Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scary Animals, Kondoot, Simon Baker, and Bad News

1. Read Andrew's post about pit bulls. He thinks they should be banned.  

2. Read an article about the issue. It talks about different sides of the debate.

The Victorian government introduced laws in 2005 that said all pit bull-related breeds had to be de-sexed.  The hope is the animals become extinct this least in Victoria.

Then there's the president of the American Pit Bull Terrier Association of Australia—Colin Muir.  Not surprisingly, he defends the pit bulls.  He says, The issue is not about breed, it's about dogs and dogs in the community and how we look after them.  He also says no dog of any breed should be left alone with children.

Okay, but the child who was killed in Melbourne was NOT alone with the dog.  Her mother was right there with her.

Should we then say no dogs should be around children?  Should people have to make a choice—dog or children?

Another person who agrees with Colin Muir is dog trainer and behaviorist Brad Griggs.  He says, One pit bull acts as differently to another pit bull as a Doberman acts to a Yorkshire terrier.

"I come across more dangerous golden retrievers and Yorkshire terriers and Yorkshire-cross Shih Tzus etc than I come across dangerous mastiff-style dogs. Most of them will only lick you to death.

My feeling is pit bulls have a reputation now for being dangerous. So why do people buy them? Is it like the people who buy a blue ring octopus? Do they want to feel dangerously cool and brave? Daring?   Is it about being oppositional?   Or are they trying to prove a point?   I don't believe pit bulls deserve their reputation, so I'm going to get one and raise him to be a sweet and loving dog.

3. Wondered if some people get a pit bull because they feel misjudged by society. They figure the pit bulls are misjudged too, and feel some type of kinship with them.

4. Read comments on an old post Andrew linked to in his recent post.  These people (or one person?) under the name of anonymous claim their pit bulls are good sweet animals. Yet they themselves are absolutely awful.  One comment says:

Listen man you are an idiot, pit bulls are the most loving dogs u can have and they are great with children. I have a 9 month old boy and my pit loves him, she is very protective of him. So sew up ur puss and quit bad mouthing pits. I hope someday your "non pit" that is so perfect eats your f-ing face off, and that goes for the rest of you idiots that bad mouths pits also. 

That's just so disgustingly hateful.  It makes me kind of believe Mr. Muir.  Maybe it's not a matter of pit bulls being genetically mean.  Maybe it's a matter of them being raised by hateful people.

I shouldn't say that though. I think I'm a nice person and I have a mean cat.  Mushu attacked Jack when Jack was a toddler.  My immediate thought was we need to put him to sleep.   Instead we had him declawed.  I know it's cruel, but I felt it was better than putting him to sleep.  He seems to have had a happy life without his claws.

Mu Shu is incredibly sweet with me.  He's extremely cuddly.  He's like a stuffed animal.   I have to give him ear drops  He doesn't like it, but he won't hiss at me or try to bite. But with many other people, he's scary.  So that's the thing.   Just because your pet is nice to you, and maybe your family, it doesn't mean he's going to get along with everyone. Animals can be moody and unpredictable.

Jack and Mushu have gotten along well through the years, but not so much recently.  Mushu has acted weird around Jack, and now Jack is scared of him.  So we keep the two separated for the most part.  When Jack does see Mushu I'm there with them, and usually holding Mushu in my arms.

When children come over, we lock up Mushu.  For awhile we relaxed the rule and Mushu acted fine.  But now he's getting cranky in his old age; so he's locked up again.  

I'm not really worried that Mushu will kill a child.  I think it would be difficult for a 13 pound cat with no claws to inflict much damage.  But it IS scary to have a cat hiss, swipe, and maybe bite you.  

5. Loved Jayne's post.  It has her 39 things she's learned in her adulthood. I wish I could tape some of them to my brain.

A few of my favorites:

It's easier to be happy if you can find pleasure in simple, relatively mundane things. They are everywhere, every day, if you look for them. LOOK FOR THEM! Life's major happy-making events are comparatively few and far between.

Perfection is also boring. Flaws add character. Imperfection is perfection.

Do what makes you happy. Coolness is overrated. Cool schmool.

You will be happier if you stop reading women's magazines.

There's much more besides that, but I don't want to rewrite her own post.   Then she'll probably add #40.  Write your own blog entries rather than copying and pasting from someone else's.   

6. Tired of children dying.  It's the thing I can absolutely not tolerate.  I'm happy for those who get to live an extremely long life. But if I could make a deal with the devil, I'd trade in their post 80 years.  In return, I'd get the guarantee that no child should get severely ill, severely injured, or die.

Maybe I'll feel differently when I'm 79.

I hope I don't.

I hope I'd be willing to let go of life graciously.

7. Hoped that if I reach the age of 79, I'll realize how lucky I am to have gotten that far.  

8. Read some of Chapter 5 of Michael Fuery's Dream Within a Dream.  It's fantastic. He gives his version of what happened to the girls on Hanging Rock.

9. Read interview with Patrick McGorry about criticism regarding intervention for people who show signs of early psychosis. He insists that science proves his program is a good thing.   

McGorry says that patients showing signs of pre-psychosis had a 30-40% chance of getting full on psychosis within twelve months.  He says it's about 400 times higher than the general population.

Still, though.  That means 60-70% of young people would be getting unnecessary treatment.   Is that bad?   I don't know.   I'm very weary of psychiatric drugs.  But McGorry says, But what the studies actually show is there is no need to use anti-psychotic medications as first line in these patients.   Instead he advocates using fish oil and cognitive behavioral therapy.  I'd probably be okay with that.

I'm still weary though of labeling people with mental illnesses. If I recall correctly, I looked at the warning signs of early psychosis and they matched myself as a teenager. I'll go look again.....

10. Went to the EPPIC (Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre) website.  

On this page they list warning signs of impending psychosis. 

A. Changes in affect such as anxiety, irritability and depression
B. Changes in cognition such as difficulty in concentration or memory
C. Changes in thought content, such as a preoccupation with new ideas often of an unusual nature
D.Physical changes such as sleep disturbance and loss of energy
E. Social withdrawal and impairment of role functioning, which can include deterioration in school or work performance

I can understand that these might be signs of approaching doom. But I think they're sometimes normal reactions to stress and upsetting situations.  What if a teen is bullied at school?  What if someone is dumped by their beloved boyfriend?  Might they experience those signs?  Life is full of crap, and I think the symptoms above are reasonable reactions.  How do you distinguish between normal and abnormal?  I'm hoping EPPIC has a system of doing that. Maybe they ask certain questions before slapping on a stigmatizing diagnosis.  

Where do you draw the line between normal reactions to distressing life experiences and early psychosis? 

Where do you draw the line between weird/quirky and mental illness?

11. Learned from article that people in Brisbane have created a new social-networking site.    This one is called Kondoot.  It's big feature is streaming. It's like a cross between Facebook (and all the others) and YouTube.

Okay, social networking is the one instance in which I love the idea of a monopoly. It's too confusing with all these sites.  It's a pain to join and keep up with all of them.  And the sites aren't that fun if not enough people are participating.  A lot of people aren't participating because they're busy on the social-networking site that you didn't bother to join. I wish we could all be together on one site.  

12. Went to the Kondoot website.  

I guess I'll join just for the hell of it.

I really don't like the idea of streaming video. Then I'll feel obligated to put on a bra.

13. Joined the site, and started to watch a video of a baby sleeping.

I really can't see what I can get from this site that I can't get from YouTube.  

13. Read article about small and medium businesses preferring to hire overseas. They want immigrants.  There's not enough Australians with the needed skills.   

I agree with a commenter who calls himself Disbeleiving.  He says:

How about companies actually train young australians with apprenticeships and traineeships instead of looking for workers with minimum 3 years experience in the trade the reason they cant find the workers is because there are none out there as barely anyone is willing to train them. as they state at the start of this report "To find skilled labour" that says it all they are not willing to train young australians that may have the work ethic that they want they would rather just try fill the spot with immigrants that are brought over it will be a repetitive cycle once the immigrants are to old to work once again there will be a skill shortage because no one has been trained, so what do they do bring in more immigrants when all they have to do is train people.

They just need to make sure the training is affordable.   By this, I mean it's best if trainees get a low salary.  Or they should at least get housing and food allowances.

15. Read more of the comments on the article. It's interesting.   There's disagreement between business owners and people looking for a job.   TJF from Canberra says, I have a small business car wash which pays well above award wages, interesting work, not physically difficult just commonsense and some basic people skills. A great job for students with good hours. I cannot get enough people to fill positions. Sometimes applicants don't even turn up for an interview.    

A guy named John responds to the article (not TJF's comment) by saying, That is not true. I was a graduate in IT a few years ago and no small businesses wanted to employ me. They want people with experience, and more than that, with the exact experience in their specific field. They do not want to train a graduate, and it is much easier to find an overseas applicant with that specific skill sets.

They're probably both right.  I bet there's Australians out there willing to work, and there's probably business owners willing to train and hire.  Maybe they're just not finding each other.  

16. Made a video for Kondoot.   I had Mushu participate.  Although I don't imagine the Kondoot plan will work, I still have hopes it will somehow succeed.  So...I gave my small little contribution to the experiment.  

17. Read article that explained how the pit bull got into the home of the family that didn't own him.  
Family members were on the driveway.  The dog came and scared them. They tried to get inside and the dog followed.

That is so scary!

When I was going to school in Los Angeles, I'd sometimes encounter a mean dog on the walk to school.   I guess he wasn't so horrible because I never got attacked.  But he would growl and bark at me.  That scared me. I really don't think any dog should be allowed to roam free in neighborhoods, but especially not dogs like that.

The article says that America has had 186 fatal dog attacks since 2005.  More than half involved pit bulls or part-pit bulls.  I think this is indication that these dogs should not be allowed as pets.

If a usually-nice breed of dog has a freak escape from a yard and kills someone, I think the owners should have a minor punishment. I think the guilt and sadness they feel will probably be enough. If the owners have a dangerous dog, and they failed to adequately contain it; I think they should be punished severely.   

18. Looked at University of Minnesota website about dog attacks. They say that pit bulls are twice as more likely to attack outside the owner's property than other dogs.

On this page they say, acknowledging that large dogs tend to do more damage when they do happen to bite does not discount the fact that certain breeds are intentionally bred for aggression, and that certain dog owners are drawn to these breeds. American pit bulls are descendants of bulldogs, a breed used in the nineteenth century for dog fighting that has retained a lowered inhibition to aggression. Most dogs fight as a last resort, but a pit bull is willing to fight with little or no provocation. Pit bulls often strike without growling or assuming an aggressive facial expression, and they are often insensitive to behaviors displayed by defeated dogs that usually stop an attack, such as rolling over and exposing the underside of the belly. On several occasions, pit bulls have been reported to disembowel dogs offering this signal of submission.

So after reading that and reading the comments on Andrew's blog, I'm going to conclude for now that I agree with Andrew. These dogs shouldn't be allowed as pets.    I think they should be bred out of existence.  For those already alive, they should be given to people who are VERY carefully screened. Or maybe only professional dog handlers should own them.
19. Finished cleaning up a major laundry accident (100% my fault) and now I'm going to go to Tallygarunga.

I see that one of the role-players is sick. I hope it's not serious and I hope he (she?) feels better soon.

What story thread am I reading today?

Let's see.....

20. Found the story thread, and I'm so excited. Why??

Because one of the characters has an AUSTRALIAN FACE CLAIM!!!!!

I often check the newbies to see if anyone has made my wish come true.  This one must have slipped past me.  He or she joined on August 9.  The Aussie face belongs to Simon Baker.

Then the other character is using Gerald Butler's face.  He's not Australian, but still pretty awesome.

The story is called Can I Have Your Autograph.  It takes place in the Melbourne CBD in a restaurant called Etheral Life.

The two characters in the story are James Young (Simon Baker) and Sergei Zhalobov Bogaevsky (Gerald Butler).  James is a chef, and Bogaevsky teaches broom flying.

21. Noticed that James is a chef, and his face claim's last name is baker. That's cute.

22. Started to read the story. It takes place on the evening of August 9.

James is a squib who works at a Melbourne restaurant. He's a big Quidditch fan and is excited to learn that Sergei is in the restaurant.

It seems Sergei isn't just a professor. He's a former Quidditch star.

23. Continued to read.  James went over to Sergei and asked for his autograph.  Sergei is feeling a bit glum, and maybe lonely.  He pushes himself to be nice to James and accepts the autograph request.

24. Learned that James is gay.


I think Sergei may be gay too.

Well, it says here:

He watched as James settled his chin on his hand again, looking him with wide blue eyes. The ex-Keeper held his gaze for a moment and then dropped it, trying to look like he wasn't feeling flustered at sitting across the table from such an attractive man. What am I, a twelve-year-old girl? he thought to himself as he felt a blush creeping across his face.

He wouldn't necessarily have to be gay.   I think I might be flustered if I met a really attractive woman.   But if I was very attractive myself...and a celebrity; would I be flustered around another attractive person who wasn't a celebrity?  Do very attractive people get flustered around other very attractive people?

25. Finished reading the story thread.   I liked it. It's very sweet.  It goes along with the fantasy many of us have— that our favorite celebrity will want to become our friend.

I wrote a whole novel about it. It's probably awful, but that's okay.

26. Started to read chapter six of Dream Within a Dream, and the Kindle started singing to me.   It was a bit startling, but funny. It turns out Tim has MP3's on it.  I must have pressed the wrong button somehow.  

27.  Started to read the biography of James Young.  

His role-player is MJ.  She (or he) is also the role-player of Benjamin Lawson.

I can see similarities between the two characters.  First of all, they're both gay.   I guess that's not a huge thing because a lot of people are gay.  But they're also both VERY nice.  There's a humbleness to them.   

28. Learned that James likes to go barefoot.  I do too. I tend to not wear shoes unless I'm going out somewhere. If I'm doing something outside the house, but in our yard, I'll usually go without shoes.

James wears a flower in his pocket every day. That's interesting. I wonder if he sees it as good luck, or something like that.

29. Learned that James is extroverted.  He's a people person. He likes giving hugs.

He's slow to anger and quick to forgive. 

When he gets worried he bakes a lot.

He sounds perfect...maybe a little too perfect.

In the story thread itself, though, he sounded much more relatable.   

30. Started to read the history of James.

His parents are both wizards, but his mother is Muggle-born.  James is said to be a half-blood. It would be the same as Harry Potter.  He had a pureblood father and a Muggleborn mother. I've always been confused about whether he'd be a half-blood or pure-blood. 

31. Went to a Harry Potter message board.   They say Harry is a half-blood.  SoonerGryffindor says, No, Jo has said that she used the Nazi definition of determining blood status when she was coming up with this concept. Since Harry has 2 muggle grandparents, he is half-blood.

Then the next person replies, Almost, anyway. What she says on her website is that she first decided on the definitions that the Death Eaters of Potterverse would use, then was "chilled to see that the Nazis used precisely the same warped logic."

32. Went back to reading about James Young.  

He has three older siblings.

When he was thirteen, James started noticing that he wasn't interested in girls. By the time he was fourteen he knew he was gay.  He came out to his family at the age of fifteen. 

33. Thought it was sad that I'm skeptical about someone being extremely nice.

Being nice is actually not being too perfect.  It can be a weakness, because it's easy to become a doormat.

I feel that I'm too nice sometimes.  Or maybe it's more that I'm too nice to people who don't deserve it.  I'm not like James though. I'm NOT slow to anger and quick to forgive. I'm quick to anger and slow to forgive.

I want to be nice to everyone.  I want everyone to be nice to me and everyone else.   When they're not very nice, I get annoyed; but I try to suppress my feelings. I continue to try to be nice even though I'm not feeling nice inside.  Then I get moody and resentful. Usually I'll explode eventually.

It doesn't always have to be a huge dramatic scene. Sometimes it might be a biting sentence or two in an email. Or I'll mute the offending person on Facebook.  

I guess, because of my own feelings, it's hard for me to understand someone like James.   If I meet someone who's happy and full of love all the time, I begin to suspect they're suppressing negative feelings.

I'm probably projecting my own issues onto them.   

34. Read about koalas in National Geographic Kids magazine. I learned they're very loud sometimes.   I didn't know that.  

Here's a video of a koala making noise.

If I heard that, I'd be thinking,Oh no!  The drop bear thing isn't a myth!  

Or I might think it's a cow with asthma.

35. Sad to hear about the helicopter crash in Australia.  A pilot died along with a cameraman and journalist for ABC.

I feel there's so much bad news lately. It's one thing after another.

36. Wondered. Is 2011 a really crappy year; or am I just more aware of the news now?

Speaking of bad news, yesterday Jack pointed out a coincidence in our life. JFK died on my birthday—9 years before I was born.  His son died on Tim's birthday.   It's weird I never noticed that before.    I remember watching the news about his death.   Wouldn't I have noticed his date of death?   Although I often forget that Tim was born on July 16 and think he was born on the 17th. Maybe I was confused about all that. 

37. Learned from Lord Wiki that six people in America have died from pit bulls in 2011.The years not even over yet!

People would probably be better off getting a pet crocodile.  

I like dragonflies. They're small and and cute...and very beautiful.   I wouldn't want them as a pet, though.   I like to see them being free.  

38. Learned that my Australian of the day is Selina Sarah Elizabeth Anderson.   She was a parliamentary candidate, a trade unionist, and a photographic retoucher.   None of these things are making me jump with excitement.  But maybe it will be surprisingly interesting.

Oh!  There is something interesting.  When she was going to school in Tambaroora, New South Wales she'd sulk and refuse to answer questions in class.  That's an intriguing character trait.   Although it was probably annoying for the teacher.

39. Found Tambaroora on Google Maps.   It's about 1.5 hours south of Bathurst.  

40. Read more about Selina Sarah Elizabeth Anderson. Her father was elderly and her mother was much younger.  When Selina was a baby, her father died.  Her mother remarried, and  Selina was given the surname of her stepfather (Anderson).  

Selina did the photographic work in her mid 20's.

Then she got into politics.  She tried to get into Parliament as a Protectionist candidate.  Like Pauline Hanson, she was against Asian immigration.

It seems Selina is most famous for being the first women to try to get a seat in the House of Representatives.

41. Consulted Lord Wiki about women in the House of Representatives.  He says the first to actually get a seat was Enid Lyons.  She was the wife of Joseph Lyons.

Did I write about her before?  I can't remember.

42. Checked my list of biography posts.  I don't see Enid Lyons on there.  

43. Went to Flick and started to look at page 11 of Stuart's Tasmania photo set.  

44. Liked the purple and white flowers in this picture.  Maybe they're daisies? 

45. Wondered if these berries are edible. They look kind of like grapes.  

46. Saw a face in the moss in this picture.   I think it looks like a gorilla.

47.  Wondered why my iTunes DJ played three Greg Page songs in a row. One was a Wiggles song, and the other two were from Greg Page's grown-up music album.  

48. Started to look at page 12-13 of Stuart's Tasmania photo set.   I'm just going to look at them together since it's the end of it. 

Here's a picture taken on April 28, 2011. It has autumn leaves.   It's funny for an American like me to see Autumn in April.   For me, April is springtime.  

49. Liked this picture. I like seeing houses near the sea.  

50. Wondered. What is this bridge?   Stuart has a lot of pictures of it.   All I know is that it's in Hobart.

51. Did some research with the help of Lord Wiki.

It's called The Hobart Bridge.

No....wait. I'm wrong.   It's called the Tasman Bridge. The Hobart Bridge is extinct. It closed in 1964.  

Or maybe it's not the Tasman Bridge.

I'm lost.

52. Liked the cat in this picture.

I'm more of a cat person than a dog person.   I hope no one reads this right after going to that Red Dog movie. They'll probably hate me.  

53. Liked this picture of the moon. We watched The Colbert Show today.   Stephen Colbert suggested we blow up the moon.   He wants to save us from werewolves.  I guess he's not heard of Wolfsbane Potion

54. Saw more cool moon photos.

55.  Looked at the I Found Your Camera website.  I guess there's still a part of me that's hoping one day our 2009 Sydney pictures will be found.

They weren't there.

I'm guessing the photos were probably erased.

56. Found my next Flickr stalking target.   It's a company/organization called Visit Shoalhaven.

Here's their website. I think they're a tourism company for Shoalhaven.  

I'm not sure exactly where Shoalhaven is. I think though that it's south of Sydney.  Is it near Kiama?

57.  Found Shoalhaven on Google Maps.  

I'm right.   It's near Kiama.   It's even closer to Gerroa, where we stayed.  


I'll start looking at the Shoalhaven photos tomorrow.