Sunday, December 20, 2009

Upside Down Under

I've been contemplating starting a new blog--this one feels like it's gotten a bit oldish. I've changed a lot since I started it. Plus I've just moved to a new city on a new continent, so it feels like an excellent time to start a new blog.

After a couple days of contemplation, I thought Upside Down Under might be a night name for the blog. Unfortunately, someone already used that name for a blogspot blog, on which they posted one post back in 2005 and were never heard from nor seen again. What to do, what to do?

Learn how to use a whole new blogging service? Grumble grumble.

Put a dash in the name? So inelegant.

Actually buy the domain name, and then *pay* for blog hosting service, or do a bunch of research to figure out how to do it for free. More grumble.

Things I've noticed:

I no longer have a sense for the where the sun should set. Nor the proper locations of any constellations. I realized I had a very layered map of Seattle and Western Washington and all of Washington in my head, and I have this relatively bald two dimensional one layer missing-big-chunks map of Melbourne in my head. But it's growing. I'm constantly noticing things I simply don't know, which I used to know.

I'm *pretty* sure the sun is setting south of west. That makes a certain sense, since the sun sets north of west in the summer time in Seattle, so .... it being summertime here .... hmmmmmm.

Christmas at summer solstice is simply wrong on multiple axes. Don't get me started. It's silly on it's face. Christmas is meant to be the winter solstice celebration borrowed/appropriated by the Christian church. Hence lots of lights (because it's dark) etc. etc. etc. The Europeans who first came here should have figured this out and celebrated Christmas in July, at the winter solstice, like sensible people.

I'm barely beginning to get a sense of where the traffic at intersections might be coming or going when I'm walking. Certainly nothing like enough confidence to jaywalk.

There is this *enormous* section of car sitting out there on my left when I'm driving, for which I have very little sense. There's not *enough* car sitting to my right, which leads to me hugging the left side of my lane. I mean *hugging*. The person in the passenger seat is left with a sense of being way too close to the left edge.

There is this little formula where the direction of the inequality sign is now reversed. In Meadowbrook, Seattle, Washington, USA, it went (number of people picking up litter)*(average amount of litter picked up per person) > (number of people littering)*(average amount of litter dropped per person). In Broadmeadows, (Melbourne) Victoria, Australia, the inequality sign is reversed. What this means is that in Meadowbrook, if I see litter, I pick it up, whereas in Broadmeadows, I generally don't bother--it seems to big a job to begin. Alas. I wonder if the direction of the inequality sign and the magnitude of the inequality is generally correlated with average income in the neighborhood? I hypothesize that it is. I also strongly suspect that my hypothesis would turn out to be incorrect, if we researched it.

It's very nice that people here speak English. I suspect this would be far harder if they didn't. Nevertheless, it feels pretty difficult. I have no sense of AFL or cricket, although I'm beginning to gain one. It's harder, somehow, to eschew professional sports from the outside than it is from the inside.

It's kilometers and liters and degrees Centigrade here. These are far more elegant and sensible than the silly American systems. In spite of that, I have little sense of them. No one can tell me what the equivalent of the American term "mileage" is here. "Kilometerage" doesn't seem to work at all. I did see an add for a car that boasted X kilometers per 100 liters. What does that *mean*? I have to work it out, which is the work of a moment, thank the FSM, but I didn't have to work it out before.

Apartments and houses are rented by the *week* here. I have to work that out too.

Stage 4 water restrictions are in place. The reservoirs are 38% full. People are aware of this, and the washing machine has a hose attached to it for the grey water to run outside to the garden. I keep catching myself with water running in the sink as I clean, directly into the sink rather than into the basin which sits in the sink to catch the water so it can then be carried out to the garden. This is going to take some getting used to.

Okay, 'nuff for now. If you have any ideas on the new blog thing, let me know =)


mec said...

Hope your adjustment will go quickly!

Maybe add a number to the blog-name-desired?

If you do move to a new blog, please let us know what it is because I enjoy following your blog.


Helen said...

I like upside down under.

Moving from one (more or less) English speaking country to another is hard even though you understand the language. Often it's the little things that trip you up - that absence of the small familiar things which help you feel 'at home'. Discovering people don't understand a word everyone would have understood where you used to live, or looking for something you took for granted in the grocery store (if it's even called a grocery store there) and finding you can't get it in that country.

My experience has been that that a new country does come to feel like home after a while, although I think once you've lived more than one place you are always going to miss a few things about the place(s) you don't live anymore. And unless your way of talking changes so that you sound like the natives, people will continue to comment on your accent and ask you where you're from. Which is ok sometimes but at other times you wish you could be more inconspicuous. (At least, as I said, this has been my experience)

Al said...

I'd probably suggest switching from blogger, but that is because I am beginning to think I should do the same (but likely won't, because of the bit of work involved!).

I don't envy the learning curves of adapting to driving and metric. Here in Canada we switched to metric, in stages, back in the 70's. The gas 'mileage' ratio in metric is opposite to imperial, so a small number is better than a larger one. That's about all I know about that! I was raised in the imperial system, and it still overrides metric, sometimes.

Good luck with the Christmas in the summer festivities. Since Christmas is so wrapped up in traditions, it will be a challenge for anything to feel 'right'. I guess it is a great excuse to build new traditions.

Megs said...

oh darling, what on earth are we doing upside down under?
i love you!
NOTHING feels normal, anywhere , except you. you are my home.

byron smith said...

Welcome to the centre of the world. As a current fringe-dweller in Scotland, I agree that Christmas does indeed make a lot more sense in Winter. You'll find that some antipodeans celebrate it in June as you suggest.

I agree that other English-speaking countries can seem more foreign because you don't expect them to be.