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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

photo: pretty clouds at sunset

Obviously the photo doesn't do this remote justice, but it gives you an idea:

Friday, November 9, 2012

quicko: caring for your ex-pat

It recently was brought to my attention that most people who haven't been ex-pats or close friends with ex-pats haven't got a very thorough concept of what ex-pats go through.  I've been thinking I'd like to write up a bit on the topic, but this is very much just my initial brainstorm.  There's so much to consider and think about and I'm just barely scratching the surface here, but I figure the first thing to do is simply to be aware of the issues ex-pats face.  Working out how exactly to help ... well, let's leave that for another day for now.  For starters:

Things That May Be Difficult for Ex-Pats

I.  Physical
   A.  Government/Visas
   B.  Money
         1.  Expenses
              a.  Plane tickets home
              b.  International phone/communication costs
              c.  Work restrictions can lead to less income
         2.  Navigating differences
              a.  Exchange rates
              b.  Differences in banks/accounts/etc
              c.  Getting money transferred
              d.  Taxes/international taxes
   C.  Medical
   D.  Moving
   E.  Employment
   F.   Phones/internet
   G.  Culture/habits/what is "obviously" the "right" way for things to happen
   H.  Stupid "little" stuff
         1.  The light bulbs don't change the same way
         2.  Organizing time to talk with friends back home
         3.  Time zones/daylight savings time/etc.
II. Emotional
    A.  Missing family/friends
    B.  Not having a network of family/friends -- having to build it up
    C.  Everything under "physical" creates STRESS! and is actually emotional as well

Thursday, November 8, 2012

quicko: politics

Okay, this is a general note for Australians:  I know you find it strange, I know you disagree, I know you're just curious, I know you don't mean to be rude, but:  it is rude to ask an American who they voted for.  If I want to tell you, I will.  If I don't, it is none of your business!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

quicko: things i'm getting really tired of australians saying to me

--Are you Canadian?
--Well, you certainly still have your accent!
--Who'd you vote for?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

update: further things that can go wrong on a bus

--You can forget something.  (i.e., a sweater)
--You can get mysteriously dirty.  ("What's that on my arm?!")
--Other passengers can misinform you about where the bus is going.
--You can overhear other passengers misinform (or, worse, potentially misinform -- you're pretty sure it's wrong, but not sure enough to correct them) other passengers.
--It can take ages to find where the bus stop you need is ... in the rain.
--People can form two lines to get a on a bus and you can't work out why and figure out eventually you're in the wrong one, but then have to go to the very end and start again.
--The driver can slam the door shut in your face.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

quicko: some "overheard" humor

From mX's "Overheard" section:

Girl:  Oh, the bus is early -- it's only a minute late.

(Oh, no, really, but I get what she means!)


Guy 1:  Is this an international train?  No, wait, it's interstate?

Guy 2:  It goes to Hornsby.

(Sorry, might need to be a local for that one -- Hornsby is pretty far north, but still definitely Sydney.)


Guy on phone:  I'm sorry man, but I really needed their ice cream.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

quicko: to cark it

AKA to die.  More for an object that a person, obviously.

Friday, November 2, 2012

quicko: internet billing

In Australia, you pay for your internet in terms of the amount you use, but in America you have unlimited amounts, you pay instead for the speed of the internet connection.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

photo: prize night at i heart kirribilli :)

public service announcement: i heart kirribilli

It's still going on!!  You've got two more days (today and tomorrow) to get in and see the art at Church by the Bridge in Kirribilli (just across from Milson's Point station/the Sydney Harbour Bridge -- you can't miss it!).  The exhibition is open 9 am to 9 pm both days, with a prize night on tonight and an open mic night on Friday night.  Hope to see you there!