24 February 2006

Sorry Dad, I'm a Liberal

Guaranteed, right now Dad is thinking, "Where did I go wrong? First the Apple computer, and now this?" If it makes you feel any better, I'm really more of a centrist. I took several political quizzes on the web a couple of years ago, and I was conservative-centrist. But political events over the past year or so, coupled with living in a liberal-ish country, had me wondering if my views had changed. I took some of the quizzes again, including Political Compass and Politopia, and discovered I have moved across the centre axis. Basically, I like a government that keeps out of our private lives, but provides social and economic programs for the well being of all. I still find loudmouth extremists on both ends obnoxious, and I still think the Democratic party is more interested in disagreeing with Bush than having any actual platform of their own. In fact, Nader should have been my man in 2004 according to the polls. In recent history, Jimmy Carter is the president closest to me (All apologies to my father-in-law, who, at the mention of that name, just began about three days of repeating how poor a president Carter was. Apologies to my mother-in-law, too). But there you have it: I'm a liberal. Confession is good for the soul.

Socialised medicine

One of the things I was most interested in about life in Australia was their socialised medicine plan (note the AU spelling). I wanted to see if the medical care suffered in this system, and what the effect was on society as a whole when good health care was available to everyone. This week, I got my chance to see the system up close. I lost my voice last weekend, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday. I called the doctor of my choice and got an appointment for the next day--no wait, contrary to the claims of those against such a system. The doctor advised a gargle for a few days, but also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic only to be filled if the gargle didn't work (which it did). That's it. Mine was a very simple case, but from what I've seen the past six months, and what I experienced this week, count me in. Yes, the taxes are higher, but I believe it is worth it, and I hardly ever go to the doctor. The idea is prevention: get yourself healthy and you'll live a longer, healthier life. With socialised medicine, everyone has access, not just those with the money. If we all pitch in now, everyone can live a healthier life, which in turn benefits all. In fact, that leads me to my next post...

19 February 2006

The Official Look Right Mailing List

I have heard many positive comments about the new blog, but there is one complaint that has come up a few times. Some of you preferred receiving the emails and fear your won't remember to check the blog. If this sounds like you, I have a solution: the Look Right Mailing List. If you scroll down on the right, you will notice the mailing list sign up box. Enter your name and email address, and verify your subscription when you receive the confirmation email. That's it. I will send out an announcement when the blog is updated, so you don't have to worry about missing anything. Please note that these mailing list notifications will not include the post, but simply a reminder that a new one is available. I will probably include a short description but not the post in its entirety. So if you are worried you won't remember to check in, or if you want more email that is NOT trying to sell you something, sign up today.

15 February 2006

As ______ as

In previous posts I have mentioned a few interesting Australian idioms and other linguistic tendencies. As an English teacher, there is one in particular that I find interesting. I am always encouraging my students to show, not tell, in their writing, and to use figurative language to paint a picture for the reader. Australians, however, make frequent use of what I call the incomplete simile. The building is not as big as a mountain, it is simply "as big as." Likewise, the weather is as hot as, my wife is as beautiful as, the luge is as dangerous as, and incomplete similies are as weird as. I bring this up now because I just saw a commercial for the Ford Focus, and the tagline was "Smooth As." Someone in marketing did their homework.
I also find this interesting because Australia has a history of colorful expression. My favorite (which I have never actually heard used, but am told it is still common in rural areas) is "as flash as a rat with a gold tooth." The hip young Sydneysider today reduces this to "as flash as," which I find as sad as.

13 February 2006

Australian Luge?

While you are watching the Olympic coverage the next few days, keep an eye out for the women's luge competition, particularly the Australian representative, Hannah Campbell-Pegg. She is the sister of one of my fellow teachers at Canterbury Boys. A click on her name will take you to her bio on the Australian Olympic page. Scroll down to "Major Injuries" to get an idea how dangerous this event can be. The news just aired a report on her, saying she began luging (?) only two years ago, and showed video of her riding downhill in the street on a modified sled for practice. Go the luge team!

07 February 2006

I watched SBXL

I got the update on the Super Bowl in the afternoon at school, and knew the outcome by the time I went home, but I found out during the evening that the game would be replayed Monday night. It was only two hours long, with all the standing around cut out, as well as the SB commercials. I know, it's just not the same without the commercials, but you take what you can get when it comes to American Football over here. Besides, you can watch all the commercials here. Kind of a down year, wasn't it? Anyway, the international feed of the game had Dick Stockton as play-by-play and Daryl Johnston on color. It was kind of dumbed down for a non-NFL international audience, so they were explaining rules and calls a lot. Given that it was only the second "gridiron" game I have seen this year (Go the Longhorns!), I'm not complaining. In fact, I think next year I'll avoid hearing any news about the game (not hard to do here) and watch the replay that night. Unless the Cowboys make it--then I'm taking the day off.

06 February 2006

I am an Ox

I found out last week from a
Chinese student that I was born in the Year of the Ox. Actually, he told me that I was born in the Year of the Cow, but I found out later that Ox is the same thing, and I like the sound of that better. He also told me I could find out my "element," which I discovered is Water. So, I'm a
Water Ox. You can see the characteristics of the animals here, and can find your element and animal here. In case you have forgotten, I am a born leader and I inspire confidence from all around me. I am conservative, methodical, and good with my hands. I should guard against being chauvinistic and always demanding my own way.
Sunday was the Chinese New Year parade. It was quite long, and a great ending for our cultural weekend. The first picture is a group of kids on stilts.
They were pretty impressive. They did a little routine where they would hop in unison.
Have you seen those little gyroscopes that you can spin on a rope and do flippy yoyo style tricks with? Well, the second picture is a giant one of those. Two guys got it spinning, then once it got going, one guy dropped out, and because of the spinning motion, it stayed upright. Ask your local physicist why this works. When we learned this when I took physics, the teacher had a student hold a spinning wheelchair
wheel. When he tried to lift it over his head, the spinning motion caused it to go out of control and he almost took his own head off. Dangerous stuff, that physics.
The next picture is a little boy wearing a too-big dragon mask. There were several of these in the parade, most of them stopping frequently to push up the mask to take a look around, as this boy is doing. There were a few of the long dragons as well, with ten or twelve people supporting on poles, weaving
back and forth. The next picture is an adopted Chinese girl with her adoptive father, part of a large group representing adopted Chinese children. Heather noted that every one was a girl. It seems that Chinese concerns with population has extended to adoption legislative controls.
The next two pictures show examples of costumes on display during the parade. There were many colorful costumes, as well as fans, drums, batons, and other accessories. There were balloons, a few floats, and musicians. There were frequent
reminders of the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In many ways, it was just like other parades I have seen, but there were certainly Eastern touches as well. Enjoy the pictures.

Super Bust

Well, it appears that I was as successful with my Super Bowl pick as I was in fantasy football this season. Sometimes it doesn't pay to go against the flow. Congrats to any Steeler fans out there: your team has now joined the five rings club. It's about time the Cowboys win another one--it's getting too crowded in this club.

05 February 2006

Vikings and a little Japanese culture

It was cool and overcast this weekend, so Heather and I didn't get to the beach. Instead, we took part in a little culture around town, something we haven't done for a while. Our first stop of the day was the Maritime Museum, hosting a
special exhibit on the Vikings. Overall, we felt there was too many replicated pieces and not enough original work in the exhibit, but I guess original Viking artifacts are in short supply. One interesting item was this chess piece, a berserker. We learned that he doesn't have buck teeth, but is chewing on his
shield. The berserkers did this as part of their routine to drive themselves into a frenzy before going into battle. One of the few hands-on pieces was this helmet that I am considering aquiring for all future CityRail bus rides. The exhibit made a big deal about real Vikings not having horns on their helmets, but I bet you can guess which
style they were selling in the gift shop.
After the museum, we happened upon a Japanese festival. That's the great thing about this city: there is always something going on. We heard music and watched traditional dances. We even had the chance to participate, but we both chickened out, each
claiming we wanted the other to dance and pose for pictures. The highlight of the show was a large group from a local school. We were specifically focused on these two little kids who were very entertaining. The girl was very excited about dancing for an audience, even if she wasn't always on cue. The boy seemed pretty uninterested in most of the dancing, other than the jumping parts. All in all, it was another entertaining day in the city.

Super Bowl XL pick

By the teams involved, this has to be the most un-"XL" Super Bowl in a long time. Ironic, isn't it? From what I have seen, Pittsburgh seems to be the hot pick, but it seems everyone has yet again forgotten what wins games. Please allow me to remind you.
DEFENSE-Pittsburgh has the better defense, but not by much, especially when you break it down running/passing. Seattle is right behind Pittsburgh's run defense, and they both have average pass defenses. I think Seattle will be able to do more against Pittsburgh's defense than vice versa, but I'll give a slight edge to PITTSBURGH.
RUSHING-MVP Shaun Alexander carries for Seattle. Done. Edge to SEATTLE.
TURNOVERS-For the season, Seattle is a +9, Pittsburgh is +7. Slight edge to SEATTLE.
INTANGIBLE MEDIA CURSE-They have set up Bettis and his teammates for failure with all this talk about Bettis going home for the Super Bowl. Edge to SEATTLE.
The teams might not be "XL," but the matchup points to a good game. I'll pick SEATTLE to win 34-27. I'll have to check the final score when I get home from work, since I'll be teaching Monday afternoon while you're watching SBXL Sunday evening.
Oh, and Rugby Union Super 14 starts February 10, National Rugby League March 10. Go the Waratahs! Go the Roosters!

04 February 2006

The Assailant

School started this week, and is going well. Before I tell you about that, I should tell you about the Friday Night Adventure.
Heather and I had gone to dinner with her co-workers. After eating, we rode a very crowded bus home. I ended up sitting next to a woman who was clearly not all with us mentally. She had a wild look about her, and was talking to herself constantly. As we pulled up to Central Station, we got up to get off the bus. Because of the crowd, it was slow moving toward the doors. Near the door, I felt someone pushing me in the back, and heard the woman saying, "Get out of the way!" Then I felt her fist hammer the side of my head. She shoved past me and went out the door, looking back to glare at me. I was shocked. What do you do when someone clubs you like that out of nowhere? Especially if that person is A) a woman, and B) mentally challenged. In addition to being shocked, I didn't know where Heather was. I thought she was behind me, but when I looked back, she wasn't there. In the few seconds it took me to process all of this, the doors closed and I missed my stop. That's when I saw Heather on the footpath waving at me. Great--now I'm stuck on the bus and she is out there with The Assailant. The people around me asked if I was OK (yes) and why she had hit me (no idea). At the next stop, a block up the road, I approached the driver and asked if he saw what happened. He said there was a camera on the bus and gave me a number to call to report it. I got off the bus and ran to catch up with Heather. She had gotten off the front of the bus and asked why I had missed the stop. She had no idea what had happened. When we got home, I called the Transit Authority and the police to report the assault. The police came out to file the report, and said they would probably be able to get a picture from the video, but finding out who she is would be difficult.
My ear throbbed for about an hour, and was hot for a few hours. It was still a little sensitive to the touch this morning, but should be fine in another day or two. No headaches or anything. Heather was afraid I would have cauliflower ear and would be ugly, but I'm still good looking as of this writing.