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31.7.09

Getting Used to Prices in Melbourne


...or in any country, for that matter.

When I moved to Melbourne, two things I struggled with were weights/measures and currency. Today I'm going to focus on currency because getting used to metric isn't something that every traveler to Australia will have to do.

It's no secret that Australia is one of the most highly taxed countries out there, but that doesn't mean you can't find a good deal. The key is exchange rates.

When I first moved here, so many things seemed outrageously expensive, but that's because I had all my reference points firmly in the US dollar. When I started converting my reference points to Australian currency, things started looking up.

When you're traveling to a new country - or even better, before you travel - subscribe (or just play with) a site like XE.com. Though I don't need it like I used to, I get an email every day from that site giving me the list of what Australian dollars are trading at for each currency.

For example, if Australian dollars are trading at fifty cents on the American dollar, I know that a two dollar pack of gum here that is usually one in the States is fine. It's the same price in different currencies.

It may sound complicated and confusing now, but it's really not. Ease yourself into exchange rates gently and you'll find that you'll be able to get more worth out of your money when traveling.

28.7.09

Music, Atmosphere, and Great Coffee at Hopscotch

One of the beauties of Melbourne and its suburbs is the fact you can find some of the best places by just having a bit of a wander. My husband and I had the luck to find a fun gem while wandering around not far outside Melbourne.

When you walk into the cozy Hopscotch café, the first thing you are likely to notice is the huge specials board… written completely backwards. Well, not completely, as the only words written straight instruct patrons to turn around and look at the mirrors lining the opposite wall so they can read the board.

You have a choice of sitting out front, on comfy chairs, at tables, or even at a private courtyard. Feel free to move around – their ‘free wi-fi with coffee’ certainly won’t mind and neither will the staff as they make you a coffee just how you like it or one of the best chai lattes I have tasted. (And I have tasted chai lattes in over a dozen different locations across Victoria.)

With daily lunch specials and an all day breakfast, Hopscotch is the perfect little place to hang out, have a feed, and hook on to the wi-fi for work or pleasure.

And not only is there all that, but they even have loyalty cards to keep you coming back (like I needed any more reasons) with rewards of free drinks and buy one, get one free. Unlike a lot of loyalty cards, they actually give you great deals without having to buy heaps of coffee or food. Did I mention the prices are good, too?

What more could you ask for? You had me at the all-day breakfast. Or the wi-fi. I can’t decide – just give me another chai latte, please.

If you’re not keen on trying to find parking on Glenhuntley road, just hop on the 67 tram. It goes right by Hopscotch and you only have a short walk to get there after you get off.

Hopscotch Espresso
313 Glenhuntley Road
Elsternwick 3185
Melbourne, VIC

9532 7688

PS. If you're a BookCrossing fan, they are a popular drop/pick up site, too!

26.7.09

All About Meme

Pinched from Hanlie

1) Are your parents married or divorced?
Married, the last time I heard. I wouldn't be surprised if they now don't 'believe in' divorce.

2) Are you a vegetarian?
Ha. At the moment, I'm as close as I ever will be, but I love meat too much to ever go all the way.

3) Do you believe in Heaven?
That would really depend which concept of heaven you're talking about.

4) Have you ever come close to dying?
Yes.

5) What jewelry do you wear?
A silver necklace with two ankhs on it is almost always around my neck. I always have a stud in my nose. My wedding ring on my finger.

Other accessories come and go as the mood strikes.

6) Favorite time of day?
Sunset

7) Do you eat the stems of broccoli?
Yeah... Why wouldn't you?

8) Do you wear makeup?
Rarely. My skin is entirely too sensitive for me to wear it more than just every once in a while.

9) Ever have plastic surgery?
Nope.

10) Do you color your hair?
I used to, but I stopped when I was told you can't donate coloured hair.

11) What do you wear to bed?
To bed? Pajamas. In bed? Nothing.

12) Have you ever done anything illegal?
Of course. Hasn't everyone?

13) Can you roll your tongue?
Oh yeah.

14) Do You tweeze your eyebrows?
Occasionally. I wish I could go get them waxed.

15) What kind of sneakers?
The kind that fits my feet...

16) Do you still own vinyl?
Vinyl what?

17) What is your hair color?
Dark brown.

18) Future child’s name?
I think that's something that will be discussed when we figure out if I can get pregnant or not...

19) Do you snore?
Nope.

20) If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
To a house bought and paid for, owned by me and my husband.

21) Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
Nah, pillows are good.

22) If you won the lottery?
House. Clothes. Car. World Trip.

23) Gold or silver?
Silver

24) Hamburger or hot dog?
Australian hamburger, thank. Everything else is not worth the calories.

25) If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
SUSHI!

26) City, beach or country?
Country. Preferably by mountains.

27) What was the last thing you touched?
My mouse.

28) Where did you eat last?
Right here at my desk. I had some grapes and strawberries.

29) When’s the last time you cried?
About a month ago.

30) Do you read blogs?
All the time. I love blogs.

31) Would you ever go out dressed like the opposite sex?
I do quite a bit. Guys' clothes are more comfy most of the time. HAHA.

32) Ever been involved with the police?
Nah, they're a bit too straight and narrow for my tastes. ;)

33) What’s your favorite shampoo, conditioner and soap?
I don't really have favourites, though I do use Dove soap because they don't put bloody laurel sulfate in there.

34) Do you talk in your sleep?
I've been told I do. In different languages, even.

35) Ocean or pool?
Ocean.

36) What’s your favorite song?
And so it Goes - Billy Joel

37) What is your favorite color(s)?
Green, blue, purple

39 Ever met anyone famous?
Met in person? Famous authors, yes. On the net, some other famous authors. I've met some bands and musicians, too, but not beyond the 'hello, sign this, on your way'.

40) Do you feel that you’ve had a truly successful life?
I don't think I have lived long enough to give an answer to that.

41) Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?
I'm a twirler.

42) Ricki Lake or Oprah?
Neither.

43)Basketball or Football?
Aussie footy.

44) How long do your showers last?
Longer than I do.

45) Automatic or do you drive a stick?
I don't drive these days, but I drove an automatic in the States.

46) Cake or ice cream?
Ice cream.

47) Are you self-conscious?
Usually.

48) Have you ever drank so much you threw up?
No, but I've drank so much I *wanted* to throw up.

49) Have you ever given money to a tramp?
Not that I know of.

50) Have you been in love?
Still am.

51) Where do you wish you were?
In that house I mentioned before...

52) Are you wearing socks?
Nope.

53) Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
No, and I don't intend to.

54) Can you tango?
I wish.

55) Last gift you received?
Pens! Lovely pens from my husband.

56) Last sport you played?
Frisbee in the park a couple weeks back.

57) Things you spend a lot of money on?
Travel.

58) Where do you live?
On Earth.

59) Where were you born?
See above.

60) Last wedding attended?
My wedding a couple years back.

61) Favorite alcoholic drink?
Hmmm. Hard to pick just one. I do like a Smirnoff, but a grasshopper with creme de cacao added in really hits the spot sometimes. On a hot summer day? Gin and tonic.

62) What did you do last weekend?
I can't really remember. That's kind of sad. Hmm. Bloody. I can't think at the moment.

63) Most hated food(s)?
Most things with "in a can" or "on a stick" as their main selling points.

64) What’s your least favorite chore?
Probably dusting or doing the dishes.

65) Can you sing?
Of course I can sing. Singing well is something else entirely.

66) Last person you instant messaged?
Not a clue. I haven't IMd for a long time.

67) Last place you went on holiday?
Western Victoria

68) Favorite regular drink?
Water

69) Current crush?
????

23.7.09

Australis Interruptis

‘Australis Interruptis’ is a fun term I coined to make a point with my Australian about a speaking habit that the majority of Australians have – and seem to think nothing of.

Interrupting.

Far from being rude (to the majority of the population), interrupting is just what Australians tend to do in conversations. I love sitting back and listening to two or more native Australians talk (especially when they’re excited) and consistently start speaking their piece before the other person is finished speaking.

And they don’t notice! It’s just the way they speak and have conversations.

Interrupting is just one more reason not to be easily offended in Australia. In fact, try honing your skills a bit and joining in. Don’t be heavy-handed about it, but there aren’t many other places that will give you quite the trial by fire in speaking up than Australia will.

22.7.09

Cheap Feel, Expensive Meal – Coach and Horses

While it’s all well and good to talk about what’s hot in Melbourne, we all want to know the places that we are better off avoiding.

The Aussie pub is a huge part of Australian life. However, that doesn’t mean every hotel/bar achieves that friendly pub feel that Aussies enjoy so much.

In Ringwood, towards one end of the Eastlink freeway, is the Coach and Horses bar. A mix of bistro, sports bar and gambling area, this bar could be a truly great place that people enjoy going to. However, I highly recommend that you not make the Coach and Horses a ‘must see’ place on your touring list.

Open from early in the morning to…even earlier in the morning, it is ideal for night owls. But only night owls who are desperate for a drink or a go at a gambling machine.

If you’re desperate for a place to eat, then skip the bistro section and go straight to the sports bar. It might be a bit grittier than you’d like, but the food is much cheaper and just as good because it comes from the same kitchen as the bistro. It’s your typical fare most of the time – with parmas, chips, wedges, burgers, etc – but it is very well done.

How they manage to get away with the expensive food prices in the bistro is still a great mystery to those of us who go because we have friends among the bar staff. You may get a wider variety of choices in the bistro, but I’d rather save the money any day.

21.7.09

Parmas Your Way at Mrs. Parma's

If you're looking for a place that has atmosphere, televisions to watch the sport, a wide arrangement of beers and a mighty good feed, then you'd do well to stop by Mrs. Parma's.

Mrs. Parma's supports the locals with an excellent selection of not only the usual characters like Carlton Draught but also beers from around the region. You can sit at the bar with a cold one or get more comfortable at one of the tables while you watch the cricket or footy.

It's a smaller place, but there is more of a pub area in the front and a slightly more intimate dining area further in. The staff are a lot of fun and are always up for a chat with the customers. The place is decorated with dark reds and pleasant lighting, so it's a great place to sit back and relax.

While $22 for a chicken parma might make you bulk, just wait until you see the size of the things. They are pretty massive, so be sure to arrive hungry if you're going to go for a parma.

What's even better is they have vegetarian parma options as well as a lot of other fantastic entrees and desserts.

Located in the Melbourne CBD, Mrs. Parma's is an excellent place to stop in after work for a drink or to have a dinner out. It's within walking distance of shops, theatres and so much more, so you won't have to worry about driving!

25 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne Victoria
Phone : (03) 9639 2269
Email: info@mrsparmas.com.au

Opening Hours
Monday – Friday 11am till late
Saturday & Sunday 12pm till late

http://www.mrsparmas.com.au/

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Even if you have only a few days to visit Melbourne, one of the places you can't miss is the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Just a short walk away from Flinders Street Station, the gardens are not only easy to get to, but they are HUGE! If you're on limited time, you probably won't get to see all of the gardens, but it is definitely worth it.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has a variety of different plants, flowers and trees from all over. Everything from rose bushes to bamboo can be found as you wander around. It's truly beautiful to take it all in. There are many winding paths for you to wander and many more places to sit down and enjoy.

Pack a picnic basket and blanket so you can make a lovely afternoon of it or bring your favourite book and get some sun.

Don't worry if you don't bring your own food and drink (though you should at least bring a camera) - the gardens has its own cooshy tea room with everything from ice cream to more substantial food available. They also often have music playing as well.

You don't have to be worried about people on rollerblades, bikes or skateboards, either, as you wander around because all of those are prohibited in the gardens.

Not only is it a fantastic place to visit for all the reasons above, the also have workshops, guided tours and other events on. It's fantastic! If wandering around looking at flowers and trees (and all the other interesting people who visit), check out what else is happening or perhaps enjoy a meal at the cafe while looking out at the gorgeous surroundings.

And the best part? It's free to get in.

http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/

20.7.09

Pugg Mahones – Food, Fun and a Pint

As you may have guessed by now, there’s not much I appreciate more when out and about than a good, traditional pub. For a long time now, Pugg Mahones has been a favourite stop of mine. But it wasn’t until recently that I was able to try the food and get the full Pugg experience.

I would have given Pugg Mahones an excellent review for just the environment and friendly staff, but they outdo themselves when it comes to their food. You may not think their menu as the most spectacular you’ve ever seen, but it is just plain excellent food.

You want the best nachos (that I have tasted at this point) in Melbourne? Go to Pugg Mahones.

Excellent deals like $10 parmas (fantastic, also, by the way) and other things are just another reason to stop in and have a meal with your drinks.

If you’re not keen on eating on the ground floor with everyone else, the upstairs has a more open plan and is great for functions. The upstairs level also has live music every night from Monday to Saturday.

They also have a membership program that provides things like discounts, occasional free pints and more.

All in all, Pugg Mahones is a great, feel good, relaxed pub in Carlton. It’s your perfect stop after work for a pint, meeting up with friends and/or to top off the night with a great meal and live music.

Phone: (03) 9810 0060

http://www.puggs.com.au/

PS. Try asking the staff what Pugg Mahones means. It’ll either give you a shock or give you a laugh.

19.7.09

Priceless

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's party. He is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He didn't even remember how he got home from the party. As bad as he was feeling, he wondered if he did something wrong.

He forced himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!

He sits up and sees his clothing in front of him, all cleaned and pressed! He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house.

He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror. Then he notices a note hanging on the corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick: 'Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to get groceries to make you your favourite dinner tonight. I love you, darling! Love, Jillian'

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast, steaming hot coffee and the morning newspaper.

His 16 year old son is also at the table, eating. Jack asks, "Son. what happened last night?"

"Well, you came home after 3 A.M., drunk and out of your mind you fell over the coffee table and broke it, and then you puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door."

Confused, he asked his son, "So, why is everything in such perfect order and so clean? I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"

His son replies, "Oh THAT... Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, 'Leave me alone bitch, I'm married!'"


Broken Coffee Table $239.99
Hot Breakfast $4.20
Two Aspirins $.38


Saying the Right thing, at the Right time:


PRICELESS

18.7.09

Speaking Australian Part Three – Socializing

Drinking and eating are a huge part of the Australian lifestyle – especially if you are in Melbourne, which has some of the best food on the planet. If you get the chance to go out and about (and I highly recommend you do), here are some basic terms to help get you by:

Your Shout

No, you aren't quite talking about shouting... This phrase you'll often hear in pubs and slightly less often in restaurants.

Basically, if you're calling your shout this round, it means you're paying for the round. If you get in a ‘shouting match’ that means each person in the group will take a turn buying a round. People who skip out on their shouts will often find themselves without a lot of friends.

A Cuppa

If you're invited in for a cuppa, by all means, accept!

A cuppa invitation is basically someone asking you if you'd like to sit down for a cup of tea (or coffee) and a bit of chat and relax time.

Sheila

Sheila is a term that isn't as in popular as it once was, but it's still in use - even if it can be slightly derogatory these days.

Simply put, it's a term for woman. However, it's not usually used for a high-society or 'lady' type.

Bloke

Where there's a sheila, there's likely a bloke. Bloke, unlike shelia, is in no way derogatory and is in common use.

And it means guy or man. Bloke also serves as a more specific description for a guy who's a man's man. All around guy who isn't into fashion, hair highlights, etc.

Bonza

Bonza is another term not used as much as it used to be, but you can sometimes still hear it said.

Basically, it means good or very good. "That was a bonza concert!"

Crook

Feeling a bit crook? Obviously we aren't talking about a shepherd's crook.

If you're feeling crook, it means you're feeling ill.

And again, remember to not be easily offended!

17.7.09

Speaking Australian Part Two – Not for the Easily Offended

When it comes to Australia, one of the first things you (should) will notice about Australians is their sense of humor. Overall, most Aussies like to have a bit of fun and stir people up a bit. If you are easily offended, then Australia might not be the place for you.

Poms, Kiwis, and other Non-Aussies

Australians are the first to make fun of everyone - including themselves. Thus, it only makes sense that they come up with nicknames for people from other countries (and for each other).

Here's a quick list of what you might be called when you get to Australia.

Common use:

Kiwis - From New Zealand (For the record, New Zealanders call Australians ‘skips’)
Poms - From England
Yanks/Septics - From the US
Canucks - Canadian

There are many more here, but they might get you in a fight, so it’s better to learn them later than to remember them at the exact wrong time…

16.7.09

Speaking Australian Part One – Intro to Strine

By far, one of the things that fascinates non-Australians the most about Australia is the language. Australians speak English (mostly) so why do some of the words not make sense?

When it comes to Strine – Aussie slang, if you prefer – there are a few things you should remember:

1. Most Aussies will be polite when you first arrive and not use a lot of Strine.
2. Most Aussies like messing with people – stirring – so don’t substitute the ‘most’ in #1 with ‘all’.
3. Most people who try to imitate an Australian accent end up sounding English, so you’d be better off not ‘going Aussie’ just yet.

Here are some basic Strine phrases that will help get you through your first days here in Australia:

G'day

This is probably the most well known and easily decipherable Aussie-ism, and that's why I choose to start with it. "G'day" is a traditional Aussie greeting, but that doesn't mean it has completely replaced hello, hi, hey, and the other greetings people are used to.

Side note: You're more likely to get asked how you're 'going' than how you're 'doing'.

Mate

Mate, while probably looked at from the outside at just another term for friend, can be more than that.
In casual greeting, mate can mean friend.

However, if someone points out another person and says, "Yeah, he's my mate" then it means close friend rather than casual friend.

Some Quick Aussie-isms

Fag - Cigarette
Petrol - Fuel/Gas
Knickers - Women's underwear
Jocks - Men's underwear
Doona - A stuffed quilt
Mobile - Cell phone
Drongo - Clumsy idiot

Some Quick Phonetics

Mobile - Mow-bile
Herb - like it's spelled - not 'erb'
Basil - Baa-zil
Tomato - Most often heard as toh-mah-toh

And just a note...

Koala bear - Not a bear! Just a koala.

15.7.09

The Streets of Melbourne – Entertainment Everywhere

When you visit Melbourne, it’s all well and good to visit the well-known sights, but you could be missing out on one of the features that makes Melbourne my favourite city to wander around on foot in: street entertainment.

To truly experience a city, there’s not much better you can do than wander around and take everything in. From musicians to artists to ‘living’ statues, the streets of Melbourne are full of all sorts of interesting sights and sounds – many of which you can miss if you opt to drive everywhere and/or stick to the main tourist destinations.

Looking for a unique gift? There are plenty of paintings, crafts and other things on sale from street vendors. Want to help support your local musicians? Take a short walk and you’re bound to come across guitar players, one-man/woman bands and even some performers who need only a mic and the interesting sounds they can make.

Admittedly, you do get the good with the bad, but in my experience, there has been a lot more good than bad. There has been some downright weird, too, but that’s Melbourne for you.

And even if you’re not that interested, keep in mind that these people are trying to earn some money. If you enjoy the craft/painting/etc, why not get it? If you enjoy the performance, consider tossing some money into the hat.

14.7.09

My World Trip - Places I Want to Go

This is just the start of a list, but these are the places that first came to mind...

Not in any order of preference or trip planning or whatever. Just places.

Peru
Berlin
Canada
Egypt
Italy
Greece
US West Coast (California, Washington, Idaho...)
Wisconsin
New York via Niagara Falls
London
Bath
Stonehenge
Amsterdam
Singapore
Hong Kong
Tokyo

13.7.09

My World Trip

As crazy as it may sound, I have decided to start planning a world trip. Not 'I'm going next month' - or even next year, for that matter - or anything intense like that. I would just like to start thinking about, and tentatively planning, places I would like to go on a 'round the world' trip.

I think there are way too many people out there who don't even think about the things they really want in live because 'it'll never happen'. Rather than face disappointment, they don't think about the pleasant things at all.

Will my trip happen? Eh, maybe not. But it could. Someday. So, instead of focusing on the 'maybe not' I am going to focus on the 'but it could'. It's not going to be anything too exciting, but every now and then I might post something that I'll stick in the 'my world trip' tag category.

For giggles. And dreams.

At this point, it's going to take $40,000 - $50,000 to have a nice, comfortable trip around the world. That's a reality I focus on, but I'll keep saving.

You never know.

Funny Letter to the Bank Manager

Long, but definitely worth a read. You can find the original post here.

****

Dear Bank Manager,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing the check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations some three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check, and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has only been in place for eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account with $50 by way of penalty for the inconvenience I caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant financial ways. You have set me on the path of fiscal righteousness.

No more will our relationship be blighted by these unpleasant incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in the second half of 1999, taking as my model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your very bank. I can think of no greater compliment, and I know you will be excited and proud to hear it.

To this end, please be advised about the following changes:

First, I have noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am confronted by the impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh and blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee of your branch, whom you must nominate. You will be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require our chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Justice of the Peace, and that the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in all dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further by introducing you to my new telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like yours. My authorized contact at your bank, the only person with whom I will have any dealings, may call me at any time and will be answered by an automated voice. By pressing buttons on the phone, he/she will be guided thorough an extensive set of menus:

1. To make an appointment to see me
2. To query a missing repayment
3. To make a general complaint or inquiry
4. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there;
Extension of living room to be communicated at the time the call is received;
5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am still sleeping. Extension of bedroom to be communicated at the time the call is received;
6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature. Extension of toilet to be communicated at the time the call is received.
7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at home.
8. To leave a message on my computer. To leave a message a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a later date to the contact.
9. To return to the main menu and listen carefully to options 1 through 8.
The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may on occasion involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration. This month I've chosen a refrain from The Best Of Woody Guthrie:
"Oh, the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are filled with silver
That the miners sweated for"

After twenty minutes of that, our mutual contact will probably know it by heart. On a more serious note, we come to the matter of cost.

As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater efficiency comes at a cost. A cost which you have always been quick to pass on to me. Let me repay your kindness by passing some costs back.

First, there is the matter of advertising material you send me. This I will read for a fee of $20 per page. Inquiries from your nominated contact will be billed at $5 per minute of my time spent in response. Any debits to my account, as, for example, in the matter of the penalty for the dishonored check, will be passed back to you.

My new phone service runs at 75 cents a minute (even Woody Guthrie doesn't come for free), so you would be well advised to keep your inquiries brief and to the point. Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

Best Wishes,

Your humble client

12.7.09

Christmas in July

When I was living in the States, when I heard 'Christmas in July', I thought it was all just a big commercial industry scam to get people to buy more stuff. Heck, wouldn't they love it if they could have Christmas TWICE a year? 'ckin oath. ;)

But now that I'm in the southern hemisphere, I get. I mean really get it.

Regular Christmas in Oz consists of BBQs, going to the beach, trying to chill out by relaxing with a cold beer and friends with air conditioning. Certainly a far change from mugs of hot chocolate, warm jammies, the heater going as you look outside at the massive snow drifts...

I was wondering if it would happen this year because it has the past two Julys, but I didn't really recognize it for what it was. Lo and behold, I woke up a few mornings ago and felt like I should be putting up Christmas decorations or something.

Looking outside and seeing no snow on the ground usually snaps me out of it, but I still feel a little confused internally. I want to be making candy cane reindeer and buying/making presents for people. While I'm sure people would appreciate the gifts, it might be just a little weird...

Maybe that's one of the reasons I have a hard time in winter here. Not only do I have fewer presents to make/buy for people during regular Christmas anyway, I can't really do what I feel I should be doing because it's July and Christmas is far away...

A Touch of Polish

I'm pretty much done with the changes for the blog now. I hope it makes things easier and less confusing. And more to the point for what I intend for this blog.

JM

Photography Buffs Unite on the Melbourne Photo Walk

When I say there is something for everyone in Melbourne, I most certainly mean photographers as well. As a amateur (but enthusiastic) photographer myself, the Melbourne Photo Walk is just one more way to get out and appreciate Melbourne as well as meet other people who share the same interests.

While still fairly new and small, things aren’t likely to stay that way for long with socializing and fun on the menu. Not only that, you can enter your photos from the day into different categories to be eligible for prizes!

Rewarded with prizes for spending a day doing something you love with other people who also love that activity? It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you’re looking to get in on the next photo walk, stop by their website - http://melbournephotowalk.com/ - which has details on walks, links to their flickr and twitter groups and a contact email address for any questions you have (or just to say hello!). They also feature some of the photos there are well.

11.7.09

Public Transport in Melbourne

Public transport in Melbourne has come under a bit of fire lately, but getting to know city transport is still one of the best things you can do when you’re coming in for a visit.

Whether you’re going across the city or to a suburb a good distance away, you have a selection of trains, buses and trams to get you where you need to be. A daily ticket for all zones can see you hopping on and off all three, traveling around to your heart’s content.

However, if you want to go somewhere specific and you want to take public transport, the site to check out is Connex.com.au.

With the ability to specify what kind of public transport you want to take as well as destinations and time leaving, Connex.com.au can help you get to where you want to do. Not only that, it will give you the four options that are closest to your departure date.

Public transport, while it can be frustrating, is not only a cheap way to get around but also a great way to immerse yourself in true city life.

Of course, always remember to leave a bit early just in case.

Connex.com.au

To the Feed Readers

I am in the process of moving some posts over from another site, and some of them are older posts.

I'm not sure what that will do to your feed readers (if they'll pick it up being backposted and all), but that's what's happening. Just in case you pop in and don't see a new post (besides this one) at the top.

Testing

Testing Blogger scheduled posting

10.7.09

A Woman's Poem, A Man's Poem

A WOMAN'S POEM:

Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man who's not a creep,
One who's handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long,
One who thinks before he speaks,
One who'll call, not wait for weeks.
I pray he's rich and self-employed,
And when I spend, won't be annoyed.
Pull out my chair and hold my hand..
Massage my feet and help me stand.
Oh send a king to make me queen.
A man who loves to cook and clean.
I pray this man will love no other.
And relish visits with my mother..

A MAN'S POEM:

I pray for a deaf-mute gymnast nymphomaniac with
big tits who owns a bar on a golf course,
AND loves to send me fishing and drinking. This
doesn't rhyme and I don't give a shit..

9.7.09

Security at the Library

You know it’s time to move away from a suburb when you have security people wandering around the library of all places.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I’ve been to the library twice recently and there have been upwards of five security people wandering around in the late afternoon. I’ve made the connection between workers coming home and the time the security people really start wandering around, but otherwise...

I’m stumped.

The Bloke and I have put off out moving plans for the moment because jobs haven’t come through with interviews just yet. Personally, I’m okay with waiting for the moment because I’d rather move out of state. In terms of stamp duty, Victoria is the most expensive state to live in with Western Australia coming in a close second.

New South Wales is about tied with Tasmania for being the cheaper states (Queensland is the cheapest) and I’ve been eyeing New South Wales as our new home for a while now. If it takes a few more months of waiting to get a job there...

That is, if a nice job pops up.

I wish this wasn’t so difficult. Sure, everyone has a building up period in their lives, but The Bloke’s and mine are different for reasons I don’t want to discuss here.

Anyone have a nice IT helpdesk job in NSW, ACT or Queensland up for grabs? Not entry level stuff, mind you. The Bloke has been working with computers for a long time.

I just want to get out of here and on with our next stage of life...

8.7.09

Permanent Residency!



I am officially a permanent resident of Australia!

***

Last Friday I received my paperwork letting me know that my application for permanent residency had been approved. Why has it taken until the following Wednesday to post?

Well...

The Bloke picked me up after work on Friday and it turned out that we had just enough time to pick up whatever had come from me via registered mail in the post office. I was expecting a couple things, so I wasn't sure which it was.

I saw the envelope with "Department of Immigration" with the return address and took only a moment to be a bit nervous. As The Bloke drove, I opened it up to find... YAY! Approved! I couldn't really focus on the rest of it because it felt so great to have that weight off my shoulders.

I honestly didn't expect anything in regards to the status change. It was nice, but it didn't occur to me to celebrate.

The Bloke had other ideas.

We went to the pub and The Bloke proceeded to tell everyone we knew - and some people we didn't - about my status change.

What I really didn't expect, though, was people's reactions.

I got handshakes, kisses, shouted (bought for me) drinks and genuine displays of enthusiasm from everyone. I didn't think people would care that much, but it was truly a 'welcome to Australia' type of feeling. 'Welcome to the family' without the creepiness. It was great!

Not only that, but a muso (musician) was on Friday night, and The Bloke snuck over there to have a chat with him. The next thing I hear is: "This one is going out to [The New Australian]. Congratulations for having just become an Australian."

Of course, the guy pointed me out at the bar, but people actually clapped and such. People were genuinely happy for me and they didn't even know me.

I love Australia.

On Saturday, The Bloke said he had a surprise for me. We cruised around the peninsula southeast of Melbourne, enjoying the wine regions despite the rain, then we drove into Hopscotch in Elsternwick for a chai. Then we went into inner Melbourne and headed up Little Bourke Street to Mrs. Parma's for a drink.

The big surprise came when we walked back down Little Bourke Street (Mrs. Parma's is towards the top of the hill) and The Bloke suddenly steered me into the Sawasdee.

Now, I need a whole new post to prattle on about how awesome this place is, so you'll have to trust me for now. It is absolutely wonderful, and it is the best Thai I have ever had (and I have had plenty of Thai from different locations).

Of course, Sunday we lazed about the flat because we were tired. And Monday it was straight back into work.

What a wonderful weekend and a wonderful way to start my life as a permanent resident.

"Permanent resident." I like the sound of that.