Thursday, December 31, 2009

quicko: hot ham

A novelty in Australia. In fact, my Australian friends had never heard of eating ham hot. Pork, yes, cold cut ham, yes, hot ham, no.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

quicko: no sales tax in australia

Or if there is, it's built into the price and you never have to pay extra at the check out!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

reprise: the counterpart of the great seat sit, the turn and go

While Australian church goers take part in the great seat sit, American church goers (particularly Catholic ones) take part in the great turn and go: as soon as the last line of the last song is begun, coats come on, bodies pivot and the sanctuary is empty by the final amen. And to think that I wondered how we were going to get our car out of the gridlocked parking lot!

Monday, December 28, 2009

quicko: dad jokes

Australian for really corny jokes. In my house, though, they're generally told by my mom.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

quicko: to take the mickey

i.e., to make fun of someone. To pull someone's leg. As in, "are you really a retired trapeze artist from Kalamazoo or are you just taking the mickey?" Alternate, slightly less sophisticated forms of the phrase also exist, and are used in the same fashion.

Friday, December 25, 2009

quicko: the true meaning of christmas

Absolutely the same in both countries. Sure, there are different ways to celebrate, but the true meaning of Jesus' birth to save an entire world from its sins is utterly unchanged. The hope, joy, peace and love that He brings are the same yesterday, today and forever -- whether today be today now or 16 hours later!!

quicko: float santas and other outdoor events

Sticking with the Santa theme, I would like to report that I have most definitely not encountered any float Santas in Australia. In fact, I hadn't encountered any here before, but saw one and realized immediately that it was one of those "only in America" type experiences. The float Santa rides a giant, exceptionally well-lit float down the side streets of America, blaring "Holly Jolly Christmas" and, presumably, waving merrily. Being as it's rather dark here from 5:30 onwards, it was difficult to tell whether or not he was waving, but, well, how could he not have been?

The other recent American outdoor extravaganza was the Picktown lights near Columbus, Ohio. An entire neighborhood street (22 houses) drapes their homes in a vast array of Christmas lights. While the lights alone would be moderately impressive, the real highlight is turning your radio station to 93.9 and watching the lights dance to the Christmas music. They're all synchronized impeccably and the choreography is impressive enough to drag thousands of visitors from their cozy, warm, cookie-filled homes and watch in their cozy, warm, cookie-filled cars.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

quicko: mall santas

I've been trying to figure out if Australia has them or not. Not being there currently, I've been having trouble figuring it out. America, however, does. In abundance. With lines a mile long and photos a mile pricey. Holly and I figured out a way around them, though: we simply posed on the balcony above and -- look! -- you can just barely see Santa's knee!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

quicko: moustaches

It seems that facial hair has received an inordinate amount of attention in recent months, but I have noted that middle-aged American men are much more likely to perpetually (i.e., not just for a month) sport moustaches. I am inclined to think this subconsciously played into my decision to move to Australia.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

quicko: small sugar

I know I've mentioned sugar before, but it's just really hit me this time -- American sugar is much finer; Australian sugar is much coarser. Metaphor, anyone?

Monday, December 21, 2009

quicko: no sunday school

Australian churches don't really do Sunday school. They have kids' church (for, get this, kids), but it's pretty much relegated to people under age 12. The concept of adult Sunday school is a bit of an oxymoron to Australian Christians.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

quicko: top ten things i love about cincinnati ... (that aren't in cremorne ...)

9. Meijer.
8. Marching bands.
7. Roller coasters.
6. Renaissance festivals.
5. Panera Bread.
4. Waking up in a winter wonderland.
3. Being able to shop any hour of the day or night.
2. Graeter's black raspberry chip ice cream.
1. Family and friends who will kill me if I fail to mention them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

quicko: liquid paper

AKA Wite-Out. (Which, incidentally, I do admit I always thought was "White-Out," but, in light (or lite?) of recent Incidents with Envelopes and Friends Who Have Moved Within the Last Year, I learned that Bic actually entitles its product with a grammatically incorrect nomenclature.

quicko: strike

So evidently there's a bus strike in Sydney today. What a great day to be in America!!

ten things i take my guests to do in sydney

10. Balmoral Beach
9. Jet boating on the harbour
8. Max Brenner
7. Church by the Bridge
6. Watson's Bay
5. Darling Harbour
4. Circular Quay
3. Taronga Zoo
2. Manly ferry
1. Bondi to Coogee walk

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

quicko: we're not in canberra anymore ...

So, how can you tell you're back closer to Kansas?

1. The giant dark object that darted past your feet in your vehicle turned out to not be a cockroach.

2. People are unsatisfied with the answer "in the middle" when asked what part of the U.S. you live in.

3. When they find out you're visiting for 2 1/2 weeks, instead of gasping "that's it?!" people nod happily and say, "oh, how nice!!"

quicko: on not turning a night out into a nightmare

This is one of the Australian government's favorite phrases to bandy about. Granted, it's a pretty catchy one as far as government phrases go, but what I actually wanted to mention was a statistic I heard from one of their television campaigns: every week, 4 Australians between the ages of 17 and 25 die in a drunk driving accident. Now, granted, this is horrible and I am most certainly opposed to it -- but 4?? A week?? My high school alone had practically that many! Okay, maybe not per week, but you get the idea. Americans would be jumping for joy if we had such statistics. On the other hand, Australia keeps a fatality count over holiday weekends -- which, again, is terribly tragic -- but it can keep such a tally. Maybe a single state could, but the whole country? We'd be to the next holiday by the time we got the numbers straight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

quicko: look

This is one of those verbal turns of phrase that Americans have, but Australians use abundantly. "Look ..." is the perfect beginning to any Australian sentence, though particularly if said Aussie is about to disagree, add additional information or otherwise proceed down a slightly different course than the other conversant was taking. It's also often preceded by, "Yeah, look ..." or "Well, look ..." As in, "Yeah, look, I'm not going to be able to watch your cat after all," "Well, look, it's just that I've just bought a small saltwater crocodile" or "Look, did your cat use to have a tail?"

Monday, December 14, 2009

quicko: thongs and rubbers

This is one of those obvious ones it doesn't hurt to mention twice: Australians call flip-flops thongs. They mean nothing else by it. Also, erasers are called rubbers. Similarly innocently. (Unless they're addressing an American ... but you'll catch the laughter in their eyes; they get so proud of themselves they just can't hide it!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

quicko: freddo frogs

Freddo frogs are standard Australian candy (aka lollies). They're chocolate, frog-shaped and delicious dipped in tea.

While we're on the subject, such sweets are found not in the candy aisle, nor even the lolly aisle, but the confectionery section. And while we're not quite on the subject, thread and fabric and such are found under the heading: haberdashery.

Balderdash, anyone?

Friday, December 11, 2009

quicko: addresses

Australian addresses are written a little differently from American ones. Instead of saying, say, "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Apartment 50" they would say "50/1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

quicko: garbage disposals

Virtually nonexistent here. They are mysterious devices, and generally provoke technical curiosity when discovered. My flat actually has one ... but it has never worked since I moved in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

quicko: water

I'm not a big water drinker. I know it's healthy, I know I should be, but I'm not. Or I wasn't until recently -- it gets so warm and humid here that I really have started drinking water. Before, at the best of times I could usually only manage a few sips even when I was quite thirsty. Now, I can finish a bottle of water before work!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

quicko: postal rates

I recently learned that Australia does something amazing with its postal rates: it lowers them for the holiday season in November and December. I don't know what sort of marketing scheme that is (I always suspected that that season was precisely when the US postal service made the majority of its ends meet -- by keeping prices the same), but I am entirely for it.

In any event, it turns out that an international card can be mailed in this time period of $1.25, as opposed to $2.10 for a letter or $1.40 for a post card normally. Unless of course you're mailing to Asia Pacific, in which case it's $1.45 for a letter. Within Australia, a stamp for a letter is 55 cents.

Monday, December 7, 2009

quicko: gingerbread -- going, going -- (!!)

I was greeted at work this morning by a shocked American co-worker: the Australians wanted to eat the gingerbread house! They said that was what you were supposed to do with it! What to do! She had staved them off as long as possible, but the outlook was grim. No one approached me until the afternoon when suddenly a small host of teachers wandered over to see if maybe, just maybe, they could begin nibbling the gingerbread now. I was similarly aghast (but! but! how else will we leave it to admire until January!?), but decided that when in Australia I'd do as the Australians do. They insisted I take the first bite, so I hesitantly plucked off a freckle (freckle: n, chocolate candy covered in sprinkles). The floodgates opened and before I knew it hundreds of teachers had descended and shredded the darling house to smithereens -- they did not merely go for the candy as I'd naively assumed they would (I've seen Americans do that, though not usually before Christmas, unless it's not theirs and they're being sneaky), but massacred the entire roof, walls, everything. When I left, there was indeed little left at all.

And I must admit, I've had an idea: I am providing dessert tomorrow for my connect group. I am short on cash. I am going on holiday soon. I have a spare gingerbread house ...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

quicko: how much is that dress in the window?

It seems that, like so many other things, dress prices are significantly higher here -- even at markets, where I was hoping I could find things less outrageously priced. Not so. But, I do have a new Easter dress now. And it is gorgeous. And worth a good 30% of its cents.

quicko: church vocabulary

I might have mentioned this before, but the nursery is referred to as creche ("cray-sh") here. Also, greeting is generally called welcoming and the really in name for Bible study groups (home groups, care groups, etc.) is connect groups.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

quicko: wheelie bins

These are really what they call trash cans on wheels. I thought they were joking, but then realized I was the only one laughing ...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

quicko: gingerbread summer

Awhile ago I cleared up the confusion regarding when Australians make gingerbread houses (Christmastime, not winter), but, having just witnesses upwards of 40 Australians make gingerbread houses, I can state that many (shall we roughly put it at 20%?) included some form of flower design on their house. These designs were gorgeous and lovely and ... summery. So, yes, they do make gingerbread houses in December, and, yes, they put "snow" on top, but, no, they are not restricted solely to conifers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

quicko: all i really need to know about america i learned in the movies

Seriously. The movies are the primary exposure most Australians have to America, aside from the two obligatory three-week treks (one East coast, one West, though both include Vegas and LA).

To summarize then, all Americans live in a two-story white house with a porch and a dog named Beethoven, pray before every dinner, go to school with highly attractive and clique-based students who trek to Miami every year for spring break before spending four party years in a frat house. They then get a job that requires a suit and Starbucks in hand, fall madly in love with a girl from a Republican (or was it Democrat?) family, get married in a church and buy a two-story white house with a porch and a dog named Beethoven. Throughout the cycle they celebrate quaintly bizarre holidays such as Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July and Groundhog Day (do they really??).

The questions I get most generally revolve around my high school experience (no, I was not a cheerleader) and politics (yes, that was a rude question), but anything that expounds upon traditions they've seen on the big screen is generally considering intriguing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

quicko: no christmas tree for charlie brown

Australians don't know the meaning of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Why not? They don't have A Charlie Brown Christmas Special. They know the character, but none of his yuletide woes.

Australians, meet a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Charlie Brown Christmas tree, meet the Australians.