Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sponsors, The Sound of Music, Aala, and Quick Lamb

1. Suddenly remembered this Disney TV movie I used to love. It's called The Girl Who Spelled Freedom.   It was about a young Cambodian refugee (Linn Yann) whose family was sponsored by a family in America.   They came to live here—terrified, traumatized, and not knowing any English.   Then a few years later, Linn won a local spelling bee and competed in a national one.

It was very inspiring.

But this is before America had mandatory detention for asylum seekers.

I'm wondering if America or Australia still allows sponsorship of refugee families.  Did the mandatory detention practices do away with that?  Or are people in detention ones that didn't receive sponsorship?

2. Found this website about sponsorship of refugees in America.   They say, the refugees sponsored for resettlement are chosen and referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Of the 10.5 million refugees under the auspices of UNHCR around the world, only about 1 percent are referred by the agency for resettlement.

I'm guessing the people sponsored are those who immigrated in the way that's preferred by government.  

3. Found a website for something called Sanctuary Australia Foundation.  They raise money to buy airfare for refugees.  The money is paid back, but it's interest free.  Then it's recycled back into the program and used later for other refugees.

It sounds like a good thing.

4. Looked at Sanctuary Australia Foundation's advice to refugees.   They say In the current political climate in Australia, onshore refugee boat arrivals are being given the majority of Humanitarian 202 Visa places, which means that offshore applications are unlikely to be successful at the present time.

So are boat people making it harder for other people to come in via offshore applications?  I would think the trick then would be to make it easier for people to come via offshore and more difficult for them to come on boat.

If there's hardly any opportunities for offshore applicants, it's not hard to imagine people getting desperate and doing the rickety boat thing instead.  

5. Looked at the Liberal Party's website.  They want to have a program where community groups  sponsor refugees. They say, The number of places would be in addition to those established each year for our regular refugee and humanitarian programme.  

They say their plan is to raise the refugee intake to 15,000.

It doesn't sound that bad to me, but maybe I'm missing something.  I get a little nervous when I find myself agreeing with the Liberal Party.  

6. Found this refugee website.  They say right now Australia takes in 13000 refugees. They have a lot of information.  I'm going to try to read it.  

They talk about the difference between asylum seekers and refugees—something that often confuses me.

An asylum seeker is a person who is waiting to be given refugee status.  The site says, All refugees have been asylum seekers but not all asylum seekers are found to be refugees.

I think I understand it now.

The website says that out of the 13,000 refugees, 7000 have a proposer. This is like a sponsor.

Then there are about 70,000 people who don't have a sponsor and want to come to Australia. Very few of those applicants will be chosen.  So I guess that's why they get desperate and jump on a boat.

7. Learned from the website that asylum seekers usually apply for refugee status after they leave their country of origin. They go to another country and apply there.  This country is called country of first asylum.  But why don't they apply from their country?  Or why don't they stay in the country of first asylum?

I suppose some countries are safer than the original country but not a good place to permanently migrate.  

8. Thought about how the refugee program is so difficult and overwhelming.  There really are no easy solutions.   No matter what, though, not everyone is going to be saved and given a better life. Not every refugee is going to write bestselling books or win spelling bees.

I think the best thing we can do is make improvements and hope for many happy outcomes.

9. Suggested to Tim that he read John Marsden's Tomorrow series.  He just finished The Hunger Games, and I'm thinking they might be similar.  I read a book in the Marsden series.  I liked it but didn't love it.  I think my mistake was I didn't start with the first book.  I felt like an intruder—like I didn't belong.  When you start a series in the middle, it's kind of like you're interrupting.

10. Went to bed and had this dream.

It's the presidential elections. There are no secret booths or ballots.  You stand in line; then go up to a table which has the candidates listed in a row. Then you give your choice to the attendant at the table.

My dad is one of the candidates. I feel obligated to vote for him, but I'm not sure he'd make a great president.  I'm also not sure if enough people would vote for him to make a difference. Still, it seems rude not to vote for your own father. I tell the attendant I'll vote for him.

Then I see the name Alex Proyas.  I'm thinking he's from the Green Party, and I change my mind about voting for my father. I vote for Alex Proyas.    

Later I hear someone say something that makes me think I was wrong about Proyas.It sounds like he's not from the far left. He's from the far right.  

When I woke up I remembered where the name Alex Proyas came from.  He's an Aussie film director.    

I read about the Dogville movie director before going to bed last night; and how his movie is one of the favorites of the Norway killer.  That's probably why I dreamed about film directors mixed with politics.  Also, a few days ago, we saw The Adjustment Bureau.  I thought about how it sort of reminds me of Dark City.  That was directed by Alex Proyas.  

11. Read article that says Mike Rann has agreed to step down and let Jay Weatherill be leader of the South Australia Labor Party and Premier.  However, he's not going to step down immediately.  He has some projects he wants to see through, and those won't end until September or October.  He also wants to do some mentoring with Weatherill.

I think that's probably fair. 

12. Thought that Jay Weatherill kind of looks like Malcolm Turnbull; at least in the picture provided by the article.

13. Read article about the first asylum seeker boat arriving under the Malaysian deal. I don't know what's wrong with me lately, but what I read in the article makes sense to me.

I think instead of complaining so much about the asylum seekers being sent to Malaysia, I'll be happy for the fact that Australia is taking in 4000 refugees from Malaysia.

The government insists that the asylum seekers sent to Malaysia won't be treated like complete shit.   I don't know if we could trust that or not.  But I do know that asylum seekers don't live super happy lives in Australian detention centers.  What's the difference then?  And if we're worried about what will happen to these boat asylum seekers when they go to Malaysia, why aren't we worrying about all these refugees already IN Malaysia.  I think it's probably a good thing that Australia is taking in 4000 of them.  I thought I read somewhere that these 4000 won't be sent to detention centers—that they'll be accepted as residents.   But I may be wrong. 

14. Struggled to find article to confirm if I'm right or wrong.  Here's one. It says the 4000 (1000 a year) will be accepted in Australia as residents.

According to the Gillard government, the 800 asylum seekers sent to Malaysia will be allowed to work and live in the Malaysian community. Other refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia don't get those privileges, unfortunately.

They get some special benefits because they landed in Australia first.  However, where they don't benefit is the processing queue. The article says, But they will have to join a long and lengthening queue of people waiting to be processed as refugees, which the Federal Government believes will deter boat arrivals. 

15. Read James' blog post about seeing a performance from Benny Andersson of ABBA.  

Andersson had a cameo appearance in Mamma Mia.  I thought that was kind of neat; although I didn't even know who he was at first.

Anyway, James greatly enjoyed the performance. He's a big ABBA fan, so I can imagine it was a huge treat for him.  Well, I really don't have to use too much imagination.  James does a great job describing the concert and his enjoyment of it.  He did mention long lines to get a beer, but I don't think it detracted too much from the experience.  It might have if he had been extremely thirsty. 

16. Enjoyed Red Nomad Oz's tribute to red things in OZ in the style of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  It's funny because James mentioned The Sound of Music in his post too.

I'm having Sound of Music synchronicity today.    In honor of that, I shall watch this video.  

The puppets remind me of my wizarding village.

17. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read a story thread called Double Dutch.   It takes place in the wizarding village of Melbourne; Oliphant Lane. 

The two characters in the story thread are new to me.  There's Máire Townsend who's a healer and also an executive for something called Townsend Industries.   The other character is Owen St. Thomas.  He's a Beater for the Australian National Quidditch Team.  National. Wow. That's a pretty big deal.

18. Started reading the story.

If I'm understanding things right, Owen is looking for sponsorship from the Townsend Industries.  So Máire comes out, as one of the representatives of the corporation, to meet Owen and discuss the whole thing.  

19. Got the idea that Owen has an excessive amount of self-love.  His post says, Sometimes you wanted to make sure you were getting what you were paying for, and Owen liked to think he was a pretty impressive investment. The sort you wanted to make right away but had to at least go through the motions of pretending like you were going to kick the tires. 

Well, it might not be excessive.  I don't know.  Where do you draw the line between healthy self-confidence and arrogance? I'll have to read more to see what kind of guy he is.

20. Got answers to my question in the next paragraph.  The redhead had been fun ,a little clingy when he tried to leave, but she knew how to make a man want to stay a little longer than he should. Not that he wasn’t welcome in the little thing’s room. At least he didn’t give her false hope, she sort of knew when he left he wouldn’t be back.

I think Owen is a well-written character, but he's not very loveable.   

21. Saw that Owen's plans to impress the potential sponsors didn't work out quite as he planned.  He ended up getting hit in the face with a bludger. 

Máire and her corporate buddies laugh at him. This annoys Owen.  Well, even if he's a conceited ass, I don't condemn laughing at someone when they're hurt.  I'm understanding of people who see a mishap that's comical.  Sometimes you can't help but laugh. Modern Family had a good episode about this.  It's human nature to laugh sometimes. As long as you try to stifle the laughter and also show concern; I don't think it's a crime against humanity.  What's more bothersome to me is people who loudly and purposely force out a mocking laugh when they see someone having a hard time.  It's like Nelson from The Simpsons

22. Continued reading the story.

23. Intrigued by Máire.  It seems like she's trying to balance two sides of herself.  She's a mother and a healer.  At the same time, she's trying to fit into a male-oriented corporate world.

There's an interesting scene where Máire has an urge to heal Owen's bludger injury. Máire had to squash down the healer instinct for the time being to maintain the much more professional business woman identity she wore whenever around any of the other corporates.  

Sometimes we feel pressured to hide parts of ourselves so we can be accepted into a particular group.

24. Decided to read the biography of Máire Townsend.  Okay, but I'm going to be lazy and call her M.  I'm tired of typing out the accent on the a.  Sorry.

M is 5'3.  That's how tall I used to be.  But I've shrunk an inch. If I keep shrinking, I'll qualify as a dwarf.

25. Liked this about M. On occasions, she may straighten her hair, but prefers to leave it natural most of the time, not particularly fussed it seems with trying to keep up with the latest looks and hairstyles unless she's making an appearance somewhere.  I like when people have a relaxed attitude towards beauty and fashion.

26. Learned that M. was a child prodigy.

27. Reminded of myself when I read this about M.  And to be quite honest, Máire would rather indulge in playing with her children, than pay attention to most adult conversations. She has a strong inner child that she keeps secret from most people, and loves games and toys and things.   

I definitely prefer child-like things to adult things. I'd rather get ice-cream with Jack than go out drinking with adults. I'd rather go to a zoo than a modern art museum.     

28. Started to read M.'s history. She had a rough childhood because her mother was a spoiled princess. She used M.'s grandparent's money to live a wild partying life and having an accidental pregnancy didn't slow her down.  

When M. was five, something happened. I'm not sure what.  M. was taken from her mother and was raised by her uncle and grandparents.  It seems like things got better for M after that.

Then when M. was seventeen, she ended up with her own accidental pregnancy.  She became a single mother. 

29. Saw that my Australian of the day is Harry Ross Anderson.  It's fitting because today is Harry Potter's birthday.  It's also JK Rowling's birthday.  I didn't realize it until about an hour ago; and I felt bad for not noticing.  JK Rowling is one of my heroes. It would be nice if I remembered her birthday...not that I was going to send a card or anything.   Oh well, at least I found out before the day was done.  I was going to say" remembered", but that would be a lie. I saw her birthday mentioned on another website.

Anyway, back to the other Harry....

He probably was a Muggle rather than a wizard.  And he was a law professor.

Harry was born in Fremantle in 1917.

He went to school.

He fought in World War II.

He practiced law in Perth.

Later he moved to Queensland and started doing the law professor thing.

He was a member of the Labor Party.

He liked ballet. He was popular and social.

That's about it for now.

30. Went to Mousie's database to find an Aussie song to listen to.

Today's song for me is "Blind Eye" by Hunters and Collectors.

While I listen to that, I shall look for a Flickr account to stalk.

31. Found a Flickr account of an organization called Teach Me World Tour.   

I have no idea what it is.  But I'm trying to figure it out.

It might be hard.  I went to their website, and it's pretty much blank. Well, it's not blank.  But it looks like it's a WordPress template, and that's all.

I don't get it.

They're so mysterious.

I'm sensing something supernatural here.  Maybe they're aliens from a distant star, trying to learn more about Earth.  Maybe they're wizards trying to learn more about Muggles.  

32. Decided maybe I'd find clues about this group via their photos.

I'll start with their album entitled Adelaide Daily Life

This picture gives me the idea that they're backpackers.  

33. Stopped looking at album to google the name on the photograph.  It's Aala Kanzali, and he (or she?) has a real website and it's not blank.  

The blog is about his travels in Japan.

Here's his biography page

He was born in Lyon.  I have no idea where that is.

34. Looked up Lyon.  It's in France, about five hours south of Paris.

Aala also has strong ties to Tunisia.  He says his origins are there. I guess that's where his family originally came from.

He likes to travel, and has been to many places.

So I don't think this Flickr set belongs to an organization really.  I think it's more of an individual who has made himself look like an organization.

35. Went back to looking at the photos. They're actually from awhile ago.  The set says he was in Australia (or at least Adelaide) from November 2009 to February 2010.

36. Saw interesting photo of a man with pigeons.  I like how his shoes don't match. That's cool.  

37. Liked that Aala took a pictures of groceries.   I wonder though why he took a photo of that particular tomato sauce.  Was it random?   Is there a story behind it?   Did he have a particular love for the sauce? 

38. Wondered about Hungry George.  Is it a restaurant?  Is he friends with Hungry Jacks?  

39. Found a little bit of information about Hungry George on this restaurant site.   It's a hamburger place. 

A Facebook Group was created for people who might know where all the ex-Hungry George workers have gone.  Did the restaurant close down?  

40. Wondered if the guy on the right in this picture is Aala.  

41. Saw that it was hot in Adelaide on one of the days Aala visited. 38 degrees.  And it wasn't even summer yet....just November.  

42. Wondered if Aala met new friends in his hostel/dorm thing.    And why is there a wet floor sign?   Did someone vomit?   I'll try not to freak out about that.

43. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the botanical garden in Adelaide. 

I think the statues in this pictures look strange.  Are those dogs?  They look like they're in pain.

44. Thought this plant was very interesting. 

45. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the South Australia Museum.  

Here's a cool picture of amethyst.  

This is...interesting.   It looks like something that belongs in a Halloween shop.  

46. Liked this picture of minerals

47.  Loved a scene from Cloudstreet.   It's absolutely beautiful...sad and magical.

It involves Quick Lamb, a young man who's unhappy because he feels guilty that his brother was brain-damaged by almost drowning.  He collects sad photos from the newspaper.  Tim Winton says, When he works on his spelling assignments he looks up and sees the gallery of the miserable; it grows all the time and they look down at him.  Quick Lamb the Survivor, and he knows he deserves their scourging stares.

Then a few paragraphs down, Winton says:

But at night those cripples, the reffos, the starving weeping wounded on his walls wait till Quick is asleep and then they dance in their ragged borders, buckle paper and sag on their pins as they throw themselves into a weird joyous tumult over his bed.   They never make a sound and he always sleeps through, but it happens all the same-men throw off their mattresses and soldiers tear away bandages and the dead rise out of the group, inheriting the lonely quiet of the room until near morning, when they're exhausted by happiness and freedom, and they resume their places for the dawn so that Quick Lamb might trap them again with his sorrow.

It's beautiful.

I can't believe I didn't love the book the first time I read it.

I'm glad I gave it second chance.  

48. Started to look at Aala's pictures of the Adelaide Zoo. 

This guy is sort of cute.  Is he Australian?

49. Felt sad for Fish Lamb and his parents.

50. Started to look at Aala's Australia Day photos

I'm wondering if he stayed in South Australia for his whole Australia visit.

I thought we were weird for spending a month in Australia and visiting only one state.  But I think Aala might have done three months in only one state.

It's a good way to get to know a place.

I would love to spend three months in one Australia state.   But then I also want to visit lots of places.  I guess that's why I choose to believe in reincarnation.   That way I can imagine I'll have lots of time to do all these things.

If there is a such thing as reincarnation, I hope the next lives of all asylum seekers and refugees take place in peaceful and safe countries. 

50. Relieved to see Obama has announced that the Republicans and Democrats have somehow reached some agreement; and we're all not going to fall into some kind of scary financial hell.   I really don't understand any of it.   But I get the sense I should be cautiously relieved right now. 

51. Started to look at Aala's photos of Barossa Valley. 

There is a bottle of wine here that $2800 dollars.  I can't imagine drinking something that expensive.   How much is that per glass?  How many glasses of wine in a bottle?

This website says it's 4-6 glasses per bottle.  So that would be $470-$700 per glass.

How much money per sip?

52. Loved this picture.  It doesn't remind me of my dreams.  It reminds me of Los Angeles.   I don't even like Los Angeles.   Although actually my heart is warming to it a bit from reading Maggie's blog.  She makes Los Angeles seem decent.

53. Loved this picture.   I really love vineyard scenery.  It's funny since I don't like to drink wine.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prices, Racial Jokes, Fruit, and World Fairs

1. Tried to show Tim that Australia is more expensive than London.   His argument was that while the Australian dollar is worth about 1.08 American dollars, the British pound is worth 1.64 American dollars.  If we can handle London, why not Australia?

Well, my argument is that the prices are low in London. The prices are high in Australia.

When we're in London, everything looks so cheap to me. Tim would have to remind me to add in the 64%

In Australia, I'd freak out because everything looked so expensive to me.  Tim would have to remind me to subtract the 10-20%.

We decided to look at London and Australia prices.  I was silly at first, looking at two different items from two different types of restaurants.

Tim suggested we look at Wagamama.   They have them in England and Australia.  We could compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges.  

We downloaded the menus and looked at salads.  

A chicken salad in the UK is 9.10 pounds.  That's 14.95 in American dollars.

A chicken salad in Australia is $18.60.   That's 20.47 in American dollars.

Although it's kind of like comparing green apples to red apples because it's not the exact same salad.

2. Decided to look at another Wagamama menu item.  How about edamame?

In England it's 4 pounds.  That's 6.57 American dollars.   

In Australia, it's $5.4.  Hey, and that's actually cheaper then the UK edamame.  It equals 5.94 American dollars.  

So I guess in some cases, Australia isn't more expensive than London.  

3. Felt hopeful after looking at slideshow about the world's most expensive cities. It's from July 14, 2011.  There are no Australian cities on the list.  

This site has Sydney at #14 and Melbourne at #21.  That's not bad.

I remember seeing another list that had Sydney way up higher on the list.  Did I dream that?

4. Found an article that says what I remember hearing before.   They say Sydney is the 6th most expensive city in the world.   Their information comes from the Economic Intelligence Unit from the UK.

The site that says Sydney is #14 got their information from Mercer's 2011 Cost of Living Survey.

5. Decided that since two professional organizations can't agree on the rankings of Australian cities, I feel less bad about my dodgy menu price comparisons.

6. Had idea for my fictional blog.  I've been a tiny bit stressed about it.  I'm trying to find a way for my British family to become an Australian family.   I don't want them to be deported.

So far the only solution I've come up with is having them become underground refugees in the wizarding world. That might work for awhile, but I'd like them eventually to go back to the Muggle Australia world.

The father was a journalist and photographer for a small magazine in London.   The mother was....I actually don't know.  That's bad, right?   I should know more about her.   I'll just say she was a homeschooling mom. Maybe she was a writer too.  Yeah, that would work.  Freelance kind of stuff.

They can't exactly migrate under the skilled migration thing.  But maybe someone will know someone who can give the father a journalist job.  Then they can maybe migrate via the Employer Sponsored Workers Visa.  

7. Read article that says there's going to be a leadership coup in South Australia.  They're going to try to kick Mike Rann out of his Premier role.

Rann says he's not willing to go quietly.  He's going to fight.

I guess we'll see what happens.

The person who might replace Rann (if the coup works) is Jay Weatherill.

8. Consulted Lord Wiki about Jay Weatherill.  He doesn't say much that wasn't in the article itself.

Jay is the Minister for Education and he's from the left-faction of the Labor Party.

He studied law and economics at uni.

What's interesting is that it's someone from the right-faction of the Labor Party who told Rann he should step down.  Originally they wanted to replace him with a guy on the right.   But I guess they figured there wouldn't be enough votes to make that dream come true.  So they settled on Weatherill.  

9. Felt happy when I read article that says the ACT Labor Party has voted in favor of same-sex marriage.  Now every state Labor Party except New South Wales is on board the gay marriage thing.

It's amazing that the leader of the national Labor Party is against gay marriage.  I think maybe that group needs a leadership coup as well.

10. Read Fruitcake's blog in which she has posted one of those forwarded emails.   The gist of the email is that we'll tolerate the Islamic religion as long as they show us they'll be tolerant of other cultures. I do agree with the general sentiment. Tolerance should go both ways.

The email is extreme though.  They're not asking Muslims to tolerate things like bikinis, gay couples, and candy made from gelatin.  The email mentions a topless bar called You Mecca Me Hot and a liqueur store called Morehammered.

Yes, Muslims need to be tolerant of other people doing things that their religion forbids.  But I couldn't blame them for being offended by something that not only promotes what they forbid, but does it in a way that mocks their religion.

I would be more impressed though with the Muslim who could shrug their shoulders at the silliness and laugh.

Fruitcake asks At what point does any “anyist” joke cross a line?

It's such a hard question.  The lines aren't absolute.

I saw this joke the other day. 

Don't be racist. Be like Mario. He's an Italian plumber created by Japanese people who speaks English and looks like a Mexican.
And runs like a jamaican
and jumps like a black man
And grabs coins like a Jew

I thought it was hilarious, even though I'm Jewish.   Other people might find it very offensive.   

11. Decided that I'm more intolerant of racial jokes if I know there's hatred or intolerance behind the joke.   But sometimes you don't know.

If I heard the Mario Joke being told by a Neo-Nazi, it wouldn't be funny.   If I heard the joke told by a Mexican, it would be funny.

I get the feeling that the original creator of the tolerant-Muslim email was not actually tolerant of Muslims.  To me, there was a meanness to it.  It didn't make me laugh.     

12. Learned that Andrew likes to test the quality of fruit while traveling.  Actually, I already knew that.  He did it in Japan.  But maybe I didn't know it was a regular habit of his.  

Anyway, the important piece of information here is that Melbourne is lacking in quality fruit—at least when compared to places Andrew has traveled.

I wonder what he'd think of fruit in Texas.  Is it good?  Bad?  Better than Melbourne?  Worse than Melbourne?

You know.....

Maybe it's bad because Andrew says fruit in Sydney is about as bad as Melbourne.  We were pleased with the fruit in Sydney.  I don't think we saw it as better than Texas fruit, but certainly not worse.

I don't remember the fruit in Japan, but we were there for only about a day.  

13. Wondered if Andrew might be referring to locally grown fruit. In that case, I don't think Texas is that impressive.

We eat a lot of imported fruit. I know it's not great for the environment. 

14. Decided to take a closer look at the Employer Sponsored Workers visa. Hopefully it existed back in 1998.   It probably did.  I'm going to try not to worry about it.   I worry too much about anachronisms.

15. Worried about it, but realized it would be very hard to find the answers. Anyway, I think it's reasonable to assume employer-sponsored visas have been around for a long time.

While searching I was reminded that there's a cut off age: 45.   I was worried my Muggle father would be too old.  But I checked my character timeline and the guy is only 43.

16. Decided that the Muggle family will lie to the Australian government and say they've been in London (rather than hiding in a wizarding village in Sydney).   Otherwise they'll have to explain why they've overstayed their tourism visa.   At this point, they haven't overstayed the visa, but they will have in a couple of weeks.   And I think it should take time for them to find an employer.   I shouldn't make things too easy on them.

17. Watched very funny movie about Perth that Sally recommended on my Facebook Page.  

They talk about a Bertie sea monster myth.   I shall have to look into that.

18. Tried to find information about Bertie, and I couldn't find much—just some t-shirts and artwork for sale.   Maybe the creators of the video started it, just as a joke.  

I thought it might be like the Nessie thing in Scotland.  

19. Learned how to pronounce the name of my Sydney wizarding village with the help of Jack.   I realized yesterday that I can't keep calling my place The Wizarding Village.   I decided to pick a name.   Since it's in the Rocks, I took two streets around there and combined them.  George Street and Argyle Street.

Before we went to bed I told Jack about it.  He was very excited for me and asked the name of it.  I had no idea how to pronounce it.


I really struggled because I was trying to pronounce the last part like Argyle, and it just doesn't least not with my tongue.  But then Jack came up with an alternative and it works. I'm not good at writing pronunciations.   Otherwise, I'd explain it.

20. Saw that Tallygarunga has changed its look. It looks very professional now—kind of corporate.  

21. Changed my mind.  Maybe I can explain the pronunciation thing. I was trying to pronounce aryle with the long e sound...e as in meet.  But Jack fixed it by pronouncing the y with a short i i as in sit. 

22. Decided to read a story thread in Tallygarunga.  It's called Life's Little Lessons.  So far it has only one post.

HOWEVER, I see there are other people reading the story thread right now.   Maybe they're about to add to it.   

The story thread takes place on the grounds of Tallygarunga.   The star so far is Nyssa. She's the one who was chasing werewolves in another story thread.  And she's also the one who got mad at Blake for killing a bunch of plants.  

23. Started to read the story thread.

Nyssa is having hair issues. She's looking for advice in a beauty self-help wizarding magazines.

She's planning to do a spell that will lengthen her hair.   This part reminds me of me when I dye my hair. It continued to go over some guide lines for being safe and all that crap but of course Nyssa ignored them.

My hair stuff advises you to do an allergy test before actually dying your hair. I think you're supposed to wait a full day or two.  Or maybe it's less. But I've never done it. I wonder if anyone does. I'd probably do it if I often had allergy problems.  

24. Saw that Nyssa's spell went too far.  Her hair was too long.  She shortened it with magic, but then it was too short.  She had to repeat it several times. I like the story thread so far.  It's cute and fun.  

25. Learned that my Australian of the day is Gordon Athol Anderson. He was a musicologist and a medievalist. I guess that's someone who studied medieval times?  

Gordon was born in Melbourne in 1929.  At some point in his childhood he moved to Adelaide.

I wonder if like Andrew he noticed a difference in the quality of fruit. Or maybe Melbourne had better fruit back in those days.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says it took a long time for Gordon to get his degrees because he went to school part-time.  He was probably employed while getting his education.  I didn't have to get a job and was able to finish my degree in four years.  Tim did have a job and finished in 5 or 5.5 years.  I'm impressed with his time management.   I guess maybe I could have done it if needed.  I would have probably had to cut out my extracurricular reading and my social life.  

26. Learned that Gordon taught at Pulteney Grammar School from 1957-1969.   He taught languages and music.

His interests included Latin, philosophy. liturgy, and music.

What is Liturgy?   I've heard the word before, but can't remember the definition.

27. Consulted Lord Wiki about liturgy.  It's a religious thing—the religious service's customs and patterns.

28. Learned that Gordon also liked football, jazz, and his family.

29. Consulted Lord Wiki about Two Rocks in Perth because Sally mentioned it on my Facebook Page.

It's way up north.  Here it is on Google Maps.   Lord Wiki says it's the northernmost suburb in Perth.   If you go any farther north, you'll be out of Perth.

Some of the suburb is fenced off because there's some kind of unexploded military things lying around.  UXO's.  Are they like landmines?

Well, Lord Wiki says landmines are one type of UXO.

30. Went to the Australian government's UXO sight.  

They have a list of each state and the number of UXO sights.   Western Australia has the most and the ACT has the least.   I'm sort of sensing a size correlation here.   Is Western Australia the biggest state in Australia; or is it Queensland?

Lord Wiki says Western Australia is the largest.

Now that I look at the map it seems very obvious.  

What can I say?   I'm not good at size and spatial learning stuff.  Most people would look one time at a map of Australia and immediately know Western Australia is the biggest state.   I've looked at the map thousands of times, and I didn't immediately know the answer.

Western Australia did seem bigger to me though;  just in the fact that when I look at directions from one Western Australian place to another, the driving times are long.  

Queensland is shorter than Western Australia, but I thought maybe it made up for its size in girth.

31. Wrote a post for my fictional blog.  It's so difficult for me sometimes.  I'm not good with all this magical stuff.

I wrote all these explanations about Sydney's magical world—the politics and the attitude towards refugees.  Then I say to myself  Alex is fifteen.  Why does she even care about any of that stuff?   A child that age wouldn't write about adult issues.  I didn't care about that stuff when I was fifteen.

Then I remember that Alex isn't me, and she's more more mature than I was at that age.   She does often talk about politics.  She does care about current events.

And, you know, I was probably more mature at fifteen than I remember.  I don't think I knew much about politics.   But I knew....stuff.   I think I knew a lot about genetics because I was interested in Cystic Fibrosis at the time.  I've probably forgotten most of it by now.

32. Wanted to stalk someone on Flickr again.

33. Found my target.   He's p medved...otherwise known as Patrick. He's from Portland Oregon and went to Australia in June and July.

We considered moving to Portland a few years ago.  I didn't want to move there; mostly because it wasn't Australia.

We went for a short visit, and that's how I was introduced to my beloved Powell's Books.

Jack loved the science museum there.

We might go back because Tim and Jack are still interested in doing a Pacific Northwest tour. I complained about the bears yesterday, and Tim gave me a hard time about it.   Then I realized he's afraid of snakes; but still went to Australia despite their reputation of having some of the deadliest.  

I need to be brave about bears.

34. Looked at Patrick's photo sets.  He's very well traveled.

He's been to Rome, Israel, Jordan, Budapest, Canada, Savannah, Georgia and other places.  

35. Started to look at Patrick's Brisbane photos. By looking at the thumbnail photos, I can see he's into art and architecture.

Here's a photo from the Nepalese Peace Pagoda.

Lord Wiki says it's made out of timber from Nepal.

The origin of the Nepalese Peace Pagoda was a world's fair held in Brisbane in 1988.

This is interesting.   Lord Wiki says while some world's fair exhibits are temporary; and they're dismantled after the fair is over, other exhibits are built to be permanent.   The Nepalese Peace Pagoda is one of those.  Another is the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, and the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago.  

36. Saw that the next world's fair thing is going to be in Korea in 2012

37. Liked this big lizard.   I wish I knew what kind of lizard he was.  

38. Liked this church, although it looks a bit strange next to the modern building.   I suppose I should accept and enjoy the juxtaposition.  

I like this church picture too. 

39. Saw a statue of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.  

Victoria looks kind of upset.

40. Liked this picture of Patrick's first Kookaburra sighting.   I don't think we ever saw a wild Kookaburra.  Or maybe we did?   I forget.  

41. Saw that there's a Star of David at the Nepalese Peace Pagoda.   I'm guessing that's a reference to Judaism.  Do other cultures use the same symbol?  

42. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Star of David.  He says it's a hexagram, and is also used in Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and the occult.  

43. Continued to read Cloudstreet, and I'm liking it so far.  The Pickles have just moved into the house on Cloudstreet.  I can't remember if it's soon or not so soon that the Lamb family moves into the house as well.

44. Checked Google Maps and learned that Cloudstreet is not a real street.

45. Started to look at Patrick's photos of Airlie Beach and Whitsunday Island.

Wow!  Look at that rainbow.

It makes me want to sing this song.

That version features Debbie Harry.

I read an Australian novel that talked about Debbie Harry.  I read it before I was obsessed with Australia.

I didn't really like it. But maybe I should try it again someday.  

46. Liked this weird photo.  It's very surreal.

47. Impressed with Patrick's beach photography.   There's a lot of great photos in his set.  

48. Loved this photo.   It totally reminds me of my dreams.  

Beautiful photos often remind me of my dreams.  So you know what. I think my dreams have very good taste.  

Or do I love stuff that reminds me of my dreams because I love my dreams?

But if my dreams were often ugly, why would I love them? 

I don't usually notice the beauty in my dreams.  I take it for granted.  But when I see a picture that reminds me of my dreams, I love it.

Then again, sometimes I'll not love something; but then love it after I dreamed about it.  A prime example would be Julian McMahon.  Yeah, it works with people too...also TV shows and movies.    The love doesn't always last.  But for awhile, after I think about that which appeared in my dream, I'll get this cozy surreal type feeling.  

49. Hoped this person in the damaged dingy ended up being okay.  Does Patrick know him (her)?  

Did he help in the rescue, or just take a photo?

Although maybe the person in the dingy didn't need rescuing.  It might not have been a major disaster.  

50. Wondered what this person is carrying.   

51. Lost my connection to Flickr.   I'm trying to figure out if it's just Flickr or my internet connection.  I can get to other pages, but they might be saved....or whatever. 

Well, nope.  It must be just Flickr.   Blogger just saved for me.   If my internet was off, that wouldn't happen.  

52. Amused that people still come to my blog to search for nude photos of Rachel Carpani.  

I should write the names of a bunch of actors, and then follow each one by the word "naked" or "nude".   Then my blog will get a ton of hits.  I'll feel very popular....but maybe a bit dishonest.  

53. Saw that Flickr is working again.  I'm going to go back to looking at Patrick's photos. I think I left off here

54. Started to look at Patrick's Fraser Island Tour.  

Here's a cute lizard

I saw a cute lizard out at the pool today.

55. Saw a picture of a dingo.   Aren't there a lot of them on Fraser Island?   Or a child was bitten recently there?  

56. Consulted Lord Wiki about dingoes on Fraser Island.  He says they're thought to be the last pure dingoes in eastern Australia, and to prevent interbreeding, dogs are not allowed on the island.

There are dingo problems.   A child was killed in 2001, believed to be attacked by a dingo.   In response, 120 dingos were killed by rangers.  Isn't that a bit much?   I thought it was supposed to be an eye for an eye, not 120 eyes for an eye.

In March 2010 there were three attacks.  Some blame backpackers saying they provoke the animals so they can get a good picture.   That annoys me so much.  I'll sometimes make kissing-type noises to get the animals attention.   Hopefully, that's not too bothersome.   And I don't think I'd do it to an animal that was free and dangerous.  I mean I wouldn't want to attract the attention of a bear or crocodile.  

I hate though when people tap on the zoo glass or do something to make the animal act aggressive.   Yeah, it IS cool to see.  It's great if you have a video camera.   But it's so unfair to the animal, especially if it leads to them attacking and then getting euthanized.    

57. Started to look at Patrick's Melbourne photos

This statue is kind of eerie.  

This statue is too.  

58. Liked this Aboriginal painting.

I like this one as well.     

59. Thought that this gargoyle looks very distinguished.  

60. Liked the name of this shop in this photo; The Book Grocer.

Here's their website.  They're a chain now. They started in Sydney.

They sell remainder books.  I think Half Price Books sells those, along with used books. They're books that are sold at lower prices when the publishers have too many of them.

Book Grocers explain remainder books on their FAQ page.   They say:

Some of our books are publishers' overstocks and book store returns, also known as remainders. Remaindered books are often marked by the publisher so that they cannot be returned as 'new' stock. The remainder mark may be a small black line on the bottom of the book, or a small dot.  We do not mark the books ourselves.

Friday, July 29, 2011

James, Cloudstreet, American Tourist Stereotype, and Perth

1. Finished reading 48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls.  I liked it.

2. Read the first few lines of my next book; Cloudstreet by Tim Winton.  

I'm nervous about it.

I read it before, when I first became obsessed with Australia.  It was one of my first introductions to classic Aussie literature.

I daydreamed through most of it.

That happens to me sometimes.

I later read other Tim Winton books, and liked them.   Although I find they entail a lot of concentration.  I wouldn't call them easy-reading.

I want to give Cloudstreet another chance.    But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself.   I'm going to follow my new rule.  I'll read the first two chapters.   NO daydreaming allowed.   If I miss anything, I have to go back and read it again.  Then after the two chapters, I'll decide if I want to continue it or move onto the next book.

I hope I'm brave enough to admit not liking it, if that's the case.   I'm worried that I'll succumb to the pressure to be a Cloudstreet fan.   It seems like there's some kind of law that says if you love Australia you must love Cloudstreet

3. Dreamed about James (the Aussie in Sweden).  

I get a package from him.  He has sent me some small newspapers that have articles he's written.   I'm a bit surprised and wonder why he did it.   Then I start to suspect that he thinks I have a crush on him.  I don't, so I feel somewhat bad that he went through all this trouble for me.

I think the dream is telling me I SHOULD have a crush on James.   He's awesome.  How could I not adore a Aussie who loves Abba, writes well, and speaks Swedish?  

Yeah he's gay and far away. I'm married. But unattainable crushes are probably the best anyway.

I don't have the crush yet.  But who knows.  It could time.

Right now I think the closest thing I have to a crush is Google Maps.  Or...well...that might actually be real love.  

4. Disappointed that no one joined my Free Rice group besides Jack. 

I'm having fun with it though.  I've been into the literature quiz lately.

5. Read the prologue and first chapter of Cloudstreet.   When I force myself to pay attention, I like it a lot. I daydreamed once, and had to read a page over again.    Then I was half paying attention in one part.  I got confused a bit and had to back up a few sentences. 

I realized this was the scene where Sam Pickles loses his hand.  Well, and I knew he was minus a hand from the last time I read the book. Yeah, I daydreamed through it; but I did pick up on some stuff. 

5. Tried to understand Ann O'Dyne's post.   She talks about going to Flinders in Westernport.   Then she mentions a cottage.  Is the cottage Flinders?  Or maybe the street is Flinders?

And what is Westernport.  Is it a town?  Suburb?

On Google Maps, I don't see a town or suburb; but I do see a Westernport hotel, a Westernport car dealership, and a motor bike place.   

6. Found if I seperate Western and Port, there's a place on Google Maps.   It's an island near Phillip Island.   Is this what Ann O'Dyne is talking about?  

7. Found this video.   It's about Flinders Coast in Westernport Bay.  

I'm amused by the steel drum bands in the video.   For some reason, I don't associate that type of music with Australia.   I also don't associate it with NYC.

I heard it once in the subway station back when we lived and worked there.  It bothered me.  I'm sorry, but I don't want to hear my cruise vacation music while I'm heading to work in the cold weather.  It doesn't fit.  It's depressing.  

8. Liked the song in the video.  It doesn't fit Australia for me, but that's okay.  It at least fits better in Australian beach scenes than it does in a NYC subway station.

9. Wondered if Western Port and Westernport are the same places.  Maybe the space between the words is optional.

10. Read Andrew's post about his bus tour of the Barossa Valley.  He says, the group was R and myself, two other Australian couples, a couple from LA, three possibly Malaysians who barely spoke English and a Dutch born girl from Sydney. They were all ok, but the guy from LA was behaving very 'American Tourist'

I think I know some Americans who would qualify as "American Tourist".  What is the stereotype?   Loud?  White tennis shoes that don't match the rest of the outfit?   Demanding?   Ethnocentric?   Australians love us, right cause we saved your asses in World War II.   That's how I think of it.   Although I think it's unfair to pick on footwear.  Let people wear what's comfortable.    Leave them alone on that account.  You don't need to make a fashion statement while touring.

I hope I don't often fit the American Tourist stereotype.   I probably do sometimes, but hopefully not too often.

11. Looked at various websites about how not to be a ugly American, including this one.  All of them seem to be heavily focused on appearance.   I'm all for reducing rude behavior (loud, demanding and ethnocentric stuff).  But does it matter so much to look like a typical American?    Does it matter that you wear white shoes, have a hat, wear a camera around your neck, and carry a guidebook?    Is that hurting anyone?  I mean I think it's creepy if you wear all that to a nice restaurant.   But if you're going on a full day tour, I think you should be as comfortable as possible.  And if you're on a full day tour, you're BEING a tourist. Why not look like a tourist?

All these people are worried that Americans will look like Americans. They won't blend in to their surroundings.  Would these same people worry if an African wore African attire as they walked through the streets of New York?  Would they be embarrassed for an Indian woman wearing a Sari?  

12. Liked Fruitcake's blond joke at the end of her post.   It made me laugh a bit.    So there are blond stereotypes and American stereotypes.    I think I fit the blond stereotype more than the American tourist stereotype. That's funny since I'm American, but not blond.

13. Tried to figure out where we should go instead of Australia in 2012.   I'll admit I still have a tiny bit of Australia hope left in me.   We're going to evaluate things in November. If by some miracle, the American economy is back on its feet; the Australian dollar is not worth so many American dollars; and the Australian inflation thing gets under control, we'll do Australia.  

In case that doesn't happen, we're going to try to go somewhere else.

I was thinking of following in the footsteps of my potential future crush by going to Sweden.   But it turns out that's expensive for Americans right now.

Eastern Europe is supposed to be pretty affordable at this point.  We thought of doing Bulgaria, Prague, and Budapest.  That would be nice.

Last night we watched part of The Goonies.   We learned it was filmed in the Pacific Northwest.   It's beautiful, and the flights would probably be more affordable than going international.  But then I remembered it's known for having bears.

I'm scared of bears.  

Last night I named potential places for Jack and he rated them.  He's been wanting to go to Germany, France, and England.   I told him that's too expensive for us right now.   Yesterday he had a new passion.   Barcelona, Spain.  Tim has often talked about wanting to go there.  We spent one or two nights there while on a European cruise, and we both loved it.  Jack wants to go to Barcelona.   Tim wants to go to Barcelona.  I want to go to Australia, but Barcelona seems like a fantastic second choice.

As I mentioned before I get nervous around places that don't speak my language—probably one way that I do fit the ugly American stereotype.    But I'm less nervous about Spain because I do know a bit of Spanish.  I probably couldn't have a decent conversation.   But I can read enough to prevent me from feeling completely lost.

14. Decided to find a Flickr account to stalk.  I really love doing that.  

15. Found my target.   It's CJ Lai.   Recently he spent some time in Perth.   His profile says he's currently in Taiwan.  But then there's a link to his Facebook Page; and that says he lives in Perth.   I'm guessing he's lived in Taiwan and Perth.

16. Started to look at CJ Lai's album of his first day in Perth.     He provides the date of his travels.   It was June 24, 2011.  

Here's some beautiful woman in front of an art gallery.

There's more photos of them.   I'm guessing they're CJ Lai's travel mates.

17. Loved this building.  It's called London Court.

18. Found London Court's website.   It was built in 1937, and has a feel of Tudor England. I don't know much about Tudor England, but I recognize the word in reference to architecture.  I like that style.

I like the photo on the bottom of the site.  That's how I want Europe to look.   That's what I'm expecting when I go to Europe.  We didn't see much of that when we were in London, but we did see it in Canterbury.

19. Saw that London Court has a British Sweet shop.  I would definitely stop in there if I was in Perth.  I love British candy.  

20. Went back to looking at CJ Lai's photos.

Here's a fantastic photo of his female companions.  

21. Started to look at CJ Lai's next Perth album.  This one's for the next day; June 25.

The album also includes Fremantle.

How far is Fremantle from Perth?   I'm guessing the distance between the two is less than an hour.

22. Looked at Google Maps.  The distance between Perth and Fremantle is much less than an hour.   It's 1/2 an hour.  

23. Saw photo of something called The Cappuccino Strip.  I'm guessing it's a shopping area?

24. Learned about Cappuccino Strip from this Perth website.   They say, Its cappuccino strip is jammed packed with lively restaurants, the streets are abuzz with shoppers and historical pubs brim with patrons from across the globe.

Since Fremantle is on the Perth website, should I assume it's a suburb of Perth and not a separate town?  

Well, Lord Wiki doesn't say it's a suburb.   But maybe since the two cities are so close, they're seen as very connected.  It's probably like Dallas and Fort Worth.  We're two different cities, but we're also kind of one.

25. Liked this photo from the Cappuccino Strip.  It's looks quiet and peaceful.  

26. Intrigued by this photo.  What's the deal with the shopping trolley? Is that theirs, or did they just randomly find it? 

27. Saw that CJ Lai had a kangaroo encounter.  Or maybe it's a wallaby. I'm not sure.  

It took place on Heirisson Island. Where's that?

28. Found Heirisson Island on Google Maps.  It's a little island in the midst of the Swan River.  

Lord Wiki says there's a colony of western gray kangaroos living there. That's probably what CJ Lai saw.

29. Started to look at CJ Lei's photos of Kings Park.  King's Park is in Perth.  Lord Wiki says it's the largest inner city park in the world.

30. Imagined that it might be fun to climb this staircase

31. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Norfolk Pine tree because it's mentioned in Cloudstreet.

It's a pine tree that's indigenous to Norfolk Island. 

Lord Wiki says it's now found in many places including Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Florida, and Southern Texas.

They do better in areas where it doesn't get too cold. 

32. Found out that my Australian of the day is George Herbert Anderson.

George was a broadcasting executive and market researcher.

He was born in Hobart in 1897.  His father was the headmaster of The Hutchins School; and George had his education there.

33.  Looked at the website for The Hutchins School.  It's an Anglican boys school.

Lord Wiki says it's the oldest continually run school in Australia.   I'm not sure what he means by continually run.

34. Learned that in George's teen years, he did railroad work.

Then he joined the World War I activities.  Fortunately he survived that.

He moved to Sydney in his 20's.  He got into the whole broadcasting thing.

Later that led him to organizing surveys about radio-listening habits.  I guess it was kind of like the Neilsen ratings we have in America.  

35. Read James' post about Drottnigholm Palace in Sweden.   He liked the outside of the palace, but was unimpressed with the inside.  He couldn't show us photos of the unimpressive inside though, because photography is banned here.

James preferred the Royal Theatre to the palace. There he learned some Swedish-related Australian history; and he got to pretend he was wind in some type of performance.

36. Listened to Adam Bowes and Brad Gimbert sing Hallelujah.

Their performance is beautiful.

37. Felt sad that I don't sing as much lately.  I don't know if I lost my confidence or my interest...or if my voice is just not in a singing mood.   Maybe it's a combination of all three.

Well, when you have family members comparing your singing to Gloria's bad singing on Modern Family, it's hard not to feel shy about the whole thing.  

Jack seems to like my acting, though.   I do that a lot lately.   I'm starting to feel like his acting-slave.   His current favorite is the one where I'm a cute little baby until he says XOB. Then I become the evil psycho baby.  

When he was a very young child, I often had to be Dorothy the Dinosaur and Josie the Kangaroo.   I think that's how I got into the habit of slipping into an Australian accent.

38. Had deep thoughts while in the shower....while I was washing my hair with dandruff shampoo.

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Australia was to get away from my family.   Sorry, but it's true.  I had a difficult relationship with them, and I also had marriage problems that were strongly connected to the relationship I had with my family.

I didn't move to Australia.  Instead I started a blog about Australia.   But in some ways, I think the blog has brought me farther away from my family than moving to Australia.   We're close geographically; but emotionally I feel very distance.   The reason is this blog is a huge part of my life.  It's a huge part of my identity.  At this point, it feels like my life path.

Because my family has very little interest in this huge aspect of my life, I kind of feel like I have my own little special separate life.     

I feel very distant from my most members of my family, even when we're together.

Who knows what would have happened if I moved to Australia.  Would I feel more emotionally distant from them or less?

39. Understood perfectly that I'm not completely emotionally distant from my family.  If I was truly distant, I wouldn't care that they don't care much about my blog.   I wouldn't talk about them so much.  I wouldn't search my Statcounter every day to see if any of them had visited.   I wouldn't get overly excited in the rare moments when a family member asked me about Australia, and I wouldn't feel disappointed when the subject of the conversation changes so quickly.  
40. Talked with Tim about how I don't like taking tours when traveling. I don't think he likes it too much either.

I think one of the main reasons is I learn better by reading than listening.

I realized what I like is for OTHER people to go on tours; then take photos and/or write a blog entry about it.  Then it's like I get a reading/photographic tour.

I like arm chair traveling.  This week I feel like I've gone to Perth, Adelaide, Uluru, Alice Springs, Sweden, etc.    Soon my parents will be going to France. My dad will probably take a ton of pictures, and give extensive explanations for all of them.  Then I can feel like I've been in France. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Liam Hemworth, Blue-Ringed Octopuses, Flavored Milk, and Beach Boxes

1. Had a dream about Australia.

I'm in Australia with my family,  My friend Tracey tells me she is going after this dream job; but she's very unsure of it.  She wants to be a staff writer for this blogging group for mothers.  The name of it sounds familiar to me, and I have this idea that many other bloggers, I know of, are part of it.

Tracey is doubtful she'll get the job because it's an American organization.  It would be too expensive for her to fly to America when needed.  That surprises me because I know of many Australians who participate in it.  I assumed it was an Australian thing.  My feeling is she could still work for them.  Why would she need to be physically there?   

In another part...We're all leaving our accommodations to go somewhere.  Tracey ends up having to stay back to do something.  I end up exiting the building with my family.  You have to take a airplane-like device to get out (instead of an elevator?) and my dad misses it.  He'll have to take another one.  My mom's annoyed by this.   

When we get out, I start to feel bad that I didn't wait for Tracey.  But I also have insecurity. What if she wasn't even planning to spend the day with me?  Are we going to spend any time together? If we were supposed to be together today, is she going to be mad that I didn't wait for her?

And then this part:   Tracey and I are on a bus.   While riding, we pass by Thérese Rein, Julia Gillard, and then some other celebrity.  Tracey sees Gillard too.   I talk about how it's different in America.   You rarely see famous people.  But here you see them all the time. I tell her besides Gillard I saw Rein, and someone else; but then I couldn't remember who (even in my dreams now, my mind goes blank).  I worry that I'm pronouncing Julia Gillard's name wrong.   

2. Read Andrew's blog post.  He has lots of cool pictures of trains.

He also talks about the air-conditioning issue.  He says, Do not believe all Australian's use air con when they mean heating, but as our old oil and subsequent gas heaters, and hole in the wall air conditioners are being replaced by reverse cycle air conditioning units, that is they heat and cool, I feel it is time to just use air con to describe heating or cooling.

That makes sense.   It seems to me that most Australian hotels, holiday parks, and short-stay apartments have the reverse cycle air-conditioning things.   I see that listed quite frequently.   I never knew what it was.  I just thought of it as an Australian thing.  

Well, actually I kind of thought reverse cycling referred to how the cold air was created. Yes, I am so dumb when it comes to air-conditioning.  Sorry.

I thought American air-conditions use one type of method, and Australians use another.   

Now I get it though.  Reverse cycle refers to warm or cool air.

3. Continued to read Nick Earl's 48 Shades of Brown.  It has some major vomit in the story. I hate vomit. I think the level of my vomit fear is high enough to qualify as a phobia.

It amazes me that other people can be so casual about it. The characters in 48 Shades of Brown are very casual about all the vomit.

Why can't I be that casual about vomit?

Do I want to be that casual?  Vomit is so disgusting, and it's full of germs. It's like shit coming out of someone's mouth.

4. Started a group on the Free Rice page.  Please join!    It's this website where you play learning games.  And for each answer you get right, ten grains of rice are donated.    It's fun.  It's educational.   It's for a very good cause.   It doesn't cost anything, except our time.  And it's time well spent.   I played it in the past and there was just vocabulary quizzes.(as far as I know).   That was great, but now they have a bunch of subjects.  I just practiced some Spanish.

Anyway, if you want to join my's the link.    Or you can start your own group.   You could also just play without joining a group.  But you know, I'd love to have you in my group.  

5. Learned from Facebook that Liam Hemworth is going to be in The Hunger Games.  I might have already known that.  But if I did, I forgot.

Tim's reading the series right now and says it's worth its popularity.  I want to read it.   He has it on the Kindle though, and I don't like using that.  

I think my sister likes Liam Hemworth.  Or maybe it's the other Hemworth guy she likes.   

6. Looked at Liam Hemworth on IMDb.   He's the one that my sister likes. She likes that movie;  The Last Song.  I don't know if she has a minor interest in him, or some kind of major crush.   Maybe it's somewhere in between. 

7. Followed the Facebook link to Entertainment Weekly.  They have publicity photos for The Hunger Games.  

8. Tried to understand the American debt thing.  It goes way over my head.   I'll just choose to remain ignorant....and scared.  Well, yeah.  I'm smart enough to know it's all very bad. 

9. Saw that the Australian dollar is now worth 1.10 American dollars.  Seeing that the American economy is completely shit right now, I'm not sure that's a huge accomplishment.   

10. Decided to watch interview with Liam Hemworth.  I want to see what my sister sees in him.

 11. Read article that says a death adder snake was left in the yard of a police officer.   It was a message of intimidation.   It sounds like a scene from a bad political thriller.    Tim listened to one in the car once, and we had to hear it too. The bad guys attacked someone with a blue-ringed octopus.  

12. Saw that there's someone who says he has a blue-ringed octopus as a pet.  That's a strange choice.  

13. Read website warning people against owning the blue-ringed octopus.  It's probably the same as owning a gun.  Having one makes people feel cool and strong.  They can't imagine an accident would ever happen in their house.  But it IS possible.

The website says, if they don't kill you, they could kill your daughter, grandson, or the neighbor kid down the street. Inquiring hands get into tanks, and octopuses get out of tanks.

I can understand the thrill of owning one.  And they're beautiful.  The risk of accidental death might be small.  But the website also points out that it might not be a good thing for the animal either.  You are encouraging the collection of an animal that is relatively rare over much of its range. Even with moderate demand, given considerable wastage in collection and shipment, the numbers taken soon may place undue pressure on these animals. Couple this with rampant environmental degradation of the inshore habitats in which blue-rings occur, and we must be concerned about the conservation of these octopuses.

Then again, it might be less scary to swim in the Australian ocean if I knew that most of the octopuses were now living in the homes of exotic pet collectors.   Maybe they'll take all the Irukandji as well.

It might be really bad though.  Remember what happened in the political thriller? People could start using them as weapons.  Like the death adder.

14. Consulted Lord Wiki  about the death adder.

There's an anti-venom now; so there have been less deaths from the snake. It still gets to keep its name though.

15. Watched video about the blue ringed-octopus. 

They're beautiful, but terrifying.

There's no anti-venom.

The good news is the victim can survive if they get prompt medical attention. This website talks about that. 

The patient will likely need artificial respiration and mechanical ventilation. Why? The venom causes paralysis of all the muscles, including the heart.    

Within 24 hours the toxins leave the body and the patient can recover.  So...if you get bit by one, hope that you're near a place that has good medical facilities.  

16. Went to Tallygarunga.  Today I'm going to read a story thread called Dinner And Some Fun. It takes place in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne, at the Blair-Black beachfront apartment.  This page describes the Blair-Black beachfront apartment.  

Located in Brighton, the penthouse is a virtual miniature palace in accordance with the wishes of the 'Princess' of the house. Not only complete with more than enough modern conveniences, but is also located a mere hop, skip, and jump across the road from the beach. Not as cold upperclass as it seems from the outside though, inside is very warm and homey, full of life (especially its mini residents) a comfortable place to visit or stay over.

I think "princess" refers to Jezabel Blair. She lives there with her man, Viktor Black.  

I guess they have a lot of money.

17. Looked at the characters in the story. There's Jezabel, Viktor, and Vladimir Valentin VII.   I forgot who that is.  Oh....wait. Is it Viktor's twin brother?

18. Skimmed through Vladimir's biography.   

Yes. He's the twin. He used to think Viktor was dead, but then he learned it wasn't true.

This family's story is very much like Days of our Lives. You think someone's dead. Then later you realize you were wrong.

19. Started to read the story thread.

Vladimir is with his children (twins). They've just apparated to his brother's house.  Little Ivan wants to go to the beach.

20. Looked at Brighton on Google Maps.   It's south of St. Kilda.

Since Viktor's and Jezabel's penthouse is supposed to be near the beach, I wonder if it's on Esplanade.

Here's a Street View of the area.  It would make me worried living there with young children.   There's a busy road between the houses and the beach.

21. Went back to reading the story and learned that Jezabel had been kidnapped in the past.

22.  Continued to read more of the story.  Jezabel offered Viktor's niece and nephew some flavored milk.    Their father said no to that.   They have to drink regular milk.   But they can drink flavored milk after dinner.  That sounds fair.

In some Australian restaurants, we went to, they called flavored milk "milkshakes." We learned this after Jack ordered one. It wasn't like the milkshakes we have in America.

It could depend on the location though.  Some restaurants might have milkshakes that are similar to what we have in America.

23. Consulted Lord Wiki about flavored milk.   He says Australia has the highest consumption of it.

24. Thought more about milkshakes.   Even in America, it varies.  Sometimes they're very thick.  You can hardly drink them with a straw. Other times they're pretty thin. Still, though, I think they're usually thicker than flavored milk.  

25. Learned that Vladimir's twins are Dhampirs like their father. They have little fangs.

They might like blood-flavored milk as much as the strawberry flavored kind.

26. Watched video of people dancing in Brighton Beach.  

The colored shacks starting at 2:33 are really awesome. Is that the right word—shacks? Or would they be called beach sheds?

Do people rent those, or do they own them?

This website says they're called Beach Boxes.  Some are privately owned, and some are owned by the government.  

27. Found a whole website about the beach boxes; although here they're called bathing boxes.  

It's like a work of art.  And like many works of art, it's protected.  If people buy one, they're not allowed to repaint it.    That way the city can preserve the original look.  I don't blame them.  The beach boxes are lovely.

28. Started watching video of Liam Hemworth on Neighbours.   

His character uses a wheelchair. His name is Josh Taylor.

He likes a girl, but she only likes him as a friend.

In another scene he thanks someone for saving his life. Then he tells this same guy to stay away from Bridgett.  Who's Bridget?   Is that the girl Josh loves?   

29. Learned about Bridget from Lord Wiki.  She's physically disabled, and almost drowned. That's when Declan saved her. Declan must be the guy that Josh was arguing with in the video.  

30. Learned from The Perfect Blend website that Josh Taylor became paralyzed in a surfing accident. 

31. Learned that Liam's two brothers have also been on Neighbours.  Luke played one character in 2001 and another character in 2008.  Chris played a character in 2002.

Which Hemworth brother was in Thor

32. Consulted Lord Wiki about Thor.   He says Chris is the star of that.   Lord Wiki says that Chris was in Home and Away.   He doesn't even mention Neighbours.   So I looked at The Perfect Blend site.   His character description is very short.   I'm guessing it was a small role—probably just a few episodes.  

33. Saw that I have two Australians of the day today.  They're brothers; and both of them were printers.  One was George Anderson and the other was William Anderson.  

There was a big age difference between the two of them.   George was eleven when William was born.

George was born in Scotland. William was born in Melbourne.

They had two siblings between them.

34. Learned the George read a lot and had a prodigious memory.  I'm not sure I've seen the word prodigious before.  I'm guessing it's related to prodigy.

This dictionary site says prodigious means wonderful or marvelous; abnormal, monstrous. 

35. Went back to reading about George and William.  Well, they did printing things.  That's about all I want/need to know.'s something.   George liked Astronomy.  From 1953-1955 and 1961-1962 he was President of the Victorian Branch of the British Astronomical Society.

36. Saw that there's an Astronomical Society of Victoria.  I wonder if they grew out of the British Astronomical Society. 

Well, no. It looks like they didn't  The site lists their past presidents. George Anderson isn't one of them.

37. Went to Mousie's Australian database so I can get exposed to more Australian music.

The song for me today is "Touched By Love" by Eran James.

I remember this song.

It reminds me of Christian rock. Although it's not like I've heard a lot of Christian rock.

Wizard rock reminds me of Christian rock too.

I'm not a big fan of wizard rock—at least not the stuff I've heard so far.

I do like this gospel song.

Why do I like that fandom song, but not the Harry Potter ones? I don't know.

38. Decided to find another Flickr person to stalk.  I like doing that.  

39. Found Flossy1040's 2007 Australia trip.  That's the year of our first trip there!

40. Saw that Flossy1040's name is Lynne; and she has a blog.  

She's from Sutton in the United Kingdom.  That's about 40 minutes south of London.  

41. Noticed that Flossy1040 went back to Australia in 2008. I'll look at those photos too.  

42. Started to look at the 2007 set.

I see that the photos were taken in December 2007. That's when we were there. 

43. Saw that on Boxing Day (if the camera date is right), Flossy1040 was in Cooma watching sheep shearing

We didn't go to Cooma. Where is it? 

44. Looked for Cooma on Google Maps.  It's about 4 hours south of Sydney.  

45. Saw that Flossy1040 visited Narrabeen.  I looked at Google Maps.   It seems to be part of the Northern Beaches (in Sydney) 

46. Saw that Flossy1040 visited the Queen Victoria Building.  She took some pictures of the clock

47. Felt envious when I saw Flossy1040's accommodations. They had an apartment right on Manly beach. You go out on the porch and you can see the beach.  

She forgot to take a picture of the inside of the apartment. Andrew needs to talk to her about that.

48. Loved this photo from Cooma.

49. Started to look at Flossy1040's 2008 Australian photos.

Why did she go back so soon?   Is she a fan of Australia like me?   Or does she have family and friends there?

50.  Saw that this time she spent time in Melbourne. I love this shop photo.  

She also went to Beechworth.   Is that in or near Melbourne?

51. Found Beechworth on Google Maps. It's about 3 hours north-east of Melbourne.  

The shopping centre there looks cute.  

52. Saw that she went back to Cooma.  I wonder if they have family or friends there. Or maybe she just really loved it the first time. 

Here's a beautiful photo from Cooma.  

53. Proud that I have donated 3500 grains of rice today.  Again....if you want to join my group, I would totally love that.  Here's the link.  

If you start your own group, I'll join that (if you'll have me).   I think it's fun to play other people.  Then we can get all competitive. And in this case, I think competition is a fantastic thing.