Sunday, August 14, 2011

Assimilation, Electricity, Botanists, and John Springthorpe

1. Watched the last twenty minutes of The Muppet Movie which inspired me to watch some of Jim Henson's memorial service.

I then started thinking that Mousie from Tallygarunga reminds me of Jim Henson.   Like him, she's very creative and she inspires other people to be creative as well. She's developed an amazing community of talented writers.

The last lyrics in the last song of The Muppet Movie reminds me of Tallygarunga.

Life's like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending
We've done just what we set out to do.
Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.

2. Realized it's too simple to say Mouse inspires people. All artists inspire people. We get inspired when we watch movies, hear songs, see a painting, etc.  It's all wonderful.  But people like Mousie and Jim Henson have to do much more than that.   They have to keep people organized.  They have to encourage people to do their best work. They have to keep people from losing interest and quitting.   They have to provide enough rules so there's structure and fairness; but also make sure the environment isn't too stifling.    

3. Wondered. If Mousie is Jim Henson, which Tallygarunga person is Frank Oz?

And while we're on that subject....

No, I don't think Ernie and Bert should get married.   In a way, I think it's slightly offensive.   I mean I think it's fun to speculate about whether they're gay or not.   I do that to pretty much everyone I know. Sometimes I start to believe 90% of the population is faking the whole "straight" thing.

But, anyway, to insist that Bert and Ernie are gay is kind of like saying two men can't be close friends if they're not homosexual.

If the lord of Bert and Ernie wanted them to be gay, I'd be totally cool with it. Throw them a wedding. It would be a great Sesame Street episode.  JK Rowling outed Dumbeldore and that was fantastic.  But I'm not going to insist she out Harry Potter and Draco because I like to imagine them as secret lovers.

4. Went to sleep and had dreams. Most of them were about Disney World, but there was a brief Australia one.  We go to Australia.  We have plans with our friends for later, but Tim urges me to also make afternoon plans.   I agree we should do this, but I'm distracted by other activities.  I think about our already established plans with our friends and consider the fact that they could cancel them. We could end up not seeing them at all in Australia. I decide, if this happens, I'll feel rejected. The next time we go to Australia I won't make an effort to contact them. But then I ask, what if their reasons for  canceling are legitimate?  I decide I'd never be able to know for sure.  I'd still feel rejected, and probably wouldn't make an effort to talk to them. 

It seems like we were planning to be there for a short time—maybe a weekend?   I'd be understanding if something happened and we missed seeing someone over that short of a stay. I'd be hurt, though, if we were in a friend's town for over a week and they didn't see us.  Of course there are exceptions.  Like the stomach flu.  But if they said something like, Sorry.  We wanted to get together with you, but it turns out it's a really busy week.  The kids all have big tests and they really need to study. And I have to catch up on some major cleaning.  Well, then I'd be smart enough to know we're being rejected.

5. Read Fruitcake's post about people living in big houses.  She says, Apart from the ridiculous amounts of energy or money required to run these houses, it’s their anti-social nature that seems tragic. This is not to say they are necessarily antisocial, but I fear many of them might be.   

Our house is big.  I don't know if it makes us anti-social.   It's often rooms that get ignored and not each other. We do spend time apart. I'm alone in the office right now while Tim and Jack are together downstairs.  Although I'm not really alone.  Mu Shu is with me.  He spends most of his time in the office.  So it's kind of our special place together.  Jack has his own bedroom, but he sleeps in ours.   He doesn't even have his own bed.  He has mattresses on our floor.   I've even started to keep his clothes downstairs. I used to put them away in his drawers.  Now I just keep them in a laundry basket in our bedroom.

I do think smaller houses are better.  They're cheaper and more efficient to run.  There's less spaces to clean.   I think the only benefit to a big house is it gives you more room to keep all your crap.   Do we need all our crap?  No.  But we seem to keep getting more and more of it. We get rid of it at times, but input always seems to exceed output.  

6. Read Andrew's post about immigrants and the burka.  He doesn't like when women have their whole faces covered.  He says, They are completely covered in black, looking out of slits in cloth or with gauze over their eyes. In spite of me not being able to see their faces, I can detect the arrogance of them in their walk. Get out of my sight. I don't want you here. You practice extreme religion and it is not acceptable here. Says me. 

Andrew's not against extreme Muslims specifically.  He's against all religious extremism.

I guess my feeling towards all that is I don't care what you wear.  If you treat me like I'm an okay person (despite me not wearing the same garb as you) then I'll look upon you as an okay person.    If I sense arrogance from you, I'll probably think you're very much not okay. That being said. It's hard to know if arrogance really exists or it's just in our imagination. I sense arrogance when I see Hasidic Jews.  I don't even talk to them. I don't make eye contact with them. It's just their clothes, really.; and their hairstyles.   I assume they won't like me because I'm not one of them.   Is it fair to assume that?   Probably not; although it could be true.  But they might be looking at me thinking, She'd never like us because we dress like this.

7. Thought about other stuff in Andrew's post. He talks about the history of immigration in Australia.  There's this idea that it's been going on for a long time and it's always worked pretty smoothly.  But now the Middle Eastern and Northern Africa people have shown up. They're different than other immigrants.  They're more resistant to assimilation. They're more negative.  They're more demanding.

This might be true.   I don't know.  But I don't think immigration has ever been very smooth. There's always been prejudice on both sides.  There's always been people who want to keep the immigrants out. There's always been immigrants who stick to their own culture, refuse to learn the language, and try as much as possible to stick to their own kind.  

I think in thirty to forty years, the Muslims will be like any other immigrant group in Australia.  There will be a few who stick to their own communities, but most of them will be fully assimilated.   They'll barely be noticed.   And then there will be a new immigrant group causing shock waves across the land.

Maybe they'll come from another planet.  

8. Had brunch and talked to Tim about immigration and assimilation.  I asked him if he thought Muslims/Middle Eastern people have resisted assimilation more than other groups.  Neither of us have definite answers to that. But we came to the conclusion that first you have to agree on a definition of assimilation.

For me, it's probably about language and friendliness. I'm okay with people wearing whatever clothes and eating whatever foods. They can have their religious beliefs. I'm not usually bothered by it. I like places where there's a variety of people and culture.

I'd be bothered though by people who show no interest in learning the language. 

Then again who am I to know who's trying to learn and who's not?  The person who knows very little English MIGHT be trying.  Maybe they're just not skilled at learning a new language.   I can't promise I'd be any better if I moved to a non-English country. I'd definitely try to learn the new language.  But I might be bad enough that the locals look at me and say, That damn ugly American.  She doesn't even try to learn our language.

So I'll skip the language thing.  For me, then, assimilation is about friendliness and openness.   If I made eye contact with you on the street and smiled, would you smile back?   Would your child be allowed to play with my child on the playground? If your family had a wedding, would people not from your ethnic/religious group be invited?

I'm sure there are Muslims out there who are unfriendly to non-Muslims.  They probably give an arrogant snobby look when OTHERS try to be friendly towards them.   They refuse to let their children have non-Muslim friends. They have parties and no non-Muslims are invited.    But are these Muslims the majority in Australia?  They might be, but I doubt it.   There's probably a small group of annoying Muslim snobs.  But almost every group has it's uptight snobs.  And almost every group has its open-minded and friendly people as well.

Maybe Muslims have more snobs in their community...or snobbier snobs?  I really don't know.    

9. Read article that says power companies are thinking of doing this thing where they turn off people's appliances for certain amounts of time. At first I thought it was going to be mandatory.   Then I read that people have to sign up for it.  Those in the program will have their refrigerators turn off at certain times...or their air-conditioning. Maybe their TV's too.

The article says the refrigerators would be turned off for ten minutes at a time.   That's probably not going to put anyone at risk of food spoilage.

I guess it would be okay.

Is it worth it? How much electricity does the fridge use in ten minutes?    I guess if you add it up, there could be some savings.  There might not be a lot of individual household savings, but maybe it would save energy state-wide or nationally speaking?

10. Looked at this Nebraska website.  It says a modern refrigerator costs $3.55 a month to run.   That's not much.  That's only about 12 cents a day.  

I'm going to check another website though.  $3.55 a month doesn't sound right to me.I'd expect it to cost much more than that.  

11. Looked at this website. It talks about how refrigerators have become much more efficient in the last few years.

A refrigerator from the 1980's uses about 1150-1700 kWh.  A refrigerator from 2001-2010 uses 600 kWh.   Then if you get one with a special energy star rating, it uses even less.  

The website also had ideas on other ways to save refrigerator electricity money. One suggestion is to turn it off.  A woman talks about how she used ice from outside in the winter to make her fridge cold enough.

12. Wondered if it would be a good idea to have the electric company turn off things for us. A part of me thinks it's silly.  Why can't we be conservative on our own?   Can't we turn off our own fans and air-conditioning when needed?  Can't we turn off lights and the television?

But then I think of my family; and we fail to do things sometimes.   We turn on lights when they're not really needed.  I felt guilty just now and went to shut off the light in here.  I might need lights to read but I don't need a super bright room to work on the computer.

I try to remember to turn off the power strip to my computer at night, but sometimes I forget.  We leave charges plugged in when nothings being charged.  Sometimes I forget to lower fans in rooms we're not using.

We try to be good, but we're not good all the time.  So it might be helpful for people like us to have the electricity company step in and help a bit.   Maybe. I think they should leave the TV's alone though.  There'd be too much risk of turning it off when someone's in the middle of watching a program.

13. Had an idea. They could have a warning on the TV that says TV will turn off in three minutes unless you press the button.  That way if someone is watching TV, they can prevent the off-thing from happening.

14. Decided that the one who really could lower all our energy usage is Mother Nature. If we had perfect weather, no one would have to use heat or air-conditioning.

It's not easy to lower your electricity usage when you have weeks upon weeks of 100 degree weather.  

15. Had a feeling that Finnikin of the Rock is supposed to partly symbolize the plight of the Palestinians.  There's talk of people living in tents. There's people tossed out from their homeland.   There's talk of people turning to violence because they've had such difficult lives.

There's this quote.  Look at them. Do you believe that a strip of land in someone else's kingdom will be any better than this?

It could be my imagination.  I don't know. The Palestinians aren't the first and only people to have their land taken over by others.  

16. Saw that the Australian dollar has gone down again. It's at 1.018 American dollars.

17. Saw article that says Richard E Grant is going to be in the new Kath and Kim movie. I remember I used to like Richard E Grant, but now I can't even remember what movies he was in.   Was he in A Chorus of Disapproval?  

Well, I'll go look him up on IMDb.....


He was in Dracula.  I don't really remember him in that.   He was in LA Story. I sort of remember that movie, but not enough to remember Richard E Grant. 

He was in other movies that I've seen, but I don't remember him.

He wasn't in A Chorus of Disapproval.  

It's very strange to remember liking an actor, but then not remember any of their actual performances.  

18. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read the continuation of Advanced DADA Lesson 1: Boggarts and Ridikulus.  

There's been two new posts since the last time I read this story thread. One's from Blake Harper and the other is from Nyssa Jones.

19. Started reading the story.

Blake has a lot going on in his mind.

He's feeling awkward about getting caught kissing Nyssa.

He's excited because he's conjured a full-bodied Patronus.

He's nervous about the upcoming Quidditch game.

And he's bit shocked to learn that the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is the werewolf they were hunting earlier.

20. Learned from Nyssa's post that Professor Rodrigez is a substitute.  Some other teacher was supposed to be teaching DADA, but had some kind of horrible accident.  Really?  Who was that?

21. Looked at the Defense Against the Dark Art forum.   It looks like the last professor was James B Schlinger.  James liked to sing and he was a fan of Danielle Steele novels.

I hope he survives his accident.

22. Learned that my Australian of the day was a botanist named Robert Henry Anderson.

Robert was born in Cooma, New South Wales in 1899. Where is Cooma again?   I forget.   Is it south of Sydney?

23. Learned from Google Maps that I'm right.  I love when that happens.

So...yes.   It's south of Sydney. The drive is about 4.5 hours.

24. Learned that, at some point, Robert's family moved to Sydney. He attended Fort Street High School.   That's in Sydney, not in Cooma.  Then again, he may have been a boarding student.  So maybe Robert only left Cooma and not the rest of the family. 

Robert attended the University of Sydney. Then later he became a botanist.

He wrote books about trees in New South Wales.

He did a research paper on the saltbush family.

25. Found a website about the saltbush. It has some photos.

The saltbush is native to Australia.

Lord Wiki says the reason they're called saltbushes is they're very tolerant of salt in the soil. They're good for places that have soil salination.  

26. Googled the scientific name of the plant Robert studied.   It's Chenopodiaceae.   Lord Wiki says some Chenopodiaceae plants make foods that we eat—spinach, beets, chard, and quinoa.    Here's a website about all that. 

27. Learned that Robert Anderson didn't have it easy when it came to dealing with the government.   It seems they didn't give plants the same amount of respect that he did.

In the 1950's he tried to battle against the building of the Cahill Expressway.  He didn't win and one of the major losers was something called Fig Tree Avenue. I guess it was a street with a lot of fig trees?

If I'm understanding things correctly, Robert Anderson had gardens.    Then eventually those gardens became the Royal Botanical Gardens. Maybe he's like the daddy of the Royal Botanical Gardens.    He's important to me then, because I love the Royal Botanical Gardens.  

After Robert died, a building in the Royal Botanical Gardens was named after him.

28. Learned from the Royal Botanical Garden website that Robert Anderson wasn't really the father of the botanical gardens. There were many directors and curators of the garden.   Anderson was one of them.   He was the chief botanist, though, when the gardens became ROYAL. Before that, they were missing the royalty bit.

29. Read more of the history of the gardens.  The real father was probably Charles Fraser.  He was the first colonial botanist in Australia. He wasn't related to Eliza Fraser...was he?

30. Consulted Lord wiki about Eliza and Charles Fraser.   The two don't seem to be strongly connected.  However, Lord Wiki says that Charles Fraser climbed Mount Eliza. So...well...he has some connection to an Eliza thing.

Charles died in 1831.  That was five years before Eliza was involved in the shipwreck.  

They were both from Scotland though. They may have been related in some way.

31. Found another Charles and Eliza connection.

In 1827, Charles Fraser went with Captain James Stirling on a Swan River expedition.

Guess what's the name of Eliza's shipwrecked ship?  Stirling Castle.

32. Learned from the Royal Botanical Gardens website that there's no longer an Anderson building.   His namesake used to be the herbarium.   But now there's a new herbarium called the Robert Brown building.  One Robert won over the other Robert.

Lord Wiki says Robert Brown was another botanist who did work in Australia.

33. Felt sad for Robert Anderson.   Why didn't they just make a new building for the other Robert?   Or maybe they could have split the buildings in half.—one side for Robert Anderson and the other side for Robert Brown. Or maybe they could have subtracted the Robert bit and named the building Anderson Brown.  

34. Started to look at a LJ Gervasoni Flickr photo set.  This one is called cemeteries and memorials.  

Here's something called the Springthorpe Memorial. 

Lord Wiki says it's within the Boroondara General Cemetery which is located in the Melbourne suburb of Kew.

35. Found Boroondara Cemetery on Google Maps.   It's about 20 minutes east of the Melbourne CBD.  

36. Learned more about the Springthorpe Memorial from Lord Wiki.

A doctor had it built to honor his wife. She died in childbirth.

37. Intrigued by the inscription on the memorial.   Lord Wiki says it says

My own true love
Pattern daughter perfect mother and ideal wife
Born on the 26th day of January 1867
Married on the 26th day of January 1887
Buried on the 26th day of January 1897 

She was born on Australia Day, got married on Australia Day, and died on Australia Day? Really?

I'm thinking Lord Wiki has made a mistake.

38. Read story about the memorial to Annie Springthorpe.  The article does confirm that she was married on Australia Day. I'm not sure about her birth and death.

It's all very romantic.   This man really loved his wife.  Not only did he build the memorial for her; but he also filled four diaries with his grief over her death, and he turned their home into a shrine.

39. Saw that I have been permanently banned from the Walking Melbourne Forum.  I don't think I've ever been on the forum, so I can't imagine what I did to get myself banned.  Maybe I have an alternate personality that wreaks havoc on architectural message boards?

40. Realized I don't need the Walking Melbourne Forum, thank you very much. LJ himself has a photo of the inscription.    It does say her birth, death, and marriage occurred on 26 January.   On top of all that, each of the years (birth, death, and marriage) end in a 7. She was born in 1867, was married on 1887, and died in 1897.

41. Found that Australia's National Portrait Gallery has an information page about the Springthorpe family.  Well, it's a transcript of a speech by Anne Sanders, actually. 

Peter Pettigrew is sort of involved.  

42. Read the speech.  This is so fascinating. First Sanders talks about John Springthorpe.  He was born in England in 1855. His family came to Sydney when he was about six. Then in 1872 they moved to Melbourne  John would have been about sixteen then.  

When John was in school he made a friend named Edgar Ingliss. This is significant because that was his wife's maiden name. Maybe Edgar was her brother?

Okay, yes.  See, John's parents moved back to England when he was in college. So the Ingliss family to John was kind of like the Weasley family to Harry Potter. Although it wasn't exactly the same because John's parents weren't dead. And the Ingliss family was wealthy unlike the Weasley's who were not.  

They had a surrogate family thing going on though; and John got to know Edgar's siblings.   One of them was Annie. It's like Harry and Ginny! I wonder if Edgar had twin siblings who loved practical jokes......

43. Learned that Annie rejected John's first marriage proposal. But he persisted. They ended up getting married on her birthday which was Australia Day. Wow.

44. Learned that the memorial in today's world would probably cost between $700,000-1.3 million.    I think it's so romantic that John Springthorpe loved his wife so much.   But he probably didn't need to spend that much money on her tomb.  It would have probably been better to give it to charity.   Maybe?   I don't know.  It's a beautiful and historical monument.  Like any piece of art, people enjoy looking at it.

Yeah.  Now that I think of it. It's incredibly stupid of me to say that.  If money should always go towards charity instead of beautiful things, than we'd have no beautiful buildings, no statues, no monuments, no motion pictures, etc.

45. Read about John and Annie's children,  Their eldest son ran away to Queensland and was missing for 18 months.  He left to avoid his father's expectations. Maybe John was pressuring him to be a doctor?

46. Learned that somehow the kids were second cousins to Martin Boyd.  It might be explained in the speech.  I kind of skimmed through some of it.

47. Reread and found out how the Springthorpe kids were related to Martin Boyd.   The รก Beckett family was first cousins with the Ingliss family. One of their daughters (Emma Minnie) married Arthur Boyd.

48. Learned that John Springthorpe was a physician during the war.   He wrote an article about what he saw for the Medical Journal of Australia.  He said...

When you consider the hell of fire which they have endured, you can imagine the state of their nerves. Some could not speak, see nor hear for a month or more. Some had tremors of the whole body. Officers, whose courage could not be doubted, were unable to speak. I satisfied myself that men of 19 and 20 cannot stand physical and mental strain such as they were called upon to stand. I saw boys, not much over 17, and it is doubtful they will ever be the same again, owing to the shock and strain

After he wrote that he was told not to write any more articles.  Interesting....

Sanders, though, says that because of John Springthorpe's interference, the death penalty for soldier cowardice was not inflicted on any Australian soldiers.  386 British soldiers were executed for cowardice and desertion. The British believed the same should happen to Australian soldiers.   Fortunately, Australia refused to follow their lead. 

If John Springthorpe is really responsible for that...then wow.  This guy isn't just romantic.  He's a major hero.    

49. Learned that John Springthorpe's life became rough at the end.  He lost his job.  He had financial difficulties.  He had to ask his children for money. If I'm reading this right, they said no. 

One person who came to his rescue was Keith Murdoch, Rupert's Daddy. He gave John a weekly column in The Herald.

50. Started to look at another LJ Gervasoni photo set. This one is called night

I don't know if I'm a huge fan of night photos, but I do like this picture of Melbourne a little bit.  

51. Reminded of Professor Rodrigez when I saw this photo.   

52. Realized it's not completely true that I dislike night photos.  I like the photos we took of London at night. 

Well....maybe. I know I liked seeing London at night. I'm not sure if the photos match the experience.  

53. Skipped over some of LJ's night picture.  It's not my thing.

I'm going to look at his animal set instead.  

Here's a cute puppy picture

54. Loved this insect picture.   Wow.  

And here's a cool cat picture. 

55. Liked this magpie photo. 

56. Failed to get excited over all the duck photos.   Personally, they're not my thing.  

But I do like this black swan picture.  

57. Amazed by this bee photo.  

58. Thought this puppy photo was overly cute.  

This guy needs a hug!