"With only two weeks leave, it’s hard to justify travelling a day each way,” she explained. I was aghast to learn that not only is it common practice for employers to grant just 10 days of annual leave to employees per year, but it’s not mandatory for employers to give their employees any annual leave at all.
To my shame, I once laughed when a friend told me that only 10% of Americans hold passports. (The number is actually more like 35%.) At the time, I admit I thought it was strange that Americans seemed to show so little interest in the world around them. Now I know better.
I always wondered why I rarely got requests from Americans and why some of the Americans I did host were the pickiest and had the highest standards of any guests I’d ever hosted. I (perhaps naively) put it down to my perception of Americans as being very patriotic and seemingly uninterested in, or unwilling to leave their country.
It seemed to me like Americans feel there is enough to explore in their own backyard, and people who had visited or lived in the US told me their TV, news and school curriculum had a disproportionate focus on the US compared to the rest of the world.
When I went to the US a few months ago and found everyone to be so friendly and interested in us as foreigners, I became even more confused as to why I hadn’t seen more American tourists back home.
Getting used to the American custom of tipping did shed some light on the high standards aspect though. I was often surprised at how eager hospitality workers were to keep patrons happy and had to keep reminding myself to tip them for it. Here in Australia, workers are much more likely to tell you where to go, or even call security if you make a scene!
After reading this article, the situation makes a lot more sense. As someone who aspires to live and work in New York City soon, this article is some very valuable insight indeed.
Just after I got home from work on Thursday, my Airbnb guest walked in the door with this guy - a live mudcrab. These are quite common and highly prized by fishermen where I live, and even though I was born and raised in the area, I had no idea what to do with the crab. They are also quite expensive in restaurants, fetching AU$70-100 for an entire crab.
So I turned to social media to ask how to (humanely) kill and eat the crab. Over 130 comments flooded in, mostly advising to stab the crab between the eyes, freeze it to ‘put it to sleep’ and/or boil it. Apparently the crab will ‘throw’ (i.e. drop) its claws if boiled alive, so I wasn’t too keen on that option. My guest and I decided to pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes before boiling it for 25 minutes, although I think next time I’ll try the stabbing technique.
Either way, the crab was delicious, if a little watery/salty!
The Reserve Bank reckons it could work out cheaper to rent a house instead of buying one. Hack finds out what you should do. Hack - Shoving the J into journalism, Hack is triple j’s half hour program covering current affairs, music, politics and culture with youth in mind. triple j is the place for the best new music from around Australia & the world. Listen via radio or stream triple j online
There was a very interesting discussion on the radio yesterday about renting vs buying a principal place of residence. I have talked about the situation in Europe compared to Australia many times with my guests/Couchsurfers. Many of my guests are shocked when I tell them I became a homeowner at 19 years old - and it’s still a shock even to Australians, but when the difference between the rights of tenants and landlords overseas and their rights here in Australia are considered, and the fact that real estate costs in the Northern Territory are on par with Melbourne, home ownership really is a no-brainer.
I rented for 18 months before buying, and the level of control that my landlord wielded frustrated me to no end. I love photography, but I wasn’t allowed to hang my photos on the wall. I wasn’t even allowed to use Blu Tack as a non-permanent adhesive. I lived with the prospect of being turfed out at just a few weeks’ notice and I knew my landlord would need little or no reason at all to do so. I was once told in a threatening tone during a real estate agent’s inspection of the property to clean a thin layer of dust on ceiling fan blades because it might cause the fan to ‘blow up’. I had to hide my pet python during inspections for fear of being evicted for violating the strict, but all-too-common ‘no pets’ policy.
Six month and twelve month leases are quite common, meaning renters could be forced to move home twice a year or more, whether they’re a ‘bad’ tenant or not. Often landlords will choose not to renew their current tenant’s contract because they want to increase the rent without having to justify it too much.
It’s only in retrospect that I’ve realised how lucky I was to be able to buy my own home some five years ago. It was a combination of several factors that fell into place at just the right time which enabled me to purchase: government incentives, low-interest loans, grants for first home buyers, etc. My property value increased by 17% in the first four years, but in other parts of Australia, owners aren’t as fortunate and are left paying off mortgages that are greater than the value of the property.
Excuse the poor quality photos, but this is the approx 2 metre (6.5 feet) olive python that visited my office this week :)
P.S. At this size, they still have a lot of growing to do. Olives are known to reach up to 3-4m.
Let me tell you this story I heard from Debbie, who was a student on my study tour to NYC last month.
Debbie told me about an Aboriginal man from Arnhem Land she met when her son was still in a stroller. The man smiled at her son and asked what her son’s name was. She told him, and he responded with “oh, kumanjayi…” As Debbie was retelling this story, she remarked that she wasn’t sure what the man was saying about her son, but that she assumed it was a compliment in his language and she was touched by it.
I then explained to Debbie that ‘kumanjayi’ (pronounced like koo-mon-jai) is commonly used in Arnhem Land to refer to people who have passed away - and that her son probably had the same name as someone who was recently deceased.
It’s particularly important to be mindful and respectful of these cultural practises in my line of work (graphic design), as publishing names, images, audio or video footage of Aboriginal people who have passed away can be quite distressing to their families and community members.
This cultural protocols document I just found explains the whole thing pretty well, and with examples.
This sign appears on a 110km/h stretch of highway, at a place called Noonamah, in the Northern Territory, Australia. The owners of the local pub have attached the smaller sign in competition to the McDonald’s one. This is the same pub that promotes itself with 'where the hell's Noonamah?' bumper stickers.
The signs used to say ‘20 minutes’ and ‘20 seconds’ respectively, before the rural area got its first McDonald’s store a few months ago. For those who are unfamiliar, this is Noonamah:
Bugs, a fuel station, an expensive corner shop, a couple of pubs, road trains, some basic accommodation and the occasional rodeo.
So… McDonald’s, or a counter meal at the Noonie?
I went on a first date the other night. The conversation went something like this.
Guy: You know, if a white person was so drunk on the street that police had to be called, they would be sent to jail or something. They wouldn’t just get a slap on the wrist like Aboriginals do. And they get SO much help from us. You don’t see Americans handing out cheques to Indians like they do with Aborigines here.
Me: You know I’m Indigenous, right?
The guy went bright red. I have never seen someone backpedal so fast in my life. He later personalised his argument:
We came to this country and we gave you education, and yeah there was the Stolen Generation and stuff but now we’re paying for that, and you know, when does it stop? When does it stop?!
Many Australians think racism isn’t prevalent in Australia. Bull-fucking-shit.
Just bumped into someone from Fannie Bay (in Darwin, Australia - where I live) on the subway in New York. Small world!