The rise and thousands of falls of Auckland’s Lime scooters

This now-familiar site is a thing of the past: for safety reasons and I think sheer corporate arrogance, Lime has been banished from Auckland’s streets. We have three or four other scooter choices now.

Lime was first to market, and what a market it is… the dratted things are everywhere. Still kinda fun to ride, but I haven’t made my peace with how it’s all supposed to work on already dangerous streets and crowded footpaths.

Black Friday

People lined up for Black Friday deals last week outside a store that sells caps and jerseys from US teams.

People have all heard about Thanksgiving here but nobody really knows about the details of going shopping on Friday. Nonetheless Black Friday has become firmly established, which is just wrong.

Down the garden path

We bought this archway so the jasmine would have a place to grow. It’s already blown over once in a windstorm this week, but once we get it weighted down a bit better it will be great.

No. No. No.

I’ve never owned a classic car, or even a project car other my largely unsuccessful time with an old VW bus. And for all sorts of really important and valid reasons, it’s almost certain I never will.

But that does not stop the persistent flutter of excitement that walking by this driveway has evoked in me these past few days.

Walkin’ it

We went on a couple of nice walks this weekend.

On Saturday we hiked up Mt St John, which is a lovely hill / park nearby.

The next day we wandered down to the waterfront and climbed this massive staircase that was just rebuilt after a landslip. That is Lee’s “They better serve wine in this treehouse.” face.

But we made it!

Arts and Crafts

Lee has been doing a bunch of artsy projects lately. Here’s the newest. She took this hall table we picked up online, painted it, then applied the two old prints, found somewhat damaged at an op shop, using trusty Mod Podge.

The prints themselves are interesting in their own right. The top one is a picture of the famous Pink and White Terraces, New Zealand’s most famous attraction in the late 19th century… until they were destroyed and/or submerged in 1889 by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera. It was painted by John Barr Clark Hoyte, who was a prolific artist and is much collected these days. We just learned about the Terraces recently after Lee stopped to chat with a utility box artist doing a more surreal interpretation of them…

On the lower level is a picture of Mt. Tongariro by Charles Decimus Barraud. He was “an enthusiastic amateur ” according to the biographer. Peter Jackson made good use of Tongariro in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Hamil-tron

I spent much of last week at a conference in Hamilton, about 2hrs southeast of Auckland. I gave my talk on the first day, and other people were responsible for the exhibit booth, both of which lowered my stress level for the rest of the trip.

Hamilton is the capital of the Waikato region, and has a pretty poor reputation… agriculture, rednecks (called “bogans” here), etc. If NZ were big enough to have flyover states, Hamilton would be a place you scoff at from your business class seat.

But like many such places, there are plenty of good parts. The Waikato River is nice, well-stocked with rowers and paddlers, and bordered by a miles-long bike trail.

The downtown strip is mostly unattractive but they do love them some Christmas, so that’s all right.

And…and… and… it turns out Richard O’Brien thought up the Rocky Horror Picture Show while working as a barber here. Any town with a life size Riff-Raff statue cannot be all bad. And a Riff-Raff webcam.

I took a lovely little jog around Lake Rotoroa, and my knees didn’t hurt any more at the end than at the beginning, which is an improvement over the last few weeks.

We got a nice welcoming song and dance routine from the local Iwi. I blow hot and cold about the hat-tip to Māori culture that is sort of obligatory here, no matter how white the assembled audience. This time, I found it moving and inspiring. And on the subject of inspiring, if you ever want to be reminded why healthcare technology might be a career worth pursuing, check out Terry Lee, whose life is made more bearable by all the gadgets and gizmos and high-tech stuff.

The big conference social event was at Hobbiton. I initially had mixed feelings: my third visit in under three years. But this was the first time I’d been there without rain, and we had the whole place to ourselves, an amazing buffet dinner, and so on. As we stood around the fire pit watching the jugglers and listening to the band, all doubts were erased.

It was my third time at this conference, and a pleasure to catch up with some old friends (and tell stories about others not in attendance) and some New Zealand friends who are starting to feel like old friends. I can’t say I miss the level of travel I used to do, but it was fun to be back in conference mode for a few days.

Red, sure. But also pink and yellow and purple and white and…

This past weekend was the annual Parnell Rose Festival. Although this is our third year living just up the street, we hadn’t made it to the festival before. One detail I’d never noticed before was how the big container ship unloading cranes loom in the background. It’s kind of cool about Auckland that a lot of things are close like that, but it manages not to feel crowded.

Anyway… back to the festival. The roses are at their peak, which was just lovely. The festival brings out dozens, maybe hundreds of people smelling, photographing, and enjoying the flowers.

And hundreds more bring their kids for games and face painting and so on.

And thousands more who crowded into the food truck area to stand in line for overpriced and dubious quality eats. Go figure.

Let them eat cake

Vicki here is leaving the swimming group, and was farewelled (‘farewell’ is commonly a verb here) (along with ‘gift’) (I’m not thrilled with either) with a cake featuring a bunch of little swimmers.

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