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January 14, 2010

Posted by Patrick at 01:55 PM * 72 comments

I started coughing during the Christmas-through-New-Year’s break, and it got gradually worse; I’ve been home from work for nearly two weeks now.

I’ve seen doctors. No, it’s not H1N1. (Yes, I wondered.) It appears to be a viral lung infection made worse by allergies. I’m taking stuff and I tentatively think I’m on the mend. But if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been slow to get back to you, even by my usual lousy standards, that’s why.

On the bright side, it appears I’ll be going to Aussiecon 4 later this year. Cool. I’ve never been south of the Equator. Fluorospheric advice about things to do in and around Melbourne would be gratefully received. (It’ll only be me, not TNH, alas.)

Comments on PSA:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:26 PM:

Yuck, I had something like that, but a week in California finally knocked out the last of it. It sucks. Hope you get better soon.

I've never been south of the Equator either, will be late winter/early spring there, right? Is it cold in Melbourne in September? Stay warm.

And watch the sun rise in the northeast and set in the northwest. Please report back if you find this disorienting. I suspect I would feel turned inside-out...if I noticed it at all!

#2 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:29 PM:

The two things that stand out in memory from my trips to Melbourne are seeing a Australian Rules football game at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds and sitting in Fitzroy Gardens at sunset when the marsupial squirrel-analogs descend from the trees to feed on the ground. Seeing a performance of Sondheim's "Assassins" was also fun, but it's unlikely to be on while you are there....

#3 ::: Jon Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:30 PM:

A definitely-shouldn't-miss around Melbourne is a day trip along the Great Ocean Road; you can hire a car yourself or hop on one of the bus/minibus trips offered by numerous companies.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:33 PM:

Best wishes for your recovery, Patrick.

#5 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 02:40 PM:

I'm going to second Jon Evans's suggestion. It's also a lovely city to wander around and have a look at the architecture.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:00 PM:

If you visit Australia, please bring a camera with video mode and settle the "toilets flush the other way" issue once and for all.

#7 ::: James Davis Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:01 PM:

I am sorry to intrude and I acknowledge I am second-guessing perfectly competent doctors but did they check for cough variant asthma? I coughed for three months one year before it was discovered [1] that's the symptom my asthma has these days. I preferred the not being able to breath version - not being able to breathe never broke a tooth.

1: Because it took three months for me to give in and see the doctor 30 seconds for a diagnosis and another fifteen minutes before I stopped arguing with him and tried my ventolin.

#8 ::: arkessian ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:19 PM:

Yep; seconding the cough-variant asthma question. I lived for forty-umph years (of which several were spent coughing all winter and spring) without a diagnosis.

And now I don't cough... Courtesy of a battery of inhalers.

#9 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 03:41 PM:

I think Cough-Variant Asthma was something F. Orlin Tremaine suffered from.

#10 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:09 PM:

There will definately be an AFL game at the MCG during Aussiecon - it is the start of the Finals (I noticed when investigating accomodation). Also the weekend before (last round) if you aren't here in NZ.

Climate stats

And the thing about the sun the threw me (when I was in the UK) wasn't the compass direction, but the fact it moves the _wrong way_.

#11 ::: Julia Rios ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:17 PM:

Ugh. Take care of yourself.

#12 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 04:33 PM:

Hope you feel better soon!

#13 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:11 PM:

Sincere sympathies. Coughing constantly is tiring and painful. Hope it's really on the mend.

#14 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Well, yay that you're coming to Melbourne. Here's a very truncated preliminary bunch of suggestions:

Museums and Galleries: We have many, clustered around Flinders Street Station. From a tech/pop culture perspective, the most interesting is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. There will be a major Tim Burton retrospective, among other things, while you are in town. But there's also the NGV which usually puts on a cracker Winter Exhibition as well. Dali this year; European masters next year. Or hop onto a number 86 tram and go to Smith Street, Collingwood, for more experimental and avant garde stuff by the locals.

Food: We are the food capital of Australia; especially try Vietnamese in Richmond, Italian in Lygon Street, Chinese in chinatown (I recommend the Post Mao cafe, unless you have big bucks, in which case hit Flower Drum), MoVida for tapas - book in advance - Grossi Florentino or Ezard for big, expensive luxury. Or there's the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant - dinner on a tram. Or come to my place for a lamb roast. We also have a thriving pub/music scene but the venues in the CBD are a bit commercial for my tastes. YMMV.

Scenery: I'm biased, but Melbourne is beautiful. It was built on Gold Rush money, so it has amazing 19th century architecture and a long standing tradition of public art. The CBD is a maze of High Victorian arcades with funky little shops in them, and it's surrounded by planned gardens, the loveliest of which are the Botanical gardens. Just walk around, or hop on a Tram (the maroon city-circle ones are free) and take pictures.

Getting out of town: the Yarra Valley is a great day trip - scenery, wineries and if you go past the wineries, Healesville, home to Healesville Sanctuary, where you can get up close and personal with the local fauna. Pat a wombat today! It's about 1.5 hours out of the CBD. Has the Melbourne Zoo beat, unless you want to see the butterfly enclosure. Although the Zoo is easier to get to if you won't have a car. Other possible day trips: the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, which takes you into the bush and isn't likely to be on fire at that time of year; great day-walks and parks. Mornington Peninsula: Intensely cold in winter, but lovely, more wineries and ocean views, as well as a robust antiques industry. Lots of crafts and galleries too.

Email me - tell me what you like and I'll hone my suggestions.

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 05:49 PM:

Get better soon.

#16 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:27 PM:

Look at the sky!

Well, that's what I plan to do if I ever make it to the Southern Hemisphere. Also, have a bite of a Vegemite sandwich, apparently.

#17 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 06:44 PM:

I thought the toilet flushing/tub draining thing was already pretty thoroughly debunked.

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:14 PM:

Also, have a bite of a Vegemite sandwich, apparently.

But just one bite. It's sufficient for a lifetime, believe me.

#19 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:51 PM:

I must be a sick pup; I love Vegemite.

Feel better, Patricio. I've never been to Melbourne but I have a couple of buddies who live/ have lived thereabouts... I'll ask them what the must-do/ sees are, and get back to you if I hear of anything good.

#20 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 07:51 PM:

It's not cough-variant asthma. It's not a dry cough.

Thanks for various Melbourne suggestions. I'm receptive to the idea that it's a terrific city; my assistant Liz Gorinsky returned from a trip there a year or so ago pronouncing it to be the coolest city in the world.

Also, I like Vegemite -- and Marmite -- and you can't fool me with the old wheeze about how you have to make sure to spread a thick enough layer of it onto your toast.

#21 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Make sure to see the Botanic Gardens.

#22 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:08 PM:


I don't find anything consciously disorienting about the position of the sun when I move from one hemisphere to the other, but it sure does mess up my sense of direction.

#23 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 08:45 PM:

Yuk. Get well soon.

Fitzroy district in Melbourne is a fine place to spend afternoon. Good bakeries.

#24 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:04 PM:

I enjoyed wandering around Melbourne and didn't find anything that was truly incredible; just being there was pretty cool. But the rainbow lorikeets on the balcony up in Airlie Beach, and snorkeling the coral reef -- that was pretty incredible. You won't get that in Melbourne, though.

#25 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Feel better, Patrick. My boss went to Melbourne last year, loved it, and is encouraging me to think about Aussiecon, but if I go overseas this year, I really want to see Europe first.

#26 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Vitamin D.

Somewhere a few years back, I read this great article in Science News, that I now cannot find. It was about the truly stunning improvements in immune system response with the addition of Vitamin D. It was only with cells in test tubes, various growing things in petri dishes, and very small animals independent of petri dishes. But the results were so intense, I started taking Vitamin D regularly. I didn't want to wait for ten years of lab testing when I could test myself right now. (For those who say "sunlight," I respond "sunscreen!")

I have been taking 400 to 800mg mostly every day since. More when I'm more stressed than normal, or exposed to something icky. I'll get really tired for a few days after the appropriate incubation period, or maybe a little congested for a day or two. But I used to get ten days to two weeks of ghods-awful shoot-me nasties, and a cough that went on for-ev-er, unless I lived with the VitaminC bottle, which I sometimes (often) didn't. I don't get those any more. Haven't for a couple of years now.

The really nice thing about the VitD treatment is I only have to chase down my housemates once a day, rather than far more often with the VitC treatment. And yes, it will help even after you have the nasties.

#27 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:19 PM:

PNH @20, but do you know about how you have to let the toast cool down first?

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Avram, I was instructed in the *mite arts by adepts.

#29 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:26 PM:

Avram, why must one let the toast cool down first?

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:33 PM:

Avram, I was instructed in the *mite arts by adepts.

Mite-y adepts?

#31 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 10:58 PM:

Best wishes for a smooth recovery from this point on. There seem to be a lot of weird/nasty viruses going around this year on top of the usual flu and the H1N1.

#32 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:09 PM:

Lin Daniel @ 26: My doctor told me to take 1000 i.u. (I don't think you mean mg -- it's a different unit with vitamins) of D about a year ago: turns out as you age you lose your ability to synthesize D from exposure to sunlight, and it also turns out that D is necessary for bone health, possibly more important than calcium. I notice that I haven't (knock on wood) been seriously out with a cold or flu since I started taking it. Minor colds, yes, but perhaps it's strengthened my immune system as you suggest.


#33 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2010, 11:46 PM:

> Is it cold in Melbourne in September?

Yes. (By my standards, anyway.)

Melbourne is famous for having "four seasons in one day": regardless of the weather when you look out the window in the morning, be prepared for variety.

And it is my experience that when changing hemispheres you will indeed get 180 degrees disoriented. I recommend bringing a cheap compass. (Or an iPhone. There's an app that claims to give compass-like features even in the absence of a digital compass, with the aid of sunlight, shadow direction, and your finger as a gnomon. I'm not too sure as to how good its maths is, though.)

Before you go, Google "hook turn". If you're planning on driving while in Oz, don't attempt a hook turn without study first. Similarly, roundabouts are a bit scary the first time you drive one (especially the two-lane ones).

Also be aware that "pavement" has the opposite meaning: in the US it means "road surface"; in Australia it means "footpath".

#34 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:04 AM:

Tom Whitmore@24:

You do get lorikeets in Melbourne, if not quite at the density that you see further north. Coral, on the other hand, not.

#35 ::: Greg L Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:40 AM:

If Paul Kelly is playing anywhere around town while you're there, go. He's one of the world's best songwriters, and criminally unknown outside of Australia.

#36 ::: John Mellby ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:45 AM:

Its funny, but everyone who has gotten a cold
this year since Thanksgiving has taken
2-3 times as long to get rid of it.
A bad year for colds, I guess.

#37 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:59 AM:

Boo for mystery illness, but yay for Melbourne. I just found a speaking gig to foot my travel bill, so I'll be there too!

#38 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:17 AM:

My impression of Melbourne in July/August is that the climate reminds me of home (Edinburgh) in March -- at it's coldest, not quite enough to put a frost on the ground, but you might want to pack a sweater, just in case. Lovely city, didn't spend enough time taking stuff in on my sole previous visit, am looking forward to going there again for Aussiecon.

You probably already knew this, but Au Contraire, the New Zealand national SF convention, is being held in Wellington the weekend before Aussiecon -- a deliberate move to attract foreign fans who for once will be in the right hemisphere. I for one intend to do both cons ...

#39 ::: Martin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 07:33 AM:

You will probably find yourself mysteriously laden down with new clothes when you leave.

Pedestrian crossings are to help the car drivers locate pedestrians to run over. If you're driving try to stay near pedestrian crossings so the other drivers go for the pedestrians instead of you.

Dropbears don't come into the city (other than the main park and even then only at night).

They're not kidding about four seasons in a day. There will probably be more.

#40 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 08:37 AM:

TexAnne: You may have come across the British concept of "toast ruiners" also known as "toast racks". These devices exist for putting delicious hot toast into and making it become horribly cold as soon as possible. Why do people do this? It's a mystery.

I don't know if they have toast racks in Australia. I hope not, on general principles.

Anyway, the point is that people who like marmite spead a thin layer on hot toast, not a thick layer on cold toast. Personally, I'd no more put marmite on toast than I'd put soy sauce on toast -- it's a cooking ingredient.

#41 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 08:55 AM:

Is it cold in Melbourne in September?

Doug's link at #33 sums it up quite nicely. Mean minimum temperature for September: 7.9 degrees Celsius. 46.2 Fahreneit. (Limit the results to 1980-2010 and that jumps up to 9.2/48.6) If you've survived a winter anywhere snow happens, you will laugh at what Melbournians call cold.

vian's note on food needs expansion but that could lead to silliness. There isn't much that you can't get somewhere in Melbourne. We haven't been doing the cultural melting pot for as long as, say, New York, but we've put a lot of effort into it. I'll add one restaurant to that list: Lemon Bistro mostly serves a standard Thai/Malay restaurant menu - good pad thais and laksas - but they also play with local ingredients. Thai red curry with kangaroo or a ginger and basil stir fry of crocodile are well worth trying. You should try kangaroo in some form. Get a real taste of Australia.

Tom @ 24 is pretty much right. We don't really do awesome in Melbourne, we just do a steady, constant laid back kind of cool.

#42 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Doug Burbidge @ 33 re: directions -- That would be a high-tech version of getting compass directions from a watch with hands. You point the hour hand at the sun, and the bisector of the angle between that and 12:00 on the watch is south in the northern hemisphere, north in the southern hemisphere. On the equator, the sun is eastwards in the morning, westwards in the afternoon, of course.

I assume that Clark Fries was using some variation of this to get directions near the end of Podkayne of Mars, with the additional help of polarized spectacles.

#43 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 10:29 AM:


If memory (from Aussiecon[One]) serves, it's interesting that Ethnic Cuisine (including run-of-the-mill Chinese, and Pommy/British) is just slightly *different* from either U.S. or on-site versions. Good/mediocre/bad in just about the same proportions as anywhere, but not quite the same flavors & textures.

And you'll find other people and yourself saying "pardon me" a lot when you're walking along crowded city sidewalks, until you've adjusted to the fact that one walks to the left rather than the right to avoid collisions.

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Good grief! Looking at that temperature chart makes Melbourne look like the mirror image (in the glass of the equator) of Los Angeles.

Even in the coldest month (July) it doesn't typically get cold enough for me to wear anything heavier than a sweatshirt. But it never really gets beastly hot, either.

The Mel-born must find places like New York, where it gets up to 35C with some regularity, really horrifying. Still more places like where I grew up, where winter temperatures of -29C are not unheard of, even in the daytime.

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 11:50 AM:

I was looking at temperature charts for Melbourne myself, and reflecting that it'll probably be a relief after July and August in New York.

Martin, #39: I know about the dropbears already (remind me to warn you about the dangers posed in Arizona by jackalopes), but if "Pedestrian crossings are to help the car drivers locate pedestrians to run over" is more than just the usual tendency of locals to assert that their drivers are the worst anywhere, then boo hiss. I'm rapidly becoming convinced that the relative privilege of humans-without-automobiles versus humans-in-automobiles is a fundamental index of civilization.

#46 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:15 PM:

Second all the get-well-soons, and the praise of Melbourne. I'll put a word in for St Kilda, a district worth a visit - the Luna Park is quite a sight (and sound, with all the screams), there's a vernacular metal-sculpture garden behind it, and the Russian cafes and cake shops on Barkly St are wonderful. There's also a music and music-memorabilia shop (up some stairs, as I recall) you might find interesting.

The southern-hemisphere sun didn't affect my sense of direction after the second day, but it did funny things to my sense of time, because moving from right to left instead of left to right meant it was always in an unexpected part of the sky.

#47 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 12:29 PM:

P.S. Not Barkly St - Acland St. Yay Google Maps!

#48 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Don@43: there seems to be broad confusion about which side of a sidewalk one walks on, both here and in England. When walking on a road (with no sidewalk), one is officially supposed to walk on the left. What one does on a sidewalk is less clear, and I find people very inconsistent about it. And occasionally find pedestrian routes labeled to tell you to walk on one side or another, but not always the same one.

#49 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 01:40 PM:

I didn't find myself in any way disoriented or confused about directions in Australia or New Zealand. I suspect some people who are much better than I am at orientation on their home ground discover how much they're depending on sun position when they go south!

Sometimes slightly confused about where I was supposed to drive the car, but that's normal :-).

Still don't have the photos from that trip up on my web page, and it's been, hmmm, 27 years or some such. I guess I'm behind. (Wasn't for one of the Aussiecons, it was a business trip. Either 1983 or 1984, don't now remember.)

I liked both countries a lot, and Auckland, and Melbourne, and Sidney. I doubt they've ruined them since :-).

#50 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Addendum re:food

I knew it was a bad idea to put in faves - the simple truth is you can't throw a stone without hitting somewhere fabulous to eat in Melbourne. Last night: Caboose in Fed Square; they do their own charcuterie as an entree (appertizer) platter, and a mains (US English: entree - why do you folks call something 1/3 of the way though the meal the entry?) menu which looks really unimaginative (steaks and pasta and the like) but is incredibly well executed.

I'll also third the notion that we don't do awesome, but we exude a consistent cool. We've also been named a city of literary excellence - if you are in town for a while, you could do worse than settle in for some pub poetry.

#51 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Addendum re: weather

I lived in Madison, Wisconsin for two years, and have learned that temperature isn't the only thing which governs cold. Melbourne gets wet, freezing winds straight from the Antarctic which gnaw the bones in a way that the dry crisp cold of Madison just doesn't. People don't die of exposure over there while waiting for buses, but don't let the temperature fool you - it can often feel colder than you expect, particularly on a blustery day.

#52 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Addendum re: weather

I lived in Madison, Wisconsin for two years, and have learned that temperature isn't the only thing which governs cold. Melbourne gets wet, freezing winds straight from the Antarctic which gnaw the bones in a way that the dry crisp cold of Madison just doesn't. People don't die of exposure over here while waiting for buses, but don't let the temperature fool you - it can often feel colder than you expect, particularly on a blustery day.

#53 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2010, 05:18 PM:

Bugger. Ignore the typo in 51, or read 52 instead.

#54 ::: Stephen B ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 12:26 AM:

Fully agree with @50 and the rest, the food in Melb is awesome. Also, we have basically the best coffee you'll find anywhere (unless you consider Starbucks "good coffee").

@6, @17 - Actually, even if the Coriolis effect wasn't so small as to be negligible, you wouldn't be able to find that out from an Australian toilet.

One of the things I found really hard to get used to in countries like the US is that you have toilets which swirl and then drain.

They don't work like that here. Toilets have less water to start with, and then you get a kind of reverse fountain effect when you flush to clean everything up.

#55 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 05:00 AM:

...vian on viands?

#56 ::: Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 06:01 PM:

@54 - I'll second the good coffee. Patrick, you'll need to learn the Australian coffee terms. John and I were there in '99 for Aussiecon 3, and we learned to order the "flat white", which is espresso plus steamed milk. The closest equivalent in the U.S. is a no-foam latte. You can also order a "short black" (espresso) or a "long black" (espresso over hot water). You can get these even in greasy spoons. Actually, we were very disappointed that we got ordinary coffee at the con hotel in Melbourne, until we realized that we could order a flat white from the bar.

One of our biggest surprises in Australia, at least in the Sydney and Melbourne areas, is that coffee and wine are good everywhere, but tea and beer are not particularly special. Not what I expected.

#57 ::: Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2010, 06:03 PM:

I forgot to say that the birds in Australia are spectacular. There are hundreds of species found nowhere else. If you're at all interested in birds, take your binoculars, and seek out an Australian bird guide as soon as you can.

#58 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 01:10 PM:

The best coffee in Melbourne (that I had in 1999) was at a small Indonesian restaurant. I had to order it special and the proprietor asked if I was sure I really wanted it. It was a small cup somewhere between an espresso and a Turkish coffee, and it was wonderfully strong, smooth and rich in flavor. He got the beans from a farmer friend of his back in the old country. I have no idea if he's still there but it would be worth a repeat visit. His place was near RMIT.

#59 ::: Darryl Rosin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2010, 08:32 PM:

If you don't like the weather in Melbourne, just wait half an hour.

I am hoping to convince wifey to let me skive off for a couple of days from Brisbane to go. I've always wanted to attend a worldcon but I was too young for the first two and unavailable for the third. This might just be the year to do it!


#60 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 01:20 AM:

Re:Coffee in Melbourne (and Australia & New Zealand in general):
"What is unique is that, outside Italy, the Australian and New Zealand café markets are the only other 100% espresso-based markets in the world! The US and other countries are dominated by filter style, or brewed, coffee. You cannot give filter coffee away in Australia or New Zealand."

On a different note, Aussiecon4 will be my first Worldcon experience, so for the first time I have the opportunity to nominate and vote at the Hugos. I'm finding the prospect somewhat daunting. Is there an easy way to determine if a story is a short story, novelette or novella? Not all publications provide that information.

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Soon Lee #60: Get the February issue of Locus, which will be their annual year-end wrap up issue, stuffed with lengthy lists of recommended works from the previous year, tidily sorted into the appropriate categories. It's not comprehensive, but it's a very useful tool.

Lenore Jones, #56: "One of our biggest surprises in Australia, at least in the Sydney and Melbourne areas, is that coffee and wine are good everywhere, but tea and beer are not particularly special. Not what I expected."

Well, the wine and beer stand to reason, at least based on the export stuff I've come across -- Australian wine is terrific, whereas (to my taste, anyway) their major-label beers are pretty forgettable. Of course, I'm willing to believe that they have a thriving microbrewery scene that doesn't export much to the US.

Furthermore, given that Italian is the commonest non-Anglosphere ancestry in modern Australia, the good coffee isn't too surprising, either.

#62 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Patrick, re: beer: Beez Neez Honey Ale.

That is all.

#63 ::: Jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 12:34 AM:

May I suggest the Ian Potter gallery (part of the NGV) at federation square? It's where they keep their Australian collection.

#64 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:17 AM:

Patrick #61:
Potentially tricky. I don't have a sub to it & I've never seen it for sale in New Zealand stores. What I think I might do is email the publishers of stories I'd like to nominate.

#65 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 07:43 AM:

Patrick @ 61: based on the export stuff I've come across ... (to my taste, anyway) their major-label beers are pretty forgettable

That's why we export them. We keep the good stuff for ourselves. The major label stuff is generally awful and I wish it was more forgettable.

vian @ 62: I'll see your Beez Neez and raise you a six pack of Little Creatures Bright Ale.

#66 ::: clare johnstone ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:00 AM:

re: Addendum re weather

I grew up in Melbourne, it took me many years to get out of the habit of carrying a coat, even on a hot day. The temperature can drop 40 degrees F in an
hour or so. It is called a "cool change".

#67 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 08:41 AM:

"The forecast says 42 degrees*, sunny and dry with an extreme chance of everything bursting into flame. Why do you have an umbrella strapped to the side of your backpack?"

"Welcome to Melbourne. Is this your first time here?"

* Celsius. 107.6 Fahrenheit.

#68 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2010, 04:03 PM:

If you are looking for bands to see while you're in Melbourne the best thing to do is listen to Melbourne's public radio stations 3RRR and 3PBS. They are not playlisted, so you can hear anything and they don't talk down to their audience. Listen on-line for a couple of days before you go and you'll get a good idea of what's going on and what shows you might want to see.

#69 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 04:16 PM:

Glad we'll be seeing you here in Melbourne! We'll be posting tourist tips to the convention web site Real Soon Now. Hope the cough clears up soon.

#70 ::: Mezzanine ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 04:35 PM:

Definitely go to Healesville Sanctuary if you get a chance. It's the best place to see native animals.

And seconding everyone else's comments about the weather. It really is that changeable.

You probably won't be able to get to a footy match, because finals tickets are hard to get. Try, though. The MCG is worth it.

#71 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 05:09 PM:

Patrick, I admire your ability to eat Vegemite. Four years here and I still don't like it :->

@ErrolC #10 Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get tickets to any of the final rounds of the AFL season unless you're a club member *and* you've signed up for a package that gives you the right to buy some. -- Signed, a proud member of the St Kilda Saints, who couldn't get a ticket to the final rounds last year...

#72 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Has anyone heard how Patrick is doing? I'd imagine he's back to the office now, and buried under a mountain of work that accumulated while he was gone, but I can't say for sure that he's not still sick.

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