Monday, December 15, 2008

Impressions of Australia

Over the last year or so my husband has lived in rural Australia. Here are some of his impressions of Australia (he listed them to me).

Firstly, always be prepared with beer in the fridge- or if you are visiting someone, even if it seems unlikely, bring a six-pack just in case (conclusion: Australians are always happy if you arrive with beer or can offer them one).

Secondly, drink tea. He has taken a liking to Lady Grey, however we have been through Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe and 'normal' black tea. Also one must know how to make tea ( i.e. you must stir the milk and usually remove the teabag).

When you visit someone, it is rarely for an hour or a cup of tea, more usually you will have driven for three hours and you will be spending the night, or perhaps days with them (especially family). When people say they will come and visit they often mean they will stay for a few days (because it is so far to travel in the first place). This is a good thing, and means people are used to welcoming visitors into their home for extended periods.

Buy a pair if blundstones, or some shoes that you can work in, walk through mud and wet ground in and you can easily take off when you get to the door.

There maybe at any time a green tree frog in the toilet or the letterbox or some other disconcerting place.

When people say it is 'a bit cold' or a 'bit of a worry' or they feel a 'bit unwell'- they are understating the fact. Understatement is the name of the game.

Australians don't say NO very often (unlike Israelis!), they don't like to be flatly contradicted.

Australians don't mind stopping to help other people, or taking responsibility for a problem if it arises in a public place (e.g. taking trees off the road etc.).

There is a reason to have a four-wheel drive car.

Learn about spiders and snakes (don't touch them).

Four channels is enough.

Everything closes early (especially restaurants).

That is all for the moment!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Arriving Home

I just had the strangest sensation of arriving home. I have been pottering around the house, sorting through letters and bills and cards, listening to the rain and drinking tea - and I had the feeling that I had finally unwound and arrived.

It was as though each weekend I have been struggling to finish unpacking.. pay bills.. read enough.. write enough... buy nice food, catch up with family etc. etc. like I was only just keeping my (our) heads above water. Almost suddenly everything feels peaceful and complete. I cant remember the last time I lived in the same house for more than 3 or six months, where I wasn't always trying to explain to institutions that I don't know what address they would have for me (mums? dads? Ngukurr? Armidale? New Mexico? Santa Barbara?) and I don't know how they can contact my last real estate agent...


Some contributions to this feeling include: finding somewhere to buy bulk delicious honey AND having clean washed dry jars to put it in - to having a fridge big enough to hold lots of veggies - of having fresh cut flowers on the table - finding some incense I like - organising all my music and a way to listen to it - clearing up my computer desktop - the wedding being over - the rain - making my lunch for uni everyday and having everything I need in the kitchen - joining the local library - having the address where I really live on my license - of feeling like I am taking good care of myself - that I have time to sit and talk with friends on the phone or otherwise - of feeling like we have some really good friends in Armidale - getting a massage - playing team sports regularly. And certainly not least, having an office of my own where, for once, I sat for 6 hours straight and worked, and felt like I wrote something substantial and well researched and interesting.

I feel like I am finally at rest and ready for the next six months (finishing my PhD).


Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Cash Strapped Teacher Sells Ads on Tests" (Latest US economic Strategies)

"Farber started letting parents and local businesses sponsor tests this fall after learning budget cuts would limit his in-school printing allowance -- tracked by the school's copy machines -- to $316 for the year. The cost of printing quizzes and tests for his 167 students will easily be more than $500, he said.

That meant Farber, whose courses prepare students for the Advanced Placement exam, would have to give fewer or shorter tests, or find money. Farber, who says 90 percent of his students got a 5 -- the top score -- on AP exams last year, said skimping wasn't an option.

"It has to be a certain quality, or they won't be ready," he said.

So Farber, who says he'd never asked for money from parents in his 18 years of high school teaching, pitched the ad idea to parents at a September back-to-school night. For checks made to the math department -- $10 a quiz, $20 a test or $30 for a final exam -- they could insert an inspirational quote -- their own or someone else's -- or a business advertisement at the bottom of the first page."
from CNN

So I am still not sure why a tinsy little bit of the bail-out packages can't be allocated to maintaining high standards of education ( and maybe health and other community services too)...? Surely this is a necessary investment for the economy too.

I really would like to know?! Anyone know?