Friday, September 29, 2006


My summer clothes have grown MOULD.

Mould. How gross can you get? What is WRONG with this country?!?!

It's been bad enough that, for the past 7 months, I've had to limit myself to outfits suitable for sustained (indoor!) exposure to 15C. A damp 15C. I'm a central-heating-phile Canadian... how many friggin outfits like that do you think I own?!?! Maybe 10?

So, much to the disgust of my fashion sense, I've been wearing and rewearing (and rewearing) these ten outfits. FOR SEVEN MONTHS. I look like a homeless fashion victim. My workmates must think I'm living out of a backpack.

But that's ok. Because warmer weather is coming, and maybe one day -- one day -- I'll be able to once again express myself through my beloved clothing. My beloved, painstakingly-chosen, often expensive, and absolutely integral-to-my-sanity clothing. They plead to me, "Karla... Karla... when are you going to wear us again? You havent forgotten about us, have you? We love you!"... to which I, with a heart full of sadness, must say "Soon, soon. The weather is warming, and soon we can be together again."

Today, it was finally a bit warmer. Not warm enough for summer clothes, mind you, but I just couldnt take waiting any longer. I don't care, I'll just be cold. My poor clothes...

So I gleefully pull out all my summer clothes, only to see... green spots? Brown fuzz?! What the -- ?!?!!?

New Zealand's shoddy infrastructure has violated my beloved clothing. My inner sanctum is covered in MOULD. THIS IS NOT OK.

So now, I get to spend my weekend lovingly resuscitating (hand-washing) my beauties. As if I didnt already have enough to do. Mould... what is WRONG with this country?!?!!?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Canada in 45 minutes

I got to my desk yesterday morning and found a very interesting email.

"Hi all,
Unfortunately we haven't got any body to give a talk for our next SM seminar.
Rather than cancelling it, I am wondering if any body who has given a talk/presentation to people outside of SMS recently and is willing to share with us.
If you are keen, please contact me by 12.00pm tomorrow (29/09/06) at x4160.

No presenter, eh? I thought back to the last seminar I attended, which was a colleague speaking of her experiences working for the Office of National Statistics for the UK. She spoke about the project breakdowns, the power structures, and even what the work environment and the building itself were like. There was so much interest, latecomers in the audience had to scavenge chairs from other conference rooms. People were jammed together to listen to this talk.

Surely, I thought, a similar talk on a Statistics Canada experience would be interesting...? Before I knew what I was doing, I talked to Nellie, and she thought it was a great idea.


So now I'm committed... the email notification has gotten out, and I hope there's some degree of interest. It would be embarrassing if no one showed up. :-/

And of course, it's completely impossible to describe vital Statistics Canada philosophies such as complete geographic centralization (despite the vastness of the country) and its utter devotion to bilingualism (an alien concept here), without going into some history.

Augh, History, my old nemesis... what a detested subject! And yet, fairly unavoidable. I guess I'll just leave in the parts with war, drunkenness, beaver-chasing, and burning down the White House.

...Wait, that's all of it, isn't it? ;-) Maybe history isn't so bad after all.

Anyhoo, wish me luck! D-Day is this Thursday.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pink Ginners Prize Giving

Last night we had the team dinner, where they handed out awards for the year.

I got two! Best Foreign Player and a certificate for my 'player of the day' performance a while back.

Karla got one as well...Best Foreign Supporter. She is a totally deserving recipient of such an honor.

In short, she rocks!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crazy, nasty politics

Some of you will be astonished that this is my first post about politics in all the time that we've had this blog. I've tried to spare Karla (and you all) from my junkie ways. But what's been happening in NZ politics has been too crazy to resist posting about it.

There's a lot of background I need to explain before the really juicy/crazy stuff. So please stick with me.

To start at the beginning, last November there was an election here. During that election, the Labour Party, led by Helen Clark, mailed out a big batch of what they call 'pledge cards'. Basically they're wallet sized cards that had the key planks of the Labour platform on them, with Helen Clark's picture on the front. These were sent out a few weeks before the election, which Labour eventually won.

Trouble was, it turned out Labour used public money (their parliamentary funding that all parties are entitled to help them function in Parliament) to print and mail out the cards, rather than their own political party money, which is meant to be used for election related expenses. The Chief Electoral Officer said, 'Poor form'. The Solicitor General said, 'Poor form'. And in a leaked report, the NZ Auditor General here has said, 'Very, very poor form'.

The AG's report not only implicated Labour, though. It also implicated all the other parties: the National Party (the main opposition, basically equivalent to the Tories back home), the Greens, United Future (centre rightwing), New Zealand First (rightwing), and the Progressive Party (leftwing).

According to the leaked AG report, the Labour Party had 'misspent' about $400 000, National about $10 000 and the others at amounts somewhere in between. When the controversy broke, the National Party oh so nobly paid back the ten grand that they spent improperly. They then went on a 'pay it back' campaign in parliament and the media to try and force Labour into coughing up the cash, saying they had 'stole the election' using taxpayers' dollars.

Labour replied that the AG was wrong in his assesment, blamed the administrators of the fund for allowing them to use the money improperly, and publicly mused about changing the law to allow publicy funded election campaigns, retroactive to the previous election. After several weeks they said that they simply weren't going to pay the money back, no matter what.

All this gave National all they needed to start calling Labour corrupt, which really ticked Labour off. One of their cabinet ministers, Trevor Mallard, said that he had a bunch of dirt on National MPs and was going to reveal what he knew if they didn't cool it with the corruption talk.

This is when things got really bad. Shortly after this news broke that the leader of the National Party, Don Brash was taking some days off of his duties in Parliament to attend to 'problems in his marriage'. There were rumours that Brash had been having an affair with a very prominent business woman, and that some in his caucus had questioned him on whether the rumour were true. None of this was helped by the fact that Brash had met his current wife while still married to his first. Lots of people were wondering if Brash would survive as leader of National.

Helen Clark and Labour went on the offensive. Clark said that she was looking forward to reminding Brash about 'integrity' in their next question period. Parliament had turned really nasty by this point, and hardly anything could be said in the house without the one side shouting the other down if they were trying to speak.

So pretty ugly right? It gets uglier.

Last weekend a newspaper ran a front page lead story asking if Helen Clark's husband, Peter Davis, is gay. They had a shot of him hugging and possibly kissing another man (a close friend, apparently) at a victory party following Labour's last election win. It then came out that a National activist had written a letter to a newspaper raising questions about Peter Davis' sexuality, though it wasn't clear whether his letter was the catalyst for the barely substantiated front-page story.

Obviously the PM was furious about the report, and blamed National for planting the rumours. National has been furious about the treatment of Don Brash, and blames Labour for stirring up the rumours about his alleged affair. Right now, things seem to be just plain viscious.

The whole sordid series of events seems to be doing tons of damage to the system here. Who would ever want to step into public life if they have to put up with rumours about extra-marital affairs and the sexual preference of their spouses? Most commentators here are calling it a 'new low', and I'm inclined to agree. Even BC politics isn't this mental.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Official

...Dave and I have officially felt our first New Zealand earthquake. Or in my case, my first earthquake ever.

We live on a busy street that feeds into a highway, so I had just assumed it was a rather large truck passing. Dave came in, excited, and told me it definitely wasn't... apparently earthquakes feel slightly different than trucks, and anyways, no trucks go by here at ten to midnight. Makes sense.

Apparently earthquakes are very common here, and probably more than a dozen have happened in the last few months, but they have thus far been so inconsiderate as to occur in the middle of the night. For those of you who know Dave and I, it takes a lot more than a little earth-shaking to wake either of us, so we've missed them all.

But not anymore! Hooray!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Beefing up

So before Karla and I left on our holiday, I entered a raffle to support a work colleague's chorus. She and her chorus are raising funds to be in a choral competition in Las Vegas (not a topless choral competition, I was assured).

So, for five bucks in exchange for three tickets, I entered. The prize? A quarter of beef. What's a quarter of beef? Here's a quarter of beef:

Help a friend out, right? Not that a quarter of beef would ever fit inside my apartment sized fridge/freezer. I mean, that would just be a joke, right? Right. But five bucks towards a worthy cause and what are the chances, right?

Well the joke's on me my friends. A lovely woman named Liz left a message this morning while Karla and were still away to let me know that I've won "a huge amount of meat" after being one of the names drawn in the raffle. I have the honor of travelling out to a factory in Petone to claim my prize some time this week.

The question is: what the heck am I going to do with all this beef? There is NO WAY it's going to be able to stay here. Can I rent freezer space? Another thought might be a 'beef party', where we give away free meat after making people enter silly competitions.

Please, any other thoughts? I'm in a fix here, since it is now clear that no good deed goes unpunished.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Coromandel shout out

Really quick post to say Karla and I have been holidaying in the Coramandel peninsula, near-ish to Auckland. Very pretty and rural with lots of seascapes and mountains. Even thermal springs right on a beach! The only downside is rain rain rain rain rain.

We had a beautiful first day but since then it's chucked it down. We're still having fun though! Tonight we're in Thames, and tomorrow we're back to Auckland for our flight home. Will have lots of pics to share once we get back to Wellington. Karla has been taking some fantastic shots (and I even have a good few in there too). Talk soon!

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Very Good Week

This has been a very good week. Work's been very busy, but it's nice -- the days go by quickly, and it's a welcome change of pace to the still-only-learning mode. My project proposal has gotten approved for funding for the coming year, so work will start on that next week. That will be very exciting to get started on... writing the definitive set of standards and guidelines for Editing & Imputation for all Statistics New Zealand is such a great opportunity to be involved in, let alone leading!!!

More tangibly, however, several other events have made this week especially good. For one, humanity has once again survived SkyNet day (Aug 29... and if you get this reference, you're a nerd too!) ;-) Today, Sept 1, is officially New Zealands' first day of spring, and the weather's been incredible. Bright sunshine, a mellow, dry wind, and a balmy 15C collectively do wonders for the human spirit. You can even see, on the busy streets, people actually smiling and wearing bright colours -- the latter being especially surprising for Wellington, the official capital of black.

Another neat thing about Sept 1 is that it is now exactly 1 year until the wedding. Somehow, it seems realer now. (Naturally, that's a good thing, except for that nagging feeling that I shouldn't be procrastinating as much now!) ;-) Dave, being the romantic gentleman that he is, began the celebrations for our "-1st Wedding Anniversary" by showing up at my work with red roses. He's so great. In another hour, we're getting dolled up to continue the festivities at a fancy restaurant, Logan Brown.

And, as if that wasn't enough reasons to be happy about Sept 1, there's one more... it's the effective date of the PROMOTION I snagged!!!! ^_^ I had kept my application, endorsement procedure, interviews, etc. more or less quiet so as to avoid jinxing anything... but yesterday afternoon I was told that I got it, and with good supporting feedback to boot!

What this means for the job is that I'll be doing essentially the same job, but with more responsibility, more autonomy, and higher expectations with respect to leadership, initiative, involvement and overall job performance and quality. Apparently there's also a bump up in pay, too, but I did this mostly to stretch professionally... and something tells me I definitely will be, soon!