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29.12.08

Help Australia: No Clean Feed

What is the 'Clean Feed'?

The Australian Federal Government is pushing forward with a plan to force Internet Service Providers [ISPs] to censor the Internet for all Australians. This plan will waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and slow down Internet access.

Despite being almost universally condemned by the public, ISPs, State Governments, Media and censorship experts, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is determined to force this filter into Australian homes.

What can you do?

Find your local politician (if you're Australian) and write to them on this topic. For info on how to do that, click here.

Email Senator Conroy and tell him how you feel about this awful idea. His email address is available on this website.

Check out the No Clean Feed site.

Support The Aussie Bloggers forum.

Spread the word by blogging about it.



Senator Conroy's blog post -
http://www.dbcde.gov.au/communications_for_business/industry_development/digital_economy/future_directions_blog/topics/civil_and_confident_society_online

News.com.au article -
http://www.news.com.au/comments/0,23600,24833959-5014239,00.html

Whirlpool Discussion -
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-threads.cfm?f=100

Find your local politician -
http://www.efa.org.au/Campaigns/lobby.html

Email Stephen Conroy -
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/senators/homepages/senators.asp?id=3L6

No Clean Feed website -
http://nocleanfeed.com/

See all the senators -
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/senators/homepages/index.asp?sort=state

21.12.08

Bring a Jacket - Melbourne Weather

Right now I’m sitting at my desk working in front of the window. Looking outside, I can see the warm sunshine on my various little plants as well as the driveway. If I look up over the neighbour’s wall, I can see steely gray clouds. The blue skies must be on the other side of the house.

While this in itself may not seem strange or stunning, it is pretty much a poster for Melbourne weather. Often touted the only place you can experience all seasons in one day, I’ve learned not to count on anything when it comes to this feisty city’s weather patterns.

I’ve seen days with heat in the morning, hail in the afternoon, and a nice cool but clear sunset. I’ve never been in a place where the sun has played such a game of peek-a-boo with the citizens below. I’ve been standing in the sunshine and still managed to get drenched with rain.

I’m not exaggerating even a little bit.

So when you’re out and about in Melbourne, bring a jacket. You can always tell the non-locals because they usually are dressed inappropriately for the “weather”.

Still Think Roos Are "Cute"?

19.12.08

Scary Night

I don't live in a "bad" suburb by any means. It's not the best, but I don't fear for my life when I go to sleep or put bars over the windows. But an incident last night makes me want to move...

Last night The Bloke and I went to bed early because he was just back from Tasmania and we both needed the extra sleep. We were both instantly woken out of sleep by the sound of glass breaking. That unmistakable sound. We heard two windows break and then some pounding. We saw the neighbour’s (just over a tall wooden fence) lights come on so we thought the sound had come from there. The Bloke called the police and I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours, but nothing more came of it.

We live in one of four connected units. I just walked out to get the mail and saw men in front of the first flat. It turns out THEIR windows were the ones that had been broken. Mere feet away from our place! (We’re the third flat down.)

Bloody scary shit. The first flat is a public housing type place where they put people I believe (could be wrong) who have served jail time and stuff so they can get back on their feet and eventually move out into their own place. This most recent couple seems so nice – they just had a baby boy a couple months back. Ugh. The guy fixing the windows sounded like he might have known a few details but wasn’t really supposed to share, so I didn’t press him.

I want to move. So bad.

Synchronized Christmas Lights

It's just not Christmas without some crazy lights and music displays.

18.12.08

No Christmas Programming Avalanche?

I was talking with my friend Randi yesterday and we got to talking about Christmas programming on television. I realised that, unlike in the States, the programs aren't a flood of Christmas themed, Christmas related, Christmas obsessed programming.

I like (liked?) the occasional Christmas move and such, but I always hated that it was hard to avoid Christmas programming when you wanted to unless you had satellite television. The Bloke and I don't have satellite television here and yet I haven't seen one Christmas program. There have been the "Channel Seven Wishes You Happy Holidays" things every now and then (I've seen it about four times in the past weeks), but no Christmas programs.

I couldn't be happier, and, given I didn't notice the absence, I'm not missing it in the least! I'm not a grouch or Scrooge - I just like my regularly scheduled programming.

I told Randi that it's likely due to the fact that Australia is so multicultural; a good percent of the population doesn't believe in and/or doesn't celebrate the holiday.

Honestly? I think Aussies got sick of the Chrissy programing flood and told the stations that they could either change or piss off.

They'd do it, too.

16.12.08

The Huntsman Spider

I found a great Animal Planet video about Huntsmen. I think it's funny kill people by scaring them rather than biting them.

15.12.08

Australian Beer Commercials

Hahn Beer


Carlton Big Bloody Ad


Toohey's Street Party


Carlton Draught Flashdancer for Flashbeer


And I saved the best for last...

Awesome Australia Orchestra VB Ad


Carlton Draught Man's Ultimate Shed

9.12.08

Are You Australian? Meme

Another one of those 'bold what you have done' things. I figured it might be fun.


# Heard a kookaburra in person
# Slept under the stars (Ignoring that every single person on earth does that every night, technically...)
# Seen a koala.
# Visited Melbourne.
# Watched a summer thunderstorm
# Worn a pair of thongs
# Been to Uluru (Ayer's Rock)
# Visited Cape York
# Held a snake
# Sang along with Khe San. - I don't know what this is
# Drank VB
# Visited Sydney.
# Have seen a shark.
# Have used Aussie slang naturally in a conversation.
# Had an actual conversation with an indigenous Australian (aboriginal) I think this is kinda offensive. Actually. People are not landmarks or items on a to do list - I JM agree with this person's comment.
# Eaten hot chips from the bag at the beach.
# Walked/climbed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge
# Used an outside dunny, and checked under the seat before sitting down
# Seen Chloe in Young & Jackson's.
# Slept on an overnight train or bus.
# Been to Sydney's Mardi Gras
# Have gone bush-bashing.
# Taken a sickie
# Been to see a game of Aussie Rules football - not live...
# Have seen wild camels
# Gone skinny dipping
# Done a Tim Tam Slam
# Ridden in a tram in Melbourne
# Been at an ANZAC day Dawn Service
# Watched a sunrise or sunset
# Held a wombat
# Been on a roadtrip of 800km or more.
# Seen the Great Australian Bight in person.
# Had a really bad sunburn
# Visited an aboriginal community
# Seen a redback spider
# Have watched Paul Hogan.
# Seen Blue Poles in person
# Wandered barefoot in the bush/outback
# Eaten Vegemite
# Thrown a boomerang.
# Seen the Kimberleys
# Given a hitch-hiker a lift
# Been to Perth
# Have tried Lemon, Lime and Bitters
# Tried playing a didgeridoo
# Seen dinosaur footprints.
# Eaten Tim Tams
# Been to Darwin
# Touched a kangaroo
# Visted the Great Barrier Reef
# Listened to Kevin Bloody Wilson.
# Killed a Cane Toad
# Gone to a drive-in theatre.
# Have read and own books by Australian authors and nonAustralian authors
# Visited Adelaide
# Know the story behind "Eternity" - I think I do, but I'm not sure...
# Been camping
# Visited Brisbane
# Been in an outback pub
# Know what the term "Waltzing Matilda" actually means - again, I think I do...
# Gone whale watching - only from the shore
# Listened to Slim Dusty.
# Own five or more Australian movies or TV series.
# Sang along to Down Under
# Have stopped specifically to look at an historic marker by the side of the road.
# Eaten a 4'n'20 pie.
# Surfed at Bondi.
# Watched the cricket on Boxing Day.
# Visited Hobart.
# Eaten kangaroo.
# Seen a quokka.
# Visited Canberra
# Visited rainforests
# Used a Victa lawnmower.
# Travelled on a tram in Adelaide
# Used a Hills hoist
# Visited Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
# Used native Australian plants in cooking. - not sure
# Visited the snow
# Chosen a side in Holden VS Ford.
# Visited the desert
# Been water skiing
# Read The Phantom.
# Visited Parliament House
# Gone spotlighting or pig-shooting
# Crossed the Nullarbor
# Avoided swimming in areas because of crocodiles
# Listened to AC/DC
# Called someone a dag
# Voted in a Federal Election - I'm not a citizen...
# Have been swimming and stayed between the flags
# Had a possum in your roof. And rats
# Visited the outback
# Travelled over corrugated roads.
# Hit a kangaroo while driving.
# Been well outside any mobile phone coverage.
# Seen an emu.
# Have woken to the smell of bushfires.
# Subscribed to RRR
# Patted a pure-bred dingo
# Seen the Oils live

Adam Hills - The Australian Accent

8.12.08

Swearing in Australia

If you're someone who is sensitive to rough language, then Australia might not be the place for you.

For example, based on your tone and facial expression, there are several ways to call someone a bastard. A lot of them are nice, joking ways, and some of them are the mean ways.

It's not at all uncommon to hear to here 'f' word thrown in casual conversation. Nor is it uncommon to here 'bloody h***' said a number of times in any given impassioned conversation.

Unlike some countries, you can even hear the occasion non-bleeped 'f' word on television.

This isn't to say you can go up to any Australian and be met with a smile when you say, "Hey there! How the f*** are ya?" It just means you shouldn't be surprised when it happens to you.

4.12.08

Only in Australia....

Man Tries to Pay Bill With Spider Drawing

Below is the complete email conversation that Adelaide man David Thorne claims he had with a utility company chasing payment of an overdue bill.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead. I value the drawing at $233.95 so trust that this settles the matter.

Regards, David.



From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.07am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Thankyou for contacting us. Unfortunately we are unable to accept drawings as payment and your account remains in arrears of $233.95. Please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles


From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.32am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Can I have my drawing of a spider back then please.

Regards, David.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.42am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear David,
You emailed the drawing to me. Do you want me to email it back to you?

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles


From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.56am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,

Yes please.

Regards, David.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 12.14pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Attached



From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 09.22am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Whose spider is that?

Dear Jane, Are you sure this drawing of a spider is the one I sent you? This spider only has seven legs and I do not feel I would have made such an elementary mistake when I drew it.

Regards, David.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.03am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David, Yes it is the same drawing. I copied and pasted it from the email you sent me on the 8th. David your account is still overdue by the amount of $233.95. Please make this payment as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles


From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.05am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Automated Out of Office Response

Thankyou for contacting me. I am currently away on leave, traveling through time and will be returning last week.

Regards, David.


From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.08am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Hello, I am back and have read through your emails and accept that despite missing a leg, that drawing of a spider may indeed be the one I sent you. I realise with hindsight that it is possible you rejected the drawing of a spider due to this obvious limb ommission but did not point it out in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings. As such, I am sending you a revised drawing with the correct number of legs as full payment for any amount outstanding. I trust this will bring the matter to a conclusion.

Regards, David.



From: Jane Gilles
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 2.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David, As I have stated, we do not accept drawings in lei of money for accounts outstanding. We accept cheque, bank cheque, money order or cash. Please make a payment this week to avoid incurring any additional fees.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles


From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 3.17pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

I understand and will definately make a payment this week if I remember. As you have not accepted my second drawing as payment, please return the drawing to me as soon as possible. It was silly of me to assume I could provide you with something of completely no value whatsoever, waste your time and then attach such a large amount to it.

Regards, David.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Attached

28.11.08

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my 'Up Over' friends, I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving.

26.11.08

The Maternal Instinct

Meet Chloe and Dexter. Chloe (to the left) is an Australian native flowering plant and Dexter is a good ol’ ivy. Both are very sturdy plants, like to grow all over the place, take little maintenance care (it’s okay if I forget to water them one day) and are basically the perfect plants for a beginner gardener like me.

And, given I can’t get a cat and I probably can’t get a dog, I named them.

If you talked to the me of only five years ago, I would have told you that I’m not mother material. The whole maternal instincts kicking in? I never figured that would happen to me. I wasn’t even the kind of little girl who wanted baby dolls to take care of; it just plain didn’t jive for me.

These days? Well, I don’t know if it’s marriage or if it’s just plain time, but I find myself aching for a family. My husband ‘divorced’ his family before I met him, so I’ve never met any of them. My family and I aren’t on the best of terms either. While I consider some new friends I’ve made here like family, it’s not quite the same as getting started making your own family.

Health issues (and financial issues, too) prevent us from starting to try just yet and it’s dragging me down. Over the past… Oh, I don’t know how long it’s been now, but what started out as an exciting but scary idea has now become a small ache in me. So, until I get my health straightened out and we get a bit of a nest egg, I’ll be taking care of Chloe and Dexter and hoping that will ease the ache for the time being.

I guess I am mother material after all.

22.11.08

Somewhere in the Middle

Today I received an email from an acquaintance in the US. In the email, this person said:

"Thanks, mate!"

I giggled a bit and turned to The Bloke. "Do you think it's cute when people from different countries say 'mate'? 'G'day mate.' 'Thanks mate.'"

He admitted that it was kind of funny and we had a little laugh, but then I realized what I was saying. Talking about an 'Australian experience' as if I had been born and raised here and encountered it all my life.

I feel very... middle-ish these days.

"I'm not technically Australian" is what I say to everyone else. I'm not even a permanent resident yet. (June 2009, here I come.) But I don't feel American by any standard. I feel Australian and at home, but there are little reminders - like someone asking where I'm from because of the accent - that I'm not Australian.

I'm somewhere in the middle.

21.11.08

Australian Wildlife (AKA Reasons Not to Invade Australia)

The Bloke had a little fun with someone from the US on a forum...

American Guy's Post…
I'm getting a group together to go raid some Australians for their gas. Picked a lonely coastal town and everything. One road through, one small harbor and no airport. All long range communications centrally located for your convenience. No guns. No problem. Yay Google Earth!

Have a decker on tap to drop their satellite phones and several tuned bolluxes (as in the electronic warfare use of the term, not the UK) for ham and citizens band. Though some nit picking bean counter is insisting we will burn all the fuel stolen getting back home. We had to give him a wedgie for being a wiseguy. And sort of not getting it.

Already have my head shaved into a mohawk and bought a spiffy set of cestuses?, cesti? big spikey gloves weighted with lead. For smacking heroes and "red shirts". Have a vest good enough to stop most shotgun and pistol rounds.

Though unlike my role model, knowing myself I'll probably pick a female as a girlfriend. (A man has to know himself, and that was an easy guess.) I'll pick a local wench, as a pack of mutant gasoline raiders will still probably treat them nicer than the local males, if memory holds true. And they talk cute.

Open to all. Sign up sheet below. Standard rules of raiding by independents apply.

We leave in a week. I want more bodies in on this as those Aussies can be hard as ticks when they get riled. Seen it. Land combat vets get 3 extra shares. Dyerwolf, since you were a combat Marine and an O to boot, I'll cut you in for ten extra shares if you sign up. Though I'll need you to secure the road south. Won't even require you to enter the town unless something goes way wrong.


The Bloke's Reply...

As an Aussie I'd like, in a friendly manner, to offer a cautionary word or two...

1. Insects & arachnids - we have a few here to give pause to the bravest souls. Couple of spiders that specialise in large mammalian types, another as big as a plate that likes meat. Got a couple of flies about an inch long that bite like the devil's pitchfork.

2. Snakes - of the top 13 most poisonous snakes on the planet, we have 12 of them. The King Cobra is about No. 8 I think. The top five a a whole order of magnitude above all others, in toxicity & amount delivered. Tiger snakes like to come hunting if you so much as walk too close. Most of them like to swim.

We have a snake that like to climb trees & hang around till someone walks near the tree. They can flatten their bodies & glide so from 100ft tree you aren't safe out to about 60ft away.

3. We have lizards that like to eat snakes...

4. Those kookaburras that you hear in jungle sound tracks in movies? The laughing jackass as we call them? They like to pick up poisonous snakes & fly up in the air & drop them. This tends not to please the snakes. Try not to be under one.

5. Kangaroos - about 4ft tall (the greys) up to about 7ft tall (the reds), claws an inch or more long, head of bone, hind legs able to rip the belly from a rhino. Get a little short tempered when anything gets between them & food. Try not to...

6. Wombats - short cute little sorts, build from molybdenum steel. If one starts running, DON'T let it hit you. You'll lose the bit it hits. Sherman tanks were designed after them but they couldn't quite get the solidity factor with mere metal.

7. Koalas - We keep them stoned on eucalyptus because they have muscles of steel to drive 2 inch claws. Australia would be uninhabitable if they ever get straight.

8. Emus - About the size of an Ostrich but meaner. Like to kick & capable of giving you new front ribs - sticking out your back

9. Cassowary's - Emus are afraid of them, think they're too stroppy.

10. You don't need to worry about sharks in the estuary waters. The crocs ate them out...

When & if you get past all of that, you'll probably reconsider the whole 'raid' idea & figure anything requiring that kind of commitment should probably result in you becoming an Aussie.

That's OK, we've got a few nationalities here - 130+ at last count. We accept almost anyone. *grins* ...who survives...

19.11.08

My Australian Angel

This is for the newspaper column for December and I usually wouldn't post it until then... but it happened to me today and I feel really compelled to share it with you all sooner rather than later.

~~~~

“Be nice and smile to everyone you meet. You don't know what they are going through, and they may need that smile. And treasure it.” - Christine M. Huppert

I had intended to write something completely different for this month’s column; the beginning of it is still waiting patiently for me to finish it in my notebook. However, inspiration doesn’t work by schedule or by intention. Inspiration strikes when and where it pleases, and if you are smart, you grab onto it and hold tight while you can.

Today, inspiration struck me in an amazing way and I wouldn’t be the woman I consider myself to be if I didn’t grab hold.

Over the past month, I have had an increasing amount of headaches. I have tried various things that didn’t work so, seeking any kind of relief, today I went the local chemist to see what the pharmacist would recommend. I needed to pick up some groceries anyway, so I tucked my reusable grocery bag in my purse.

After a frustrating conversation with the pharmacist, I had another headache alternative I hoped would work, paid and left.

A few steps out of the chemist and I realized I had lost my reusable shopping bag somewhere. Somewhere along the walk or in the chemist, it had dropped out of my bag. I went back and looked around where I could, but it was nowhere in sight.

By then, I just wanted to get home, but I had to get a few groceries and it was nearing lunch so I figured I’d pick up something for that as well. I was a short walk from the mall, so it wouldn’t be a huge detour to stop in anyway.

I bought groceries and decided a noodle box was exactly what I needed. I didn’t have to wait long before the kind woman presented me with my noodle box, and I was on my way.

Looking back now, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t ask for a bag. I always ask for a bag.

Right outside the doors to the parking lot, the box busted. While it was a bit of a contained break, the box still fell to the ground and chicken, vegetables and noodles spilled onto the ground. The contents had been super hot as well, so what spilled on my hand hurt enough to almost make me curse out loud.

I knelt down to shuffle around the contents of my bags so I could have a free one to put the mess in. Of course, by then, I was thinking this was just another perfect moment for another perfect day and... Well, my thoughts went in a direction that wouldn’t be suitable to print.

People passed by. I wasn’t surprised; I didn’t really expect anyone to stop. I felt more embarrassed than anything. But then something wonderful happened. Something amazing.

A woman stopped and asked if I was okay.

I explained that the box had broken and spilled everything and I was just trying to get it cleaned up. She volunteered to get some tissue or whatever else she could find and disappeared. She came back with a huge stack of paper towels. Not only that, she insisted I hand the used paper towels to her to take to the bin while I cleaned up.

All while this is happening, she’s chatting away about my accent, life in Australia and what a shame it is my lunch is all over the floor. I couldn’t help but make the comment that it was “just another ‘wonderful’ moment in another ‘wonderful’ day.”

After that, I couldn’t hold it any longer. I sobbed a few times – those great choking sobs you do when you’re really trying not to cry – and she rubbed my shoulder, offering words of sympathy interjected with suggestions about getting my lunch replaced.

When I’d gotten hold of myself, wiped away my tears and stood up, she didn’t give me time to protest as she talked about getting my lunch replaced and how she’d go with me ‘as a witness’. Had I been by myself, I wouldn’t have thought to go back and ask for a new box; I probably would have gone home and cried a bit.

She walked with me to the noodle place, took charge so I didn’t have to say a word and waited with me while they cooked my replacement meal. Still she chatted on about doing nice things for people, how my star sign – Leo – didn’t mean I had a lot of bad luck but she, as a Sagittarius, had a heck of a time with being accident prone. We talked about the US economy and how wonderful it is that you don’t have to be insured to get care in Australia and, again, about how we all have ‘those’ days sometimes.

I received my replacement noodle box – in a bag this time – and she walked me back out to where we had met. She remarked about how you couldn’t even tell there had been a mess on the floor and asked me if I needed a ride home. After assuring her a few times that it was just a short walk home and that I really would be okay, I thanked her repeatedly for her kindness.

I told her how wonderful it was that people still stopped to help other people these days. Of course, she shrugged it off and said, “Well, it makes me feel good to help other people. I’m your guardian angel for today.”

I thanked her again and she checked one last time if I would be okay walking home. Then she gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me the day could only get better from now on.

I told her it started to get better the moment she stopped to help me out.

She chuckled a bit and walked back inside to do whatever it is she had intended to do before she saw me. I looked back to see her and she was already almost lost in the crowd. I never got her name. All I know about her is that her sister shouted her lunch and that she’s an accident-prone Sagittarius. She has dark brown hair and glasses – just like me.

On the off chance that fate should bring you to a copy of this paper like it brought you into my life today, thank you again. In this world of fear and bad news, it’s wonderful to experience simple human kindness and generosity. It’s not just wonderful, it’s beautiful. You may have considered the action small, but it meant the world to me. With everything in me, thank you.

Until next time...

18.11.08

My Newspaper Column

Woohoo! I received my copies of the Hastings, Rosebud, Rye, Sorrento, Somerville, Mornington and Frankston community papers. (Yep, that's seven papers.) What makes these papers special (to me) is that they contain the first of my regular monthly column "The New Australian".

Yeah, go figure. I have a column by the same name as this blog.

My plan is to share my column with you when I receive the papers (meaning when they have been out for a couple weeks) so people here can read what I've written for the paper. (Because all of the people who currently read here are from overseas and can't get those papers.)

Anyway, without further ado, my first column for the November editions of those papers:

The New Australian
...Introduces Herself


Before I ever set one foot on Australian soil, I felt homesick for this wonderful place. Strange, I know, but after staying up many late nights in Wisconsin so I could talk to my then boyfriend (now husband) thousands of kilometers away in Australia, I longed to finally live in the beautiful country I heard so much about.

On the four-part flight from Minnesota to Melbourne, I was chided about making my first flight one that lasted so long. But, as I put my forehead against the window while my plane circled around to land in Melbourne, I marveled at the beautiful things I could see. I knew the long flight and nervous anticipation was all worth it.

I had finally come home.

In October I celebrated the second anniversary of my arrival in Australia. While some may argue that I am well past being a ‘new’ Australian – I have long since stopped calling all petrol ‘gas’ and calling the boot ‘the trunk’ – there is still much more for me to learn and discover here.

As my husband cheerfully informed me, “There are people who have been here forty years and are still ‘new’ Australians.” I don’t think I’ll be so new forty years from now, but I do hope I’ll still be discovering things about this place.

The discoveries and observations I make in my travels and the things I encounter on my journey from spousal visa to citizenship are the things I would like to share here. I’m looking forward to getting to know Mornington Peninsula and the people there better. Plus, in my career as a freelance writer, it doesn’t get any better than being able to write about the country I love so much.

So while you may read here about things you have encountered before, I hope you’ll enjoy them again from the perspective of a twenty-something still taking it all in.

It’s a pleasure to meet you. Until next time…

15.11.08

Council of Australians for Uneducated Americans

Man, I love this. I found these at The Two of Us.




Also, please note that the problem with the second one isn’t the kangaroo in the house, nor the cigarette in its mouth, nor the over-sized stubby, nor the fact that a child has it, nor the fact that he’s drinking beer with a straw (I saw somebody do that in a pub yesterday).

The reason it’s wrong is that no-one in Australia drinks Fosters.

14.11.08

New Template

Woohoo! I'm so happy with my new template!

Don't you just love it? All the little pictures are so awesome. Look closely at them - there are typical Aussie things in each of them.

Thank you so very much to Zoe at Chic and Sassy Designs who made this template. I could not be happier.

12.11.08

The End of the World (NSFW)

Aussies will be the last ones left.


New Template Coming

Soon I will have a fabulous new *custom* shiny template for this blog from Chic & Sassy Designs. She sent me an image of the header to give my opinion on yesterday and I'm so excited! It's going to look uber-awesome.

My wonderful friend Dorothy is getting me the template as an early Christmas present. Isn't she sweet?

Now I just have to keep holding on a little bit longer... Patience. Patience...

11.11.08

Why, Australia? Why?!

I honestly think Australia should be the death point for McDonalds. Australia should be the place where McDonalds simply cannot thrive because nobody eats there.

And yet, despite my most fervent wishes, I still see McDonalds everywhere with long lines consisting of people of various ages (and waistlines, I must add).

Wake up Australia!

I was a McDonald's child – it's true. What's cheap and easy is what's done in the family with a lot of kids and not a lot of money. (My mother raise my aunt's children, too, so there were six of us.) But we didn't have a lot of options, which isn't the case for city-bound Aussies. Or any Aussies for that matter. If you're not in the city and drive to McDonalds then you can just as easily drive somewhere else.

Aussies have so much lovely, delicious (and cheap!) food available to you, and yet you keep eating number-laden, chemical-packed, crap out of a package.

Tell me why.

Tell me why you insist on eating that kind of stuff when you have so many cultures breaking out their best in cultural yummies that is often just as cheap if not cheaper than fast food.

I saw a mother talking on her mobile and barely paying attention as she fed her baby greasy chip (fries for non-Aussies) after greasy chip. A baby who couldn't yet walk! Let's all join together and say 'childhood obesity', shall we?

Australia, you officially have no excuses for allowing McDonalds – and other fast, crappy junk food for that matter – to exist in this lovely country. Not one single excuse.

9.11.08

The Kindness of Strangers

I had never been in an airport, and thus obviously never been on a plane. I didn’t know who to ask for help, where to go, or even how to turn in my non-carryon luggage. And yet on October 11th of 2006, I decided to fly across the world, away from all I ever knew, to Australia.

I likely wouldn’t have made it, if not for the kindness of one man.

Minneapolis airport wasn’t the biggest airport (though you couldn’t have told me that when I first got there), and I had made it to where I needed to be to get on the plane for the first leg of the flight. Journaling was my solace, as I was there alone with no one to talk me through my first flight.

Once I was on the plane and we were in the air, I was in heaven. Seeing the sun set over Minnesota as I quickly wrote down my thoughts and feelings was absolutely wonderful. It was only after getting over my initial fascination with being so high up that I noticed the man beside me looked like someone in a television show I used to watch. The similarity made me smile, a smile which he noticed and returned.

As we descended towards the Denver airport and I switched my watch to the local time, I began to panic as I realized I had no idea where to go to connect to my next flight and only ten minutes to figure it out. When we stepped off the plane, I truly began to panic.

Compared to what I saw of the Minneapolis airport, Denver was absolutely huge. I followed the other people off the flight hoping that someone, anyone, would be going to the same next flight as me.

The man who had sat next to me on the plane caught up with me and must have seen the fear on my face. He asked if I was okay, and I was only too happy to admit I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going, and admitting how little time I had left.

He checked my ticket to see where I needed to be and quickly began to lead the way. We walked around and through places I never would have made it through alone. With a smile and three easy instructions – “go down the stairs, get on the subway-like thing, and get off at the end” – and a smile, he wished me the best of luck.

As I took a moment to watch him walk away to his own connecting flight, I smiled, realizing I could have missed the rest of my flights to Australia if not for him. And I didn’t even get the chance to ask his name.

7.11.08

Turning the Lights On

When you’re in Australia, most people ‘back home’ (in the northern hemisphere) are likely to ask you the big question: “Does the toilet water really go down the other way?”

That’s for another post.

Did you know that in Australia, you turn the light switch down to turn the light on?

It’s a simple thing, but the first small thing I noticed they do different in the land down under.

My husband and I argue a lot about which things that the Australians do are right, and I have to give him the point on this one. While it goes against the “up is on” logic, it is a lot more sensible movement as far as the movement is concerned.

If you’re fumbling around in the dark, it’s much easier and more comfortable to put your hand on the wall and just let fall rather than feeling around to flip the switch up.

So, score one for my husband, and for Aussies.

6.11.08

Our Beloved Huntsman

Tonight I passed yet another Aussie milestone – I saw my first Huntsman!

The Bloke was calmly destroying a chicken so he could make his sangers for work and I was going on about my latest writing project when…

“So, I looked on the website and the only specification they gave was – Holy shit! That’s a huge spider!” (Forgive the language; I was startled.)

Just past The Bloke under the kitchen window (well within his arm’s reach) a big ol’ spider was happily hanging out. He said, “Oh, it’s a Huntsman.”

For those of you not familiar with the Huntsman… http://www.australianfauna.com/huntsmanspider.php

My combination fear/fascination gave way to excitement as I raced around to find the camera. (Because things that frighten me take second place to my important Australian moments, of course. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen when I come across a Tiger Snake http://www.australianfauna.com/tigersnake.php .)

The Bloke assured me the one we had was “just a boy” and that they got bigger, but the one we had was more than enough spider for me, thank you very much. I refused, at first, to get close enough to move things for a decent picture, but he had no problem. And eventually – making sure the thing couldn’t jump at me – I got close enough to take a good look and a comparison picture.

(The spoon pictured is a teaspoon.)

So there you have it! One more Aussie milestone for my ‘book’.

5.11.08

2008 US Presidential Elections

Ballot and box with words vote
The coverage for the election has just started on channel seven (and others) here in Victoria, and I'm already feeling the election buzz. Obama and McCain both have one state so far and I can promise you that the television will certainly be on in this flat until the next 48 states are accounted for.

One thing that impresses me about living in Australia is the fact they are covering the election. I never saw an election in another country covered when I lived in the States.

Mind you, I would have to check to know if covering the US election is something that happens every year in Oz.

I'm not trying to be snarky about the US by any means; I'm just happy to be living in a country where you can take in so much about not only what is happening locally but the world scale as well.

I don't think it's an exaggeration at all when the news reporters say this is the most important US election there has been in decades. The world is hurting and every country needs strong leaders to carry us through to better times.

Whether that actually happens or not remains to be seen...

Any early election predictions anyone?

2.11.08

Spring in Melbourne

It’s Spring! The morning is all beautiful blue sky, bright sunshine, slight breeze and it’s 15ºC by 8AM. For the first days of September the weather god has put a sparkle in the air, zest on the breeze and got the birds out filling the surrounds with song… Well, it is song if you can describe the cacophony of magpie warbles, cockatoo squawks, kookaburra laughs as song.

People on the road as I head for work are cheerful and polite – I double check to make sure I’m in Melbourne – so I guess the lovely day is getting to them as well.

Melbourne is renowned for the variety of weather we get, but there are few lovelier places to be than in Melbourne when it turns on the fine spring weather. There is no better time to get out into the city exploring than in spring. Everyone is so happy that winter is nearly through that nice manners not only go a long way – they go a very long way.

But sure enough, it is Melbourne. By 11:30AM the clouds are rolling in, it’s back to 15º and a glance out the window leaves me wondering about the wisdom of not having a raincoat.

Even so, I’m happy living here. It’s a city of contrasts, of mixtures and it’s so cosmopolitan that in certain areas it’s difficult to understand this is Australia. With a decidedly European feel to the lifestyle, as opposed to the more Americanised pace of Sydney, Melbourne is a city pleasant to visit, easy to live in and hard to leave.

Especially in the spring.

1.11.08

Places to Go Around Australia (Reviews)

*Locations may be recommended or not recommended. Please refer to the actual review.
**Some links will take you to Down Under Views, where I also put up café reviews.

Victoria


Nibble and Natter - Ballarat

Pugg Mahones - Carlton

Tiamo 1 - Carlton

University Café - Carlton

Center Stage - Chelsea

Hopscotch Café - Elsternwick

Flying Emu Café - Halls Gap

Gallery Corner - Hamilton

Marina Bar and Bistro - Hastings (Mornington Peninsula)

The Famous Blue Raincoat - Kingsville South

Federation Sqaure - Melbourne CBD

Mrs. Parma's - Melbourne CBD

Royal Botanic Gardens - Melbourne CBD

Café Moderno - Ringwood

Coach and Horses - Ringwood

Gourmet Junction - Ringwood

Theobrama Chocolate Lounge - Ringwood

Niko's Tavern - Ringwood East

Toolangi Tavern - Toolangi

Australian Capital Territory


The Durham - Kingston

New South Wales


Batemans Bay Bakehouse - Batemans Bay

My Chocolate Shoppe - Kiama

South Australia


...


Tasmania


...

Queensland


...

Northern Territory


...

Western Australia


...

30.10.08

Catching Up

Well, I finally made time to sit down and put in my old blog entries from around the time I moved to Australia. They're not all there, unfortunately, but I'm grateful for the things I was able to recover.

Everything from those days is dated to 2006 and marked "(Archive)" after the title so things don't get confusing around here.

Now that I've finally done that, I can get to posting about what's happening in the present! Woohoo!

27.10.08

G'Day

The New Australian is reborn!

In early October 2006, I got on a plane in the US Midwest that took me on the first leg of my trip from the US to Melbourne, Australia. I'd never been on a plane before and took a big leap of faith that an internet-grown romance could survive off the computer, but it was all worth it.

Just over two years later, I'm married to a wonderful Australian man - The Bloke - living and working in Australia, on the road to permanent residency and then citizenship, and still just as in love with this wonderful country as I was when I first set foot on Melbourne soil.

I did have a blog by this name when I first arrived here, but in moving around the virtual world, it somehow got lost in the shuffle. Thanks to a wonderful site called The Wayback Machine, I have been able to recover some of the first posts I made while transitioning to my life here in Australia.

Of course, being the second edition, I want this place to be bigger and better than the first. I'll be sharing photos, talking about my daily life, talking about anything that happens with immigration and the fun of becoming a permanent resident. There will also be jokes, explaining Strine to the non-Australians, "Aussie" moments I experience and even recommendations to the excellent places The Bloke and I find.

I also have the first appearance of my regular column in the community papers put out along Mornington Peninsula - also titled "The New Australian" - that I will be talking about here as well.

This is my first official post, but I will be backdating some of the earlier posts from my old blog. Hopefully it won't be too confusing.

If you feel the need to contact me for whatever reason, the fastest way is just to leave a comment on this post.

Until next time...