Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Shoot or DO!

This past Australia day, January 26th, Michael and I joined The Blackwater Rifle Club in Eidsvold, QLD for the annual rifle competition.  Here are some pictures of the event:

Michael in the prone stance with our friend Steve guiding.

Michael and I in the rifle competition.

Again in the rifle competition.

This is how I spent most of my time, listening to music, wearing noise canceling headphones and reading a book.

Michael is a true gun enthusiast.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Back!

Admittedly, I have been slacking off big time with my blog so I am here to apologize to my imaginary readers.  I finally got my computer back from the shop, 2 1/2 weeks and $200 later.  I was so mad at myself for downloading a virus, I just knew better but it is what it is or  at this point, was what it was.  I justify the cost to myself by thinking of this as a computer "tune-up".  Think about it, you can't own a car for 3 years without ever doing maintenance, right?  Basically, I am done beating myself up about being an idiot.  Therefore, this is my re-introductory blog....I no longer have any excuses to slack off.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Quick Catch-Up

Ok, so it's been more than a week since my last post but alas, I am back....but not yet in full effect.  You see, I downloaded a virus onto my trusty computer.  Yes, I did it and knew better when I was doing it and did it anyway.  Therefore, I am now paying the price.  My computer is in the shop but will hopefully be back next week.  I have been using Michael's computer which is fine to search the internet with, but that is about it.  No skype, no uploading pics, no "heavy" surfing of the net.  Patience is a virtue, an evading virtue in this case.

When I get my computer back, I will fill you all in on the romantic weekend on the coast we just had, complete with pictures and all!  It was a much need getaway for the both of us and we had a magnificent time.  Needless to say, we are both sun-kissed and blissed at the present moment. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Australia is Not for the Faint of Heart

The fascination of Down Under had always brought certain picturesque images to my mind:
The Great Barrier Reef
Ayers Rock/Uluru
Wild Kangaroos hoping along the beach
Cuddly Koalas hanging out in the trees.

All of these things I have found to be true of magnificent and majestic Australia.  It is an expansive country with a huge array of amazing things to see and do.  There are beautifully stunning beaches that rival even the most fantastic coastlines in the world.  I always knew that I would visit here; I never thought I would ever be so lucky to live here (Thanks Michael!).  During my time here, I haven't even touched the surface of the awesome that is Australia.

As a potential visitor, I certainly saw OZ through rose colored glasses.  Since moving here, I have now adjusted my sights back to the reality of life in the Outback.  Ignorance was bliss for a short sweet time.  There have been some major natural disasters since I've moved here:  the "biblical" flood of Queensland that covered an area the size of France and Germany, some out of control brush fires effecting Western Australia, and now the category 5 cyclone Yasi that will hit the coast of Northern Queensland tonight.

Besides the flooding, cyclones and fires, some of the world's deadliest animals call Australia home.  There are Great White Sharks swimming freely off the Southern coasts, vicious Salt water Crocodiles swimming in the Northern waters, and fatal box jellyfish that keep you out of the waters for up to 6 months at a time!  Now if you are too afraid to swim in the water here, consider your enemies on shore.  Five of the world's top ten deadliest snakes are found in Australia, including the brown snake that we found hanging out at our front door a few weeks ago.  Luckily, only two of the world's deadliest spiders are found here in Australia.  Number six on the list is the red back spider which we can commonly find hanging out under our grill cover or on our back porch furniture.  For the first few months living here, I checked the sheets for spiders before getting into bed!  I've been scared to death of all these deadly creatures hence why I think Australia is not for the faint at heart.  Thank goodness I have learned to adapt and love Australia!

Cyclone Yasi projection as of 4pm today, Wednesday, February 2, 2011.  Check this website for any updates on Cyclone Yasi.

Apples and Oranges

OK kids, it's time you all ate your daily serving of fruits and vegetables.  You must eat the right balance of food everyday to grow up to be healthy and strong.  You must not eat too much of....wait a minute, this isn't a nutritional blog.  I would be the last person to give  you advice on eating healthy, as I often like to indulge in sweets, junk food and alcohol.  I am using a literary metaphor to introduce some of the differences between Australia, which I deem to be the apples and The United States must then be the oranges.  I have been amazed and sometimes even culture shocked at some of the total Aussie-isms that I have encountered.  Hopefully you are like me and find these cultural differences to be very intriguing.  Here are some that come to mind but not in order of importance.
  • In an emergency, dial 000 not 911.
  • Voting for political parties is compulsory once you register to vote.
  • Judges and other court officials wear powdery white wigs when court is in session.
  • Attorneys and lawyers are referred to as solicitors.
  • There are drive-thru liquor stores, but of course they are called bottle shops here.
  • The legal blood alcohol limit to drive is .05 rather than the .08 in the States, which really makes the previous point ironic.
  • Driving is done on the left side of the road and on the right side of the car.
  • Australia uses the metric system although I've sometimes heard the expression that something is miles away.  I have an awfully hard time getting meat at the deli since I don't know grams.  I will ask the person to "feel" the bag so I know if I am getting enough.  
  • Australian youth are raised on Vegemite, a yeast extract highly rich in Vitamin B.  Personally, I think it looks and tastes like motor oil for your car and am nearly sick to my stomach when Michael eats it.  Another Aussie favorite is Weet-bix cereal.  With only 3% sugar, this is not your typical Frosted Flakes.
  • Tomato Sauce is the same thing as Ketchup although they do not taste the same.
  • Hungry Jacks is the same fast food restaurant as Burger King, whopper and all.
  • Mc Donalds is referred to as Mackers in OZ and Mickey D's in The US.
  • There is KFC however I won't go there but would kill for a Chick-fil-a sandwich and waffle fries.
Surprisingly, Australia and The US are comparable in size.
  • The mail box at your house is only for mail delivery.  Outgoing mail must be dropped off at the post office called the Australia Post.
  • The mail delivery person zips around on a motorcycle and drives through your yard to deliver the mail since most mailboxes are about half way up the driveway and not in the street.
  • I have not seen a standardized mailbox system, although it doesn't mean that this doesn't exist.
  • Grocery store shopping cart wheels have "all wheel drive" capability.  They move forward and back as well as side to side.  I still have trouble operating them.
  • The school year in Australia begins in January, after the summer/Christmas break.
  • All kids are required to wear uniforms which include a broad brimmed hat.
  • Parents are responsible for the children's uniforms, school books and transportation to and from school.  There are no big yellow school buses here in OZ.
  • Football refers to rugby or rugby league sports.  Football in The US is called gridiron.  Aussies love their cricket.  I find it as riveting as watching baseball.
  • The seasons are opposite of those of The US because we are South of the Equator.  However, I am sure that all of you knew that one.  Currently it is summer here and The US is experiencing blizzard like conditions across most of the mid-west.  
  • OZ is just after the International Date line and always one day ahead of The US.  I constantly use this world clock website before I make any calls home just to make sure it isn't too late.
I think that just about covers all of the points that I had in mind.  I'm sure I will add some more when I think of them. Until then, you should all come Down Under for a visit so you can experience these cultural differences for yourselves.  I would love to see ya!

Now enjoy this song:  Men at Work,  Land Down Under