Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gains and losses

I have temporarily returned to the world of ESOL teaching to mitigate the drone of my own unemployment. Quite fun to get back, except for the early worker mornings. Oh dear.

Anyway, I just saw another brutal movie, Boys Don't Cry. The one thing I want to say about it is that it is one of the few times that I have seen a cinematic "death" and felt the loss. Hilary Swank, who now is acting in Oscar nominated Million Dollar Baby (which I probably won't see), is exceptional as a woman with a gender crisis. It is beyond standard movie realism and sucks you right in. I watched it in pieces slipping it into the time vacancies, but even with a broken viewing it struck deep. It is based on a true story but as is known now, there were liberties taken in the creation of the film. Interestingly, Hilary Swank's previous film before Boys Don't Cry was The New Karate Kid! (in her younger years of course).

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


I had an annoying dining experience at a respectable eating establishment, Villa d'Vine. I got my booking in really early for Valentine's Day, and proceeded to salivate over the online menu. The advertisement had said that vegetarian meals available and had entertainment etc. Sounded good, yah?

On the morning of Valentine's day, I was striding up Mt Maunganui they called me on my mobile telling me (a) that it was a set menu (i.e. my desired food was not necessarily going to be served) and that the price was $65 per person (which of course was a special price for that day, not what was on the menu). "Ok" I said, puffing, I had the booking after all and we continued our ascent. After hanging up, I suddenly thought that I should have asked what the set menu included. My mistake.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, I was asked 'Chicken or Fish?' I said I was a vegetarian. 'Fish is not meat. Vegetarians can eat meat' was the reply. Really? I must have missed the Hapuka trees in the yard. Anyway, we sat down and asked if we wanted champagne, 'No, neither of us likes champagne' so flustered, they wisely brought out the orange juice. The maitre'd ran over saying 'Well at least you could have some bubbles' and gave us two bottles of Italian mineral water.

The entree was nice, Xin wasn't happy with her chicken (which usually is Xin's favourite) but ironically the fried Hapuka was deliccimo. The dessert was good too. An accordionist marched around with tunes pleading us not to cry 'For me! Argentina!"

Noisy as it had become, we decided to leave. On the bill was an extra $11.90 for the two bottles of imported Italian mineral water... and their EFTPOS machine politely asks if you wish to add a tip before you enter the pin number... Sorry. I think I have given far too much already.

Anyway, lessons learnt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Around the Island

Xin and I have just completed a 1970km journey covering a large portion of the North Island. Here is the route taken (all places we stayed are in red, places we did something in are in blue):

Kawhia (mmmmmmmm, ika mata! (raw fish)
New Plymouth (2 nights, tent)
Mount Taranaki (an ordeal, a wonder, a man-eating mountain)
Wanganui (1 night, hostel)
Bulls (quite believ-a-bull)
Palmerston North (loved the view of the wind farms)
Wellington (2 nights, expensive crappy hostel)
Lower Hutt (1 night, tent)
Waiouru (how cold was that, and the museum was cool too)
Turangi (1 night, YHA)
Taupo (township, where they had their multicultural festival)
Reporoa (where there is a Goudies Road!)
Rotorua (whose museum features a film clip with a Temuera Morrison tour-de-force)
Whakatane (1 night, cabin)
Ohope Beach (nice beach)
Te Puke (how sleepy can you get)
Tauranga (1 night, tent YHA)
Mount Maunganui (the township and the Mount)
Ngatea (small and insignificant, a model for all New Zealand towns)

By the end of it, I have many good experiences. Eating simple but delicious food at the Maori Food Festival. Seeing Mt Taranaki on a clear day was one such moment. Climbing it the following day, although it turned more hellish than I had imagined, was beyond excellent. Going to Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum, was astounding. It is SUCH a cool museum, I might make a habit of commuting down there to see it! Climbing Maunganui (Mauao) was awesome too, and capped off with seeing a sooty faced petrel and sea-gulls 'float' before our eyes. In general, going to all the cool sights at the side of the road, New Zealand roads have an endless variety of things to do on the main highways.

Learning where all the place names that I had heard of was lovely too: Waitara, Ratana, Kawhia, Paraparaumu, Lower Hutt, Waiouru (where potentially I could be working!), Feilding, Palmerston North, Whakatane, Te Puke etc. They were all just names before... And then major centres which I was embarrassed to say I had never been to or seen like New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Tauranga.

It was the furthest I have driven by a long way. Previously I had only gone as south as Te Awamutu (in the previous road trip), and also not liking the open road that much, to drive more than 100 kilometres in a single day had been extremely rare.

Along the way, I also learnt tonnes of things about New Zealand, Maori culture, geology, volcanoes and earthquakes, all good for pub quizzes. My Maori language was something I had focussed on too, so I have gained a large vocabulary and understanding of where different tribes live.

On the table are two separate follow-up voyages: To the North for a proper rediscovery and to the East Coast.

Friday, February 04, 2005

All in a day's work

This has been probably the most varied day I have had for a while.

Early in the morning, before the sun rose, I got up, shovelled breakfast, and got my ass out the door to Xin's bus-stop. We had agreed to help out Stage 2 at an early morning NZ Post promotion at Britomart, which was interesting. I yelled out "I love YOU!" "Take me to Paris!" "Be my Valentine!" and generally competing with my fellow helpers for the affection of cautious commuters. There were some people I met that were quite interesting. One got quite carried away with his interpretation of the meaning of "Who knows where your heart will lead you" which was written on the leaflet. I actually wish I had a chance to re-do that conversation because I would have liked to respond just as positively as he was. Then there was another who wanted to find the political motives behind the campaign. For my labours, I have free membership to Stage 2 (which is a drama club) and also a free red t-shirt.

On the way home, we observed many people who didn't know that Stagecoach decided to cease service between 9:30am and 2pm. It was reported in the paper, the radio and also there were notices on SOME bus shelters. But not on Mt Eden road bus shelters (and maybe other places but I can't be sure). So as Xin and I drove for shopping we stopped to tell people that the bus was not coming (no doubt confirming doubts that many of them were having).

Then it was shopping and lunch at Xin's house.

And then back home for applying to a Term 2 vacancy and dinner. Then packing for my trip tomorrow~

Anyway, it has been nice to get back into action!

I wanted my more methodical, logical, philosophical or political screeds to be stored neatly in the one place and then one place to put my shark dreams, employment winges, messy poetry and whatnot in this homely place.

So I have officially opened a new blog: Post/Culture.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Assorted notes

How depressing! My former classmates are at the front of various classrooms right now...
It is uncomfortable to think about.

I had another shark dream last night. A big 'un!
Maybe it was the swimming on Monday and the mention of Open Water.

Last weekend, I heard the same story from two former drinkers.
One said that last year he vomited up blood after a drinking binge.
He said it marked a point of change in his life.

My case manager hasn't called me yet to check if I am trying my hardest to get a job.
I am! I just applied to a really good looking job as Education Officer for the NZ Army museum.
Fingers crossing.

Maybe my left foot will never be 100%. I don't like such a confession.

Some of my old goals which I haven't been doing are coming back. I am clearing the backlog of Koorero Mai episodes I taped, reading many parts of the Bible, and re-reading history.

Did you know a 'New Zealander' was a Nazi SS agent?

Ah wheel.