Friday, April 10, 2009

Public Holiday

I'm working in my office on Good Friday. This means that I'm ignoring the public holiday--the first day of a four-day holiday weekend in Australia.  As I said last year, I'm just not used to observing this most religious Christian holiday by going to the beach, eating hot cross buns, and gorging on chocolate. Thus, to avoid the awkwardness of it all I ran to what is familiar--my desk at UQ! Besides, I'm hopelessly behind in my work anyway.

For a fairly non-religious country, Australia does wholeheartedly observe Easter. All the shops are closed today, just like on Christmas Day. They'll be open again on Saturday, when we'll fight the crowds to buy some groceries, but then everything goes dark again on Sunday. Easter Monday (what's that all about anyway--the day that Jesus recovered from his resurrection?) is unpredictable in terms of what services are available.  The major newspapers didn't publish an issue today, and I'm not sure whether they will do so on Sunday or Monday.  We have no mail for four days, as the Australian Post isn't open on Saturdays anyway. A $1100 charge appeared in our checking account yesterday, but I must wait five days for my bank to re-open to find out where the charge came from.  I keep muttering to myself, "Have patience, Eric. You don't live in the United States anymore!"

I was dying for a flat white this morning, so I was relieved to find an open coffee shop in Toowong--a Coffee Club full of Good Friday refugees.  However, signs were prominently posted on the door announcing a 15% surcharge on everything because it was a public holiday. As I understand it, this strongly union-dominated nation mandates something like double holiday pay for anyone who works on public holidays. It's the law! That may explain why even the newspapers are shut down too.  Still, the extra 50 cents for my coffee was well worth it.

Don't worry. I won't stay here much longer today. I can feel the spirit of the public holiday eroding my motivation with each passing hour that I sit here.  And, despite the federal law, I'm not receiving any extra pay. You will, however, need to pay a 15% surcharge for reading this post.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I mentioned in a post last October that one of the political parties running for the UQ student government was promising a Subway outlet on campus.  Well, that party won the election and has delivered on its campaign promise.  Subway opened at the Student Union about a month ago, and the sudden appearance of long queues into the cafeteria (the Refec) signifies its success. In that earlier post I expressed amazement at the popularity of Subway in Australia. I have, in fact, been to Subway twice in the past few months. It is basically the same as the chain in the United States. The subs are "six inches" and "a foot long," even though this country is entirely metric. When I went to the one today, my sandwich was made to order, with four different choices of bread, several choices of meat, just two choices of cheese (the ubiquitous 'tasty cheese' and something else unidentified), and the usual assortment of veggies.  A couple of noticeable differences from its American equivalent: there are no chips for sale at Australian Subways, but there is an extraordinary range of 'sauces' to pour on your sandwich.  The former reflects a minor cultural difference from my homeland--potato chips are usually served with any sandwich there.  But here, potato chips are seen more as a snack food that is frequently eaten without any accompanying dish.  The range of sauces, on the other hand, is something that I am slowly starting to appreciate.  Aussies love to pour sauces on practically anything--even beautiful, expensive steaks.  Subway appeared to have about a dozen different sauces (e.g., red chilli, honey mustard, BBQ) available. I opted for the honey mustard today. And it was good.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where am I?

I've been playing around with the GPS capability of my iPhone, and found this somewhat scary app called GPS Tracker. It updates the location of my Phone every 5 seconds, as long as I have the programming currently running in the foreground.  Kind of cool, but I'm not sure of the practical benefit yet.  I saw that some parents are requiring their kids to run it when they go out, but it will be a while before we have to worry about Will's location.  For now, check out where I am (or last was):

GPS tracking powered by

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rainy Day

I'm working in my office, utterly paralys(z)ed with the prospect of all sorts of tasks that are long overdue. Brisbane is enjoying a long, hard rain today, and I love it. I'm listening to Jean-Yves Thibaudet's soundtrack for "Pride and Prejudice" while I work on my office computer. It's all a bit melancholy here, really. I am going through another bout of missing my friends and family. I am not even sure which friends I miss exactly, as I have left quite a few behind after each of the many moves that I have made. I should really stay put for once.

Maybe I'll just go home early and watch Keira wander through those beautiful English fields...