Sunday, July 30, 2006

As it turns out...

...apparently Dave, Brian, Nathalie and I were on TV during the All Blacks game. How cool is that? I guess good seats do pay off, eh? ;-)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

View from the Cheap Seats

Yesterday, Dave and I headed to the All Blacks test match with Brian and Nathalie. We were very excited to see the match, as this was the only game the All Blacks would be playing in Wellington for the entire year, and nothing really beats seeing such a cool event live. As could be expected, obtaining tickets took some doing -- Dave and Brian had to co-ordinate efforts on the morning of the tickets' availability. Dave stood in line whilst Brian attempted to connect to the ticket office online. In the end, their efforts were rewarded and they were able to purchase four tickets to the coveted event. The tickets sold out rather soon thereafter, which is especially impressive given that the stadium seats 40,000 people!

The weather was fairly co-operative -- no rain, but pretty cold once night fell. The no-rain part was key, however, as part of the reason why our seats were cheap was that they were "uncovered". But no matter... as a true child of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, I know how to dress to the elements. ;-) All the same, it was nice to only deal with a bit of cold air, rather than winter-Wellington in all its fury.

We arrive, and to our great surprise, our seats are right on the pitch, next to the try zone! Better yet, the direction was even ideal, as we got to see the Haka (LIVE!) performed facing us. It was even more powerful in person, and the leftover smoke from the national-anthem fireworks lent a rather eerie effect to the spectacle. What a great way to start, though! The crowd went totally wild.

The South Africa Springboks did fairly well, scoring the first try. That was way on the other end of the field, though... but that means that when the All Blacks score their arguably inevitable first try, it would be RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! So, in the very last minute of the first half, the All Blacks finally came through for that try, and got it handily. The picture is here... how cool is that, to be so close? I can't believe these are the cheap seats!

In the second half, the AB's dominated and won by a 20-point margin. Most of that action happened on the other side of the field, though, as they had switched sides at half-time. Now that we already had our pictures, and that victory was certain, we had more attention to look around... and see a rather familiar-looking flag on the other side of the stadium! (Follow the blue arrow.) Also of note was the stadium victuals, which were a far cry from the Corel Centre's $9 water-beer and $8 hot dogs; for a mere $5, you can get some delicious fish & chips, or a proper-sized, bottled beer. Yum! ^_^

The remainder of the evening consisted of instigating a raucous "Happy Birthday" to a complete stranger, a seat-pillow fight between Nathalie and Dave, and Dave temporarily tailing a guy wearing exactly the same raincoat. Much fun was had by all.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Test Match!

Tomorrow is a very exciting day.

Tomorrow, Karla, Brian, Nathalie and I are going to see an honest to goodness All Black's game here in Wellington. The heroic ABs will take on the South African Springboks tomorrow night at 7:30pm.

The forecast is for a pretty cold 9 degree high and 5 degree low, though the rain (and hail and wind and icy rain again) is supposed to stop tomorrow afternoon. With our uncovered seats, we'll be bundled up good. Will keep you all posted on the results!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

South Larf

The other day, in my regular reads of political-type blogs like Calgary Grit and Warren Kinsella, I came across the Frog Lady who has created South Park portraits of Liberal Party leadership candidates. Par example, the estimable Joe Volpe:

Or Patrick's favorite, Hedy Fry:

All eleven of them are there, so definitely check them out if you follow politics at all. Anyway, Karla and I thought these were really funny, so we got busy creating our own portraits. So here, for your amusement, are Karla and I all South Parked out:

You can try this yourself at the South Park Studio. More to follow, I promise. This has way too much potential. And yes, I'm looking at you Michael Kim.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Viva Italia!

Today, Dave, myself, and many, many New Zealanders woke up at 5:30 AM on a Monday to watch the finals for the World Cup. It was all worthwhile, as a drama-packed game ended with my beloved Italy taking home the Cup after a 5-3 penalty shootout. Well done!

(Now, if only someone could tell me what the hell Zidane was thinking, with that head-butt that probably cost France everything? What was THAT about?)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Trip to the Zoo!

As yesterday was the first nice day in weeks, Dave and I decided to go to the zoo.

(Note of Karma here, because the LAST nice day we had was the one I posted about earlier, where I have the laptop in the backyard. Since then, the rain had been SO bad, the MINISTRY OF DEFENCE was on alert -- apparently, several days straight of heavy winds and rain can cause serious flooding, as well as small landslides. No worries about us, though, as the most part of our rain-related distress was having to walk to work in it. On the bright side, though, Dave and I are now both able to sleep through the ruckus of winter rain, sounding much like endless handfuls of small pebbles being thrown at our windows.)

So, the moral of the story is, I'll avoid bragging about the weather in the future. ;-)

The Wellington Zoo has been a place I've been wanting to go for awhile, partly due to the great ads they have. So, I took Dave on a surprise date, and we went.

One of the neat things about going to foreign zoos is getting to see not only new animals, but often some really familiar ones, too. The first exhibit in the zoo at Rome's central park, Villa Borghese, was a gleefully familiar beast -- the Canada Goose! There weren't any Canada geese here in Wellington, there were some otters, ducks, ostriches, and even a bear. The bear, however, was a Malaysian Sun Bear, which is quite different from our bears. He was smallish, sleek-furred, very skinny, and had a tongue that was probably over a foot long! (For digging bugs out of tree-burrows, apparently.) Very weird... I had no idea there were bears so different from our big, fat, shaggy ones. ^_^

We also saw the Australian versions of both the pelican and the magpie. The pelican was, no joke, as big as Dave, and his bill can hold 13 LITRES of water at any given time. The magpie I had seen before, on a roadtrip, and had wondered whether such a gigantic bird could still be called a magpie. From beak to rump, he's easily two feet. Including the tail gets you another six inches or so. Another interesting difference is that, while both magpie species are cheeky birds, this one has a lovely call. How did we get jipped? ;-)

There were a ton of beautiful creatures to see, but not all of them in cages. Tuis -- New Zealand's national bird -- were everywhere, and we got to hear their very strange calls. (Here and here are some examples...) There were so many sounds in each call, from door-squeaks to flute ditties to video game blips and bleeps, it was hard to believe that all the sounds came from one species.

Other than that, we saw some wild dogs from Africa being fed. In spite of being made minorly ill, I still applaud the fact that they were fed proper carcasses, whole. We got there after they'd been working at it awhile. It had been possibly a kangaroo or a possum. It was nice to see that humans running a zoo would respect wild animals' proper, natural state of eating, but I wasn't unhappy to leave that exhibit behind.

Some animals were more cooperative than others when being photographed. The Red Panda had nothing to do with us at all (all we could get was pictures of his butt), whereas our Sun Bear friend was a downright diva. Another flirt was this green parrot, who came right up to the bars when I got close. Then again, given the "Watch out, he bites!" sign on his cage, it might not have been to say "hi". ;-) Still, he was very cute.

There were a series of riots at the chimp house (which Dave would always rush back to go see), a great view of the city, zebras, lions, tigers, baboons, giraffes, and even a rare form of Australian sheep. Dave made up funny stories about some of the animals, and even enlightened me with his interpretation of the Egyptian heiroglyphs outside of the baboon grounds -- apparently, the story is that of "The Pharoh's Sacred Underpants", to which he is pointing.

It was a great time, but my favourite part was this particular peculiar duck. After walking around for the whole day, we were almost completely ignored by the animals. (Naturally, this is what should happen... but one always dreams of having that moment between oneself and a beautiful creature...) Anyhoo, we make our way to the aquatic birds section, and walk by indifferent ibises and aloof kookaburras, then arrive at a rather large but seemingly empty cage allegedly holding the Mandarin Duck. I spot him waaaay at the back, but then become totally shocked as he barrels straight for us!!! I don't think I had ever seen a duck run before, let alone run AT me, but it was a scream. He then talked to us, posed up a storm, and followed us around a bit. What a darling.

So, totally exhausted, we ended the day with a large bowl of fries in the attatched cafe. What a great time!