Saturday, January 12, 2008

Little Man Shorts

After much clamoring, at least the type of clamoring a mid-1980s rock band would get at a county fair, here's our much anticipated new post. Not too sure where to begin. Since the last post, we've gone through a cyclone, moved into a dorm, our application was accepted on a townhouse, Jenni started work, David took late afternoon naps, and a row between India and Australia has captivated the cricketing world (we're certain it was of great concern to the US news media). India was so upset by this, they took to burning effigies of the umpires in the streets. Who says cricket is boring?

Cyclone Helen
A cyclone is the same thing as a hurricane, or a typhoon, depending on your location. Darwin was caught on the outskirts of a Category 2 cyclone a couple of days after the start of the New Year. Winds got up to about 100kms per hour, and the peak happened about 1 or 2 in the morning. We ended up sleeping through, occasionally being woken up by a few crashing sounds. We know that's pretty anti-climactic, and definitely not a story worthy of the tabloid-like Northern Territory News (whose cover story mantra is "Crocs, Crashes, and Crime," some add a 4th C of "Crap").

It is amazing the community that can be built up in a few short weeks. We received a number of phone calls making sure we were doing alright and prepared for the storm. There wasn't much damage around the neighborhood we were staying at the time, but after driving around, we could see a number of upended trees. This was probably more a mixture of the heavy rains softening the ground a couple days prior to the cyclone, than the cyclone winds by themselves. Power was out until the afternoon, but we can safely say we survived, and it was definitely something that neither of us had been through before.

Jenni started her job at CDU on the the 7th of January with the usual mixture of excitement and nervousness one has when starting a new job. The week was a success, and she thinks her co-workers like her because everyday last week she found little presents on her desk. Like Friday she found a king cobra snake with a bow on it in her drawer. And like any well-meaning group of people, they were quick to question David's masculinity when they found out he'd followed Jenni to Darwin and her dissertation was on masculinity.

But to his credit (or discredit), David fought the good fight with the real estate companies that week, scheduling viewings and turning in applications. None of that work paid off, and our application was accepted on a property Jenni had applied for a week and a half ago. We were really lucky, because it's a beautiful property and a lot of people were interested. The owner decided to give us a chance, and gave us a 3 month lease. We wanted a year lease, but this way we can prove we are good tenants (we'll have to teach Hugh not to spray the walls) and get the year lease at the end of 3 months. We were getting pretty nervous last week, because we hadn't heard back from anyone, and the cats were set to arrive on the 18th. We did learn a few things about renting in Darwin for anyone who might be moving here. For one, don't move here around the holidays. Come a few days after the New Year, as the agencies (and everything else pretty much) are closed from the 24th of December until the 3rd of January. This was frustrating, but mostly because we had expected to be looking for a place. On the other hand, it was a great opportunity to see the town and practice driving on the left. We also learned having copies of reference letters from previous landlords was useful, and job offer letters. Having pre-made copies made us, in appearances only, look organized. Anyway, here is a map of the neighborhood we will be living in.

And a few photos (Note Jenni's office is actually in the closet).

American Government
Everyone here wants to know who is going to win the US election. They ask us questions like, "So what exactly is a primary?, Who gets to vote in a primary? What's the difference between a caucus and a primary? How many years can a congress person hold office? Why was West Wing canceled?" And so on. Mostly these questions reveal our complete ignorance of the American Political system. So if you have any nuggets of wisdom to share with us so we can appear informed, that would be very helpful. Our strategy of looking it up on Wikipedia is working so far, but we think they're on to us...

Little Man Shorts
Unfortunately we're not brave enough yet to provide a photo of this phenomenon. Yet.... see future blogs for the "little man shorts photo montage." Jenni thinks what we've termed "little man shorts" is the number one greatest thing about Australia. The style here, mostly worn by late middle-aged blue collar working men (i.e., the guys who work at the Power Company and climb phone poles for a living), is very similar to that found in San Fransisco's Castro District. It consists of the following items:

1. Button down shirt (halfway buttoned, of course, and always untucked). Usually the company logo appears above the front pocket.

2. Socks pulled up to the knees underneath calf-high leather work boots.

3. Short shorts that end just below the crotch. High school girls would be sent home for wearing something less provocative.

Now picture yourself in a clothing store. A gruff, burly man's man walks in. He could strike a match across his unshaven face, light a cigarette, put it out on his hand, and then eat it. He walks up to the Perky Store Clerk: "Ha ya goin'? Anything I can help you with?''
Man: ''Ummm, Yar. You got any of them there Hot Pants?''
Clerk: ''Of course, they're over in the men's section, next to the guns.''
Man: "Do they come in blue? I want them to match my huntin' boots.''

Jenni is encouraging David to buy a pair.

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