Close enough but not too far

Everyone involved in this picture is exactly as close to the hot tub as they want to be. I’m in it of course, and Misty is able to doze (meditate?), keep tabs on us, or spring up to chase a bird, all without fear of getting splashed.

When we are in the tub at night, Misty often sits with her back to us, as if guarding the perimeter.

A whale of a tail tale

These whale tail sculptures have been scattered around Auckland the past few months. Each is decorated by a local artist, and each has a story.

(I will say in passing that until this exhibit, a whale tail in my mind was something that occasionally appears below a tramp stamp. But clearly the world – or at least Auckland – has moved on from such puerile and sexist thinking.)

They follow a similar campaign of owls a few years ago, and it’s all modeled after the famous Cowparade idea. At the end of the exhibition period, there was an auction, and civic-minded bidders could plump down a few grand for some worthy cause, keeping the piece for permanent display.

If only Captain Ahab had had ApplePay and a pickup truck… things would have been much easier for him, not to mention millions of 11th graders.

Live your values

I’m not surprised that this set of shot glasses ended up in the thrift store. I tried to imagine the scene …

“Sweet cheeks, I just know in my soul that you are gonna go fetch me and the boys some more of that Jäegermeister cuz you sure don’t want your lover man drinkin and drivin. Now that’s what I call marital harmony. Ain’t that right boys.”

Round North Head, Take 3

The wind and tide were in our favour today, so the Round North Head swim was fast! Although I swam off course at one or two points and performed badly compared to others in my group, I still beat last year’s time by about 6 minutes so I’ll take that. Almost as fast as I’d been in a wetsuit.

And I most definitely wasn’t in a wetsuit, as this is the swim with the “freedom division”. You swim out to a boat, take off your togs, carry on in the buff, meet the boat at the end, and exit the water in perfect modesty. The water was clearer than last time, but even so the scenery wasn’t as stimulating as you might expect. I have a feeling that might be true of many au naturel events… most of us probably look at least as sexy in our clothes as out.

Our Bay2Bay swim club was well represented, particularly in the freedom division. As a mark of always being your true self, Jono on the far right (fresh off his epic Poor Knights swim a few weeks ago) told us he couldn’t stay for coffee after winning the nude division… because it’s his wedding day. There was much discussion as to what his fiancée really thought about him racing today… but we all agreed that she wouldn’t be with Jono if she had a problem with him wearing what he wants and swimming a lot.

Cheap Chinese Crap

Our local shopping centre is making a real effort all of a sudden, and that’s a good thing. We want our little piece of Auckland to stay busy and vibrant.

Their latest promotion went like this: spend $20 anywhere else in the mall and get a $10 voucher for the dollar store. We each got surprisingly good chair massages that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and then trundled over to Chocka Bucket (saying something is “chocka” or “chocker” to mean full up is a common thing here). So, the promotion worked… the mall businesses got more money.

But what to buy? It’s not quite fair to say everything at Chocka Bucket is cheap Chinese crap… but almost. Their wares span the range of things you might find at a Wal-Mart, only less choice, poorer quality/condition. We ended up with a bunch of little things including those pictured above.

And then comes the political/ethical question. The Chinese juggernaut rolls slowly outward, recently engulfing the Solomon Islands with a new military agreement. Should I be taking some stand against Sino-hegemony?

And more nuanced: is there a difference between the box cutter, which is what it is, and the other items which blatantly rip off Western IP? If it hadn’t been “free” I wouldn’t have touched it… but of course it wasn’t actually free and I did touch. What allegiance do I owe to Gillette and Kiwi, and the specific flavour of capitalism they represent?

Now I may look better with my smooth chin and my shiny shoes… but how will I feel?

It’s feijoa season

My friend and former colleague Joni brought me bags and bags of feijoas from his tree.


Mostly they are frozen awaiting reconstitution as smoothies.

Pétanque you very much

That’s the Herne Bay Pétanque Club, site of the final round of the Interclub League a couple weeks ago.

I won 7 of my 9 matches, very happy with that. Overall we came in 2nd out of 4 in our division, also happy with that.

As autumn is upon us, the tournament season is about over. But I’ll be practicing over the winter…

Icing on the (very large and surprisingly tasty) cake

That’s Lee all masked up and wearing her raincoat against the drizzle. Out for a walk, we came across this Costco membership tent right in our own neighborhood . The store doesn’t open till August but lines have been so long at the real signup office that they’re now doing signups out in the community.

New Zealand was already practically perfect in every way. With Costco arriving, it’s really hard to find any faults at all with the place. Maybe they tend to put too many things on their burgers. But otherwise perfect.

But wait… maybe Costco heralds the onset of the end times. Will the hypnotic lure of cheap gas, giant rotisserie chickens and American hot dogs lead inevitably to rampant gun violence, rabies, and medical bankruptcy? I hope not, but will be on the lookout for warning signs. If things really start to look bad I’ll head to Costco and buy enough toilet paper and granola to wait out the apocalypse.

Minimum Wage

This image was posted by my local MP. He’s crowing about how his Labour Party has moved the NZ minimum wage up faster than the National Party… showing off how the Red bars grow faster than the Blue ones.

But for me as an American, the astounding thing is that the minimum wage keeps growing year after year under both parties.

There is no question that running a small business is expensive and difficult in NZ, as many small business people will tell you. But the benefits — from my perspective — certainly seem to outweigh the costs. People with jobs can mostly afford to have lives here. You’d rather be making more, of course, and two of those incomes are needed to raise a family, but a minimum wage job makes a meaningful dent in paying for the stuff you need.

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