Saturday, April 30, 2011

Criminals, British Stuff, Writing, and Emotions

1. I dreamed I was Australian.  I find a newspaper clipping that has a photograph of me as a toddler.   It says something about me being the first Australian-American to be given a Hebrew name. I'm excited to learn that I'm an Aussie....or that I was one originally.  

I'm a bit disappointed that it was just a dream.

2. Enjoyed reading Facebook updates from an Aussie visiting Manhattan.  She seems to be liking it.  

3. Talked to my mom and sister a bit about British royalty people.   

4. Talked to my brother-in-law about Australia history.  The discussion began with Israel/Palestine. I mentioned that Australia almost took in thousands of Jews, referring to the Kimberley thing.  My brother-in-law said he heard Australia took in criminals. I said no, I think that was Argentina.   I thought he was talking about Nazis. But it ended up he was talking about the convicts. 

5. Looked at websites about British slang for my Harry Potter blog thing.  The problem is, I feel awkward using any words I've never heard or read before. I can't just take things from a dictionary and stick it in my writing. In order for me to feel comfortable with something, I need to be already familiar with it. Otherwise, I feel like I'm being fake. Or I worry I'm using some type of slang that's outdated.  I also worry about forgetting the British and that my character will end up sounding too Americanized. 

Anyway, though...I know a little British because they share some words with Australians. And also I learned a bit from Harry Potter, and stuff like that.

6. Found an Australian to British  dictionary.   I'm curious about the differences.  

There's not much here, but they have links to other things.  

Here's an Australian dictionary for British people.This might be helpful, because I can see what Australian words my British people might not use. Although the father is originally from Australian, so it wouldn't be too odd for them to use Aussie words. 

They say pash means snog. I never heard pash before. I'm wondering if it's used often.  

7. Followed the link to this blog post about Australian and British differences.

British think of thongs the way Americans think of thongs. We don't put them on our feet.

Oh!  This is funny.  They talk about the fanny issue. Apparently, the British define it the same way as Australians. They say they'd giggle when reading about fanny packs in The Babysitter's Club series.  I didn't know they talked about them there.From my limited knowledge, I'd say fanny pack was a word used more in the 1980's and 1990's.  I think it's used less often now, so we probably provide less giggles in that regard. I could be wrong, though.

8. Loved this bit from Andrea Goldsmith's The Prosperous Thief.  Words, he decided, were more powerful; words, as history had so persuasively demonstrated, could drive people to commit unpardonable atrocities; and words, Ralphie concluded after immersing himself in literature and the great historians, could also bring about a better world.    

This is the kind of thing I need to hear to make me feel better about myself.

Sorry, but I'm going to talk about my Magic is Might (Harry Potter) character again. She wrote a post once; or maybe left a message on the Rebellion newsletter. She feels inadequate because the people who visit her site are right in the middle of the action. They're fighting the war in London while she sits safe in Australia reading and writing about things. She feels helpless, inadequate, and unworthy. And yeah. Maybe some of this girl's feelings were inspired by my own.  

We had lunch once with a friend who was a real estate agent. He annoyed me by scoffing at writers.  The underlining message was they're not REALLY working. They're not doing anything important. I was offended by what he said. I think it was rude...and quite ridiculous coming from a real estate agent.  Does he really believe his job is that important?   I mean it probably is important, but is it more important than writing? I don't think so. Or maybe I don't want to think so, but a little part of me does.

Now after reading Andrea Goldsmith's quote, I feel ridiculous for having even a tiny bit of myself that doesn't understand the power and importance of writing.

Written words have inspired me. Humorous and kind ones have lifted my mood. They've made me think obsessively about various problems. They've worried me. They've scared me. They've wounded me.

Sometimes I'll be in a fight with someone, and I'll get an email from them. I dread opening that email.  I'll feel sick inside. Why? The email isn't going to blow up. I'm not facing a gun or a shark that's going to eat my arms. I'm facing words.

I'm tempted to say that some words are worse than a shark bite, but saying that might be a bit premature. I should probably wait until I've donated parts of my body to a shark's lunch. Then I can compare the two.

9. Remembered a teacher I worked with at a preschool. Her daughter was crying, and she refused to give her any comfort.  I forgot her exact explanation, but it was something along the lines of believing the only real pain was physical pain. If you get stung by a bee, that's worthy of compassion.   If your friend gives you the silent treatment, that's not real pain. I remember thinking that I'd probably feel the opposite. Physical pain is bad, but I think emotional pain is often worse.   Hopefully, this teacher/mother wasn't too extreme in her beliefs. Maybe she ignored mild emotional upsets but would give comfort for the big ones. She seemed fairly nice, so I can't imagine her being that cold-hearted.       

10. Bought eggs from the neighbors!  We know they're truly free range because we see the hens roaming around. The only thing is, I asked Tim, on the walk over, why they have hens. He said they said they had been raising them to send to the Philippines for cockfighting, but they ended up not going through with it. I hope they've really changed their mind about that. I don't want to support factory farms. I also don't want to support cockfighting.

11. Talked to Tim about the eggs and the ethics. He made me feel better, because he reminded me that although they had wicked plans, they didn't go through with it. They didn't sell the chickens off into the cockfighting business. That could have been just to avoid legal issues, because it's illegal in America. But they could have also sold the chickens to a factory farm or had them killed.   They could have found some reason to get rid of them.  And instead they're keeping them and taking care of them. It's probably okay. I hope!

12. Sickened to read another article about children and eating disorders. A clinic in New South Wales is seeing more and more young kids who don't want to eat because they're afraid of getting fat.  

One commenter reminds me of my parents. Mike of Sydney says, You have to be joking surely??....The only eating disorders I see amongst an unhealthy number of kids today is being overweight through inactivity after school and on weekends sitting around playing computer and video games and being in a Supermarket with their equally overweight mothers pushing the tolley stacked full of Chocolates and Biscuits ,Chips and Sugar coated Breakfast Cereals....and lets not miss out on the stop off at McDonalds for some easy lunch before we get into the car outside....Its as simple as that.

Yeah.  That's definitely the attitude in my family. Getting fat is the eating disorder. Extreme dieting and obsessive exercising is admirable.  If someone starts gaining a a bit of weight, there's need to worry. If someone stops eating or greatly restricts their eating? No worries! It's fantastic. In my world, there really is no such thing as being too thin.  

Why can't we face that fact that there's a problem on both ends?  Some people are gaining too much weight, and some people are damaging their bodies by not eating enough.   

The article says,  mothers who skipped meals, embarked on crash diets and visited the gym too often were poor role models for their impressionable children.  That's what Jack was exposed to from the ages of 3.5-5.  I weighed all my food and counted calories. I weighed myself. I exercised almost constantly. I would never sit down. I would just walk and walk and walk.  I became very thin.    Fortunately, I don't think this has affected Jack too much. It might be because he's a boy and not a girl; although boys do get eating disorders sometimes.  Maybe things are okay because I stopped it in time and later modeled better behaviors. I still exercise a lot, but not obsessively like before. I have fairly normal eating habits, and I keep a moderately healthy weight. I'm not fat. I'm not thin.  I'm okay.  

13. Dealt with a lizard tragedy with help from my brother-in-law and moral support from my sister.   It was gross and sad.    

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cousin Dreams, Weddings, Johnny O'Keefe, and Shirts,

1. Made sense of my Tasmania dream from yesterday.  It came to me in the middle of the night, probably thanks to something my friend told me.

The dream would have made sense if instead of going on a plane we went on the ferry from Tasmania to the mainland.  That would have made the trip take all night rather than a short flight.  In the dream, there was a definite feeling of traveling through the night and the need to get some sleep.  Maybe my brain was thinking of the ferry, but it messed things up and made it a plane.  One of the things I edited out yesterday was a part where we seemed to be on beds instead of chairs. If you pay extra on the Spirit of Tasmania, you can get a private cabin with beds.  I don't think our beds were in private cabins; but I think my mind combined a private cabin on a ferry with the economy section of an airplane.   

2. Dreamed about my cousin in Australia.  She tells me they're leaving Australia.My feelings about this surprise me. I expected to be kind of relieved, since I've always been jealous. But instead I'm a bit sad.  I'm glad, though, to see that she's sad because that means she ended up liking Australia.  I might feel a bit smug about the whole thing.  Ha. I was right all along.  Australia is fantastic, and you're going to miss it.  But then I get a closer look at her, and she's less sad than I thought.  

Several dreams later.....

I'm with my family at a crowded body of water where you can swim.  Maybe a pool?   Or it might be some type of natural thing.  We're all kind of hanging out. There's talk of taking a photo of all of us in the water.  I'm not in the water yet, though.  My sister has gone away from the water and is towards the back of the place where there's a building.  I see her talking to some woman.   I think it's her old speech therapist at first, but then I realize it's my cousin.  I go over to both of them.  I give my cousin this huge hug, and I'm very emotional about the whole thing. I'm trying not to cry. A part of me is glad to see my cousin, but another part of me is sad that she left Australia.  

3. Saw many Facebook messages about the royal wedding.  I missed it. I was asleep, dreaming my little dreams. 

4. Glad that Kate and William aren't Australian, because otherwise I'd feel obligated to write about them.  It's just not that interesting to me, personally.  However, I have no problem with other people getting excited and obsessed about it.  Some people are into the wedding.   I'm all into Harry Potter.   A Facebook friend of mine is very much into all the drama that's going on with The Office. Our friend Greg is totally obsessed with basketball.  We all have our things—our fantasies and distractions.  The world can be a scary place, so it's nice to have something that takes us away from it for awhile.  I think it's only a problem when we have our heads completely in the clouds and are completely oblivious and uncaring towards serious problems in the world.   I mean it would be sad if people gave 100% of their thoughts to the wedding and nothing to the people who lost their homes and loved ones in the recent tornadoes.

 5. Spent about three minutes looking at photos from the wedding. So I'm not THAT disinterested.

6. Listened to Johnny O'Keefe sing "She's My Baby" on the Australian Screen website.  

Lord Wiki says O'Keefe was the first rock-n-roll performer Australian to tour the United States.   He had a lot of hits in Australia. It seems like he was a pretty big deal.

7. Watched a mini-documentary about O'Keefe on YouTube.  The narrator says he was known as being Australia's first rock star.   The documentary kind of reminds me of the Barry Humphries documentary that talked about Whitlam.  I wonder if this is a clip from that?

8. Watched a video of O'Keefe singing "Shout".  

It's interesting to me that I've been obsessed with Australia for 3.5 years; and with all my research, I don't think I've ever heard about O'Keefe.  It's funny how I can miss something as huge as that. For me, it's a reminder that there's so much more for me to learn.

9. Watched a video of Johnny O'Keefe singing "Sing Sing Sing".  I like the song.   It reminds me of me.  I sing a lot.   Once, a few weeks ago, I tried to stop singing (for various reasons) and I couldn't stop. Seriously, I made a no-singing rule, and I kept accidentally breaking it.  Well, I'm sure if I kept trying I'd be able to overcome my singing issue.   But in the end, I decided that singing is fun, I like it, and whether I sing good or bad, I'm going to keep doing it.  If you're going to have a habit, singing really isn't the worst one to have.

10. Packed for the lake house and chose three Australian shirts for Jack.  I was curious to what he'd say about that.  I had him come and look at the clothes, so he could decide if he wanted those or if he wanted to go get others.  He was fine with two of the shirts but traded in one for a Harry Potter one.   The funny thing is he complained the shirt is too big. It's not. It's probably the perfect size for him.   He likes his clothes small, I suppose. He still wears shirts that he wore when he was 4-5 sometimes.  Granted we did use to buy him large sizes that he'd grow into.  I don't know.  Maybe he got tired of wearing things too big, so now he wears things that are small.  

11. Looked at Victorian Mannerist Buildings on the Sydney Architecture Page. On the architecture style pages, they include buildings outside of Sydney.  I really love the Benvenuta building in Victoria...Carlton.

12. Looked at a photo of Benvenuta on Flickr.   I kind of expected to be disappointed with a second photo, but I'm not.  This building is fantastic. I wonder what it's used for.  Does someone live there?

13. Searched for more information on Benvenuta.  I found this Melbourne building website.  They say the name is no longer Benvenuta.   Now it's called Medley Hall.

It was built for a widow in 1893. She lived there until 1914. Later the home was sold to the government.  And then it was taken over by the University of Melbourne.

14. Looked at Medley Hall's website.   I like their photo of the building the far.  Still.  It's beautiful.

They say they've been closed since July 2009, but they're going to open back up this July.  

15. Loved looking at Victorian Second Empire buildings.

Now I'm consulting Lord Wiki about this style.  I'm wondering if we have any of these buildings in America. Yep.  There's a few. I like this courthouse in Indiana.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Walking Backwards, Internet Shopping, Simply Australian, and Disney World

1. Had very illogical dreams.  Remember when CNN put Queensland in Tasmania?  Well, this was probably worse.  We're in Tasmania.  In a few hours, Jack and I are going to take the long flight to Australia (because obviously Tasmania is not anywhere near Australia).  Tim isn't coming with us for some reason, and I'm nervous about doing the long flight without him.  He will be flying back with us, and I'm happy about that.   

In the few hours before the flight, I go to the door of our used-to-be-Tassie friends.  (but in the dreams, they're still in Tasmania).  There's a note on the door that says they're in Tasmanian Park, but I don't have the idea that the note was written for us. There's three parks, and you get to them via a hallway. Each park has a door. I think of going to Tasmania Park and surprising my friends, but I feel shy about that.  Maybe I worry that they won't be happy to see me?

At one point, I think about how Tim will be staying with our friends and gets to spend time with them. I'm a bit jealous about that.   

When we're on the plane and it starts taking off, I worry about it crashing. I think about how it will be all my fault, because I'm the one who got obsessed with Australia and made us take these long flights.

There's more to the dream, but I don't want it to get too dragged out.  So I edited it a bit.  

2. Remembered that I have some Australian cash leftover from our 2009 trip. It's too bad I didn't save even more since that stuff has increased in value so much.

3. Read some of Andrew's old posts that he mentioned in an email.  One is about the Coffee Palace.  He and his commenters do what I did—complain that it was torn down.  I think I actually read the post back when it was written.  I do remember people on Andrew's blog complaining about a building being demolished.  But I don't think I gave much thought to the name or appearance of the building. 

The other post is about Andrew's tour of Melbourne Town Hall.  I love Andrew's line here.  What I could not get over was how poor the lighting was, even with daylight coming in. At night it must be very gloomy. If you have issues with City of Melbourne councillors, maybe it is because they could not read properly during council meetings.  That's pretty funny. 

Andrew mentioned a piece of trivia I've heard before. Kangaroos can't go backwards. That's supposedly why they're featured on the Australian coat of arms, along with the emu. It has some kind of symbolism.  Let's only move forward!

But then I started thinking—when was the last time I saw my cats walk backwards?   I really can't remember a time that they've done that.  The family dogs?   I can't imagine them walking backwards.  Have I ever seen a squirrel in the park walking backwards?  I don't think so.

Lord Wiki says that kangaroos and emus can actually walk backwards, but rarely do. I'm guessing it's the same for most animals.  He also says the real reason those animals were chosen is because they're unique to Australia; they're well known; and their similarity in size makes it easier for them to appear holding the shield together. It might be awkward if the kangaroo was holding the shield with a koala.  He would have to bend down, or the koala would have to stand on a stool.  

4. Touched that an Australian mentioned the tornadoes on Facebook.  It's a bit scary and very sad. I guess it's America's turn to be attacked by Mother Nature. 

Now I'll be a bit more nervous when we have tornado watches. We have them quite often in the spring.  I usually don't give them much thought or concern, but 200 casualties makes things a bit more worrisome.  

We're not in the current line of fire, though; so I'm not too concerned about our personal safety. For now I'm just more sad for the others who are in the path of destruction. 

5. Liked this Greek song on the Australian Screen website.  It reminds me of World Showcase at Epcot. Maybe they played it there once?  Although there's no Greek pavilion there; so I don't know.  

6. Looked at photos of University of Sydney buildings on the Sydney Architecture site.   I liked the picture of the Main Quadrangle because it reminded me of Hogwarts.  For this reason, I thought Jack and Tim would like it too.  I decided then to look at photos of Hogwarts to make sure they really looked the same.

They hardly look anything alike. And I don't really love how Hogwarts looks.  I'm guessing I imagine it differently in my mind, and I've just ignored the images in the movie all this time.

7. Saw a photo of Glebe Town Hall.  I like it. I'm trying to figure out what type of architecture I like.  Sometimes I feel I'm all over the place. I suppose my favorites are Gothic and Second Empire.  Maybe?  The Glebe Town Hall is Victorian Free Classical, so maybe I like that too.

8. Found another modern building I don't mind.  It's the Horizon Apartments in the Eastern Suburbs.  It's on 184 Forbes Street. I'll try to find it on Google Maps.  It's only about a 15 minute walk from where we stayed last time. I wonder if we saw it.  

Lord Wiki actually has an entry on the apartments.  He said it was controversial, because it had a shadowing effect on nearby buildings.

9. Did research with Jack and learned the Fort Worth Zoo is older than the Taronga Zoo.  Our interest was sparked when we looked at Northern Suburb buildings on the Sydney Architecture site. A building from the Taronga Zoo is on there, and the site says it was finished in 1912.

I pointed it out to Jack, and he wanted to know when our zoo was born. We looked that up. It was 1909.

Lord Wiki says the Taronga Zoo didn't open until 1916. Why are there four years between the building's birthday and the opening of the zoo?  Maybe one of the sites is wrong?

The Taronga Conservation site says the current site was established in 1916, but they say their origins go back 1884.  This was when a zoo opened in Moore Park. 

Their website says the government granted the zoo land in 1912.  So maybe dates on the Sydney Architecture site refer to the year the land was obtained for the building, rather than the year the building was completed. This might explain why yesterday I saw buildings with the date 2010, but they didn't seem to be in true existence yet.

10. Read article that says the popularity of  internet shopping might cause many in the retail sector to lose their jobs.  Although this is not completely the fault of the rising value of the Australian dollar; the dollar may play some part in it.  It's often cheaper to buy things overseas than it is to buy things in Australia.  I'm thinking Australia stores must be really expensive, because it's so expensive to ship things back and forth.  But maybe that's just America to Australia. It could be cheaper to get things shipped from other countries.

11. Went on to see about international shipping, and I came across a Sookie Stackhouse book. There's a new one coming out on May 3.  I didn't know that. I'm so out of the loop. 

Anyway, I'm going to try to pretend to ship this book to Australia. I'm using the address of the apartment we stayed at in Sydney.

Okay. There's three types of shipping.   A) standard international which takes 18-32 days B) Expedited international which takes 8-16 days, and  C) Priority International Courier which takes 2-5 days. I'm pretty good at waiting, so I'll choose standard.

Shit.  They want me to re-enter my credit card.  I don't have that handy.  I guess I'll go get it. I hope I don't accidentally go through with the order.  Otherwise, some random person doing a short-stay in Darlinghurst is going to end up with a Sookie Stackhouse novel.

Okay.  I got my credit card. The shipping cost is $9.98.  The total for the book is $24.68  I'm trying to see what the price is in Sydney, but I can get only online prices.

At Gleebooks, it's $29.99.  At Dymocks, it's 22.99.   So Dymocks could be an alternative to Amazon...unless there's a way to get free shipping from Amazon.  If we ship something from Amazon here, spending a minimum of $25 will get us free shipping. Is there any free shipping minimum for Australia?  

12. Checked to see if you can get free international shipping from Amazon. As far as I can see, you can't.

13. Excited to see that the Sydney Architecture site has a section where the buildings are divided by architectural styles.   This might help me determine what type of architecture I like and dislike. I just looked at Old Colonial Georgian. I don't think I'm a big fan of that.    

14. Read Facebook comments about the shopping online vs. local Australia issue.  Stefan Kotzamanis says, You have to look at the products such retailers sell. If shops, especially clothe retailers want to sell simple t-shirts for $80 and jackets for $250 then expect the common Aussie to purchase overseas from America and the like. So, bottom line? Reduce prices and people will shop.

I guess my question would be whether retail places could lower prices and still make a profit.   The materials they have to use might be expensive as well.  One solution I can think of (and I'm sure smarter people have already thought of this) is to heavily tax imports for the retail consumer but do not tax businesses that are importing wholesale. Make it cheap for Aussie companies to produce products.  Then maybe they can have lower prices and still make a profit.  Yeah. I would find a way to make it very expensive for Australians to do international online shopping.   But that would be awful and people would get angry.  SO...then you also have to make local retail shopping very affordable. Then people will prefer shopping local. The exception would be if they wanted international products that can't be found in Australia. But you have businesses import the products and they sell to the locals. It would be like the store in Washington that sells Aussie goodies. They import the stuff, and I do the buying.   

15. Went to my Washington Simply Australian shop, and it turns out they're not in Washington.  They're in Ohio.  I could have sworn they were in Washington.  I'm so confused.  Did they move?   

16. Asked Jack if he remembered where we ordered Australian food from. He said Washington! He has a good memory, so I'm pretty sure he's right and I'm right.  

17. Wrote an email to Simply Australian, and asked if they moved.   

18. Started to read some of the comments on Simply Australian's guest book.  Many of them are very sweet. Some people are like me and just enjoy Aussie food.  Others are homesick Australians in America.   

19. Offended slightly (but also amused) at Michelle Pitman's commentI love this site. I am australian living in the US and it is impossible to find good food here.   Excuse me!!!???  We actually do have good food sometimes!  But Michelle later mentions being very homesick.  I think sometimes expats have a hard time liking food in their new country because they miss their country's stuff so much.

20. Found confirmation that I didn't dream up the Washington thing.   Carmen Sadler from Washington says, Love the website and the music - very Aussie indeed. Just bummed though that Simply Australia moved as I was able to drive when I wanted to and pick up my groceries, but now it is too far away, but none the less, I can still get my favourite comfort foods. Thanks Simply Australia for providing me with what I need.

21. Wondered if we should order all our Australian snacks from America and then have it sent to Australia when we go there. That would be very scary if we actually saved money that way. I seriously doubt it.  But they do ship internationally.

The irony would be too funny.

22. Decided to look at Aussie t-shirts on Simply Australian.  Now with THAT, it truly might be more economical to buy from them.  Plus, then we don't have to worry about fitting it in our suitcase.    Jack has the yellow shirt on the top right.  He has the third shirt on the left in yellow.   It was his favorite, but I think it's too small now.  He used to wear it all the time...well, not literally. He did wear it a lot, though.

He also has the 6th shirt on the left. I think next time we order food from Simply Australian, we'll get some clothes as well.   Maybe.

23. Decided to show off Jack and his Aussie t-shirt wardrobe.  I'm very amused because I'm looking for photos, and I think in about 80% of Jack photos, he's wearing Australian clothes. And I promise....I don't force this on him!  

He does probably wear those shirts less now.  They're getting smaller and/or some have stains.    Yeah.  I just looked at our last trip to Disney World, and I don't think he's wearing any Aussie shirts.  He wears the Harry Potter one a lot! 

Anyway, here are the photos of Jack with Aussie shirts.

Jack wearing his favorite Aussie shirt at Disney World
Another Aussie shirt at Disney World

It's hard to see, but that's a Luna Park shirt.
Again, at Disney World.
Also...Disney World

24. Looked at the website for Welcome To Australia. They're trying to make new people feel more welcome by throwing parties for them. I think that's very sweet.

They're asking people to throw welcome parties June 19-June 26.

This is making me have a little tear or two.

Maybe my expat cousin will go to one of the parties.   That might be nice.

25. Read the facts on the information sheet you can download from Welcome To Australia. They say it's not illegal for asylum seekers to enter Australia without a visa. 

From 2009-2010, there were 169,623 people who permanently migrated to Australia.  Out of those, only 8% were refugees. 

From 1948-1992, there were 452 thousand refugees who entered Australia.  Back then there was no mandatory detention. 

The last fact sounds like something I'd say to an American complaining that we take in too many refugees.   Some Americans think everyone wants to come to America, and it's unfairly on our shoulders to save the whole world.   I guess some Australians feel the same way because the fact sheet works to counter that mindset.   They say that in 2010, Australia accepted .03% of the world's refugees.   In 2009,  twenty other industrial nations took in more refugees (per capita) than Australia.  Interesting that they're comparing 2010 Australia to 2009 in other countries.   What's that all about?

26. Looked at the list of Welcome to Australia parties.  There's not a lot listed yet, but the date is close to two months away, so there's time for people to do some planning.   


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Doubt, Money, Disney World, and Fictional Worlds

1. Disheartened by all the stuff I'm reading about the Australian dollar and tourism.  It doesn't look good for us. Tim will say we can still go, because he's nice that way.  But I think it will be hard on me, because I'm so cheap, and the high prices will bother me a lot. It bothered me the last two times we went, and that was when the Australian dollar was about 20% less than than the American dollar.

So I think I'll cut back on all my travel planning.  I already finished a lot of it anyway, and I'll save it for when we are able to go.

I mean we might still go.  I'm not saying no definitely.  But I'm not going to let myself get too excited about it.  

2. Received pep talk from Tim.  He still insists we can go and tried to cheer me up about the economic issues. I did think of something, though, in defense of going to Australia in 2012. The economic experts are predicting that this could go on for years. What if it gets even worse? I don't mind waiting until 2013 to go to Australia.  I'd rather not wait for 2015 or later.

I am going to cut back on my travel planning, though, because maybe I'm counting my eggs before they hatch...and all that.   Maybe I'm jinxing myself.  In a few months, we'll look at how things are going.  If the Australian dollar goes even higher, we might say no to the trip. If it's the same, we might say yes.  If it goes lower, I'll be happy.  I won't expect it to go really low like before but anything less than a dollar or just a little over a dollar would be much appreciated.

3. Watched short video that my friends posted on Facebook of their time at a restaurant. It's very short and I haven't even yet met the man that they're filming.  But I hear my friend's voice in the background, and it makes me miss all them.  So although last night I was fairly okay with not going to Australia in 2012, now I'm feeling not so okay and am really wanting to go.   

I'm silly sometimes...well, most of the time, probably.

4. Read my friend's editorial on an Australian parenting website.  It's about decorating children's room, and it goes along very well with my own philosophies about the subject.  Michelle says, While I privately salivate over images of 'magazine' houses, I have publicly railed against what I see as a modern day obsession with having a perfect home, a home that is forever 'open house' ready. I do not understand how such homes can allow children, let alone adults, the ability to unleash their creativity.

She talks about how her daughter's walls are full of her own artwork.  That's our house.  Our upstairs is full of Jack's work, and we have a few pieces of artwork downstairs as well.  Michelle's daughter puts up her own work. In our house, I do most of the decorating.  Our general rule is Jack does the art, and I have the job of taping it to the walls.  Sometimes he'll tape stuff too; usually not his own work but stuff he likes.  He taped Harry Potter pictures all over his room and put iCarly stickers on his furniture.

Michelle also says, Beyond the bedrooms, any attempts to have adult-only spaces have been defeated by the reality of the way we interact as a family. too.   I think we have evidence of all three of us in every room in our house. Well minus some of the bathrooms, maybe.

I will admit that sometimes our house gets TOO messy for my taste.  We have way too much clutter, and that can be overwhelming.  But I'm with Michelle in the fact that I have no interest in having a designer-type house.

A few months ago, I had fun taking photos of our house in its natural state. Some of it is messes; and some of it's just clutter that's not a mess, because it's inside a drawer and pretty well organized.  

5. Tried to understand article about inflation in Australia, and failed.  

6. Read article that says it's not just the tourism sector of Australia that will be effected by the high value of the Aussie dollar but Australian universities as well. Their rate of international students is dropping.  

I really don't know how these things are dealt with, because I'm not well learned in economics. Tim said something yesterday about places lowering prices to attract more tourists. That makes sense, in a way, but the people who own the hotels, restaurants, shops, etc live in Australia. Australia's going to be expensive for them too, and if they make everything cheap, they won't get the money that they need to afford living there.  

7. Looked at British, American, and Australian money rates.  On the surface it seems silly to whine over Australia's dollar being equal to 1.08 American dollars. When we went to the UK, the British pound equaled about 1.50 in American money.  So if we saw a book for six dollars, it would really cost us nine dollars.  The difference is the British prices were low. Tim had to keep lecturing me on this, because I'd want to go crazy buying candy and books.  It's so cheap!  It's so cheap!  Tim would have to remind me that I need to add 50% to the price. Okay, but, to my credit, even then some stuff was well-priced.

When we go to Australia, I gawk at the prices.  Things seem SO much more expensive there than in America. Then Tim would calm me down by saying take off 20%.  If the prices stay the same and we have to add 8% instead of subtracting 20%, that's going to be rough.

8. Decided to try to compare Australia menu prices with American ones. It might be a bit hard finding restaurants that I can compare.

The first thing I'm going to compare is Grill'd in St. Kilda with a restaurant in Disney World.   Now Disney has very high prices because it's a touristy place.  If Australia has higher prices, I might cry.   If it's the same, I can just say we need to imagine our time at Australia is like being in Disney World.

Well, so far it seems to be about the same.   Both places have cheeseburgers that come out to be about eight dollars.  The veggie burgers at Grill'd are three dollars more than the ones at Disney World.   The kids meal at Grill'd is cheaper than the kids meal at Disney World. I'm guessing if we averaged all the prices, it would work out to be relatively the same.  

Now how about if I compare Grill'd to a basic non-touristy hamburger place? Here's a restaurant that Tim and Jack eat at sometimes; Five Guys Burgers.  A cheeseburger here costs $5.49 and you can have unlimited toppings. They don't have veggie burgers, but they do have veggie sandwiches and grilled cheese. All of these cost less than three dollars.

Of course none of this easily proves anything.  Grill'd might be more expensive than the average hamburger place in Australia.  But I'm kind of doubting it.

9. Decided if the airline fares and accommodations are not too horrendous, we could probably manage coming to Australia.  We're fairly okay at not spending too much on food.  We share a lot and don't often go to expensive restaurants. We should also reduce the amount of souvenirs we buy.   That's fine, because we've already bought a lot of Aussie stuff.  We probably don't need that much more. I'm always tempted to buy books, but I'll just remind myself I can usually buy them from Powells.  If I do buy books, I'll get them from flea markets. Those prices are usually less shocking to me.

10. Heard a cute Ben Lee song.  I like the lyrics.  It's called Boy With a Barbie.  The chorus goes, boys with their barbies and girls with toy armies
we don't have to play by their rules 

Amen to that!

I'm trying to figure out these lines:

So let them wear that dress, let them make that mess
let em take that fall, let em kick that ball
and thank to the ones that tried to stop my fun
you made me what i am, you made me what i am
you made me a man.

I guess the keyword there is TRIED. Sometimes the small-minded opposition we encounter does make us stronger.  But I don't recommend people doing it to each other, because sometimes it makes us weaker.

11. Read article about the Anglican Church in Australia's recommendation for population growth.    I think I agree with them on everything. They want to reduce growth and feel the baby bonus is counter-productive in this.  If there are enough humans in the world, do we need to pay people to have more babies?  The church isn't anti-family, though. They want to increase paid parental leave.

They also want to decrease migrants to Australia.  At first I thought they were anti-immigration and anti-refugees, but the church actually wants Australia to be more generous to refugees and family reunion applicants.

The only thing that makes me hesitate with all this is I wonder if it's penalizing families who decide to have a parent stay home and raise the child.  If the $5000 helps families do that, I can't easily disagree with it.  Maybe there could be a limit?  What if there was a baby bonus for two babies but after that, parents are on their own?

I'm arguing with myself right now.  One me is saying, But what if someone has four kids, and they need that money?  Should they live in poverty because they had more than two kids?  The other me is saying, we should work to encourage people to have the amount of children they can afford. Then there's another part of me that's being a skeptical bitch and asking How do we know all these parents will spend the $5000 on their children?   I mean I think in most cases they will.  But you're always going to have cases where people allow their children to live very deprived lives and use the money for drugs and other fun things. Then that can take me back to the editorial I quoted the other day about keeping native animals as pets. I'll re-quote:

It would be quite right to say that if native animals were allowed as pets, some would be neglected and abused. Just like cats and dogs, some would be dumped, starved, beaten and treated in a cruel manner. Nevertheless, saying none of us should keep them as pets because some would be abused would be like saying we should all be sterilised because some parents neglect, abuse, rape or kill their children. Likewise, just because a handicapped child needs special care is no reason to remove the child and make him or her a ward of the state. Good policy rewards good behaviour and tries to correct the bad. It doesn't forbid everything just because there is a risk of something bad happening.

I really love that guy's argument.  And it does make me rethink my position. There will be people who abuse the baby bonus, but it's not a reason to stop using it.  For other people, it might be very helpful, and they'll use it responsibly. 

I do think we need to curb population growth, but is getting rid of the baby bonus the way to do it?     I don't know.

And with Australia, it could just be a matter of moving people instead of reducing people.  It is a big space with not many folks.  Maybe people should get bonuses for moving out to the rural areas.    What if you said to refugees, Yes you can live here.  Welcome!  But you can't live in the big cities.  

That's rude of me, though.  If I moved to Australia, I'd probably want to live in one of the big cities.   Although I wouldn't mind living near Kiama or somewhere like that. I doubt I'd enjoy living in one of those places where you have to drive two hours to get to the supermarket.  

12. Reminded by Tim that with American prices, we have to add in taxes.In Australia, the GST is included in the price.  So, that's good!  If we take that in consideration, maybe Australia isn't as expensive as Disney World.  

13. Read article that made me feel better.  At first it scared me because it says the Australia dollar is likely to equal 1.13 in American money by September.  But they say after that it should go down.   They expect it to go down to .98 by the end of March. That gives me hope.

14. Liked this modern Sydney building more than I usually like modern buildings. I think it's because it's round. I like round buildings.   

I'm confused by the Sydney Architecture site.  I'm not sure if the building is already there, or just in planning stages.  It is (or will be) a green/sustainable building. That's good!

15. Liked the modern Sydney architecture on this page. It looks like it belongs at Disney World; either at Epcot or Future World in the Magic Kingdom.

I like this resort. It's supposed to be in a place called the Entrance. I guess it's not completed yet?   Well, they don't seem to have any photographs of a completed building, so that's why I'm assuming it's in the planning stages.

16. Intrigued by this house by the sea.  I think it's kind of a fantasy-type house. I picture it as something I'd see in a movie or in my dreams. 
17. Loved looking at photos of the Sydney Opera House on the Sydney Architecture site.

18. Learned about Fort Denison from the Sydney Architecture site. Before the fort was built to protect Australia from a Russian invasion,  the island was used to punish convicts.  An alternative name for the island was Pinchgut Island.  This was in reference to the miserly rations.  That's not all, though. Bodies were hung and left there until the bones turned white.  Did they start out alive or dead?  I'm not sure. Hopefully, they were already dead.

19.  Looked at a photo of Gladsville Mental Hospital in Sydney. It might be haunted, and the photo might have a ghost.  It's supposed to be to the left of the door.   I see part of a face, but sometimes things in our world accidentally come together to make an image that looks like a face.  It happens. Not that I'm saying ghosts don't happen either.

I thought I saw a figure through the doorway, but when I looked closer it looked like a statue.  

20. Found  photography website of Yvette Worboys.  She's the one who took the photograph of the ghostly mental hospital door.  From May 5-June 11, she's going to have a ghost photography exhibition at Cafe Giulia.  

All right.  This is weird.  It's not a ghost thing though. I found another article about the exhibition.   It's in the Herald Sun.  They say, The exhibition takes place Cafe Giulia in Sydney from May 5 to June 11 and is part of the Head On Photo Festival.  

What's wrong with that sentence? Can anyone guess?  

The dates are written the American way instead of the Australian way. What the hell is happening?  Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about Nicole Kidman's height, and they didn't use the metric system.  

Is this just a weird coincidence?  Has it happened before and I didn't notice?  Does the internet automatically translate Australian to American if you have an American IP address?  Maybe Australians see something different than I'm seeing?  

21. Agreed with the royal ban on The Chasers and then disagreed. Well, before reading the article I thought the Chasers wanted to go to the wedding and report from there.   I think those guys can be funny sometimes, but they can also be a bit obnoxious. I don't know if I could blame people for not wanting them at their wedding.

But I was wrong.   They just wanted to take footage from the wedding and make a comedy out of that.  They're not allowed.  That's a shame.   Life is better, and people like you more, when you can laugh at yourself, especially if you're rich and famous.

Oh well.  Many people are probably going to sneak their little homemade royal wedding edited-videos up on YouTube. There's a lot of creative people on YouTube, so we might get something great.  I don't know if the Royal Family law censorship law says that's not okay either. Oh well. We can enjoy the movies while waiting for them to vanish.  

22. Did research on Kiama...not for our trip but for my Harry Potter characters.  They're going to be moving in a few weeks.  They've been in a holiday park in Gerroa for almost three months now.   That's getting a bit costly. Plus they're going to end up being kicked out for being disruptive.   I'm moving them to a house on 10 Chapman Street. Thanks to Google Maps, I can get an image of the outside of the house, at least.  I'm not sure what the inside has, so I'm going to use my imagination.

I wanted a home near a beach, and next to a holiday park. It's right near a holiday park. Or maybe it's in the holiday park. That would be a mistake.

I just spent about 15 minutes researching to figure out that their house is not in the holiday park.  So that's good.

I do all this research and none of it will actually be in the story.  I just like to have it in my head.   And well...I guess I have it in this blog as well.  

Now I'm trying to figure out how far they are from shops.

I remembered there were shops near the blowhole, so I looked in that direction.  The blowhole is only a 22 minute walk for them.  That's cool.  They can walk via Manning Street, and that has a lot of stores.  Well, they need to buy groceries, and they might need to underpants or something.  

I'm wondering if I should have a wizarding village around there...hidden somewhere.  Maybe not. I think I'll have them go to Sydney for that.   Of course the wizarding village there is in the Rocks. Argyle Street, maybe?  Or George Street. Maybe it will be near the puppet store.  Maybe the puppet store will be the gateway.  Yeah. I like that idea.

Yes, I'm nuts. But this really is SO much fun. It's really nice for me that I figured out a way to combine my Harry Potter and Australia obsessions.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jim Wallace, Prejudice, Overprotective Parents, and Greg

1. Reminded to remember the white rabbit.  I don't think I'd ever forget that, and especially not right after Easter.

2. Read article about Christian leaders in Australia speaking out against what Jim Wallace said regarding homosexuals and Islam.  I'm glad to see this. In cases like this, silence often looks like agreement.

Bill Crews, the minister from the Uniting Church in Sydney said, It’s so sad that people who should know better have to use ANZAC DAY to pick on people they don’t like. It’s unchristian in the extreme.


3. Started watching video from the article, with Jim Wallace defending himself.   It's shocking to me.   He's so...aggravating.  He's not sorry for what he said.  Instead of acting apologetic and ashamed, he tries to prove that his viewpoint is acceptable by many people.

He says he didn't slur gays and Muslims.  Really?  How is that so?

I can't believe this guy.  He uses his father's war experiences to defend his offensive Tweet. Oh, see. MY dad fought in the war so I can say whatever offensive thing I want.

Wallace puts most of the blame, not on his offensive ill-timed Tweet, but on the awful people who dared to read the Tweet and speak out against it. I do agree that sometimes people write/say something innocent, and it's blown out of proportion, or misinterpreted.  But with this Jim Wallace thing, I personally don't feel it's the case.

He keeps talking about someone named Stephanie Rice, and how she was treated horribly for using the word "faggot" on Twitter. What happened there?

4. Read article about Stephanie Rice. She said, Suck on that faggots.  It's hard to know by that whether she's anti-gay or just ignorant.  I used to have this Australian email-pal.  Our friendship has faded unfortunately, but it was great while it lasted.  Anyway, she once wrote something anti-semitic in her email.  I forgot what it was exactly.  It was something about being cheap. She probably said something like, I'm such a Jew when I shop.    It was a bit awkward.  I gently let her know I was Jewish, trying to be light about it.   I don't think she was bothered by that at all.  I don't think she was anti-Jewish.  But she probably didn't know many Jews, and she probably hung out with people who casually use the word Jew as an insult.

Stephanie Rice might be against homosexuals, or she might just see the word "faggot" as a general insult.  

It's also hard to know whether she cried in public because she felt guilty for what she said; or if she cried because she lost a sponsorship with Jaguar.   I might give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a little bit of both.  

5. Read article about gay swimmer friend of Stephanie Rice defending her.  Matthew Mitcham pretty much says what I said.  Some people when they use that language don't realise they are causing offence. But it is an issue for a lot of gay people, who get quite upset about it because they have spent so long trying to change people's mentality about these things.   

I disagree with Mitcham though when he says, I know she's not homophobic because we are good friends.

You can be homophobic, and still have gay friends.  You can even be gay yourself and homophobic.  I'm Jewish and sometimes anti-semitic.  And being friends or associated with me does not prove that you're not anti-semitic.  It does prove that you're not all hateful about it.  There's levels of prejudice.   The highest would probably be hating a group so much that you seek out to kill them. Below that you have those who refuse to associate with the particular group, but they wouldn't go as far as killing or harming the people.  

Then there're those who will associate with people from the group, maybe even be friends with them.  But they still cling to stereotypes and/or they support forms of discrimination against the group.  The lowest form of prejudice is the subconscious stuff that you don't want to have, but you do anyway.   I think we all have it to some extent, and in most cases it's probably harmless.  It's like me wishing all gay dads would be like Cam on Modern Family.  Or it's like those people who tell me they love Jews.  Really?  Are you serious?  You love all of us?  WHY????    We're all a bit different, and not all of us are that great.   I did use to love all Australians, just for having the adorable accent.   That didn't last too long.  

6. Read Cazzie's post about visiting Hall's Gap.   I was interested, because we're planning to go there.   It's about three days since I've made our plans, and miraculously I haven't changed them yet.    Fortunately, Cazzie didn't say anything to make me regret choosing Hall's Gap.   She actually made it sound quite nice.   I'm looking forward to going there.   

7. Read article about humans euthanizing a dingo because it attacked a three-year-old child.   Some people feel this was wrong.  I might agree with them. I don't know.  I don't think a wild animal should be euthanized after one incident, especially if we're not sure the animal is completely to blame.    

Some people are blaming the parents of the child because they weren't properly supervising her.   The child is three, so she would probably need a lot of supervision. But how much supervision is expected.  Did her parents let her totally go off on her own, and had no idea where she was?   That might be a bit irresponsible.  Or it could be that they weren't overprotective like some of us parents, and let her roam a bit out of arm's reach.  Maybe she went the wrong way, and before they knew what was happening, a dingo came over and attacked?  Are the parents to blame then?  I don't think really think so. We could protect our children more carefully by being in arm's reach every moment of their day, but that might drive them insane.

Parents these days are pulled in two directions. There are those who want us to watch our child every minute of the day because danger's are all around us. Then there are those who call us helicopter parents because we don't give our children enough freedom.

I think my parents are still a bit freaked out that I allow Jack to go up to the cabin alone at the lake house.   It's about a two minute walk from the house.  Never mind that at Jack's age, I was roaming around the neighborhood by myself.  I do get scared sometimes.   I'll admit it. What if Jack is walking to the cabin, and someone comes by for a visit?  What if they're not expecting a child to be walking and they speed through the driveway?  What if Jack gets stung by a wasp on his way over and has a severe allergic reaction? What if he trips and hits his head?  What if he falls down the stairs?   Bad things could happen, and it does terrify me.   But I figure if I can't let my nine year old go to a cabin alone on a gated property, how in the world will I ever let him learn to drive when he's a teenager?    We have to give our kids freedom, even though there IS some risk.  And then if you're paranoid like me, you give them 15-20 minutes of freedom, and then you go check on them.

8. Read article about a man being attacked by a crocodile. See? Even when children grow up, they can still encounter dangerous things.

9.  Read article about woman being bitten by a snake.  Australia, you're doing a fantastic job of living up to your stereotype of being full of dangerous creatures.  Seriously though.  I hope all the injured humans recover from their injuries.  And also, let's not forget what is the most dangerous animal on the planet.    

10. Read article about Nicole Kidman.  I avoided it at first because the headlines made me think it was going to be ridiculous.  As a teenager, Kidman was insecure over her looks.  She was too tall and too skinny.  Blah, blah, blah.   How can you complain about being tall and skinny?   I'd love to be tall and skinny.  But then I read the article.   She was 5 ft 10 inches when she was 13.   That really IS tall.  Wow.  Yeah.  I can see how that would be noticeable, and why it would make a teenager feel self-conscious.

The funny thing is the article has it written as 5 ft 10 inches, and it's coming from the Sydney Morning Herald.  Why are they using those measurements?   I would think they'd be doing the metric thing.

From the article, Kidman seems like someone I'd like, at least back when she was a teen.   She chose drama classes over the beach on weekends.  That's a little bit like me.  I chose to stay home and write novels rather than go out to parties.  She steered clear of drugs and alcohol.  That's like me. I wonder if she still avoids that stuff.  I still do.

Kidman is not like me in that she's one of those people who eats and eats, but stays skinny.   If I want to be skinny, I have to obsessively count calories and exercise almost all day.  It's hard to know though.  Some people really do eat a lot, and can't gain weight.  Other people have creative definitions of eating a lot.  Oh my God!  I totally splurged today.   I ate half a brownie.   I'm such a pig.   In my world, pigging out is eating half of the BATCH of brownies.  

11. Read some of the bitchy comments people left about Nicole Kidman and her self-conscious teen years.   The basic idea is she shouldn't complain.  She's beautiful.  Other teenagers had/have much worse things to worry about. That's true.  I read a book a few months ago about a teenager who was severely disfigured from a fire.  Her problems are much worse than someone who's a bit tall.

However, I think most teens are self-conscious about their bodies.  They think they're ugly.  They're too short.  They're too tall.  Their boobs are too big.  Their boobs are too small.  I hated my body as a teen and young adult.  My back was/is slightly curved, and I've always had a bit of a stomach.   If I'm bloated, I look pregnant.   But now I look at photos of myself when I was about 18-30, and think why didn't I appreciate my beauty back then?  This will sound vain, but I do think I was beautiful at that age.  But I didn't know that until much later.   Maybe that's good though, because if I thought I was pretty I'd probably be even more vain than I already am.  

12. Realized I might be wrong.   I went to go find a photo to prove my youthful beauty.  And in most of the photos I'm seeing, I look like a total dork.  These are from my teen years though. Maybe my beauty years came later.

Ah!  Here's one that I like.   I look a bit like a witch, but that's okay.   I like witches.  

I'm the one on the left.   My sisters are next to me, and Grandma Goldie is on the right.

Now compare me there (back in my college days) to me today.  

Actually, that picture isn't half as bad as the other ones I took today and deleted.

I've been taking lots of photos of myself.  Why?  My dad took photos of me this weekend, and I look awful.  I was annoyed because he took 16 photos of my sister, and only 4 of me.  If he took sixteen of me, there'd be more of a chance one of them wouldn't make me look awful.  My sister is absolutely adorable.  He could have taken just one photo of her, and it would have been perfect.  She looks good in 99.5% of photos that are taken of her. I look good in about 5% of photos taken of me.  

Anyway, I started taking photos of my vain self to see if I had lost all my physical beauty.  Of course, I still have TONS of inner beauty, and that's what's most important.  Right?

Well, I'm not going to keep taking photos of myself to prove my point.  I'll just post one of my scary lake house weekend photos.  

There you go.   That's good proof of my fading beauty.  By the way, we're doing Passover in that photo. You can see the Jewish grape juice, and on my plate is something called Charoset.  

Anyway, I know I shouldn't worry about what I look like.  It doesn't matter really.  Tomorrow I could be attacked by a dog and lose half my face in the battle. I'll look at the picture above and scold myself for not appreciating my intact face enough.  

13. Talked with Jack about expensive jewelry, and had sudden idea of selling my engagement ring for the Australia trip.  I haven't worn it in years, and the lack of it on my fingers does not detract from my marriage to Tim.   It's just sitting there on a shelf.   Now for the first time I'm regretting we didn't spend the usual amount on the ring.  It could have paid for our airfare.  My ring will probably pay for only 3 nights in a cabin at a holiday park.     

I started thinking though that maybe I should save the ring—not for sentimental reasons or to pass down to future generations.  I'm still reading that book about the Holocaust; The Prosperous Thief.    One of the endangered Jewish characters is facing the fact that she might need to sell her mother's jewelry.  There may come a horrible time in our lives where I need to sell that ring for food. That's a bit pessimistic of me though.  And we probably have other things we could sell—such as our house.  

14. Googled my blog and found my blog posts on other blogs.  It's a bit disturbing. They DO link to my blog, but if you don't notice and follow the link, it looks like the blog post was written by the person who created the other blog.  

I see some blogs have excerpts from the beginning of my blog, and then tell the readers to go to my blog to read the rest.  That's awesome.  I'm thankful for that.

The more I think about it, the more angry I get.  These people who are copying my blog post do give subtle credit to me by linking to my blog.  But why would people need to go to my blog if they can read the whole thing on this other blog?   I feel a bit exploited because I think these are the types of blogs that exist to sell advertising space.   I would feel flattered that someone wants to use my work, even in an unethical way.  But I think it's some type of automatic crawler. 

15. Read disturbing scenes about the Holocaust in The Prosperous Thief.    I've read horrible things about the Holocaust before.  I don't know I how I managed to do that and still cling to the idea that most people were basically good at heart.  Maybe I thought evil existed, but only in extreme brainwashing type situations.  Now I know that such evil is all around us.  The cruelty and brutality of the Nazi guards in the camp reminds me of the McDonalds story from the other day.   A transgender woman was attacked by two teenagers. A few people tried to help her, and that's beautiful.   Other people (including some McDonald's employees) laughed and cheered for the bullies.

It's so sad that people can be this cruel.  We can't all be heroes like the elderly women who stepped in and tried to stop the fight.   I don't know if I'd be brave enough to do that.   I'd probably just call the police, or run out of there, terrified.  But it's bad enough to be a quiet bystander.  It's disgusting and inexcusable to be a participating bystander.

16. Started looking at a fantastic Sydney architecture page.  I've probably been to it before, but I'm not sure.  It's VERY comprehensive and detailed.   I'm wondering if I want to read everything, or just look at the photos and basic information.   Maybe I'll just do the latter, unless I have particular interest in a building.

17. Learned that the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park is considered to be Art Deco.  Well, it's Inter-War Art Deco.  I thought that alluded to the fact that it was a war memorial, but it's a type of architecture.   I'm guessing it means it was a style popular in-between the two world wars.    

18. Impressed by The Great Synagogue in Sydney.  Why?  Because it's great. And I don't think it's ugly like most synagogues.   Most synagogues tend to use a type of architecture that's not pleasing to my eyes.

19. Learned about Australia Square Tower.  From 1967-1975, it was Australia's tallest building.   It's a bit roundish, which is kind of cool.  It once had a revolving restaurant.  Or maybe it still has it?

20. Learned that the restaurant is still there.  It's called The Summit

By the way, revolving restaurants are highly dangerous if a koala breaks into the premises.

21. Learned about Sydney Town Hall.   It's a gorgeous building.  I don't know if I ever noticed it.  I wasn't really into architecture the last time we were in Sydney.  

The land the Sydney Town Hall occupies used to be a burial ground.  The Sydney architecture website says that between 1792 and 1820, about 2000 bodies were buried there.  They weren't buried deep enough, and supposedly the place smelled bad.  

22. Watched Jack build a block building with Greg.  He's our friend that I talk a lot about on my blog  We hung out with him in Sydney in 2007.  He came over from New Zealand, where he was living at the time.  Now he's back to being an American. 

Here's a photo with Greg that used to be featured on my blog.  

Greg is the one who taught us to take photos of ourselves by holding the camera in front of you.  So now we take the photos a lot and we call them Greg Morris photos.    '

This is Greg at the playground near Bondi Beach.   He's wild and dangerous.   

And here we are in the cold Bondi water.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Quantity vs. Quality, Exploiting, Rooting, and Buildings

1. Figured out that using my Facebook Page profile to comment on other Facebook Pages IS an effective way to get more "Likes" for my Facebook Page.  Since doing that, I think I've gotten about 9-10 new followers/fans....whatever you want to call it.

What I don't see is an increase in blog traffic.  I've questioned this before.  So many people seem very eager to get more and more followers.  We have 945 followers. Please ask your friends to join so we can get to 1000!  Yeah.  I could do that for you.  But is it really going to help?  Will you end up with more fans of your music;  more prayers for your sick grandma; more readers for your blog; more donations for your charity; more participants in your role-playing game?  

I have my doubts. Is there benefits to having a lot of Facebook Page fans outside of getting to have delusions that you're popular?

It could be a proportional thing.  If you have 50 Facebook Page fans, and two of those people actually read your updates and follow your links; then maybe if you had 500 Facebook Page Fans, 4-5 of those people would read your updates and follow your links. Or you could have a case where someone has 20 Facebook Page Fans and the majority of them are very interested and active on the page. Then you could have someone else with 10,000 fans, and most of them completely ignore the updates.

2. Read an article about Anzac Day. It made me sad because I think of families waiting at home, and then getting that horrible knock on the door. They have their hopes and dreams. Then it all falls to pieces.

I think it's beautiful, though, that Australia remembers these tragic losses with such wholeheartedness. We don't have that here. Our Memorial Day is about long weekends, pool openings, barbecues, and retail sales.   

3. Felt  disillusioned, because I decided to Google Anzac Day Sales just to prove to myself that Australians don't use the day to attract customers. Well, it seems I was wrong.  The good news, though, is I don't see a lot of websites using Anzac Day in their advertising tactics.    

I see much more sales when I google Memorial Day Sales.

4. Found editorial about Anzac Day advertising.  I shall go read that. The beginning was confusing to me.  It's about sports. But the last half is beautiful.  

Actually, I just reread it.  Now I get it.  Francis Leach talks about this big football game that's on Anzac Day.  They use advertising to try to get more spectators at the game.   And some people have gone as far as saying that the football game saved Anzac Day.  Leach says, No one owns Anzac Day; it lives in the memory of those who served. And the size of the crowd at a football match is irrelevant. The silence of a few gathered in solemn contemplation is just as profound as that of the tens of thousands who might do it at the MCG.

Leach has many great lines in this editorial.  I started to list them, but there were too many.  I can't do it justice.  I highly suggest reading it for yourself.  I think the basic idea, though, is don't exploit Anzac Day.   

5. Thought about my Harry Potter Gerroa girls.  I decided the two sisters might represent my dark and light side.  The main character represents the goodness in me.  She tries to be nice to everyone and sees all strangers as potential friends.  She'll even be friendly to Death Eaters.  She loves her family and has full faith that they love her.  She loves food and doesn't fret about thinness or her appearance.  She's passionate about the world and keeps herself updated about current events.

The sister represents a lot of my negative qualities.  She's full of anger, jealousy, and sibling rivalry.  She's insecure about her family's love for her.  She lashes out at others so they can feel the pain that she feels.  She worries too much about her weight and appearance. Her low self-esteem makes her susceptible to unhealthy forms of flattery.

The good news is I have love for both characters and will treat them well.

Speaking of Harry Potter, Jack has suddenly wished to have his Harry Potter Halloween costume, and we have no idea where it is.  Hopefully, we'll find that. 

5. Found out that Australians have their equivalent of saying,  We root for this team. I read Facebook comments about the game on Anzac Day, and a Michelle said, I don't barrack for either team but tradition is tradition! Leave it as it is! Go Hawks!

I told Tim about root and fanny the other day.  He thought it was hilarious. I said if I was good at keeping a straight face, I'd have so much fun talking to a random Australian person and sprinkling those words frequently in our conversation.    

6. Wondered if there's any way I could use the word fanny besides fanny packs.  I guess I could say, I fell on my fanny.   

To be honest, I really don't say fanny or rooting on a regular basis. I usually say butt or ass....maybe tushie sometimes?  And because I'm not into sports, I don't often talk about rooting.   

7. Read article that says that the idea of an Australian republic has lost support from Australians.    It's lost support from me too.  Maybe that changed when we went to London.   It kind of rekindled my love for the UK.  I used to love the idea of Australia being free from the UK—loosening the ties to Mum.  But now I'm wishing Mother England would take America back.  I want to be part of the Commonwealth.    

 I still don't care much about the wedding, though.  It's nothing against the royal family. I think weddings are boring.  Also, they're fairly meaningless, because so many people end up divorced.   How can people watch it and think it's romantic when we know what ended up happening with Charles and Diana?  Plus, I don't think I can feel too excited about weddings until it's legalised for gay folks.   

8. Read article about an offensive Tweet.  Jim Wallace the head of the Australian Christian Lobby said the Anzac Soldiers didn't fight for Islam and gay marriage.  I'm sure Wallace is a point.  Those topics weren't big in those days, and I doubt the soldiers were thinking, I'm risking my life for gay people and Muslims.  On the other hand, I'm doubting any soldier was thinking, I'm risking my life for my fellow Australians, but I include only certain TYPES of Australians when I say this.     

I just searched my blog for Jim Wallace, because I thought I wrote about him recently.  I did. I don't think this Jim Wallace and I would see eye to eye on many things.   

He apologized for his harsh words, but I think such apologies are pretty much meaningless.   

9. Looked at Jim Wallace's Twitter Page.  I don't see the offensive Tweet, so I'm guessing he removed it.  I'd like to see what it said exactly, so I could judge it for myself.  

10. Found an article that has the Tweet.  Wallace said, Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!

Okay.  Yeah.   I wouldn't want Australia to be an Islamic gay country..  I want it to be a country with brave friendly happy people—some gay, some straight, some Christian, some Muslim, some Jewish, some atheist, some witches, etc.

11. Decided that using Anzac Day to exploit your prejudice views is even worse than using it to promote your sale and/or business.   

12.Saw a photo of the Bishopscourt building on the Walking Melbourne site.  The building is unusual looking. It kind of looks like three entirely different buildings were stuck together.  It's very eclectic.  I like it.  

13. Saw a photo of the Labassa Mansion.  I think it would work well in a horror movie.  

14. Saw a photo of the Arlie Mansion.   I picture it as a haven for wealthy vampires and witches....probably the type that exist in a 1970's horror movie.  

15. Saw a photo of the Melbourne Town Hall. I love it. Hopefully we'll pass by it sometime.  

16. Saw a photo of the RMIT building.  I love this building too.  It's beautiful.

I wasn't sure what RMIT was, so I googled.  It's a university.    

Is it the one that has a clown degree?

Well, I can't find that, but I do see that they have a degree that's perfect for Jack.   Games Graphics Designs.   He's really into video games and wants to make his own.  Today he heard Nintendo was coming out with a new Wii.   He drew elaborate plans of what he thought it would/should be like.

17. Started to realize (after looking at many photos of buildings) that I like the Second Empire Style of architecture.

Lord Wiki says that Second Empire a French thing.  And he says the Addam's Family home was Second Empire.  That's cool.  

Ah.   Lord Wiki says Melbourne is full of Second Empire buildings.  These include the Princess Theatre, South Melbourne Town Hall, and the Royal Exhibition Building.

18. Learned that Flinders Street Station is Edwardian Baroque style.  I think I like that type of architecture too.  

19. Intrigued by Newman's College at the University of Melbourne. It's very strange, but fun. I think I might have actually seen it before.  Walter Burley Griffin was the architect.  He's that American who designed Canberra.   

I think the building would be a good home for a Harry Potter character.

20. Thought more about whether we should make the University of Melbourne one of our places to visit.   It will be fun to look at the architecture.  It could also inspire Jack to want to go to college one day.  I think he already wants that, but this might make him want it more.   Or it could scare him into never wanting to go to college.  If that happens, we'll hope he gets himself into a good apprenticeship type position.  

21. Talked to Tim about Wikileaks and admitted that although I support all this freedom of information, I don't usually understand the actual leaks.  Many of them go way over my head.   Although I usually just look at the headlines.  If I read the actual article/document, I might understand it.

22.  Looked at modern architecture on the Walking Melbourne site.  I don't like it. Although there's a few buildings I don't mind.   The Rialto Towers kind of reminds me of my 1980's childhood...maybe going downtown to visit my dad at work.  The building was built in the 1980's, so that's probably why it reminds me of the 1980's.  If I saw it was built in the 1990's, I'd probably imagine that it reminded me of the 1990's. 

23. Intrigued by the RMIT Building 8.   It's very interesting. It was built in 1993.  It kind of reminds me of the National Museum in Canberra; a bit wild like that.  

24. Decided maybe we'll go to the RMIT campus.  It's right near the Old Melbourne Gaol.  We can do both on the same day.  And again, it might give Jack college inspiration.—especially since that school has a video game type degree.  

25.  Learned from the Walking Melbourne Site that the Melbourne Museum's building is new.   It was built in 1999-2000.  I did not know that.  The museum itself isn't new.  Lord Wiki says it's been around since 1854.