Sunday, April 27, 2014

Did We Fail in Melbourne?

I look back at our time in Melbourne and I feel like we failed. I'm not sure if I felt this way immediately after returning of if it's a feeling that developed later.

A few days ago, I was talking to Jack about it and came up with the excuse that we had only seven days there, and two of those days we used for day trips. But then I redid the math and realized we had been there for ten days. In ten days, you should be able to see pretty much everything. And we didn't. Why?

I think it was mostly my fault. I had lost some of my love of big cities. Then, on top of that, we had just come from having seven nights in Sydney.  I was so over the big city thing at that point.

I was reluctant to leave our little cozy life in St. Kilda.  I loved it there. I liked our apartment on Acland Street. We were in a fairly quiet residential area...well, quiet until the wee hours in the morning. Then it got loud.

I loved walking to the retail area, seeing all the rainbow lorikeets as I made my way there. I loved looking at all the shops—books, bakeries, ice-cream, thrift stores, etc.

Oh, and almost every day we had to pass by Luna Park.  That was pretty awesome.

We were near the ocean.  That's another regret, though.  I didn't go on St. Kilda Pier until our last day there.  That feels like a failure.

Later Tim and Jack met me there for lunch. We ate at this cute restaurant and I felt sad that we hadn't discovered it earlier.

So really. We spent a lot of time in St. Kilda, but even with St. Kilda, I feel we failed.

I also regret we didn't swim in the ocean over there. We didn't do any ocean swimming during that whole trip.

People say you're going to regret what you didn't do more than you're going to regret what you did do

I wonder if that's true. Should we have gone into the water?

The thing is I was never in the mood.  I was totally lacking the urge.

So would it have been better to force myself to swim?  Then I wouldn't have this regret. I doubt I'd be looking back a year later with regret that I DID go into the water....unless we got stung by jellyfish. But even with that, our pain would be gone by now, and it would be an exciting story to share.

I guess the same dilemma fits with the city.  I wasn't in the mood to take the tram into the CBD and deal with the crowds.  I liked staying in St. Kilda. But now I'm feeling I missed out on stuff.

So should I have forced myself to go CBD more—even though I didn't want to—because it would have prevented this regret I'm feeling now?


Although then maybe I'd feel more St. Kilda regret. Maybe I'd feel we spent too much time in the CBD and not enough time in our own neighborhood.

I'm not even sure what it is I missed that's bothering me so much.

Maybe parks.

We didn't see enough parks.

We never went to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Though I did spent time in St. Kilda's Botanic Gardens.  We could walk there. It was beautiful and convenient. So did I really need the Royal Botanic Gardens?  I don't know.

What else did we not do?

We didn't go to the art museum.

Though we did see a fair amount of art at the library.  I get tired of looking at art, so that was probably enough for me.

We didn't go to the Docklands.

Oh no. Never mind. We did! We went to Costco there.  And you know what? For me, that disproves the philosophy that you won't regret what you DID do.

It's been over a year since we went to Melbourne Costco, and I still regret it.

It's a nightmare least on the weekends.

See, but if I didn't go, I'd probably be sitting here thinking. Man, we should have gone to Costco when we were in Australia.

I'm not sure what else we missed in Melbourne.

I'm thinking of stuff we did do.

We spent a lot of time in Federation Square.

Tim and Jack went to the Melbourne Cricked Ground.

We went to the library.

We went to the Melbourne Museum, and we saw the Royal Exhibition Building.

We went to Chinatown.

We went to Brunswick.

We went to ScienceWorks.

We went to the Queen Victoria Market. We ate jelly donuts.

We went to one of those little arcades and ate at Chokolait.

We exited a train at Flinders Station and saw the outside of the building on other occasions as well.

Now, after writing this, I'm feeling somewhat better.  Maybe we didn't miss too much after all.

I think what we missed was the parks, but it's not like our time in Melbourne was lacking in park time.  We went to nearby parks, and we also spent time at parks during our day trips.

If anything I guess I'm still regretting that we didn't spend more time at St. Kilda pier. It was so beautiful there.  Almost like a dream.  Or maybe I'm looking back with rose-colored glasses.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Texans Needing Protection in Australia

Australia was in our local news today. I don't think I've ever seen that happen.

It turns out our Mayor (Betsy Price) spent over $10,000 of our tax money to take two police officers along with her on her Australia trip.  She says she needed them for security.

In comments, nitenurse22 says, Why does Betsy Price need security detail? Outside of Texas or even North Texas who even knows her? Wow that's a big waste of money.

It might be bad to admit this...but I live in Fort Worth, and I wouldn't know her if I ran into her at the grocery store. 

The Fort Worth Police Association is unhappy with the whole situation. The former president of the organization gives insight into the police officers duties. According to him, the officers carry her bag, fetch medication for her, take photos, etc.  It seems she's using tax payer money to hire the police to be her personal assistants.


There's a part of me that's thinking it's not unusual for public officials to take a small entourage on their travels.  I'm trying to figure out how I'd feel if the mayor brought along one personal assistant and called it what it was. It would be a cost saver if she could simply handle things on her own.  But maybe people in that position lose touch and forget how go about their life without someone giving them assistance.

I don't know. Maybe we need a more self-reliant mayor. You know what I keep thinking, though. I keep imagining her going to Australia alone and feeling lonely. That gives me some sympathy. Should our tax money remedy that?  Probably not. I guess it depends on whether or not the trip to Australia is very necessary. If it's a case of, The Fort Worth Mayor MUST visit Australia (having a hard time imagining a situation in which this might be true), then I think taxpayers can pay, and maybe it's okay that we also pay for one assistant to keep her company and carry her heavy bags.If the trip isn't very necessary, than I think the mayor can skip it if she can't deal with traveling around Australia on her own.

According to the article, Betsy Price went to Australia to wave the Fort Worth flag and raise awareness about our airport.

Yes, it's very important Australians to know about our airport.

Price is also going to attend some kind of energy conference in Perth. According to her, Australians are very eager to hear about energy projects being worked on by Fort Worthians.

What are these Fort Worthians working on?

I have no idea.

I'm wondering if it's environmentally friendly stuff.  Or not. I don't picture Fort Worth as being a pioneer in green technologies. But I might be speaking out of ignorance here.

I just went and read the mayor's website.  She has a page about her trip to Australia. It sounds like the basic purpose of her trip was to advertise Fort Worth to Australians.  It seems we're seeking Aussie tourists and Aussie investors. That's cool. I guess it's like Australia and Qantas paying a huge amount of money to bring in Oprah, the cast of Modern Family, etc.

I'm totally in support of these goals. It's nice when Australians and Americans visit each other. I'm just not sure if I agree that the methods used are the best.  I would imagine there's a more cost-effective way to promote ourselves to each other.

As for the energy thing, on Betsy Price's site, she specifies what type of energy. It's petroleum related.—oil and gas. From what I know (or think I know) that's not very environmentally friendly. I'm sure it has it's place in the world, and it makes sense about the Texas thing. Texas has a big association with oil.  I guess I just kind of hoped Fort Worth science folks might be inventing some kind of exciting, alternative green energy.   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pork Chops

Today, on one of my daily doses of Home and Away, there was Jewish-related Aussie-slang.

A character named Marilyn said, My last boss said I was about as useless as a pork chop in a synagogue.

I like that line.

I wasn't sure if it was created by the writers or if it's Aussie slang.

I did some googling, and found out it's the latter.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase is now sometimes said as something like, You're carrying on like a pork chop.  I think to understand that you'd have to know the original phrase. Otherwise, it makes little sense.

I like the original because it makes sense without being knowledgable about the Aussie slang. There's no need for translation.

Then again....if someone isn't very knowledgable about Jewish customs, they'd be lost.

Flickr Stats

I like looking at my stats on Flickr.

Well, honestly I'm looking at stats...period.

That might be one of the main reasons I have blogs and other things. I like counting the visits.

Anyway, in the past two days, this video of mine has had 8 views. No, that's not a lot. But in the last year, before yesterday, it had only 15 views. So, that's quite a jump.

The video's from The Rocks in Sydney. What's funny is I think we were planning to buy a lot of licorice. But then the generous salesman gave us so many free samples, we were kind of tired of the licorice and less interested in buying a lot. We still bought something but not as much as we originally planned.

Anyway....I was thinking it might be fun to look at my post popular Australia-related photos/videos.

The most popular is this one at 229 views.

  That's Jack at the lake house pool, not in Australia. But he's riding on an Aussie thong raft given to us by a fellow blogger.

By the way, I've just realized you can embed photos directly from Flickr rather than then uploading them onto Blogger from a file. I'm not sure if this is a new feature on Flickr, or I was just too blind to notice it before.

Fairy Bread  This was taken at a friend's birthday party, in Sydney during our 2009 trip to Australia. It's gotten 99 views.

 This one (59 views) was taken at our house. It's food we ordered from Simply Australian.

 Here's Jack at the Powerhouse Museum, in 2009. That has 51 views.

You know I'm seeing that our Australian-related photos aren't very popular. We've gotten much more views of our Disney World photos. Maybe Flickr viewers are more likely to be Disney fans than Australia fans.

I just searched to find the most popular photo/video from our 2013 trip to Australia.

It's this one....

   I'm pretty sure that's from ACMI in Federation Square. I think it's Sally's doll from Home and Away.  It's fitting that my most popular photo from that trip is Home and Away related since most of my Aussie love, these days, is directed at Home and Away.  I don't think I was so in love with the show back then, though, because if I were, I would have insisted we visit Palm Beach.

Well, no. Actually, that's not true. We went to Atlanta in December, and I was obsessed with The Walking Dead. Yet we didn't visit Senoia.

I would have wanted to go to Palm Beach but then I would have probably gotten lazy about it.

You I'm wondering if that doll at the museum IS Sally's doll. Maybe it was from Play School.  I've been googling for the last five minutes and can't find an answer.

I should probably get better at labeling my photos.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I've Been Kicked Off My Throne

Around Christmas time, Jack got me addicted to the trivia app QuizUp.

For those who aren't familiar with this app,  it's a trivia game with a huge variety of topics.  You play against random strangers around the world.

One of the topics is Australia, and I made my way up the ranks until I was number one in the world. I was proud but not that proud, because it's less about intelligence and more about how much time you're willing to put into it. There's only a certain amount of questions, and once you get to a certain level you're answering the same questions over and over.

Anyway, a few days ago, I lost my position as best in the world. I've been outranked by a player named JasslynJ.A.   He's on level 139.  I'm below at level 135.  Yesterday he was only one level ahead of me, so he's really going at it.  Or she. I'm not sure why I'm imagining JasslynJ.A as male.

A part of me feels compelled to take back my position, but I'm trying to quiet that part of me, because I think it's nice to let other people have their chance at the top.  Also, since it's the same questions repeated over and over and over, we're not really learning anything new.  It's better to work on other topics. I'm doing a lot of literature quizzes lately. I'm hoping it helps a bit with my recently renewed book-writing aspirations.

That being said, I do and will continue to play the Australia topic every so often.  I don't want my ranking to go overly low, and I also don't want to forget the stuff I've learned.

What's great is that the QuizUp creators will sometimes update a topic, adding new questions to the set. They did that for Australia a few months ago. Hopefully, they'll do it again one day.
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Some of My Reasons For Loving Jaclyn Moriarty

Today I went to the library and picked up a Jaclyn Moriarty book: A Corner of White.

I'm on only page 14, and I don't quite understand what's going on yet; but I have high hopes of liking it.

Before I read more, though, I wanted to take the time to sing out praises for one of my favorite Aussie writers. (my other favorite, btw, is Jaclyn's sister, Liane)

Anyway, here are some reasons I love Moriarty.

1. I love her young adult books about kids at the two Sydney high schools. It's not quite a series, because you don't need to read the books in order.  But the books do connect in various ways.  

The books are told through letters, essays, and other writings.  It's fun easygoing reading—kind of like Bridget Jones Diary type stuff.   

2. Jack has read some of her books and loved them.  This is a big deal because he's one of those reluctant reader kids. Here's some trivia. I'm not sure if I mentioned this last year, but we had another incident in Australia. Well, in 2009 we lost two cameras in Sydney. In 2013, we lost Jack's backpack which included, not a camera, but a Nintendo 3DS and a Jaclyn Moriarty book.  Fortunately, with the help of friends and kind people, we were able to get it back.  

3. I loved The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, Jaclyn Moriarty's adult novel. In some ways I found it very cathartic. There were aspects of the book that I related to that I don't think I've encountered in other types of fiction. There was a feeling of Oh...finally. SOMEONE out there understands.    

4. I love that Jaclyn Moriarty responds to comments on her blog, and she does so with so much kindness.  She graciously responds to compliments. She has a self-deprecating sense of humor.  She takes the time to visit the blogs of people who comment and she gives them compliments.  Well, I don't know if she does that all the time.  But I see at least one example.

She says to one one person:

Thank you so much, The Bookish Manicurist! I don't think I deserve any comments at all after all this time - I couldn't even remember my password for this blog - and here you are being so kind. Thank you again. And what a brilliant idea for a blog you have: I love the cover of Cracks in the Kingdom so I lo-o-o-o-ve your nail art for the book (and your generous review). Maybe I will refer to it on my blog at inside-a-dog if that's okay? Jx

Well, I'm looking at her other comments and that post, and they're equally kind. She's one of the nicest people I've seen on the internet.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Flag of Victoria

This weekend we visited Austin, Texas.

While we were there, we came across this gas station with a convenience store that had a display of international flags.  We looked around for an Australian flag and found one that fit the bill but not quite.  It had the Union Jack and the Southern Cross, but it also had a little crown.

What in the world.....

Then I remembered the state flags. I figured maybe that's what we had seen.

We Googled when we got home. My first guess was that it was the Queensland flag, but that came up negative. Next we tried Victoria. That was a match.  

I thought it was random and interesting that an establishment in Austin Texas had a Victoria, Australia flag.  I wonder why. 

Where did they get all their flags in the first place?  Did they order them?  Collect them through the years?  Maybe people donate them?  

We were going to eat an Aussie-inspired restaurant in Austin called Boomerang Pies, but unfortunately they were closed.  It's not too huge of a loss though, because they sell the pies at one of our local grocery stores.

Then Austin also has one of those annoying restaurants that claim to be Australian, but there's not much Aussie-vibe there. Now I'm just going by the menu.  Maybe the restaurant itself had a great amount of Australian spirit.   

The hamburgers, though?  No beetroot.  To me, that says you're failing at being an Australian restaurant.  
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Friday, April 4, 2014

Ryan Kwanten and the New Girl

Our new binge-watching show is The New Girl.  I'm totally in love with it.

Anyway, on our episode tonight...Ryan Kwanten was the guest star!

He played Jess's potential one-night stand.

There was one part where he reminded me of myself, and Tim immediately spoke my thought out loud.

There's a chimpanzee on TV. One of the main characters calls it a monkey, and Ryan Kwanten corrects them.  I guess we all have quirky pet-peeves and one of mine is people confusing apes with monkeys.

The star of The New Girl is Zooey Deschanel. It's the first time I've seen her live in action. However, what I've always associated her with is Tallygarunga, that online Australian Harry Potter site.  She was the face used for a character named Alice Hawthorne.  I don't remember who that is which is funny, since I did remember that she was "portrayed" by Zooey Deschanel.

Well, I found a character description.  Alice Hawthorne's a werewolf and she's good at cooking.

Anyway...back to Kwanten.

I just went to see when he'd be on Home and Away.  He has a one episode gig in 1992. That's not too long away for me.  I'm in 1989 right now.  He comes back in 1994 for another episode. Then in 1997, he gets a real role.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Wish I Was More Like Roo Stewart

Roo Stewart
Roo Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today I was watching my first daily episode of Home and Away, and I thought about how Roo Stewart might be my perfect role model.

Well, I'm talking about the new and improved Roo Stewart, because she used to be spoiled, selfish, and manipulative. Then some kind of psychological miracle happened, and she became who I wish I could be.

She's nice...almost to everyone.  She sees the good in people and defends them when they're criticized by others.  For example, everyone in town sees Martin Dibble as a Buffoon, but she was willing to go to a dance with him.  People say vile things about her Aunt Morag, and well...there's a lot of vile things to say about Aunt Morag.  Roo acts sympathetic towards their anger regarding Morag but manages to still see and promote the positive traits she sees in her aunt.

The thing I love most, though, is that although Roo's very kind, she's not a doormat.  She definitely has a backbone.  She doesn't repress her emotions.  If someone gives her a hard time, she speaks her mind.  If someone gives someone else a hard time, she'll speak her mind.  She fights for herself, and she fights for others.

She's also very forgiving.  Her father and stepmother accused her of writing poison pen letters that she didn't write. Eventually, she forgave them for the false accusations; though originally she vowed she never would.  I don't blame her, and it made her seem more human.  If she forgave them immediately, it would be too unrealistic.  

Roo gave up her infant daughter for adoption.  Later, she learns her former enemy Bobbie Fisher is her cousin.  Bobbie's the daughter of Roo's Aunt Morag who abandoned Bobbie at birth.  Bobbie speaks ill of Morag for giving her up when she was a baby.  Bobbie says all this in front of Roo; I suppose forgetting that Roo herself had given up an infant. Roo's hurt by this, but she doesn't lash out or hold a grudge.

Or maybe she did secretly hold a grudge.  Maybe she's just holding it all inside?

I guess that's what I wonder sometimes.

What's going on inside of Roo Stewart?  Well. Yeah.  I know she's a fictional character.  But if she was real, what would she be feeling?

Is she as perfect on the inside as she is on the outside?

I think I'm much nicer on the outside than I am on the inside.  I tend to be nice to people, even when I'm disgusted with them or angry.  But, eventually, I usually explode, and it all comes tumbling out.

I want to learn to speak up for myself when I'm feeling the bad feelings instead of letting it fester and burst.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

On 1980's Home and Away, Martin Dibble and Lance Smart have their own little song.  It's "Boys Will be Boys" by the Choirboys.

The song's not played every time they appear, but it has played during their scenes more than once, so I consider it their song.

I had one of those shit-what's-that-song moments when I first heard it on the show.  It was familiar to me, but I didn't know why.  Was it an Aussie song that was on my massive Aussie Spotify list?  Was it an American song that would be familiar to most everyone I know in my own country?

I tried asking Jack about the song. I attempted to sing it which was hard, because I only knew the chorus bit, and even that I didn't know very well.  I mean I got the words right but maybe not the tune. Or maybe I DID have the tune right, but I felt it was wrong, because Jack wasn't recognizing it.

Anyway, I couldn't find the song.  But then eventually, I was listening to my Aussie spotify list, and it came on.

Now I'm wondering why I didn't just look through song titles on the Aussie list?  The song title is the same as the chorus!

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

Let's not dwell on my stupidity.  Instead I'll read about The Choirboys.

Lord Wiki says they formed in Sydney in 1979.

Their lead singer is a guy named Mark Gable.

Mark Gable's in a domestic partnership situation with a country singer named Melinda Schneider, whose mother is a yodeler.  Now that's really cool!  I think so, at least.

Another popular song from The Choirboys is "Run to Paradise".  I have that on my spotify list as well.

Here's The Choirboy's official website.   Mark Gable has a fun message.

He says: This is the CB’s new website, it has many amazing features that I have no idea how to work but you will because you are all so clever. Apparently we can blog with one another and you can have your say, things like ‘you guys are just amazing’ or ‘the wife thinks you guys really suck’. I think you can even upload photos if you like, these photos can be of anything you would like us to see: your cat, your kids, your girlfriend (yes please), some show where we did something amazing or a show where we sucked.

I like his sense of humor, and that he shows interest in seeing people's cat, kids, and girlfriend.  It's like he understands that people have a life outside of being fans of The Choirboys.

Sadly, it seems the blog hasn't been updated since May 2012. And I don't see anyone's comments or photos.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Still...I liked the sentiment behind what he said.

Well, this is strange, and very annoying.

I just scrolled up to edit my post and two of the videos I embedded have vanished.  I looked in the HTML, and they're not there either.  What the hell?

Oh, well.  I'll go find them again.