that I was going to send a card or anything.   Oh well, at least I found out before the day was done.  I was going to say" remembered", but that would be a lie. I saw her birthday mentioned on another website.

Anyway, back to the other Harry....

He probably was a Muggle rather than a wizard.  And he was a law professor.

Harry was born in Fremantle in 1917.

He went to school.

He fought in World War II.

He practiced law in Perth.

Later he moved to Queensland and started doing the law professor thing.

He was a member of the Labor Party.

He liked ballet. He was popular and social.

That's about it for now.

30. Went to Mousie's database to find an Aussie song to listen to.

Today's song for me is "Blind Eye" by Hunters and Collectors.

While I listen to that, I shall look for a Flickr account to stalk.

31. Found a Flickr account of an organization called Teach Me World Tour.   

I have no idea what it is.  But I'm trying to figure it out.

It might be hard.  I went to their website, and it's pretty much blank.  Well, it's not blank.  But it looks like it's a WordPress template, and that's all. 

I don't get it.

They're so mysterious.

I'm sensing something supernatural here.  Maybe they're aliens from a distant star, trying to learn more about Earth.  Maybe they're wizards trying to learn more about Muggles.  

32. Decided maybe I'd find clues about this group via their photos.

I'll start with their album entitled Adelaide Daily Life

This picture gives me the idea that they're backpackers.  

33. Stopped looking at album to google the name on the photograph.  It's Aala Kanzali, and he (or she?) has a real website and it's not blank.  

The blog is about his travels in Japan.

Here's his biography page

He was born in Lyon.  I have no idea where that is.

34. Looked up Lyon.  It's in France, about five hours south of Paris.

Aala also has strong ties to Tunisia.  He says his origins are there. I guess that's where his family originally came from.

He likes to travel, and has been to many places.

So I don't think this Flickr set belongs to an organization really.  I think it's more of an individual who has made himself look like an organization.

35. Went back to looking at the photos. They're actually from awhile ago.  The set says he was in Australia (or at least Adelaide) from November 2009 to February 2010.

36. Saw interesting photo of a man with pigeons.   I like how his shoes don't match.  That's cool.  

37. Liked that Aala took a pictures of groceries.   I wonder though why he took a photo of that particular tomato sauce.  Was it random?   Is there a story behind it?   Did he have a particular love for the sauce? 

38. Wondered about Hungry George.  Is it a restaurant?  Is he friends with Hungry Jacks?  

39. Found a little bit of information about Hungry George on this restaurant site.   It's a hamburger place. 

A Facebook Group was created for people who might know where all the ex-Hungry George workers have gone.  Did the restaurant close down?  

40. Wondered if the guy on the right in this picture is Aala.  

41. Saw that it was hot in Adelaide on one of the days Aala visited. 38 degrees.  And it wasn't even summer yet....just November.  

42. Wondered if Aala met new friends in his hostel/dorm thing.    And why is there a wet floor sign?   Did someone vomit?   I'll try not to freak out about that.

43. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the botanical garden in Adelaide. 

I think the statues in this pictures look strange.  Are those dogs?  They look like they're in pain.

44. Thought this plant was very interesting. 

45. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the South Australia Museum.  

Here's a cool picture of amethyst.  

This is...interesting.   It looks like something that belongs in a Halloween shop.  

46. Liked this picture of minerals

47.  Loved a scene from Cloudstreet.   It's absolutely beautiful...sad and magical.

It involves Quick Lamb, a young man who's unhappy because he feels guilty that his brother was brain-damaged by almost drowning.  He collects sad photos from the newspaper.  Tim Winton says, When he works on his spelling assignments he looks up and sees the gallery of the miserable; it grows all the time and they look down at him.  Quick Lamb the Survivor, and he knows he deserves their scourging stares.

Then a few paragraphs down, Winton says:

But at night those cripples, the reffos, the starving weeping wounded on his walls wait till Quick is asleep and then they dance in their ragged borders, buckle paper and sag on their pins as they throw themselves into a weird joyous tumult over his bed.   They never make a sound and he always sleeps through, but it happens all the same-men throw off their mattresses and soldiers tear away bandages and the dead rise out of the group, inheriting the lonely quiet of the room until near morning, when they're exhausted by happiness and freedom, and they resume their places for the dawn so that Quick Lamb might trap them again with his sorrow.

It's beautiful.

I can't believe I didn't love the book the first time I read it.

I'm glad I gave it second chance.  

48. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the Adelaide Zoo. 

This guy is sort of cute.  Is he Australian?

49. Felt sad for Fish Lamb and his parents.

50. Started to look at Aala's Australia Day photos

I'm wondering if he stayed in South Australia for his whole Australia visit.

I thought we were weird for spending a month in Australia and visiting only one state.  But I think Aala might have done three months in only one state.

It's a good way to get to know a place.

I would love to spend three months in one Australia state.   But then I also want to visit lots of places.  I guess that's why I choose to believe in reincarnation.   That way I can imagine I'll have lots of time to do all these things.

If there is a such thing as reincarnation, I hope the next lives, of all asylum seekers and refugees, take place in peaceful and safe countries. 

50. Relieved to see Obama has announced that the Republicans and Democrats have somehow reached some agreement; and we're all not going to fall into some kind of scary financial hell.   I really don't understand any of it.   But I get the sense I should be cautiously relieved right now. 

51. Started to look at Aala's photos of Barossa Valley. 

There is a bottle of wine here that $2800 dollars.  I can't imagine drinking something that expensive.   How much is that per glass?  How many glasses of wine in a bottle?

This website says it's 4-6 glasses per bottle.  So that would be $470-$700 per glass.

How much money per sip?

52. Loved this picture.  It doesn't remind me of my dreams.   It reminds me of Los Angeles.   I don't even like Los Angeles.   Although actually my heart is warming to it a bit from reading Maggie's blog.  She makes Los Angeles seem decent.

53. Loved this picture.   I really love vineyard scenery.  It's funny since I don't like to drink wine.