Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Random thoughts from Australia

I had always been told that toilets flush the opposite way once you cross the equator. I was looking forward to checking this, but the advent of low water consumption toilets has thus far thwarted any attempt. These toilets need significant water pressure to work, and therefore they use jets which happen to force the water in the same direction as you would see in the states. I have been observed water swirling down a drain, a counter clockwise rotation does appear to dominate. Guess I'll have to be content with that.

Australia has more of a European style cafe culture than I'm used to. While I'm out getting breakfast (at an terribly late hour) there are people sitting by themselves, quietly drinking coffee, reading the paper or watching traffic. There's certainly no "hurry up and order and pay your tab so you can get out of here" attitude that you see in most non-college towns in America.

Speaking of cafes, the food here is excellent. Everywhere I go the food is freshly prepared in the kitchen, by a real cook. It's a shame it's so hard to get real food made from scratch in the states, but I guess people are accustomed to frozen, mass produced food and there's little chance of going back.

There's virtually no tipping here. Usually food includes a service fee, and I'm told the minimum wage is typically considered to be adequate. Although it's nice to not bother figuring a tip, I have yet to see any waiters or waitresses really hustle to serve you, but that may just be the result of the more relaxed dining style here.

The hotel has only 5 channels on the TV. I mentioned this to some of the locals and their opinion is that the proliferation of channels in America has lead to hundreds more bad TV shows that get filtered out here since airtime is at a premium. Of course I think it's just nice to just click through 4 or 5 channels and then go outside because there's nothing good on.
Ford sells cars here that have a 4.0 liter STRAIGHT SIX under the hood! I want one of those engines in my car!!! I suppose the EPA might have something to say about me bringing one of them into the country. Darn.

When you're crossing the West Gate Bridge at night you realize, Melbourne is HUGE! The lights stretch on for as far as I can see.

Some highways here have variable speed limits depending upon the traffic (and presumably the conditions) They're marked with LED signs that flash various speeds. People really obey these too, in fact almost nobody speeds here.

I'd like to know how in the heck a pub in Brisbane managed to get ahold of a keg of "Old Speckled Hen" because, I've been told that this (typically unpasturized) beer is only available in a small section of England, and there's no way that an unpasturized beer would be shipped (quite literally) to the other side of the globe and still taste good.

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