Monday, February 28, 2011

quicko: gas prices

They call it petrol here (okay, this one I actually grant them!), and I figure it never hurts to have a quick update of comparison shopping.  I'm highly attuned to gas prices when I'm paying for it, but when I'm just buying (a ridiculously overpriced $41-) bus ticket every week, I don't care so much.  But for the record:  at the moment, gas prices are about $1.40/liter (they of course spell it "litre"), which is about (insert 5 minutes for Kim to do frantic math and google and multiple and divide until she finally hits on something that seems reasonably probable in terms of a result) $5.40/gallon.  I think.  But I could be wrong.  I'll give you the numbers and you can do the rest:  1 liter is about .26 gallons.  1/1.4 = .26/.364.  Also, 3.85 is significant somehow.  Knock yourselves out, but I think gas is pricey here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

humor: spit road

After having been past it literally hundreds of times, it finally dawned on me that this place has a hysterical name:

Spit Road Dentistry

(The Spit being a geographic area, the Spit Road being the road that leads to it, a dentist happening to have his practice there ... yeah, not funny if you have to explain it, hey?)

quicko: not that i'm complaining

Really, it doesn't bother me and I'm certainly not complaining, but I have noticed that in America when people drive you home and drop you off they tend to wait until they see that you've made it safely inside before pulling away.  Australians are out of sight before you're entirely out of the car.  (See posts at chivalry ... though this usually extends to female drivers as well.)

I understand that, in Australia, I live on a street where sometimes cars are waiting behind (fair enough) and it's a very safe area where I'd be exceedingly unlikely to have trouble making it inside my building and even if I did I could grab my cell phone and immediately call them back for help ... and in America I live in the middle of a vast, scary-at-night woods with no other houses around and the actual road a quarter mile away ... but still.  It's the principle of the thing.

Not that I'm complaining!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

quicko: parent-teacher conferences

I've been continually learning that, much as I want to, I can't just take one person's experiences for this blog and make them universally applicable to the country at large (universal country that it is).  Not that this stops me, but it does tend to result in getting later lambasted in the comments when it turns out I've talked to the one weirdo in the country.  Evidently I've recently had such an experience.

My co-worker was explaining at length about his parent-teacher conferences, if by at length you mean saying nothing about what was said but everything about how hot his English teacher was (runs in the profession, of course).  When he finally got to the end (gorgeous toes!) I asked why he'd been at the parent-teacher conference.  He said the kids always went along.

Which I repeated the next morning with shock and horror to an another Australian -- "so I hear you guys all go to your parent-teacher conferences, how odd is that!" -- only to have her explain that not everyone did that, and, while it might have been possible, it wasn't particularly encouraged.

And so, with one fell swoop, she destroyed my shock blog tabloid and made it ... well, what it is.  Sorry it wasn't more dramatic, but I guess all Australians aren't strange.

Just the one I sit next to each day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

quicko: outrageous prices

I just have to announce this:  I went to Coles tonight.  To purchase essentials.  Like light bulbs.  And cranberry sauce.  And toiletries.  Really essential toiletries.  And the light bulbs, incidentally, were pretty essential too.  I mean, the light bulb in my bathroom burned out just after the new year and I've been showering in darkness ever since.  So I suppose you could argue the light bulbs weren't really essential, but I like to think I'm entitled to purchase one or two without feeling guilty.

Anyway, the trip cost me seventy-one dollars.  Seventy-one dollars!  That is insane!  It didn't use to bug me quite as much when the Australian dollar wasn't so high, but these days that's the same as seventy-one American dollars, roughly.  And that is just crazy!  I have no money left!  And all because I wanted to be able to wash my hair.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

quicko: edmund barton

Betcha don't know who he is!

Let me help:

Edmund Barton:Australia::George Washington:America

Except of course you've got to think Prime Minister instead of President.  But otherwise, you ought to be able to figure it out from there.

public service announcement: what you ought to know

Every now and again I get so enthused (read, lose so many hours of prime Doing Good time that I don't do any good) about a website I figure it'd be unfair not to mention it.  I have this funny feeling that everyone else has already known about this one for ages and ages, but I just found it and think it's just dandy.  Are you ready?  Are you finished with everything you need to do for the next decade?  Excellent.  Proceed HERE.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

quicko: the singular case of the wandering s

It seems that, while the Australians are clearly missing the second s in "sports," they take it upon themselves to reinsert it into the vocabulary at "maths."

Behold, I have found the wandering s!  The game's afoot!

Monday, February 21, 2011

quicko: tropfest

Last year I was enthusiastic and blogged energetically about Tropfest.

This year you'll have to content yourself with my opinion of each film (that I most likely made up a fake name for, seeing as I didn't catch most of the real ones).

Oh, and the theme was keys.  Not that that meant half the films had anything remotely connected to keys in them, but yeah.

1.  The Applicant -- odd sci-fi one that didn't reveal the odd job applicant was an alien until the final twist at the end

2.  Don't Mime -- one of my favorites of the night.  Hysterical comedy about the dangers of miming, as related by a mime who'd mimed shooting another mime.  Our narrator had to then pretend to be in prison for 12 years.  But what about the other mime?  Yeah, he had to pretend to be dead for the rest of his life.  Don't mime, kids.  Don't mime.

3.  Skateboarding Kid -- poignant piece about a boy who wanted to skateboard with the "cool" kids, but ran over his keys and fell.  He left, dejected, but one of the "cool" kids brought his keys back to him and then he felt like he was flying (at least I think that's what I was supposed to get from that ...).

4.  Sven -- odd (though in a better way than number 1) subtitled film about Sven, favorite son of Sweden, who had done everything on earth as the absolute best, so took off for outer space.  He was never heard from again, though to this day (evidently) the children of Sweden know that every time they see a falling star it is really Sven conquering new galaxies.

5.  Kiss a Tradie -- another rather odd film about a woman who I think was dying and had this list of things she wanted to do before she died and one of them was to kiss a tradie (i.e., a carpentar/plumber/electrician/etc.).  This was rather unfortunate as her husband wasn't one and it all got a bit complicated and I'm not sure if he dressed up as a tradie or if it was another guy or if she was having an affair or not.  I think she managed to at least kiss a tradie though.

6.  Y2Gay -- I'd say it was odd, but I guess that's a bit trite these days.  It was about a man who'd built a bunker to keep himself and wife and best friend safe when gay marriage was legalized and the toasters stopped working when the world hit "Y2Gay."

7.  Mother in Stars -- another poignant one about a Thai orphan boy probably about 4 who was adopted by an Australian couple and taken to very different, very strange surroundings for him.  His real mother had told him she'd watch him from the stars, but he couldn't see the stars at night in his new house.  When he escaped at night to find them a car ran over his binoculars.

8.  Monkey Hair Cut -- a very strange film about two brothers.  I feel like I must have missed something.  They were both hairy and one had offended the other and there was a dream involved where the one thought the other was a monkey and his girlfriend told him to talk things through and there was a car crash where the one hit the other and cut a lock of his hair and they kept sitting at a bar looking hairy.

9.  Eulogy for a Living Father -- another poignant one where the narrator said we only give eulogies when people die, but he wanted his father to hear how grateful he was while he was still alive, so it was a eulogy of a living father.

10.  The Maestro -- look, I remembered a real title!  I think it won third place and was quite good cinematically, though I thought it was kind of boring.  It was about this homeless-looking guy who squeegeed people's car windows in the middle of the street and also then kind of conducted an orchestra of lights in the city.  There were cool photo tricks in it, but not my favorite.

11.  The Utterly Disgusting One -- I'm hoping I was missing some sort of satire or something in this one, but I really just didn't care for it at all.  It was about a Scottish brother and sister who were dating each other.  (Fiction, but still!)  It was done documentary style and was following the court case laid out against them.  In the end she ended up pregnant.

12.  Animal Kingdom -- the winner!  Everyone's saying it should just be a YouTube clip and not a big contest winner, but I liked it.  It was just cute and fun -- a very catchy little tune about "dogs and cats and dogs and cats" and you're probably not really getting the tune too well just reading it, but, well, make up your own and imagine in.  Or just google it; it ought to be on YouTube by now if it's not!  It just listed a whole bunch of animals --geckos and llamas and llamas and llamas and llamas!!-- with accompanying animations.  Evidently the don-KEY provided the key in it.

13.  The Course of Untrue Love Never Did Run Smooth -- an artsy film that followed a generic relationship (was it in second person?) from beginning to end.

14.  The Christmas Tree -- about a man out in the woods and it set you up to think he'd killed a man, but when he eventually made it home he'd just brought a Christmas tree for his wife and daughter.

15.  The Darkroom -- all I managed to write down was "photos -- darkroom" and while I remember that scene, I can't remember the rest.  I think I was confused.  I think it was negative.  No pun intended.

16.  Birds of a Feather -- one of my favorites, and a real crowd pleaser.  It was the wildcard that was brought in based on number of online votes before Tropfest.  It was a mostly funny film about a bird therapy group.  Each bird told of its woes -- not being able to fly, knowing he was going to get eaten for dinner, his mate getting killed in a jet engine, of not loving his son enough to regurgitate its food into the infant's beak, of being a slut even though she was a dove and supposed to be a symbol for purity, and the male pink flamingo who was not! gay but just happened to love Sound of Music.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

quicko: i say kebob ...

So after years of getting all befuddled about kebabs I finally figured it out:  what Americans call kebobs are (as we know if we think about it a bit) actually shish kebobs ... but kebAbs are a completely different thing.  It's all in the vowels, which Shaz helpfully pointed out to me this weekend, I evidently have real trouble with in Australia.  (For example, upon meeting a dog named "Nutmeg," I thought she was telling me the dog's name was "not Meg."  To which I'd replied, "well, that narrows it down."  Later on, though, I found it even more humorous when another friend got confused and called it Cinnamon.  Which was the second funniest moment only to Giles attempting to sit on his chair and missing completely and ending up on the ground, which still makes me laugh perhaps a wee bit more than necessary.  It was a good weekend, you see.)

But back to Australian vowels.  They're conniving little creatures and really very tricky.  I've elaborated at length on the issue of O (particularly of course in the length of the noOOooOOooo), but the a/u conundrum is a bit deceptive as well.  For ages I was convinced my new friend was named Jazzie, which I took to be short for Jasmine, until someone called her Justine and Shaz insisted at length that her name was actually Justie.  At least I think that's what she was saying.

We had quite a weekend of it, actually.  While I found the Giles incident among the more hysterical, Shaz favored our conversation approaching Linda's place.

"Linda lives on Dick Street," Shaz said.

"So I've heard," I said.  "I've never been to Dick Street."

"So I've heard," she said as we turned onto it.

"It's really rather small," I said truthfully.

And she said nothing more, because she was laughing too hard.

But back to kebabs.  The reason, it seems, Australian kebabs are nothing like American kebobs is because they're not actually the same thing at all.  Tricky little vowels like I said.  It also explains why I was convinced everyone was pronouncing the word wrong.  Turns out they weren't.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

update: minto

Hold your horses, are you ready for this?  News flash just in, people from Minto don't call it "Minto" but "Minnow."  Not like the fish.  I mean, it's pronounced the same way, but it's "Minto."  It's highly bizarre.  But then again, is that really surprising?

Friday, February 18, 2011

quicko: the industry

One of my bigger Australian pet peeves.  People are forever talking about The Industry -- whichever one they happen to be in.  And many of them -- education, say -- are not areas I'd typically consider industrial.  Drives me crazy -- and it's incredibly over-used.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

quicko: bells on

I feel like it's taken me a bit longer than necessary to recognize this as an Australian/British expression, but it's really rather prevalent here:  "I'll be there with bells on."  It's in reply to an invitation -- generally to a party -- and I think is fairly understandable to Americans, just not something we'd think to say, unless of course we were ride-a-cock-horsing to Banbury Cross.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

quicko: back to school?

It's a bit late in the game now, but some stores are still advertising "back to school" specials.  It's just so strange to have them in January/February instead of August/September.  While school districts tended to have gone back shortly after Australia Day (January 26), colleges generally start late February.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

public service announcement: how to handle the heat

Although it's been very reasonably temperatured the last few days, there was a moment at a recent party where the heat was significantly more than called for.  Thankfully my flatmate had given me the ingenious idea of freezing wet washcloths (called something else -- flannels?  but they're very rarely flannel -- here) for such circumstances.  Here are the results.

Monday, February 14, 2011

quicko: to source

Verb.  To find and obtain.

As in, to source details.  To source goods.  To source information.

Very odd, isn't it?  I've yet to source an etymology.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

quicko: gutted

Really disappointed.  Very upset.  Devoid of intestines.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

quicko: pepper

Pepper is negligibly different in Australia.  Aside from the whole peppers-being-called-capsicum fiasco, there's also the fact that regular salt-and-pepper pepper is a bit ... softer?  More well ground?  Not as tasty?  Hard to pinpoint, but vaguely different.

Friday, February 11, 2011

quicko: if you go out in the woods today ...

So when you make those little Venn diagrams with England and Australia and America and you compare the English spoken in each -- there are lots of words that are shared between England and Australia and a couple between Australia and America, but I can only find one between England and America (to the exclusion of Australia):  woods.

Australians, it would seem, call it "bush."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

quicko: pudding

The Australian definition of pudding is rather different from the American.  It's more along the lines of a cake -- i.e., something that is baked in the oven.  From what I gather, it is specific, unlike the British meaning along the lines of "dessert."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

quicko: not happy jan

So I'm afraid I'm going to butcher the details here, but "not happy Jan" is a standard Australian phrase meaning "I am very unhappy," quite possibly with undertones that someone has done something to frustrate you.

It comes from a very well known commercial (perhaps for the yellow pages?) wherein a manager was Not Happy with Jan for ... (this is where I get a bit fuzzy on the details) ... and yells the iconic "NOT HAPPY JAN!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

quicko: natural disaster update

Seeing as I live in Australia and there's been a few little geographical details happening lately, I thought I might enlighten you.  You really should already have heard, but in case you haven't:

--there were lots of floods in Queensland and northern New South Wales.  For instance, Brisbane, the third biggest city in the country, was more or less wiped out.  Impact this has on me:  I got a white cake instead of a mango cheesecake for my birthday because the price of mangoes has skyrocketed.  It's okay, though, the white cake was awesome.

--there was a pretty big typhoon (aka a Southern hemisphere hurricane, don't quote me on the specifics) called Yasi that struck the northern coast of Queensland in the vicinity of Cairns.  (Cairns is where the Great Barrier Reef is, except Cairns is a bit inland and the reef is a bit ... outland.)  It ended up not damaging Cairns as much as it could have, so everyone is much relieved.  Impact this has on me:  none that I've noticed.

--the temperature in Sydney has been nigh on ridiculous.  For several days last week it was, to be official about it, ridiculously hot.  I've vaguely heard rumors that the city set some sort of record for the largest number of consecutive days of Grossly Too Hot Temperatures, or for the Hottest Night (over 30 degrees Celcius, which is over 86 degrees Fahrenheit).  It definitely jumped north of 40 (roughly 104 Fahrenheit) on multiple occasions and Saturday was especially unbearable.  Sunday started out precisely the same, but then had a bizarre sudden drop to the low 20s (low 70s, though I felt like I'd have said 60s if I were thinking Fahrenheit) that afternoon.  Whew!  Impact this has on me:  huge.  Vast.  Exceptionally noticeable.  Other natural disasters?  What other natural disasters?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

quicko: neutral bay beach

I've just rediscovered the Neutral Bay beach (cove?) and I love it.  I can hop off the ferry, have a quick swim, read, build a sandcastle and hang out until I feel like catching a bus home.

Isn't it gorgeous?  You can see the remnants of my sandcastle here -- my castle in Sydney Harbour!!  I feel like a princess!

photos: the birthday bash!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

review: cool mac

I'm on a cafe kick!  The latest is Cool Mac in Kirribilli.  It's just down the street from Freckle Face, which is another I like, mainly because they give you freckles with your hot chocolate.

But Cool Mac won my heart in one easy swoop:  there were cards from Articulate on every table.

If you haven't played Articulate, you clearly haven't been going to the right parties.  Articulate is a word game in the family of Taboo or Catch Phrase and, while not the best thing since sliced bread, it quite possibly ranks in just after scented tissues.  It's amazing, and any cafe that throws its cards around tables has got my cash.

But it doesn't stop there.  Can you believe it?  Just when a cafe can't get any better, it does.  Are you ready for this?  Are you sure?

It has jokes on the ceiling.  They're written up there by Eugene, who has great handwriting and an unfortunate sense of humor.  ("Why didn't the skeleton go to the party?  Because he had no-body to go with.")  But still.  They put suggestion boxes for jokes on the tables so maybe by the time you visit there'll be something better.

Their freshly squeezed orange juice is a bit overpriced, but hey.  It's a drink and a game and a joke you're getting and I suppose for that it's not too bad.

And one last thing:  they're not scorchingly depressingly murderously hot inside.  Hot, yes, but I survived.  And I'm pretty sure you would, too.

Please don't sue me if you don't.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

quicko: a bush turkey

Never before have I gone to visit friends in a suburban neighborhood and found myself face to face with a bush turkey.  I stopped and stared long enough that friendly neighbors helpfully pointed out, "It's a bush turkey."  I'd been vaguely wondering how it got there and if someone was going to be coming looking for it.  Turns out probably not.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

review: sparrow

Sparrow is my new also-favorite cafe in Crow's Nest (which, incidentally, cannot punctuate its own name correctly).  Let me explain why.

First, they have $2 little freshly baked cupcakes.  Bearing in mind that nothing in Australia costs less than $3, I found this a bit of a novelty.

Second, they have a very wide selection of amazingly delectable-looking desserts.  They also have a good range of beverages and cold smoothie-type drinks.

Third, the furniture is comfy.

Finally, there was a very nice man working there who offered good advice regarding the desserts.

Turns out the white chocolate cheesecake is alright.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

quicko: skyline

I'd never thought of this, but an Australian recently pointed out to me that the Sydney skyline has corporate names plastered all over it, but American ones don't.

I thought I'd have a million pictures capturing this ... but no.  This is really the best I can do, and I have a sneaking suspicion you won't be able to read any of the names on it.  Macquarie is definitely there -- and in real life it's much easier to spot the names.  You'll just have to trust me on this if you don't happen to be on the same continent.