31 August 2003

US Australian Language Primer

Australia - US
Bed Head = Head Board A Bed head is the impression left on your head after lying on your back too long.
Main Meal = Entrée If you’re not hungry, don’t ask for an Entrée!
Biscuit = Cookie A biscuit is something like a scone/bread roll
Boot = Trunk “Chucking it in the boot” is not a familiar term here.
Tyre = Tire Pronounced “Taaar”
Windscreen = Windshield

Cheque = Check Used here for everything. The bank statement includes a page containing a copy every check presented during the month. In Australia, a telephone or utility bill lists about 6 to 8 different ways to pay – Cheque, Bpay, Credit Card, Eftpos, direct debit, Australia Post, etc. Here they all want you to pay by check.

Another big butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Abeka Science Yr 6)

New insect and animal discoveries

1. No-see-ums (Biting Midges) [Taken from a wildlife web site]
North country campers may be surprised to be bitten by tiny insects that can hardly be seen. So minute are these midges, called no-see-ums, that they can easily go through window screens and the mesh of some tents. Also called punkies and sand flies, these 1/10-inch-long critters are the smallest of the northland biters. They belong to the family Ceratopogonidae, which has about 460 North American species. Most feed on nectar. Several midge species will attack other insects. If a mosquito is full of blood, a no-see-um may bite her and steal the blood.
When and how does it bite? A few species of midges go for human blood. The females need protein-rich blood so their eggs can develop. Like mosquitoes, midges feed at dusk. They puncture skin with a pair of mandibles, which look like scissors blades.
Life cycle. Midge eggs are laid in ponds. The larvae look like thin worms. The pupa floats but does not swim. Adults usually emerge in summer and feed in June and July. Adults do not fly far from their breeding grounds. Some people say you can escape from no-see-ums by simply moving a few feet away.
Good news. Thanks to biting midges we have chocolate. One species pollinates cacao trees, the source of chocolate, in lowland tropical forests.

2. The Good News Bee
This bee does not sting but makes quite a loud buzzing sound as it flies around. It tends to speed along, then stop and hover just in front of you (as if it was telling you some good news) and then flies on. They look exactly like a horrible nasty biting wasp.

3. Crawdads
These are like mini crayfish that live in the creeks and streams. Eric and James had a great time exploring with Jonathan Floyd in the creek at the Floyd’s place. They found Crawdads, blue tailed lizards, salamanders, skinks and lots of nifty things.

4. Huge butterflies and Moths
We have seen some really large and beautiful butterflies and moths including the white Webworm Moth, Tiger and Black Swallowtails and others.

The Wal-Mart Incident

David was at Wal-Mart with Bretta buying various essentials including pillows and larger items. At the checkout, rather than pull all the pillows out they just told the lady what was there and she rung it up on the register. When they got to the car and began unpacking, they realized that there were about half a dozen items underneath the pillows. Oh no! Shoplifting! David and Bretta promptly went back into the store in time to see the Store Greeter talking to a policeman, and the checkout lady pointing to them and saying, “There they are.” “Gosh,” David thought, “They’re quick here. Arrested on day two in America! What a good start.”

It’s a shame to wreck a good story, but we spoke with the Greeter later and she said that the Policeman regularly pops in and says Hello, and they weren’t talking about us at all. Phew!

The Green Car Ding

See the ding on the side door? It wasn't me.

Driver’s License

I now have a Georgia Driver’s License. Unfortunately I had to hand over my Australian license in the process. We are using the Ogburn’s car, which has a scrape on the passenger side. As the fellow giving me the driving test knew I was Australian (Crikey! What gave it away?), he noticed the scrape and asked, “Did you drive on the wrong side of the road?” He was pretty good and when I had stopped at a stop sign he commented, “That’s what we call a Californian Stop – That’s when you almost stop and then proceed.”
I passed the test and received my license - $15 for 4 years.
I should have known better about stopping. Peter always reminds me from the back seat, “Daddy. You didn’t stop. You slowed down.” This is because he heard the following joke. (Try to pronounce the driver’s words in a slow Southern drawl.)

A driver slowed down and then went through a stop sign. A policeman promptly pulled him over and approached the driver’s window. “Excuse me, Sir. You didn’t do a complete stop at that intersection there.”
“But, I slowed down”
“Sir, you are required to come to a complete stop before proceeding…”
“I slowed down”
“Sir, slowing down is not stopping..”
“But I did slow down.”
With a firm expression, the policeman asked, “Can you step out of the car for a moment, please”
The driver stepped out and the policeman began to hit him over the head with his clipboard.
“Stop, Stop!” cried the driver.
“Do you want me to stop or slow down?” asked the policeman.

25 August 2003

The Playground

We finally built the playground. Can you imagine the torture of being a boy that loves climbing trees, surrounded by a forest, yet no tree has branches that you can reach? James decided that we would have to go home as there are no trees in America that he could climb. So, we had to have something outside on which they could all play. We didn’t want a small thing that would not survive active play. The local hardware store (Home Depot – similar to Hardware House) had a home playground kit. All the screws and bits were supplied - just add lumber. Easy.

First problem: How do we get it home? The car we had wouldn’t fit the lumber, and I did not yet have a US driver’s license or insurance in my name. Luckily, the Ogburns were able to assist and we used Ward’s dump truck to transport the wood.

Can you guess who was the builder and who was the assistant?
Next Problem: It’s a lot of wood, and it all needs to be cut. And put together. And it’s all quite heavy. Step in another local family – The Floyds. David Floyd is a builder/carpenter and teaches at the local College (cross between TAFE and University). He likes this type of stuff, so I passed wood, held up bits, held screws and was general builder’s assistant. Over two Saturdays we constructed the playground. Lana and Vicky Floyd fed the troops and the children kept asking, “Can we play on it yet?” Now that it’s built, James reckons we can stay a bit longer.

12 August 2003