In the cold, cold night

September 6, 2004 | Comments (3)

Aotearoa has been a bit frigid these days. We're currently under a spell of 'southerlies' ever since the big storm that nearly blew our roof off. Speaking of the roof, the insurance appraiser came by two days after the storm and said that they would cover the cost of replacing our roof!!! If that is in fact the case, which I'm still a bit dubious about, then what a blessing in disguise that would be.

Back to our current climate phenomenon. Southerlies are freezing cold winds that come roaring directly from Antarctica. Antarctica being our neighbor to the south which is known as the coldest, windiest, driest, most inhospitable place on Earth. A southerly reminds me of that biting cold that I remember from growing up on the east coast. It's still nowhere near the bitter, bitter cold of a February or March day in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, it's been highly unpleasant to be outside for any extended period of time.

Another fun factoid: southerlies can and do happen at anytime of year, including summertime.

How can we stand it, you say? Thanks to our blessed new house we have central heating. Central heating, by god! To most, that will sound as if I'm ecstatic that we have running water. Or that we have electricity. Sadly here in New Zealand central heating is an utterly foreign concept. To wit, a kiwi friend, who shall remain anonymous, once said to me "My parents have central heat. They have a heater in their lounge which is right in the center of their house" ...okay...hmmm...yeah...see...how do I explain this?

There was a newspaper article [download an OCR version of the article] not too long ago that covered this dirty kiwi secret. Here are some of the more damning quotes:

One flat averaged just two degrees celsius [35F] in winter, which means its occupants would have been warmer sleeping in their fridge.
In most Western countries, the average inside temperature is kept at about 20 degrees celsius. Here, the average bedroom temperature in winter is about 14C - two degrees below the World Health Organisation (WHO) minimum temperature of 16C.
"When the southerly goes through here it feels as cold as it did in the middle of winter in Canada."
"Heating really is a luxury in New Zealand, which seems wrong to me. Buying three bottles of wine is a luxury; having a warm house shouldn't be."

That last quote is the line that I've always gotten from kiwis about why there is no heating in New Zealand homes: It's a luxury. A Range Rover is a luxury, people. A plasma screen TV is a luxury. A fur sink is a luxury. Heat is a basic necessity of life.

However, I'm now beginning to understand. Our gas bill from last month was $500. Now that is a luxury! But it is WORTH it!!!! I absolutely cannot tolerate being freezing cold in my own home. We have friends here who are fully bundled up in their houses: hats, scarves, gloves, winter jackets, and long johns. Sitting in their living room and they're still shivering. Why do that to yourself? That is the definition of misery. If heating was common here then it wouldn't be so expensive.

No matter how little money we have I will not sacrifice being warm. It's such a happy feeling walking in the door, coming in from the cold to an embracing warmth. Before we moved in to this house, we would come in from the cold and it would feel like we'd left all the windows and doors open.

The good news is that the days are getting longer. The sun is hovering over our house for longer stretches, covering more of our garden. It's going to be so, so nice to have the sun back, to have sunny warm days and nights.

Is this #3?!?

August 18, 2004 | Comments (1)

Update: Our roof nearly blew off today. At the moment it's being held together with cinder blocks.

Blizzard knocks planes, trains, ferries out of action
18 August 2004

Severe storms, with winds gusting up to 180kph, continued to batter the lower North Island today bringing widespread misery to thousands of commuters.

Wellington and the Wairarapa bore the brunt of the wild weather with no planes, trains, or ferries operating out of the capital.

Cars also struggled in coastal areas as waves dumped seaweed and debris on roads. Further north heavy snow closed scores of roads cutting off some rural areas.

Slips closed the Paraparaumu and Johnsonville Transmetro lines into the city and flights and ferries out of the capital were cancelled.

The Wairarapa is also under siege with flood warnings in place on several rivers.

Sergeant Andre Kowalczyk of the police central communications centre said police and emergency services had been flat out answering calls overnight.

Many central and lower North Island roads had closed because of snow or slips and State Highway 1 just north of Porirua was down to one lane after a tree fell across it.

State Highway 2 between Wellington and the Hutt Valley was open but was dangerous as massive waves threatened the coast hugging road: "it's open but it's extreme," he said.

In Hutt suburb Eastbourne waves had dumped debris on the main road.

"Please keep your speed down, keep your lights on and take care," he asked motorists.

MetService forecaster Marie Grey said overnight Wellington was battered by winds up to nearly 180kph. She said part of Wellington airport had lost its roof – wind speeds recorded at the airport had averaged 87kph with gusts up to 115kph.

In Mt Kaukau [we live on Mt Kaukau] near the city the average was 133kph gusting up to 178kph. The average speed for wind on the Cook Strait was 130kph gusting up to 160kph.

The Wairarapa was being hit with winds average speeds of 100kph gusting up to 135kph and Wanganui was being hit with 85kph wind. Kaikoura was hit with winds of 80kph gusting up to 105kph.

Ms Grey said the winds were likely to continue with the same intensity for most of today not easing until the evening.

A "decent amount" of rain had fallen with 60mm recorded for the Wairarapa, 130mm for Orongorongo range, 110mm for the Wainui catchment – in the Hutt Valley.

Transit regional manager Brian Hassell told National Radio getting into Wellington was "pretty grim" for some commuters.

He said the Rimutaka Hill Rd was closed because of slips and high winds. There was some surface flooding in the Hutt Valley but roads were open.

"Waves are splashing on to the road as you come along to Ngauranga" – on SH2 between the Hutt and Wellington.

He said there had been several slips but these had been cleared.

"But really people still need to take great care and just travel if you really need to you."

Tranz Metro spokeswoman Helen Keyes said all train lines into Wellington were closed affecting about 12,000 commuters.

The Johnsonville and Paraparaumu lines were closed by slips and downed trees and power lines. Massive waves had swamped the Hutt line.

Ms Keyes said it would be some time for the Johnsonville and Paraparaumu lines to open as there was so much clearing to do and there was a possibility of more slips.

"There's really no way of knowing - it depends how fast they can work to clear the lines."

The Hutt line may be able to open after high tide later this morning.

Just before 9am, Air New Zealand said the number of cancelled flights had risen to 61, affecting at least 3000 passengers.

No flights were likely before 10.30am.

Part of the roof of the Koru Lounge at Wellington Airport had been blown off, partially flooding the interior, and a Boeing 737 parked on the tarmac overnight was being inspected for possible damage. A spokesman did not know if that was caused by debris from the building.

Meanwhile Toll spokesman Paul Monk said it was too early to say how many passenger were affected by ferry cancellations: "It will be hundreds of people that are affected today."

Two return Lynx sailing and two return Interisland Ferry sailings were suspended.

The Fire Service was called out to "hundreds" of incidents overnight with roofs blown off, fences down and other widespread damage.

The control room was too busy to take calls but at the City station Senior Station Officer Mark Chapman said the night had been frantic and calls had not let up.

"Everybody is out and working flat out. We're so busy at the moment we can't even change over to the day shift because the night shift crews are still out there."

Roads closed in the central and lower North Island included SH1 between Rangipo and Taihape, SH4 between Taumarunui and Raetihi, SH47 between National Park and Junction SH41 and SH47, Napier-Taihape Road.

Several roads in the Wairarapa were closed including in Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa. A Wairarapa District Council spokeswoman said the Huangaroa River had flooded over a bridge crossing it.

Wellington Regional Council has issued flood warnings for rivers in the eastern Wairarapa. They were the Tinui, Taueru, Wahngaehu and Huangaroa. A WRC spokeswoman said there no flood warnings for rivers sourced in the Tararuas. She said there was surface flooding in much of the region.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard McLean said there was "total transport chaos" around the region.

Motorists were being urged to stay off roads, particularly on the south coast because of waves and in the northern suburbs because of slips.

The road around the southern end of the airport was closed.

"There are huge waves coming across the road, bringing debris and seawater," he said.

"We are telling anyone who has to drive to use extreme care," he said. "Power lines are down, trees are coming down."

He had just had a report that a roof was coming off the large Placemakers store at Kaiwharawhara, just north of the city.

The harbourmaster's office said no problems had been reported with shipping, with most staying put. Staff were checking reports that boats had dragged their moorings in the Porirua area.

No shortage of drama

August 16, 2004 | Comments (1)


A little follow up on our run in with the stranger with candy. I rung up the police and asked what happened. The constable, as they call themselves, explained that he was not permitted to tell me whether the guy had a criminal record. "I wish I could", he added. Then he explained that a man fitting the same description as our stranger had been wanted in questioning related to an incident at a book store the same day. The incident in question regarded a man rubbing his groin into a little girl.

The stranger has not been arrested, although the case has been handed off to Child Youth Protection services, or some such bureaucracy. I was also told that he is local to Wellington and he is known to hang out in the neighborhood where Babi works. In fact, the stranger has come in to the shop where Babi works TWICE this past week. We're hoping that the next time he comes in she can snap a photo of him. Perhaps even get his name and address.

Now onto the drama from this weekend...

Friday evening I was completely exhausted. I was about to put Emory to bed and pass out for the night myself. Then there was a knock at our door.

It was our neighbor saying that somebody has dinged our car and we had better come take a look.

It turns out that it was a bit more than a ding. A woman had smashed head-on into our parked car. Our car that was parked on the opposite side of the road from her lane of traffic. As I came outside our neighbor was consoling the girl inside the car. She was still at the wheel, hysterical. I asked if she was okay, she said yes. I told her not to worry about our car, that we're just relieved nobody was hurt. She wasn't really concerned with our car. She was concerned that her license was going to get taken away, that her car was totaled, and...that there were people standing around looking on...she screamed and freaked out that they were mocking her.

I asked, "How old are you?". She mumbled something that sounded like thirteen. Ahhhh, that explains everything. Just to be sure, I repeated, "Thirteen?".


Oh. Okay. Hmmm...

I went inside to call the police. When I came out the girl was gone but her father was there. It turns out they live up the road from us. Hadley later explained to me that when the father came up to console the girl she went absolutely ballistic on her dad - cursing him out in a spitting fury and running home.

Then the dad told us that she's not well. She's on medication. She just got the car two weeks before and she's been doing so well with all her driving classes.

In the end, we dodged another bullet. If our car had to be in an accident, it's ideal that none of us were in it when it happened. We won't know how much damage has been done to the car until we take it in. Fortunately, our insurance is covering everything (except a loaner car). It sucks that it happened. But in the end, it is just a piece of metal. Again, it's very scary to consider what could have happened if this woman didn't hit a parked car but instead a car with people in it or even a person on the sidewalk for fuck's sake.


Now I'm almost more concerned about the pattern that's emerging. That's our second run in with a serious psycho in as many weeks. They say these things come in three's. You can imagine how much I'm looking forward to this upcoming weekend.

Strangers with candy. It happened. Today. To us.

August 8, 2004 | Comments (1)

Today we were out for a typical Saturday afternoon with the kids. We walked along Oriental Parade. Emory was riding his bike for the first time in a long while. Jasper was in awe of his big brother cruising at seemingly break neck speeds. We headed back towards mid city to get some coffee and do a few errands.

We were walking along the relatively bustling sidewalks of downtown Wellington, right past my office. Emory was trailing behind us, as he does. I turn to look where he was. I didn't see him.

Then Emory caught up to us and said, "A stranger just offered me lollies."

I was caught off guard, "What? Where?"

As I was turning around to look a hand reached down to Emory's face and put a candy bar under his chin, "Here...you want some lollies?"

I looked up at the person. At first glance he looked like maybe a homeless person or a drunk. But he was neither.

He had a look in his eyes that I will never forget. He was a predator. He had a victim locked in his sights.

Continue reading ... "Strangers with candy. It happened. Today. To us."

War stories.

June 23, 2004 | Comments (0)

castroThe gipper couldn't have died at a more perfect time. We've been watching an incredible documentary series produced by CNN simply titled Cold War. It's a set of 3 videotapes, in all 24 separate 1hr programs, detailing the ideological and military divisions between "east" and "west" aka capitalism and communism. It covers everything, from the history behind it, through the construction of the Berlin Wall, to Korea, the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, to Egypt and Israel and all the African turf wars, to Central and South America, to the Middle East, and we still have 3 more programs to watch. It is easily one of the most educational programs I've ever seen.

It's fascinating to watch CNN prop up the Reagan corpse as a freedom loving hero while their own documentary series is very unambiguous when describing the viscous brutality and terrorism (the CIA's own words to describe their operations) Reagan commissioned in order to depose the democratically elected leaders of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

The series also documents Reagan's funding and support of the Mujadin. You know, Osama Bin Laden et al.

There are fascinating interviews with all the players on both sides, world leaders and shadowy insiders that recount in detail the events behind the scenes and more importantly their thinking. One of the most interesting throughout is Fidel Castro, who is surprisingly central to the entire history and is interviewed extensively.

Watching it with my mother, who escaped from Czechoslovakia in 1968, enhanced it even more. She could recount her own experiences. Stories I remember from childhood and some new ones I'd never known. The Cold War and the evil of totalitarianism were common subjects at home growing up.

I always wondered how it was possible that people could let themselves be manipulated into believing absurd lies and have their lives controlled so rigidly by evil and malicious leaders. Now I look at what's happening in the US and it's become painfully clear how it happens. Nobody wants to believe that their ideology, their system, and their leaders can be so corrupt.

I seem to be subconsciously studying for a doctorate in geopolitical history because I've been so pre-occupied with the subject...

Reading The Conquerors.

Seeing The Fog of War.

Seeing Goodbye Lenin.

Seeing docos about Anzac Day, D-day, and Monte Cassino.

Watching the brilliant Band of Brothers series again.

And now I got Chomsky's latest book for my birthday, Hegemony or Survival.

Pedro was here.

May 20, 2004 | Comments (1)

Pedro was here. (see photos in the latest gallery) In his three months here he managed to hit most of the major attractions in NZ, all throughout the North and South Islands.

In particular he seemed drawn to NZ's thrill seeking opportunities: sky diving, white water rafting, bungee jumping, etc. Along with plenty of backpacking, swimming, swimming with dolphins, surfing, and other more relaxing endeavors.

He's got some great photos and he's blogging his 'round the world journey.

Peter got to see a lot more of NZ than we have, by far. On the other hand, we're not here to go touring. Especially with two babes in arms. And now a mortgage. Visiting us, Peter got to see how the other half live and I think it scared the holy terror out of him!

It's funny how polar opposite we are in that way. He's living the vida loca, untethered, doing what he wants when he wants. While I'm the settled down, responsible, suburban dad. My parents never dreamed it would turn out that way; quite the opposite.

For all the grief of having kids and a mortgage and having to work hard to keep up the middle class family lifestyle, I have to say that I really enjoy the company, aka the wife and kids. When I think back on my days of travel and adventure I was always searching for something deep and meaningful, spiritually rewarding. Now, I have to say, I have truly found what I was looking for. This adventure that I'm in right now, the pursuit of middle class happiness, the adventure of raising a family is deeper and more meaningful, and more spiritually rewarding than anything I've ever done. And I even find that at the moment, where I am in the world now, there is enough rich detail and exotic surroundings in my immediate day-to-day environment to keep me stimulated.

On some level I am definitely jealous of Peter's globe trotting adventures. Then when I think about all of the work involved in packing your whole life into a bag and carrying it around with you everywhere on your back, constantly having to adjust to a new situation, a new bed, a new bunch of people, always on the go...I'm exhausted and irritated just thinking about it. On a side note, I'm always perplexed at how the fuck rockstars deal with that shit? Their lifestyle would drive me utterly insane.

So happy trails to Pedro. I hope you finds what you're looking for.

Sandy Granzow (or why Google is the answer to everything)

March 19, 2004 | Comments (0)

Last night we were sitting around talking about the kids with Hadley and Babi (my mom, aka Helena). As we were talking I had a flashback to a childhood memory. I’ve been having this same flashback ever since Emory was born. It’s a memory from when I was a kid and we went to a family party. The party has been permanently etched into my brain as the prototypical definition of fun. The grown ups were all laughing and having a great time and there were loads of kids and we were all having fun running around playing games into the wee hours of the night.

As I was recounting this memory it suddenly struck me, the name of the woman who’s party it was: Sandy. Oh yeah, my mom said, Sandy…and the last name was on the tip of her tongue…Granzow! And we were both like Wow! Yes. That was it.

My mom wondered aloud, where is Sandy Granzow now. I immediately responded: Google her.

As I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed, my mom yelled out, “Do you know who Spikey Jones is?”

“Ahh…do you mean Spike Jonze?”

“Yes, Jonze with a ‘Z’. That’s Sandy Granzow’s son.

Pretty funny. It’s kinda like something straight out of a movie. Like a strange head trip of a movie.

Good Times

March 19, 2004 | Comments (0)

There's been so much fun stuff going on that I haven't had a moment to update the blog. This city really makes a major effort to keep the good times rolling all thru the summer, despite the weather. In fact, it's probably to spite the weather.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • My first Cricket match (rugby is massively superior to American football, but I think baseball has a slight edge over cricket)
  • Movies By Starlight (read my full review)
  • Cuba Street Carnival
  • NZ Festival of the Arts (we went to a great stand up comedy night, capped off with watching the Mayor get jiggy – not a pretty site)
  • Karoake at Case De Sara-Matt-Ed
  • Dragon Boat Races
  • Ngaio School Gala

On top of all that, Peter arrived in NZ for a visit. It was nice seeing him after two years, but his visit was a bit odd. The first thing that freaked me out was seeing him when he got off the plane. For some reason, seeing him in person was bizarre. Somehow it shocked me at how “grown up” he was. Who the hell is this person that's my size? And looks just like me?! I guess I was expecting him to be a little kid, like Emory. I think it's because I've been telling Emory so many stories about when Peter and I were little kids that I've crystallized an image of Peter as my “little brother”.

Plus, I tend to cross my wires when it comes to Peter and Emory. I think I really relate to Emory on many levels as a brother, more than a son. I think it triggers some of my old reflexes of being the older brother. Sometimes when I look at Emory I see a quick flashback of Peter. Once I even had a very lucid dream where I was disciplining Emory and then when I turned around it wasn't Emory anymore, it was Peter standing there with the same expression as Emory. Kinda like that Luke Skywalker – Darth Vader flashback thing. Trippie and very strange.

When Weather Goes Totally Ape Shit

February 18, 2004 | Comments (1)

The weather this past weekend has been an absolute shocker, even by New Zealand's epic standards (see photo gallery). Apparently, it's making international news. It was nasty. If what we experienced on Sunday night wasn't a hurricane then I really never want to know what a hurricane is like. It sounded and looked as if we were inside a giant car wash that had gone ape shit. Trees were bending sideways, gusts pelted rain against the windows like shrapnel, and the wind howled so loud that at some points we had to shout in each other's ears - inside the house.

While we're licking our wounds over the damage the storm did to our house - there were some leaks to the house (that we bought just three weeks before the worst storm in 100 years) - we have to count our blessings that we got off quite easy compared to many all over the country (ie, the poor owner's of the house below).

Not that it's over yet. There's more to come tomorrow. Hopefully, this will all go away before Sunday, when Peter gets here!!! I wonder how Fiji has been for him?!?

Real. Nice. Time.

February 9, 2004 | Comments (0)

The Baroda Street Experience has been really, truly wonderful (see the latest photos). A dream come true on so many levels. From the first night in the new house we felt right at home. It was almost like coming back to somewhere we've lived before. And the neighborhood is absolutely ideal. There's an outdoor pool at the park, just a block away. The primary school that Emory will attend when he turns 5 is two blocks away and it's on a stunning 'campus' in the middle of the bush with harbor views and tree houses and playgrounds galore. And for my morning commute I take the old metro train to work (and I do mean old, not so much cute old, more like 3rd world old - but I love it). Conveniently, the station is just a block away. Not to mention that we're surrounded by lush bush and there's a brook running through the neighborhood, coming down from Mt Kaukau.

The house is not entirely without some minor problems. We knew there were some issues with leaks. Before we even moved in there was a torrential storm that soaked one of the rooms. Nothing monumental, but it's something that has to be fixed and it won't be free, like it used to be when we were renting. All around the house there are 'little' projects on our list. Most of them 'it would make this room look so much better' fun projects.

This weekend was Waitangi Day. Similar, perhaps, in national relevance to July 4th in the US, but quite a different occasion. Instead of a celebration of national unity, it's an annual opening and festering of old wounds, revolving around alleged indigenous rights. Most people choose to enjoy the stat holiday and have fun instead of beating the dead horse. We certainly did.

I went to the Sevens Rugby with my mates and had heaps of fun (see the photos). I have to admit, the game is way more interesting to watch on TV - and it was an amazing series of games, all 20-back-to-back-hours of it! But the spectacle at the stadium is entertaining on so many other levels. The vibe is just plain fun. Everyone just whoops it up and gets goofy as. Including me. I did some things that I think aired on national TV that I hope will never come back to haunt me.

The Sevens is coming to the US in LA for the first time ever this weekend. You've got to see it (airing on FOX Sports). It's a truly fantastic sport. It makes wussy ass American football look like the patsy commercial pro-wrestling-esque sham that it is.

Speaking of good sporting fun, the Kiwis just won the World Softball Championship for the third time in a row this weekend. Shutting out the US team 9-0 in a playoff game with a mercy-rule 5 innings. Who knew?

To top the weekend off, we went to Whopper Chopper. This is an annual event around Wellington that just went national this year. It's a free festival of music, food, kids activities, sun and beach fun (see the photos). I tell you, the kiwis know how to have a real nice time. Emphasis on the real. And the nice.

Last weekend proves my point yet again. We went to the free summer concerts in the Botanic Garden (see the photos). Emory ran around chasing girls and while we enjoyed a picnic dinner of fish and chips in the warm summer evening. Does it get any better than that?

Dec Xmas NYE 2003

January 6, 2004 | Comments (0)

It has been exceptionally fine Xmas-NYE holiday weather here in Wellington. We've been enjoying hanging out, gardening at the new house (we still haven't moved in yet - Jan 30 is the move-in date).

Here's some pix from the past month...

Late Dec 2003

Dec Xmas NYE 2003


December 19, 2003 | Comments (2)


Barring any major last minute unexpected legal or financial snags, the house at number 10 Baroda Street, Khandallah (pronounced: kin - dahl - ah), Wellington, New Zealand is now ours!! There's still plenty of paper work and details to iron out, like finalizing the mortgage deal (fixed interest rate for how long? with a portion floating rate?) and sorting out all the necessary insurance (life, loss of income, home owners).

However, this afternoon we handed over one of the big checks. It was half of the deposit money. The agent we're buying from gave us a nice bottle of expensive Champagne, in return. The other half we'll hand over when the wire transfer arrives. And the big fat the-house-is-now-really-yours-here-are-the-keys check will be handed over on January 30, 2004 - our move-in date. Of course, there's heaps of "little" incidental costs that are piling up, as they do. And it turns out we're breaking our lease on the house we're in now, so we have to find new tenants, more drama, twists and turns.

Nevertheless, it is a really good feeling to have finally done this. It's a major milestone in our adulthood, something we've been working towards for about five years. The funny thing is that it hasn't seemed as gut wrenching as other major purchases in my life, like buying a car or buying various computer systems. For some reason, this has been remarkably easy and smooth, especially considering the magnitude of the transaction. Despite all my carry-on about the twists and turns, I feel quite comfortable with the way this has all happened. We've been working with some really great people, especially our mortgage broker, who has really made it all possible. He's gone a long way to making the whole process feel right. This whole experience has once again proven why I have a lot of trust in Kiwis - I never really felt like we were getting ripped off or scammed or manipulated. Everyone seemed to be very level, honest, and sincerely helpful.

No doubt, it's still nerve wracking. I don't think there's any way it couldn't be. It did happen all of a sudden, in a very short span of time from causally house hunting to buying, but we really have been preparing for this for a long time. It just feels like it's the right thing to do at the right time in the right place. It feels just like we're going with the flow, as it should be.

Today I had a life altering day, as you do

December 13, 2003 | Comments (4)

Today has been a doozie. To start things off, at 8:30am, I went to the Wellington Family Planning clinic to have a little procedure done. As parents, Hadley and I feel quite content with two children, whom we love passionately and adore to no end. But that's plenty of kids, no more, thank you very much. You might say it's a birthday present for Hadley or an Xmas present for the whole family. Today I had the most (psychologically) sensitive portion of my anatomy (outside of my brain) permanently altered, in order to prevent any further reproduction.

It was not a big deal. It was something I had always planned on doing after having kids. My friends had it done and I was assured that it's absolutely trivial. There were definitely moments of discomfort and some minor pain, but as people have told me, it's nothing worse than a normal dental exam.

I was given some meds to relax things, as it were. Plus, some local anesthetic (that was one of the least fun parts). All during the procedure I was chatting away with the ladies performing the operation.

In the middle of everything my cell phone rang. The nurse offered to get my phone and pass it over, but I decided it would be best not to take a call under such circumstances. Even though it was almost certainly Hadley calling.

It is a very, very, very good thing I did not take the call. After the procedure was done, while I was still on the operating table, I listened to my voice mail. As it turns out, it was a real estate agent calling. She was calling to say that a house we were interested in buying had suddenly become available and I needed to call her back immediately. So I did. Right then and there.

baroda-front.jpgIf we wanted the house we would need to put in an offer that day. I asked the doctor if I would be able to go house hunting under my present condition. She said it would be okay, but that she recommend bed rest and an ice pack instead.

It was unfortunate, but while we were in the recovery room I was wheeling and dealing over the cell phone, in that loud, obnoxious voice people use when talking into a cell phone. The shame.

baroda-indoor-outdoor.jpgThe whole day has been a blur of cell phone calls to real estate agents, mortgage brokers, building inspectors, etc etc. And when I wasn't trying to heal myself with a pack of peas, I was wobbling in and around our potential house to be, discussing points of concern with the building inspector.

There was a major concern with the house: it had a 'renovated' basement that accounted for 2 of the 4 bedrooms. The problem was that basement rooms were very damp, cold and smelled horribly musty. We were really concerned with it and felt like it was a deal breaker.

baroda-deck.jpgWe remembered that we have a nice neighbor who is a master builder. Norbert, our neighbor, the master builder, is a 6.5 foot tall heavily accented German who plays flute in the New Zealand National Symphony and is rather well known around Wellington as the guy who rollerblades to work. He was happy to come inspect the house with us. Before we went to see it, we told him about our concerns and he shared our doubts. In fact, he felt like it's a major concern and from the sounds of it we should definitely not buy the house.

To make one final check, we went with Norbert to the house. The agent was waiting for us. And, of course, she immediately recognized and knew Norbert, Wellington being the small town that it is and Norbert being that character that he is. Norbert went around the house and looked it over extremely thoroughly and really knew what to look for and exactly what had been done to the house and what needed to be done.

In the end, he said it's a very good house and the problems were all relatively minor and fixable.

That stamp of approval was what we needed to make an offer, which was accepted a few short hours later. Here are a few photos of the house.

Mind you, at the start of the day I knew I was going to be changing my life forever, but I had no intention or expectation of changing it so much, in such a short time.

It has indeed been a life altering day.

And as if that weren't enough, today my mom was running around like mad, making last minute arrangements to file her papers to get a work visa or face leaving the country.

Oh yeah, and there was the fascinating coincidence that today Hadley got an email from Sarah Jessica Parker about the clothes she got for her son from shescrafty.

What a surreal day, in all of the best ways.

Emory hits a fever of 103 107º just in time for Hadley's birthday

December 10, 2003 | Comments (0)

We had a bit of scare this week with Em being sick. It was terrible. For a few days he was having bad poo (kid friendly terms please), but nothing unusual or alarming. Then all of a sudden he came down with a fever. Again, nothing alarming. The fever started on a Saturday morning and we began administering meds immediately. Then on Monday night his fever hit 103F (39.5c). Em has been 103 before. It's not pretty. He's burning hot, quivering like mad and he gets delirious - babbling and screaming, having terrible nightmares. Tuesday night he hit 107F (41.7c) with vomiting and horrible diarrhea. That was terrifying.

We had already taken him to the doctor Monday morning. Doctor Claire gave us some Ibuprofen and she suspected a virus that would go away in a day or so. When he hit 107 nothing was bringing his fever down. And I was really beside myself. We took him into the after hours clinic, where some dick head of a doctor (fortunately a rare exception in our experience) noticed that Em was getting tonsillitis - which is a secondary infection - the real cause is still unknown.

I decided to take the following day off from work to help out and take care of Em. It so happened that was Hadley's 33rd birthday!! Yay for her. It was nice that I could help take the load off her and watch Emory. I also did some special cooking. Breakfast burritos in the morning with a new subscription to the Dominion Post addressed to Hadley coming to our door every morning. And that night I made some mean ass Fish Tacos that were sooooo yummy. Many thanks to the ever dependable Kevin for the fish recipe.

It would have been nice if Em could have gotten better on her birthday. But he didn't. He had terrible diarrhea for the next FOUR nights, with the high fever of course. It's only now on Wednesday, 10 days later that he's nearly recovered.

As my dad wrote to me, there is a positive spin..."as you may know yourself, some of people's best childhood memories are of the times when they were sick at home." Which is so oddly true. In fact, I definitely feel like Em and I had a really amazing time, bonding in ways that will last forever. I'm just so happy that we're on the other side of it now.

LOTR Day in Wellington

December 2, 2003 | Comments (0)


I got some crappy shots of the big LOTR parade. Fortunately some work mates used a real camera to get some better shots. The strangest moment was the scary jumbo jet fly-over which personally gave me disturbing flashbacks to 911. Other than that it was a blast. Good simple fun. And best of all it was an absolutely stunningly beautiful day (and weekend, in fact).

Also, there's a great shot of the beast thing attacking from the Embassy theater over at pixietwin.com (from a fave FOAF kiwi blogger).

Lord of the Rings 'mania'

November 28, 2003 | Comments (1)

Like I've said before, I don't like Lord of the Rings. Maybe a wee bit, but for the most part it's trash.

Come Monday, Dec 1, the world premiere of the final LOTR film will be held here in little old Wellington, New Zealand. The mania is going into high gear. The city is abuzz. And it's hilarious to watch.

Everyday the paper is full of reports about the stars landing at Wellington Airport, getting their comments about Wellington. Pity the weather is typical Welly shite - cold, rainy and windy. I'm sure the actors are loving their return.

Front page stories include such remarkable news gems as...

freekee_frodo.jpg"The American actor [Viggo Mortensen] walked into clothing shop Lifestyle Sports, on Willis and Mercer streets on Sunday to buy two casual shirts."

I work right next door to Lifestyle Sports. Let me tell you, glamorous doesn't begin to describe the posh and exclusive and news worthy rugby shirts, tracks suits, and sneakers you can acquire. Saying he bought two casual shirts at Lifestyle Sports is like saying he bought two casual chicken nuggets at the fish and chips shop, and printing that as front page news.

Nothing says backwater like the quaint hysteria surrounding this premiere. It's a great thing. It's fun. It is a big deal. And it so cute and funny how this town is reacting.

For my part, we just finished our LOTR promo for NewZealand.com. And you're getting an exclusive world premiere look at it, right here on turntable.typepad.com. This promo site is not live yet (as of this writing) so bask in the glory of your exclusivity.


Some recent project work

November 1, 2003 | Comments (0)

After my paternity leave, I returned to Shift to find myself playing furious catch-up on a truck load of work.

There have been a number of projects that launched recently that I thought are worth mentioning.

I did a wee "homepage facelift" for the NZ Department of Conservation. Keep in mind, it was a facelift to the homepage only. You can compare it to this screengrab of the old homepage.

The design is 100% pure CSS, with a Flash/XML based slideshow. The butterfly uses a bit of CSS voodoo to display a tool tip box on rollover.

Continue reading ... "Some recent project work"

America not doing it for you any more?

November 1, 2003 | Comments (1)

As if on queue (considering the recent LA Times article), a few weeks ago I got an email from a stranger living in LA who is interested in moving to New Zealand. He asked a bunch of really good questions, so I thought I'd post up my response to him.

Continue reading ... "America not doing it for you any more?"

The Force Is Strong With This One

October 3, 2003 | Comments (0)

Last year, when Emory was 2 1/2 years old he did something so incredibly thoughtful for me. It was father's day and Hadley took him to the $2 Shop to get me a gift. He chose a back scratcher because he remembered that I had one in California. How he remembered that and the fact that he was able to make that connection still impresses me. The back scratcher really makes me happy, almost every day. I am so grateful that he thought of it, and thought of me.

Tomorrow is his birthday party (his birthday is the 9th). There are some presents I bought for him before he was even born. I got two special Lego sets: a Stars Wars X-Wing and a Tie Fighter. He loves Lego, he loves Buzz Lightyear (a Star Wars knockoff) and he even loves Star Wars.

I hope he likes the Lego as much as I love my back scratcher.

Master Jasper

October 2, 2003 | Comments (0)

My nesting time with the family is almost over. It's been really wonderful and I'm sad that it's ending so quickly. I took three weeks off from work to dedicate to delivering and then getting to know the new baby Jasper. I've also been spending heaps of time with Emory and pitching in to help run this crazy production we call family.

Master Jasper has been remarkably sedate. He's taking his sweet old time, snoozing through the days AND nights. And you know that's more than fine by us!! Emory absolutely adores him and Jasper is quite noticeably alert and enthralled when Emory is near by. Emory wants to help out with the baby, but having a 4 year old's help is like having a crack addict help you do calligraphy.

I've been feeling a little guilty during my paternal leave, having brief panic attacks about the work that needs to be done at Shift. But honestly, that feeling instantly evaporates when I think about the quality time I'm spending with the family. It truly is priceless.

The best thing about my time at home since Jasper was born is the opportunity to do the simple things and not worry about much else. Truly live in the moment and enjoy it. No worries about the future or the past. Whatever is happening at the moment is fine and interesting and all that is important. Spending time playing with Emory. Tidying things around the house. Being the chauffeur. Getting the groceries. It's so gratifying because it's so easy and I'm spending time with people I love.

Granted, at times it has been difficult to be content 'as is'. Since I've had 'so much time' at home I started noticing numerous little things around the house that are annoying. Squeeky doors, loose nobs, things left out that should be put away. Aww shit...that's all Dad stuff. Bugger. Oh yeah, and I've noticed a LOT more gray hairs on my head and in my goatee!

One of the highlights this week was going on my first bike ride in 2 years!! I can't believe it's been that long. It was fantastic. I used to ride my bike much more often and I'm hoping to finally do a LOT more riding this year. Which would be really nice considering all the 'sympathy pregnancy' weight I put on.

As a side note: you might not have noticed, but I've been updating the photo galleries (currently linked from the right column) quite regularly.

Jasper Leo Fierlinger - Native Kiwi

September 16, 2003 | Comments (3)

Jasper Leo Fierlinger is in the house!

He was born last night September 15th (NZT) at 11:10pm. We had the most amazing delivery of the 8.5 pound little guy and he is totally beautiful and healthy. Everything went well so we were able to come straight home 2 hours after delivery, at 1am! The midwife was a saint and the delivery was painless and smooth, it all happened in 10 minutes!

Hadley had a pretty horrible labor over the past few days before going into the hospital for an epidural and some help from medical science. We discovered Hadley has cervical scar tissue from a procedure she had done 12 years ago and it makes it very hard for her cervix to dialate. The same thing happened during labor with Emory - contraction after contraction but no results. Once the epidural was in everything went gangbusters because Hadley's muscles and body could relax. We got to the hospital at 6:30pm - epidural at 8pm - baby at 11pm.

This boy is all Burns not a lot of Fierlinger! Hadley is very proud to be "representin"!

Emory is super proud and is making sure little "Jaspie" is looked after properly. He is off to kindy now to tell all his peers the news.

We are all doing great and trying to get some rest since we were up for the last 3 nights.

Some more nice pix are up here...with many more to come.

Our fond thanks to everybody for all the warm wishes and support!! We really appreciate it.

In the hospital

September 14, 2003 | Comments (5)

Hadley had contractions during the night. But fortunately we were able to get sleep. We just came to the hospital to have the midwife to do an exam. Everything is looking very good! Will def be within next 24hours. Or it could be another 3-5 days! Sent via mobile

the big moment

September 13, 2003 | Comments (5)

Hadley's water just broke. Check my blog turntable.typepad.com for updates Sent via mobile

No worries, mate

September 9, 2003 | Comments (0)

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness is a fascinating article about our inability as humans to predict what will make us happy (and unhappy). Research shows that we tend to greatly overestimate the impact of changes in our life, whether those changes are perceived to be positive or negative. In fact, we always adapt. Our system is always working to regulate us to be in a middle ground.

I think that's one big lesson that I learned in MA (marijuana anonymous). It was a little confusing at first in MA meetings when people would fondly describe how their lives have become more even: their lows weren't so low, and their highs weren't so high. I thought, cool your lows aren't so low, but don't you still want your highs to be high? Isn't life boring if it's all even? The lesson for me was that life is never really boring. There's always drama, there's always challenges, there's always changes to adapt to. The important lesson is that you can handle anything as long as "you are present". If you avoid reality with drugs (and other distractions) then you will always be struggling, battling to avoid reality, desperately trying to avoid the lows and chase the highs. But if you face reality, it's not as bad as you fear. The flip side is that it's also not as good as you hope.

And perhaps the fundamental lesson is to be grateful for what you've got, here and now. These hopes and fears of the future don't really help us. They might occupy our minds and our time, but they don't actually help us to be happier people.

The zen approach is to accept things as they are, work with what you've got, and make the most of the present. Because that's all you've got.

The Name Game

August 28, 2003 | Comments (16)

With Emory, we knew his name within the first week that Hadley was pregnant. We were calling him by name while he was still in the belly.

With #2 we're still up in the air and it's driving us mental.

Keep in mind the last name that we have to grapple with: Fierlinger (Fear'lin'ger).

Jasper was an early choice, when we knew it was a boy. It's gone in and out favor over time (actually quite like the name Emory did).

If it's born today, it's Jasper. Our other choices were...

Philip's picks...


Hadley's picks...


Other possibilities we've considered...



August 13, 2003 | Comments (5)

Apparently Hadley's sweaters and website were featured on VH1's 'Hot Mamas' show last night! We don't have VH1 down here, so please if you would be able to record the show and send us a Quicktime file.

It's amazing to see Hadley's success. She started the business for fun, to have something she enjoyed doing in addition to being a fulltime mom. She deliberately chose to do something that she believes in, something that is useful and beautiful, but also contributes in some way to the community. Now it's snowballing, taking on a life of its own, almost in spite of Hadley. With only a few weeks before the baby is due she was hoping this would be a time when things would be quieting down for Shescrafty.

This is one of those case study examples of 'do something you love and the rest will follow'. I'm extremely proud of her for doing just that. She had a very clear vision and she followed her instincts. She executed it perfectly. She followed through and she didn't give up even when she wanted to. Now it's just growing on that momentum. It's really inspiring to witness someone who knows what they want and they make it happen.

TUANZ Blog Preso

August 7, 2003 | Comments (0)

For those of you who attended the TUANZ forum in Wellington and Auckland (and those who didn't) here is a link to my presentation and a link to the notes I blogged during the other presentations.

I hope you enjoyed it. I did. I would love to get your feedback. Please tell me what you think I should have covered or if I covered something too much.

Also, if you have a blog or if you start a blog, let me know.

Any Day Now

August 3, 2003 | Comments (0)

talking to the babyWe're getting close to the due date. Hadley is beginning to feel the drain in a big way. The exhaustion, the fatigue, the immobility. We all know what's about to happen, yet we have no idea.

Tonight I started explaining to Emory what's about to happen. I told him that the baby "is starting to wiggle his way out", just like Emory did when he was in mommy's tummy. It's amazing explaining these concepts to a 4 year old. I'm still so perplexed and dumbfounded by the idea myself.

And I'm so, so, so glad that we waited until Emory was this age. I just love being able to talk to him and know that to a large extent he understands. I love that he's involved, that this is not happening to him, it's happening with him. He is really looking forward to it and he will get so much out of it. And I think this baby will to.

America is a religion - God help us

August 1, 2003 | Comments (0)

One of the fundamental contradictions of growing up in America that I found so difficult to understand was the alleged separation of church and state.

This article in the Guardian 'America is a religion' reminded me of that palpable tension and how religious fundamentalism is such a core part of life in America.

It is quite noticeable that the zealotry that's so dominant in the American landscape is not a major force here in New Zealand. Maybe it's because most people are Anglo Christians, so there's nobody to convert and preach to, everyone is already on the same page (but we all know that will never stop a preacher from preaching).

I think that the big difference is that Kiwis don't so much talk about the separation of church and state. They live it.

Friendster vs Blogger

July 27, 2003 | Comments (0)

In reply to my recent post about Friendster Wayne commented...


What is a more open, honest way to connect with people online? A blog?


Let me be cynical for a brief moment and say that when most people write about themselves [in a blog], there is a thick layer of bullshit. They are presenting who they want to present. It's safe.


You can read my full comments, posted after Wayne's.

I absolutely do believe that blogging has substantially raised the quality and standard for connecting with people online.

Blogs and bloggers do raise genuine questions, many do earnestly challenge conventional thinking. I think blogging does require soul searching. I think that meaningful connections and important ideas are occurring on a monumental proportion, like never before, directly as a result of blogging.

Mobile motion sickness

July 26, 2003 | Comments (0)

I don't know how so many people do it. On the bus everyday there's a handful of people staring down at their mobiles thumbing in text. Whenever I try to text on the bus I go green and need to start taking deep breaths to prevent hurling all over the people in the seats in front of me.

I even experience it trying to text and walk down the street. I have considered whether it's an age thing, but my whole life I've always been susceptible to car sickness when I try and read in a car.

Regardless, I think I'll just leave the thumbing in motion to the kids.

Can't we just be friendsters?

July 26, 2003 | Comments (3)

Kevin wrote:
> what the hell is this? a swinger's club?

Continue reading ... "Can't we just be friendsters?"

Digital pocket devices: the long view?

July 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

Erik poses a question: in 5 years will we all have pocket devices that are more powerful and more useful than any desktop computer is today? I think the answer is fairly well confirmed in Smartmobs.

My response: I absolutely believe that in 5+ years a good proportion of the digerati - ie, people now blogging - will carry a single pocket device with them that is their communicator, their electronic identity, their electronic bank and payment processor, their digital content and preferences container - in short, their primary INTERFACE and connection to everything that they do and know in the world.

Having said that, it does remind me of the overly opptimistic projections we had at General Magic. It was over 10 years ago that I developed a design for a device that was supposed to be General Magic's 3rd gen device - 5 years out. Smart phones (or Media Phones as I called it way back when) are only NOW starting to show up on the market, 10 years later.

My concept design from 1992...

The real thing circa 2002...

Amazon web services to add payment API

July 21, 2003 | Comments (10)

Big news: Amazon is adding payment processing thru their web services. It's not just for letting users buy Amazon products directly off anybody's website - which is big in and of itself - it's for buying and selling anything. Which means it will be a serious alternative to Pay Pal. Whoo hoo - major competition against Pay Pal!

Dash's coverage

CNET's coverage

Smoking really does make you look hip and sexy

July 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

Why couldn't that geezer in Santa Monica have mowed down a group like this?

I marvel at this phenomenon. This and the cancer lounge at airports. And to think that once upon a time people were permitted to smoke on airplanes.

beyond blogs

July 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

Beyond blogs

Also, Boxes and Arrows was done in MT.

3 going on 12

July 18, 2003 | Comments (0)

The other day we watched some home videos of Emory. It was amazing to see how much he's grown over the past year. The most interesting thing was to see how adorable he was and how sweet his voice sounded at 2.

We knew he was cute at the time, but seeing it really gave me an appreciation of how young and little and really cute he is now. We already think of him as a big kid. He pretty much says and does anything that needs to be done or said. He can articulate himself very well, so it seems like he's practically 'full grown'. I sometimes imagine him as an 8 year old or even a 12 year old.

For the first time in a long while, after watching those tapes, I saw him as a little 3 year old.

blogging works

July 18, 2003 | Comments (0)

My favorite bloggers SVN have just announced a new service called Blogging Works. The service is a workshop series to teach corporates (and others) how blogging can help them.

They link to a good starter article on blogging done by Macworld.

Also, links to Coudal designed corporate/consumer sites that use a blog interface and engine...

United Center

The United Center's staff uses the Weblog to post links to ticket information and update the site instantly when an event has sold out or a parking lot is being repaved.

Fox Sports New England

For Fox Sports New England we found a voice to speak to Red Sox fans all summer long. After searching for ways to build traffic during the summer, Coudal Partners made a deal with Edward Cossette, author of Bambino's Curse, a well-respected and well-read diary of a Red Sox Fan. Edward's blog appears on the Fox site during the baseball season, giving fans a reason to visit daily and giving Edward a great deal of exposure and promotion. Businesses that can harness the passion of their customers by providing them specific insights can build meaningful relationships through

Also, this article on Adapting Blog Technologies to Corporate e-Newsletters

"Often, when information goes through a formal marketing or PR process, the end result is an attractive, expensive, stale, diluted document written in corporate speak...The edge, the authenticity, and the voice of the professional speaking to his fellow professionals is lost.

"Blogs offer the human voice that can be loud, controversial, and even wacky...the realness of the blog inspires trust and piques people's curiosity."

i knew ani when

July 14, 2003 | Comments (0)

It's funny when somebody you know, in a collegial way, gets 'famous'. In this case, I'm talking famous in the rockstar designer sense. Ani Phyo was a sweetheart that used to bop into the Turntable studio every so often. She seemed to be enamored with the glamour of web design, especially since we were doing rockstar websites and CD ROMs at the time.

It's good to see her succeeding. But I'm very dubious about these books. Especially after reading this interview. It's a bit of a cringe, especially this quote

Recommended sites?
Besides the one you are reading right now? Not really. No sites are ever perfectly executed. They are limited by the boundaries of time, budget, and quality. Being a designer, I am always hyper critical of everything I see. Even my site could be improved.

peak meter

July 14, 2003 | Comments (0)

According to this article [via erik benson] I should be peaking now - except that I'm already married with children. Therefore, according to the theory I should be past my peak and concerned more with my kin folk.

I guess it's true. However, I do have quite a spark in me, still. One prime motivating factor is wanting to live a comfortable life with a few toys. And my definition of a comfortable life means supporting a growing family (nice warm house in a good location) and working towards the ever illusive 'financial independence'.

I guess my ambition to do what I want when I want is enough of a motivating factor to keep me chasing the dragon.

ED NOTE: another article citing NZ research.

IDEO method cards

July 14, 2003 | Comments (0)

These IDEO method cards remind me of the infamous Brian Eno Exquisite Corpse cards Shockwave movie that I can't seem to find anymore. It's a nice idea, but I wonder if I'd actually use it. [via freegorifero]

taste data

July 13, 2003 | Comments (0)

taste data another suggestion of a taste schema [via fecho]


July 13, 2003 | Comments (0)

zempt is a 'standalone' app for managing blogs. if your blog is a content manager and zempt is a blog manager, is that a bit much? [via kdlb]

i believe - power of the blog people

July 9, 2003 | Comments (0)

the sixth estate [via smartmobs]

The emerging sixth estate is worldwide and at present has about 3 million people participating. The sixth estate has power to modify core content in search engines, incluence formation of opinion, publicize the plight of individuals, and be critical of governmental and other power centers. While one blogger can be closed down, it would be indeed difficult to close down the blogosphere. And because of the way the ecosystem works, if a single blogger was closed down, the blogosphere would take up the story, particularly if the action was taken by a government to the detriment of an individual.

moblogging via type pad

July 9, 2003 | Comments (0)

had a problem where sending email via my phone got bounced back via the address displayed in my mobile settings.

which leads to a usability question/issue...

those custom email addresses are gnarly and typing them into the phone is destined to cause common 'typo' errors

maybe if typepad emailed your phone?

also, i wasn't even aware that there was a custom moblogging address when i first created the mobile settings. it didn't seem to be obvious that was how it worked and I would expect that in my photo albums there might be some indication of how to moblog or a link to the moblog settings.

another must read from chris

July 9, 2003 | Comments (0)


note self - read this... (plus oh yeah usability thing)

July 8, 2003 | Comments (0)


- oh yeah - on the Mac Typepad doesn't have that wyswig editor UI - and anyway I just want URLs to be linked automatically (like the pref I have for comments) - and I want a preference that I can set that says all URLs open in a new blank window

- oh yeah - and I instinctively keeping hitting Command-S to save my writing, ala email messages, cuz with these olde macs you know how they crash when you sneeze

type pad usability thinking out loud

July 8, 2003 | Comments (0)

- does it make sense that after you save a new entry it takes you back to that entry page - it makes me think I didn't save it right or that I'm supposed to something else to make it work - the workflow doesn't feel right

- there was something else fresh in my head and I can't remember what it was

type pad hacks

July 8, 2003 | Comments (0)

Just taking guesses based on my weblogging habits, I came across these interesting finds...







...and I'm sure there's plenty more to be found.

damn, type pad rawks !!

July 8, 2003 | Comments (1)

This is an amazingly well designed service. It'll be very interesting what Google and AOL come out with. And Microsoft, of course. I predict Outlook will have a blog engine built in with the Longhorn release.

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