Sunday, April 30, 2006

So How's This for Coming Outta Left Field?

New, legally appropriate measures of hazing have evolved, apparently. While certainly better than the kind of hazing that used to occur, it is nonetheless a shock to learn of the new methods. Particularly in the form of your lovely fiance coming home and announcing, with some trepidation, that he has been volun-told by his rugby team to enter an upcoming Mr. Universe contest. This contest includes, but will not be limited to, a drinking contest, a pick-up line contest, an eveningwear contest, and of course, a swimsuit competition.

Eventually, the hysterical laughter subsided. We will be prepping for this ahead of time -- I mean, how cool would it be if he won!? -- but in the meantime, I thought you might get a chuckle out of this. I know I sure did. ;-)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Webcam is Now Functional

...Just thought I would get the word out. While it will be a bit tricky to work in terms of the time difference, it would be splendid to talk to you all. In fact, the reception is both clearer and less lagged than the telephone, not to mention cheaper.

However, since this is a video medium, and that it will likely be morning for me, I reserve the right to take a minute to de-scary-ify myself first.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Feeling Accomplished

So, I just finished my first presentation for work. Granted, it was only for a half-dozen people or so, but it was well-received despite being first thing on a Monday morning. (Personally, I have a hard time receiving anything well on a Monday morning, unless it's more sleep!) ;-) I think I even answered the questions intelligently, which is definitely a good feeling. Hooray!
Also, it turns out that in the duathlon I ran last weekend, I placed fairly decently (about average). Meaning, I ran 5k and biked 10 in 68 minutes. Who would have thought it? But seriously, there is to be no worries about me becoming a health-nut. ;-) I just do these things so I can eat more Tim Tams (which are DELICIOUS cookies sold only in Oz and NZ).

Of a less good note is that the "professional" pictures from the duathlon didnt turn out so well. Who would have thought that people dont look very attractive while exherting themselves to within an inch of their lives? Needless to say, I was far too concerned with things like persuading one foot to go in front of the other to notice the evil cameramen lurking around the corner to take unflattering pictures of me. Damn paparazzi. Boo, I say! Luckily, Dave took a few before and after, when I was in a state of not being dead. Not to say that those are much more flattering, especially given my unfortunate placing of the race number, but still less bad.

If there is one thing that can pick a tired girl up after running a duathlon....'s remembering that Lent is over, so a good, cold brew is on the menu for relaxation! Bonus, eh?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wrinkles and Leather Pants?

In most circumstances, sixty-plus year-old men publicly bemoaning their lack of "girly action" would be socially frowned upon, if not met with legal action. Last night, instead, this situation was met with unbridled applause from over 30, 000 Kiwis, for they had paid good money to hear these very sentiments from these very men. Dave and I were there, and what a great time it was... I now much better understand why The Stones are still as big as they are.

We only decided to go yesterday, as the impending event only really grabbed our attention then. Both of us work within earshot of the stadium, so the workday that day included much testing noise and window rattling, and workmates pretending not to notice it. We figured we would grab dinner wherever we could, then head back in time to see if we could get our hands on any cheap-ish tix. Every restaurant in a 3-mile radius was positively packed, but luckily Dave thought to try this hidden gem of a restaurant, the Katipo Cafe, which we frequent for Sunday breakfasts. Sure enough, it was open and still had some room, the latter probably being due to its' being largely invisible from the streetfront.

The meal was fabulous, but there was a sinister (and delicious) twist -- their french-fry dipping sauce bears an uncanny resemblance to the patented, ultra-secret Helgason-Caesar salad recipe. I might have berated them for stealing the family recipe, if I could have possibly kept my mouth fry-and-dip-free for long enough to do so. ;-)

We then secured some tickets to the show. While they were higher on our price scale than what could be called "cheap", the seats were killer. Or, more specifically, the tickets allowed us access to a section of the floor that made sneakily slinking to better and better spots a rather simple matter. Stealth was still required, though, since security was tirelessly ensuring that anyone being where they shouldnt were quickly replaced to their former spots, or at least farther away. But Dave and I went uncaught, as no one ever suspects the Canadians.

We arrived during the opening act, which was Calgary's own Nickelback. They played very well, and more importantly, displayed a grateful humility that, aside from cementing their status as Canadians, endeared them to the crowd even further. The audience remained reserved, however, until The Stones arrived -- after that, it was madness all around.

They went through the hits, mostly, and the highlight of the show (for us) was when a section of the stage travelled way out into the audience, giving the rest of us on the floor a close view (30 feet away, I'd guess) of the band for a song or three. Very cool. Other than that, there were videoscreens and pyrotechnics galore, and the encore (featuring the essentials, "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Painted Black", and then "Satisfaction" as the finale) was ended with a fabulous fireworks show.

All in all, very much worth the price of admission -- The Rolling Stones rock!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More Dam Pictures

Here be the before and after, as well as a neat shot down the creek. Lovely, eh?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Weekend in a Volcano

Well, not in a volcano, exactly... We went to Taupo, which is a large lake covering what is known to be a rather large volcano. It is NZ's biggest lake, and its major claim to fame are the monster rainbow trout found in it.

The 6.5-hour bus ride there meant that we arrived late Friday night (2am Saturday morning, to be exact). Our hostel was lovely, and fairly inexpensive. What was neat about it was that it was one of the few hostels I have ever visited that had ALL ages of guests, even a few families. Saturday's weather was stunning, and just like summer.

It was just what I needed after the long grey days in Wellington. Dave took the opportunity to go skydiving, but I decided to save all death-risk-y activities until my second excursion out of Wellington. So, I caught up with the sunshine and read a good chunk of my amazing new book, "American Gods".

Sunday, we were not so lucky with the weather. Too bad we'd planned all our activities for that day, and it was our only full day left in town. So, rainjackets fastened on, we braved the elements to see Taupo's sights.

1) Craters of the Moon.
Not nearly as cheesy as it sounds, it is a super-awesome sight to behold. Magma heats the underground water, causing big craters to gush steam at all hours.

It was like a movie set. In fact, Dave and I enjoyed doing a two-person Lord of the Rings re-enactment. Here is a picture of us, trying to look like we're on some kind of quest. Clearly, with my comparatively feminine looks, I was Frodo. Good thing that my ring is considerably less evil.

2) Next, we moved on to the dam opening. Most of NZs' electricity is obtained through natural means, and this dam is a great example of it. Three times daily, it releases built-up water into the neighbouring stream. The results are most dramatic. Adding to the sense of alien beauty is the profusion of black swans in the bay. They are beautiful creatures, and I have not ever seen them outside of a zoo. It is said that their wings are strong enough to fracture the leg of a large human male. Luckily, Dave had me there to defend him. ;-)

3) Huka Falls. By this time we are totally drenched, with the notable exceptions of two dry spots beneath each knee. Apparently, that is just how hardcore we are walking. The falls are marvellous, and we hike in the nearby rainforest awhile to look at the neat birds and plants. There was one bird I couldnt really identify, but from its showy, erratic flying pattern, she seemed to be distracting us from a nest. Funny, you travel halfway around the world, and birds still act like they do in St. Adolphe.

4) Taupo Hot Springs. A perfect destination for a day of being cold and soggy. The whole days' stresses melted away in the lovely hot pools which we so greatly needed. Especially since even the insides of our backpack got soaked... I have discovered a whole new level of discomfort, and it is putting on a sopping wet, cold bathing suit in a cold changing room. But again, nothing the hot springs didnt remedy right quick.

Then home we went, exhausted and adventured-out, where we treated ourselves to a rebelliously un-cultural meal of Burger King, and a night at the movies. We saw a cute movie called Sione's Wedding, a NZ comedy which I highly recommend. But, thats enough for now! :-)