Sunday, May 31, 2009

quicko: when to work

So the other day I heard an Australian making the argument that Australians are forced to work hard over tremendously long hours when they work with Brits and Americans. Evidently, I was told, the Brits make all their major corporate decisions over the midnight beer at the pub, but the Americans make theirs bright-eyed and bushy-tailed over the 8 am cup of coffee. The poor Australians are tremendously torn between the two and therefore never get to sleep. At least they don't have to worry about dehydrating.

(Oh, come on, just let it be funny even if beer and coffee don't actually hydrate you.)

quicko: cuisenaire rods

So I can't quite remember why these are important, or precisely what they are, but I have a picture of them sketched in the "quickos" section of my notebook, along with "Quiusmaire rods (I think)" written above them by a very credible Australian co-worker. The picture looks vaguely like Lincoln logs or blocks or Legos or something; I can only imagine they are an Australian equivalent and hence a very integral part of your Australian cultural education, as provided by this blog. Consider yourselves informed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

quicko: the ashes

Now this is sports, and sports is really not my realm. Ahem. I regret to say I haven't got a clue what season this is even appropriate to be mentioned in (Australians, catch your cue here ...), but I know it is important, and would feel myself to be a negligent blogger should I leave it out. From the bits and pieces I've been told in grave detail any number of times, but have hitherto been completely unable to retain my brain I shall try to reconstruct a semblance of truth regarding the Ashes. See, I capitalized them. (Capitalization is my realm.) Basically, it's an award in sports that the Australians generally always win (or think they do?). Occasionally England (ewww, nasty England!) wins (or think they do?) and it's a very big, prestigious something. The end.

Friday, May 29, 2009

quicko: 125

For those of you don't know, it is only fitting that you learn from the kirribillikim blog that Kirribilli is, this week, 125! (Kirribilli, incidentally, is an Aboriginal word meaning "good fishing spot.") It's a marvelous thing, and my church, Church by the Bridge in the heart of Kirribilli, has been celebrating exuberantly. One of the coolest parts was an art contest (I Kirribilli) that featured current art work (paintings, photographs and sketches) of Kirribilli by local and not-so-local artists. It was a great display with a lot of talent, and slated to become an annual event.

Another highlight was the 125 banquet at an absolutely transformed Church by the Bridge -- it was gorgeous, decked out in long, white tables with rhinestone sparkles shimmering in candlelight as black butterflies fluttered overhead. Stunning dressed guests dazzled under the black and white theme of dress (not, ahem, fancy dress).

Alright, apologies; here ends the the glossy magazine montage. Seriously, though, it was lovely, wish you could have been there!!

Happy 125, Kirribilli!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

quicko: hunker down

An American expression, I've been told! It's easy for me to pinpoint the distinctly Australian (or British or both) language, but very difficult to determine what's genuinely American -- this seems to qualify, no??

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

quicko: lack of girl scout cookies

It's really distressing. They just don't exist here. Thank goodness people love Pamela and send her care packages: I got a whole box of Samoas, which I do not regret to say I did not share at all, except in two cases of very grave blackmail.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

quicko: mum's the word

Not mom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

quicko: cracker day

AKA Commonwealth Day. A traditional holiday, gone a bit by the wayside of late. A 4th of July-esque celebration that no longer achieve public holiday status, but which used to see treacherously high amounts of sparks in the hands of small children, creatively called "crackers" to disguise the danger.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

quicko: fancy dress

Australian is a strange language. They invite you to a costume party and call it "fancy dress." You show up in, say, an elegant black number only to find yourself, in an oddly anti-Bridget Jones twist of fate, surrounded by tarts and vicars.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

quicko: chocolate

Chocolate fact of the day: Australian chocolate is made to have a higher melting point than American chocolate because of the climate here. Hence, s'mores do not work with Australian chocolate because the warmth of the marshmallow is not sufficient to melt to the chocolate.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

quicko: on why not to steal a thai bar mat

This is the big news here: an Australian mother of four was vacationing in Thailand not so long ago when a couple friends stuffed a bar mat into her purse and she walked off with it, got arrested, thrown in a Thai jail and sentenced to stay for the next five years. Australians, not even barring bar mat lovers, jumped behind her and demanded her release. She made it home today, how's that for a happpy ending?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

quicko: brekky

I know I've commented on the Australian penchant to shorted words before, but "brekky" is just so quintessential and tacky at the same time I feel it deserves its own mention. Viva la breakfast!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

quicko: hot houses

Rumor has it that greenhouses go by an alias abroad: here they tout themselves "hot houses." As if you can dub yourself "hot"!

Monday, May 18, 2009

quicko: the rambutan

It all began with the little note and inauspicious fruit on my desk. The note read, "Kim -- Present from Tom! Can't remember the name of it but it's a fruit -- Bev" Why exactly people have taken to giving me various bizarre fruits is a bit beyond me, but it seems to be a fact of life here in Australia and I'm quite happy to sample them. At least they're not throwing them at me.

My present on this particular occasion, as we learned after no little amount of research, was a rambutan. It took me less time to figure out how to eat it than it did to figure out what it was called. (This, given my track record, really is saying something.)

Suspicion first ran to its being a lychee, but this rumor was quickly quelled (okay, you nitpickers will realize it wasn't "quick" but "eventually quelled" just didn't have the same ring to it) by the almighty Wikipedia, which eventually indicated (that's all right, hey?) it was indeed a rambutan, which happens to be called (we collectively determined) a lychee in the general Australian vernacular. Phew.

By this time of course the darling little rambutan was no more, at least not in the shape it had been in prior to meeting me. A rambutan, it seems, does not need any utensils to be prepared; fingers themselves are nearly extraneous! A strong overbite will do the job with ease, and by that point the work's well over half done. One must take care, naturally, not to swallow the seed, but it's noticeable enough that I thoughourly doubt many would mistake it for, say, a strawberry seed.

And that, my friends, is the story of the rambutan. I do hope you shall be so fortunate as to meet one some day yourself, but do pardon me if I am inclined to think my meeting was slightly more dramatic than most. All the best to you, though, of course.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

quicko: marvels of modern sydney, part two

And now, on your left, you can see the beautiful Bronte Beach. It's the next beach south of the famous Bondi. It's less than half the size, but has twice the class, not to mention character.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

quicko: marvels of modern sydney, part one

This weekend, I think I'll just take you on a little photo tour of some scenic Sydney spots that not everyone gets to. Today, allow me to welcome you to Glebe Park. It's a lovely roaming (there is a better adjective here; I just had it and then lost it, I do apologize) park that traipses along the harbour and offers outstanding (do I sound like a real travel agent or what?) vistas (just when you thought it couldn't get any worse!) of the Harbour and Anzac Bridges. If you're lucky, you might even get to enjoy an ice cream cone as you watch the sun set. Oh, and don't forget to watch out for the wildlife in the trees.

Friday, May 15, 2009

quicko: earl's court

I went to a training session for work the other day, and this is the one (yes, one in two hours) interesting piece of information I gleaned: when Australians go to London, they tend to live in Earl's Court. I don't know why, the lecturer didn't go into that, but half the crowd laughed when he mentioned it, so I think it's a pretty safe bet.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

quicko: to bin it

Not only do they get the name wrong here ("bins" for "garbage cans"), they do shocking things with it: they turn it into a verb (and, really, who knows what else). That is, if you have a piece of trash (they call it "rubbish") you'd like to rid the world of, instead of throwing it away like a normal person, you are suddenly called up to "bin the rubbish." Granted, it does sound a bit more highfalutin, but how grandiose do we need to be about our garbage?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

quicko: government spending

It seems that Australia's newest version of the budget was recently revealed. As this is not a weekly or monthly but merely yearly event it created some raucous hubbub among monetarily intrigued citizens, which is to say, you ought to be impressed I even knew about it. Don't you feel informed now? I thought so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

quicko: peanut butter

They have peanut butter here, which is an excellent start, but they make it somewhat different, which is less of a good start. It's not altogether bad, though. The taste is all right, it's just not quite the same. The texture is off, but oddly on as it is noticeably less sticky here. That is, when you drop it on yourself, you're in a heck of a lot less trouble in Australia than in America. I'm not so frivolous as to experiment on my hair, but I daresay the results would be less catastrophic than they would be in America.

Monday, May 11, 2009

quicko: 9:30 to 4

These are my bank's hours. Does anyone else notice anything wrong with this picture? Or does no one in this country have that minor little detail of an 8-5 job? Who comes up with these hours? The world's most effective union?

And oh, yeah. You can forget Saturday while you're at it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

quicko: metric

Just for the record, they're on kilograms here. And liters and meters and Celsius. It's weird, though. You get used to being, say a reasonable 125 pounds most of your life, only to discover that 125 kilograms is an enormous heap of mass roughly twice the size of your formerly prim little frame. The effects would be devastating if only they were real. Thank goodness they're not.

quicko: luna park

Luna Park is one of the iconic parts of Sydney that anyone who lives here for any length of time visits. It's also one of the tackiest, and probably the biggest eyesore of the entire harbour. Of course I went. Of course I liked it. Of course I had my picture taken under the freakiest face in the Southern Hemisphere. Why do you ask?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

quicko: backpackers

The word "backpacker" has an entirely different connotation in America as in Australia.

Americans conjure up images of mountain hikers, strapped to the hilt Bill Bryson-style with every imaginable tent, sleeping bag, blanket, insect repellent and extra socks and underwear, complete with a Johnny Appleseed pot on the head. Americans are set to trek the Appalachian Trail for months on end and bathe only every other week if a freshwater creek happens to emerge.

Consequently, most Americans are not what we'd call backpackers.

Australians, on the other hand, think of Brits. No, not the adventuresome, spelunking sort of Brits, but the young, drunk, noisy version. Backpackers to Australians are the people (usually 20-somethings on their mysterious "gap year") who travel around a country for months on end, staying at tourist hostels, working only to make ends meet and partying hardy the rest of the time. They too keep socks and spare underwear in their backpack, but that's about the only resemblance to an American backpacker. The rest is filled with clubbing clothes, sunscreen, bikinis, cameras and spare books to trade with fellow travelers.

Australia (and Europe, for that matter) is filled with this kind of backpacker. They're be more in America, but they're not quite sturdy enough to survive the Greyhound.

Friday, May 8, 2009

quicko: lack of legend

This is an interesting one. It's relatively true about America, too, but it struck me that compared to, say, Ireland, there is a complete lack of legend in Australia. (I suppose you could compare nearly anywhere to Ireland and come out feeling breathtakingly banal in terms of tales, but hey. It's a cool country and I've been there and I think the comparison's interesting. Hopefully you do, too ...) You just don't feel ghosts and goblins creeping around corners as you approach, or lurking behind you in dark streets. Not that you'd want to, but here it seems utterly impossible.

I think it's just a lack of history thing (excepting the Aborginals, of course), but I guess I like countries that have a bit more folklore than Waltzing Matilda to go on. Again, not that I have anything against Waltzing Matilda, it just doesn't speak volumes of story-saturated scenery to me. Bring on the sunburnt leprechauns!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

quicko: the truth about post offices

This one is a shocker. Are you sitting down? I never thought post offices could have such deep, dark secrets, but they do. Please sit down before further reading.

Ready? Braced? Steady? Are you sure?

Okay. Here it is: (breathe) post offices are franchises. They are not run by the government. They are not legal super-safe methods of mailing miscellanea. They could take your packages and run and hide and never give them to you again. Just ask my friend Meredith: one day she got a care package with nothing but tissue paper inside. Horrors!!

So, please, send me presents ... but nothing too amazing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

quicko: tuck

AKA food. Not sure where they got this one from, but they seem to like it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

quick: where's who?

Instead of Waldo, Australians are constantly in search of Wally. As a sidenote, they also play Clue-do instead of simply Clue.

Monday, May 4, 2009

quicko: mate's rates

Aussie slang for "good deal because we're friends," but oddly catchier, go figure.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

quicko: narky

So this is a word I understand in context but find very difficult to describe. It's kind of picky, snotty or persnickety. Yes, I think perhaps persnickety would be the word, only in a slightly narkier sort of way.

quicko: billabong

Just as it's a commonly known Australian word (funny how having a brand with the same name can do that to a word) with a relatively unknown meaning outside Oz, I'd like to note on the record that a billabong is, indeed, a watering hole. I know some of you suburban folk aren't entirely familiar with the concept, but, well, use your imaginations and I think it might come to you. If not, alas, I do not think I can be of any further assistance.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

quicko: a pinch and a punch ...

... for the first of the month!

(Stay safe today!)

Friday, May 1, 2009

quicko: to be over something

This is another Australian classic. All of sudden out of the blue one day it hits someone that, gosh, he just can't stand coke anymore, and voila, he's over it. Done and simple. Take anything as an example. An author. A phrase. Everyone's favorite pub. A job. Over it, out the door, adios.