Tag Archives: culture shock

bit nippy out

I’m not sure when the temperatures were last above freezing, but I think it was a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately there isn’t much snow looming in future forecasts, but at least all the cold will be helping the ice climbs get nice and fat.   But I’m beginning to see what all the Canadians in Melbourne were complaining about. Whether it’s the proper heating over here, the really dry air, or the fact the temperatures don’t seem to jump around so much, I’m finding the cold here easier to deal with than in Melbourne. Of course I might change … Continue reading bit nippy out

the man in the moon

I feel sorry for the man in the moon when in the Northern Hemisphere. He’s upside down. Here is a basic diagram illustrating things. The moon as it is supposed to be (in Australia) with the man in the moon outlined:   The moon as viewed in North America.   I rest my case. A lot of Northern Hemispherians don’t seem to even realise their moon is the wrong way up. I’m doing what I can to spread the word though.

things that are cool about the usa (part 3 in a 3 part series)

Gear is cheap! In DC – the metro (the ticketing system, the fact there are staff everywhere, the flashing lights on the platform before a train cames, the fact trains come so often) Squirrels, chipmunks and deers (and all these other novelty animals) Snow making things pretty The countdown number on the pedestrian crossing, so you know how long you have to cross Drive-through ATMs Those huge choc chip cookies in Pentagon City Mall Self-checkout at some supermarkets Things in the supermarket having prices/pound for everything, so you don’t have to work out yourself whether the big or little things … Continue reading things that are cool about the usa (part 3 in a 3 part series)

things in the usa which are different, but about which i have no strong feelings one way or another (part 2 in a 3 part series)

All petrol stations seem to have the pay stations at the pump, so you don’t have to go inside to pay People keep saying ‘excuse me’ just to signify they’re walking past you (which kept making me jump until I got used to it) People have a greater tendency to be loud and excessively enthusiastic about things Flags everywhere – not just USA flags, but flags for St. Patricks day, flags for Valentines Day, and so on Lots of parades, filled with marching bands and cheerleaders People being excessively excited about college sports (and as a result, universities having enormous … Continue reading things in the usa which are different, but about which i have no strong feelings one way or another (part 2 in a 3 part series)

things that aren’t cool about the usa (part 1 in a 3 part series)

So when I first arrived in the States, I started making lists of all the weird differences I noticed. Today is Part One – The things I did not like. Sugar or honey being in everything! (sultanas, cereal, bread, etc) The weather in DC being freezing cold (having to wear gloves just to go outside my house!) or stinkingly hot and humid (sweat dripping from every pore, without me even moving) Cars having indicators included with the brake light, so they are red, and hard to see – if people actually use them that is (saves money) The money being … Continue reading things that aren’t cool about the usa (part 1 in a 3 part series)

mucho sombrero – the summary of the mexico trip

Well, I’m back in the land of new cars, safety signs, and functioning keyboards. Russell the Moose received a full body search at the hands of a nice Mexican lady wearing rubber gloves, on our way out of Mexico city. And we only made it to the airport an hour before my plane was due to leave, as the bus that was supposed to take three hours to get there took four and a half instead. We toured around inland, and I was the only redhead I saw the whole time I was there – as such, I was stared … Continue reading mucho sombrero – the summary of the mexico trip


I realised the other day that I hadn’t heard any magpies since I’ve been here. Then I wondered if they had magpies in the US at all. Then I discovered they did, but they were fake magpies. The magpies in the US and Europe are similar to the Australian Magpies in marking, which is how the Australian Magpies got their name. But they’re from a different family. So, no magpies over here. But I did find some mp3s of magpie calls. For those of you who have never experienced the joy of being dive-bombed by an angry Spring magpie (they’re … Continue reading magpies!

esscuse me

Esscuse me… I say esscuse me miss… do you have any spare change? I say esscuse me… Time keeps doing its thing, and somehow I only have a couple of weeks left working here. One of the things I won’t miss about living in this area, are the Old Town Alexandria panhandlers (called panhandlers rather than beggars because we’re in America, I’m not sure why). From the tall scary dude; the old guy who is always walking along waving his crutches around; to the short gap-toothed lady who has been ‘pregnant’ for a couple of years now (should I perhaps … Continue reading esscuse me

route settings

One of the good things about the rainy weekend was spending time at the Pancake House outside of Fayettvile, with it’s ‘truck-stop like atmosphere’. When you asked for pancakes, you got 3 enormous dinner plate sized pancakes, covered in butter, and as much whipped cream and maple syrup as you could possibly want (me, I didn’t want any, and in fact I ended up getting a waffle instead, which was also enormous). I have decided that Walmart is a scary scary place though. Apart from all of the fat Americans running around, I’m having trouble reconciling myself to the fact … Continue reading route settings

the heartbreak of a moose-less canada trip

My trip to Canada was notable for its complete lack of mooses. I thought British Columbia would be a hotbed of roadside and campsite moose activity, but it wasn’t to be. I feel cheated. There were quite a few chipmunks however. (The more interaction I have with chipmunks, the more I’m convinced that they’re vaguely evil. They have a tendency to try and stalk you, which is more unnerving than it should be.) On arriving in Vancouver, we received a rather alarming grilling from the immigration official – it went on from the fairly reasonable ‘So how do you know … Continue reading the heartbreak of a moose-less canada trip

tremble, puny earthlings!

Melbourne – most liveable city in the world (or one of them, along with Vancouver and Vienna), according to the 2004 poll by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Melbourne’s been rating up there for a few years now. DC – not the most liveable city in the world. I think it rates 57th. Which I can understand on the grounds of the weather alone – hot and sticky in Summer, but just a few months ago, there was snow, and I couldn’t go outside without wearing gloves. On top of that, I bought new deoderant last night, which turns out to … Continue reading tremble, puny earthlings!


On the injustice of gear pricing and sales in the USA, and why I will find it very hard to return to Australian climbing gear prices. As a sample, we will refer to the pricing of a Green Colarado Custom Hardware Alien. In the US (from REI, for example), they retail at $US52.50. In Australia, the RRP is $AUD148.50, equivalent to $US111.00. We will now turn to the case of the red (number 1) C4 Black Diamond Camelot. $US62.50 at REI, RRP in Australia of $US89. We may also note that I have NEVER seen an Alien 20% off in … Continue reading injustice

you can’t get the wood, you know

On the advantages of driving on the right-hand side of the road… I am left-footed. When I go cycling in traffic in Australia, I have to grovel about standing in the gutter, with my right foot resting on the road. Meanwhile everyone else stands proudly tall, their left foot on the kerb. However, when I get to cycling on American roads, finally I have my day, and can stand on the kerb with pride (I was excited when I discovered this). Also, I’ve torn my A2 pulley (sounds rather impressive and doctor-waffley doesn’t it? It’s the tendon in my left … Continue reading you can’t get the wood, you know

governor stable 2005 roundup

Governor Stable bouldering comp photos are up here, here, here, and here. Final results are up here. And argh! Trying to do some cooking tonight – spent forever trying to track down beef stock, pastry sheets and mixed herbs (I gave up on the mixed herbs and got something called Italian seasoning in the end – it looked right at least). Plain flour is ‘all-purpose flour’. Cooking choc bits are called ‘semi-sweet morsels’. Castor sugar is ‘fine granulated sugar’. Argh, the culture shock. Edit – And the pastry I got (the only stuff they actually had) was those thin sheets … Continue reading governor stable 2005 roundup

st. patrick’s day madness

It’s not like we don’t have St. Patrick’s Day in Australia. In Melbourne, St. Patrick’s Day means that pubs put green food colouring in the beer, people are more likely to be drinking Guinness, and the Irish pubs tend to be overflowing. And bands play Irish-style folk tunes, to which the drunken people dance, inbetween trying to drink the 6 pints of Guinness necessary to get a free tshirt. I had some idea that Americans got a little more worked up about St. Patrick’s Day – hints came as I noticed the Irish flags beginning to make an appearance on … Continue reading st. patrick’s day madness