Saturday, June 30, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Allow me to commemorate Canada's birthday with a funny advertisement I saw a month back. It was in Courtenay Place, Wellington's downtown area, in the front window of a travel agency.

No, your eyes do not deceive you... THEY'RE ADVERTISING THE CANADIAN WINTER! They must be mad!

Come and see the Canadian winter, it says. Bah, say I -- what malicious creatures would lure poor, unsuspecting kiwis into such a thing? Clearly, some evil plot is afoot.

(...or, maybe our skiing really IS sufficiently awesome to justify enduring our winters.) ;-)

So, "happy birthday" to a country SO great, people even wanna visit it when temperatures drop below -30C!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ode to Bessie

Thank you, Bessie, for keeping Dave and I fed for lo these many months.

As some of you readers may recall, Dave entered a raffle long ago to support a friend raising money to support her choir. The top prize was a quarter of beef. "But who wins the top prize", we guffawed... only to have the answer be clear. WE won the top prize, and needed to find something to do with a quarter of a cow.

My unbelievable Tetris-skills came into play as I carefully arranged the best cuts into our tiny, tiny freezer. For a long time, our freezer was full of all the ribeye cuts, New Yorks, sirloins, roasts, ground beef and sausages that we could ever want, and we still had plenty to give away to friends and a soup kitchen.

The beef was wonderful, flavourful, and succulent, clearly speaking that our Bessie had had a happy life. How wonderful. Moreover, to think that we had so many cuts of meat, all of which originated from the same cow, was entirely strange from a North American perspective. Ground beef, for example, tends to contain hundreds of different cows. Our ground beef was all Bessie. Something feels very right about that.

We finished the last of Bessie last week, in a delicious Italian pasta sauce. Above is a picture of her being thawed beforehand. I miss her already.

Thank you, Bessie.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Part 4

The Wellington Public Library.

Or, to be more specific, the extensive selection of comic books at the Wellington Public Library. Borrow as many as you want for a whole month, free. Life doesn't get much better than that.

For those of you who are not comics aficionados, comic books in their compiled forms -- otherwise known as 'trade paperbacks' -- are quite expensive. Particularly here in New Zealand, where all comics (including NZ's own comics) need to be shipped in from overseas. A single trade paper normally consists of 5 to 8 comic books bound together, and will likely cost upwards of $40. (In Canada, the same would cost about $27.)

Some comic series are more worthy of this price tag than others. Without so much as a moments' hesitation, I plunk down big money for the two series I follow: Strangers In Paradise, and Y: The Last Man. Given the amount of enjoyment I get from these titles, the money is largely irrelevant.

However, as with any form of entertainment, we must continue to try new things. (Especially since both Strangers and Y will be terminating this year.... sigh....) So, I periodically buy a trade paper of some title I hear about. Usually, it's reasonably entertaining, but not worth shelling out big bucks to continue the series. So, I stop following that title, and resume my lamentation for Strangers and Y.

The result: No new series for Karla, only dying ones. Karla saaaaad.

Enter the Welly Library, and their incredible selection of comics. Now, I am revelling in renting the following titles, many of which I'd been wanting to try for quite a while. (And did I mention it was all free?!) ;-)

Fables: Winner of many comic awards for its smart writing, intriguing premise, great characters. Refuse to pay for it due to it being increasingly misogynistic, and disturbingly clever political propaganda. And that it consistently illustrates a prominent character -- a love interest, even! -- without eyes or a mouth. Ew.

Preacher: Also won a few awards, one of the first adults-only comics. Neat premise, great plot, though fairly offensive in all ways. Refuse to pay for it due to flat character development, confusing treatment of homophobia, and the relentless use of sordid sex acts as gags.

Oh My Goddess: Fun Japanese comic, quite funny, but mostly just forgettable fluff. Not really worth $20, but a good laugh all the same.

Tank Girl: Fantastic title that I fully intend to buy... but impossible to find in the northern hemisphere!

The Luna Brothers' Girls: Dumb and sexist, but the art is good, and it tickles my conspiracy-bone just enough to actually make me curious about reading it to the end.

100 Bullets: This one has an even better conspiracy afoot. Interesting moral dilemmas, unique art style, fascinating characters. Too bad all the otherwise-fairly-empowered female characters are early-twenties barbie dolls falling out of scanty clothing. Oh, and they're all criminals, strippers, or prostitutes. Greeeat.

The Maxx: Mindblowing art and amazing plot, but then the only villain dies by the end of the second volume. The series then goes on a longwinded Jungian journey for another four volumes, with or without many of the main characters you've grown attached to.

Love and Rockets: One of the first big titles of independent comics, and I finally got around to reading it. A slow, sensitive and brilliant view of life, love, and the beautiful mundanity of the everyday. I will definitely be buying this one when I return to Canada.

Hooray, free comics. End result = HAPPY KARLA! :-D

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Part 3

Fantails, the birds that make up for their itsy-bitsy size with a whole lotta cheek.

So, what makes these birds so special? I mean, they're just a bird, right? Well, let me tell you a bit about them, and you might see why fantails are cool.

These birds are not hard to find, as they can live in any reasonably extensive greenery -- large urban parks, for example. When you encounter a fantail, you will probably first hear its call. It is not a bird call as we know it, more of a repetition of an angry "beep!". This alone is funny, since it sounds a lot like a squeek-toy.

Soon after, the bird will likely appear within view, as these birds seem to profoundly enjoy human attention. The bird itself is smaller than a sparrow, but has a long, lovely tail that spreads into (you guessed it!) a fan. About six feet away from you, it will then begin flying around in a showy manner -- specifically, a figure-eight pattern -- whilst flaring its tail and continuing to beep. It can continue doing this for hours. Occasionally, to keep things interesting, it will charge you, then dart away just in time.

The Maori call this bird the Piwakawaka, which means 'messenger'. Given how this bird seems to seek people out, get their attention with its acrobatic flights, and beep at them urgently, this seems a fitting name.

So, I will miss these cheeky birds -- they're so cute, and so much fun to watch.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, Part 2

I will definitely miss the view from my desk.

As of right now, I only need look up from my monitor to see Wellington Bay. It's lovely. Green hills rising from blue water, with a random smattering of white boats and houses throughout. To the north, the gargantuan South Island ferry goes by many times a day. To the south, a multicoloured container port has cranes and forklifts busily shifting crates around into an unseen order. On special holidays, a live cannon on the bay is fired many times, which is fun to watch from my desk.

The view is also very handy -- looking out over the water, one can always tell what the weather will be like in the next 20 minutes. Plus, as the weather tends to change all the time, the view remains entertaining.

To clarify, this appreciation of the view does not in any way reveal some secret urge to live by water. Rather, it is only indicative of the sad fact that I've a great while left in the expected decade-long wait for a StatCan window office. .... Hence, I'm enjoying the view while it lasts! :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Something remarkable

Paul Wells linked to this, and he's right. It is absolutely beautiful.

Meet Paul Potts, a Welsh mobile phone salesman who decided to compete in the Britain's Got Talent competition. The winner gets 100 thousand pounds and the chance to perform before the Queen. I'd say the man's in with a shot...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Things I'll Miss About New Zealand, part 1

TIM TAMS!!!! Mmmm...

Canada has no cookie like this. Tim Tams are deliciousness incarnate in two syllables. Two layers of cookie surround a creamy/icing middle, then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. Good quality chocolate, even.

Better still, this cookie can be made even more delicious through the technique, "The Tim Tam Slam". The lovely Dave will demonstrate how this is done.

Step 1) Assemble hot drink of choice, and one or more Tim Tams. Ideally, the cookies should be the double-coat variety, as that ensures less mess for the coming steps. Ensure the drink is not hot enough to scald, and that it is filled to near the top of the mug.

Step 2) Bite off both ends of the cookie.

Step 3) Insert one end of the cookie into the mug, making contact with the drink.

Step 4) Suck drink through cookie -- like a straw -- until cookie is fully moistened. This usually only takes a second or two, and practise is required to time it perfectly.

Step 5) Pop delicious, caffienated, gooey chocolate cookie-ooze in your mouth. Bliss!
Hopefully, Canadian importers will gain enough sense to import this southern-hemisphere wonder; but until then, I'm scheming a way to get them to Canada. I love you, Tim Tam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Effects of Being About to Leave a Workplace having the freedom to publicly say what you really think about things. (With diplomacy, of course.) I'm deeply enjoying it.

Sometimes I wonder whether this newfound verbal freedom is a manifestation of my inner leader, the insightful non-yesman. Or perhaps it's just me being a badass. Or, perhaps they could be the same thing? I can't say I know.

What I DO know is that I take some pride from the (wholly justifiable) use of the word "neutered" in the annual project progress report I've just written. (Hehehehe... Take that, lame-o bureau-speak!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eight Minutes to Midnight

Two months tonight, eight minutes to midnight, I will arrive back in Winnipeg.

It is now official, as I actually have my ticket. August 12, I will board a Wellington plane in the early eve. After an ungodly amount of flying and transfer time, I will arrive in Winnipeg just before midnight. Two months now.

I might feel more conflicted if the moving/job-wrapup/wedding stress would subside awhile. There's so much I will miss about Wellington, which is truly a great place to live. In fact, that very sentiment has inspired me to begin an ongoing list of specific things I'll miss -- the idea being, if I identify them now, I can still appreciate them before I go. That series should start soon... stay tuned! :-)

Until then, I'll have a drink tonight to reflect, and to celebrate. At eight minutes to midnight.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Just got home after a winning effort on the rugby pitch. This was our first win this season, ending a major major drought in the 'W' category. Pink Ginners over the Dead Ants 24-13.

So I'm stoked. Next thing is to head off to see the All Black's play France at Westpac Stadium (aka the Cake Tin). at 7:30pm. Karla and I are meeting the fellas in about an hour.

The bonus of today, and a marvelous reflection on just how awesome Karla is: last night I was telling Karla about my determination to win this game, and about my desire to score a try before we leave NZ. So she says: "Tell you what. You guys win tomorrow, and beer and food at the AB's game is on me. You score a try tomorrow, and I'll take you out for dinner wherever you want."

The try has still proven elusive. But with the win today, it's free eat and drink for Davey tonight! Woohoo!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

C'mon Sens!!!

I can't watch the bloody game. I can only constantly refresh the CBC website to get my Cup fix, and it's now 5-2 Ducks in the third.

I fear impending doom. But I still have hopes.

Good vibes coming at you Sens from down under! Go Sens Go!

UPDATE: 6-2? Methinks Sens Mile is mighty quiet. And me? I'm gutted, man. Gutted.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cue the Eye-Roll...

Sometimes I wonder why I bother checking the news sites. It's so depressing sometimes... and no, I'm not necessarily talking about wars or crime or viruses. The truly, deeply depressing thing about the CBC site are the tales of the bickering children we elected.
Harper (retorting in defense of his "Canadian-ness"?!!?):"...But at least I've always lived and worked and paid my taxes in this country."

His remark was a swipe at Ignatieff, a former university professor who taught at schools in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Ignatieff dismissed Harper's barbs.

"We can all play these silly games about who's the better Canadian," he said. "If they seriously believe that someone who's contributed to this country outside and came back to Canada is less of a Canadian, they should get up and say that to the two million Canadians who live and work overseas."
Apparently, Stevie Harper doesn't consider Dave or myself as fully Canadian. What a git. And worse yet that this utter foolishness was dignified with comment on both the Liberal and Conservative sides.

It's one thing to have a nonsense-spewing parliament of preschoolers... but who will send them to bed without their suppers?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Digging Through Old Photos, Part Two

As before, this is a post dedicated to neat things we've seen in NZ that may not have been mentioned earlier. These pictures are from our first few months, January and February 2006.

Our first day here, we visited the Wellington Botanical Gardens. The best part was the rose garden, which was positively huge! This is only about 20% of it.

Another neat thing about Wellington is its all-ages downtown skate park, pictured below. There's a climbing wall, multiple half-pipes and jumps for bikers and boarders, and most importantly, comfy benches for the parents to supervise from. It's one thing to SAY that kids should be more active, and quite another for taxpayer dollars to be spent on something so wonderful. Yay, Wellington!

One morning, long ago, I was awoken from my sleep by an enthusiastic -- "Wow!!! You have GOT to see this!" Dave was right to wake me up for this sunrise... it was so beautiful, I could even appreciate it through my sleepy grumpy stupor. Amazing, eh?

Our first whole weekend here was the 2006 Wellington Rugby Sevens, an event of unfathomable insanity. We partied awhile, then decided to retire back to our hotel... only to be ambushed by the nutty kiwis in the room opposite us!!! They would not hear of us NOT partying with them, and we were literally dragged into their festivities. What a great time, though! This picture of them might give you a general idea of the evenings' levels of silliness.

Well, that's all for now... stay tuned for Part Three!