Monday, September 26, 2011

Short Visits, Blog Reading, Leadership Confusion, and Tasmanian Devils

1. Had dream about Australia.

In the first, I fly to Australia alone to attend an event for sick children.  It takes place in a house that I sort of recognize. I start thinking it's Tracey's house.  

I feel weird about being there, and nervous that Tracey will come home and see me.  I don't know how she'll react.  Will she be happy to see me?  Will she dread seeing me?  Will she be happy I'm there, but annoyed I didn't tell her I was coming. And what do I say when she sees me—Surprise?!

Later: I'm home from Australia and ashamed for paying all that money to go on such a short trip.   Plus, I'm embarrassed that we're soon going to be returning.  On the positive side, I'm thinking at least I went alone and had to pay for only one plane fare.  

Then I realize it was a dream (dream within dream here) and I never went to Australia.  I feel relieved about that.  Yet I also still feel ashamed because I feel the decision to go reflects what I would have done in real life.   

2. Had another dream about Australia....

Tim and I are on some large transportation device with a bunch of Australians.  We're all going on some kind of field trip.  I'm thinking we're headed to Western Australia— somewhere around the Perth area.  To get there, though, we have to go to three other cities around the world. I assume this was done so the tickets would be cheaper.    

We pass through a European city.  I think Prague?  We get to see a bunch of it from our vehicle.I'm overexcited about being there and get all emotional.

I overhear people talking about us heading to north-west Australia, to a place they call Pearl City.  I'm thinking they mean Broome, and realize we may be going there instead of the near-Perth place.   I'm fine with this—excited about going to Broome.  

2. Went to look at the Australian dollar.

Right now it's worth .97 American dollars.  That's a little less than the last time I checked.

It's worth .63 British pounds. I think that's the same as yesterday.

It's worth 6.68 Swedish Krona. I'm pretty sure that's the same as yesterday.  I'll check in a second.

It's worth 6.27 Chinese Yuan.

3. Checked my blog post from yesterday and compared it to today's conversions.

The Australian dollar has gone down in terms of the Swedish Krona. It's gone up in Chinese Yuan.

4. Saw that today is Andrew's 7th blogiversary. 

He talks about blogging in his celebratory post.  One of the things he says is Some blogs bore me. Some I read from a sense of duty, but most blogs I read, I do so with great pleasure and interest.

I try not to read blogs out of duty.  I sometimes do though.

Maybe I should say, I try not to spend too much time reading blogs I really don't want to read.

At the same time, I wouldn't want people to spend too much time on my blog if they didn't truly like it.

I used to be active on Livejournal and there was that sense of, I'll read all your entries if you read all of mine.   It was that whole exchange thing.  It's a way.  But then I ended up having to read stuff that didn't interest me, and I had some people reading my stuff only because they felt they had to.

I don't really like that.

 I don't think blog reading needs to be 100% reciprocal.  Maybe 90% is good enough for me.  I'd feel very weird if someone read my blog on a regular basis, and I rarely read theirs. I also wouldn't want to spend a lot of time reading blogs in which the blogger rarely or never visits my blog.

I don't think there're any blog in which I read every single post.  There's a few blogs in which I read most posts.  Then there's other blogs on my following-list that I read only when it looks particularly interesting to me.  

5. Wanted to add that because I don't have commenting, it's sometimes hard for me to know who's reading my blog.  I can tell some things with Statcounter.


There might be people who read my blog who have a blog, but I don't know about their blog.

Sometimes they'll email me and I'll learn about their blog that way.  Other times, they come to my blog through their blog, and that shows up on Statcounter.  Then sometimes I'll see someone new has started to follow my blog.   If I click on their little icon picture, sometimes it will lead to their blog, if they have one.  

But anyway, if you read my blog and I don't know about your blog, please email me at  (if you want me to read your blog). 

6. Read article about the Julia Gillard situation.  There've been rumors that she's going to lose leadership of the Labor Party, and that it might go back to Kevin Rudd.

The article says Ministers in the Labor Party are denying the rumors; and they're speaking out in support of Gillard.

Wayne Swan says the rumors were started by the Liberal Party.

Is that true?

I don't know.

Is it true that Julia Gillard's going to continue on as Labor leader?

Maybe or maybe not.

I guess I'll just continue to watch and see.

7. Saw that Wayne Swan came to America and did a speech at the Harvard Club about financial issues.

The headline of the article says that Swan warned against political games. I wondered what was meant by that.

My guess now (from the context) is that he's talking about the Republicans.

He says, Too often in recent months political sand has been thrown in the economic gears of the world. We don't have the luxury of playing political games with so many jobs at stake.

Maybe he's not saying what I think he's saying.  I could be just reading into it—seeing what I want to see.

But I think it's a miracle for Obama to get anything done. There's so much hatred from the Republicans.  It's really one of those things where if he says the sky is blue, the Republicans will scream that it's pink.

No matter what Obama does, the Republicans will complain; well, at least the Republicans I know.

This weekend I learned American leaders should never apologize to any other country—not even hint towards an apology. Why?  Because we're the best and most powerful country in the world. How dare we show weakness?! 

Personally I admire people, companies, and countries that can admit their mistakes and apologize.

Those who avoid apologies aren't perfect. They're just arrogant.

Anyway, I hope there were some non-arrogant Americans at the Harvard Club. If they've gotten past the idea that America is the best country in the world, they might manage to learn something from Swan.

8. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read a story thread called Ahoy, Matey!

It has two first year students in it—Camryn Adiarte and Thatcher Hyland.

The story takes place on the grounds of Tallygarunga.

9. Started to read.

It's the afternoon of Wednesday,  August 17.

I'm flipping back in time here......

Camryn is happy because she now has her own little circle of friends.  This includes herself, Thatcher, and Ella.

Or actually...maybe it would be a triangle of friends?  Three might not be enough to equal a circle of friends.

I read part of the story where Camryn met Ella and Thatcher.   I think maybe Camryn tripped on her shoelaces?

I'm not 100% confident about that memory.

10. Saw that Camryn has climbed a tree she discovered with Ella and Thatcher.

She's a bit weary because she once injured herself in a tree-climbing injury.  Despite that though, she climbs the tree anyway.  It's pretty brave of her.

11. Saw that Thatcher found Camryn.  They're going to play on the tree together.

12. Finished reading the story.  Thatcher departs from his usual desire to be the hero.  He takes on the role of villain instead.  Startled by his voice, Camryn falls to the ground.    She brushes herself off, informs Thatcher that she's okay, and then pretends to defend herself with a sword.

13. Realized that story thread was a role-play about role-playing.

14. Saw that my Australian of the day is William Angus.  

I don't think he's related to the other Angus men I've read about recently.

15. Saw that William Angus was born in Scotland in 1871.

In his early 30's Angus came to South Australia to be a professor of Agriculture. That's what he studied back in the UK.

After awhile, Angus became secretary to the Minister of Agriculture.

Angus was into scientific farming and helped with the development of experimental farms.

16. Learned that Angus was disliked by some. They thought he lacked tact, and they also thought he was bad at sharing responsibilities.   I guess he was one of those who'd rather do the work themselves.

Working with others is hard. On one end of the spectrum, you have those who refuse to pull their own weight.  They want a paycheck, good grades, good results, etc. without doing any work.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the controlling people. They want to work alone so they don't have to deal with input from others.  I fall right in the middle. I'm very good at working with other people.

I'm joking.

I'm not that good at working with other people.

I would probably land more on the controlling side of the spectrum.

Well, actually it depends on the job or project.   If it's something close to my heart, I'd much rather work alone.  Too much input from others would drive me nuts.  For example, I'd hate it if I had to write this blog with a partner, or if it was a group project. I'd be happy with a guest post here and there.  Besides that, this blog is MINE MINE MINE.  

With other stuff, such as cleaning, I'm fine working with a group.   I do my part and am glad to see other people doing their part.  

Then there're things that I'm not good at.  I usually refrain from doing the work unless someone asks, or I feel there's a huge need for me to help.  An example of that would be cooking. For the most part, I stay out of it.

17. Received an email suggesting I should look at the Japanese yen rather than the Chinese yuan.   I'm too ignorant to argue against that, so I guess I'll go ahead and take that advice. Australian dollar equals 78.70 Yen.

I'll check again tomorrow to see if it changes.

18. Went to Tori's YouTube channel.  

She's another Australian singer.

Here's her cover of "In the Arms of the Angel".

It's not absolutely fantastic.  But I think she does a pretty good job.

I especially like her singing at 1:31-1:37.

19. Tried to listen for Tori's Australian accent.

I can hear it a little bit when she says "here".

20. Watched Tori sing a cover of "Time After Time" while house-sitting in her pajamas.

Here, I think she actually is a bit fantastic.

Her version has some variation from the Cyndi Lauper one.  I don't know if Tori invented that on her own, or if she's doing a cover of a cover.   If she made the changes on her own, I'm especially impressed. I prefer covers that add something different to the song.

21. Read article that says as the dollar goes down petrol prices are going to go up.

I'd like to imagine that only applies to cars, but I'm doubting that's true.

So all this time I've been wishing for the dollar to go down.  Maybe I wished for the wrong thing.

Now the plane fares might be higher.

We might save on food and lodging.  Or will they raise the prices?   I don't know.  Did anyone lower prices when the dollar went up?  From what I was seeing, it didn't seem like it.

22. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Tasmanian devil. As I mentioned yesterday, the animals featured in Dining with Devils.

The book made me curious, so now I'm going to do some learning.

23. Started to read.

Lord Wiki says the Tasmanian devil smells bad and is very loud.

It has the the strongest bite of any mammal.  Ouch.

Discover Magazine says the strongest bite award, in the category for all animals, goes to the Great White Shark. 

24. Learned that the Tasmanian devil can climb trees and cross rivers.   So if you think you can escape one by being like Camryn and climbing a tree, think again.   Although I'm not sure that Tasmanian devils go after humans on a regular basis.

25. Learned that it's believed the Tasmanian devil disappeared from the mainland 3000 years ago.  Dingoes are often blamed for that.

26.  Learned about the sexual life of the Tasmanian devil. The males fight each other for the females. Then once they have a partner, the males will guard the female—try to prevent her from cheating on him.

Pregnancy of Tasmanian devils last about three weeks. Then the mommy devil gives birth to 20-30 babies.  Wow. I wouldn't have expected that.

Many of the babies don't survive because the mommy devil has only four nipples in her pouch.

 It's really a case of survival of the fittest.

27. Read about why Tasmanian devils are endangered.   First there's the facial tumor problem that's been plaguing them.  I've heard about that before. They're also being killed by foxes, and they get hit by cars.   As I learned from Dining with Devils,  the Tasmanian devil is one of nature's garbage men—like the vulture. So they'll be on the road eating roadkill; then a car will come along and the Tasmanian devil will become roadkill too.

28. Learned that at one time, explorers in Tasmania called the Tasmanian Devil "Beelzebub's Pup".

29. Learned that the Tasmanian devil belongs to the animal family Dasyuridae.   

Another animal in that group is the Quoll. They're carnivorous too. 

30. Learned from Lord Wiki that it's believed marsupials originated millions of years ago in South America.  Then they built canoes and rowed over to Australia.  As they rowed they all sang "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport".

Well, actually this was back when South America was connected to Australia.   It was all one big place called Gondwana.  The animals didn't have to cross the sea.  

31. Learned that Tasmanian devils in the wild don't live long. Their life span is about five years.

How about those in captivity?

32. Saw that the San Diego Zoo website disagrees with Lord Wiki.  They think the lifespan of Tasmanian devils in the wild is seven to eight years.

33. Wondered if the San Diego Zoo has Tasmanian Devils.   I read yesterday there're not many zoos outside Australia that have them.  But there might be a few.

34. Saw article that says in the summer of 2008, the Albuquerque zoo had Tasmanian Devils; or at least they were preparing to have them. 

The headlines say they were the only zoo in North America to have them.

35. Learned that their tails are important to Tasmanian devils.  It plays a part in their social behavior and movement.

The tail is also the place that creates their pungent odor.

36. Learned that the Tasmanian devil can see moving objects better than stationary ones.

Isn't that what's believed about the T-Rex? Or was that just made up for Jurassic Park

Well, this website says it's probably not true.  I'm not sure if it was made up for the movie, or if certain scientists actually believed it.  

37. Learned that the Tasmanian devil is nocturnal and crepuscular. The latter is a new term for me.   It means the animal is most active at dusk and dawn.  

Lord Wiki lists other crepuscular animals. These include cats, dogs, rabbits, deer, skunks, bobcats, beetles, flies, etc.

I think sharks may be included too.  Or maybe they're just more likely to seek their dinner at that time.

And what about mosquitoes? I've heard you're more likely to be bitten at dusk than late at night.

38. Learned that young Tasmanian devils are more likely to be able to climb trees than bigger and older ones.

39.  Learned that Tasmanian devils live in dens, and sometimes they'll steal pillows, blankets, clothes etc. for their dens.


That's cute.

40. Learned Tasmanian devils sometimes eat live prey, but they usually eat animals already dead. 

Their favorite food is usually the wombat.  

41. Felt sad for sheep.  Lord Wiki says they'll sometimes get their legs stuck in something.   They can't move, and the Tasmanian Devil will come along and munch of their legs.

Yuck and ouch.  

42.  Learned farmers are sometimes grateful to Tasmanian devils.  The devils will devour a whole dead animal.  Then the farmer has less to worry about in terms of clean up.  If the animal isn't cleaned up promptly, it could attract insects, and the insects can cause harm to the livestock.

So sometimes Tasmanian devils are helpful on the farm, and other times they cause massive sheep leg pain.

43. Learned that the Tasmanian devils share their food—at least with other devils.  They're not so nice about sharing with quolls.

44. Learned that the Tasmanian devil has big poop for it's body size.

45. Found a website where you can buy Tasmanian devil poop paperweights.  

46. Learned that if you want to see Tasmanian devil's having sex, it's best to look for that between February and June.

47.  Read that it's believed Tasmanian devil populations have been reduced by 80%.

48. Learned that the cancer affecting the devils is contagious.  I guess that makes sense. Why else would it be causing reductions in population? I just don't usually think of cancer as being contagious.

49. Read on the American Cancer Society website that there's no evidence of human cancers being contagious.

HOWEVER, some contagious viruses increase the chances of getting certain cancers.  These include the HPV virus,  the Epstein-Barr virus, and the HIV virus.

50. Read about Tasmanian devils in captivity.  Lord Wiki says the only zoo outside of Australia to have them now is Copenhagen.

51. Went downstairs soon after researching about contagious viruses making people more likely to get cancer.  The TV was on in the den, and Tim was watching Bill Maher. They were making fun of someone who said they "caught cancer".

I doubt the person was implying that cancer is communicable. I think they were just exchanging the word "got" with "caught".

Anyway, I thought the cancer-contagious thing was an interesting case of synchronocity.   

52. Saw article saying that Kevin Rudd accidentally called himself Prime Minister rather than Foreign Minister.

That's understandable.   He once was Prime Minister.  He probably got used to referring to himself as that.  Plus there's all this talk of him being Prime Minister again.   It probably messed with his head.