Friday, May 31, 2013

quicko: bulk biled

I really don't understand how this works, mostly probably because it doesn't apply to me, but the gist of it is that, if you're on Medicare (Australia's medical system, which is lovely for recipients), when something medical is "bulk billed," you don't have to pay (presumably the government does).  From what I gather, you've to pay a bit first, but if it goes over a certain threshold or something, then you don't.  Though I think that threshold varies based on ... what kind of medical treatment you're getting?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

quicko: to shout

Verb.  To buy something (generally a drink or food) for someone else.  As in, "I'll shout a Coke."

Noun.  A person's turn to buy something for someone else (reciprocity is implied).  As in, "My shout."

Monday, May 27, 2013

quicko: leave

Uncountable noun.  Days off work.  (Vacation (AKA annual leave), sick (AKA sick leave), etc.) 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

quicko: oliver brown

I've recently discovered a new chocolate cafe -- Oliver Brown.  It's evidently a chain and is pretty comparable to a Max Brenner.  I've had the chocolate mojito, which was basically an overpriced milkshake-y chocolate mint concoction.  It was really good though -- I've managed to have it twice now in two different locations, and both were delicious.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

saturday summary

After writing (your last blog post) till 3 am yesterday, I didn't make it to the festival till just after 1 today.  The just after is significant in that the session I wanted to be at started just on time.  Fortunately, though, I was at least able to sit outside in the (not raining!) listening area, where it was being broadcast.  Actually it got quite hot.  (Having frozen yesterday, I came bundled in boots, coat and knit top (with arms, as opposed to yesterday's sleeveless variety of rather strange, yet writerly, knit).  Unfortunately, I hadn't thought to wear any lighter layer under the knit top and accordingly roasted.)

The first session was called "When a Book Travels," which was pretty perfect for me, particularly as there were writers and editors talking lots about American/Australian publishing.  Next I went to a talk on imagination, which was excellent and very funny.  The last session I went to (again foisted into the broadcast room because it was too full) was on Australian character and identity.  All the sessions were quite interesting and I took entirely too many notes, but potentially you'll get upcoming blog posts using various tidbits from them.  We'll see.

I was struck this year that there was a younger contingent in the crowd than I remembered before -- as in, the last few years I've felt like the youngest by about 20 years everywhere, but this year there seemed to be a lot more people about my age around.  I guess the word is spreading!

My final note for the evening has to do with the juxtaposition of the festival with church this evening.  I love the festival and think it's great and amazing and stimulating and creative and all the rest ... but as much as I love it, I love church so much more.  It's one thing to engage cognitively with ideas; it's an entirely different thing to experience the love of a church family that includes mental stimulation, but also emotional and, most importantly, spiritual engagement.  Anything without Christ can only go so far -- but with Christ, truly anything is possible.  Ideas are awesome, but they don't love you so much they die and rise again for you.  In fact, I don't think they love you at all.  They're great and great gifts of God, but His ultimate gift for us in Jesus is so much more than any idea, festival or piece of writing.  To God be the glory.

Friday, May 24, 2013

friday at the festival

The Sydney Writers' Festival is now ON with a vengeance.  It all started out very civilized for me this afternoon with a lovely author talk on characterization, then gradually deteriorated to utter nonsense and bee thievery.

After the first session I attended, I met up with a few friends and ate the raisin bread and cherries I'd lugged along to avoid the inflated festival pricing scheme.  (Yes, scheme.  In the American sense.)  As a side note, there do actually seem to be lots more options for dining this year than in the past ... and to be entirely honest, I didn't actually scout any of the prices.  But they were inflated.  I'm sure.

Anyway, after our snack we didn't quite make it into the recording of Thank God It's Friday, but we did get to watch the live broadcast from the room next door, which was almost as good and still very funny.

After that, my friends headed out and I headed to the secret, nice, clean, year-round restrooms where all was going well until a man just walked in to clean them.  He didn't seem bothered that I was there, but I got a bit bothered that he was there, so left pre-mascara-ed.  It's really a bit awkward being alone in a restroom with a man who you assume must be cleaning ... right?  I didn't wait around to confirm.

Having gotten locked out of the TGIF recording, I wanted to be sure to get into the next session, so joined the line ... which was outside, in the rain.  Thankfully I did have an umbrella in my magic bag (As well, as you may recall, as a loaf of raisin bread.  Which was all well and good until the first presenter kept going on about characters needing motivations to do things -- like buying loaves of bread.  I suddenly felt a bit ... characterized?), which I proceeded to juggle with the bag and the phone and try to close and walk with all simultaneously, which, ultimately, resulted in no fatalities.  This time.

The session I thought I was going to was Erotic Fan Fiction, that I assumed had been freshly billed this year as Spoken Four.  It was as I was reading the program that I spotted Erotic Fan Fiction -- on Thursday night.  Spoken Four, though, ended up being really good, and, coupled with the next two events I saw, worth the $10 I spent to get in ... and even, I shall later argue, that added to the $30 cab fare home.

Spoken Four was a series of poetry slammers, all of whom were excellent.  The second act in particular was a girl from England who pretty much spoke at break-neck speed for 17 minutes straight.  And before anyone makes amusing quips about how very much like me that sounds, I might add that she did it all in verse and completely memorized (well, all of them did, but hers was the most intense in terms of vocal performance).  I was also amazed by how much an English girl could sound like Martin Luther King, Jr. -- not excessively, just in certain intonations.  It was actually pretty spectacular.

The host also gave a quick poem which was very clever -- it was about a city where people always said "So?" so it was called So.  And then they started sighing, so it was called So-Sigh ... and then they were lazy, so instead of calling it So-Sigh City, they called it So-Sigh Ity (which if you didn't just read that properly in your head, I'll point it out:  Socie, ahem, ty).  And in Society, a boy was born at 10 months because he wanted to be in, not out, so he was called In.  But he didn't speak.  And he was called Insane, and then he moved to the other side of the world, where he was called a Wise Dumb, and so, eventually, Insanity became Wisdom.  Clever, huh?  Wish I'd come up with it, but I didn't.  It was a guy named Miles, who I now realize I only remember the name of  because he made a joke about being better than kilometers.  It was pretty funny, but maybe you had to be there.

While I'm ripping off other people's jokes, I don't know who said this originally, but I found it hysterical:  "In his later years, Neil Armstrong would often make unfunny jokes about the moon.  He'd then follow them up with, 'guess you had to be there.'"

I'm not entirely sure where this note fits in, but as much as I love the festival and feel all inspired to write and educated and cultured and entertained and all for going, the one thing I dislike is how a subtle anti-Christian sentiment seems to run through many of the sessions.  It's the odd joke here, the reference there, the blatant slam on Catholicism here, there and here -- but it makes me sad.  And reminds me again how very un-PC it is to make fun of other religions (not remotely saying that anyone should be doing this!), but how glib and chic and cosmopolitan it's supposed to be to make fun of not even just of Christians, which would be one (often quite justified) thing, but sacraments like communion and Jesus Himself.

After the poetry came the Chaser's empty vessel, which was hysterical in what I'm not entirely sure was an entirely compassionate way.  The first guest was an American publishing guy who talked about the new e-experience books, which sound really intriguing.  I'm not great at describing them (I just tried and would have failed miserably had Garry not already known what I was talking about), but it's kind of like the reader gets to write the books and they're set in various locations that are actually real locations, so readers can go to them and incorporate, say, a broken window into the plot (or everyone's favorite ESL lesson on the passive ... which reminds me of everyone's favorite ESL on the past continuous and a workshop or book or something I once heard of entitled "Were you really in the bath when the telephone rang?"  Moving on ...) and then it's a truly authentic story that, like all good stories, is full of creativity and fun and such.

Then another man talked about music and music education (and was asked what I thought was quite a good question -- and not in the 100 most common icebreaker question sets, and yes, I would know what actually is -- which was what his earliest musical memory was).  The truly hysterical part ensued, though, when an older Irishman came on the stage and really, I'm not sure he could see or hear or understand anything that was happening around him.  He evidently just took 12 years to write a book, and by the end of the session, despite his lack of answer for that particular (or any given) question, we all had a fairly clear idea as to why.  The poor presenter was struggling ... my favorite bit was when he followed up one of his many (completely obscurely, if at all, answered questions) with "he asks, optimistically."

It sounded like a joke -- an American, a Australian and an Irishman walk into a festival -- and, man, if you were there, it totally was.

The last part of the evening was a series of comedians spoofing Ted Talks, which I've never seen, but evidently is supposed to be inspirational.  The first speaker gave a mock generic motivational speech (complete with the dramatic drinking of "water" (nope, not alcohol:  air)).  The second gave a very funny rundown on why Bones are Bad and Killing Us All!  The third I think must have been using particularly Australian humor.  I'm getting better at getting it (well, okay, not getting it per se, but knowing that it is something that Australians get.  generally because they're all laughing and I'm not ...), but hers alluded me.  Ah well.  The last was a man who started by giving a spoof scientific rundown on the terrible world-wide problem of bee disappearance -- predicted, obviously, by Einstein -- and then segued into a hysterical confession of how he'd stolen 40% of the world's bees.

By the time my night of hilarity drew to a close, it was absolutely pouring and I was a good fifteen minutes from my bus stop (plus some more minutes even post-ride), so I rather uncharacteristically (but characteristically, now that you understand my motivations, as the first speaker of the day would have pointed out.  I make a good character, it seems.  I carry loaves of bread.  But with Purpose!  They facilitate (I haven't the foggiest idea how) my Super-Objective!) caught a cab and arrived home more or less dry, but still cold.

So, that was my festival-filled day.  It's on tomorrow and Sunday, too -- and, when it's not raining, the scenery is beautiful (see below) -- go if you have the chance, it's fantastic!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

happy mother's day!

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful Mom!

It's one of the few holidays that's the same in both America and Australia ... and one of the many that makes me wish I was home.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

quicko: ameristralia

A bit of internet fun these days -- what would happen if America and Australia merged?

Friday, May 10, 2013

public service announcement: messina is amazing

If you haven't already been to Messina, you've really got to go -- it's the best gelato I've ever had outside of Messina -- no, really, I actually had a gelato in Messina, Italy, and this really rivals it.  Honestly I think it's probably better -- it certainly has more flavors (changing all the time!) and is the best priced ice cream (ish substance) I've found in Sydney.  It's amazing!!

(This is me at Messina.  I realize you might not have made that connection so I've obligingly spelt it out for you:  Messina.  Kim.  Amazing.  Read that as you will.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

quicko: bug cream

Well, I'd call it bug spray, but it wasn't a spray, it was a cream.  To keep mosquitoes away.  I guess you could kind of say it worked, but that might have had more to do with the fact that our night cruise got cancelled ...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

quicko: on airlines

So I was in Darwin this last weekend, intending to take Monday off work (it was a holiday in the Northern Territory) and come in on the redeye to Sydney leaving Darwin at 1:40 am Tuesday morning, work the day and crash that night.

That was my plan right up until, oh, about 9:40 pm Monday night.

As Garry and I were sitting eating dinner saying how much we wished I wasn't going, etc., etc., etc., suddenly I got a text.  Thinking it was about the classes I needed to teach the next day, I checked it thankfully immediately to read:  "Flight JQ671 from Darwin is cancelled.  Your Ref# is such-and-so.  For options check your email or call 131 538.  Jetstar apologises."

Unsure of what catch I was missing, I handed the phone to Garry.  He couldn't find the catch either.

Thankfully, he was able to get through to Jetstar for me and before they actually kicked us out of the restaurant for infringing on their closing time I'd manage to get myself on a Qantas flight the next day at 3:10 pm.  Which meant, well, we got our wish of me not going, but rather at the expense of a day's wages for me and my hotel and food until Jetstar sees fit (they allow themselves up to 15 business days, then request I contact them if I haven't heard from them) to reimburse me.

So just in case they offer me one of those little customer comment surveys in the near future:  yes, totally, I recommend them highly.  To everyone I really can't stand.

Sunday, May 5, 2013