Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dragon Man, Alcohol, Body Parts, and Scary Swans

1. Impressed with my copy of The Dragon Man by Garry Disher.

It's published in America by Soho Press.  Yet they kept the Australian spellings.  That's very awesome.

I wish they didn't change the spelling in American versions of Australian books.

If they didn't, I think it would help Americans become more aware of...things.

I didn't know about the spelling differences until a couple of years ago.

2. Thought about how The Dragon Man reminds me a bit of the Tasmanian thriller I read a few week ago—Dining with Devils

In the Tasmanian story, there was a lot of mention of Aussie things, as if the author didn't want us to forget the characters were in Australia. I also got the sense that the author didn't want us to forget that he knew a lot about Australia.

I felt like he was almost trying too hard, and I thought it might be because, although he had lived in Australia for awhile, he was Canadian. 

I got a sense he was trying to prove something.

My senses may have been wrong, because this book I'm reading now does the same thing. There're lots of Australian details in the prose.

Now I'm thinking maybe it's a thriller thing.  Maybe detailed setting information is appreciated by crime thriller fans.  It's detective, mystery stuff.  Everything can be seen as clues.

Details, details, details.

3. Noticed from Statcounter that my Errol Flynn post is getting more attention than usual.

I figured something was going on there.

I did some googling and saw a movie has been made about Flynn's son. It's called The Road To Freedom.

Lord Wiki reminded me that Sean Flynn was a photojournalist. He and a fellow journalist disappeared in Cambodia.  

4. Started to watch a trailer. 



5.  Went to bed and had some dreams.  In one: I'm outside with Jack and Mushu. We talk about Australia.  I tell him I'm not that excited about seeing someone, but I'm getting excited about seeing another someone.

I'm like that in real life, probably more with places than people. One day I'll be excited about seeing and/or doing something in Australia. Then another I'll be excited about something totally different.

Right now, since nothing is written in stone, this amounts to me changing our plans every few weeks. One day I should go through my blog and look at all the different Australia plans I have created since we left in 2009.

Last night I was thinking that the place in Australia I'm most attracted to right now is the Pinnacles in Western Australia.  So I was thinking, maybe we should just go there. Yes, it's expensive to get to Perth.  But if we're going all the way to Australia, it would be such a waste not to go to the place I most want to go.

Then I came to my senses. I'll probably be over the Pinnacles in a week or so, and I'm really not THAT into it in the first place.  I haven't even bothered to read much about it.  I just like how it looks, and I think it would be fun to pose by all those Pinnacle rock things.

Last year I was obsessed with Lionel Logue and felt we MUST go to Adelaide because he was born there.  Now I could hardly care less.  

6. Thought more about the dream.  I don't think it's that I didn't want to see the first person mentioned.  It was more like I was OVER being excited about them—been there, done that.  Now I've moved onto being excited about seeing this other person.  

7. Related to these lines in The Dragon Man.

No.  Frankly Christmas makes me anxious.  So many people have so much riding on it that you feel somewhat responsible for their happiness.

I don't feel that way about the winter holidays, really.  I feel it right now about Disney World. Jack is so obsessively excited. I'm afraid something will go wrong, and he'll be disappointed.

But you know...I guess that's life.

I'm still hoping though that everything works out.

8. Read Sara's blog rant about Halloween.  She doesn't like Halloween and she doesn't like that it's being celebrated in Australia.

It does seem to be picking up in popularity over there. The Docklands are having that huge Halloween event.  Sara says they now have Halloween stuff at Woolworths.

I'm fine with people not liking Halloween because they don't like Halloween.

I'm not sure how I feel about not liking Halloween simply because it previously wasn't a big thing in Australia.  Times change. People pick up things from other cultures.

Then again, it's the whole thing about American culture being so dominant in Australia. I know that annoys people.  It annoys me too sometimes, but only for the fact that I feel Australian things get ignored.   It's like Tallygarunga, and how I wish more Australian celebrities were featured as face claims.  It's not that I don't adore American celebrities. I just feel there're so many fantastic Aussie celebrities, and they should be utilized.  

Back to Halloween.  The Australian resistance to celebrating it reminds me of the Jewish resistance to Christmas.  That's not our holiday! We have Chanukah!  

Sara says, This is Australia, goddamn it! There's a Melbourne Cup to be getting excited about, not some stupid thing with bloody pumpkins. 

For Australians who are not into sports, Halloween might be a good alternative. For those into horse racing, I doubt they're going to ignore the races so they can carve bloody pumpkins.


Some people might not care about Halloween or the Melbourne Cup.   They can just go about their regular business.

9. Remembered a time where I was one of those Jews who hated Christmas. I hated that it was everywhere.  I hated that it was so dominant in society.

But now I've come to realize I can look at the lights on a Christmas tree.   I can eat a slice of fruitcake.  I can listen to Christmas music.  I can enjoy all that, and  doing so isn't going to make me become Christian all of a sudden. It's just like enjoying bits of Halloween isn't going to turn an Australian into an American.  

10. Thought about the 5 Love Languages Theory.  This is the idea that there're five types of love and each of us prefer one (or some) over the other.

The languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

I like the theory, except that I don't really fit into any of the categories.

I think there's a sixth language. It's the feeling that someone really knows and understands you.

People can give me hugs, buy me gifts, make me brunch, take me out to lunch, and say they love me.   I'll appreciate it.  But what makes me feel really loved is when people read my blog. It makes me feel noticed. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel less invisible.

And I often feel invisible.

Maybe it's not just about being known and understood.  It's about feeling appreciated. Words of affirmation could come under that category,  Maybe.    It depends what is said, really.  Someone saying something like, I love you or I'm glad you're in my life is probably going to mean less to me than someone emailing me and saying, Hey, I saw this article about Australia and thought of you; or I liked what you wrote on your blog today.  

11. Read article about the Qantas strike.  It's supposed to effect over 10,000 passengers. I feel bad for them.  I feel annoyed at the workers for striking. They're punishing the passengers who wanted a holiday; or maybe they needed to get somewhere. It's not fair that they're dragged into the battle.

On the other hand....

Maybe the Qantas workers have good reason to be angry at management.   And maybe there's not an alternative, affective method of getting their message across.

It would be nice if there was a way they could punish management (in a nonviolent safe way); but not also punish the passengers.

But in business, my guess is the best way to punish management is to punish the passengers—make them think twice about flying Qantas.  

12. Read article about weight issues.

A guy from the University of Melbourne named Joseph Proietto did a study where they had overweight people go on a very calorie-restrictive diet for 10 weeks. They wanted to look into maintaining weight loss.

The people in the study lost an average of thirty pounds.  Within a year the average gained back was about twelve pounds. 

I guess the good news is they still weighed less than they did when they first started.  But it's only been a year.  Who knows what will happen to them in the next year.

I have my suspicions.  

After I went on my calorie-restrictive diet, the weight came back on...a little here; then a little more later.  And soon I weighed MORE than I weighed before I started.

The article says scientists checked the blood levels of those in the post-diet stage. Their hormones were all messed up.  These hormones have made the post-dieters hungrier than usual, and it made it harder for them burn calories.

Another scientist from Louisiana says the key message of the study is, it's better not to gain weight than to try to lose it.  

Yeah.  I'm having a hell of a time losing my weight.  I'd probably be better off just trying not to gain.   I'm about 135/136 pounds now.  It's not great.   I'm right on the cusp of being overweight.  I'm not happy with how I look in photos.  But it's okay, I guess.


I'd LOVE to get down to 122 lbs, and I'd be happy to get down to 128 pounds.  But maybe that will never happen.  I DO think my hormones are out of whack.  I'm definitely not able to lose weight in the way that I could before I went on a crazy intense diet/exercise program.  

I should probably just eat reasonably, exercise a lot, learn to be less vain, and appreciate my body for what it is.

Yeah.  That's what I say.  Secretly, I'm missing the days when I weighed 99 lbs.

Well, I guess it's not that secret....since I just wrote it.    

13. Reminded myself that when I weighed less than a hundred pounds I had tiny boobs.   

14. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read a story called Mr. Ivan S. Valentin.

So far ,the story consists of a letter written to Ivan from a musician named Siegfried Dracov.

The letter was written on October 30.

15. Started to read.

Siegfried is basically offering his services—asking Ivan for a job.

Ivan teaches music, but only works at night because he's a vampire.  Siegfried suggests he could help out by teaching some classes during the day.

It sounds like a good idea to me. Hopefully it will work out.

16. Started to watch video of Jeremy Irons that Siegfried's role-player embedded in his post.

Irons is Siegfried's face claim.

I love Jeremy Iron's voice; although now I can't hear him without picturing Scar.

In the video, Irons gives his views on raising children.  He suggests being stern and scary with them, and gives an example of how he believes one should talk to a one-year-old.

I can't tell if he's joking, or not.

17. Decided Irons is probably half joking and half serious.

If he's completely serious, I'm not sure I could have that much respect for him.  

18. Started to read the biography of Siegfried Drakov.

He's pretty old...seventy-five. Is that Jeremy Iron's age?

19. Looked at Jeremy Irons on IMDb.  He's not seventy-five.  He's Sixty-three.

So....I guess using Irons as a face claim would be a good way to indicate that Siegfried Drakov looks young for his age.

20.  Learned that Siegfried was born in Russia.

His Patronus is a lion.   Like Scar!  



21. Learned that Siegfried credits his pureblood wizard status for letting him look younger than he is.

22. Learned that Siegfried drinks a lot, and he's not very nice when he drinks.

23. Learned that Siegfried has a strong fear of swans—maybe even a phobia?  That's intriguing.

24.  Started to read Siegfried's history.

He's one of those kids who was pushed to live out their parent's dream. In this case, it was music.   I'm not sure yet if Siegfried was okay with this or not.

I mean if a parent pushes their child down a particular career path and it happens that the child LIKES that career path, I can't imagine any harm would be done.

Well, of course it would depend on how much pushing is done.  If the parents are strict and fanatical about it, the child probably will stop liking that career path.

25. Learned that Siegfried's family had to escape war stuff during World War II.

26. Learned that Siegfried went to Durmstrang, the school that Viktor Krum went to.

27. Saw something that might be important to Sigfried's letter-to-Ivan storyline.

Sigfried had a relationship to someone named Yelena Valentin.

Ivan's last name is Valentin.

Coincidence?

Probably.

No, I'm joking.

I don't think it's a coincidence.

28. Continued to read.

This is getting good.

Siegfried is the great-grandfather of little Lorelei.

In other words, he's Viktor's grandfather and Ivan's daddy.

And he's also related to a bunch of other people in Tallygarunga.  Lots of twins, really.   I think there're three sets.   Viktor has a twin. Ivan has a twin.  And there're twin girls.   I forgot their names.

Does Lorelei have a twin out there too?

I wouldn't be surprised.

29. Learned that Sigfried would get drunk and beat his two sons.  He didn't just use his hands. He used magic on them.  He used the infamous Cruciatus curse on Ivan.

After that, his wife took the kids away, and he never saw them again.  

Now it looks like he's trying to get back in Ivan's life.

Maybe on his job application letter, he should have said.  P.S  Hey, I'm sorry for the Cruciatus curse! 

30. Noticed finally that Siegfried changed his name.  He used to be Sergei.

The funny thing is I've been writing Sergei for the last few paragraphs. I didn't even notice the change.

I went back and edited though.   

31. Learned why Siegfried is afraid of swans.  It's the Patronus of his wife Yelena.  She died and the news was hard on Siegfried.

Now I guess he feels a bit haunted by her.  Well, he is, actually. He's having hallucinations of her.  In his visions, she tells him to go to their sons and apologize.

32. Went back to read stuff I missed.  Once again, I read too fast.

Yelena had lung cancer!  In the midst of her suffering, Siegfried wanted a divorce.  He pressured his sons to come with him, and leave their mother.  When Ivan refused, that's when he did the Cruciatus curse.

Wow.

Well, he sounds like a huge jerk.  But MAYBE he's a jerk that's trying to reform.

Is he doing it from his own heart, though, or just to silence the ghost that's following him?

I think there's a big difference.

33. Noticed from the Australian Dictionary of Biography that I'll be writing about a lot of people with the surname Archer.

My Aussie Archer for today is Archibald Archer.

Oh...

Well....actually it's Australians of the day.  Archibald shares his entry with a bunch of other Archer people.

There's Charles, John, David, William, Thomas, and Colin.

AND it turns out they're related to the Archer guy from yesterday. I figured that out when Norway was mentioned.

Maybe now I'll learn why the family moved to Norway.

34. Confused....very confused.

I thought the Archer guys mentioned above would be the sons of the same parents as the guy I wrote about yesterday; Alister Archer. They're not.

Alister's dad and mum were James George Lewis and Louise Archer. They're the ones who lived in Norway.

My Archer guys for today were the sons of William and Julia Archer. They moved to Norway too. 

35. Saw Alister was born in 1890.   Archibald was born in 1820.

Archibald's parents had 13 kids.

In 1825, when Archibald was about five, the family moved to Norway.

So the Archer family had these Norway connections for a long time.

When I read Alister's biography yesterday, I assumed the parents had recently migrated to Norway.

36. Struggled to get everything straight in my head.

I think what happened is the family originated in Scotland.  They moved to Norway.   Then in 1834, one of the sons (David) migrated to Australia.  Later, some of his other brothers trickled in.

The Archer brothers did Grazing thing, and other stuff as well.

37. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Archer Bros.

I want to see what he has to say about them.

He says their known as being among the earliest settlers of Queensland.

He also says a lot of names in Queensland are connected to the Archer brothers.

For example....

There's a park called Tolderodden Conservation Park.  This was named after the house in Norway where Colin Archer was born.

38. Failed to find Tolderodden Conservation Park on Google Maps.   The Queensland government site says it's near the Burnett River.  The site has a snapshot of Google Maps, and the location of the park seems to be around the Bundaberg area.

39. Found Bundaberg and the Burnett River on Google Maps. There're some small parks there that aren't named by Google.   Maybe one of them is Tolderodden.  

40. Learned from Lord Wiki that there's a Mount Archer National Park.   It's near Rockhampton.

41. Found the park on Google Maps. It's BIG.  

42. Found another Flickr account to stalk. The account belongs to Terrazzo

It's another one day kind of deal. They have one Australia set.

Terrazzo went to Australia this month.  He (or she?) went to Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney, and Uluru.

43. Looked at Terrazzo's seat on his Qantas flight.  For $20 he got a seat with extra leg room.  There's no seat directly in front of him.  He says the floor in front of him contains an emergency hatch for sleep crew quarters.

The crew sleeps under the plane?

I didn't know that.

Well, they don't sleep UNDER the plane.   I mean they sleep under the passenger area.

Anyway.....

I'd like having the extra leg room.  But I'd miss having the seat in front of me.  That's where we put our stuff.   Or can you put your stuff under the seat in front of the mysterious hatch space?

When I see the word hatch, I think of Lost




44. Advised by Terrazzo to not miss the Melbourne Gaol.

He probably wasn't talking to me directly, but I'll pretend he was.

45. Learned that Terrazzo didn't feel any paranormal stuff despite the gaol's reputation for being haunted. 

We went to a haunted restaurant in Canterbury.   We didn't know it was haunted until we sat down and started looking at the menu.   I didn't feel anything....except a sort of fascination.   I think I had a desire to stay in the supposedly haunted room. There was a part of me that wanted to cling to it.  I would have expected to feel more repelled.  

Maybe it's because I like spooky things.  Well, sometimes I do. Other times I'm very scared of them. 

It probably depends on my mood.

46. Agreed with Terrazzo about this building in Federation Square being interesting.

I'm not sure if I like it, but it's definitely interesting.

47. Hoped this demon sculpture is still there when we go to Melbourne. It's part of an exhibition called Angels and Demons.  I don't know if it's temporary or not.

48. Blinded by Jack and Tim's new camera phone.

Shit.  I hope my vision comes back to normal soon.

When my eyes are closed I see three bright white light circles. When my eyes are open, I see three dark circles.

It's interesting, but annoying. 

49. Found a blog post about the exhibit.   It looks REALLY cool, and I don't usually even care about art that much.  

The blogger doesn't give the dates of the exhibit, but says it's part of the Melbourne Festival.  

50. Learned that the Melbourne Festival was from October 6-22.  

Why did I not know about that?

51. Liked this Occupy Melbourne sign.  

I've been thinking about the protests lately.

I support the agenda, though I'm still skeptical about whether it will do any good.

Either way, I commend them for sending out a message without using terrorism or rioting.  

52. Liked that Terrazzo took a photo of several Aussie beer bottles.  They look very nice. I think beer bottles are kind of attractive.  But then I think of someone like Sigfried Dracov.

Alcohol can be so fun and enjoyable for some people.  But for so many other people, it makes their lives a complete hell.  

53. Felt Uluru looked less red in this photo.   I've heard it's supposed to look like it changes colors, but it usually looks red to me when I see photos of it.  

54. Wondered if the guy in this photo is Terrazzo.  

55. Loved this view of Uluru.  

56. Thought that Jack would love this Outback Combo meal menu item.

You get emu, crocodile, kangaroo, buffalo, and and beef.

Even though I'm vegetarian, I can't help but think that's kind cool.  

57. Pressed the back button to the previous picture.  There's a food pic.  I bet it's the combo.  

The sausage things remind me of penises.  So I think I like the food better in theory than in image.  

58.  Thought this was a fabulously unique photo of the Opera House.  Terrazzo insists it's not photoshopped. I believe him.  

59. Smiled inside because my iTunes DJ started to play "I Have a Dream" from Mamma Mia.   That album was our soundtrack for our 2009 Australia trip.



I wonder if we'll have a soundtrack for our next trip.  

60. Saw that Terrazzo went to the Blue Mountains.  

61. Thought this crocodile photo might give me nightmares.  

62. Saw that the Australian dollar is WAY up.

Yikes.

It's now worth 1.07 American dollars.

It's up in British pounds too.  It's now worth .67 British pounds.

It's worth 6.79 Swedish Kroner and 81.43 Japanese yen.

The last time I looked at all this, the Aussie dollar was worth 78.41 yen.  It jumped quite a bit.

The Swedish bit didn't change much.

63. Looked at an email from CNN. They say US stocks are soaring.

I don't get it.

When America's economy was doing horribly, the American dollar was doing well in Australia.   Now the American economy is doing better and the American dollar is not doing well in Australia.  

I don't think I'll ever understand economics.   

64. Looked at the Australia Monopoly Board.

Today I have Pitt Street in Sydney.  

65. Saw that the start of Pitt Street is near Circular Quay.  

It ends around Ultimo.  

66. Saw that there's a Marriott Hotel on Pitt Street.  I'm guessing it's expensive. It's right near Circular Quay.  

67. Checked the prices.  It's $329 a night. I don't think that's too awful for that location, but it's not something we'd easily fit into our budget.

68. Saw that there's an opal shop on Pitt Street. The National Opal Collection.  They make it sound like a museum, but I think it's just retail.

Then again museums usually HAVE retail.

69. Read a little bit about the place.  It seems I'm wrong.  It is a museum.  

Well, I think it's a museum with the primary goal of inspiring you to buy something.  

70. Saw that there's a shopping centre on Pitt Street. It's called the Pitt Street Mall.

I wonder if we've been there.  

71. Saw that David Jones is part of the Pitt Street Mall.   So I guess we HAVE been there, because we've been in David Jones.

72.  Saw that there's a private hospital on Pitt Street called Wesley Private Hospital.  But when I googled it I got a psychiatric hospital that's not on Pitt Street.   

I'm confused.  

73. Saw that there's a strip club on Pitt Street.  It's called Pure Platinum.  

A gold membership cost $350 a year.  If you go at least once a week, that's about $7 dollars per session. I suppose that's not too bad.

I wonder if there's people who go every week.

Do lesbians go there?   Or do they go to their own clubs?  Do many lesbians like strip clubs, or is that more of a guy thing?

I'm going to stereotype here, but I think men are more into body parts than woman.  

74. Looked at a website that has a list of lesbian bars and nightclubs.   

I'm not sure if any of them are strip clubs.

One sort of sounds like one.  It's called Moist.  Yeah.  Lovely name there.  Their description says, Moist has been entertaining Sydney girls for more than 5 years now, with lots of dancing, cute girls and sexy shows.

I guess that would be a strip show. Maybe?  Although it could be the customers that dance, and they have shows that aren't strip shows.  People can be sexy without stripping. 

75. Saw that there's something on Pitt Street called The Royal United Services Institute.  

I'm getting that it's military related.

76. Looked at the RUSI's About Page.  They say their goal is to promote informed debate on, and to improve public awareness and understanding of, defence and national security.

That's interesting.


I guess it's a place to learn about war.

77. Saw that there's a cupcake shop on Pitt Street.  That got me excited because I remembered that Disney World has a new vegan cupcake shop in Downtown Disney.   It's called Babycakes.  They have one in NYC and we love it.

I think this will be Disney's first vegetarian restaurant.  

78. Looked at the cupcakes at Cupcakes on Pitt.  They're incredibly adorable. 

I'm saving some of them to my screensaver.

I love the vanilla sundae one.   There's something about cupcakes with a cherry on top.

79. Wondered if the Meriton Apartments , on Pitt Street, would be affordable to us.  

80. Looked at the prices.

They're not really affordable for us.

They have other properties though.  The ones away from the CBD might be cheaper. 

81. Saw that there's a game store on Pitt Street.  

Maybe they have Australia Monopoly!

82. Saw that they have a Spicks and Specks Game.  

And here...they do have an Australia Monopoly game.  

83. Saw that there's a vegetarian restaurant on Pitt Street.  It's called Mother Chu's Vegetarian Kitchen

It has a lot of fake-meat in an Asian style preparation.

It might be good.

I like fake meat in small doses. 

84.  Saw that there's a hostel on Pitt Street called Maze Backpackers.  From the photograph, I get the idea it's for young beautiful drunk people.  

One day I'd like to find a hostel for middle age parents and their kids.

I guess we get the holiday parks.

85. Looked at their prices and saw that a youthful attractive person, wanting their space, can get a private room for $315 a week.  That's not bad.

I wonder if they have air-conditioning.

86. Looked at their facilities page. 

Air-conditioning is not mentioned.

They have wireless internet. Is that free, or do you have to pay?

87. Saw the Maze FAQ page.

They charge $5 for 75 minutes of internet.

I guess that's okay; but it's not great.  

88. Wondered if the Metro Hotel on Pitt Street would have good prices. 

89. Looked at their prices.  It's not too awful.  At least it comes under $200.

90. Decided to take another Australian quiz on Funtrivia.   I think this is a general one.  

92. Got the third question wrong.  It was a sports thing...tennis.

Some guy named Rod Laver won tennis things in 1962 and 1969.

93. Learned from Lord Wiki that Laver had a stroke while being interviewed.

It's weird, because yesterday I was thinking, what if someone died while they were on TV? Like a talk show host or something like that.

Laver didn't die fortunately.  Lord Wiki said he recovered pretty well.

94.  Got question seven wrong.   It was another sports thing.

Now I've learned that a guy named John Eales was the captain of the Wallabies at one time.

I've learned it, but I'll probably forget it in three minutes.

So I probably really didn't learn it.

95. Got question eight wrong.  It turns out that Vegemite is not the health food of a nation.   That honor goes to Peter's ice-cream.

96.  Learned from Lord Wiki that Peter's Ice-cream was started by an American expatriate. That might explain why it was mistaken for a health food.  Americans tend to get confused about nutrition.  

I'm joking.

Don't worry.

But like Jeremy Irons, I might be half serious. 

97.  Watched a commercial for Peter's ice-cream.



And here's an older commercial. It has the bit about it being the health food of a nation.



98. Finished the quiz. I got a 7/10. That's the average score; so I didn't do too bad.