Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I think I wrote about the Sydney Explorer tour bus in a different entry, but I can't recall. Anyway, it's a bus that during the daytime usually runs as a double decker, colourful bus, like below:

Sometimes in the evening or just other times during the day, it runs as a plain red bus, as below:

I've never been on the bus myself, but I see several each day as I walk to and from work. They run along the street I mainly walk down as they're going between the Powerhouse Museum and Star City (the casino). If you want to ride, you pay one fee ($25 or so, I think) and can hop on or off all day, anywhere they go around the city.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Taking it a little far

Phone cards are popular in Australia. There's a very large population of immigrants who have family or friends overseas, and also a very large population of people who have traveled overseas and made new friends they would like to keep in touch with. There are dozens of different types of phone cards, and most convenience stores sell at least some.

This convenience store is across the street from where I live. I don't know if their intention was to make it known that they sell every phone card ever made, or if they intended to wallpaper their entire front window with phone card advertisements, but they appear to have accomplished both goals.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Instructions for clueless Americans

When visiting, or moving to, Australia, please note that all electrical sockets appear like this:

That's not to say that they all contain only one socket, but that however many sockets they contain, each has its own on/off switch. When the switch is set to off, there is no current, and when it's switched to on, there is current. Sockets are supposed to be set to off when plugs are placed or removed, otherwise there will be sparks. For an electrical device to work, you need current, so you need to set the switch to the on position. I learned this the hard way. ;)

Furthermore, note that the above switch is set to off. To Americans, it would appear to be set to the on position, and this caused me quite a bit of confusion. I had to retrain myself to understand that light switches and electrical outlet switches are "opposite" how I would expect them to perform (and I wonder if after moving back to the US I will get confused again).

Finally, check out the cool orientation of the prongs! Clearly, there's only one correct way to plug in an electrical device, even if there's no ground.

Every-day mundane type of stuff

As I walk to work, I pass temptation. I try not to indulge very often, and have set a limit for myself of twice per week (but many weeks, I can be seen inside three times! Don't tell!)

A patisserie that I stop at (too frequently) to buy a chocolate croissant.

The convenience store where I stop to buy milk when I have
chocolate croissants (they don't sell milk at the patisserie).

No, they're not upside down here

Sorry for the poor image quality; this was taken with my PDA. You may be able to see the faint rainbow in the picture above. As I was walking home from work on Tuesday, when it was a little bit rainy, I saw it and just had to try to capture it to share with you.

Monday, September 19, 2005

More from the ongoing series

I didn't take any pictures of anything that interesting this weekend, but I do have some more from my series of "new to me" companies and brands, and "all too familiar" ones...

First, L.J. Hooker, a real estate agency:

"Looking to rent? ljhooker.com. Looking to buy? ljhooker.com. Looking to sell? ljhooker.com" - the commercials are quite prevalent here!

All-too familiar, though not real-estate agencies:

Also, all-too-familiar... how many can you spot here? I found FedEx, Mail Boxes Etc., and UPS!

Friday, September 16, 2005


In Australia, "Girl Scouts" are "Guides." You may or may not be aware, but I'm a co-leader of a Guides unit (what Aussie Guides say when US Girl Scouts say "troop") here in Sydney.

Last night, we went "ten pin bowling," which I'd probably just have called "bowling," but I think that lawn bowling is big in Australia, so there's a distinction made.*

An Australian bowling alley looks pretty much like an American one. I might even file this under "all too familiar," because the bowling alley was AMF, a company I know I've seen in the US as well. Here are three of the girls in my unit at the alley:

Mouse, Mikki, and Megan

One game, Mel (my co-leader) and I played along with the girls. We were all Ms, except I was an Em instead of an M.


* There are stranger distinctions in Aussie lingo that I don't understand the need for, since we don't use them in American English. For example: "sticky tape" (what I would call simply "tape" or perhaps "scotch tape"). Um, yes, it's sticky, but isn't all tape sticky? Electrical tape and masking tape are not called sticky tape. (I'm well aware of cassette tapes and video tapes, but those types are already modified by "cassette" and "video" to distinguish them from the stickier forms of tape...) Another example: "beetroot." No one says "carrotroot" or "potatoroot," and it's not common to eat any other part of the beet, so what's the deal?

Second part in my series of pictures : mobile phone services

First: Dodo. This little bird sells pre-paid for mobile phones as well as cheap internet services. "Dodo, dodo, internet that flies!" I hadn't seen a commercial for the pre-paid phone stuff, but clearly, it's another of their products because here's a banner proclaiming this convenience store sells them:

Vodafone sells both pre-paid mobile, and regular cellular services:

"All too familiar": Virgin is everywhere, isn't it? It's an airline, it's a mobile phone service, it's a financial company - it's starting to sound a little like GE! They're a British company though, aren't they?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Announcement: New Series!

Hello! I'm going to start a series of posts with pictures of brands and companies. I will be showing brands and companies that are new to me - Australian brands and companies - and those that I see here in Australia that are prevalent in the US: ones that are "all too familiar". To start this off, I will share a picture of a company that is all too familiar that has quite a large presence in Australia:

And another of a company that has nearly as big a presence in Sydney but was new to me (and I must admit I enjoy!):

At Oporto, I especially enjoy their special chilli sauce (sort of like a very hot salsa) with hot chips (aka french fries).

People tell me that Oporto is fast food, and I guess that it is, but they're very vocal about how fresh and healthful their food is, since it's grilled (besides the hot chips) and uses fresh vegetables and spices and everything.

Someone else told me that people often give other people directions based on where things are in relation to the nearest Oporto, and later that day a different person gave me directions that included "Turn left when you see the Oporto," and I thought perhaps there was some truth to that statement.

Back in town!

Here are some pictures from this past weekend when John and I went to Manly Beach:

Manly has two beaches. One is the ocean side (pictured here) and the other is the harbour side. It's about a five minute walk between the two. Arriving by ferry, you arrive at the harbour side.

This was a view from the ferry (between Circular Quay and Manly) of the city, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the right, and the Centrepoint Tower (middle left):

Me at the ocean side of the beach:

John at the ocean side beach:

It was a beautiful day. In the city, it was 85 degrees F, which is pretty warm for the beginning of Spring. At the ocean, it was quite windy and I'm sure a lot cooler, but still very pleasant.