Thursday, March 31, 2011

update: overheard in mX

American tourist:  "I've been in Sydney for three months and still haven't seen a kangaroo."


Schoolgirl 1:  "Like, did you meet the new girl?"
Schoolgirl 2:  "Yeah, her name is Katie but we call her 'Kat-y'."
Schoolgirl 3:  "Yeah, she's from America but, like, she's not slutty or anything."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

quicko: bonds

Bonds is the Australian every household sort of brand of underwear.  More specialized (I think?) than Marks and Spencer, and probably a little more ... casual.  It's certainly no Victoria's Secret, but presumably a bit more affordable.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

quicko: rotting lunches

So even though I have a new job, I still happen to remember a thing or two about my old one.  And one of these things is that some people would bring their --carnivorous -- lunches in the morning and not put them in the fridge!  They'd just let them sit out all day, and then eat them.  They assured me it was fine, no problem, didn't affect them.

Well, if that was the case, you'd just think they'd have had the strength to toss a small paper ball all the way to the recycling box.

Monday, March 28, 2011

quicko: gold coin donation

A common Australian request -- basically it means "give something smallish, but not nothing" seeing as the gold coins are the one and two dollar coins.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

quicko: to wrangle

An Americanism!  Or so I've been told ...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

quicko: earth hour

The view from Kirribilli to Circular Quay during Earth Hour (one hour of turning out the lights).

Friday, March 25, 2011

an ode to the best staffroom ever

Today is my last day working with the best co-workers in the world -- so as an ode to the only group I've ever let call me Kimmy (and even Matteo can get away with Kimbo ;) ) -- I've written up a cultural analysis of the staffroom.  Enjoy :)


Tasmania:  Where I started when I first came.  It's the "other" staffroom and a good 4 second walk from the main staffroom.  Home to the 6 generally broken and always slow staff computers, as well as, until just last week, a handful of teachers as well.  Its teachers tend to be quite close, seeing as they're so very far from everyone else.  Hence Tasmania.

Death Row:  The first row that was actually named.  The name came from Min, a former teacher here, and, at that time, resident morbid philosopher.  It had been a dark place of brooding and moody isolation, though has cheered up considerably in recent times.  Its teachers are often unwillingly sidled with the chore of removing books thrown on their desks (they abut the bookshelves) and actually organizing (!!) the books when they get so dangerous as to actually bring truth to the row's nomenclature.  The last vestige of death in the row was a hung toy wombat, which was hastily removed before the last accreditation inspection.  It never would have gone had Min been here.

The Middle Row:  The only nameless row, to the best of my knowledge.  Full of senior teachers and friendly faces, the middle row is where you find official answers and genuine help.  It's cheerful, hardworking and a very good place to be.

The Row of Requirement:  My row!  I moved here from Tasmania years ago when I became a senior teacher and, though slightly distressed at the time, now know it as home.  Named after the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, our row is amazing at providing for your every and any need.  I've got a list somewhere of the things the row has provided, but, off the top of my head, it's things along the lines of chocolate, food, cups of tea, chocolate, staplers, sticky tack, post-its, pens, chocolate, umbrellas, information, lesson ideas, lesson plans (thanks also to Matty of the West End), chocolate, jokes, fun, games, hugs, chococlate, photo ops, blog ideas, moral support, love and chocolate.  Pamela was an integral part of the Row in her day, though Jo and Ally are by far the most constant constants in it.  Others have come and gone too (the legendary blogger Sam, as well as more recently Yohann and Brad).  Special mention does go to my one and only desk buddy (I'd been a lone desker in Tasmania) Matt -- may he one day sink a paper wad actually into the trash while I'm watching!

The West End:  Although my row is of course my favorite, I've saved the other of the best for last.  I'm an honorary West Ender and it's my other favorite.  It's on the far west side of the school and (obviously ... surely this was obvious to you?) takes its name from London's theatre district.  Although many of its occupants (I might mention Kaite, Gillian and Alice, among many others) have come and gone, Matty is its one constant.  The West End is a delightful place of happiness and glitz.  It's where you'll find collages of co-workers past, plenty of pictures and a song and a boogie.  It's decorated, be-planted and complete with a non-functioning computer.  The West End:  "Where we can't make a noun and verb agree if our lives depended on it."


Biscuits:  Biscuits are an integral part of life in the staffroom.  They appear without fail every Friday at 10 am, at which point there is a mad dash to get your favorites before someone else does.  Stockpiling is allowed, provided no one finds out about your stash.

Top of the microwave:  Free reign.  Any food left is a free for all -- whoever gets it first wins!  Food appears reasonably regularly -- though certainly every Friday of week ten when all the classes have had parties full of leftovers.

Tea:  As Matty famously put it, if you can't go [to class] without your tea, you might as well not go.  Wiser words have rarely been spoken, and we cling to our tea as if our lives depended on it. Fee in particular is the best tea maker of afternoons, generously pouring cup upon cup for everyone within earshot.  Desk buddies are also generally good for cups of tea -- particularly in their buddy's last week.

When I first came, Matty and I had regular tea dates every Friday at noon.  They followed the famous script:

Kimmy:  Tea!!  So, Matty, what are you doing this weekend?

Matty:  Oh, Kimbo!  Absolutely nothing.  You?

Kimmy:  (insert a million things here)

Matty:  I'm exhausted just listening!

Chocolate:  As you can see, chocolate really is one of the four major food groups (the others, obviously, being biscuits, top of the microwave and tea).  Working in a staffroom of many women, you're always okay to borrow tampons or chocolate should the need arise.  Chocolate is by far the most common gift and it flows freely ... nearly every day.


Recreation:  See Games Australians Play.

Massages:  Thanks to Rosa, you're never far from a massage when you need one.

Hugs:  Abound -- always there when you need one, and of course the official Friday hug from Sharon.

To all my co-workers:  I'll miss seeing you every day so much -- but will be seeing you soon!!  Lots and lots of love to you all!!

--Kimmy :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

quicko: worldwide differences

I asked my international students to have a brainstorm (ha!  Australian linguistics!) of cultural differences they noticed here and the two biggest ones they came up with were the timing of meals and everything closing so early.  Many of them are used to eating a main meal in the afternoon and a smaller one much later in the evening.  So while they can find their own lunches reasonably well, they're a bit distressed to be fed so much so early for dinner.

As for closing times, we're all a bit taken aback to find                   (that was nothing) open after 5 pm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

quicko: supper

I think there's a good chance I've mentioned something along these lines before, but meals are sticky issues, linguistically.  Supper, for instance, is not supper.  It is a bedtime snack.  Morning tea is not morning tea.  It is a midmorning snack.  Afternoon tea is also not afternoon tea.  It is a snack.  Dinner is negotiable.  It may or may not be dinner, depending on who you're talking to.  Tea is more British, I think, but likely to constitute an entire evening meal if you're not careful.  Breakfast, brunch and lunch are generally safe bets.

I went away with my church last weekend and they fed us -- literally! -- six times a day.  I was floored.  We were served breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.  And not only was morning tea a snack -- it was a dense chocolate brownie!  And Australians think Americans are indulgent for eating donuts for breakfast!

I quite like the idea of eating several little meals throughout the day, and keeping tea perpetually on the agenda, but the "teas" are rarely nutritional.  If you had an apple they'd be okay, but lemon cakes are a bit tricky to justify thrice daily, even for me.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's been over twenty minutes since I've eaten and I'm off to find my elevensies.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

quicko: pong

V., intransitive, to smell badly.

Also, n., a bad smell.

Definitions courtesy of Mr. Long, who happens to be up on rhymes of his last name, which also include bong and dong.

Furthermore, may it be duly noted that said Mr., er, Princess Long has recently had his first Real Holiday since the age of 5 wherein he did absolutely nothing.  Unlike all his previous months of Not Holiday wherein he visited other countries and took part in various forms of hecticness, thus rendering them Not Holidays.  Dear knows what they were, but they were most definitely Not Holidays.

Monday, March 21, 2011

romeo, romeo

I moved to Australia under the vaguely mistaken notion that all the guys surfed, which of course also meant they'd be tanned, athletic and jumping out of their skins to meet me.

It turns out they aren't.

While in general they do have the advertised accents, I want my money back on the hot surfer front.  You have no idea how many guys I've met here who don't surf at all.  Go figure.

Not only do they not surf, they don't tend to leave home until they're 25.  You think I'm joking.  I wish I were.

Their more serious failing, though, is on account of chivalry.  The jokes are a bit too crude to reiterate, but they tend to point to either guys valuing their friends far above their girlfriends or being utterly un-gentlemanly.

Wait, here's one that'll do:  Okay, so there's this Australian couple, Bruce and Sheila.  Shelia doesn't come home one night and Bruce suspects her of cheating on him one night so he calls her ten closest girlfriends to see if she's staying with any of them, but none of them have seen her.  A couple weeks later, Bruce doesn't come home one night and Sheila suspects him of cheating on her.  So, she calls his ten best mates to see if he's staying with any of them.  Eight of them insist he spent the night at theirs, and two claim he's still there.

You see, the Australian women really do seem forced to put up with a lot -- they are strong, but presumably out of necessity.

Aside from a couple quick dates (where I will admit to being both picked up and paid for -- in the most chivalrous sense of each phrase), the only guys I've gone out with here are Latin Americans.  And man, when I end up leaving Australia, I am so moving to Brazil.

And not for the soccer.

I've previously asked here whether "Australian gentleman" is an oxymoron -- and, frankly, I'm inclined to say it is.  Oh, I'm not saying there aren't gentlemen here -- there are at least three, they just all happen to be married to my American girlfriends.

One, in fact, used to be in the navy wherein, his wife confided to me, they actually teach the men how to be chivalrous and hold a conversation.  He is quite ept on the conversation front, so I can only imagine there must be other sailors who are reasonably articulate as well.

May I just point out that irony?  The sailors are the classiest guys down under.  Surely that's saying something.

What is it that they do that's so dreadful?  Well, it's not really what they do do -- unless you count excessive drinking, smoking and swearing -- it's more what they don't do.  They're tough, rough and ready sorts who are reasonably likely to bring home the bacon -- then BBQ it, eat it with their bare hands then leave to go drinking with their mates while watching rugby at the pub.

Sorry, that's a bit harsh.  They're unlikely to actually eat with bare hands.

No, really, I think many Australian guys do have their hearts in the right places (aside from total depravity, etc.), but just lack the romance around the edges.  I don't know if it's the convict roots, the harsh climate in the Outback or something else, but gallant and amorous aren't the first words that come to mind when I think of Australian men.

Australian girls, for their part, are also a bit edgier than your typical dainty maidens.  I'm convinced it's a direct response to the male behavior they typically encounter, though.  What else can they do when their boyfriends would rather guzzle Guinness than hang out with them?  Perhaps that's why they travel so much.

It's really not so much bravado or macho-ism in the men as much as rough and readiness.  Historically at least these guys have been up against some tough lots in life and wooing couldn't have been a top priority when survival was also at stake.  (Arguably.  How will the race survive if they don't occasionally woo women?)

And, to be fair, I might just mention that not all Australian guys are neanderthal-like beings.  There are plenty that have emigrated from Latin America.

plug: the lounge

On Friday night my friend Luz had a great birthday party at a place called The Lounge, which is at the far end of Goulburn where it intersects Crown, just a stone's throw away from Oxford Street.  It's great!  It has a Newtown-y sort of feel (that's hip and edgy and cool chic and hippie, roughly -- not unlike the Camden feel of London, though not as extreme).  What's more, it is one of the very few places you can get alcohol and cool milkshake-y sorts of drinks, too.  I, for example, had a chai shake, which I'd never even heard of before.  They put ice cream and milk and who knows what else in it and stirred it all up and charged an arm and a leg, but it was good.  They had a great variety, friendly staff and -- as you can see!! -- lots of bright colors and cool decor that was perfect for photo ops!

quicko: upcoming election

There is an election coming up soon-ish in New South Wales.  I'm not really sure when, but there are mud-slinging commercials on TV and posters telling you to vote for the Greens and ugly old men.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

photos: bondi beach isn't all bad

So Bondi is of course the beach to go to to see and be seen, which makes it very popular with tourists and backpackers and extremely attractive people, but very unpopular with all the locals (even the extremely attractive ones).  I dislike it for its busyness, but can never say a word against its actual natural beauty.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

quicko: melways

I have it on good authority from a native Melbournian that Melway is the street directory to have in Melbourne.  Don't leave Sydney without it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

quicko: where in the world is ...?

Carmen San Diego?  Er, I mean, Australia.  Turns out it's smack dab in the center!
(Apologies.  No idea why blogger thinks the earth should be vertical, but insistent it remains.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

quicko: happy st. patrick's day!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Australians, it turns out, aren't all that big on St. Patrick's Day.  (Or Martin Luther King Day or Thanksgiving or President's Day.)  They don't really mind if you wear green, but they see no need to be pinched for neglecting their duties themselves.  They take the same blase attitude they show Halloween:  "Oh, huh, it's (fill in your choice of major holiday here)?  What's the date?  You guys celebrate that much in the States, huh?"

There are so Irish in Sydney, but not tons.  And historically there are some waves of Irish immigration, but also not tons.  Even though it's easy to think of Australians as the same mutts as Americans, they tend to be more Scottish and English than Irish.  Either that or the Irishness has just been completely removed from their social calendar.  Except, of course, the drinking part.
In case you are a concerned Australian wishing you knew more of this illustrious holiday, here are a few helpful hints to get you thinking in the right direction for next year:
  • First and foremost, WEAR GREEN!!!  Otherwise, you will get pinched!
  • Everyone can celebrate St. Patrick's Day -- you do not have to be Irish!
  • Appropriate decorations are all green and generally include shamrocks.
  • If you'd like to set a leprechaun trap, they get put out the evening of the 16th.
  • (St. Patrick's Day -- I really shouldn't have to say this -- is every year on March 17th.)
  • If you are a drinker, Guiness is appropriate; if you're not, green food coloring in any beverage (milk works particularly well) is good, too.  It can be added to food as well, of course.  (Mashed potatoes, etc.)
  • The traditional meal is corned beef and cabbage.
  • The traditional form of poetry is the limerick.  Write limericks for your friends if you can.
  •  A sample limerick:

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!
    Good luck catching a leprechaun at play.
    Wear green, of course,
    Or a pinch will be yours,
    And kiss me, I'm Irish, hooray!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

quicko: you've got mail

Yesterday I got a package in the mail -- only, by in the mail I mean that it came via the postal service and ended up at the bottom of my stairs inside my apartment building.  Which is suspiciously not within the confines of my mailbox.

Now I admit this made it easier for everyone concerned -- the postie didn't have to lug it around town any farther and I didn't have to traipse up to the post office to retrieve it -- so I guess I'm happy enough with it, it's just that I find it slightly ... irresponsible.  What if it was a very important package?  What if it got stolen?  What if I was on vacation and it sat there for a week?

So, while currently all's well that ends well -- please be careful if you send me something vital in the mail!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

quicko: working hard or ...

I've mentioned this before, but it just bears repeating -- and, I found back up in print!  Australians think they are the hardest working people on the planet because of one them started this myth once, and, gosh, YOU try and convince them otherwise.  Here's my latest proof though, straight from the erudite pages of mX:  "I slave away in my corporate noose for a ridiculous and un-Australian 50 to 60 hours a week."  (David De Vere)  Now, just look at that:  50 to 60 hours a weeks is "un-Australian"!  Funny, you'd think for the hardest working people on the planet it would be, frankly, a bit under par for the course.  (I think I'd call it average in America.)  But that's the beauty of it:  Australians work hard only between the hours of 9 and 5.  The rest of the time is hardly for working.

Monday, March 14, 2011

quicko: golden syrup

Something along the lines of a treacle -- kind of between honey and syrup, but golden.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

quicko: blunnies

AKA blunt stoned work boots.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

quicko: mingers

Slang for ugly people.  More British.

Friday, March 11, 2011

quicko: stubbies

Dual meaning:  1., n, a kind of beer.  2., n., a kind of short shorts for men.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

quicko: temperature

Evidently Australians get "temperatures" but not "fevers."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

quicko: coffee

Coffee is such a big deal in Sydney (but of course it's no comparison to Melbourne).  I'm not a coffee drinker and could really care less, but it's such an integral part of life around here, I think I ought to touch on it.  Ahem.

When you go to a coffeeshop (or want to just order a coffee anywhere), you cannot ask for "a cup of coffee" or a "regular" or anything along those lines.  (You will get a minuscule size priced as an extra-large regardless.)  You must specify how you would like your coffee.  I'm no expert, but your choices (at a bare minimum) are roughly as follows:
  • Flat white:  espresso and steamed milk
  • Cappuccino:  espresso and steamed milk under a thick layer of smooth milk
  • (Caffe) Latte:  espresso and steamed milk under a thin layer of smooth milk
  • Short black:  espresso and less, if any, water
  • Long black:  more water and espresso, in that order
  • Americano:  espresso and more water, in that order
Or, better yet, skip it all and get a hot chocolate.  Be prepared to pay for the whipped cream, though.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    quicko: bouquets

    There's this fad (I hope it's a fad) these days that I'm not so happy about.  It's the fad of putting bouquets in boxes.  It seems to be quite popular in Sydney, but I just don't like it.  The flowers, granted, are easier to carry and display "as is," but it just seems less classy.  I'd much rather carry around a real bouquet and then put the flowers in a real vase at home, wouldn't you?

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    photos: palm beach fun :)

    quicko: escalators

    They might have these in America now and I've just missed them, but in Australia there's lots of angled escalators.  Like the people movers at airports, but tilted so you go up a bit -- like a ramp -- but there's no stairs.  Do we have them too?

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    quicko: sloppy joe

    Sloppy joes have utterly different meanings in America as in Australia.  In America, they are (obviously!) drippy meat sandwiches that make a huge mess.  In Australia, they are (shock!  horror!) a sort of sweater along the lines of track suit material, but not wool.

    Either that or one of my co-workers has a family with very creative names for their clothing.

    I'm not quite sure which.  Any other Australians want to back her up on this one?

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    quicko: rhyming slang

    While I first learned about rhyming slang in London, there are definite vestiges of it in Sydney, too.  (How did Australia get all the cool Briticisms?)  When I was out in the Blue Mountains a couple weekends ago, my Australian friends gave me a rundown of some of the highlights:

    Noah's ark = shark
    Cream crackered = knackered (really tired)
    Dead horse = (tomato) sauce
    Joe Blake = snake
    Barry Crocker = shocker (a really bad night/day/etc; i.e., a shocking night/day/etc.)

    A few others I've dug around online for:

    Steak and kidney = Sydney
    Dalai Lamas = dramas (i.e., no Dalai Lamas! = don't worry, not a big deal!)
    Germain Greer = beer
    Lemon squash = wash (lemon squash is a drink roughly along the lines of a 7Up)
    Optic nerve = perv (i.e., pervert)
    Dog's eye = meat pie
    Oxford scholar = dollar
    Septic tank = Yank (sigh.  again, see notes at chivalry.)

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    quicko: flat out

    Do we use this too?  I have a sneaking suspicion we might, but I think maybe it's more common in Australia.  It just means really busy -- "Sorry, as great as free tickets to a 3-day dramatic reading of Moby Dick sound, I'm afraid I'm just flat out at the moment."

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    quicko: explorers

    Burke and Wills.  Two famous Australian explorers.  I'm imagining they're something along the lines of Lewis and Clarke, but I might have just made that up.  I don't really know anything else about them.  Sorry.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    quicko: transport

    Australians tend to refer to transportation as "transport" and I always just thought it was a quaint idiosyncratic sort of thing.  Turns out "Transportation" used to be used to refer to how long a criminal was sent to Australia for -- i.e., 14 years transportation, etc. -- and thus they differentiate to this day by using "transport" instead.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    quicko: rissoles

    My Bible study insists I post this:  rissoles, it seems, are the Australian term for the meat patty of a hamburger.  Evidently they're very Australian.  And go well, once cooked, with beetroot (AKA beets).