Thursday, September 28, 2006

No posts, no kangaroos, no emus

We've been slow on posts the last few days, mostly because we haven't offloaded pictures recently. Here's one from a while ago, showing Meghan standing under the official Australian coat of arms.

We still haven't seen an emu or a kangaroo in the wild, although I'm told they abound (ha ha) at the telescope sites in Parkes and Narrabrai. But here they are, supporting the coat of arms, which displays the badges for the six states and is surmounted by the seven-pointed crest and wreath. It is all very traditional and quaint: It is proper that an authority performing the duties of government should bear the dignities and traditional rights of its office; including the right to bear symbols of its honour and authority. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms was granted by the Sovereign and fulfils these traditional purposes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Basic Sydney geography

Where are we? Here's a map from google, with our apartment location marked with a green arrow. Also notice the scale bar (1 km/1 mile) at the bottom left, and the University of Sydney next to it - that's a 20 to 30 minute commute by bus for me.

Warayama Place, Rozelle

Clicking on the map will take you to the scrollable google map. Or click here for a satellite view which shows our apartment building(!) as well as the 8 km (5 mile) jogging track around Iron Cove and sailboats in the harbour.

As an aside, Kirribilli, the neighbourhood we lived in for our first month, is at the top right. Cahill Expressway is on the Sydney Harbour bridge.

Friday, September 15, 2006


One of the stranger experiences while leaving the US was giving up all of our keys. Car keys, house keys, apartment keys, office keys --- we had none.

But it didn't take us long to start accumulating keys in Australia, and this week we were maxed out. I had keys to: our temporary apartment (front door 1 and 2, mailbox), Bryan's office, my temporary office, and our new apartment (front door 1 and 2, garage, gym, main gate). Add on a couple of card keys (School of Physics, our new apartment) and an LED flashlight to help while fumbling in the dark, and you have a hefty bunch.

Thankfully this didn't last too long: we returned our temporary apartment keys today, and moved into our new apartment in the Anchorage at Balmain Cove. Inside, it is a smooth expanse of beige carpet, uninterrupted by any hint of furniture. Outside, the sun shines and the ocean gleams, and it is picture perfect...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Somewhere, over the rainbow...

The Sydney harbour bridge, a sailboat, and a rainbow... what more could you want in a picture?
(Meghan snapped this picture from our deck: it almost makes up for the surprisingly wet and cold weather we've had the last few days. Very un-Sydney-like, according to everyone here.)


If you know who Noddy, the Famous Five, or the Secret Seven are, this post is for you.
I was always puzzled by the fact that children's reading in the United States does not usually include (among other odd omissions) Tintin, Asterix, or Enid Blyton. With over 200 million copies of the Noddy books sold, you'd think a few million would find their way to the US... In Australia, back in the Commonwealth, the book stores stock Tintin and Asterix, and you might even run into Noddy at the mall! All right!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Visiting South Sydney

Last weekend we took the train to South Sydney, where we were met by my Dad's sister's husband's sister's daughter, Sue. We didn't even know of each other's existence before I moved here, but it was great to meet her, her husband Cary, and their daughters Chiara and Kacy. Sue gave us a grand tour of South Sydney, including a very fun afternoon on the beach at Botany Bay.

It wasn't quite warm enough for swimming - it is still winter in Australia, after all - but we had a great time lounging on the beach with Sue and Cary, their friend Annabelle, and the kids.

: Notice the Sydney skyline behind Shami, and the kids playing in the sand behind us.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mobile phones

In Australia, cellphones - or mobiles, as they are referred to here - are everywhere. Walking down the street, sitting on the train, waiting in line: people are jabbering on their mobiles or playing with them. Mobiles come in every shape, size, color; with cameras, radios, PDAs, music players: they sing, they dance, they slice and blow dry.

One thing that easily rivals the diversity of mobile phones is the diversity of service plans. Would you like prepaid or a service contract? Would you like to pay

10 cents a minute with a 25 cent call connection fee, and 25 cents for text messages? Or do you prefer 5 cents a minute in network, 25 cents a minute out of network, 5 cent text messages in network and 25 cents to others? Would you like the credits to expire in 30 days, or would you take more expensive call rates for a longer expiry period? Or would you like to pay $30 a month and get $100 in credits? Maybe $45 a month for $200 credit? What if voicemail was free? But the call connection fee went up? Are you confused yet?

Here's the fun part: all these plans are from just one service provider. We had a choice of Telstra (the former government monopoly), Optus (the biggest competitor), Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, 3 (also known as Orange in some countries), and countless other smaller providers. Each offered different plans, with different rates, perks, connection fees, caps, and different phones. What a nightmare...

Shami pondering plans offered by Optus, and our new all-singing, all-dancing, 3G-capable Sony Ericsson phones from Vodafone, lying on top of our plan comparison worksheet. Special thanks to Sean, who was a huge help in figuring out some of this. So you can call us, or send us SMS, at our consecutive phone numbers. Yay!