Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adrians, Al Capone, and the Aussie salute

Aussiespeak needs an understanding of the Australian language, its idioms, terms, words, phrases...
Let's say you’re an American male on a visit to Australia and you meet this dinki-di Aussie sheila. You click, and she wonders if you can meet her later, say at 5pm, near the lifts by the chemist’s on the first floor of the Oz Building.
"No worries, mate," you say, having already picked up that Aussie expression. And, yes, you know that lifts are elevators and the chemist’s is the pharmacy or drugstore.
A really good start to what could develop into something great.
And so at 5 o’clock...
Before it’s 5pm you rush into the Oz Building, which you discover to be a shopping centre. You had a map and it was easy to find.
The elevators are there all right but there’s no drugstore. Well, even a true blue Aussie sheila can get her bearings wrong.
So you wait by the elevators, and the minutes tick by.
By 6pm you just know you’ve been stood up...
But what about her?
Well, she was there before 5pm. She was waiting near the lifts by the chemist’s on the first floor but when you didn’t arrive by 6pm, she just knew she’d been stood up.
Unfortunately, the American knows the ground floor of a building as the first floor. Any Australian knows that the first floor of a building is the first floor up from the ground floor, or what the American would know as the second floor.
The moral of this little story is: Know a little bit of the local language.

So I’ve been thinking about Australian slang lately. I know we speak the same language—well, more or less. However, as with any foreign language, we are going to have to learn a new vocabulary. Aussie (there’s your first “Aussie” slang word) slang is so much more colorful than American slang!

It seems that the Aussies have a penchant for shortening every word they possibly can. Such as ambo (ambulance), bikkie (biscuit, which I think means what we call a cookie), doco (documentary), and of course, Oz (Australia). I’ll leave you to figure out reffo and rego and gone troppo. They also create some off-the-wall (is that American slang?) words like yobbo and whinge and whiteant (which is a verb, by the way). One of my favorites is aerial ping-pong (Aussie Rules Football). Another is shark-biscuit. You can probably guess the meaning of THAT one! There are several places on the internet where you can go to translate Aussie slang. Most are just lists of words (,,, and

But there are other more interesting places like this one from the Australian government no less that gives you a history of some of their slang. Even most Americans have heard of song “Waltzing Matilda” but I’d venture that very few have any idea what the words mean. If you want to “celebrate[s] the things that make Australia unique,” go to this site.

I’d bet there are lots of things we Americans say that have the Aussies scratching their heads about!

I’m also trying to read some books that will give me a feel for Australia. Although we won’t be in Australia for long (but we’re going to try to come home from there using a pass on United Airlines so we may be there longer than we plan! <g>) we will be spending a lot of time with a lot of Australians and I’d like to be able to carry on intelligent conversations with them about their country. Or at least semi-intelligent conversations! Randy & I are also REALLY looking forward to being out of the US during some of the election cycle. And to hear from people outside the US about what they think about our politics and politicians! Or maybe I DON’T want to hear what they have to think about our politics and politicians.

One book I’m reading now is We of the Never-Never. Another I want to re-read is Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. I’m open to suggestions for other books about Australia.

Probably I’ll hear from some Aussies if I’ve screwed up any of their slang! If any Australians want translations of OUR slang try,, and

So what about Adrians, Al Capone, and the Aussie salute? You'll have to look it up.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yes, we’re still going!

I’ve been pondering the Costa Concordia disaster. No we are NOT giving up our cruise! Like the drive to the airport, the drive to the cruise terminal is probably the most dangerous part of our trip. But my heart goes out to the families of those who died, to the injured passengers and crew, but also to those who were so frightened and now have to deal with having lost everything including what was probably going to be a wonderful vacation cruise. It has become a vacation to remember, that’s for sure!

Right now, Costa is not endearing itself to its passengers, however. From what I’ve been reading, they are refunding the money for the cruise and giving a 30% discount on a future cruise, but doing NOTHING for the passengers in the future—some as soon as this week—who have to alter their air reservations. Nothing, that is, unless they booked their air with Costa.

I’m betting that a lot more people will be paying attention at the muster drills, at least in the near future. I’m also betting that, as time passes, people will STOP paying attention at the muster drills, much as happens in airplanes. Look around you next time you are on an airplane and see how many (none?) put down their papers or their books or stop their conversations to listen to the flight attendant give the safety briefing.

Where ever you are going, please pay attention to the safety briefings. Your attention may save your life or the life of a loved one someday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Who the heck is Lord Carrington?

As you will see by the sidebar, I am following several other cruising blogs. It’s quite interesting to read what they are going through and how they planned for their cruise. One couple is bringing 11—yes, ELEVEN—suitcases for a 70-some day cruise! And Randy & I are worried about possibly having 4 suitcases. We managed once to fly around the world with just two carry-on bags, but going around the world on a cruise ship is just a teeny bit different. The wife in one couple on an earlier 70-day cruise brought 17 pairs of shoes! SEVENTEEN! Another was noting the poundage of their baggage: over 500 pounds! The mind reels!

I’m definitely getting into the we’re-actually-going-on-this-cruise-so-I’d-better-get-my-act-in-gear mode! I’m making spreadsheets:
  • with the names of the CruiseCritic members who have told me their surnames and cabins for the Meet & Greet on the first sea day;
  • of all the tours I’ve already signed us up for;
  • for the checklists I’m gathering (I’m a pilot’s wife—of course I have checklists; I have checklists of my checklists!);
  • of the tours I’m organizing (so far only one, but I’m working on another out of Le Havre if I can only get Randy to tell me what he wants to do!).

This is a sample of my checklist format. I’ll keep it in the kitchen and Randy & I can check off what we’ve acquired and what we still need to get. Some of the stuff we’ll pick up in Sydney so we don’t have to carry it with us on the plane. Am I too compulsive?




Clothing & Accessories

Clothing & Shoes – formal, casual, gym

Lightweight rain ponchos

Sweater &/or jacket




Snorkels & masks (2)

For our anniversary I have organized a stay at an old hotel that I was told about by the CruiseCritic members, the Carrington in Katoomba (check out the location on, 15-47 Katoomba St, Katoomba Blue Mountains, Australia). It’s an old, historic, majestic hotel in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney and we’re going to stay in the Lord Carrington Suite for our 50th anniversary. Now I’ll have to find a nice restaurant for dinner! We’ll stay there the 11th and 12th (our actual anniversary) so we’ll have lots of time to wander around the area and see what there is to see. There is lots to see! I’m really looking forward to it! Not as much as the cruise, of course, but our week in Sydney and Katoomba should be a lot of fun, too!

Now, back to those checklists...