Sunday, October 20, 2013

Completely random post alert!

Things I think are cool about 'Stralia:

  • Itemized tax receipts:  If you exchange money with any person or entity there is usually some kind of receipt involved in the transaction.  You can see where your money went and keep it in your records.  One solid thing the Tony Abbott government has brought forward is the issuing of tax receipts.  They will show what you paid and where it went.  Talk about accountability.  USA, take note please.  Now, this hasn't actually been put in practice yet so we haven't seen if it will actually work.  I love the idea though. Plus, the Treasurer's name is Joe Hockey.  Cool name.  Read an article about it here.  

  • No pennies:  Yes, there are still things that cost $19.99 but you end up rounding up or down accordingly.  It's really not that big of a deal.  Australia pulled one and two-cent coins from circulation in 1994.  Some of them were melted down to be used in the bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Still worried about store owners losing money if we eliminate the penny?  Click here to read the results of the effects on Australia by the University of Melbourne.  Basically, you end up breaking even and saving the government money by not producing the coins.  Currently, the U.S. cent costs approximately 2.14 cents to make. While this ends up going down the more the coin is circulated (cause of math and stuff) it still seems like a waste.  Sorry, President Lincoln, at least your face is on the fiver.  Common sense - 1  Penny - 0
You could argue that this is the only Penny we really need, America.

  • Opera House:  Picture Sydney in your mind.  You are most likely picturing the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  It was even in Finding Nemo for pete's sake.  The icon is celebrating it's 40-year anniversary this year.  40 years. That's it.  Paris; you think Eiffel Tower.  London; Big Ben.  A great city needs a great icon and the Opera House and its crazy architecture seem to fit Sydney perfectly.  I'm so excited to be able to sing there in December.  Stay tuned for some behind the scenes stories.  

  • Carrie Bickmore:  I firmly believe that if she cared about conquering the media world, she could.  But, it seems like she is more interested in caring for and providing for her child these days.  Especially after losing her husband to brain cancer a couple of years ago. This is why I love her.  She is one of the hosts of my favorite news show, The Project.  She's been nominated for the Gold Logie the past two years.  The Logies are basically like the Australian version of the Emmy's and the Gold Logie is the Australian Entertainer of the Year.  I guarantee you she will win this one day.  There is just something about her that makes you wish she was your friend.  Being genuine is a hard thing to express through the TV but she's fantastic.  I dare you to not like her. 

Things that totally annoy me to no end:
  • TV show teasers:  Obviously this one is for the folks that actually watch TV. Which, in this country, is not a lot.  Just over 23 million people and if you have a program that gets 1 million viewers you are doing well.  Honestly, more people downloaded a pirated copy of the final episode of Breaking Bad.  They actually have a big problem.  Since they can't air shows from America fast enough (their "fast-tracked from the US" usually means at least a week later) they can't keep up with illegal downloading.  People want to watch their favorite shows as soon as they can.  I fall into this category but I have the advantage of having a US address and I use a VPN to watch all of my shows the day after they air on Hulu and Netflix.  Australians just illegally download them. 
For example, a recent episode of Modern Family aired on Channel 10 to 568,000 viewers but it was downloaded approximately 1.75 million times. Hannibal was downloaded 2.1 million times but aired on Channel 7 to only 190,000.   How I Met Your Mother was downloaded 2.85 million times and aired to about 500,000.  The seriously big one is Game of Thrones.  Downloaded 5.2 million times and aired on Foxtel (not free tv) to 224,000 people.  This must drive the channel execs crazy!  I think they take it out on us through their preview advertisements.  Ziva has almost died or left every episode of NCIS so many times that when it actually was the episode she left they played it down.  They would feature her in ads about episodes that weren't even about her.  You see, I'd already seen the episode and I watch the ads with my mouth open saying to Sean, "it's like I haven't even seen it.  I have no idea what they are talking about."  At first,  I would talk back to the TV, "what are you talking about? Ziva isn't even in that episode."  But now I just kinda laugh and go with it.  
Update:  I was apparently wrong about how behind the shows are being run.  It is finally Ziva's last episode this week and that is all they say on the ad, "Prepare for Ziva's Farewell" in big, echo voice.  I don't know what they will do since I just saw a huge billboard for NCIS with Ziva standing in front of Gibbs.  They really love Ziva...
But, bad preview ads are not exclusive to American shows.   Channel 10 caught flak over one of the most popular Australian TV shows, Offspring.  The writers were upset when they revealed in the ad that someone would be dying.  It was a huge deal and was supposed to come as a complete surprise.  But, Channel 10 took the surprise away by giving you three people that might die.  Who could it be?  I actually like this show and it made me mad.  I've only been watching for one season.  Patrick died.  They killed off Patrick?!! Can you imagine how shocking it would be if they didn't tell us somebody was going to die?   I now use it as a verb for when something happens unexpectedly to a main character.  He got "Patricked".  So far no one knows what I'm talking about and that's usually how I like it.  Inside jokes. I loves 'em. 
Seriously, Channel 10?  You should be "Patricked" for this. Patrick is on the right btw.

  • Vision:  Speaking of TV they call any kind of video, "vision".  So the above YouTube clips? Yep, vision of Carrie Bickmore.  Not sure why I find this so weird but I do.  It's a video.  Why change the name?  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Safety Old School by Air New Zealand

Oh, how I love New Zealand.  Check out the new safety video by Air New Zealand!  If you click on their website here,  you can enter to win a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sail away with me to another world.

I've been struggling as to what I should be writing about this week.  Apparently, I've hit the point in our little two-year adventure where I'm becoming more acclimatized to my surroundings.  I looked it up and it's an actual thing.  Dr. Deborah Swallow, who according to her website is the "Leading Authority On Intercultural Communication", states there are 5 stages of culture shock when moving to a new place.

  • Step One:  Honeymoon Stage  You feel excited, stimulated and curious. You still feel close to everything familiar back home.
  • Step Two:  The Distress Stage  Everything you are experiencing is no longer new and it has now started depressing you.  You feel confused, isolated or inadequate when you realize that your family and friends are not easily accessible.
  • Step Three:  Re-Integration Stage  You dislike the culture, language, food and reject it as inferior.  You may develop prejudices towards the new culture.  You are angry, frustrated and even hostile to those around you.
  • Step Four:  Autonomy Stage  First stage of acceptance.  You start to accept the differences and feel like you can begin to live with them.  You are more confident and no longer feel isolated.
  • Step Five:  Independence Stage  You are finally yourself again.  Things start to become enjoyable and you feel confident and comfortable to make decisions based on your own preferences and values.  You feel at home.

I think I've finally made it to step four and am moving towards step five.  Based on my experience, I've had every feeling discussed in the above stages.  I've yelled, "how stupid is this stupid country"with more colorful language mind you, many a times.  I've cried in the shower and thought, "what in the world are we doing here?"  I've longed for food that I don't think I even really liked when I was in the States; Cool Ranch Doritos, anyone?  Through this long, hard, drawn out process, I think I've discovered more about myself I never knew.  That is why we travel, right?  It's not to necessarily learn about other places and cultures. It's to learn about ourselves as we see through someone else's eyes.  The really crazy thing is I'm going to have to go through this entire process again when we go back because apparently America, my home, will actually cause culture shock.  I already experienced this a little when seeing the bread aisle in Walmart literally stopped me in my tracks.  Who could possibly eat that much bread?

Honestly, when I see something I find strange now I struggle to figure out if it's because it's "Aussie" strange or just plain odd.   I no longer pay attention to strange spellings.  I've found myself saying things like "it ticks all the boxes" and "have a go" and using words like cracker and ripper to explain really cool stuff.  I do not have an Aussie accent of any kind and it basically takes one word out of my mouth for people to ask, "American?"   Yes, I'm American.

I now have standard responses to this typical interaction I have on a daily basis. It usually goes something like this.

Me:  Hello.
Random Stranger Guy:  G'day!  Are you from America?
Me:  Yes.
Guy:  Ah, I could tell you see. Your accent. Whereabouts?
Me:  Tennessee.
Guy:  Oh, is that near Texas?  (or they like to tell you where they've been for example: My family went to Disneyland a while back.  It was fun.)
Me:  No, not really.  I'm originally from Oregon.  That's north of California.
Guy:  Oh yeah, it's pretty there, eh?
Me:  Yes. Very.
Guy:  Do you love it here? (Aussies love that you love Australia)
Me:  Yes, but I miss my dogs.
Guy:  Don't they have dogs here?
Me: (I just usually smile and nod at this point)
Guy:  (Laughing) Oh well.  What's going on with your government?

At this point I've usually tried to end my transaction or I pray that my bus comes, etc. It's just funny that I have this conversation over and over and over.  Oh well, in Australia the only thing worse than being laughed at is not being laughed at.

I guess that's what we would do in the States if you meet someone from another country.  I just never knew how tiring it could become.  I have quite a few acquaintances here but not any real friends. I think Aussies like to reserve judgment on making you a mate because that means it's for life.  You don't just make anyone your mate.  It takes time.  We only have two years so basically this means that just as I'm being allowed to be "mates" with people, we will be leaving.  I must say that this is quite difficult at times.  I really don't know how I would be doing if I didn't have the Internet and Facetime.
I saw this new video for the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton duet and it actually made me cry.  I'm such a crybaby.

But I think it forces you to adapt to your surroundings.  I know there are already things I will miss when we leave like Tim Tams and Ginger Beer.  But I've really become quite fond of the laid back attitude towards things that the Aussies pride themselves on.  As Americans we tend to be so uptight.  What are swear words, really?  Aren't we the ones that give them power?  I actually hear less people swearing on a daily basis and yet, if you turn on the TV after 9:00 you can actually hear the "f" word on free TV.  Not mother "f" though.  I mean, they have to draw the line somewhere and apparently as soon as you bring mom into the equation all bets are off.   It really is funny to be watching a movie where they are readily saying the "f" word and then they bleep "mother*&^%#$".  I watched more than I wanted of a Jim Carrey movie the other day because I just kept laughing at what they were bleeping and what they weren't.

Oh well, the show must go on.  I think I'll go listen to Islands In The Stream now.