Friday, August 24, 2007

Do You Speak Snow?

Skiing and Boarding in Australia requires special skill. Not only do we intrepid antipodeans cope with ice, crud, slush, fog, arctic winds and ice-showers (often on the first run of the day); we also have to learn to read Snow. Not the white crystals that fall from the sky, but the language used to entice us to drop everything on a Friday afternoon for a weekend in the Snowy Mountains in August.

In the language of Snow there is no such thing as ice, crud or white outs. Instead we have

A firm base” (Ice)
Hard-packed snow” (Ice)
A fast surface” (Ice)
Loose snow” (Tricky, needs to be interpreted in context. Could be a dusting of snow over ice or ice cookies)
Tree-lined trails would be your best bet” (It’s windy out there, don’t wear anything too billowy lest you fly off the mountain)
softening during the day”. (It’ll all be slush by lunchtime)
Best snow to be found up high” (As in Mt Kosciusko, everything below 1900m will be slush)

So we end up with pearls such as “fast and firm conditions in the morning, softening as the day continued” or that ultimate indicator of a day that should finish at lunchtime “It’s beautiful and sunny, don’t forget to slip, slop, slap!”.

Visitors, don’t be fooled. We Australians have real measures for judging the snow conditions. I ski Thredbo and find that the following questions are a good measure of snow conditions:

  • Is Dream Run open?

  • Are grass and rocks showing through at the bottom of Funnelweb?

  • Look at the snow cams of High Noon. Are there dark patches showing on the right hand side?

  • Can you see Eagle's Nest from the village?

Patches showing through on High Noon early in season 2005

Not that it makes any difference. No matter what the run conditions I still go skiing because we Aussies are tough. We know if you can ski Australian conditions you can ski anywhere. So put on your waterproof gear, don your helmet and sharpen your edges and come and ski/board with the wild ones. You might even learn a new language.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Youth Wordz: "Randoms"

Last week I met a girl in her late teens who started to tell me about her job working in a five-star hotel. Her dad was standing nearby and leant into our conversation, with a wry smile, to suggest that I ask her what is the worst thing about her job .

Ms Ellipsis: What's the worst thing about your job?
Teenage Girl (rolling her eyes): Having to talk to Randoms.
Ms Ellipsis: Randoms?
Teenage Girl: You know, Randoms, people you don't

Tough problem for a person working in the hospitality industry.

The closest reference I've found to Random in this context is the Macquarie Dictionary's definition No. 7:

a fool; an idiot: that guy is such a random.

But this was used in the context of unknown. Or perhaps all "unknowns" are, by definition, idiots.

UPDATE: Further definitions of Randoms found here :

random: a dismissive description of an uninteresting and unimportant person... can also be used to describe an odd or amusing situation
Example: Person A: How was that party last night? Person B: Ehh,
it was was mostly a bunch of randoms. Or, What the hell was that? That was SO random!

random: An unknown person (stranger). Example: We met a few randoms at the party last night.

and also here: random