Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas!!!

For my third Christmas away from home, I flew to Darwin to be with my boyfriend -- Garry With 2 Rs.  He has an awesome blog you should totally check out too!

photos: friends' christmas in manly

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

quicko: sweetheart

Another Wikipedia post for you today, the story of the ironically named Sweetheart, a huge crocodile (thankfully dead now) I recently saw on display in Darwin:

"Sweetheart was the name given to a 5.1 metre saltwater crocodile responsible for a series of attacks on boats in Australia between 1974 and 1979. Sweetheart attacked outboard motors, dinghies, and fishing boats. In July 1979, Sweetheart was finally caught alive by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission, but drowned while being transported when it became tangled with a log. The crocodile's mounted body is now on permanent display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.[1]"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

quicko: cyclone tracy

Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin late Christmas Eve 1974 and was arguably the greatest natural disasters to hit Australia in modern history, particularly in terms of damage.

According to Wikipedia:

"Tracy killed 71 people, caused A$837 million in damage (1974 dollars) and destroyed more than 70 percent of Darwin's buildings, including 80 percent of houses.[4][5] Tracy left more than 41,000 out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city homeless prior to landfall and required the evacuation of over 30,000 people.[6] Most of Darwin's population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to the city. After the storm passed, the city was rebuilt using more modern materials and updated building techniques. Bruce Stannard of The Age stated that Cyclone Tracy was a "disaster of the first magnitude ... without parallel in Australia's history."[7]"

Friday, December 21, 2012

photos: carols under the bridge

It appears blogger is letting me post photos again!  Now that I'm thoroughly behind ... stay tuned, there will be hopefully be lots of pretty things to look at coming in the upcoming days ... albe...them ... slightly anachronistically mayhaps.  Nevermind, just enjoy the sunsets!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

quicko: salt water pools

In Australia, some pools are salt water pools.  As in, in apartment complexes, sometimes they get salt water instead of chlorinated water.  I had no idea!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

quicko: road sizes

Generally speaking, American roads are noticeably wider than Australian ones.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

quicko: new years' eve themes

Looking ahead a bit, here's some Sydney New Years trivia for you -- the themes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the last several years!  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Smiley Face
"Eternity" in Copperplate writing and a Smiley Face
"Centenary of Federation"
Rainbow Serpent and a Federation Star
"Year of the Outback"
Uluru, the Southern Cross and a Dove of Peace
"Celebration in Unity"
Dove of Peace and the word "PEACE"
"City of Light"
Light Show
"Heart of the Harbour"
Three Concentric Hearts
"A Diamond Night in Emerald City"
Coathanger and a Diamond
"The Time of Our Lives"
"Awaken the Spirit"
Yin-Yang symbol, Blue Moon and a Ring of Fire
"Make Your Mark"
X Mark, Spot and Handprint

"Time to Dream"
Thought Bubble, Sun and Endless Rainbow


Monday, December 17, 2012

quicko: christmas cookies

Not really known in Australia (!!!).  Aside from the whole "biscuit" thing, it's just not an Australian thing to bake dozens of batches of cookies for days on end.  Potentially the heat has something to do with it ... but please eat some fluorentines and chocolate crinkles and peanut butter cookies for me!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

quicko: christmas cards

Australians aren't really big on Christmas cards, and hardly any do Christmas letters.  Americans, on the other hand, do them both with a vengeance -- possibly late, but generally quite enthusiastically.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

news flash: CAROLS on TODAY!!

Oh gosh, guys, sorry, I'm really behind here (it all started when blogger told me I couldn't post any more pictures for free and I went into panic mode and avoided the blog until I could work out how to proceed from this point ... still working on that ...) but:

CAROLS under the BRIDGE are TONIGHT!!!

How exciting is that?!  They start momentarily -- jazz at 5, carols at 7:30 -- kids' stuff is there and lots of fun and excitement in general.  Come one, come all ye faithful!

(Surely it's obvious that these are Christmas carols in Bradfield Park under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but just in case ... yeah, that's where they are!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

quicko: baubles

Australian for ornaments, as in the circular ones.  Seems close to bubbles to me -- not sure if they're actually related or not, but they seem to get called that here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

quicko: the (lack of) build up

Besides the heat and distinctly non-Christmasy landscape, I think the biggest difference between Christmas in Australia and America is the lack of build up to it in Australia.  You know it's coming, but it's just not nearly as prevalent in society -- the music at stores, the decorations everywhere, the lights on houses, the smells, the general attitude.  It's weird ... it's there a little, but the vibe is just different.  It's like there's a holiday, but a different one.  A good one, but not the same.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

quicko: christmas beetles

Less appealing than the Australian Christmas tree is the Australian Christmas beetle -- again, a creature found in abundance around the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

quicko: the australian "christmas" tree

There's actually a tree here called the "Christmas" tree -- not an evergreen, but it flowers around Christmas.  Wikipedia tells more in its exclusive report here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

quicko: (no) shrimp on the barbie

So I've mentioned "shrimp" (twice, it appears) and "barbie" here before, but so far seem to have neglected to mention that the classic "throw another shrimp on the barbie" is just inaccurate and not used here at all.  So there.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

quicko: the australian 12 days of christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love sent to me:

12 parrots prattling,
11 numbats nagging,
10 lizards leaping,
9 wombats working,
8 dingoes digging,
7 possums playing,
6 brolgas dancing,
5 kangaroos,
4 koalas cuddling,
3 kookaburras laughing,
2 pink galahs,
And an emu up a gum tree.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

quicko: o come, o come emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel -- Americans say "Is-rye-el"; Australians say "Is-ray-el."  Roughly.

Friday, December 7, 2012

quicko: juniors, thirds and fourths

It's reasonably common for Americans to name a son a junior, and it's heard of for there to be a third even a fourth generation sporting the same name.  I'm yet to meet an Australian who's a junior -- possibly there's a handful out there, but they're certainly few and far between.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

quicko: to bin something

Australians not only use "bin" for "trash can" -- they also use it as a verb.  Which is one expression I'd really like to can.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

quicko: tinsel

Australians use this word much more generously than Americans -- to me, tinsel is only that very thin, shiny, roughly spaghetti-sized glittery number that hangs from Christmas trees after Santa visits.  To Australians, it's most anything I'd call a garland, as long as it's shiny enough.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

quicko: chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

Okay, not that I've ever actually smelled chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but they're missing here.  As are various other smells.  Vanilla bean soaps and lotions, for instance.  All the stores back home would be bringing out their Christmas scents.  Or gingerbread lattes.  Which I don't drink and imagine Starbucks probably has here, but who else?  I can't remember if holly has a smell, but it's missing.  And whatever pomegranates and poinsettias and mistletoe would smell like.  There's so little Christmas baking going on -- there's supposed to be tons of ginger and cinnamon and spicy sorts of scents -- maybe even something like pumpkin (leftover from Thanksgiving if nothing else).  I get why -- it's summer here, and those aren't summer scents -- but when I say it just doesn't feel like Christmas here -- there's about a fifth of the reason why!  (The other four-fifths being missing sights, missing sounds (sleighbells!  carols!), tastes and feelings at large.  Plus just a generous portion of gut "this isn't really Christmas!!" feeling.)  It's nice here -- not saying I don't like things -- it just doesn't feel like Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2012

quicko: ice cream sample size

Preposterously small here.  Don't they realize that you want to give decent size scoops so people can actually taste the flavor?  And just like your store that tiny bit more?  And because it's just the decent thing to do?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

quicko: manchester

I really thought I'd mentioned this term before, but perhaps I was thinking of haberdashery?  Regardless, "manchester" refers to general homewares -- bedding and towels and whatever other sorts of things you find somewhere around the 6th floor of David Jones.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

the gift that certainly wasn't of the magi

I have a real problem around Christmas, and I'm feeling pretty sure it doesn't just happen to me.  It's exacerbated by some of my favorite online shopping haunts (ahem, ModCloth) and is really against everything I like to think I stand for, but, gosh, does anyone else find the best gift ideas for themselves in December?  Like constantly?

I was all set to send along a few pertinent details to my parents -- just as hints, of course -- when I remembered my mother has already very (amazingly) organize-dly (this is well and truly shocking if you know my mother) sent me all my presents for not only Christmas, but also my birthday in February.

Shipping is expensive, granted, and I'm thrilled to have so many little boxes waiting unopened in my closet, but ... now how am I going to justify the three dresses I've found that are really just plain perfect?  Well, one of them seems to be no longer available in my size, so potentially that's sorted itself out, but aside from it (and now, wow, do I want it!  I've thought of no less than three occasions it would have been perfect for, which would most definitely justify the previously shocking cost.  Sigh.), the justification is getting more and more difficult.

Thank goodness I'm up to difficult tasks.

And also took on a few extra hours at work this month.  Theoretically they're helping to pay for the week and a half I'm taking off at Christmas, but, well, you know.  Finances are meant to be creative creatures, right?

Alas, that is precisely where I got interrupted and left my train of thought about three days ago.  I'm sure this post was going somewhere, but I'm afraid you'll have to draw your own conclusions about where.

But if you'd like to get me a Christmas present, absolutely go ahead.  I've got a few suggestions if you need any.

Friday, November 30, 2012

quicko: ice cream boat

Possibly I've mentioned this before, but I'm just starting to see them again for this season -- the ice cream boat.  And not only does it sell ice cream -- this is really ingenious -- it also sells hot chocolate and cappuccinos.  So, not only does it cater for the overheated summer tourist; it also caters for the friends who are dragged into frigid waters and desperate for a way to warm up.  I still haven't worked out how anyone has any cash (much less card) with them out in the element, but evidently some people do.  Or else they've got a really solid honor system going on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

quicko: the christmas bus!

I know I usually rag on the buses, but you know, they're the necessary evil everyone loves to hate.  And everyone once in a blue moon (lifetime?) they do something pretty cool:  it's around for what's at least its second year, if not more, it's that time of year:  the Christmas bus is in town!  (Please don't start on the amount of punctuation in that last sentence ... or I'll double it in the next one!)

The Christmas bus is amazing, and I really quite like it.  You have never seen a bus with such fully decked halls.  It is red and greened to the nines -- pictures from school kids, garlands and a whole shocking array of what would normally be exceptionally tacky, except, for some reason, I really love it.  I think it's the lack of Christmas everywhere around it -- and here is one motley bus, going whole hog for Christmas with wild abandon.  It's adorable.

Oh, and it was free.

Talk about the best bus ever!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

quicko: bumper buses

You know, when there are two of the same number that suddenly somehow end up right on top of each other?  (Not literally.  Though that would also be a moderately significant bus blooper in its own right.)  One is really late or one is really early, though knowing buses, I'd say you have a much better shot putting your money on the former.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

quicko: abba

Aaaah! (you scared me!)-BBA, say the Australians.  Aahhhh (you ARE right)-BBA, say the Americans.

I'm sure there's a more linguistically savvy way to put that, but, well, I'm not quite a linguistic and neither are most of you, so even if someone told you which sounds they were on that funny little chart no one can read but they insist on using in dictionaries, it really wouldn't do many of us much good.  So there.

Monday, November 26, 2012

quicko: an australian song about christmas

So this is clearly not a Christmas carol, but I've recently been told it does a pretty good job of summing up (secular) Australian sentimentality about Christmas.  See what you think of Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

update: further things that can go wrong on a bus

This one is a real humdinger in the sense that I had actually written it down as an idea to blog about in a, "oh, it's so frustrating this happened to this other man I saw" sort of a way ... when before I was able to, it happened to me!  Forewarned is not necessarily, it seems, forearmed.

Here it is:  the bus may eat your ticket.

You know what happens when it does?  In my case, it worked out reasonably fortuitously with no lasting damage, but I see that in many ways that was a matter of pure ... predestination, shall we say.  Certainly not any thanks to Sydney transportation.

My ticket was eaten on a Wednesday night about 6:30 pm on a 230.  The driver took my name and number (felt a little funny right there ...) and said he couldn't open up the ticket machine so someone would give me a call when his shift was over.  (Fortuitous incident number one:  his shift was over only an hour or so later.  Fortuitous incident number two:  I was not on my way to work and didn't have to catch any more buses immediately.)

Thankfully, someone did give me a call shortly before 8 and said it was all right, they had my ticket, I could come and collect it now.  Evidently it had not occurred to them that I no longer had a bus pass to come collect the bus pass with.  I pointed this out, and was asked where I was.  I was, it transpired, at a trivia night at the Kirribilli Hotel, which meant I was not able to come and collect it when the doors closed at 9 pm somewhere in Neutral Bay.  And also that I had no means of getting to work in the morning if I waited for them to mail it to me.  (Furthermore, my mailbox key is broken, but that's another story.  Well, actually I guess it isn't much of one:  I went to open the mailbox one day and discovered my key was bent.  How odd is that?)

This threw the man greatly as he was anticipating I would either come (how, he had not thought through) or not care or something.  He said to wait a few minutes and he'd call back.  Risking trivia team disqualification for indoor use of cell phones, I magnanimously waited with my phone for another call.  He thankfully (fortuitous incident number three) found a passing 227 driver who was going to the same stop I'd got off at that could take the ticket to me if I could meet him at that stop between 8:10 and 8:15.

And thus I found myself meeting the 227 at 8:15 and it had, indeed, returned my ticket.  Which was all very lovely and fine and I'm glad it worked out -- but for goodness sake!  What if I had been on my way to work and still had to catch another bus?  What if his shift hadn't ended for six more hours?  What if I didn't have friends to drive me home in case the 227 driver hadn't been found?  What if, what if, what if?  They had absolutely no plan in place besides "come without your ticket to collect it or we'll mail it to you" -- which, frankly, as one who depends on public transportation to get to work every day can assure you, is not remotely sufficient.  Particularly as I suspect this ticket eating business has been happening repeatedly lately -- as I had seen it happen just prior to my own unfortunately fortuitous incident!

So, fellow riders, beware:  the bus may eat your ticket.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

quicko: license plates

While we're on the  topic ... they're a different size here.  More British, though I'm not positive if they're the same as British ones or not.  Longer and thinner than ours.

Friday, November 23, 2012

quicko: number plate

AKA license plate.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

quicko: craisins

I've been told these, while found in Australia, are much more associated with Americans.  Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen an Australian eat a raisin for that matter ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

quicko: filo

A savory pastry.  Found, for example, at the ends of quiche or in a bubble around, say, chicken.  I, for the record, don't like it.  Or pie, for that matter.  Or olives or cheese or bananas or lamb.  I know, I'm a barrel of laughs at a Greek restaurant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

quicko: (un)countable nouns

Lego.  Countable to Americans; uncountable to Australians.  (i.e., "He built a castle made out of Legos," sounds strange to an Australian, but not an American.)

Ice cream.  Countable to Australians; uncountable to Americans.  (i.e., "We'd like two ice creams," sounds strange to an American, but not an Australian.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

quicko: the gift of who?

So I have actually mentioned this before, but it's come up again (in the third edition of New Headway Elementary this time ...) that Australians don't know the story of "The Gift of the Magi."  Now I recognize that many Americans also don't know of it (though a fair few who don't know the title I suspect would recognize the story), but the thing is it's the literary Australians (such as other ESL teachers) who I would have expected to have been versed in such classics who aren't familiar with it.  Go figure!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

quicko: 30 second rule

This one has nothing to do with food or floors, unfortunately, but rather missing buses (specifically, the M30).  It does not matter when I get to my bus stop, I will consistently miss the M30 by 30 seconds -- that is, I can see it, I can see it stopped, I can see it waiting, but I am on the other side of the traffic lights and there is no possible way I can catch it in time.  I'd so much rather not see it having just been there and remain in blissful ignorance that the bus that would take me directly to work has just passed me by.  For the fifth time this week.

Seriously, it doesn't matter when I get there, if I'm on time, if I'm a minute (gasp!) early, if I'm six minutes late, whatever.  I am always 30 seconds too late.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

quicko: zara extraordinaire

My only friend that I've seen on three different continents!!  I was so excited to see her again after 5 years!!  Now on kind of my home turf which was kind of her home turf which was simultaneously incredibly fun and surreal.  Did I mention I LOVE visitors from home?!

Friday, November 16, 2012

update: further things that can go wrong on a bus

School children.  Need I say more?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

quicko: cooee

The Australian bush call.  If one finds oneself in the wilderness, one evidently is entitled to shout COOEE to the wind and see who answers.  Useful for distress, friend finding or general amusement with echoes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

quicko: what's the buzz?

What's the latest in the Sydney cultural scene these days?

--The Sydney Festival is on this summer, but it doesn't look as great as in summers past.  The festival first night, for instance, has been diminished significantly and now seems to revolve around a (albeit kind of cool sounding) rubber duck in Darling Harbour ... but nothing else.

--The St. George's Open Air cinema is going to open up again soon!  It's one of my favorite special summer treats, though I don't think their line-up has been announced yet for this year.

--The Short and Sweet festival is just closing their auditions for actors, which I think means it'll be running around February 2013.

--There's a Dr. Suess exhibit on at the Opera House -- which would be an awesome spot to pick up a real Dr. Suess print if you happened to have a spare $1000 lying around.  (If you do, would you mind picking me up one too?)

Monday, November 12, 2012

quicko: fairy bread

I've mentioned it before, but this time there's a photo!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012