Wednesday, November 30, 2011

quicko: calendars

I'm not sure if this is a new thing that's also been happening in America, but since I've been in Australia it seems that most calendars start with Monday and go through Sunday.  I understand this makes it easier to have your weekend all in one geographical place on the calendar, but I still don't really like it.  It just feels wrong -- Sunday's the first day of the week, come on!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

quicko: torch

AKA a flashlight.  Every time they're mentioned, though, I still can't help thinking of ancient warriors running into night battles equipped with vast open flames.  Amazing what a cell phone will suffice for these days.

Monday, November 28, 2011

quicko: fair is foul

So now it's been gorgeous weather.  Beautiful.  Stunning.  Glorious, as my mother would say.  What are Sydneysiders doing?  Complaining.  "This weather!" they moan.  "Rainy one day, sunny the next."

"It's making me sick," the masses wail.

For goodness sake!  What more do you want?  It was raining (which, I might point out, you all did not like); now it's sunny.  Enjoy what you've got when you've got it!  Of course it's unpredictable -- it's the weather, for snowing out loud!  (Which it's not!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

photos: it's not beginning to look a lot like christmas

photos: the hanging of the christmas wreath

I'm not sure how easy that looks in the pictures, but trust me.  It's not as easy as it looks.  Let's just say it involved a tennis ball, a broom, a mop and five people.  And lots of and lots super strong special secret hanging stuff.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2011

quicko: sceptical

I am skeptical of the Australian spelling of sceptical.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

rain, rain, go away

It's been raining a lot lately.  This is, for Australians, unacceptable.  It is unacceptable because this is Australia and everyone knows Bad Weather belongs in Miserable England and Nowhere Near Beautiful, Gorgeous, Sunny Australia.  Hence, it is very Out of Character for Beautiful, Gorgeous, Sunny Australia to be so grievously afflicted.

This out of characterization happens, incidentally, annually at this time of year, and biweekly the rest of the year, but Australians are blissfully aware of this, so please don't let the cat out of the bag for them.  I'm not sure they could take it in this weather.

Rain really doesn't bother me.  I've always liked it and found it calming, which anyone who knows me must surely think of as a remarkably good thing.  I also don't like umbrellas.  I find them big, bulky, pokey and terribly impractical.  Unless it is absolutely pouring ("bucketing down" would be the verb of choice in Australia) and I'm on my way to work or also freezing cold, I'd really rather be without.

Australians, however, do not view rain the same way I do.  They view it as tantamount to a personal insult.  Not only that, they view it as "miserable," "gross," and "disgusting" weather.  This I really don't get.  Okay, miserable I grant could be a frame of a mind, but gross and disgusting?  Have they really never before encountered, say, manure?  Roadkill?  Vegemite?  These items qualify as gross and disgusting.  They are dirty and carry nasty bacteria and could seriously harm you if ingested.  Rain is none of that.  Rain, on the contrary, cleans things.  It washes the city!  It's essential for farmers and growing things and all that, too, but overall it is clean.

Acid rain is a different story.  Acid rain is nasty and evil and bad.  I'd be upset to get drizzled on by it, too, but I have been in Sydney this week and there has been no acid rain here.  Not that you'd have known that by the reaction the real rain got, poor dear.  Rotten deal, really.

Sydneysiders grumble and complain and mope and whine when there's rain.  Everyone stays inside and parties are canceled left, right and center.  No one seems to care that the rain is nice, pleasant and beautiful, or even that next week it's going to be boiling hot and muggy and everyone would like nothing better than to jump in the nice, cool ocean which is really in very many ways remarkably similar in chemical composition to the precipitation which has lately been falling from the sky.

If it were 2-week-old snow we were talking about, that got pushed around a Wal-Mart parking lot ten times over and is looking muddy and brown and altogether worse for the wear, I'd understand.  But we're not.  We're talking clean, lovely, refreshing rain.

It's enough to make Australians pack up and take a clearly much-needed holiday to England.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

quicko: how did you find _____?

A very Australian question.  The correct answer is "Great!  It was awesome!" or "Yeah, pretty average, actually"; the correct answer is not "Umm, well, they gave us good directions so it was pretty easy ..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

quicko: yeah, ...

Yeah, ... it's a very common way to begin any -- any -- Australian sentence.  Even one ending one word later with "no."  ("Yeah ... no.")  The yeah admits understanding, and does not necessitate agreement.

Monday, November 21, 2011

quicko: adjective of choice

Lovely.  Everything in Australia is lovely, and particularly the people.  Lovely doesn't necessarily mean aesthetically; it usually refers to personality, though can be both.  It is one of Australians' favorite adjectives, and a lovely adjective it is, isn't it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

photos: pretty jacarandas!

quicko: obama in australia

I caught a snippet of the news the other night and saw President Obama on it.  It was a little surreal and reminded me that, if I were in America, I'd see the President on the news all the time.  Here it happens of course, but not nearly as regularly.

(He was on the news here because he's visiting for a brief stint.  He hasn't looked me up to say hello yet, though.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

photos: street art exhibition on cockatoo island

(language warning for attentive onlookers ... sorry)

quicko: "sales"

Australian sales are things of legends.  Not because they're ancient or monumental, but because the term "sale" is just so incredibly far from what actually is happening.  There are millions of signs proclaiming "sales," but few, if any, of them actually are remarkable.  In fact, most sales are remarkable for being unremarkable.

I'm continually blown away by ads promise an amazing 25% off all dresses!  25%!  To an American, that's practically standard.  Our ears don't really perk up and register "sale" unless it's 50% (acceptable) or 75% -- now that qualifies as amazing.  It doesn't happen every day, but it does actually happen.  (Have I mentioned how much I love Kohl's?)  And it's allowed to use amazing when it does, because 75% qualifies.  25% does not.

Supermarkets are also continually spruiking items evidently meant to be on sale -- but really just not-so-creatively relabeled.  2 for $7.50!! screams an ad for products normally costing $4 apiece.  Or 3 for $10 -- when they're $3.30 to begin with.  Keeps you on your toes, I suppose, but really.  Just give me a sale for goodness sake!

(Oh gosh.  Now does that need an apostrophe?  It feels like it does (after the last s, obviously.  and certainly no additional s nonsense), but it looks a bit funny.  I'm leaving it out.  Hope you don't mind.  Glad we've settled that.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

quicko: tim flannery

I forgot to mention that the other day, at the Newtown Festival, I heard Tim Flannery speak.  He's minorly famous here as a writer, biologist, environmentalist, political something or other.  I went because he was speaking in a place called "The Writers' Tent" and places with the apostrophes in the right spot usually are where you'll find me.

Anyway, he read a bit from one of his books and it was pretty entertaining -- about biological research trips to various islands of the South Pacific and the various social situations that there arose.

That's all.  Just thought I'd mention it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

town hall

I really don't like Town Hall.

Not the actual structure -- it's pretty photogenic if you can find an appropriate angle -- but the train station.  I'm also not big on Central, but somehow I think I actually prefer it to Town Hall.  Central you expect to be big and sprawling and troublesome and confusing; Town Hall ought to be small enough that it's not.

It's not that I'm a one-station sort of girl -- I've written a lot about Wynyard, but love Circular Quay for the view.  And Museum is just homey to me, and I don't really mind St. James (okay, I'm clearly a city circle kind of girl).

But Town Hall now.  Town Hall is just distressing.

There's no part of it that isn't distressing.  The areas to wait for the trains are often crowded and boisterous and dirty and leave you feeling like you could get pushed into oncoming traffic if you're not careful.  And it's deep.  Not as in intellectually, as in lots of stairs.  Lots and lots if you're walking up from the bottom level.  Not as many as Piccadilly Circus, but enough to convince you you ought to exercise more.  Tomorrow.

When you get up to the top, it's impossible to figure out where you want to go.  I can picture it quite clearly above ground, but the supposedly helpful labels are quintessentially unhelpful.  I think I'd be better off without them and just going off of landmarks unlikely to move, like Woolworths.

Even when you've been going in and out of it for years, you still find yourself coming out of areas you could have sworn led somewhere else the last time you went through them.  The underground nonsense is all very confusing.

Then when you do finally emerge, you're smack dab in the heart of one of my least favorite parts of the entire city -- the George Street cinema strip of dinge.

Dinge evidently is not a real word, blogger sees fit to tell me, but I think you get it.  If not, just think of something unwashed and sleazy and asking for money and you'll be close enough.

Coming into Town Hall isn't much better, except that it means you're escaping the dinge.  The main problem is the placing of everything.  It's so long and rectangular.  You can only enter the ticketed area in a few select spots and, here's the ludicrous thing, the monitors telling you where the train you need is are all placed off to the side away from the entrance.

Thus, in reality what happens is you rush in knowing you ought to catch a certain train quickly and dive through the ticket barriers, only to discover that you haven't got a clue which platform you need to go to.

Here you've got a couple options.  If you think you've got time and a MyMulti ticket, you can exit and check the monitors and come back in.  But that's a pain.  So's asking the blue-shirted man who works there.  First off he probably won't understand what you're asking, and second off even if he can he's unlikely to know the answer or be able to help.  Oh, he'll think he can and he'll adamantly attempt to push you in some direction, but the chances that it's the right direction are slim to none.

Which leaves you standing at the top of the stairs taking a wild guess as to which platform to try first.  There are only six, I think, but that's still a lot of stairs if you guess wrong five times first.

What I've found works best is getting a general idea in your head of which platforms are most likely to be the right ones (a couple times of trial and error tends to ingrain this pretty well), which for me happen to be 3 or 6.  Generally either one is okay.  Generally I forget to look at the monitors and so progress to platform 3 (some stairs, but not all the way).  If platform 3's monitor indicates a wait long enough to make me throw up my hands and utter any audible exclamation, my rule of thumb is to try platform 6.  I get to walk down more stairs then and check its monitor.

From there I might still be up a creek, but at least I know which creek I'm up.  I know how long I have to wait if I stay on 6 or if I go to 3.  I have to go back up stairs for 3 if I choose that one, though.

Never mind.  By this point getting out of the train station on whichever train comes first and fastest sounds like the best option by far.

Just so long as it takes me to Wynyard, and not Central.