Archive for February, 2006

by Jim
on Feb 22nd, 2006

The Garden City

Christchurch has rightfully earned the title, “The Garden City”. In addition to its exceptional botanic gardens, the city has abundant parks and is dotted with decorative flower beds. Private lots are also much more floral than your average American yard. These photos were taken while driving (slowly) around our neighborhood.

by Jim
on Feb 14th, 2006

A Worthwhile Diversion *** Link Fixed***

If you like The Beatles “Abbey Road” and/or flawless juggling, don’t miss this.

by Jim
on Feb 14th, 2006

A Worthwhile Tax

I don’t mind reasonable taxes, and I don’t mind taxes that influence responsible behavior. Taxes on cigarettes are good, a gas tax is good, and a waste tax is good. In Christchurch, the recycling is free and comprehensive as it should be, but an added incentive is the mandatory use of special Christchurch City Council garbage bags for general waste. The bags are available everywhere but are clearly marked as official and do cost much more than you’d normally pay for a few mils of plastic. I received an allotment from the landlord (by law), but beyond those I have to pay. These are not big bags and quickly fill up, but it hasn’t been a problem with the liberal recycling program. Whereas I used to fill a large Rubbermaid container weekly in Peoria, I now generate about 1/4 of that amount in trash, and the rest is recycled. The reason isn’t necessarily because of the cost of garbage bags, but nonetheless I think the structure of this program is set up just right. Contrast it with Peoria where I can generate as much trash as I want but have to pay a special fee if I want to participate in recycling! I did pay that fee, but I was in the minority. On trash day in Peoria you’d see the occasional green bin out by the curb, whereas here every house has plenty out for recycling. I think it’s just plain better.

by Jim
on Feb 11th, 2006

Happy Birthday Angela!

It may still be Friday in the US, but in Chennai it’s Saturday so please wish Angela a happy 30th birthday!

I spoke to her this morning and it sounds like the trip is going great. You can fill her email with eCards, and don’t forget to bug her to post some photos of India on the blog. I know she’s going on a sightseeing trip to a temple today so there should be plenty to share!

by Jim
on Feb 9th, 2006

Road Rules #1

Getting used to driving on the left side of the road does not take long. For the first few days I was on high alert and the most attentive driver on the road. I was worried that I’d be in trouble after getting a little too comfortable, but to my surprise my habits have slowly just shifted over to left side driving.

But one odd rule with NZ driving that is much more difficult to get accustomed to is a backwards give-way rule. Translated into right-side convention, this rule states that when making any right turn, you have to give way to oncoming traffic turning left. At first I had all sort of problems with this and was either cutting people off or waiting unnecessarily. Then for a moment I though maybe there was some sound logic to it all, since it made both left and right turners wait on one stream of traffic. But now I’ve decided what most Kiwis have: this is a bad rule. First of all it is inefficient, and second it forces the one turning right to check their rear mirror to see if they can turn (since through traffic might block the one who’d otherwise have right of way). I’ve heard that NZ is the only country that still has this rule on the books, but there are plans to do away with it. Until then beware… if you visit and drive in NZ this is the one that will get you!


Finally, please forgive yesterday’s excessively whiny post. It was a bad day.

The blog has been silent because there’s little to report. After I arrived back in NZ, Angela and I had a brief chat, lunch, and I saw her off to India for three weeks. She made it there fine and reports that the hotel and office are quite nice. But this is all very depressing really, and by the time she returns we’ll have spent 3 of the last 10 weeks together. I’m actually glad that austerity measures might limit travel…

Solo once again, I do one of three things: work, sleep, watch movies. The bad news is that work is slowly taking over unchecked with Angela away, but the good news is that I found a decent cinema in town. Recent viewings:


My other source of amusement is the rampant can’t-take-a-jokeism spawned from some not particularly interesting cartoons. Even distant New Zealand doesn’t want to be left out of the club and expressed worries at the highest levels about a possible dairy, wool and meat embargo by offended countries. I say, good for (or ‘good on’ around here) Christchurch’s The Press for printing the stupid things and giving me one more paragraph in an otherwise bland blog!

I want to say “Hello from Japan” and that’s what Google translated it to, but going the other way back to English results in “Today from Japan”. They’re both accurate. (Check your language packs if you don’t see my expertly cut-n-pasted Kanji title.)

I’m staying at a very nice Sheraton on Rokko Island. Normally I’d be at the less glamorous Sannomiya Terminal hotel, but I lucked out and got a super terrific “Special Friends and Family” discount making this one the cheapest of the lot. The only downside is the added 15 minutes of train time bringing the total to almost 1h 20m one-way to work. Even that’s OK if I get a seat soon enough on the train. Whether working or sleeping, I find the commute pretty productive.

As for the trip here, the flight was bearable, but just barely. I was again forced to fly Air New Zealand (imagine that) which meant a very old 767. They’re supposedly upgrading their fleet, but I’ve yet to see or feel evidence of it. Hard seats and poor video (one main RGB projector) have unfortunately been the norm. But even if they can’t afford equipment upgrades, they can surely afford another video tape and show something other than 90 minutes of water skiing after the movie. And speaking of the movie, please change it too… I already saw The Perfect Man last time I flew ANZ in mid-November, and once was quite enough! Sorry ANZ, but I’m still hunting for Singapore Air or Qantas tickets if I can get them!

The last paragraph was a pent up gripe I wanted to write on the plane. That aside, it’s been a good work trip so far. It is the working-level meeting I’ve been waiting for and the Japanese staff have been great. 8am – 8pm are typical working hours for the engineers so we’re blasting through plenty of issues. But I’m looking forward to getting home on Saturday so I can spend some quality hours with Angela before she departs for India on the same day (grrrrrr 🙁 )

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