Monday, May 29, 2006

Rugby and Rainbows

This weekend I went to a pub with some of Adam's co-workers. Adam was battling a cold, and now I am too.

Rugby is big here, like soccer is in Costa Rica, or like American football. We were watching the championship game of the Super 14. The Super 14 is a league of teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Rugby differs from most other sports because it is terribly brutal. The rugby players usually have fifty pounds on soccer player and lack all of the protective gear of American football players. I almost think Rugby players are even more brutal than boxers because there is a big pack of them which adds the herd mentality.

During the first play one player dove into another and a knee made contact with a head. These guys are huge and they move fast, really fast. Apparently Maori genetics create huge fast moving Rugby players (among other very nice people, I'm sure). The player, who crashed his head into a sprinting 250+ pound player, crashed to the ground and passed out face down in the grass. People were stepping on him and the play continued. When the play stopped (I still haven't figured out why the plays stop unless it involves a boundary) some other players just turned him over like a floppy doll. I'm thinking, hello, potential spinal injury don't move him! Parametics arrived and he finally came to and walked off the field. He looked amazingly terrible, was smiling and barely holding it together.

Rugby is the most brutal sport I've ever witnessed. I kept gasping and cringing while watching this game. The headlines in the next day was about the bar fight where the losers were partying. All Black drama of handbags at dawn.

But fortunately this cultural phenomenon is buffered. It is buffered by a beautiful, scenic, bubble wrap of scenery that surrounds the Auckland area and likely the entire country. This blog is going to be consumed by pretty scenic pictures. Fortunately there aren't any pretty pictures worth posting on Rugby players with cauliflower ear.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines

I like Truthdig. Here's my new favorite article. Beware, it is long, intelligent and digs into the problem of religious beliefs. It's nice being in New Zealand a country without too many religious fanatics.

An Atheist Manifesto: Imagine There's no Heaven
-A dig led by Sam Harris

It seems profoundly unlikely that we will heal the divisions in our world simply by multiplying the opportunities for interfaith dialogue. The endgame for civilization cannot be mutual tolerance of patent irrationality. While all parties to liberal religious discourse have agreed to tread lightly over those points where their world views would otherwise collide, these very points remain perpetual sources of conflict for their coreligionists. Political correctness, therefore, does not offer an enduring basis for human cooperation. If religious war is ever to become unthinkable for us, in the way that slavery and cannibalism seem poised to, it will be a matter of our having dispensed with the dogma of faith.

When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; when we have no reasons, or bad ones, we have lost our connection to the world and to one another. Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: One's convictions should be proportional to one's evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isn't--indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable--is both an intellectual and a moral failing. Only the atheist has realized this. The atheist is simply a person who has perceived the lies of religion and refused to make them his own.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Auckland Day 3: Job Interview and House Hunting

I'm doing much better. Jet lag takes more than one night's sleep to shake off. I'm feeling normal now, although we still go to bed too early.

I had a job interview with Transit New Zealand, which is similiar to ODOT and FHWA. I'm pretty sure they will offer me a job. I've decided to focus my career towards transportation planning. You can pretty much get a job anywhere if you are a trans planner and the pay is a little bit better. Plus it's where the rubber hits the payment for planning, no pun intentended (haha).

Also I should mention that right before the job interview I had sushi for lunch. And, unfortunately, I dropped a piece of sushi into the wasabi soy sauce mix and a large glob went into my eye. I was seriously blind in one eye for a few moments. Luckily my eye only had a feeling of burning sensation, and it wasn't too red. Wasabi is cool like that; burning but not outwardly red for those special occasions.

On to house hunting....

I looked at two houses, which were too big, but also not too far over our budget. Yesterday I was nervous about not being able to find something but I think I will be able to find something. You just have to check the listings in the neighborhood everyday. Now that we know where we are going to work it will be a lot easier to focus geographically.

More Auckland obersvations:
-There are coffee shops everywhere. I know I said this before, but I just need to say it again.
-There are real butcher and bakery shops where people get their groceries. Definately better than shopping at the mega grocers.
-The light switches are really small. You can't just blindly whirl your hands around to turn on the light, you have to focus the fingers. And there are on and off switches for the oven on the outlets. Took a while to figure that one out.

Four more first day pictures

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mrs. Egan and Mauricio

Today I was missing Mauricio. Mauricio was our good friend in Costa Rica. He was an amazing song writer and musician. One of the best I've heard, especially in the Spanish/Latino genre. He died unexpectedly and it was hard to have somebody close died. It's been a long time since somebody close to me die. That must be the hardest part about growing older are your friends dying.

Now I hear that Mrs. Egan, Trisha's mom, died. She had leukemia and asked to be taken off of support. Mrs. Egan and I use to trade hammocks for beads. About ten years ago when I was living in Mexico, Geth (old boyfriend) and I learned how to weave hammock from the native Indians. Mrs. Egan was a teacher so she didn't want to buy the hammock, but she had beads to trade. Even after so much traveling and moving I still have those beads. Now they are really special to me. Mrs. Egan wanted to give me the rest of the beads after her death, but one of her grandkids was the recipient. It's good to keep things in the family, I'm just happy to know that she was thinking of me, and that she received the hammock I sent her from Costa Rica (even though I didn't weave it). Bye Mrs. Egan.

This is kind of a sad post, so listen to some of Mauricio's music that he recorded with Adam. They are really nice to listen to. Mauricio's Music (and a bunch of other musicians).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Auckland Day 2: Driving and Finding a home

It's been a bit of an overwhelming day. I'm going to write it down to sort it out in my own head.

We obtained a rental car and Adam was the first one to drive with the wheel on the wrong side and driving on the wrong side of the road. When I read about other people's experience I thought, what is the big deal? Ha! It's quite a mental exercise, with the added stress of possible physical and financial disaster and a first day on the job was the icing on the cake. Adam drove to the office, we dropped him off than I quickly got lost on my own for a while.

I made it to a nearby neighborhood and managed to find a few rental listings before calling Clair. We (she) drove around and I got an idea of what the neighborhoods were like. She has been quite the angel. There was a little confusion at the lunch counter, but I regret not insisting on paying for her lunch. I was figuring out the new currency situation.

One thing I noticed about Auckland is that there are coffee shops everywhere. Auckland has about three times as many coffee shops as Portland, and to my knowledge most of them are local, non-franchised type of places. An Americano is called a Long Black here. If you order an Americano it comes with the water and the milk on the side. Just in case you want to manage your water content. I had a quiche and it was really dense in a not so good way. I'm use to a fluffy soft quiche. But, hands down the pastry I had was brilliant. I had a banana nut bread almond torte thingy that was delicious. Instead of a salad with the quiche people were eating pastries. It's going to be a challenge losing the weight gained in Portland.

Rentals are usually listed at local real estate office. Signs are usually not put out on houses, nor are they listed in the local paper. Though there are a lot of listings on Trade Me. This site is Auckland's Craigslist. Adam will likely find a car there as well.

That's it for day 2. Tomorrow is job interview day. I bought some panty hose to go with my suit. Woohoo can't wait!

Monday, May 22, 2006

My new favorit website is Pandora. Thank you Kearstin for sending me the link, I'm only sorry it took me four months to check it out. You input a few of your favorite songs or artists and it creates an infinite streaming playlist of similiarities. So it's really easy to discover new music while also listening to some known songs. I've been getting bored with my music library and too lazy to update it so, Pandora was my easy way out.

It's otherwise known as the Music Genome Project.

I better get off the internet. I'm not sitting behind a firewall and my antivirus software keeps popping up with warnings. Intersting, this is the first time I've seen one of these pop ups. I guess Adam's firewalls/boxes were working.

Auckland Day 1

First off the ride from SFO to Auckland was pleasant. The plane was about a third full. Each seat has a nifty in seat, on demand entertainment selection. Bradley, Adam's boss picked us up at the airport around 6:00am. His wife Claire drove us around and acted as a really nice knowledgable tour guide.

The day we arrived we opened up a bank account, connected our cell phones, moved into our studio apt AND went grocery shopping. That would have taken weeks in Costa Rica. Here's a picture of a view from our room and our first homemade meal on a suitcase coffee table, if you can call cheese and crackers a meal.

I'm using these blog posts to keep myself awake. I have to stay up as late as possible to acclimate my body to the new zone. So here is some interesting observations:

-Driving on the wrong side of the road. The key is to keep yourself in the center lane. We'll see how well that works tomorrow when we get a rental.

-Drivers are not as bad as we have been told.

-Bathrooms have towel warmers. The US is way behind on this technology.

-Grocery prices are similar to Portland. The yogurt section is about three times as big as any I've ever scene. I guess dairy is pretty big here. Imagine going into a grocery store and seeing items that look similiar, but you don't recognize any brands. It will be hit or miss for a while.

-The local cooking channel was cooking bangers and mash. Why is a sausage called a banger?

-The cosmic connection between Portland and New Zealand is the destruction of the Trojan nuclear power plant near Portland on the day we arrived in Auckland. New Zealand is nuclear free and we discovered the Trojan explosion on the Kiwi local news.

Here's the view from our temporary apartment in the Auckland CBD.

Thank you Portland Family and Friends

We arrived in Portland on April 6th and left on May 19th. The immigration paperwork took about 3-4 weeks longer then expected. We had a fantastic time and want to thank all of the people who housed us, fed us, loaned us their cars and or drove us around.

-Kristen and Darren thank you for letting us stay in your beautiful house. We loved getting to know you and your dogs better. We are cat people, but we enjoyed Buddy and Porter.

-Michelle and Allen for taking care of Vida for the next five months. I'm jealous because they are all very happy together and we may have to file for custody to get Vida back.

-Dan and Amy thanks for letting us borrow your cars. Driving a car with heated seats for weeks on end completely spoiled us.

-Congratulations Monica and Jerry for your new little baby Simone. She's a cute squishy baby.

And thanks everybody else for coming to visit, eat and drink. We hope you come and visit us in New Zealand. The plane ride wasn't that bad.

Here are some pictures of a Gorge hiking visit and a day at the water park with my sister's family.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

We got our visa!!!

We have been hanging out in Portland for the past month or so waiting for our immigration paperwork to go through in New Zealand and yesterday we got the word!!! We are officially Kiwis(Not the fruit).

The application process involved getting a series of medical tests and a complete physical. We got chest xrays for TB and blood test for just about everything known to man. We had to get our criminal records from the FBI by sending them in our fingerprints. We had to prove that we were in a long term relationship so that Roberta could get in on a work visa also. I had to prove that I had the qualifications for the job that I was offered by citing work experience with letters of reference and a certified copy of my diploma. All in all it was just hoops, nothing was too complex.

So our next week will be filled with finishing up the things that we have been putting off. Finishing packing, shipping boxes, buying any last stuff that we need, etc.

Portland is really nice right now so it will be sad to go. Our living experience here has been wonderful. It made me rethink my attitude about roommates. Maybe now we are old enough to be civil.

Here are some more Portland pictures:

Click for more pictures