Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jones, Abbott, and Gillard

I have just one thing to say about the whole mess.

And that is....

I'm extremely tired of people being so cruel to each other.

I wish we could all be better at kindness.

One Sunday Morning.....

I've been doing a lot of singing practice lately.

For me, that's a little bit of breathing work and a LOT of lyrics work.

I'm horrible at memorizing lyrics which is really frustrating for me.

Singing feels so good  to me. Maybe cathartic?  Maybe even therapeutic.  

But it's really hard when you're singing, Tell me before I waltz out of your life.  Before....blah, blah, blah.....

Sometimes I make up lyrics. And they're silly.

I took my love and I took it down. I climbed a mountain and I ate a clown. 

So yeah. I want to know the REAL lyrics of full songs. I'm slow at it. I do a little at a time. This week I've worked on "Hallelujah". I'm proud of myself. I know most of the lyrics now...I mean of the lyrics that are mostly sung.  I'm not ambitious enough to memorize all of Cohen's lyrics.

I stop at the maybe-there's-a-God verse.

Last night I chose my next song.

Moreton Bay.

It's a beautiful song and fairly easy to sing. Well, if I have the lyrics in front of me.

The lyrics are very difficult for me.

I've decided to work on it two lines at a time. Maybe two lines a day.

I know. That's pathetic.  But what can I say? My memory is awful.


So today I've been walking around the house belting out.

One Sunday Morning as I went walking
By Brisbane waters I chanced to stray.

I'm singing it over and over.

I might drive Tim and his cousin nuts.

I get the feeling that they're not fond of my singing.  

Which kind of makes me want to sing more and more.

I'm wicked that way.

To my defense, though,  they talk a lot.  So...my thing is singing a lot.

I think we're even.

Do any of you like to sing?  Are you good with lyrics?  Breathing? Hitting high notes?  Hitting any notes?

And if you're Australian, what are your favorite traditional Australian songs? I mean like folk songs, anthems...those kinds of things.

I've decided to upload a clip of me singing the two lines of the song.   That way you can see my progress.   Or lack of. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanking Teachers

I just finished watching Q and A.

There was education talk.

Education talk usually annoys me. That's probably why I homeschool my child. I'm on a different wave-length than most people when it comes to the education-issue.

During the show, Kate Ellis was asked a question by someone in the early childhood field.

Kate Ellis made sure to thank the questioner for being an early childhood educator. Ellis made sure to let the woman know she was appreciated.

Some might have found it to be an act of kindness.

I found it annoying and somewhat condescending.  

Don't get me wrong.  There ARE good teachers out there. There are wonderful human beings, in existence, who love children and are great at inspiring people.   

But not all teachers are good.

I feel as if people say, I'm a teacher; and then, suddenly, they're seen as angelic and heroic.

They're miracle workers.

The thing is, not all teachers are Anne Sullivans.  

Some teachers are incredibly boring. They may simply read aloud the textbook in class.

Some teachers are racist and don't do a good job hiding it.

Some teachers despise some of their students and don't do a good job of hiding that.  

Some teachers love their subject matter but don't like children and teenagers. Some of them are jealous of their students and will say damaging things to bring a kid's self-esteem down a notch.  

Some teachers do the opposite of inspire students. A child goes in loving a subject and ends the class never wanting to hear about the subject again.

So let's not pretend all teachers are wonderful.

For those that are wonderful, let's not thank them with condescending platitudes. 

Let's thank them with a salary that makes the teaching field highly competitive. 

The thing with teaching is that it's seen as a sacrifice.  People choose that path even though they could make much more money elsewhere.  Maybe that's why we see them as so wonderful. They're noble.   They're contributing to the community without much monetary return.

But they're NOT all noble. Or maybe most of them do have noble intentions. I can give them that.

The problem is noble intentions don't always equal good results.


There's another question.

How do you measure a teacher's worth?

I don't think test scores are the answer.  Or at least they're not the only answer.

But what is?

How do we decide which teachers are fantastic?

I'm actually not sure.   

Maybe they shouldn't even be hired as teachers until it's known they're talented.  Maybe we can look at how they did in university classes and how they did with their student teaching.

We can watch them teach.  Do the kids look interested or bored out of their minds?  Do most kids seem to understand the lesson?  Does the teacher notice the children who aren't understanding the lesson?  How does she treat these left-behind students? How does she help them?

These are just some ideas. Like with any competitive career; there's never going to be 100% consensus on who's the best. But we can probably obtain some tolerable level of agreement.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Thought I Was Original

I was doing some exercising while watching YouTube videos.

I watched a best of Lost video. That was awesome.

Then I looked back at my recommended videos.

One of them was Kevin Rudd's sorry speech.

I considered watching it but decided I wasn't in the mood for the long speech.

I decided I'd rather watch the GetUp video about the speech.  

Before watching the video, I thought I'd look at the most popular comment—the one that's on the top.

This is part of what it says.

Saying sorry to the stolen generation for all they suffered is not the same as being personally responsible for what they suffered. If a friend's grandma died, surely you would express sympathy for example "I am sorry for your loss" by saying you are sorry, you are not accepting personal responsibility for killing Grandma.

That's extremely close to what I wrote in my post a few hours ago.

 I thought I was being clever and original. Maybe I can give me clever. I can't give me original.

Was it a coincidence that I wrote something so similar?  Maybe.

Or maybe months and months ago, I saw the post and my subconscious remembered it.

That makes me wonder.  How much of my writing is really original? And how much do I unknowingly borrow from others?

It kind of sucks.

And you know what. Someone out there has probably written a post almost exactly like THIS one.

What's maybe worse is when I've recently written something I feel is original and new   Then I'm reading my old posts and see I've said the same thing before.

At least when someone else writes it, I can hope and imagine it's just a wild coincidence. And also looking at the bright side...someone agrees with me on something!

But if I'm repeating my own words? There's not really an excuse, except for having a bad memory and being annoyingly repetitive.   

Getting From Here to There

I read this article and felt empathy for commuters in Sydney; although I really don't understand what most of the article is saying.  

I did maybe get one point.

Commuters will no longer be able to take a train into the city and be dropped off near the CBD.   Instead they're going to have to be dropped off a bit away from the CBD.  Then they'll have to take a bus.

That's not like losing all your belongings in a cyclone or being on a bridge when it collapses. But it still kind of sucks.

I can relate. 

Fort Worth has had major transportation challenges lately.

For us, it's the roads.

There is SO much construction going on.  And it seems to be on almost every road.  There are detours. There are cones. Driving anywhere is like going through an obstacle course.

I quit driving because of it.

That's kind of a good thing, though.

I think I was looking for an excuse to quit.  


I'm bemused by a scene in Bill Bryson's In A Sunburned Country.

Bryson is in Adelaide and is told there's going to be cricket match there.  He asks if there are any tickets left.

The person he asked replies, Nah, mate, sold out. Sorry.

Bryson comments on this answer in the book. I nodded and watched them go. That was another very British thing about Australians I'd noticed-they apologized for things that weren't their fault. 

I don't see that as an apology. I see it as expressing regret and sympathy.

And it's a British thing?

Maybe it is. What do I know? But I certainly didn't think of it as a non-American thing.

I do it often.

See, to me, without the sorry, the sold out statement would have sounded rude and cold. The sorry softens the whole thing.  It makes the man sound much nicer.

The other day I said sorry to Tim's cousin. If I remember correctly, it was because he ended up not liking the food he ordered.

I expressed sympathy by saying sorry.

Jacob said something like, It's not your fault.  

I'm guessing he was joking?

I don't know.

But of course I don't blame myself for his dislike of his lunch. I didn't cook it for him. I didn't suggest that he order it. I have no guilt in the matter. But I felt sympathetic towards his plight.

Now I'm wondering if other people mistake my sympathetic sorry for an apology.

But no. Really.

If I say sorry you're grandmother died, I'm not trying to confess to killing her.  

So what about you?   Do you think sorry should be used only as an apology?  Do you ever use it as a form of sympathy? If you don't, what would you say instead?

Lovely Australia and Lovely Adelaide

I love this quote from Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country

Adelaide is the most overlooked of Australia's principal cities. You could spend weeks in Australia and never suspect it was there, for it rarely makes the news or gets mention in anyone's conversation.  It is to Australia essentially what Australia is to the world-a place pleasantly regarded but far away and seldom thought about . And yet is is unquestionably a lovely city.  Everyone is agreed on that, including millions who have never been there. 

I love it because I think it's a spot on description of how Americans tend to view Australia. 

I'm not sure if the rest of the world sees Australia that way.

I see it as more of an American thing.  But what do I know of the other countries? 

It's funny to imagine that Australians might feel that way about Adelaide. I'm wondering if it's true.

It makes me think of that line on Lost directed towards Sayid: He's our you.  

People who watched Lost will know what I'm talking about.

People who didn't....

Well, it's too hard for me to explain. 

I'm wondering if Australians have an Australia—a place they don't often think about, but when they do think about it, the thoughts are positive. They'd vaguely like to go there one day but don't have any exact plans. 

I guess it's silly to imagine all Australians would have the same Australia. It might be different for everyone. And some might not have one at all.

And for Americans, not everyone's Australia is Australia.

I mean....mine's not anymore.

I think about Australia often.  Usually the thoughts are positive but not always. My plans of going there stopped being vague dreams and become a reality.

Now I'd say my Australia is probably....

Maybe Iceland? 

I know nothing about that place really. But it seems lovely. 

It would probably be too cold for me.

I think that's about all I know about Iceland. It's cold. And there's volcano ash shooting out of it sometimes.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dumb Farmers?

I'm watching a documentary about White Australia.

A former Prime Minister of Singapore speaks on the program.

Lee Kuan Yew says:

It made Australia look exclusionist. Afraid of contact with Asians. And others not white. Willing to take migrants from Malta...Turkey.  But not from Asia. You took farmers from Southern Europe, but not thinkers from Asia.



Is it my imagination or is he trying to say that farmers aren't thinkers?

It's a bit hypocritical to speak out against prejudice and then say something yourself that's prejudice.

I'm telling you.  Singaporeans are very hypocritical and obviously ignorant about the intelligence that's needed for farming.

No, I'm joking (about people from Singapore).  I just thought it would be fun to put hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy.   

Seriously, though.  I can't say I'm a big fan of what happens to animals on factory farms.

But farming in general.  I think agriculture and animal husbandry takes a LOT of brain power.

And it's maybe slightly important...you know.... since it provides us with food.  

Our body needs that.

Pandemics and Aborigines

As I've said before....

I get excited when Australia is mentioned in American books.

In a book I read recently, Australia was mentioned a few times.

The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley, is about an avian flu pandemic.  

Before the virus explodes into the pandemic, the protagonist teachers her elementary school art class about Aboriginal art.

I might have issue with one of the lines in the story. A child says,  I know what I want to do.  I want to make a story about airplanes, but you said the Aborigines don't have planes.

In the past, Aboriginal Australians didn't have planes.

They have them now.

They live in the modern world.

Why did the teacher say otherwise?

Is she teaching her class about Aboriginal Australians as something that existed in the past but not now?

Anyway.  Whatever.

Later in the chapter, some Aboriginal symbolism is explained.  

Fruitcake once talked about the type of stuff in her blog.  I'm trying to find the post.  I can't.

Did I dream it?

No, I don't think so.

Carla Buckley's novel says a circle and a dot represents a campfire.

This website says differently. It says cocentric circles is a campire.

Well...I guess a dot IS a circle.  So a dot inside a circle could be concentric circles.



There's lots of different Aboriginal groups. Did they all have the exact same symbolism for their dot paintings?

It would make sense if they didn't.

So I'm not going to say Buckley is wrong.  

The art class scene doesn't last long.

It's interrupted by a dramatic fire alarm catastrophe.

Later Australia is mentioned again, though.

As the flu becomes quite monstrous, scientists find a group of Aborigines who are immune. 

Then I think there was also mention of the protagonist having wishes to visit Australia someday. Or maybe they had planned to move there at some point.  I forget.