Swim squad

My pool swimming buddies gathered for breakfast after the last workout of the year. We’ve been through a few coaches this year, and my working from home plus travel has eaten into my routine. So, I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it to continue. But it’s been great to get to know this group and so I will for a while longer at least.

Franklin Road 2022

After two years of COVID cancellation, Auckland’s Christmas light capital, Franklin Road in Ponsonby, was back this year.

We’ve been before, in 2017 and 2019. This time it felt a little less crowded, and maybe the decorations were a little less extravagant. But still pretty darn good. Our whole trip was easier this time… we now have a car, unlike in 2017, and knew just how to get there, unlike in 2019. And we got a really lucky parking spot.

Christmas kiwis always a hit.

I enjoy the lights of course, but maybe the best part for me is the sense of community this endeavor must bring to the residents and certainly brings to the many thousands of people who visit. There are so many divisions and distractions, but here’s a time when a whole lot of people get to be together and agree about something. Merry Christmas!

An arrogant prick ACTs decently

EDIT: the final amount raised was just over $100,000.

Our sainted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently made the mistake of saying — with a live microphone in front of her — what she really felt about David Seymour, the publicity-savvy leader of the opposition ACT Party.

What gets said on the floor of Parliament gets recorded into something called the Hansard, and so it is now a matter of historical record that Mr Seymour is an “arrogant prick.” No argument from me.

But he’s also very smart and enormously energetic at his job. He’s learned how to turn his nerdy debate-club superiority and prickly oligarch-apologist libertarian ideology into a potent political brand.

And so we have one of the best political feel-good stories in a while. They both signed a copy of the Hansard page in question and it’s being auctioned off to support prostate cancer charity. The bidding is already up to $60,000 with nearly a week to go.

“Supporting pricks everywhere.” Next year’s best campaign slogan.

Well done, Mr Seymour. It can’t have been the first time you’ve been called bad names by your exasperated opponents, and I’m fairly sure it won’t be the last. But you’ve deftly parried and scored, while doing something altogether decent with the fundraising power you hold.

Now it’s Christmas for sure

Growing up, our Christmas decorations always had a set of angel chimes like the one on the right side of this picture. We haven’t found proper candles for that one here in NZ yet (in a bit of interfaith cooperation, menorah candles work well, but we haven’t run across any). We found the tiny (and non-chiming) tea light powered example in a Christmas shop, and the big wooden German glockenspiel style one at a thrift store… so now we have a collection!

Oriental Bay

Traveling for work can be tough on one’s workout routine, especially if that routine requires a lot of gear. This has meant that my frequent Wellington trips have kept me in the pool, because cold and/or stormy water make me want a wetsuit and a group of swimmers I know and trust. And traveling with a wet wetsuit in your carry-on bag is tricky.

But now that the weather is warming up I’ve been able to take a few open water swims at Wellington’s Oriental Bay. By 7 AM there are a couple dozen ‘serious’ swimmers in the water, and a surprisingly large number of people who just go in and splash around for a few minutes. I’ve been able to buddy up with other swimmers and —apart from one day where I turned back early after coming onto a veritable cloud of jellyfish creatures that might or might not have been the stinging kind— had some lovely morning moments.

Riddle me this

On short flights like the one I took to Wellington this week, Air NZ runs trivia questions on the overhead screens since there really isn’t time to show any kind of filmed show.

Here’s a question I definitely knew the answer to!

It’s raining again

The weather radar proved perfectly accurate last Sunday afternoon… we could see a gap in the storms timed perfectly for a game of pétanque. A few points into the optimistic second match the heavens opened up (as predicted) and we dashed into the clubhouse just in time. Soon enough the perfectly manicured bowling green looked like a pond.

This continued the recent trend of warm and soggy weather… last month we were about 150% of normal rainfall and nationwide it was 1.8 C (3.2 F) above the long-term average… edging out last year as the warmest November on record.

Morning Brew

The swim group got up extra early last Sunday so we could get in a workout before retiring to the Speaker’s Corner pub to watch the England-France World Cup game.

At a pub in a former British colony and current Commonwealth member, named for a London landmark, you’d expect the crowd to be British supporters, and they were. A few of us had divided Franco-British loyalties. But the one true French person among us wandered off to savour France’s win at the La Tropezienne bakery down the street.

Allons au marché

Somehow I’ve started following the local Alliance Française on Facebook (I think it’s somehow extra funny if you say Facebook with a silly French accent… try it and see!) That’s how I learned about their quarterly market.

So we went, and it was nice! Bought a baguette sandwich and a couple of Yankee Swap presents for the pétanque club party.

Thar she blows

Alternate title: Conventioneer mugs for camera.

That’s me at the Te Puia geyser, which was part of the big social evening at last week’s Digital Health Week celebration in Rotorua.

The geyser is probably more interesting than we learned from 10 minutes of staring at it before being herded back onto the little golf cart train.

It’s like ray-yay-ayn…

This photo, shared by the members of our local district council, perfectly explains why we didn’t go to the Birkenhead Santa Parade yesterday.

Full marks to the organizers and the impressive number of spectators for not letting the downpour, er, dampen their enthusiasm.

Pohutukawa in bloom

It’s that most wonderful time when the streets and hillsides of Auckland light up with the white buds and gold-tipped red brush flowers of the pohutukawa trees.

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