Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

by Jim
on Jun 1st, 2007

The NZ Elite Compete

Sorry, we’ve been a bit slack with our blogging of late. The closest thing to a real reason would be a work trip to the US, but even that’s a poor excuse. We’ll try to do better…

vm1j7426w_2col.jpgThe big sports event for NZ this year will be the rugby world cup which starts in October. Until then there are the normal little tournaments for rugby, netball, and international cricket, but the past month has also had a lot of coverage of the America’s Cup. I must admit I knew very little about the Cup until the heavy media coverage here piqued my interest. A brief look at the AC time line and it’s pretty obvious that America’s Cup was rightly named, but that we’ve sure slacked off of late. Team New Zealand on the other hand has done very well, and their skippers and tacticians are sought after by all of the top crews. They’re just now starting the final series of the Louis Vuitton cup (the winner of which challenges the holder of the America’s Cup), and Team New Zealand is facing Luna Rossa from Italy. The first race is tonight and I’ll be watching… at 1am 🙁 . I’ve sailed once in my life and know next to nothing about ships and nautical racing, but for whatever reason this competition has held my interest. If I had to guess, it would be that Team New Zealand–with just fraction of the bankrolls behind the BMW/Oracle and Alinghi ‘syndicates’–is doing quite well based on talent and a bit of luck. So go check out the flashy America’s Cup website, learn a bit, and root for Team NZ!

Update: Team NZ wins, up 1-0 (best of 9)


01spellkiwi.jpg One more update for today since there’s been such a drought of posts. A very cute story in the past day has been local Christchurch girl’s recent success at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington DC. 13-year-old Kate Weir made it through the fourth round–into the top 60–before stumbling on “jardiniere”. An interesting twist is that the judges have had a hell of a time understanding her NZ accent, since to the American ear the NZ “a” and “e” sound very similar. TV3 has a video of the final word and subsequent judge’s deliberation, this time whether she was saying “j” or “g”. It sounded pretty obvious to me, but my ears have been recalibrated down here so it probably should. Whereas 99.99% of Americans probably couldn’t tell you who won the bee (do you know?), this young lady who made it “only” into the top 60 is something of a celebrity here, with the media beating down her hotel door in Washington, and lunch invites coming from the NZ Ambassador. Good on her. (The judges wouldn’t have gotten that one either.)

by Jim
on May 6th, 2007



If you like sci-fi/space movies, mark your calendars for mid-Sept 2007. That’s when “Sunshine” will make it to US cinemas, and it will be well worth your $10 to see it on the big screen.

The premise is reminiscent of “Armegedon”: the sun is dying; scientists think they can kick start it with a nuclear explosion; a small group of astronauts is sent on a mission to deliver this payload, and there’s a good chance that they’re not all coming back. So that’s the doomsday plot framework, but the end result is far different from the cookie cutter end-of-the-world film (one reason why, I think, you’ll have to wait until Sept). The feel of this film is instead much closer to “Aliens”, as is the quality. They’ve wisely chosen a group of talented actors but no superstars, and manage to keep the dialog short and smart. The special effects are mesmerizing, with the sun roasting anything that slips beyond the protective heat shield in front of the spacecraft. Above all there is tension without pause, from the opening scene right through to the credits. Suffice it to say, there is no ticker tape parade for Bruce Willis at the end of this film.

The movie was released to most of the world in April, but they’re holding back the US release until Sept 14th. I think they’re trying to avoid overlap with the Summer blockbusters, as well as to prime the Oscar pump. This film nabbing a visual effects and/or sound award wouldn’t surprise me.

s2.jpgAnd there’s actually is a tie to NZ (this is, after all, NZ Life). Cliff Curtis is a famous Kiwi actor who has made it into some big time Hollywood films (‘The Insider’, ‘Traffic’), and he does a good job in this one too.

So there you go: 4/5 stars (docked for being a little too long)

by Angela
on Apr 23rd, 2007

Ronald McDonald House

Hi folks, I am back in Christchurch.  Since I am still on my “retirement” break, I have been looking for temporary volunteer work to do. I started volunteering at Ronald McDonald house two weeks ago.  Well for those of you who are not familiar with Ronald McDonald house charity; it is not the fast food burger joint (and no I am NOT serving burgers with fries!).

The house serves as affordable housing when families have children who are hospitalized or need to visit hospitals in Christchurch city.  Families stay over for free while visiting the hospital.  The house offers rooms and kitchen facilities.  I remembered that Jim’s little cousin used to stay at one back in the US.

Well, what do I do there?.. I volunteer to help with the housekeeping.  A little manual work never hurts anybody.  So I help clean the rooms, kitchen and play area.  There are volunteers who come in each day to help with chores at the house.  We all have a little fun chatting while working and not to forget the daily morning teas.  I only do this on Thursdays.  So far it has been good just to do a little something for the community,  in return I meet new people and also have something to do on Thursdays.

by Jim
on Apr 4th, 2007

Goe azjoe

ncaa-final-four-2007.pngBelated congratulations to my Dad for coming in $econd in a large NCAA Basketball pool we both played in! A nice twist was that the winner was a friend from Peoria (this wasn’t a Peoria-hosted pool). I came in 19th out of 93, which means that my dart throwing is slightly better from 10,000 miles away.

Congratulations again–now back to Australasia.

by Jim
on Mar 30th, 2007

Friday News

I’ve nothing of interest to report. For the past 3 weeks I’ve basically just worked late, ate simply, and slept randomly. This has been my plan though, because things being turned upside down at work were scheduled perfectly to coincide with Angela’s trip, so I figured I might as well go flat out for a few weeks before returning to normalcy.

Since I have nothing to report, I’ll tell you what being reported, at least on talk radio. These are a few of the bigger stories in the past couple weeks:

  • Cricket World Cup, and not just the murders and corrupt side of the sport. Cricket is a distant second to rugby in NZ, but world cup action is still big news. NZ is doing well, BTW. Percentage of sports coverage devoted to the NCAA Tournament: 0%.
  • The proposed “Anti-Smacking” bill. Smacking is spanking, and if some have their way it might not be allowed in NZ. Take a controversial bill like that and then have the ruling Labour government trying to rush it through parliament under an urgency motion, and you’ve got a fine mess.
  • PM Helen Clark visits the U.S. Did you know she was just in town? She met with Bush for two hours, didn’t get her free trade agreement and was reminded that while not being in the “nuclear family”, NZ was still a very good friend of the US. And she got to meet the CEO of Microsoft, which was probably more fun. (She even took back some Maori heads from the Chicago Field Museum)
  • Ribena, a hugely popular drink in NZ, was absolutely pummeled this week after admitting that some of their juices have little or no vitamin C, despite their aggressive “this stuff is good for your kid because of all the vitamin C” campaign. Good Job, GlaxoSmithKline. The kicker: the finding came from a couple of varsity students working on a science project 😉 )

Ah, such a nice break from depressing war news and incessant campaign coverage. Have a good weekend.

by Jim
on Mar 19th, 2007

Word of the Day: lahar

300h.jpgI didn’t know what a lahar was until I came to New Zealand, but in the last couple of months I’ve been hearing a lot about the Mt. Ruapehu lahar. In the case of Mt. Ruapehu, part of a lake wall was formed during a recent (12 years ago) eruption. The wall had been stable enough to allow a lot a water to accumulate, but geologists knew it was going to burst sooner or later.

Now it has. The scientists’ predictions were for the Feb-Mar time frame, so they get full points for accuracy (unlike their meteorological brothers). No one was hurt, and the monitoring equipment installed to deliver warnings of the impending breach apparently worked. Aside from being an interesting natural phenomenon, the Mt. Ruapehu lahar got/gets a lot of attention because it caused one of New Zealand’s world disasters. The 1953 Tangiwai disaster left 151 people dead when the lahar damaged a railway bridge, resulting in an express train plummeting to the river below. Today’s lahar caused only some flooding and a lot of media coverage.

by Jim
on Mar 10th, 2007

A reason to pause, and then buy

Guide BiscuitsHooray! It’s Girl Scout cookie time in NZ. Of course the first time around I was clueless to this since the sign hanging on the horse paddock fence, “Guide Biscuits Next Sat. “, was completely misunderstood by me. Fortunately Angela, herself a former Girl Guide, provided translation. (And I thought ‘Biscuits’ was the name of the horse. Darn.)

The Guide Biscuits only come in a couple of flavors, and none are as good as thin mints (mmmm, thin mints), but they’re still tasty. And ubiquitous, with little sales tents blanketing the nation on weekends. That they’re gone in a few days makes them pretty much irresistible, just like back home.

Yes, finally the pictures of Agra, Jaipur and the Bandipur National Park in Mysore, India are on Flickr. So those places are some of my weekend stopovers. I had a great time in India and met a couple of really good friends. They traveled with me and their company will be missed on my travels to Australia. Enjoy the pictures and lookout for blogs from Australia.

Taj Mahal, Agra and Jaipur, Rajasthan

Bandipur National Park, Mysore

by Jim
on Mar 4th, 2007

Surviving Buller

058.jpgI mentioned a few weeks ago that I signed up to run a marathon relay (42km/4), and my survival was in question. Well, I made it!

The circumstances leading up to the race were particularly bad due to work travel. Angela was in the US the preceding week and only arrived back in NZ the day of the race. But Westport is 3.5 hours from Christchurch so there was no possibility of her providing cheering or driving support. Worse yet was a surprise trip to Japan that I had to make which had me back in Christchurch the evening before the race. I didn’t even bother driving home, instead heading straight from the Airport to the B&B I booked near Buller Gorge. After 20 hours of air travel, that drive royally sucked. But the B&B was nice and I got a good night’s rest. The original plan was to camp in a colleague’s friend’s back yard (and that’s what my three race mates did), but once the Japan trip arose I prompted opted out of that idea.

Despite all of the logistical and physical worries, once the starting gun was fired it was all good from there on. The Buller Gorge route has fantastic scenery, not too much traffic, and the weather cooperated very well. I’m glad I ran the first leg as it was nice and cool. Though I had been running some since around X-mas, the furthest I’d run before the race was only about 3 miles, and the race length was 6.5 miles–hence the pre-race worry! As it turned out, my pace ended up about the same as the 4 mile Steamboat Classic I ran in Peoria two years ago, so suffice to say I was very happy with the result.

Check out the photoset at the usual spot. Select the “Map” view to see where in the world Buller Gorge is.

« Prev - Next »

visitors from:

Locations of visitors to this page