Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

quicko: 000

My students got an official police presentation the other day, and while I knew most of what he said (except that jaywalking is a $66 fine ... not leaving a pub when asked is $550 ... and selling alcohol to minors is $5500), I came to the realization that the Australian 000 is a little more ... relaxed ... than the American 911.  It's not that 000 doesn't get you help fast (I've never called, but from what I hear, it does), but that you can call it a bit more liberally.  The way the officer phrased it was that if anything bad's currently happening, you can go ahead and call.  So, if someone snatches your bag and runs down the street with it, you should definitely call.  If you're an employee in a bakery and someone is stealing a donut, you can call.  And so on.  Maybe these weren't the best examples, but I felt like it was definitely okay to call 000 for much more trivial matters than I had been taught to in America -- where it's strictly for emergencies, and there are penalties for calling in cases of non-emergency.  Here, the officer said as long as you're calling in good faith (he did say people calling up to complain about leaves in their driveway was a call they'd received that was not considered an emergency and that was wrong), there aren't any repercussions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

public service announcement: carols under the bridge

Get ready, guys, this year's Carols Under the Bridge service is coming up on Saturday, December 14.  There's jazz around 5 pm followed by awesome carols around 7 pm.  Come on out, bring your friends, put it on your calendar now -- it's always a fantastic time!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

comic: from the doghouse diaries

This hits eerily close to home in more ways than one ...

(Obviously this isn't my work ... it comes from The Doghouse Diaries.)

quicko: ausmerica

Okay, normal people might think this is a bit tacky and/or disrespectful to both countries involved ... but I'm feeling a bit sentimental and it kind of feels like a pictorial representation of my life ... and if this isn't the right blog for it, I don't know what is ... it's pretty much the theme in 9 pithy letters.

Monday, October 14, 2013

quicko: pumpkins!

I was thrilled to see pumpkins on sale today -- real good-sized, appropriately oranged pumpkins!  Australians aren't big into Halloween, but it was fun to find a taste of home in my friendly neighborhood Coles.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

photo: all dressed up for a real date :)

We don't get to have real dates very often, so I get quite excited when we do!  I got spoiled and taken to Ten Litchfield, which is a lovely local Darwin restaurant run by a man named Tim.  Garry got crocodile so I could try some but not have to eat too much of it -- so now I can officially say I've eaten crocodile!  There was also a baby freshwater crocodile in an aquarium at the entrance, which I looked at, but still found disconcerting despite Garry's assurances that a freshie would "only" grow to 3 meters (roughly 3 yards) and never be big enough to kill me.  I'm still not convinced I'd ever want to encounter a 3 yard-long reptile with a jaw and a vast array of incisors, no matter how harmless it was ... the one in the tank was closer to a foot and I was still quite happy to say hello from a glass-encrusted distance.

Besides its pet, Ten Litchfield also regularly has a magician/sleight of hand artist coming table to table to perform various tricks.  We saw two card tricks ... one more impressive than the other, though we'd both worked out how both of them worked by the time he left our table.  It was still fun though and definitely a great date!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

public service announcement: jesus clubs

If anyone knows of any adults in Sydney with intellectual disabilities, have we got a club for you!  There are Jesus Clubs springing up all over Sydney, and they're awesome.  They're Christian organizations dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus with any and all adults with disabilities.  Run similarly to a youth group, they begin with games, then singing, then a Bible lesson, then buddy groups to recap the lesson, prayer time, a craft and refreshments.  There are currently clubs in Turramurra, Gladesville, Naremburn and Jannali -- check out the link above for tons more info if you're interested -- and please spread the word!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

public service announcement: sculptures by the sea

Now on to a festival that does qualify as one of my favorites (along with a few others ... the writers' festival and the Aroma Festival and CBTB's Carols Under the Bridge spring to mind ...):  Sculptures by the Sea!  It's a gorgeous walk from Bondi to Tamarama beaches filled with lots of fun sculptures.  It's on this year from 24 October - 10 November.  It's always packed on the weekends, but definitely worth getting to if you can!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

public service announcement: night noodle markets

The Night Noodle Markets are back -- they're on every day except Sundays from now through October 26 as part of Sydney's food month (October).  From past experience, they're a great atmosphere though with long lines and pricey food ... worth going if you've never been, or even maybe once a year, but they're not my favorite festival on the Sydney calendar.  Still a good night out though!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

review: lantana

Today's Labour Day in New South Wales and I got to spend part of it watching the Australian movie Lantana.  I don't watch a ton of Australian movies (most Americans don't ...), but I liked it better than some others (The Dish springs to mind).  Although the morals were a bit fast and loose, I liked how various characters' plotlines were interwoven and thought the general plot was intriguing ... in more ways than one.  It's worth watching if you're in the mood for something dramatic and character-based with a decent sense of plot.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

quicko: rugby grand final

At this moment, the rugby grand final is taking place between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters.  There's also been another grand final of ... another sport ... taking place recently as well.  Lots of talk, lots of hype ... go Manly!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

photos: navy fleet review spectacular

So, the Navy Fleet Spectacular wasn't quite as ... spectacular as advertised.  Billed as being bigger than New Years with a 30-minute fireworks display was slightly misleading.  If they'd said a 30-minute on harbour memorial in the dark featuring the occasional bouts of fireworks, that'd been more like it.  Oh, but with all the crowds of New Years.  My bus stopped a ten-minute walk from its normal stop and I decided it'd be faster to walk home ... I'm pretty sure it was.  No great photos unfortunately, but here's a bit of a taste for you.

Friday, October 4, 2013

public service announcement: the navy fleet spectacular!

The Navy Fleet Spectacular is coming to Sydney!  It began yesterday with ships coming in today and goes through the 11th, but TOMORROW (Saturday, October 5) is the big, big, big fireworks display!  It starts at 7:40 and goes until 8:10.  Rumor has it it'll be bigger than a New Years' show -- I'll keep you posted!  Get out there and enjoy it if you can!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

review: wildlife photographer of the year exhibit

I went to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit at the Australian Museum.  I try to go most years and I always really like it.  I was particularly impressed this year that they kindly let me in for the concession rate seeing as I came so close to closing time (it closes at 5 pm -- and I think Oct. 7 is the last day this year).

Anyway, the photos were, of course, amazing.  There's certainly an array and, as usual, I tended to agree with one or two of the judges' winners and disagree with others.  There were a few I clearly missed what was so technically amazing (it was blurry ...), and a few that were great, crisp clear photos, but rather stock standard as far as these competitions go (hawk in flight.  again.).  Still, they were good photos.  I'm never a fan of the cold-blooded animal category, but I love the ones of animals in their habitat.  Particular stand-outs were the winner in that category (a polar bear on a vanishing ice cap ... which, yes, is a bit stock standard, but the difference was that, first of all, it was an awesome angle and the ice was breaking perfectly everywhere and it was top of the line for polar bear on ice photos, but as the clincher there was a trail of very clear polar bear paw prints leading out to it.  It was pretty awesome.) and the runner-up (a young male lion asleep on the ... savannah? ... with a dramatic maroon-y stormy sky in the background and the next commended (a white "black bear" (recessive genes, go figure) eating vividly salmon salmon in a lush, mossy green forest.  In another category (habitats?) there was a great photo also of another mossy forest but looking up from the level of two adorable toadstools in the foreground.  Then I liked one in Girona, Spain (I've been there! -- though didn't recognize the place in the photo at all) which was a dramatic moon and its light over some cliffs and mini cliff island in the sea.  And one of the Northern Lights.  Also, there was a very artistic shot of a fox in mid-jump in the snow -- the photo was entirely white except in the very top right corner you could see the snout, face, 4 paws and tail of the fox just jumping into the frame.  I think my favorite, though, was a black and white shot of two cheetahs -- that photographer was robbed!  He definitely should have won the black and white category -- it was a spectacular sky and a highly textured landscape and two cheetahs sitting with their backs to the camera but their heads turned in in a mirror image of each other.  The three different textures (sky, landscape and cheetahs) were so different and each so incredible -- and the combination was a bit busy, but amazing.  The winning shot for birds was also one I agreed with -- two penguins quite close up and one in mid jump, surrounded by beautiful icy water scenery and vivid colors.  The photojournalism pieces aren't my favorite (they're generally tragic) but important to include I think.

Anyway, it was a great display and well worth seeing if you've got the time before it closes!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

quicko: airlines

Qantas is obviously the Australian airline -- originally an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory ... Air Service?  Something like that.  It's quite nice and $82 later I am officially a frequent flyer (and got one "free" flight to Darwin out of my latest foray to America, so I think it's worth it!  Paid for itself already.)

Jetstar ... I wish I could say something nice about Jetstar.  It's the cheap airline and Garry and I fly it roughly constantly because ... it's cheap.  (By which I mean not that it's actually cheap, but that it's less egregiously overpriced than the others.)  It flies into and out of Darwin at weird times (2 am anyone?) and cancels flights only when there's a really good reason ... or there might be a storm coming ... or the pilot had a cough ... or they ran out of $15 sandwiches to sell ... or they heard I had work and thoughtfully tried to get me out of it for the day ... but other than that, yeah, they're great.  Oh, except of course customer service, but, ha, nobody does customer service these days, that's so 1950s!

There's also Tiger, which has injured itself so badly (and is probably even worse than Jetstar) I won't pour further lemon juice on its wounds.

Virgin I think is decent?  I've never taken it here because, well, they're not the cheapest.

Anybody want to donate me a plane?  A small one would be fine, used is okay.  No fancy requirements, just a simple little one with its own pilot who likes the Darwin Sydney route in particular and is available most weekends?  Anybody?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

quicko: specialists

I've been really frustrated here with everything medical lately.  It seems there's a strange roundabout way of going where you can't (well, they make it hard to) go to a specialist (even if you know you need one because, say, your doctor in America told you you did) unless an Australian doctor writes you a referral.  And you can't get the prescription that the American doctor gave you.  And if you want to find a cheap doctor to just write you a referral ... errrg it's all too complicated.  You're better off just getting sick.  You'll heal before you get the doctor stuff worked out.