March 08, 2004

Top Ten Things We Miss About Canada

It's been pointed out to us that our blog sports a "relentlessly positive" tone. Maybe so, maybe so. But in case you were worried that there was nothing for which one could want in Australia, please find below evidence to the contrary.

WARNING: This is a list of quirky little things that we take for granted in Canada and miss in Australia. If you are expecting the Top Ten Great Things About Canada, you've come to the wrong list.

10. The Right Side of the Road

We know that the right side of the road is not necessarily the right side of the road, but adjusting to the left takes some time, and in the meantime you never know if each step you take as a pedestrian will be your last. Cars seem to be coming from all the wrong directions. This is especially true in downtown Melbourne, where the unique, specially-crafted right turns catering to tram traffic are truly the product of a disturbed mind.

9. Hockey

Cue the Hockey Night in Canada song!. Anatole misses following the Canadian teams as they make a run for playoff positions, especially since one of them might actually win this year!

8. 10-digit Phone Dialing

In Australia, you never know how many digits you're going to get. Ostensibly, it is 10 digit-dialing. A number in Melbourne (03 area code) might look like 03-9999-9999. But it only recently became ten digit dialing, so you'll often see an old 9-digit number printed like 03-999-9999. Also, cellphones ("mobiles" here) occupy their own area code -- 04 -- but are "chunked" differently for no apparent reason: 0499-999-999. Then there are the "1-800" numbers, which only get six digits after the 1-800 (e.g. 1-800-999-999). That's unless they don't even start with a 1-800 ... for example the phone company's "1-800" number (which actually starts with "13" is simply 139999 (no prefix or chunking). Then there are other services numbers with a different beginning and also chunked like cellphones, for example our Internet dialup number: 0199-999-999. To conclude: ack!

7. Loonies and Toonies

We miss our loonies and toonies so much that we've taken to calling the Australian $1 and $2 coins by the same name. We are cheerfully ignoring the fact that Australians call these (gold-coloured) coins "gold coins".

6. Four Seasons

No, not the hotel chain (although it's also Canadian!). We miss Ottawa's four distinct seasons in a year, as compared with Melbourne's infamous "four seasons in a day". As the saying here goes, "If you don't like the weather in Melbourne, just wait a few minutes." Melbourne's four seasons are really more like three, since they don't actually have a (Canadian) winter.

5. Mountain Equipment Co-op

Advice to Canadian travellers: do not leave home without first stocking up on any outdoor gear you could ever conceivably need. If not, you will inevitably end up bitter, disappointed, and broke at some inferior outdoor shop that cannot possibly have as much cool stuff and expert advice as MEC.

4. The Kyoto Protocol

Given that we both work on environmental issues and especially climate change, we can't help but notice that Australia, unlike Canada, hasn't ratified Kyoto (yet?).

3. The Rideau Canal

As a symbol for the winter that we were sad to miss -- really! It's been way too long since we've been skating.

2. Cheap Broadband

Do you know how hard it is to publish an image-heavy blog with a dial-up connection? ;-) We knew Canada was ranked #1 (or sometimes #2, but #1 sounds better) for broadband access, but who knew the rates were actually cheaper too?! Our choice here was signing up for a 12-month broadband contract for 3 times what we pay in Ottawa (not to mention we'll only be here for 6 months), or dial-up. Now you know why we don't update the blog every day.

1. You*!

Cheesy but true!

* NOTE: If you're reading this but we don't know you at all, we probably don't miss you specifically all that much. No offense intended, of course. You're probably swell, and if we knew you at all, you would no doubt rank in at least the Top 15. Write us a comment and perhaps we can get to know each other a little better.

Posted by miriam at March 8, 2004 12:31 AM

Hello - I'm a friend of Sarah's - I'm planning a trip to Australia in May so I've been following your posts for almost a week now. Just thought I'd say hello. hello!

Posted by: Lana at March 9, 2004 12:25 AM

testing to see if you allow html in your comments...

Posted by: madhava at March 9, 2004 03:04 AM

Nope. You sure don't. Well, there are some wintery photos in my most recent blog post that may help you with missed thing #6.

Posted by: madhava at March 9, 2004 03:06 AM

Ah, so now you're being relentlessly positive about Canada!

Actually Canada comes in something like #3 on Broadband. I think South Korea is WAY ahead of us (like, ten percentage points or more). Some smallish European country is ahead of us too, but I don't know if we need to care much (it's Switzerland or something like that... hardly a real country at all).

My parents are getting ADSL from Wanadoo in Narbonne, so next time you come there it will be zippy. They're even getting wireless. I love being their technology adviser... they get everything I want.

Ummm.... this is procrastination. Back to Aldo Rossi.


Posted by: George at March 12, 2004 02:25 PM