Friday, September 2, 2011

Mental Illness, Wrists, Andrews, and Victor Zammit

1. Dreamed about Alex, one of our favorite Australian friends.

I make him a plate of ribs.  I guess I'm serving him? Then I forget I'm a vegetarian and I take a bite out of his food.  I remember, as I'm chewing; and feel regretful.  The ribs taste great, though.  

The funny thing is I felt embarrassed about betraying my vegetarianism, but I didn't seem to be embarrassed about eating off of Alex's plate.

2. Dreamed about my blog.  I think it was inspired by The Hunger Games.  We're reading that now.

I have people working for me, like publicists. They're excited about these three things regarding my blog.  (Maybe something like my blog being mentioned in  three other places).  I personally don't think it's as big a deal as they do. The publicists have this idea that we should hold a baby over a balcony.  I think it's a horrible idea. 

One of my fears is a child being held over a high place.   I have these nightmare daydreams where someone we know grabs Jack and holds him over a balcony, or something like that.  They do it as a  scary joke type thing.

I think it has actually happened, but I can't remember the exact details.  I think I've blocked it out of my mind, or I've distorted it.  It was in Australia, at the Sydney Harbour.  Our friend picked Jack up.   I remember that.   I remember telling him not to do it.   I remember him arguing that he would never drop him, blah, blah, blah.  It was kind of like where the blame is passed to you. It's hard to explain.  But there's that idea of, what?  You don't trust me?  You don't think I'm strong enough?  Why would you think I'd ever drop him?

I don't know if he actually held him over the railing or if he simply came close to the railing (because maybe I stopped him before he went further)   I'm guessing it's the latter.  I think if he actually did it, I would have freaked out more.

I had vague memories of it; didn't really think of it often.  Then I overheard Jack recently talking to other kids; and he told them that, when he was in Australia, our friend held him over a balcony. He wasn't telling it like a horror story—more like a this-was-so-funny story.

3. Bewildered over Amanda's post about a safari park in Denmark.  You know those places where you drive through and see animals?  Well, this one has a tiger in it!  I've never heard of anything like that.  I've been to safari parks; but the ones I've been to have relatively safe animals like giraffes and buffalo. If they have things like lions, they're in cages. They can't approach your car.

I think it would be a little bit cool to have a tiger approach your car.  But I think I'd also be a bit terrified.  That's one of my recurring dreams. I'm out somewhere and there're lions and/or tigers roaming about freely.  I'm scared, but no one else seems to mind.

4. Looked at the safety page of the animal park in Denmark. They seem to be pretty strict about the tiger area.  You have to stay in your car. I guess they trust that the tigers can't attack people when they're in their vehicle.

I was going to say, well, what if people are crazy and get out of their car?  But then I guess you could say the same about people at regular zoos.  Crazy people can jump into some of the animal cages.

5. Learned a little bit about Amanda. She's one of those blogs I added to my follow list, but then never read. I do that a lot.

Then the tiger thing caught my attention.

Anyway, this page gives her story.  She's a Perth girl who loves to travel. She's visited 40 countries, and she's lived in Germany, Japan, and Slovakia.  That's awesome. I'm trying not to be too envious.

The title of Amanda's blog is Not a Ballerina: A Travel Blogger's Life.  She has a cute explanation of why her blog is named that.

6. Saw another article about the threat to Julia Gillard's leadership.  Gillard is saying she won't go without a fight.   She thinks she's the best person for the job. Does she really?  And is she? Or is she just wanting to avoid the shame of losing?

The article quotes her as saying,  I'm not going anywhere. I'm doing this job because I am the best person to do it.   That seems a little arrogant to me. Is she trying to say that no one in the Labor Party is as competent as her?

7. Read article about a small freshwater crocodile being found in a Darwin pool.  The lifeguard thought it was a joke at first, but then realized there really was a crocodile.  He scooped it up with a leaf net thing.

The article says the crocodile was 40 centimeters, which is about 15 inches.  That's pretty small.  But then the article has a picture of a crocodile at a pool. It looks much bigger.

It's confusing.

8. Read article about patients dying in Victorian mental hospitals.  The article says that thirty-six people died unexpected, unnatural, or violent deaths between 2008-2010.  That's pretty scary.

The article says 975 mentally ill patients have died since 2006-2010. But not all of them were under the direct care of a mental health facility at the time of death.

Psychiatry can save some, but it can't save them all.

It's interesting.  I remember reading anti-Scientology stuff.  There were patients who turned to Scientology faith-healing and failed to get psychiatric help. They died.  So anti-Scientologists present that as evidence that the religion/cult is horrible.

I don't think it's fair, because psychiatry is not a perfect system. It has many flaws. It can't fix everything. And from this article, I'm getting the idea it can actually KILL someone.

I was going to say it's not fair that Scientology is villainized and psychiatry is not.   But that's not really true.  Psychiatry is seen in a bad light by...Scientologists, and others (like me).

I guess it's fair.

9. Consulted Lord Wiki about Scientology deaths in Australia.

One was a woman named Linda Waliki. The hospital prescribed her anti-psychiatric drugs. Her parents didn't give them to her because they were Scientologists and against psychiatric drugs.   Instead they gave her vitamins.

Then Linda started acting worse. Her parents backed down from their Scientology beliefs and gave her the drugs.  Three weeks later she killed her dad and sister.  Dr Rosanna Capolingua, the President of the Australian Medical Association said, if Linda had had access to appropriate medical treatment it could have changed the course of her life.

The key word there is COULD.   It could have changed her life. Or it could have made things worse.  If she had kept on with the vitamins, maybe that would have changed her life for the better.

Who knows.

Maybe there was nothing in the world that could have helped Linda. Maybe she was a lost cause.

The article about Victorians dying in mental health facilities tells of a guy named Mr. Travaglini.    He died in 2008 at Easternhealth Upton House, a psychiatric hospital.  His death was caused by anti-psychotic drugs.  According to witnesses (staff and patients), the day/night he died, he begged them not to give him more drugs.   That's really sad.

So if we can say, if it wasn't for Scientology, Linda's dad and sister would still be alive; we should also be able to say if it wasn't for psychiatry, Mr. Travaglini would still be alive.

Yet I'm sure Scientology has worked for some; and I'm sure psychiatry has worked for some.   Different paths work for different people.  Sometimes people go down the path that is wrong for them. Sometimes the result of that is very tragic. 

For some schizophrenic people, vitamins are the answer.  For other people the answer is psychiatric medicine.

10. Read about the other Scientology incident in Australia. A man named Frank Vitcovik went on a killing spree. He killed eight people plus himself.  Some of the blame went to Scientology because he took a Scientology personality test.  The person who administered the test failed to suggest that Frank seek psychiatric help and instead encouraged him to take a Scientology course.

But what if Frank DID go to get psychiatric help. Would that guarantee he'd recover and live a decent life?  Would that have saved the lives of the eight other people?  Maybe, but not necessarily.

As the news article said, 975 Victorian mental patients died between 2006-2010.

Psychiatry isn't a guaranteed solution.

11. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read the continuation of Oh!  It's You.  This is the story with Eudoxia Karras getting a visit from an old friend.  That girl is full of reunions lately.   Okay. Well, maybe there's been just two. But still.....

12. Forgot where I left off in the story thread.

It might be post #29.

I'll start there and see.

Eudoxia was apparently holding Thomas' wrist for someone reason.  Thomas moved a bit so they'd be holding hands. Eudoxia dropped his hand, and Thomas felt rejected.

I'm having trouble finding the part where Eudoxia initially holds his wrist.  Why does she hold his wrist in the first place?   I'm reading through posts, and so far I can't find the answers. I'll keep looking.  I must have missed something.

13. Read more closely.

If I'm understanding things correctly, Thomas shoplifted. They're at a shopping center.  Thomas went to an electronic store and slipped a phone into his pocket.  Then Eudoxia put her hand in his pocket and pulled it out.

14. Found the wrist part. Finally. Sometimes I worry about my reading skills.

It says,  It was fairly busy and she did her best to weave through the crowd taking loose hold of Thomas’ wrist something she hadn’t done since childhood, dragging him to look at whatever she had wanted him to see.

I guess wrist-holding is seen as less intimate and romantic as hand-holding.

15. Finished reading what's in the story thread.  It's a love triangle, basically.  Thomas has feelings for Eudoxia.  Eudoxia has feelings for Jason.  Thomas wants a relationship with Eudoxia, but she seems to see him as a player. He wants to let her know he's done with that game. Eudoxia misinterprets things and guesses that Thomas has settled down with someone.

16. Wondered if Eudoxia is failing to get a clue.   Thomas did try to hold her hand.  Or maybe that's just the way he is—flirty.   Maybe she expects that behavior from him, and doesn't take it as a sign that he has feelings for her.

Or maybe she does understand he's pursuing her, but she's denying it because she wants Jason.

17. Saw that my Australian of the day is Henry Martyn Andrews.   He's the first of eleven Andrews covered by the Australian Dictionary of Biography.  

18. Saw that Henry Martyn Andrews was born in England in 1845. I wonder if Andrews is a British surname. I would guess it was; or I'd guess it was German.   Maybe Swedish or Swiss?

19. Consulted Lord Wiki about the name Andrews. He says it is British. The highest frequency of the name, in the UK, is in Dorset.

Let's see.....

Henry was born in Shropshire. Is that near Dorset?

Nope.

I just checked Google Maps.   Dorset is in the south and Shropshire is up north.

Lord Wiki says the name is more popular in the south of England than north. But of course that doesn't mean it's not in the north...and all over the world.  

20. Started to read about Henry Anderson. He was a headmaster and professor.

When he was a child he was inspired by factory engines.  He wanted to be an engineer.  Did he end up being an engineer professor?   Or was it one of those many childhood dreams that get lost and forgotten?

When Henry was eight, his family moved to Melbourne.

Several years later he started studying at the University of Melbourne. The guy seemed to like learning. He studied math, physics, chemistry, zoology, and physics.

He gave up engineering when he realized his prospects of employment were low.  In those days the career favored people with apprenticeship training rather than university training.

It seems that's totally changed these days. Now there's such an obsession with getting a university degree.

Personally I think an apprenticeship is better.

Then again, a university degree in engineering would probably work as long as there's hands on experience.  I'm guessing there is in most cases. I would just hope that if someone didn't get a degree, and instead learned with hands on training, they'd still be able to find a job.

I think the world would be better off if we paid less attention to degrees from fancy universities; and paid more attention to the actual skills someone possesses. The skills could come from a degree.  They could come from a training program. They could come from watching one's parent or neighbor.  They could come from self-training via books, videos, etc. There're so many ways to learn.

21. Learned that Andrews became a professor of civil engineering. It wasn't a very popular class, though.  He had only one student.

Henry seemed to have more success at  Wesley College in Melbourne. There he taught science and math classes.

In his early 20's, Andrews went back to England and did more studying at Cambridge. A few years later he returned to Wesley College. Two years after that, the Headmaster retired and Henry took the big job.

22. Learned that Henry wasn't very popular as a headmaster. People seemed to prefer the previous guy.

23. Learned that Henry died young. He was only 43. Bad health plagued him throughout life and then put him in the early grave.

24. Started to look at another Peter Lindenburg Flickr set.  This one is called Animals of the East Coast of Australia.

Here's a very cool butterfly photo.  

25. Loved this owl photo.  It makes me think of Harry Potter, and other stuff like that.

It's a Powerful Owl.

I mean that's the name. It might not actually have magical powers.

Lord Wiki says they're from the east—Queensland to South Australia.

26. Loved this Kookaburra photo.

27. Impressed with this photo of a Purple Swamphen.  

28. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Purple Swamphen.  He says there are different types.  The one in Australia has the scientific name Porphyrio porphyrio. It's found mostly in New Zealand, but is also in Australia and other nearby places.

29. Thought this Brown Thornbill was very cute. 

Peter has so many cute animal photos. I think they could provide great inspiration for people who make cartoons and/or write children's books.

This guy would make a great character.

I wonder who could do his voice.

30. Thought that this Eastern Water Dragon would be a good character too.  

31.Thought this Crested Pigeon had a unique appearance. 

32. Guessed that this Noisy Miner bird had recently been rejected. He has that look about him. 

Then this guy is saying, Hang on there, kiddo. It gets better.

33. Started looking at Peter's Birds Around Deniliquin set.

Where is Deniliquin?

34. Found Deniliquin on Google Maps.  It's in western New South Wales, about three hours west of Wagga Wagga.  

I don't think I've ever heard of it. Because of that, I sort of guessed it would be one of those small, quiet, rarely heard of towns.  But it's not.   Lord Wiki has a lot to say about it; and there's a population of about 7000. It's not that tiny.

35. Learned one of the main industries in Deniliquin is wool.

Rice is big too.

36. Looked up Phillip Maher.  Peter mentions him in his photo set.  I'm guessing this is the right guy.  He lives in Deniliquin, and does birding stuff.  Here's the home page of his site.   

Phillip has various tour options available. He has ones already planned that people can sign up for.  Then he also offers private tours.

I see he just started a tour today.  It's of the Strzelecki Track in the outback. That goes until September 22.

37. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Strzelecki Track.  He says it's in South Australia; and it's an unsealed road.

38. Downloaded the PDF booking form on Maher's website. I like it because it asks for food allergies; and it also asks for foods you intensely dislike.  I like that they're sensitive to that.

Although what if he's really not a birding expert; and he's really a torturer? He could want to know your most hated food so he could torture you with it.   

Yeah, because the PDF form also asks, What are you most afraid of?  And they ask, how much does it bother you when people scrape their fingernails across a chalkboard?  

That's some SCARY stuff.

Then there's that bit that says, Please do not inform family and friends that you'll be on this tour.   Wouldn't it be better to surprise them after the fact?  You can impress them all with your pictures. If you tell them before you leave on the tour, it will ruin the surprise.

39. Started to look at Peter's photos.

This Red-Rumped Parrot looks very amused.  But here he didn't get the joke.  He looks confused. 

Now he's trying to share the joke with some friends.  I have a feeling he totally messed it up.  

40. Thought this little guy was very cute.   

41. Thought more about the over-the-railing story. I don't think it actually happened. Jack is easily frightened.  I think if someone actually held him over a railing, he would have totally freaked out.   I'm guessing our friend was planning to do it, but I stopped him before he could.  Maybe.

42. Thought about memories and how we forget things.  That gave me the urge to read about reincarnation.  I googled reincarnation and Australia.   I found this post from a spiritual blog.    It talks about a woman in Sydney who had past-life regression therapy. She remembered a life in Somerset England from 1765-1982.   If it's a true story, it's quite compelling.   She knew all this stuff that she couldn't have known by natural means. I'd like to think it's proof of reincarnation.  It might be.  My other theory though would be that she's simply psychic.  She went to the place and was able to "read" it.

No...now that I think of it; that wouldn't make sense.  From what I read here, she didn't know all this stuff until she had the hypnosis. If it was just a psychic thing, why would she know so much about this one specific place?  She should be able to know about a variety of places.

43. Went to the website of Victor Zammit.  He's the one who wrote the book where the blogger heard the Sydney-Somerset reincarnation story.  

Victor says he's a lawyer from Sydney.

See...I get skeptical when it comes to supernatural stuff.    I believe in all these things, but I also have a lot of doubt.   When I looked at Amanda's blog, I didn't doubt her story.  I didn't say/think, she's a woman who SAYS she's done a lot of traveling.    I take her at her word.   I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she's honest.  But if someone has supernatural type claims, I want to know their credentials. I question whether they're telling the truth or not.  

44. Wanted to believe in Victor Zammit's impressive law credentials.  He says he worked for the High Court of Australia.

But I'm skeptical for now.  My bullshit antennas are up mainly for the fact that, so far, when I google I get Victor's own site, or other supernatural sites.  

I tried Lord Wiki. Lord Wiki doesn't like Victor.  He says that Victor is Another shameless self-promoter trying to misuse (him) for free publicity. 


45. Went to the High Court of Australia website.   I thought Victor was a liar because I didn't see him on their list of justices.  But then I thought, maybe I'm looking at the wrong thing. These are justices.  That would be different than a solicitor.   Right?

46. Decided to try and find information about a case Victor says he worked on. It was called R v Borg.

When I google that, I find a law case in Canada, some tennis stuff, and Victor's own site. At least that's what's on page 1 of Google.  

47. Used Google News archives to try to find an article about R v Borg. Victor says it was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I don't see any article.

I'm not finding anything that compels me to believe that Victor is telling the truth about who he is.

I'm not saying he's lying.  He could be completely honest.  But I would feel more trustful if I had something to back him up.

I'll keep looking.....

48.  Hoped no one took me serious about #38.

49. Became even more skeptical.

Victor talks about a so-called famous bank robbery case.   He says, It was one of the most sensational and most controversial cases ever in Australia where Dragosevich, the bank robber, was shot dead by the police. 

Okay, so this case is controversial and sensational. Shouldn't it be easy to find via Google then?

I googled, and guess what I get?  Victor's websites.

Victor says stuff about articles being published in the news. It's like he's saying, You have to believe me.   I was in the newspaper!  And maybe he was. Maybe Google just hasn't archived it.  But it's a bit suspicious. And if he really understands that people like me are going to be skeptical, why doesn't he simply scan the article and put it on his website? 

50. Used Google News archive to try to find a November 12, 1978 article about Dragosevich.   Why?  Victor claims the article is out there.

Google doesn't seem to have it.

Why should I believe Victor?

He makes me very suspicious.

51. Tried to find another article that Victor references in his biography.  It's supposed to be from December 22, 1980; and it's supposed to be about him leading a protest near the United Consulate.    He says he was protesting about the Ayatollah Khomeini hostage thing.

52. Did not find the article.

Three times I've come up empty.  For a man who claims to be such a prominent lawyer, it's weird that I can't find anything about him in the news archives.

53. Searched Google News archive from 1970-1981 (the time period Victor says he was doing his law stuff).   I can't find anything on him. I can't imagine a lawyer would not have himself quoted at least once in a news article.

54. Tired of searching for Victor Zammit. I wish I could have found something.

55. Found blog entry about Victor Zammit. It's written by a guy who reminds me somewhat of myself.  He believes, or is open to believe. But he's not going to believe without question.    

Michael Prescott says, Zammit seems to feel that either you're with him totally, or you're against him totally. Since I raised questions about the precautions against fraud taken in Sydney, he has decided that I'm a "skeptic."

Still Michael defends Zammit to a point.  He says,  Victor Zammit's a good guy, and his heart is in the right place. I agree with him on many (probably most) issues regarding the paranormal and the afterlife. In this case, I think his ego is wounded and he's lashing out. It will pass. 

I think it's very generous of Michael to say that.  

56. Wondered what's the truth here.

A) Is Victor exactly what he says he is—a lawyer who now is a promoter of the afterlife. And maybe the internet doesn't have as much information as I imagined? 

B) Victor has genuine evidence of the afterlife. He felt no one would believe him, so he invented the lawyer credentials.

C) Victor is lying about almost everything.

I want to believe it's A, but I fear its somewhere between B and C.  

57. Wondered if I would have been less skeptical about Victor if he didn't proclaim every five minutes that he's a lawyer. What if he just had a website about the supernatural? I wouldn't have believed anything without question or lingering doubt; but I think MAYBE I would have been less skeptical.

How would people have felt about my blog if proclaimed in every blog title that I'm a lawyer, doctor, or something like that?  

58. Figured I'd probably be most trusting of Victor if I was able to find information on him outside of spiritual and skeptic websites. I would have felt much better if I could find the articles he mentioned, or at least find this so-called bank-robbery case.

I don't like this about myself, but I do find myself less skeptical with people who have professional and conventional credentials....if I feel they're not inventing those credentials.   

I'd be trusting, but somewhat less trusting if he was just another person with a blog sharing his experiences and believes. There's a lot out there. I trust some people more than others. If certain people say,  I've seen a ghost, I at least believe they THINK they saw a ghost. I trust certain people enough on the internet to believe they're not making stuff up.   

I hope that when people read my blog, they believe my little weird stories. They're all true, but I can't say whether or not they're supernatural or just wild coincidences. I understand, though, that people have the right not to believe.   They have the right to suspect I'm making things up.

I'm not.

But how does anyone know that?

They just give me the benefit of the doubt.

If I started bragging about my credentials, though, and saying there are articles out there about me....shouldn't I then have links to the articles?

What if I talked about us going to Australia, but didn't have one photo of us in Australia?   Would that not make people a bit suspicious?

59. Decided my talked-about credentials for this blog are that I'm weird, I'm American, and I'm obsessed with Australia. My blog posts are proof enough of my weirdness and my obsession.   I think most people would believe I'm American. If not, they could watch one of my videos and hear my American accent.



Although I could be an Australian faking an American accent. Or maybe I'm a Canadian.

I could be a Dutch person pretending to be an American who is obsessed with Australia.

Jack and Tim are speaking American too, though. It would be a bit far-fetched to imagine our whole family is faking it.