Monday, August 28, 2006

holy bat-update, not-batman!

first, thank you for all the kind comments regarding my photo... wasn't exactly expecting to get picked, but surprisingly they threw me a frickin' bone. now i have to see if i can take a photo to win next year's competition... which brings us to more adventuring, etc...

farming life is good fun, if a little quiet. so far most of the work has been tree planting, but there's been some cow, pig, and chicken feeding a-happenin' too. some farmland photos are below...

this past weekend was spent with anton, ezra, and their friend candice skiing at the turoa area on mt. ruapehu. saturday was a white out with gale force winds at the top, so the slopes were closed. sunday was a good day, but the slopes hadn't been groomed due to the bad weather, so the snow was a bit uneven--powdery in some places and icy in others. that in combination with skiing on courses a little too challenging for my rusty skills (the last time i skied may have been eight years ago) led to a number of tumbles. an early accidental somersault led to a lost contact lens. a later double (or possibly triple?) somersault was a complete wipeout--lost both my skis and my poles (held on to the other contact lense though). one of my skis was stuck so far into the snow that ezra almost couldn't pull it out... some old guy gave me a 10 out of 10 for the fall, but didn't offer any help. needless to say, i have some sore spots (legs, torso, neck... pretty much everything). anton gave me a couple quick lessons and by the end of the day i was more-or-less back to where i was the last time i skied, just a little more cautious. today i got a couple of hours in and managed to fall on my ass only twice.

tomorrow it's back to the farm, where we'll probably stay until the end of the week, i think.

the latest batch of photos (click on them for larger versions):

anton (left) and ezra

brendan and the otamatea river

brendan and the moo cows

brendan and ruffy to action!

trees and farmland and sky

the view of the otamatea river from the house at the farm

two more trees

mt. ruapehu

Friday, August 18, 2006

worst. pizza. ever.

this may be my last post for a little while. brendan and i are headed up to the farm in otematea this evening. most of today is last minute prep--laundry, packing, etc. yesterday we headed out to one tree hill and wandered around the lovely cornwall park, where we met some of roudy hotsteppers.

yesterday also marked what was the first in a probably long and fruitless journey searching for the perfect pizza in new zealand. yesterday's jaunt to epolito's (a place run by ex-pat new yorkers) took about twice as long as expected only to find the establishment closed for the afternoon. what followed was probably the worst pizza ever.

then last night for dinner was a bit of a trip down memory lane with the harveys... well, warwick and shirley, at least. they managed to dig up an old home video of craig's 9th birthday party, which i had attended. there was a weird game involving shaving cream and the limbo. there was also a few minutes of footage of a game from the northcote soccer club i used to play on.

aaaaand... guess who got an honorable mention in the 2006 washington post travel photo contest.

i'll try and post while at the farm, but i make no guarantees.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

will someone get this baby out of my soup?

got some new zealand culture last night with a night at the cinema. brendan and i saw sione's wedding, a domestically made film shot in the auckland area about a band of troublemaker friends who are banned from another friend's wedding due to their past history of bad behavior. the only way they'll be allowed in is if they're able to find actual girlfriends (instead of their usual one-night stands) to bring to the wedding with them. i suppose it would fall into the "urban comedy" category and shares a number of tropes. the cast was mainly minorities (in this case polynesian), the soundtrack featured almost exclusively polynesian hip hop and r&b groups, and much of the humor was based on race (prejudiced police officer, the white guy acting like he's a minority, playing up the differences between white and polynesian women, etc.). it's kind of weird how american culture has been force fed to/adopted by other nations. the movie itself was fairly enjoyable. it was pretty amusing and had some fun oddball characters.

today we headed over to the auckland botanic gardens, which we found out was a hell of a long way away, especially if you take the bus just after school has let out. it took about an hour and a half to get out there from downtown auckland and about an hour to get back. it turned into a fun photo-taking expedition.

for more photos check out my flickr page.

if any of the formatting on this blog looks weird on your browser, let me know. i've had some weird spacing problems with firefox when posting photos.

Monday, August 14, 2006

day 4, rainbow 8

yup... saw 2 rainbows again today... i also got to check off two items on my list of things to do: visit the war memorial museum and see the maori culture show, and visit my old neighborhood in northcote. the latter was an experience that was a little difficult to describe. the last time I'd been there was at least 12 years ago. it all seemed pretty familiar (here's a map of the general auckland area), but there were some definite changes: fisherman's wharf, down at the end of my old street, was abandoned; the dairy my brother and i used to frequent for candy (i specifically recall buying gummy coke bottles) is now a wine shop, and the lotto store is a chips shop; northcote primary and a ton of new buildings, one of which pretty well blocks the entrance to the school; the onepoto domain is really a pretty nice place, and the soccer fields, in hindsight, are probably the best ground i've ever played on; and the northcote shopping center has basically turned into one giant asian mart, which i can't say isn't an improvement, but it was a little striking to see pretty much every store sign there have asian lettering. the old house is still there, though...

flowers in the auckland domain's winter garden

maori wood carvings in a traditional meeting house

the northcote tavern, located across the street from...

my old house and its ski slope of a driveway (yes, that is the ocean behind it)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

day 2, rainbow 4

wandered around auckland today. bought a cell phone, looked for a pair of jeans... apparently i failed to pack a pair (...because, really, who needs pants?), ate at some tastey asian place for lunch, hit up the auckland domain, dropped by the museum, but didn't purchase entry as we'd missed the last maori cultural performance for the day. promised ourselves we'd come back. walked the 8k from auckland to the bruell's in st. helier's. got soaked through by sideways rain.

... made with real malaysians--spicy!

graphitti bores brendan, pictured sleeping whilst standing

an old railyard near the auckland domain

auckland, city of rails.

rainbow #2... #3 was actually just to the left and #4 appeared later

Thursday, August 10, 2006

two americans not killed by dormant volcano

so, after a 3 hour delay at jfk, a 12 hour flight, a short stop in tahiti, a six hour flight, and multiple interrogations by new zealand customs officials (including a thorough check of the contents of all of my bags, a gander at my backup computer files, and a cleaning of the hiking boots i brought along), we finally made it to the home of the bruell's in st. heliers in the suburbs of auckland. most of the day was spent wandering around the waterfront, checking out the local shops, and chatting with jules, a friend of the bruells. this may seem pretty uneventful, but after spending nearly 20 hours sitting on airplanes, the sight of anything not beige was really a point of interest.

first second impressions: there's more grass and sky than i remember their being. the air smells of ocean salt, which is something i quite like. the auckland area has seen a huge amount of development in the past 12 years, and seems incredibly commercial compared to when i left in 1994. maybe i was just oblivious at the time, though.

Rangitoto is a party animal

here is where the avians like to party

rainbow count so far: 1

Monday, August 07, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

australia vs. new zealand

for the record australia and new zealand are different countries. see them on the map here. they have many differences. for instance, australia was colonized by europeans who oppressed and murdered the native aboriginies. they also dumped their prisoners there. new zealand was colonized by europeans who oppressed and murdered the native maori. they did not use the island as a jail. australia is mainly desert and grasslands, with some lovely tropical areas along the coast. new zealand is sub-tropical. it has some desert, but is mostly a nice shade of green. australia has snakes and poisonous spiders. new zealand does not have snakes or poisonous spiders. australia has the tasmanian devil (specifically in the island of tasmania, which lies to the south of mainland australia), koala, kangaroo, and wombat, among other native wildlife. new zealand has the tuatara, kiwi, kea bird, tui bird, and hector's dolphins (hector does not want them back), among others. new zealand also has some really cool trees, like the pohutukawa, rimu, and kauri. australia does not have these trees. new zealand, outside of zoos, does not have kangaroos, koalas, devils, or wombats.

new zealand.
new zealand.
new zealand.

there are many, many other differences. suffice it to say that when i say i am going to new zealand, i do not mean that i am going to australia.