Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mount Confusion, Michael Fuery, Learning Adventures, and Miranda

1. Woke up in middle of the night to pee.  I decided to check my email and saw the ever important email from Qantas.  They're making changes, but we shouldn't worry.  They're still Australian.


I guess I'll hear more about that later.

2. Dreamed about Australia.  We seem to be living in Sydney, but not permanently.  It's temporary.   Well, we seem to have a real home, but there's a sense that eventually we'll have to leave.

We've begun to take Australia for granted.  We no longer go out everyday all day.   It's winter and we've been spending a lot of our time in our home. Suddenly I regret this and want to go out.   It has snowed a little bit; and I want to see snow in Sydney. I think about taking photos. Other people will have better photos, but I decide that's okay.

I talk to Tim and Jack about going out. Tim says we'll go out, but first we have to deal with these people who are coming over to help us with something.  They're workmen of some sort. Maybe security, or something related to package delivery?  They come in, and a third workmen, not connected with the others, comes in too. 

Some of us end up sitting on the couch watching a show starring Rick Schroeder. We're a bit squished. The third workmen is next to me.  As a sort of joke I learn my head on his shoulder. He laughs, but it's not a very friendly laugh. 

Then the next thing I know the other two workmen are gone. We've begun to watch some show about serial killers.  Then the third workman says something along the lines of, "How do you know I'm not a serial killer?"  I start to get a bit nervous.

3. Had some Hobart suburb confusion.   Someone emailed me and kindly pointed out that my link to Mount Stuart leads to a photo of Mount Nelson.  I suspected I had done something very foolish.   The photographer that I stalked yesterday is named Stuart.  I figured I got his name confused with the mountains.  I followed my link to the Mount whatever to see what was going on.   It did say Mount Nelson.  Just before I was about to be totally embarrassed over my mistake, I looked over at the tags.  There it says Mount Stuart and not Mount Nelson.

Now I'm wondering. Did I look at the tags instead of the photo description?   I'm doubtful of that.   I usually look at the tags only if there's no photo description.  I'm wondering if Stuart (the photographer) went back and changed the title suddenly. Maybe he realized there had been a mistake?

I found Mount Nelson and Mount Stuart on Google Maps.  They're pretty close to each other—sixteen minutes apart.  Maybe it's like how I often tell people we stayed in Kiama; but in reality we stayed in Gerroa. I think it's because I know how to pronounce Kiama.  

4. Realized this is the 4th anniversary of the week we bought our first planet tickets to Australia. It was after that day that my mild background interest in Australia because something huge.

It's probably not accurate to call it a mild background interest. It would be more precise to label it a suppressed obsession.

I wish I knew the exact day we bought the tickets. But I don't.

5. Looked at my old Livejournal. The first time I mention the trip is August 21. So maybe next week is the anniversary.

Although maybe I didn't post it on my Livejournal until days after it happened. I talk about going to the library and getting Australia books.   I know I didn't do it the day we bought the tickets. Jack's birthday would have been the day before. I don't remember buying the tickets on his birthday.   I'm guessing it would be the Friday before, which would be the 17th.    

6. Learned that one of my email-pals (Michael Fuery) has written and published a book.  He was keeping it a secret, and then he sent me the surprise email.

It's a sequel to A Picnic At Hanging Rock called Dream Within a Dream.

I'm so excited about it.  First of all, it's exciting to know your email-pal has written a book.   Second, it's something that sounds very interesting to me. I'd be a little less excited if an email-pal wrote to me and said, I wrote a story about Australian football.

I'd probably feel obligated to suffer through it.  

Now I've been trying to decide if I should wait for the paperback version of Dream Within a Dream, or download it to Kindle.   I'm feeling obligated to download it from Kindle because it's more environmentally responsible. First of all, if I get the paperback it won't be a used book.  Second, he would have to ship it all the way from Australia.   It's not a huge deal.   It's not like I don't ever buy non-used books.  In fact I just ordered one the other day.

I don't know.....

I love the idea of having the book on my bookshelf.

But I have so many books on my bookshelf.

I don't like using the Kindle or any e-reader things though. We're reading The Hunger Games now
electronically, and I think it's a pain. The main problem is I don't know how to use it, so I'm dependent on Jack and Tim. 

I could learn. I should learn.  But I don't really want to.  

7. Downloaded Michael Fuery's novel and I read the first chapter.  It's very nice. It involves a woman walking on the beach.

I think Tim was happy because he's been wanting me to use the Kindle.

I'm not becoming a full convert though. I still prefer regular books. But it might be good for reading new books that I can't easily find used.  

8. Looked up Airey Inlet on Google Maps.  That's the setting for the first chapter of Michael Fuery's book.  

It's located on the Great Ocean Road, and it's about an hour south-west of Geelong.

9. Read article about Qantas.  It sounds much different than that Qantas email. They're firing a thousand people, and expanding in Asia.

Some politicians are expressing concern.

Nick Xenophon says, Well it's official; Qantas can no longer call Australia home. For Qantas, Australia's more of a sleepover than anything else

Adam Bandt, from the Greens, worries that Qantas is out to employ overseas people with lower wages and worse working conditions.

The Qantas CEO (Alan Joyce) is saying they're making the changes so Qantas can survive.

I don't know what to think. But I hope it works out for everyone.

10. Watched video that comes with the Qantas article. Alan Joyce has a very strong Irish accent.

I'm impressed with him because when asked about the overworked Jetstar crew, he admits that there had been a mistake. He said he was annoyed about it and worked to fix it.

Joyce says something interesting.  He says we look at the wages of the Asian Jetstar employees and think they're underpaid.  But to their standards, it's a high-paying job.   He says lawyers are quitting their jobs to work at Jetstar.

That might be true.

If it is, I think it shows how having different monetary systems, in a world where we all buy from each other, can really mess things up. It's not fair to Australian airline workers, but it does make sense to use overseas people.   If they can pay a pilot less in Thailand and give him a higher (or equal) standard of living than a pilot in Australia; it makes sense to use the Thai worker.  

Unless we get all countries on the same currency system, we're going to keep having these problems.

11. Saw that the Australian dollar is getting pretty high again.  It's now 1.049 American dollars.

12. Read Fruitcake's blog.  She shares medical horror stories in response to what I wrote about Jacob Belim.  She says, There's nothing like a medical story to unleash a flood of medical stories. Are those of us who like to talk about our operations simply exchanging cautionary tales and useful information, or do we suffer a serious need for one-up-man-ship?

Then I commented on her post with more medical stories.

One of the things I said in my comment is that anti-Obama folks here would love her post. They'd see it as proof that a public health option doesn't work.  But the truth is, even with private insurance, you still encounter arrogant and unhelpful doctors. There's also problems of being pushed out of the hospital early and insurance companies not covering certain things.

I'm wondering if private insurance is better in Australia than America because there's government health insurance available?  Does that make a difference?

I would think maybe it would because insurance companies would have to compete with the government. Why pay extra for something if you could get something of equal quality for free?

13.  Watched Ryan Kwanten's It Gets Better Video.   He does it with one of his True Blood co-stars.

Their basic message is people shouldn't feel alone for feeling different. They shouldn't keep their feelings bottled up inside. They should reach out and tell a grown-up.

It would be good advice if the world was full of caring people who had good listening skills.

It's not.

If a lonely rejected person reaches out, there's a good chance he'll be ignored, dismissed, laughed at, invalidated, etc.

My feeling is if a person had a good circle of support, he wouldn't be feeling lonely and desperate in the first place. Or at least he'd be feeling less lonely and desperate.

I think the better advice is to reach out and find other people that are like you. They might not be personally supportive.  They might be too wrapped up in their own problems.   But at least you can know you're not the only one who's feeling like an outcast.   Sometimes I think fiction is enough support.  The characters can't literally talk back to you, but they can say (in their own way) you're not the first person to feel this way.  

14. Had thoughts about unschooling.  I was just writing to my friend.  Her family homeschools, but they're not unschoolers.  They follow a curriculum.  The parents decide what the kids will learn and they teach them.   My friend has been telling me about her curriculum plans based on Around the World in 80 Days.  She pointed me to this blog entry.  It had some ideas that she likes.

One thing in the blog reminded me of my pretend-Australia trip plans.  

Chi is keeping a journal of their progress and finding out about the countries and cities that they pass through - location, flags, currency, food, language, famous landmarks etc.

I told my friend about my pretend-Australia-trip plans, and imagined her (and many other people) assuming this was a project I'm planning to do with Jack—an educational homeschooling activity.

It's not.

I'm doing it for me—for my own entertainment.   I think I've told Jack a few times he's welcome to join me.   I imagine he might to a minimum degree.   I also suggested he make his own imaginary trip.  He seemed mildly interested in the idea, probably more to humor me, though.   He did play around on Google Maps.  He's like me in that he enjoys making up driving trips.

I think the thing with unschooling is we don't feel the need to force our children to go on our learning adventures; nor do we use our children as an excuse to pursue a subject.  We understand the joy of learning.  We understand our right to pursue our interests.  And we trust our children will choose their own fantastic learning adventures.  That's not to say we don't ever go on adventures together.   Jack has downloaded a really awesome hangman game.  We've played that together lately.  The other day I found him playing on Google Earth. I joined him and he showed me various things.   Usually though our time together is spent playing stuffed animals.  I'm not sure if that's educational.   Probably not—at least not in a traditional academic way.  

15. Wanted to say that I don't think what I've described above fits only unschoolers. Some people send their children to school, but still have an unschooling spirit.   They love to learn and they don't believe their children's learning is limited to school hours and other types of directive (forced) instruction.   

16. Looked at article about asylum seeker misery. The thing is I don't agree with their method of measuring misery.

Here's what they say is wrong with the detention centers.

72 people have been admitted to the psychiatric hospital.
213 have caused themselves severe enough self-harm that they needed medical attention
723 voluntarily starved themselves and needed medical attention
264 criminal incidents reported to the police.

I'm not saying the detention centers are nice places. I really don't have a clear picture of how bad they are.   I've heard they're understaffed, and that some centers are overcrowded. That kind of information gives me a better picture of what's going on in the detention centers.

Let's go back to bullying.  Some kids have committed suicide.  Does this mean they were bullied worse than kids who didn't commit suicide?  No.  People are born with varying levels of handling things.  Some children are horribly bullied, but they manage to survive.   Maybe they were born with a stronger temperament.  Maybe they were raised in a way that gives them more strength.

The person who screams the loudest isn't necessarily the one in the most pain. It might be that he's more intolerant. It might be that he seeks more attention than others.

Honestly, it's hard for me to feel patient and sympathetic for those who go on hunger strikes. I went through a stage of reading Holocaust books.   People were starved in the death camps.  They were skin and bones—and NOT out of their own choice.  They wanted to eat.   They were desperate to eat.   If I remember correctly some Jews made "immoral" choices because they were so hungry.    There was no need for self-harm in the death camps. There were guards around to do that for you.

And what about the children starving in Africa right now?

I don't want to know how many people are purposely causing harm to themselves in the detention centers.  What I want to know is...

A) are they provided with adequate nutritional food?
B) Are they not physically and mentally abused by staff?
C) Are they protected from other detainees who might be abusive?
D) Are they protected from extreme and uncomfortable temperatures?
E) Can they use the toilet when needed, or do they have an excessive amount of waiting time?
F) If they're sick and injured (not self-inflicted) do they receive adequate medical attention?
G) Are they provided with reasonable amounts of entertainment?  Are there books?  Computers?   Art materials? 

17. Angered again when I read another article about Jacob Belim. 

The article says, Hospital management yesterday announced it would conduct a review of the way children are treated.

I hope this is not the first review. If it is? Why? Why did it take two years for them to review what happened?  Why did it take a public scolding from the coroner to get them to take a look at their practices?

The title of the article is "Jacob Belim's Legacy Will be of Improved Hospitals." An eight-year-old shouldn't have a damn legacy. Legacies are supposed to be for OLD people, not children.

A child shouldn't have to die in order for hospitals to improve their methods.   

Whatever.  As Lady Macbeth says, What's done is done.

Having one hospital look at their practices is not enough to make up for what happened.  Nothing can make up for what happened.  But at the very least, I would want to see a change in medical practices world-wide. I want all hospitals and medical schools to learn from this.

Is there a class in medical school called, How Not To Be an Arrogant Asshole 101 or You're Actually Not Superior to Your Patients 101?  

Well, there should be.

18. Read chapter two of Michael Fuery's book. I loved it.   The first chapter took place in 1999.  The second chapter is in the past. I forgot what year.  It's sometime in the late 1800's.

The characters were on a ship called Miranda.  I wonder if it's real.....

19. Tried to find out of the ship was real, and I ended up getting a page about Miranda Kerr.

20. Frustrated with Kindle.  I stopped at the first page of chapter three, but it's telling me I'm on chapter two.  I must have pressed the wrong button.

21. Went to Tallygarunga. 

Today I'm going to read the continuation of Like Seven Inches From the Midday Sun

This is the story thread in which Eudoxia Karrass is making dinner for Jason Miller in his Brighton Beach home. 

I think I left off on post 2, but I may be wrong.  I might have read post 3, but oh well. I'll reread it.

22. Started to read.

Jason has answered the door in his towel, and Eudoxia jokes about being overdressed.  

Jason gets dressed.

Eudoxia starts to cook her favorite Greek dish, Briám.

Here's people cooking Bríam using solar roasting methods.   

That is really cool.

I'll have to ask Tim if he's heard of solar cooking. It would probably be great for Texas summers.

23. Continued to read about Eudoxia and Jason.

They're talking about going to New York.

24. Liked this line in Eudoxia's post.  

Maybe the idea of him meeting anyone on the Greek side of her family was terrifying. Anyone meeting the Greek side of the family was terrifying. Very few could hold their own but the fact Jason dealt with hardened violent criminals would work in his favor. He would at least be prepared for the inevitable thrown plate or wrestling match that would break out between Petros and Linos, or her father and her uncle Elias.

That's pretty funny. 

25. Learned that my Australian of the day is Robert Stirling Hore Anderson.   He was a solicitor and Parliamentarian. I guess that means he was a Member of Parliament?

Unlike many Anderson people, Robert wasn't born in Scotland. He was born in Ireland.   But maybe he had Scottish roots.

In 1846, Robert set up his own law practice. Then a few years later, when he was in his early thirties, he sailed to Melbourne. He went there with his wife's family.

In Melbourne, Robert became a solicitor and justice of the peace.

Then he got into the Parliament thing.  It was local Parliament, not Federal.  Robert died seventeen years before Australia became a Federation.

24. Read some of chapter three of Michael Fuery's book.  Now I know where the name Miranda comes from.    

I don't know why I didn't make the connection earlier.

25. Continued to read Finnikin of the Rock. I like it, but am finding that I prefer Michael Fuery's book.   

26. Started to look at page 4 of Stuart's Tasmanian photo set.

There's a lot of photos of a bridge in Richmond.  

It was built in 1823.

Lord Wiki says it's on the Australian National Heritage List.  It's made of sandstone and convicts labour was used to build it.

27. Looked at the Australian National Heritage List.  They have an interactive map.  That's really cool.   I bookmarked it.  Hopefully I'll remember to use it for both real trip and pretend trip planning. 

28. Looked at photos of Australia's oldest church.  It's called St. John's,  and it was born in 1836.

29. Saw sad memorial for people who died in the Port Arthur Massacre.  

30. Had a hard time finding a website for St. John's. I found a school, but I'm not sure if it's connected to the church. 

Then I found this grave site which has some information. 

31. Liked this picture of Seven Mile Beach.

We went to a Seven Mile Beach in Gerroa. 

32. Found Seven Mile Beach on Google Maps.   It's about 20 minutes south of the Hobart airport.  

33. Watched Tangled.  It was beautiful.   The paper lantern scene reminded me of how I felt on the flight to Australia in 2007. Chasing a dream.  There was that mixture of excitement and nervousness.   I love the questions Rapunzel asks. What if it doesn't live up to my expectations?   Or what if it does? Then what?

34. Read depressing article about sheep stuck on a broken down ship.  

It's not just a brutal death these sheep have to endure, but also a grueling journey to that death. And now that death shall be prolonged.

I hope they get rid of the live transport stuff.

Maybe I AM with the Greens on this.  Three years is too long to wait.   I think they should end it as soon as possible; or at least have a major phase out.

35. Loved This It Gets Better video...not just because I love the stars.   I also like the message.

36. Started to look at page 5 of Stuart's Tasmania pictures.

37. Liked this picture of shells. It's simple, but nice. 

38. Thought this picture looks like a painting. 

39. Loved this photo.

I looked at it while listening to this song.

The combination of the song and the picture started making me emotional.

I definitely notice that music influence my feelings about photos.

40. Started to look at page 6 of Stuart's Tasmania photos.   At the same time I'm listening to my favorite song. I'm not embedding it because I think I already have too many embedded videos for this post.  

41. Thought this picture was pretty cool.  

Many of the pictures on this page are from Bellerive Beach. I went to a Bellerive school when we lived in St. Louis.  

42. Amazed by all these black shells.   I saw the same ones in someone else's photos. I forgot whose.

43. Started to look at page 7 of Stuart's photos. 

44. Found Bellerive Tasmania on Google Maps.  

It's in the Hobart area. 

Lord Wiki says there's an old police station there.   It was built in 1842.

45. Liked this photo of the Lenah Valley Track.   It reminds me of the creek in our back yard when we lived in St. Louis. 

46. Finished reading chapter three of Michel's Fuery's sequel to Picnic at Hanging Rock.   I'm totally loving the book so far.   I also read a scene that I liked in Finnikin of the Rock; so now I'm starting to love that book a little bit.