Monday, March 24, 2008
Oh, and just in case you thought nothing exciting ever happened in cricket, check out this clip of a streaker getting body-checked during a recent test match between Australia and India (which the Aussies lost, to everyone's great dismay). The clip is from one of the morning shows here that is pretty entertaining.
One last thing about cricket. It really is boring, even those that love it admit that, much like we baseball fans will admit the same but still maintain the greatness of the game. They recently tried out a new format where the cricket matches were shortened from 5 days (or more) to a single day affair. No wonder people tell me that when it's on tv they glance at it occasionally but generally go about their business!
So what else have we learned about Australia? Well, we noticed early on that there are no 1 cent coins. Imagine a Canada without pennies! Well in fact I have. I think they are obselete and should be discontinued. And this is coming from a guy who as a young bloke used to scrounge the Irving parking lot in Taintville for pennies to buy whoppers and sour patch kids. Others have argued in favour of ditching the penny, including some economists. Australia got rid of theirs in 1991. The system works much more easily from a consumer perspective, especially since the tax is already factored into the cost of goods, so the price you see on the tag is the price you pay, and prices are in 5 cent intervals (the coins here are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, along with dollar and 2 dollar coins). I just realized that I was about to close this post by saying I hope Canada comes to its cent-ses, but I'll save you the pun.
Finally, your list of Aussie terms for the fortnight:
Jean Coutu/Terry White
pound key/hash key
no big deal/no drama
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
G’day Maytes! (You all knew that was coming at some point). We don't actually ever say that, but have noticed that we're picking up on the slang around here more than the accent. It's weird for Tim and I to be talking to each other and using Australian words like we've been using them for our entire lives. Makes you feel like a bit of a faker.
We’re just past our first month of officially living in
So, it’s Laura again. Yep, the long-winded one. Just as a point of interest, Tim and I typically take the same amount of time to write a blog entry. Think about that. I think the shortest entry that I’ve had was 4 pages in Microsoft word, Tim’s, I think we can all see, have been shorter than that. But he’s intense. Every sentence is jam packed with information, every word, important. I’m a little more liberal with my writing. I write what I think, and that’s what takes me so long to write. Tim takes so long because he’s actually researching. I’ll let you decide how nerdy or cool that really is.
We’ve had a number of fun adventures lately, but I must admit that I think we’re hitting, or have hit, the ‘
But everyone knows what it’s like to miss home, so I won’t bore you with our middle-of-the-night-wide-awake-why-the-heck-did-we-leave-our-happy-home thoughts. The reality is that we were going to be moving somewhere at this point, and we’d be missing home no matter where we were. Having a bun in the oven makes it a little more rough for us, but thanks to cheap phone cards and skype, it’s really not that hard to keep in touch. As for the bun, it likes to lean to the east in the morning, pushing my bellybutton over to the right side of my body, just a titch. Tim called me a freak the other day when he saw it. Good guy that he is.
So, on to our adventures. First off, last weekend we took the recommendation of a couple of good Canadian friends of ours (Baxter and Lins) and traveled to the northern part of
Speaking of more avocado, how many of you knew that avocados grew on trees? No lying. How many of you had never thought about where they grow (other than in warm climates and not
So, the downside of Tropical Fruit World, perhaps an upside for younger kids, is a guided tour to Old MacDonald’s farm and
On the way back home up through
So all of that adventure took place on Saturday of last week, but we still had the rental car on Sunday. So we decided to check out a
So our weekend was action packed. It was nice to be doing things that weren’t necessary functions. And we found it a relaxing weekend despite all of the running around.
So, my newest favorite Australian find is a restaurant called “Seafood Platter” that’s just down the street from our place. Despite its name, it’s the cheeseburger that’s taken my affection. A couple of weeks ago Tim was out of town for a conference and on the Saturday that he was returning, I had one last meal to find for myself before he got home. I’d seen the big picture of the cheeseburger on the outside of the restaurant, but the place didn’t really look all that clean or non-greasy. Either way, on that Saturday, I just had a hankering for a cheeseburger, I blame it on the hormones. So I walked down to the shop and ordered one for take-away (take-out). When the lady handed over the package, I was a little shocked by how big it was, but, you know, I like a good challenge, so I took it and walked back home. It was hands down, the BEST cheeseburger I’ve tasted in my life. I savored every heart-stopping bite of it. I don’t even know exactly what it was about it, but the combination of sauces and vegetables and hunk of Australian beef- but you couldn’t ask for a better burger. I will make sure that if you come and visit us, you will get a complimentary cheese burger from the Seafood Platter on us, just to prove my point. Once I had eaten one, I made a deal with myself that I could only eat another if Tim was eating one (he’d not had one at that point and I knew that he could resist better than I could). He has tried the burger and agrees with me (that means that he’s had one so far, and I’ve had two). I think it’s our tickers that might be saying ‘take it slow kids. We’re not built to last’. So, I try not to think about the burger. Most days it works.
So, Tim and I have both been working for a couple of weeks now. Tim’s started his post-doc position at
And that about wraps it up for us this week. If you’re reading this, you can take some solace in the fact that it’s probably you specifically that we miss. Take care of yourselves and keep in touch, please!
Oh! And a big thanks to Joy for pointing out that people can’t leave comments on our blog without registering with Google accounts. GRRR. I would be mad at us if I were trying to leave a comment for my friends and found out that I’d have to give personal information to a huge super-corporation in order to do so. So we’ve fixed the situation. You shouldn’t have to give any information to anyone in order to leave us a message. So feel free!
Lots of love to everyone.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"Pardon me?" I said.
He replied, "Are you a pommie?"
"No," I said, "I'm just a Canadian."
Pommie, as it turns out, is a partly affectionate, partly derogatory term for someone from Britain (think "Yank" for an American, or our use of the term "Limie"). While the origin of the term is still up for debate, it got me thinking about accents. Is it possible for someone to confuse a British accent with a Canadian accent? To me, the British accent is far more similar to the Aussie accent than the Canadian accent, but perhaps that stems from my own personal bias. Then there's the New Zealanders. They have a charming way of pronouncing some of their e's and i's the opposite way we do. So, for example, a kiwi would eat fesh and cheps and write with a pin. It's all quite fascinating.
Some follow up notes to earlier postings:
-I've learned a lot more about Fiji since our trip here on Air Pacific (Fiji's national airline!) and our brief journey through the Fijian countryside with Ham the taxi driver. Fiji is a military dictatorship (bloodless coup in December 2006) that has been turning over land and privilege from the more prosperous Fijian Indians (settled from India by the British in the late 1800's and early 1900's) to native Fijians. The government is also supposedly suppressing freedom of the press and imprisoning political dissidents. Sound familiar? Yet another former colony trying to find its way. While we were in the taxi Laura asked Ham, who is a Fijian Indian himself, about the government situation and he claimed that "the government is good" and they are "putting the right people in the right places." We'll never know if he meant what he said or if he was being guarded about his opinion to the two curious foreigners.
-I made my first trip to Darwin in the northern Territory last week. It is a remote outpost in the heart of Australia's tropics, about 80,000 people, claiming an amazing 52 nationalities. It was bombed by the Japanese in WWII and leveled by a cyclone in 1974. This time of year the temperature is exactly 32 degrees everyday with close to 100% humidity and a thunderstorm every night. It's an interesting place to say the least. You can see what is making the headlines there in the pictures on the right. And yes, I will be doing field work collecting fish from rivers around there in boats that are about the same size as the one in the picture. I had taken some comfort in knowing that we will often have Aboriginal guides (who hunt the crocs) accompanying us in our work, until it occurred to me that there's probably been plenty of Aborigines attacked by crocodiles in their thousands of years of shared time on the continent. As my supervisor put it, they have a long history of mutual predation.
-Finally, my monthly update of Aussie quirks:
granny panties/nana knickers
Monday, March 3, 2008
Hey everyone. Hope the weather in
So, we’ve been in
There are a number of rationalizations that we’ve come up with to justify our lack of extreme adventure so far. 1) If we were here visiting, it’d be a different story (we like to tell ourselves that). Traveling here kind of took the travel bug out of us momentarily since we knew that we’d be here for a while. 2) The
So the first huge thing that has happened to us is that we’ve rented a house. It was the first place that we looked at and within a couple of days (stressful days) we’d convinced the landlords that we could be responsible tenants. I think that they might have thought we were a bit batty when we tied to explain our rationale for moving in the first place. There’s really no way to explain how it feels to try to rationalize our personal reasoning for moving here other than we felt quite vulnerable. The importance of telling you this is that we were shocked by the process of renting here. Either everything is done through an agent where you have to arrange appointments for viewing places, or you meet up with the owner of the place (if they don’t use agents) for viewing. After the viewing, you’re given an application form which asks basically for a personal history of your life as a renter, and such questions as salary and whether you plan on having kids, etc., it’s a whole lot of very personal information. I’d like to think that if I’ve decided to rent a place from someone, that it’s a given that I can afford it. Why does the landlord need to figure that out? How is it their business where my money comes from? I digress…So, next, you fill out the application and give it back to the agent/home owner and they call you to either tell you you’ve got the spot or, in our case, to arrange for a further interview. This may be the process that people in larger cities have to go through to rent, but given that Tim and I have never lived in a really big city, we were pretty unprepared to be scrutinized so closely. It certainly has something to do with the fact that it’s really not a tenants market here, therefore landlords can be very picky for the people that they want. And maybe we just fell upon really thorough landowners. Either way, we ended up getting the house that we wanted and it felt like we’d just passed a huge exam. We’ve got some pictures posted to show you how cool this spot is. It’s actually next to our landlords’ place so that could explain why we had such a process to go through, and they take really, really good care of their properties. We hope we can live up to their standards. I can hardly believe that I feel this way when we’re the ones that pay through the nose to live here.
So, it turns out that the landlords are actually very great and helpful people. Honestly, every single thing that we’ve wondered about, Craig (the husband of the couple) has a solution for. I mean EVERYTHING. It’s great, but I’m getting to the point where I’m now starting to keep my yap shut so that I don’t cause them to have to bend over any further backwards then they already have for us. Tim just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, I’ve yet to finsih it but basically the author talks about different kinds of people that influence trends in society. One type mentioned is the maven, they’re people that are full of information about everything, i.e., from where to get the cheapest bedsheets to traffic rules in
A cool feature of our house is our alarm clock. It’s the chorus of birds that seem to greet the sunrise with eagerness every single morning. It’s a crazy way to wake up. They start around and peak in volume around . Some birds sound like our friend Baxter is sitting outside of our window whistling up a tune, others are your more standard bird calls. It’s amazing. I hope we don’t get so used to it that we start to sleep through it because it’s great to be out of bed so early and not to have to rely on some buzzer or bad pop radio to rouse us out of good sleep.
So, on Sundays there are a number of huge fruit and vegetable markets within close distance to us. Craig and Trish (the landlords) regularly get to a specific one early on Sunday mornings and asked if we’d like to go with them today. When they said early, I was thinking about how empty the
So we got up and went with them on Sunday morning. It was great. So much food that we love and for such reasonable prices. And grown locally. I am telling you…For people like Tim and I for which food is so important, and equally having it grown well, knowing who grew it, and having farmers paid fair price for it, this place is like a dream. I’ll say it again, the food here is worth the trip. Seriously. So come.
Later in the morning we decided to check out the local Salvation Army church. Both Tim and I have known about the focus on social action that seems to be intimately intertwined within church policy at the Sally Anne, so we thought it would be an interesting venture. And it was. For those who’re well versed in church life, the majority of their music was provided not by a crusty old organist or trendy new worship band, but by a very lively brass section in uniform. I kid you not. It was enough to make me want to crack out my junior high trombone just to get that stageband feeling once again. Just to be a part of the club. They also were very fond of the old hymns of whose high notes only the most seasoned of church ladies can reach. Just like the old days for me. They (and I mean everyone from the people in the pews to the pastors of the church) appear to be actively involved in feeding people and looking at poverty in compassionate and thoughtful ways. We felt pretty comfortable there and are looking forward to getting to know people better and seeing what’s really going on.
This afternoon we were visited by a colleague of Tim’s who just moved from New
I almost forgot about our most extreme non-adventure yet. With the move into the new house we had to find furniture to at least give us a place to sit down. We’d bought a bed and had it delivered, a fridge too, but things like couches and chairs we decided to go second hand with so as to save our bank. So last week I scoped out the Salvation Army store near where our motel was for furniture, etc. I was able to snag some great stuff for very little $, relatively speaking. The only thing was that we didn’t really have a way to get anything to our new place. So on Thursday, Tim and I bit the bullet and rented a Ute. What’s a Ute? It’s a utility vehicle of course, or what we in
So, we rented a Ute. We decided that Tim would drive and put just a bit of extra insurance on it, just in case. All Utes for hire (for rent) here are manual transmission, so I was glad that we both at least knew how to drive this kind of vehicle, although everything is controlled by the left hand in this case. I actually never got out of the passengers seat, and Tim, although he had a few butterflies in his basket, handled the driving very well. We’d made a smart move by waiting until 10 in the morning to head out so as to avoid rush hour, but still there was enough traffic on the road to keep us following a pack of some sort. By the end of the day we’d decided that we could handle driving in
So, they have French fry vending machines here in
Love to everyone, please keep in touch.