Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rain, Emergencies, Imagination, and Stonefish

1. Found another helpful website about rain in Australia.

I'm trying to be as accurate as possible about the weather on our pretend Australia trip, but it's not really possible. Well, it's possible.  But I'd probably need to switch myself over to Australia time.

The thing is, I'm usually sleeping from about 5pm-1am New South Wales time.

If I stayed up during that time I could watch the weather and write the trip reports as the exact time that they're happening.

Instead I'm writing during usual waking hours, and then scheduling the trip reports to post while I'm sleeping.   It could happen that I write we just had a lovely walk on the beach, when in reality there's a huge storm that snuck in at the time we were supposedly at the beach.

2. Considered quitting my pretend trip to Australia. It's not just because I have doubts that it's entertaining to others.   It's more because I'm too anal for such a project.   I'm so obsessed with the details. The research for all of this is taking me hours and hours.  

But then I decided I have to keep on with it.  Or well...I WANT to keep on with it.


Well, because in those hours of research, I FEEL like I'm really in Australia.  I look at maps and photos and menus.   I read all this stuff, and it's like I AM magic, and I can apparate to Australia.

The thing about fiction, whether you read it or write it, although it's pretend, it can feel real.

2.  Went to sleep and had a bad dream that makes no sense. Well, at least one part didn't make any sense.

Jack and I are in a room together.  I'm working on my blog.  I've recently learned that my cousin's husband likes my blog.  He finds it amusing.  

I write my blog in a weird way.  Instead of writing all the numbered things and posting it when I'm done, I post as I write.   I write a little, post, write a little more, post....etc.

I write something about Lost. I say there are people so obsessed with the show that they'd pay to watch Claire knitting and (some other character) doing needlepoint. I make it sound like an insult sort of.   But then I add the punchline. "I might be one of those people".  

While I'm writing, Jack plays with the window.  I ask him to stop because I'm afraid if it's open too much, Mushu might jump out.

Jack ignores my warnings and plays more.  Then something breaks and falls backwards.   I have the idea it hit the window of the apartment below us.   A young girl appears at our window. And I don't seem at all phased by this.  She's very sweet and pleasant.   She starts trying to fix the window.    Then something goes wrong and she falls.   From the sound of her scream it sounds like she has fallen a very long way.

I'm horrified by what has happened; and I'm also horrified by Jack.  He's very psychopathic about the whole thing.  His cheerful mood isn't at all diminished by the tragedy.  He has the attitude of, Oh...well...bummer; but these things happen.  

I look out the window and see we're in a very high building. I can see the child's body below.   I have serious doubts, but I'm trying to hope she's still alive.

Here's the part that makes no sense.

I want to call an ambulance, but I'm not sure how to call the Australian paramedics from America.    I remember that the number to call is 000.  But what happens when you dial from America?  I decide to dial the number, hoping at least I'll get an operator, and they can connect me to Australia.

An operator doesn't answer.  Little Gym answers.  A cheerful man mentions the name Manny. I'm not in the mood for pleasantries, so I just hang up.

I'm also being sort of psychopathic myself.  I'm sad for the child, but mostly upset for myself. I worry this will be a huge scandal...a big mystery.  I hate that I'm involved.  I don't want to be a part of one of those huge sensational news stories.  


I guess inside the apartment was America and the outside was Australia?   That might make least in the dream world.  

Later I had somewhat better dreams, although they involved me being almost murdered by religious zealots who had kidnapped a baby.  But then that turned into a lucid dream with me flying around with Jack heading towards my Dream City.   There was a part where I told Jack he was in my dream and that he might not be real.   I told him that he might be a version of Jack that my mind created.

That was pretty cool.  

3. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read a story called Kung Fu Master!

It takes place in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and it's starring Miria Jones and Frankie Dean.

4. Started to read.

There's no date on the story, so I'm not sure when it's supposed to be taking place.  The writing, though, began on November 25.  Like my blog, the story went on hiatus for a few weeks.    There were two posts written on the 25th; then nothing again until yesterday (January 15).

5. Followed a link in the story to this picture.  I'm not sure what it is.

Well, I see there's a panda.  I get that.   I'm not sure of the meaning.  I guess it's like Kung Fu Panda? 

6. Realized what's going on.  I was so lost.   But now I remember!  Miria is a graffiti artist.  I read the first paragraph of the story and wasn't sure what was going on. I got the idea that Miria was painting something, but I wasn't sure.

Now I'm okay.

I'm not lost anymore.

7. Saw that American wizard Frankie Dean is trying to push himself to say thongs instead of flip flops.

Thong is probably a better sounding word than flip flop, but it is confusing since thong means something else entirely in America.

8.  Thought it was cute that Frankie heard the hissing of the paint cans and initially guessed that it might be a snake.

9. Saw that my Australian of the day is a librarian named Edmund la Touche Armstrong.  He was born in Geelong in 1864.

I used to associate Geelong with our beloved Australian-Hawaii friends.   Now I associate Geelong with pandemics and pathology.  I also currently associate the Netherlands with that as well.

Anyway, back to the librarian.

His parents migrated to Australia from Ireland.

Armstrong started working for the Public Library of Victoria when he was seventeen.

10. Learned that Armstrong also worked with museums in Victoria.  The guy was all about spreading and sharing knowledge.

That's much better than sharing and spreading viruses.

11.  Thought of a certain Australian celebrity when reading these lines about Armstrong.  He was respected widely although his natural reserve and caution made him seem remote from his staff.   

Tim recently told me he had heard an interview with two Australian celebrities.  They were asked about working with a certain third celebrity. They said they didn't interact with her much and that she usually kept to herself.  Tim and I agreed that this was a polite way of saying, She's a snotty bitch. I was kind of disappointed to hear this celebrity was bitchy in that way, because I had sort of liked and admired her.

Then recently I began to rethink the whole thing.  Why assume this celebrity is a snob? Maybe the other two celebrities meant nothing beyond their words. Maybe they didn't have much to say about her because she kept to herself. They might not have meant anything negative by it.

OR maybe they did mean something negative. If that's the case, it could be that they're the ones who aren't that nice.  Maybe they rubbed her the wrong way and she avoided them.  Maybe with other people, she's very nice.

It could also be that she's shy and introverted.   She's a decent person, but needs a lot of time to herself.  And the other celebrities are extroverted and couldn't understand her quietness.

There are so many possibilities.  

12. Went to the awesome website, with the rain information, and saw that right now (4:38 am Australia time) it's raining in a lot of towns.  

If you click on the link, though, it's not going to show you what I'm seeing, because the site updates fairly frequently.

The heaviest rain right now is in Low Isles, Queensland. The website is helpful because it labels the rain with an intensity level, and also the towns with heavy rain are highlighted on the chart.

13. Found Low Isles on Google Maps.  It's an island near Port Douglas. 

Queensland is having it's rainy season right now, so it makes sense that there's a lot of rain.  

14. Started to look at more of Fredweng's fourteenth day in Australia Flickr set

He stayed at a farm place and ate kangaroo meat there. It looks very much like beef.

15. Thought this food looked really good.

I miss meat sometimes.  

16. Thought that the kangaroo in this photo looked kind of like a wolf.  

Maybe it's a kanga-wolf. 

If humans can turn into wolves, why not kangaroos?

Are there any stories about animals (besides humans)being two-natured?  Like how about a goldfish that turns into a parrot? Or a lobster that can transform into a cat?

17. Wondered if Sam Merlot has ever turned himself into an Australian animal.

18. Saw that Fredweng did some kind of group outing—maybe with other people who were staying at the farm?

They did some sand surfing.  

19. Wondered if Fredweng did this farm stay program.   It's a week long language camp at a farm on Kangaroo Island.

From the photos I get the idea that it's more like a program than just a place to stay.   It looks like the people are the farm are doing a lot of stuff together.

Also, there's photos of a man named Bob. I googled Bob Farm Stay and Kangaroo Island and came up with the site for the language camp.

20.  Figured maybe it's not the program, because their website says it begins each Sunday evening.   The pictures I'm seeing now say they're from August 13, 2011.  That was a Saturday.

21. Looked at Fredweng's Flickr sets.  He wasn't on Kangaroo Island for a week, so I'm thinking he was at a different farm stay.  

22. Saw that it's now raining heavily on Norfolk Island.

I think I'm obsessed with this rain website.

23. Went to Funtrivia to take another Australia quiz.

Today I'm going to take a quiz about waterways in Australia that have British names.

I'm not sure I know much about that. I might get a lot wrong.

Never mind.  That quiz only has only the HTML format. I like the flash ones better.

I'm going to do the next quiz which is about dangerous animals. It works out because I kind of prefer that subject to waterways.  

24. Got question #2 wrong. It's about the stonefish. Now I've learned that the stonefish sting comes from it's dorsal spine.

25. Watched Billy Connolly do a comedy thing about the stonefish.

He talks about how the Stonefish's reputation of causing horrific pain.

26. Started to watch a National Geographic video about the stonefish.

The guy's voice in the video reminds me of Owen Wilson.

I think the stonefish is one of the neatest animals I've ever seen.  I probably wouldn't want to encounter one, though, if there wasn't glass between us.

Jack was really interested in seeing the stonefish when we were in Australia.  Maybe in 2007?   It was off display though. Then I think when we were there the next time, we were able to see it.  After all that waiting and anticipation, Jack gave it a few glances and was ready to go. Meanwhile I was totally entranced by the thing.

27. Went to look at my old blog post about our wonderful stonefish encounter. I had forgotten that the title of that day's post was dedicated to the fish.  

Anyway, I had it right.  We tried to see it in 2007, but it was off display. Then in 2009, we were able to see it.

28. Learned from the National Geographic video that the stonefish doesn't use his venom to catch prey. It's a defense thing.

I also learned that if people get stung, it's probably because they accidentally stepped on the fish.

29. Hoped that I'll never step on a stonefish.

Actually, I hope NO ONE steps on one of them. I don't like of hearing of people in excruciating pain.  

30. Decided I should go back to taking the quiz.

31. Got question #3 wrong and learned that the venomous cone shell in Australia is a gastropad.

Lord Wiki says there's records of 30 humans dying from these cone shell things. That's the bad news.  The good news is the venom contains something that helps the victim not feel much pain.    That's kind of nice. I mean it's bad enough to end someone's life.  Why do they have to add excruciating pain to the mix? 

32. Learned from Lord Wiki that scientists are using some types of cone shell venom to make anti-pain medicines. 

33. Thought that this quiz was very a dark way.  It's told as a story about a group of friends.  They each get attacked by some animal, one after another.  It's like an Aussie animal slasher film.

34. Got question #10 wrong and learned the most deadly skin cancer is melanoma.

My score was 7/10.  

That really was an awesome quiz.  It's one of the best I've seen.  The creator has a wicked sense of humor.

35. Saw that it is now raining very heavily in Redcliffe Queensland.  

I'm looking at Google Maps.  Redcliffe is slightly north of Brisbane.  

It's also raining quite a bit in Ballina, New South Wales.  I think that might be where I'm pretending to be.  

36. Saw from Google Maps that I'm totally wrong. Ballina is way up north, ten hours away from Kiama.  

Ballina is near Byron Bay.

37. Saw that  some bikers in Tasmania believe they might have found the skull of a Tasmanian Tiger.

It will be interesting to see how the story turns out.

Could it be proof that the extinct animal is not really extinct?

Is it a hoax?

Is it a very old Tasmanian Tiger skull? 

I think a lot of these stories turn out to be dead ends.  But it would be fun if it were really something.

38. Figured out FINALLY how to understand this other rain chart.  It tells you how much it's rained since 9:00 am in various towns   I was unclear what it meant, which now makes me feel stupid, since it seems fairly obvious to me now.

Now I can see that yesterday in Kiama it rained between 2:00 and 2:30.   Maybe I'll imagine that's when I was inside the bookstore.  Or maybe it was when I went back to the motel to get Tim and Jack.

It also rained between 5:00 and 5:30; but I think it was a tiny amount.

39. Thought about how it's very surreal to write a fictional story about your own family.

One thing, don't really have to worry about the whole character development thing.

I already know my characters very well.  

40. Decided my current favorite candy is Sherbies.  I'm totally loving them.