Wednesday, 3 October 2007

On a mission

David and I just enrolled to be able to vote in the forthcoming Australian federal election. Apparently, when you're living overseas and are no longer resident at your previous address, you get put back on the roll in your last electoral division. So we had a lovely letter from the Curtin electoral office explaining that though we couldn't vote at all in state elections, we were obligated to do so in federal ones by applying for a postal vote or turning up in person at the 'nearest Australian Diplomatic Mission'. No worries.

And that led Dave and me to think that perhaps we should apply to have the Bondi classed as an Australian Diplomatic Mission - after all, the consul general drops in from time to time when he's not in his mansion in Los Angeles (it backs on to the grounds of the Getty Centre - to die for!)
We thought we could rope off a bit at the back of the public bar, over near the kegs, and when Aussies come in to vote we could offer them a pie and a pencil, with the promise of an icy-cold one after they'd voted - for the right mob, of course!

:: Halloween's coming (October 31) - and it seems the entire country simply cannot wait! Let's get the cozzies organised, the pumpkins carved and on with the party. It's wonderful - one of the best things about living here.
As a measure of the seriousness with which my fellow Americans apply themselves to this annual brou haha, consider the following: my local supermarket has had cartloads of the most enormous orange pumpkins outside for the last fortnight; 'Halloween superstores' have sprung up in almost every shopping centre; Halloween M-and-Ms are on sale; you can book now for pumpkin-carving lessons and costumes are available at hire outlets - and they're for all ages.

I took this pic of a Halloween store in LA the weekend before last (not even in October!) ...

... not a very good pic as it was late afternoon and I pointed the camera through the car windscreen - but you get the idea.
And then even earlier - in the middle of September - this was a little part of Target in Olympia, in Washington:

It'll rise to a fever pitch as the countdown starts - I'll keep you posted!

:: Went shopping last week at Costco, which is a phenomenon and a half ...

I hadn't actually been inside a Costco store before - though I'd heard plenty about these nationwide retail giants, so Cindy (a fellow Bondite) invited me to go with her when she went to stock up for the impending visit of her in-laws.
You pay $50 a year and get an ID card with your picture on it, and then you are let loose with a mega-trolley. There are no frills at all, but everything seems to come in giant-size jumbo containers and at unbelievably low prices. And you can buy anything, it seems: electrical goods, soft furnishings, household goods, car stuff, hardware ...

... food (including top-quality Australian lamb, c-h-e-a-p), spectacles, clothing, pet food, toiletries and medicines. And - right in the middle, unannounced, I hit the mother-lode ...

... vast tables of books. Yum! There was plenty of kids' stuff, and piles of remainders, but the jewels far outweighed the dross. I picked up four current novels that I'd been looking at in B&N, and the dearest of these was $8.
Oh boy - I'll be back with my fifty smackaroos and some more browsing time!


Meg said...

I like your plans for making the Bondi an Australian Diplomatic Mission. Many years ago, before migrating here (or even thinking of it), I travelled several hours to my nearest Australian Diplomatic Mission to organise a tourist visa for myself. My Aussie partner thought, while I was at it, I could pick up his postal vote enrolment form for him (it must have been the 1999 republic referendum). Sitting in the waiting area, the absolute joy with which the woman staffing the voting area executed her duties has formed one of the strongest first impressions of Australia I have. She was dashing around, ushering people in and out, popping into the waiting area with a sparkle in her eye and a big smile on her face, booming "Now, who's here to VOTE!?!" as if she was offering everyone a chance to win a million dollars. I was so impressed that voting (and compulsory at that) could be made so fun. So I reckon the Bondi would be perfect as a polling place!

Lesley (El Zed) said...

Thanks for that vote of confidence, Meg!
You're quite right - voting in Australia is fun, even for us in the safest Liberal seat in the country (so voting otherwise is practically ineffectual), and in WA, where the time difference can often mean our votes are still being counted when the TV and radio commentators in the east have already decided which party has won. But we still we love polling day! And registering to vote at 18, and voting for the very first time, are important rites of passage for our kids.
I think our enjoyment of elections is very much due to the fact that we have compulsory voting: we're all involved in the entire process and there fore we play a part in the outcome (though, to be pedantic, it's compulsory only to turn up on polling day, have your name crossed off and be given the voting papers - you don't actually have to vote).
Watching the presidential candidates' campaigns thunder on here in the US - it's been months already and the election is not until November next year, I can only imagine what a difference compulsory voting would make in this country, if only in neutralising the incredible power of some of the minority groups who are so strong and vociferous here just because their members will all vote.
It would also improve the media ... but I'm rambling!