Wednesday, February 29, 2012

quicko: happy LEAP day!!

Happy Leap Day!!

Australians, might I note, are particularly blase about Leap Day.  No one wanted to celebrate with me.  Well, we did nearly have a game of leap frog, but it's been pretty wet here today so it didn't actually materialize.  Can you believe it?  It happens only once every four years and I was the only one in the whole country who cared!  Give or take a few ...

Actually, I think in general Americans are a bit more into the minor holidays (Pi Day springs to mind) than Australians are -- well, we're a good bit more into the major ones, too (Hallo-ahem-ween).  Americans are generally just a smidge more festival, particularly when it comes to decorating and traditions and such.

There is, for the record, the same ability of a girl to propose here ... though I haven't heard of any such festivities yet this year ...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

quicko: of cars and such

I think Australians are slower drivers than Americans -- not out of some innate preference (quite the contrary), but more because they're just so ridiculously heavily patrolled by speed cameras.  There's just not so much you can do about speed cameras.

With Americans, it's a gamble.  Sure, the cops can catch you and that's no fun, but what is fun is driving fast and hoping that they don't.  Thus, as a rule of thumb, the general public drives about 5 over and feels perfectly fine about it.  If a cop pulls you over doing 6 over you'd be pretty shocked.  20, sure, 6, no way.

I've heard the idea circulated among American cops is "9 you're fine, 10 you're mine," so I have no qualms doing 9 ... ish ... over.  Which means occasionally you hit 15 over, but you feel really guilty if it's 20.

Australians, on the other hand, adhere to the 5 over rule in New South Wales, but it apparently varies state by state.  Beneath that.

Evidently in Canberra the going rate is 10 ... under.

And, in case you haven't noted this yet, Americans are driving in mph, while Australians are in kph -- which means that me going 10 over in America is actually a decent bit more than 10 over in Australia.  Such a rebel, aren't I?

Anyway, I was duly proud of myself tonight when we were driving along and the car ahead of us started to lollygag.

"What the heck is he doing?" asked my friend.

"He doesn't know where he's going, he's from Victoria," I answered immediately, noting the license plate.

With that I was deemed truly Australia.  Seems you've arrived when you work out the stereotypes and apply them correctly.

Which brings me (segue!?  It totally works if you think like me ...) to our future trivia team names -- vote for your favorite, and goodnight.

1.  Tasmanian Pirates Do It Better
2.  Tasmania:  Separated by Water, Joined by "Friendship"
3.  Tasmania:  Blood IS Thicker Than Water
4.  Tasmania:  Say Cheese!

Monday, February 27, 2012

quicko: i spy

I was so proud of myself when I discovered that the spot on this cow (Devondale Milk -- a typical brand here) is actually in the shape of Australia!  Even with Tasmania, how adorable!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

photo: surfboard!!

Introducing Sherlock -- my very own surfboard!!  I found him in the trash (the trash!) last night and rescued him by bringing him home, setting him up with some fins and a leg strap and washing him up in the ocean!  We've been for our first surf and while there was a slight lack of any actual standing on my part, we just had a blast together.  Sherlock is, the friendly man at the store explained, probably made more for highly experienced surfers, but seeing as he came to me so very cheaply I'm not holding that against him.  Isn't he gorgeous?!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

quicko: muppets and politics

I'd heard "muppets" used a bit here as a potentially softer term for "stark raving idiots," but had assumed it was most idiosyncratic.  It seems to be popping up a bit more lately, though (generally in regard to the current political fiasco*), and I think it might actually be an Australianism ... maybe.

*Current political fiasco:  in a very brief nutshell, Kevin Rudd had been elected Prime Minister in 2007 by the people, though, technically, they elected the Labor Party and not Kevin Rudd.  Thus, a couple years ago when the Labor Party decided they wanted to change their top dog they one morning very coolly kicked Kevin out and put Julia Guillard in.  This left most Australians pretty put out with Julia and feeling a bit sorry for Kevin, who got made Foreign Minister (not a bad gig, but still a demotion).  Kevin hasn't had a great track record for kindness, tact and anger management, but just recently he was caught swearing up a storm about ... some important Asian dignitary he really shouldn't have been swearing about (or at?).  Then, (possibly but not necessarily related to that) he resigned from his post as Foreign Minister while in Washington, D.C. (not Australia!!) and called an early morning press conference (in Australia) to steal Julia's mid-morning press conference thunder, I think.  Anyway, there's speculation he's now about to oust her the way she ousted him.  However, now everyone is so sick of the whole thing no one likes anyone in politics anymore (big change there, huh?) no one seems to care but just wants their politicians to grow up and stop acting like muppets.

Friday, February 24, 2012

quicko: cash in hand!

Isn't Australian money pretty?!  Now if only there were $100 to go with it ...
I always say $35 is my favorite amount of Australian dollars to have,
because they're so beautiful.  But I really won't complain
if I have the $50 to (not quite) complete the set!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

photos: rachel's farewell

Rachel's farewell dinner at our local ... various friends, including the beautiful and exceptionally talented Sam of Matou en Peluche fame -- check out her work if you haven't!!

photos: i feel like i live in scotland!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

quicko: kevin rudd no longer foreign minister

It seems that Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and now former Foreign Minister of Australia, has resigned once again under less-than-favorable circumstances.  He's part of the Australian Labor Party (whose American spelling never fails to intrigue me), which is on the left side of Australian politics.  (As opposed to the Liberal party, which is on the right.  Seriously.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

quicko: pancakes

Happy Faschnaut Day!  Happy Marti Gras!  Happy Shrove Tuesday!

A couple years ago here I was fed pancakes for Fat Tuesday and tonight learned that "pancakes" are a tradition in England.  (Sorry, humor me.  Tonight we're doing Americans-Brits instead just for the fun of it.  Haven't got anything on Australian traditions here, but my English friend was around.  Yay!)  It turns out, though, that "pancakes" in the U.K. are closer to what we'd call "crepes" -- possibly a bit thicker, but closer to them than our "pancakes."  What we call "pancakes," the Brits call "Scotch pancakes."  (They don't call it "Scotch tape" though but "cellotape.")

Tonight I went to San Churro to celebrate -- Spanish donuts aren't the same, but they sure are delicious!

Monday, February 20, 2012

photo: tropfest

Thank goodness I got the pictures before the rain!

We got to see the first three before it poured:

1.  Old people scaring each other to "death."

2.  Cops interrogating a clown.

3.  Boys in a house with matchbox cars.

The clown one was my favorite.  The first one was okay (why does Tropfest always have to feature people choking!?  I really, really dislike that.) but I wasn't crazy about the third.  I think the theme was a whoopie cushion, but I'm not positive about that ... It was the 20th anniversary of Tropfest, so that was pretty cool.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

quicko: romper room

Romper Room was (is?) a television show for children.  One of the Australian classics.  At the end there was a magic mirror and the woman could look out and see "Katie" or "Luke" or whoever she happened to see -- maybe you!

Friday, February 17, 2012

quicko: rehearsal dinners

The other day I realized after awhile why one of my friends was terribly confused about rehearsal dinners:  he'd thought that it was a rehearsal of the dinner instead of the wedding.  When I explained that it was just a rehearsal of the ceremony followed by a dinner the clouds cleared immediately.  So, just in case there are any other Australians out there a bit trouble by this concept, rest assured:  Americans are merely figuring out where to stand, not how to eat.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

quicko: tunnel hearing

You've heard of tunnel vision, but tunnel hearing?  Presumably this has been going on the whole time I've been in Australia, but I just discovered tonight that when you go through the tunnel under the Sydney harbour, it automatically changes your radio station to give you important driving updates.  I heard it saying something and turned to my friend going, "gee, that was kind of creepy -- it was almost like your radio knew just where you were driving," with flashbacks from The Truman Show playing in my mind.

"Oh, but it did," she said, which didn't exactly comfort me.

"Uh, what?" I said.

From there she went on to explain that the tunnel automatically supersedes all radio stations to tell you, say, in our case, "There is a vehicle stopped in the left lane."

"But what if you're not listening to the radio?" you might ask.  "What if you're listening to a CD?  Or not listening to music at all?"

I had the exact same question.

"See those red lights that say 'turn on radio'?" she asked.

Ah.  Yes.  Apparently they did think of everything.

Except finding a way of getting that vehicle out of the left lane.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

quicko: a "serve"

Instead of a "serving."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

quicko: renaissance

Pronounced very hoighty-toighty here ...

Monday, February 13, 2012

quicko: mark schwarzer

I had no idea he was anyone important, but I bought stamps today hoping for the beautiful fishies I got last time only to discover every stamp was covered with a picture of Mr. Mark Schwarzer.  Evidently he is an "Australian Legend of Football."

The stamps also inform me of literally everything else I know about him, reading as follows (yet still not terribly instructively ...):

"No Australian sporting fan will ever forget 16 November 2005 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.  The Socceroos played one of the powerhouses of South American football, Uruguay, for a spot at the 2006 World Cup final in Germany ... 'That was one of the most heart-stopping  and emotional nights of my career.  The buzz was magnificent before, during and after the game.  The media attention was out of this world.  I was so proud to have played such an important role.  We were finally off to the World Cup finals and it seemed Australia had gone Socceroos crazy.'"

Anyway, if you get a letter from me, sorry if you missed the fishies.  They were really pretty cool.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

quicko: snag

A sausage.  As opposed, as my mother has reminded me, to a snag tree, which is American English for a dead tree.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

quicko: got/gotten

Okay, guys, I still got nothing, so back to the default ESL lessons.  "Got" is the British/Australian past participle, while "gotten" is American -- similarly for "forgotten."  Thus, an Australian's more like to say they "had got" a box for their birthday, while an American would have "gotten" one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

quicko: quantifiers

Good heavens this is boring, but I haven't got any other ideas today besides what I was teaching my students:  quantifiers and countable/uncountable nouns.  You probably haven't got a clue what they are, but I'm willing to bet you almost always use them correctly if you're a native speaker of English.

They're the reason we say "the tourist office gave me so much information" instead of "the tourist office gave me so many information."  Much and many are quantifiers, and "information" is an uncountable noun, which can only be used with "much" and its kin, as opposed to countable nouns that can be used with "many" and its ilk.  Most nouns are countable (books, chairs, toys, etc.) and thus have a plural form (books vs. book), but a very significant handful are uncountable (information, advice, traffic, furniture, equipment, money, trouble, time, most materials -- wood/paper/stone/etc, most liquids -- tea/coffee/milk/water/wine/etc, etc.).

For the record, there's also a lot of nouns that can be both, depending on their meaning.  Hence, we have three turkeys (living, clucking beings), but too much turkey on your plate at Thanksgiving.  Or ten pizzas, which can feed a party, but ten pieces of pizza, which cannot.  And let's not even think about the dreaded "paper."

Now there's your ESL grammar lesson.  Your blog post is this:  generally speaking, British, Australian and American English follow similar lines where these nouns are concerned.  However, my students are bona fide experts at finding the times they do not.  "How _____ ______ do you take in your tea?" (sugar) their textbook asks.  "Ah, yes," I tell them.  "How much sugar?"  But wait!  They have been listening to Australians (it's the only time they do -- when they think they're catching their teacher in a well-dug and similarly hidden pit) and the Australians say, "How many sugars do you take in your tea?"  (They also ask about ice creams and chocolates ... as for foods that don't contain sugar; well, I wouldn't really know much about them, would I?)  At which point I have to explain that Americans are thinking of sugar non-countably and Australians are thinking of packets of sugar (though of course no one of either nationality is actually thinking anything; they're simply talking like they know how to) and, yes, it is possible for someone in either of those two camps to sometimes switch to the other and back again, so really, whatever you've heard is correct, your teacher is still right, and now, please, please, let's move on to the next question!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

quicko: lollies

I'm sure I've mentioned that "lollies" is Australian for "candy" -- but some specific examples:  caramel koalas, Mentos (my new favorite) and half marshmallowy half jelly sorts of things.  We probably have them too, but my Australians friends seem to feel strongly that they're authentically Aussie ...

Friday, February 3, 2012

quicko: one fell swoop

In preparation for my backyard production of Macbeth, I was cataloging its famous lines for a friend.  She was nodding happily in agreement to "the be all and end all" and "the milk of human kindness" but drew a blank at "in one fell swoop."  Seeing as she is Australian, I have made the highly scientific leap to the understanding that Australians do not use this idiom.  Perhaps I am correct?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

quicko: byron bay

Infamous for drugs.  As in, it took my English friend and I quite awhile to get the joke about her Byron Bay brand cookie being "special."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

quicko: indian summer

I was reading an article today and ran across the phrase "Indian summer."  What got me was that it was actually referring to the summer in, of all places, India.  I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure Australians don't have the term "Indian summer" at all -- not that it's terribly PC in the US either, but it is a common enough phrase.  (For the Australians reading, "Indian summer" is usually in September or possibly October -- after "summer proper" has come and gone, but then "summer" pops back for a couple more warm days.)

In general, Australians also use "Indian" much more appropriately to refer to people from India, rather than Native Americans.  (Had a bit of a moment the other day when I was shocked to realize that sitting "Indian style" could actually be taken either way ...)