Thursday, February 28, 2013

quicko: lacrosse

From what I can tell, more popular in America than Australia.  Not overly popular either place, but likely to have a team at schools in America.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

quicko: everything about australia

After well over four years of blogging cultural differences between America and Australia, I'm sure you've noticed that some days are juicier than others.  Today I was coming up with absolutely no further differences, so went to wikipedia to find a fun tidbit for you.  Turns out wikipedia knows a lot about Australia and I don't have the time to read it all.  I doubt you do either, but it'll make me feel better if I give you the link.  There.  Knock yourself out and don't complain my posts are only two sentences long.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

quicko: pass the parcel

I learned a new Australian game over the weekend -- pass the parcel!  Generally it seems this is played at children's parties, but seeing as I'd never encountered it before, I was rather amused by it.  Basically the idea is that hosts wrap up a large series of small gifts -- in our case, mini koala toys, Mars bars and magnets, all with Bible verses -- each in their own sheet of newspaper with all the previous gifts.  Our parcel is going to the Jesus Club, which is a group of adults with disabilities who meet for socializing and Bible study.  I think the idea is that it gets passed as the music plays and, when it stops, the person holding it gets to open one layer and keep the present.

Monday, February 25, 2013

quicko: fun fact

Did you know (if you haven't lived in Sydney -- too easy if you have) that the Sydney Harbour Bridge has a pedestrian walkway on one side and a bicycle lane on the other side?  Both are separate from the cars, but if you're walking, you'll be on the east side, whereas if you're biking, you'll be on the west.  Also, there is always at least one (or two?) guards on the pedestrian side and there are tons of little padlocks on the wire all down it, generally proclaiming the padlocked love of AB to CD ... until they come through every few months and tear them all down.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

quicko: the principle of the thing

So yet another terrible atrocity has happened to me.  The post office charged me 15 cents.

Now before you go running and screaming that 15 cents is not an atrocity, shush.  You're probably right, but that would utterly destroy the point of this post.  Stick with me.

It costs $1.65 to mail a card to America.  At Christmas, they sell 55-cent stamps, which are for domestic Christmas cards.  Last year, I had a few extra Christmas stamps and decided, voila, to use them as postage for other cards going to America.  Three of them.  55 plus 55 plus 55.  $1.65.  Right?

Wrong.  55 plus 55 plus 55 plus 15.  The 55-centers are patriotic.  They only travel in Australia.  If you send them out of the country, there is a 15-cent penalty.  Just for using the "wrong" stamps.  Despite the value being the same.

Atrocity?  Atrocity.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

quicko: don't vouch for this

I got a gift voucher (as they say here -- gift certificate for the Americans) for Max Brenner the other day.  Now Max Brenner is awesome and I could definitely use $50 there, but OUCH they do not make the fine print clear -- all of my $50 voucher had to be spent on one single occasion.  Thus, where I thought I had maybe 8 different visits for cups of hot chocolate, no siree.  Thank goodness I went with a friend.  Between the two of us, we ate 2 double Tutti Frutti Waffles and each took a hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows) home for later.  On the plus side, we managed to spend exactly $50 (the idea of having to spend even $51 in order to get to $50 when I only meant to spend $12 really rubbed me the wrong way, go figure).  So.  Lesson learned:  if you want to buy someone gift vouchers, read the fine print and purchase them in as small of denominations as possible.  (I seriously doubt Max Brenner sells them in $6 increments, though, which is unfortunate because that's pretty much how much most of their drinks cost.)

The chocolate was good, though.

Friday, February 22, 2013

quicko: sydney or not

The other day one of my students, in speaking of parts of Australia, referred to two:  "Sydney" and "Not Sydney."

(Okay, never mind I think she actually meant "North Sydney."  It was way funnier the first way.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

quicko: notes on australian culture

Three Strengths of Australian Character (generally speaking ...)

1.  Non-classist -- Australians are generally quite humble about their jobs, regardless of how good they are.  An Australian might have quite a good job and yet you wouldn't know until someone else mentioned it.  Particularly at pubs or in social settings, Australians come across as quite equal and on similar social footing, regardless of economic footing.

2.  Generous -- The number of Australians who have been particularly generous to me is really staggering, particularly in terms of offering rides, buying drinks and just generally making sure I've got everything I need.

3.  Friendly -- The American stereotype of Australians, but I've found it to be very true.  The vast majority of Australians are very friendly and usually quite happy to have a merry chat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

quicko: prepared to

Australians can use this phrase not only to mean prepared and ready to, but also just plain willing to.  Thus, you can end up with Australians saying they're "prepared" to do something that has required absolutely zero preparation -- for example, "I can't believe you're prepared to help me cheat on my test; I didn't think you'd do something like that."  Or the like, but I'm out of ideas.  Insert your own example here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

quicko: bircher museli

Museli is a staple breakfast of an Australian diet -- basically, it's a form of a granola.  Like granola, a bit hard to describe, but it strikes me as potentially a bit softer than granola.  More oat-y, less sugar-y.  Rather bland, really.  Granola is much better.  Bircher museli I really don't see as any different from regular museli, but it's got a fancy name in front of it so they can charge $3 extra at restaurants, much like "sun-dried" tomatoes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

quicko: can?

One thing that particularly irks me, especially in England but also in Australia, is the use of pseudo questions.  Pseudo-questions aren't questions at all, but statements cleverly disguised with a "can" or other such modal at the beginning.  They lack, however, an actual question mark or any semblance of genuine interest in the response.  They may even have a beguiling "pls," but beware.  It is not an actual "please," but merely a vacuous attempt at the minimum standards of politeness.  The writer is already certain that you shall complete the dictated task, without waiting to find out if you're able, much less willing.  As in:

"Can you pls finish the report by Wed midday so as to present Thrs am."

Or, just as bad:

"Pls can you change the litter box tonight as I'm in Perth til Fri."

Generally speaking, they're the sort of things one could reasonably be expected to do, but one expects to be asked, not told.  Pls can you Australians stop telling me what to do.  Tks.

(SEE how rude?!  Gosh!  It's rubbing off on me, I'm sorry!)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

quicko: great expectations

Americans have very high expectations of customer service, generally speaking.  Generally speaking this is also because we're used to high levels of customer service.  "The customer is always right" is engrained in us from early on, and we tend to continue on being right whichever country we're consuming in, whether they realize it or not.  Generally speaking, they don't.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

quicko: retire or not

Evidently retirement parties aren't so big in Australia.  At least according to one friend, who had never heard of anyone having one.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

quicko: not aware

It just kind of dawned on me for the first time this month that there was no African-American History Month going on in Australia.  Not that I ever really did much for it in America, but I was usually aware of it, with school announcements every day about inventions invented by African-Americans and such.  Not a peep about George Washington Carver and goodness knows how many uses of the peanut here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

bus blooper: a nice story

So this is obviously a very rare occurrence, but something not bad happened to me on a bus today.  I had just hit the dreaded black hole of buses on George Street (which occurs between roughly 8:03 and 8:10 am at Wynyard -- a monstrously long time for there not to be a bus to Broadway on a road that should be dedicated to nothing but buses to Broadway -- or whenever the 433 goes past) and made up my mind the best thing to do would be to hop one of the buses that stops at Central and at least get myself closer in case I had to grab a cab.  However (here comes the happy part!) just south of World Square I noticed that a 440 was tailing us.  I promptly pushed the button, stood and looked out the window at the driver of the 440 (which was now in the lane next to us) and made rapid, enthusiastic hand gestures to tell him I needed to get on his bus at the next stop.  I'm not sure if he understood fully, but he did stop at the next stop and I was able to run back and get on the 440 to Broadway.

It was only in retrospect I realized that the 440 had evidently made it through the black hole of buses on George Street.  How precisely this happened remains an absolute mystery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

quicko: turkezzz

I've grown up assuming everyone knows turkey makes you sleepy.  My Australian friends laugh and say it's a myth.  I told them to eat a Thanksgiving dinner and get back to me.  They said that was the thing, it was eating lots of food for hours on end.  I maintained the turkey-sleep theory.  They maintained theirs.  That was as far as we got.

Monday, February 11, 2013

bus bloopers: track work

So buses are so bad they're not only bad when they're actual buses, they're also bad when they're supposed to be trains but are functioning as buses.  Kind of like gerunds being verbs functioning as nouns, only worse.

Yesterday I had the sad task of seeing my boyfriend off at the airport (7 weeks till I see him again, but who's counting?).  We left with plenty of time to get him there via the train (seeing as that's how you get to the airport), but slightly less than plenty of time to get him there via the replacement bus services brought about by track work.

Now "slightly less" time is fine for those sorts of things they say "close" counts in -- horse shoes and hand grenades -- but not fine for those sorts of things "close" doesn't count in -- like Qantas departure times.

After the third bus finally pulled into the airport after I don't know how many very tense minutes, we both bolted through the airport to the check-in counter.  Miraculously, the plane was also delayed -- through no effort of City Rail, I can assure you -- and we were actually able to have a few extra minutes to say goodbye.

Which left me teary, alone, tired, hungry, cold and waiting in the dark in the rain for my bus.

The first four of which turned up weren't mine.  The next one of which was, but by this time all the other cold, tired, soaking people pushed madly ahead of me and stole all the seats, leaving me once again fighting for a space under the too-small cover huddling the mass of humanity.  Finally the replacement "train" arrived and took me to Central, where another "train" took me to Wynyard, where I waited in the Menzies for fifteen minutes for my real bus to take me as close as it could to home, whereafter (I know google doesn't think that's a word, but I think it should be) I gave up and called a cab instead of run for it through what was bordering on a downpour.

And that is the end of my sad, rainy story.  Buses, I'm afraid, never have happy endings.  But Australians hate sappy sugary sweet American endings, so there you go.  A nice, rainy Australian ending.  So long.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

quicko: saying the day

Acceptable American usage:  "February eighth"

Acceptable Australian usage:  "the eighth of February" OR "February eight"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

20th anniversary ...

Twenty years ago today I maybe didn't know quite what I was doing, but made the most important public declaration of my life: I was baptized as a sign of my acceptance of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. In all these years, no matter how hard life has been or how faithless I have been, He has been constantly faithful and never once failed nor forsaken me. To Him be the glory now and forever!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

happy 8th birthday, church by the bridge!!

Happy 8th birthday, Church by the Bridge!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

quicko: all what?

Acceptable American usage:  "what all's in it?"

Acceptable Australian usage:  "what's in it?"

Monday, February 4, 2013

quicko: off of

Acceptable American usage:  "get off of the bus"

Acceptable Australian usage:  "get off the bus"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

quicko: no super bowl

I don't miss the game, but I might still YouTube a few of the commercials ...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

quicko: no groundhog

Happy -- er, nothing day.  There's no Groundhog Day in Australia.  But it's summer here, so no complaints!

Friday, February 1, 2013

quicko: vietnam

Pronounced Viet-naam here instead of Viet-nahm.  Sigh.  There's also a slight something about "Samoa," but I can't quite work out what it is.  It sounds slightly funny, but possibly more correct ... which is more than I can say for "Vietnaam."