Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some US vs NZ musings

We've been out of the country for just over 3 years, having lived in Costa Rica and now New Zealand for the last two years. I certainly do miss the conveniences of living in the states. There's a lot of things that are just faster (internet), cheaper and easier in the US vs. living in NZ. I won't go into those details. However, the one thing that disturbed me the most was the high level of homelessness in the US. We stayed at a friend's in San Francisco and for the three days. We watched homeless people either shoot up crack or taking shits on porches. Once you've numbed yourself to the spectacle its easier to ignore.

If you live in the US you just stop seeing homelessness after a while. Its just another disturbance in everyday life that you don't notice any more. It was very disturbing to be reminded of the absolute thing I had had always tried to forget, living in Portland.

In New Zealand, yes are there homeless people who obviously need help. But, not anywhere near the level as in the US. Yes, we pay a lot of taxes here but at least we know where it's going - you know - minor things like health care and housing.

Right now the sub-prime housing crisis has drawn plans from Washington to save Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae, but how is the new legislation going to actually trickle down to actual home owners (and when is trickle down doing to leave the english language)? The Secretary of HUD is saying it's going to do more harm than good for actual homeowners. I bet it's all about the details of the implementation plan, that favor the shareholders of the corporate entities.We've got respected Slate.com saying it's a good thing and we have PBS saying it's a bad thing. I'm inclined to agree with PBS, let the markets run it's course and stop bailing out these quasi-private-public agencies.

Also why isn't there more journalistic in depth analysis of this? It took me forever to find even a small amount of information on this subject. Oh yeah, that's right homelessness is ignored...it's all about the corporate bailout.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Got Hit by a Car on My First Day Commuting by Bike

Yes, sadly, Auckland drivers are totally dildos. It was a pathetic wet rainy morning and some douchenozzlette on her way to work drove by me and clipped me with her mirror. The best part was she didn't stop.

I bitched her out at the next intersection, scaring the living shit out of her. I forgot to get her plate numbers. Here's what Cycle Action Auckland say to do about reporting incidences. It looks like I'll be filing a report.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bicycle Challenge #1 Complete

They were so sure of the Bianchi Volpe as a steel tough commuting bike at the shop they humourously challenged me to test it. The smirky smile on Adam's face acknowledged that if there was something to break I would find it.

I fully admit I'm the asshat twit who doesn't know how to shift gears. It's an honest mistake, I haven't been on a bike in years. You just have to pedal when your shifting, but I forgot about the 'lifting up' as you shift part. Doh! I snapped my bike chain going up the steep bumpy hill. AND, I couldn't get my foot out of my pedals and I careened over and landed my side-ass on my seat post.

I've been on vacation for the last month and my first Monday back to work didn't go to well.

Adam saved the day and my bike is working so I'm going to give it another try tomorrow. Gotta go ice my ass now...

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Bianchi Volpe

Yay, I'm so excited about my new bike, a Bianchi Volpe! We are like one now that I have the clipless peddles. I can power up our steep bumpy driveway. I was really hesitant to get a new bike for fear I wouldn't ride it. That is definitely not going to be the case with this bike. It's such a pleasure to ride. I just went out and rode about 40ks and this is the first time I've been on a bike in over 3 years, dam! It's been too long.

Here's a cute little pin-up at the local wetland park - Roberta Reserve - that's on the round the bay bike loop.

Somehow Adam and I stumbled into American Cyclery, what must be one of the best bicycle shops I've been in for a while. After experiencing some asshats down the street, the guys at American cyclery were like talking to some old friends who had some great bikes to share. I spent practically the entire day testing out all of the bikes before landing on the steel frame Volpe. I think it reminded me of my old Bridgestone in college. Anyway big thanks to the mechanic and the guys adding the commuting paraphanelia (racks, fenders etc). They didn't try to sell me the most expensive gear, just what was practical.

Again thanks to Adam for putting it together and teaching me to tune, and June for getting it to the airport. I'm a happy bike rider again! Let's hope car drivers don't ruin it for me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back in the States Part 4 of 4 : San Francisco and Beyond

After High Sierra we spent 3 days recovering in San Francisco at Adam's sister's and her b.f. Kevin's place. We were pretty burnt and spent practically the entire time taking naps on the floor in their tiny apartment. Kevin took the time to explain the strategy of the Tour de France, or just road bicycle racing in general. And we basically tried to stay out of June's way cuz she works (a lot) from home and we were probably a little annoying with all of our floor snoring.

However, I must say, June performed a rockin' sisterly-like finale when, after the large size cab failed to show up, she drove us to the airport. This is after reserving a Zip car truck over her phone-gadget. Whoa! Sweet Jesus we are in the land of car sharing bliss. June got us to the airport in record timing, using her long-forgotten farm truck driving ways. Yee-ha! We had to have the truck to carry my new bicycle in along with all our stateside bootie.

Also a big hello again to everybody we saw: Kristen, Darren, Art, Josh, Josh's look alike cousin, Art, Tianna, Monty, Jim Bean, Monica, Isabella, Patrick, Jerry, Jarren, Simone, Brian V., Mom, Andrea, water gun fights with Andre, Tio, Larry, Rachel & Kurt, Tanna, Marya and family, Jeanette and all of those kool kids at the baby shower, Pete, Kevin's family, Trisha and Ted & co, Megan and Dave atari, Nancy and J, and of course Gene and Charlotte and the goats (cheese!), Chuck and his family, Pam and Mark, Erin, Dawn, Angie, Natalie, Jen and daughter, Angie's mom, Dad, Sheila, Tommy, Roger, Shanna and Brian, Dan, Ian, Dr Dan, Jamie, Kevin and Christy, Nancy and Kevin, Kearstin. There's a number of people I may have forgotten and there are a number of people we didn't get to see that we really wanted to.

Fortunately it's a small world and there will be more time to visit soon enough, though it does seem like time has been flying by. It seems like just a couple of months ago since we left Portland for Costa Rica. I'll refrain from digging back further into the pre-blog memories such as living in Ashland, Florence, The Dalles, Ithaca NY, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even Klamath Falls. Yikes I'm either getting old or have I always been a sort of vagabond? Probably a little of both.

Now it's just nice sleeping in my own bed.

Back in the States Part 3 of 4 : High Sierra

By far the highlight of our trip to the states was High Sierra Music Festival. We've been to High Sierra about 4 or 5 times now and we both always have an incredibly good time.

We usually camp in the same spot with generally the same people - friends from Klamath Falls and Portland. Here's some photo albums:

Dr Dan's Photo Album

Dan the Man's Photos

Adam's and my photos including other vacation pictures.

Some musical highlights of the Festival for us include:

Ryan Montbleu

The Everybody Fields

The Weather Underground

and the James Hunter Band

By the end of the festival Adam was so inspired he proposed to me, so now we are engaged, and no I'm not pregnant. More on this marriage topic later...