Tuesday, April 30, 2013

quicko: "traditional owners"

The "traditional owners" of the land in Australia, from what I understand, is the politically correct way to refer to the Aboriginal people who owned the land previously.  I hadn't heard the term in Sydney, but it did crop up a few times on my recent trip to Darwin.  (Okay, I backdated my blog!  So sue me -- no, really, don't, please!)

Monday, April 29, 2013

quicko: the council

i.e., the local government.

Again, a very common, everyday sort of word in Australia.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

quicko: body corporate

Another very common Australian term when discussing housing -- this is the company (for lack of a better word) that owns the building with all the units -- some lived in by their owners, and others rented out.  The body corporate is the entity that is responsible for keeping all the common stuff taken care of (locks, new stairs in the hallways, etc.) and often implements strict rules of its own, even for those who actually own their own unit (i.e., no pets).  More or less seen as the bad guy -- or probably more of a necessary evil.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

quicko: a unit

An Australian term for "a place that I live that isn't a house."  This could be an apartment or a condo (i.e., rented or lived in by the owner) and is a very common term.

Friday, April 26, 2013

photos: go manly sea eagles!! (and photos of real sea eagles in their natural habitat in kakadu!!)

quicko: public holiday surcharge

In light of the recent Australian public holiday:  you're now 10% more broke than you were.  Yep, were prepared for the Sunday surcharge, but wait.  They've zapped you with another.  Bazinga.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

photos: fort denison

For years, Glen and I have been talking about going to visit Fort Denison.  I even put it on my "30 Things to Do Before 30" list -- and can finally cross it out.  We very nearly didn't go -- when I learned that, despite it being distinctly closer to the city than Manly (which my MyMulti travelpass would easily get me to for $44/week "free"), it actually costs $20 to visit (on account, evidently, of it being accessible only via tourist boats instead of Sydney transport boats -- unless, of course, you'd like to shell out a couple hundred for a water taxi), I very nearly backed out of our trip entirely.  But because we'd been talking about it so long, we went anyway.  And looked for five minutes (no, really, five minutes) and caught the ferry back.  Gosh, why can I never remember the Latin for "I came, I saw, I conquered"?  All I've got in my head is "cogito ergo sum," but I know that's not right ... and I'm pretty sure it's not "cum tacent clament" either, though that's not a bad blog ... usually ...

On with the photos!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

quicko: can't use credit

I know I've mentioned this before, but there are just so many times you can't use credit cards here.  They're ubiquitous in America, and no one bats an eyelash if you go to pay for a coffee with one -- but here, buyer beware.  If you haven't got cash, there's no guarantee you'll, well, be a buyer at all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

quicko: no national anthem at the rugby

I went to a rugby game and it suddenly hit me:  they didn't start with the national anthem.  I really don't recall it being played at the cricket or AFL game either, though possibly I arrived late and missed it?  American baseball games certainly always start with The Star Spangled Banner, but it is a bit more loved than Advance Australia Fair.

quicko: deer

The last of this small series of MIA Australian animals (which, alas, I have just realized I alluded to ages ago when I first came ... but never mind, I'm sure you can do with a reminder) -- deer.  I saw one in the zoo (!!), but am pretty sure there are none, shall we say, naturally occurring here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

quicko: racoons

As far as I know, there aren't racoons in Australian.  I certainly haven't seen one.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

photos: the central coast -- including lakes beach

quicko: squirrels

Australia doesn't have squirrels.  This is why, when you witness an Australian in America, you will see them instantly drawn to squirrels, cooing and calling and making a general fuss, completely with cameras and, coincidentally, cases of candy.

Okay, maybe not, I confess I got a bit carried away with the Cs.  You get the idea.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

quicko: the "in america" song

My friend Glen has a favorite little song he sings that pops out every time I comment on something that's different.  One of the more recent bursts of joy it brought was in relation to hand sanitizers, of which Bath and Body Works offers a much wider and (dare I say it) prettier smelling range than, um, Coles, which is pretty much the only place you can find (normal, antiseptic smelling) sanitizer here.

"In America!" belted Glen, "we have sweet-smelling hand sanitizer!"

(Hmm.  Maybe you have to be there.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

photo: manly

quicko: oh, it's just a fire engine making that racket, don't bother getting over

I don't think this is how it's supposed to work on the Australian roads, but I was shocked the other day (as a pedestrian) to witness a fire engine with lights on and sirens blaring, be flagrantly disregarded by zooming cars that had no intention of pulling over and every intention of getting (presumably) to work on time.  Whatever you do, don't get caught in a fire during the morning rush hour.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

quicko: half-shaved

This naturally varies from person to person, but generally speaking American girls shave their calves and their thighs -- whereas I've noticed a fair few (classy, not tree-hugging) Australian girls who only shave below the knee.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

quicko: to do the harold holt

Rhyming slang for "to disappear" -- Holt rhymes with bolt; to bolt is to disappear quickly.  Interestingly of course, Harold Holt is the Australian Prime Minister that did indeed do the Harold Holt -- and vanished into the ocean one day never to be seen again.

These days, it runs more along the lines of "where'd Gina and Jess go?" -- "don't know, haven't seen them anywhere -- they must've done the Harold Holt."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

quicko: shhh

I don't know if I can really claim this a sweeping generalization, but by and large I think American girls discuss their periods more openly/frequently than Australian girls.  My suspicion is that this has to do with the fact that most of us live together at college in quite close quarters and are just generally more comfortable with such things because we've gotten used to it more so than many Australians.

This example may also be idiosyncratic, but I have Australian girl friends who will keep their tampons firmly out of guest bathrooms to save themselves the embarrassment of anyone accidentally finding them ... whereas I think most American girls will keep products easily accessible in case any visiting girl needs to borrow some (without having to ask and thus create an even bigger scene).

Monday, April 15, 2013

quicko: gaffer tape

I was for years under the mistaken notion that Australians had this wonderful, marvelous substance known as "gaffa" tape ... until recently the penny dropped and I realized it was exactly the same wonderful, marvelous substance I knew as "gaffer" tape.  Should have seen it coming by now, I know, but ... umm ... in my defense, I really never use it, I just hear theatre people talk about it.  It was duct tape my brother made a shirt out of.  That I'd be way more up on ... maybe.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

photos: balmoral

quicko: arse

I'd heard Australians use "arse" for "ass," but had somehow ass...umed they were being silly or intentionally irritating or something.  It only recently occurred to me that it actually is their word and an "ass" in Australia is, really, just a donkey.  At least in the same way a thong is just a piece of footwear.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

quicko: "in plaster"

At least British (I'm really not sure if it's Australian or not) for "in a cast."

Also, "a plaster" is what Americans would call a "Band-Aid."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

update: sydney stereotypes

I found this floating around facebook -- not really sure who to credit (let me know if you know!), but it's pretty funny.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

quicko: ben and jerrys

Today was Ben and Jerry's free cone (or cup) day!  I had chocolate fudge brownie at Broadway and chocolate and peanut butter at Manly.  Oddly enough, I have no recollection of taking this picture and am not entirely sure who it is or who took it ... but the ice cream looks good, hey?

Ah!  Mystery solved -- it is Glen's, he texted me a photo of his escapades in Melbourne!  (I was evidently supposed to text one back but didn't learn this until both cones had already been well and truly consumed.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

quicko: chasing captain crunch

No Captain Crunch here in Australia.  Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  And my boyfriend doesn't like crunchy peanut butter, but the other Australians assure me that's just him.  Aside from the cereal conundrum, Australians are generally ... crunchy ... enough.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

review: tomorrow when the war began

Tomorrow When the War Began is a famous Australian book written by John Marsden* for a roughly teenage demographic.  This much I knew before I watched the movie.  The fact that it's the first of a series of seven I did not, and was thus shocked to reach the end at what I presumed was the middle.

I watched it because I knew it was a bit of a cultural icon in Australia, and I was vaguely curious, but not curious enough to read the book.  Also I was given a choice between it or Casablanca, and, well, in hindsight I should have gone with Casablanca.

Initially I had assumed the "war" of the title was a metaphorical, coming-of-age/societal sort of "war."  Nope, it was literal.

Now I still haven't read the book, so my comments are drawn entirely from the movie and the rest of what I can work out from wikipedia (not planning on reading the series, so was really rather curious what was to happen next), but all in all I thought it was a bit blunt.  You could chalk it up to being a teen novel, but having spent considerable time in the Calvin College English department, I don't think that's much of an excuse for stereotypical characters, overt metaphors and a general clumsiness of content.  I think a lot of that had to do with trying to cram three or so books into one movie, and the books are almost certainly better, but I didn't like the movie.  It scared me.

It doesn't really take much to scare me (as probably anyone else who's seen the movie can now testify), but it came as one highly visual representation of a whole bunch of other real-life issues late at night one evening and the combined effect kept me up quite late.

The plot centers around a group of teenagers who've gone camping for a weekend and come back to find their families kidnapped and made prisoners of a real, literal war that's just broken out.  I guess that was my major frustration with the plot in general:  it just felt all too bizarre to be believable.  If it were science fiction or something, sure.  But this was meant to be taken reasonably real-life-like, from what I could tell.  It just suspended reality a bit further than I was willing to.

From there on out, the teens wage a sort of guerrilla war against "the enemy" (unspecified) and ... keep fighting until the end of the movie, at which point nothing gets resolved in the slightest.

The end.

*Oops.  To be perfectly honest, I thought they were written by Bryce Courtenay.  Turns out he writes ... something else.

Friday, April 5, 2013

quicko: s'mores

They don't do them here (not having Graham crackers ... or proper marshmallows ... or Hersheys ... or apple cider ... possibly they have the sticks for the fires ...) and they're seen as one of those exotic American dishes, roughly.  The people who've heard of them have heard rave reviews and always really want to have one ... though one of my friends insists on pronouncing them "so-mores," despite repeated attempts to explain that this is one word that is always -- always! -- contracted.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

quicko: big stuff

So I'm going to take a great, big huge group of ideas that I have no real knowledge of and clump them into one clumsy blog post:  pretty much everything with the government works way differently here.  Particularly I'm thinking of government programs and social security numbers (here, tax file numbers) and retirement savings plans and all that nitty gritty stuff ... yeah, some of the time I know how it works in America and some of the time I know how it works here ... and some of the time I just don't get it in either country.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

quicko: pretzels

In my ongoing quest to find suitable pretzels, I can only report that I've come across some that are okay.  (Which I purchased in preparation for Ben and Jerry's free cone giveaway, so my cone would have the appropriate side dish.)  Still the best pretzels were Coles Christmas pretzels -- available only at Christmas time ... and in Darwin.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

update: further bus bloopers

Here's another one:  you can mistake the "where we're stopping next" light for the "we are stopping next" light and not press the button because you think it's already lit up, but learn two seconds too late that it wasn't.  Hello, stop past mine.

Monday, April 1, 2013