Monday, June 11, 2007

Cats stuck to things. Ver 1.0

This is going to be an ongoing series of pictures of our cats stuck to things. Enjoy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Poor Knights: More Diving

Two weekends ago I went back to the Poor Knight's Island for a dive weekend. It's was really fun.

If you want to see some pictures of the underwater wild life we say go to Margaret's posting.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

New Zealand Taxes...

First lesson, do not do taxes after a few...Morning review of previous nights tax adventure - ? How can you get an $15,000 refund if you only paid $12,000 in taxes?

phew! Glad I caught that one...better use the online calculators.

All in all it took about 20 minutes to do my New Zealand taxes online and I ended up owing a little more. bye-bye beer glasses :(

All I can say is that New Zealand taxes are way easier than US taxes. Basically nobody is eligible for anything - payup bitches!

Meat Bombin'

Last night I went to parachute training at the Whenuapai air base. The whole concept is that if something were to go seriously wrong in the glider then we would have a chance of getting out and living to tell about it. With that said, mechanical failures are rare with gliders. If I crash it will most likely be because I did something stupid on landing.

The training was at the air force base where they train the military how to jump. It was like we were all secret agents in a clandestine military facility. In reality we were just a bunch of glider geeks studying self preservation.

The concepts are simple.

1) Make decision to exit glider
2) Jetison canopy
3) Remove straps (Not parachute straps)
4) Exit to the side of the aircraft
5) As soon as you are clear of the plane put both hands on the release and punch out
6) Count to 3 as the parachute inflates
7) Look up and make sure there are no knots or problems with the parachute
8) If there are problems then correct them
9) Assess the wind and pick a landing area
10) Use the steering handles to aim at your landing spot
11) Keep knees and feet together
12) Right before landing turn the lower half of your body into the direction of travel
13) Roll
14) Once you have stopped pull the bottom cables of parachute to deflate it
15) Unstrap your self from parachute
16) Wash pants

If I were to ever have to get out of a plane now then I feel much safer about getting down safely. The instructor said that above 500 feet you could open your parachute and live.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Byron Bay Trippin

Roberta and I are now back in NZ and are already planning our next next vacation. Hmmm.... We are dreaming about Japan, or Thailand, or maybe Vanuatu or Fiji. In the short term we will be coming back to the states in August to visit friends, go to a wedding, and be there for my dad's 60th birthday and retirement party.

Our trip to Australia was great. The security conference was a real eye opener (There is another post coming) and the trip down the east coast of Oz was great.

We start the vacation part by having Roberta's flight on Emirates Air from NZ to OZ canceled with no compensation. Normally the airline would offer some type of discounts on future travel but nope.

I picked Roberta up from the airport in Brisbane and we drove about 2.5 hours south to Byron Bay. Roberta wanted to stop and see Surfers' Paradise but I just told her to imagine Reno with a beach. We pulled into Byron Bay and were only planning on staying for a night or two but when we saw this cute little hippie town we decided to spend our whole vacation there. We would also highly recommend the Byron Central accommodations as they were reasonable priced, walking distance to everything, and nice. In the off season ask them for a deal on multiple nights.

The weather there was as close to perfect as you could get. Nice and warn during the day but not oppressive. The water was warm enough to swim in after a brief period of screaming like a school girl getting used to the temperature. The sand on the beaches reminded me of flour it was so fine.

Our first walk around town we noticed that there were almost more crystal shops than people. You could get all your fire spinning needs filled at a couple shops that only sold fire spinning goods.

And the restaurants.... Oh the restaurants.... We ate well. After leaving the states we haven't had high expectations for Mexican food but we decided to try the Mexican joint anyhow. It turned out to be as good if not better than most of the Mexican food in Portland. Oh great, I just made myself hungry thinking about it, time to cook some burritos.

We took a hike up to the lighthouse and saw two packs of dolphins swimming by. We were hoping to see whales but no luck. We had some extremely good ice cream up at the lighthouse also. Mmmm....

The next day we took a kayak trip into the ocean. I am glad that I did it as a guided tour as the waves started to pick up. We were out in the ocean rolling throw the waves in these tiny sit on top kayaks. Super fun. We didn't end up seeing any dolphins on that trip but it was fine since we got our dolphin fix the day before. On the paddle back in Roberta and I (in a two seater kayak) got to surf in the waves which was great fun.

Supposedly Byron Bay used to be a nice little community of alternative thinking people. Now it is more of an alternative tourist destination. At points it gave me the feeling of being in a hippie zoo. But hey, we were tourists and we hadn't seen real hippies in a while so it was refreshing. When the housing prices went up and all the ferals (crusty hippies) got kicked out they then took over a town called Nimbin up in the hills. We were going to go check it out but were told that the only redeeming feature of Nimbin is the ease of scoring drugs.

Instead we took a recommendation from a nice lady we met in Byron Bay to go to the Sunday market in Bangalow. We were expecting a couple dozen stands with some produce and hand made tile mirrors. We were shocked to see something that looked like a toned down version of the Oregon country fair. There were booths as far as they eye could see and they all had some cool stuff. Back on the topic of food, one booth had a sugar cane press and was making ginger/sugar cane juice. Roberta got this antique tin with a koala bear on it and I got a camphor wood cutting board. There was also this family band playing there that were absolutely amazing. It was this old hillbilly guy with 5 kids who all played a number of different instruments playing old timey songs. It was a little ego deflater in that these kids could rip it up harder than me and they were only 10.

On a side note, I am joining a band right now and are planning our first gig soon. We are a cross between Johny Cash and Pink Floyd.

After leaving the market our next destination was a glider field in Boohna which was closer to Brisbane. We got there and met some really nice glider folk and got to go up in their ASK 21M which is a large two seater self launch glider. We turned the motor off at 2000 AGL and then I took control and we thermalled up to about 6000'. We hauled ass all around the area for an hour and 16 minute flight. We only came down because Roberta was waiting on the ground to go up. She also had a great flight.

We spent the last night in Brisbane and flew out in the morning. Our Emirates flight back to Auckland was 45 minutes late which was the icing on the cake of never flying Emirates again. Air New Zealand is so much nicer in every way.