Saturday, October 28, 2006


Last weekend was New Zealands' Labour Day weekend, so Dave and I decided to take a trip to the south island. After taking the ferry across the channel, then driving for about 2 hours, we arrived at Kaikoura, the most magnificent place I've seen thus far in this spectacular country.

There will be a blog post going over the trip itself, but first are the pictures! I uploaded some here, but then my flickr account ran out of room, so I had to borrow Dave's for the rest. Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Apparently, it's Hallowe'en soon.

This is the first year, in the entirety of my existence, that it has completely and utterly snuck up on me. I usually plan for it for weeks, sometimes months -- what costume I'll wear, whether I'll make it or cannibalize it from parts of other costumes, what I'll do, where I'll be... this would always be so exciting. And it still is. I'll dress in theme to virtually anything that warrants it. Frankly, I'm still cheezed that I'm not allowed to trick-or-treat anymore. It seems that fully-grown humans going trick-or-treating tend to be greeted with suspicions of being a mugger rather than candy. I much prefer the candy.

Nonetheless, Hallowe'en is only five days away, and I only just realized it last night.

But it seems like such an absurd holiday here. I mean, spring is in the air, so everything is fresh, green, and very, very damp. (But luckily, mould DOES wash out... hooray!) Nothing here is Halloween-ish at all, as we all know that the following are absolutely mandatory prerequisites for the holiday in question:

* the darkness falling earlier and earlier,
* the eerie crunching of leaves underfoot,
* the dry, dusty bite of cold, late autumn air, lightly perfumed with stubble-burning smoke,
* the thrilling suspense about whether you'll have to wear a snowsuit under your costume.

But it is nothing of the sort here. To be honest, I'm not even sure if they celebrate Halloween here -- it might be more of a Guy Fawkes country. On the other hand, I have never known Wellingtonians to pass up an opportunity to dress up, so we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

O Negative

As many of you already know, the Kiwis invented many of the world's extreme sports. Apparently there's something in the air here that makes people want do strange, adrenaline-inducing activities such as bungee jumping, or running down a hill in a water-filled plastic hamster ball.

Getting into the spirit of the local culture is a very high priority for me. Granted, I may yet go bungee jumping and hamster-ball-ing, but what to do now? Of course, my courage is nowhere NEAR enough to do the kind of extreme-adrenaline-pumping sporting that my extremely brave friend Lisa does... specifically, she gets her rushes from singing the national anthem at university basketball games! Eeep. I can jump off a cliff, but forget about THAT level of courage. ;-)

So, in contemplating what else might bring me to the brink of terror (and preferably do so frugally), I came across a bulletin board notice at work. It was New Zealand Blood Services calling out for donors. My blood froze at the mere thought.

Which, of course, meant that I had found exactly what I was looking for. Extreme terror, pushing of physical limits, no cost whatsoever, and hey, maybe even saving a life. And free cookies. Sign me up!

(For those of you who don't know, I am the single biggest BABY with needles... I've been known to cry, whine, see spots, and usually faint when getting one. Hence the unadulterated terror.)

Anyhoo, I managed to give a whole half to 3/4 pint before nearly blacking out! The blacking out part wasn't so fun... or at least, I don't think it was fun, but I can't really remember. Nonetheless, I took the ransom out in cookies, and had an excellent excuse for being spacey in my meetings that afternoon. Quite a good experience, and I think I'll shoot for the whole pint next time.

Plus, I got to learn my blood type! O negative. The Japanese use blood types as horoscopes... Apparently O's are like this. Weird, eh? ;-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Finally, more pictures

So after having argued to, wrestled with, and copiously cursed at Blogger's flakiness in picture-uploading, I decided to look elsewhere.

With any luck, this link should work. It contains pictures of the trip to Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula that Dave and I took some weeks ago. It was a great deal of fun, and we learned the following:

  • * Helen Clark was in the Koru Lounge (NZ equivalent of Maple Leaf Lounge) with us, but in a different part than the standard Koru Lounge riffraff (i.e. us)
  • * We ran into a movie star on the plane! "Sione's Wedding" actor Robbie Magasiva was on the plane with us.
  • * Auckland was lovely, and we found a great garden-mansion hostel to stay in. The weather was much warmer! The plants seem to like it better there too...
  • * All-you-can-eat sushi buffets are a great idea... except for the being-so-stuffed-you-feel-like-you're-gonna-die part.
  • * The roads in Coromandel Peninsula are downright scary. Sharp turns at top speed, teensy narrow roads, vanishing corners, major slopes, steep cliffs and hungry abysses, all at once.
  • * Sheep are less scared of cars than they are of people.
  • * Coromandel Town serves fresh half-shell oysters at $20 per dozen. You eat them while overlooking the body of water they were caught from that very morning.
  • * Shiraz is called Syrrah here.
  • * Coromandel Town is also known for its clay hills, used as a raw source for many local potters and sculptors. One even built a railroad into the clay hills, excavated clay along the way, and has since turned the railroad into a tourist attraction.
  • * On the opposite side of the Coromandel Peninsula is a famous beach. At low tide, magma-heated water seeps upward through the sand, making nice, toasty pools of water to rest in. It needs to be mixed with normal seawater, however, as the heated water can actually burn one's skin.
  • * A set of caves near Hot Water Beach include Cathedral Cove, an aptly-named cave with a gigantic opening and a massive domed interior. It is simply spectacular. Also, the sand on the beach is actually pink!
  • * Calla lilies grow everywhere, wild and untended. Given that they are an incredibly posh, popular, and very expensive wedding flower, it's neat to see them growing by the roadside like weeds. Interestingly, they are the New Zealand symbol of women's suffrage.
  • * Nearby Thames town, there is a greenhouse dedicated entirely to raising orchids and exotic butterflies. Witnessing them flying free is positively mesmerizing to watch.
  • * The atlas moth has a wingspan of nearly a foot, and the beating of its wings has sufficient force to seriously disturb any unstable surface the moth may be attached to... such as a shirt.

Enjoy the pictures -- short descriptions can be obtained through clicking on the "Detailed" view. Let me know if this works for you!