Archive for the ‘travel’ Category
I have not traveled extensively. I’ve been to about 30 US states. Outside of the country, I’ve only been to Canada, Mexico and Barbados, only the former more than once. So I get to “travel” through a number of blogs.
One of the blogs I visit is Nik Durga’s Spatula Forum. Nik is “an American journalist who now lives in New Zealand with my kiwi wife and son.” Somehow, this led me to http://amerinz.blogspot.com/. Arthur is another American expat living in New Zealand, of longer tenure, who writes: “I moved to New Zealand from Chicago in 1995 to be with my partner. I’ve worked in the printing and publishing industries for about twenty years.” It’s possible I found Arthur through Nik’s appearance on Arthur’s podcast, but I don’t recall.
Regardless, Arthur celebrated the third anniversary of his podcast last month, March 28, to be precise. In honor of that, he posed 20 questions, for which he kindly also presented the answers, which people were supposed to send him in order to win a “Kiwi prize pack”; alas, I did not win. Being a tad librarianish, I decided to send along links with the answers, which was not required. It later occurred to me that those links could be the basis of THIS VERY blogpost.
The information will not be in the order that Arthur gave it, since his was intentionally all over the place chronologically.
The Waitangi Treaty was signed February 6, 1840. This “extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection, and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British subjects.”
The New Zealand Cross was created on March 10, 1869, important “because New Zealand’s local military were not eligible for the [British] Victoria Cross.”
New Zealand achieved dominion status on September 26, 1907.
There are 453 New Zealand World War I memorials.
An agreement of Australian-New Zealand cooperation was signed in Canberra on January 21, 1944.
The Wahine Shipwreck disaster occurred on April 10, 1968.
The Homosexual Law Reform Act was signed on July 11, and went into effect August 8, 1986.
The first Kiwi to win an Academy Award took place in March 1994, the 21st in Los Angeles, when Anna Paquin was named Best Supporting Actress for “The Piano”. Anna was born in Canada, but raised in New Zealand.
The Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003.
Nationwide elections in New Zealand are held every three years, “or earlier, should it be necessary.” At this writing, the ruling party is New Zealand National Party and the leading opposition party is the New Zealand Labour Party.
There are about 13200 km from Chicago, IL US to Auckland, NZ.
As at Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 02:58:46 am (local time), the estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,364,669.
Most of the questions Arthur got from New Zealand History online, which celebrated its 11th anniversary last month.
The family has been on a (delayed) road trip. We were scheduled to leave on Friday for Charlotte, NC to visit my mother, my sisters (including the one from San Diego) and my 19-y.o. niece. But I felt awful the previous Wednesday night: Chills, yet sweating; sore throat, and generally a desire never to leave my bed ever again. I wasn’t that much better on Thursday. I felt marginally better on Friday, and I was willing to give travel a shot. The wife, conversely, thought I should actually try to get well before departing.
Random interesting things we experienced:
In Pulaski, VA McDonald’s, after I had ordered lunch.
Employee #1: This salad seems warm!
Employee #2: Shhh1 Don’t talk like that in front of the customers. Don’t say stuff like that!
Employee #1:: I don’t care! I’m always going to tell the truth!
(Does Employee #2 think I’m deaf? BTW, I thought the salad was fine, though I was ready to return it if it wasn’t.)
Perkins’ restaurant somewhere in central Pennsylvania: Poster for American Idol candidate Aaron Kelly; actually watched the results show (for first time in three years) to see if he survived; he did. But viewing reminded me why I HATE the AI results show; they just drag out the torture. i
Worst traffic jam: northbound on I-77 Wednesday morning just north of Statesville, NC. 10 miles in 50 minutes. The worst part is that we could have missed it by exiting the highway and taking Route 21 for 20 miles.
In Walgreen’s in Charlotte Tuesday night:
Customer: I didn’t like what you said!
Employee: I didn’t say anything.
Customer: You were pointing at my family, and…
Employee: I didn’t say anything.
Customer: You are in customer service, you ought to know better.
Employee: I didn’t…
Customer: I’m going to talk to the manager. Where’s the manager?
Employee: Go right ahead. [Walks away.]
Customer: I’m going to tear this m*****f***in’ place to the ground!
(We left a few minutes later with a degree of trepidation.)
Greatest annoyance about our hotel, the Drury in Charlotte: the smokers who stood six feet from the entrance, every day, so that one has to run the gauntlet to avoid the stench. The greatest pleasure about our hotel: the glass-sided elevator.
There were on the road, heading from from the Bluebird bus company in Alabama driving to Quebec five new school buses, one pulling a van ee assume carried the drivers down. The daughter asked what was on the buses, then repeated the phrase “Arretez aux signaux”.
One of the things that is true of my wife: she is constitutionally incapable of doing that thing people call a “staycation.” The idea that we’d stay home and, for instance, see the sites of Albany – tour the state Capitol or go up to the 42nd floor of the Corning Tower – tallest building between Montreal and New York City, I’m told, would likely not happen until whatever chores that needed to be done were done. Generally, that means that we don’t always play as much as I want.
Early on in our marriage I realized this. It was in the days after 11 September 2001, and naturally the news was terribly depressing. I suggested that we go SOMEWHERE. She said, “We could stay home and go on vacation.” We’d only been married a little over two years, but I’d known her for nine. I said something like, “You are constitutionally incapable of staying home without finding things that need to be done in the house. There are ALWAYS things to be done in the house.” I insisted that we had to go SOMEWHERE ELSE.
It turned out that she had a gift certificate from before we were married to a bed and breakfast in Cherry Valley, NY, only about an hour’s distance, but a world away from our lives. The place we went to had no TVs. It had some lovely shops. I’m not a shopper, because shopping tends to mean going to some megastore, but this kind of shopping was quite all right.
Two things occurred on that Columbus Day weekend I remember quite vividly. Carol’s (and my) niece Markia was born – we got a phone call – and the war in Afghanistan began, which I heard on someone’s radio. Re: the latter, you can get away for only so long, and sometimes not far enough away.
What reminded me of that was the past couple weekend trips. One was to the Mid-Hudson Valley, about an hour south of Albany. We stayed in a Holiday In Express in Poughkeepsie, attended a party, seeing some old friends, including one I hadn’t seen since 1991, and generally had a great time. The other trip actually ended today, visiting my mom, sisters and niece in Charlotte, NC.
The difference is that, in each case, seeking Internet connectivity was a primary consideration. I used the Hotel Internet Guide, because, somehow, being connected has become just as important as price and location. What that says about me over the past nine years, I’m not sure.
I was not looking for a meme, but I did think I needed to write a post or two about end-of-year stuff. As it turns out, I found one from that American expat in New Zealand, Nik at spatulaforum, that met my needs. Oddly, Nik has written about spatulas only once.
Not incidentally, Nik’s meme was stolen for this week’s Sunday Stealing, which I usually purloin. Like a circle in a circle.
1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Go to a bunch of kindergarten events, such as the “Apple Run”; the daughter is fast! Go on a vacation with the wife, without the daughter, for our 10th anniversary; it was surely the highlight of the year, though we were only 30 miles from home. Saw Bruce Springsteen live. Flew on an airplane with the daughter, her first flights.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t make the things. Less grief.
3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?
Watching my wife valiantly trying to stay awake but likely failing.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, though the husband of a fellow choir member did.
5. What countries did you visit?
None, including the US. In fact, the longest trip was the aforementioned flight to Charlotte.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 3, the massacre in Binghamton, NY. May 14, Springsteen.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through my wife’s two weeks away at college, taking care of the daughter while trying to maintain a semblance of a work schedule.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Controlling the temper, especially during the aforementioned trip to Charlotte.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The usual minor aches and pains. My neck is a little stiff. I have a cut on the heel of my left foot which makes walking without at least slippers, and preferably thick-soled sneakers, painful. And I suffered with some sort of head congestion/lung congestion/coughing up phlegm thing for two weeks in December which seems FINALLY to be over.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The Top Pop Singles book. Fun! Actually, I liked buying Wonder Pets DVDs for the daughter; she enjoyed them.
12. Where did most of your money go?
The mortgage, of course. Also house renovation; the attic is being insulated this very week to take advantage of a tax credit.
13. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Tennessee Jed by Levon Helm, from his new Electric Dirt album, one of the very few albums I actually got in 2009.
I also bought A Very Special Christmas 7, and it had a bunch of newer artists that don’t cut it; Kellie Pickler doing Santa Baby is unconvincing. A Christmas Song by Charice was the best tune, though Gloriana’s Silent Night I liked as well. Still, it’s for a good cause, the Special Olympics, and I’ll probably buy the next one when it comes out in 3 or 5 years.
14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Playing racquetball. Also wish I had bought my bicycle earlier than June. I saw no live baseball – bummer.
15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
16. What was your favourite TV program?
“Glee”, for sure. It’s a show I get to watch with my wife, which doesn’t happen that often. People say it’s not realistic, as though it were a docudrama. No, the cheerleaders wouldn’t wear the outfits ALL the time. Sheesh. I bought the wife both soundtracks for Christmas. Al;so been watching The Good Wife, which is a show I watch sans wife.
Whereas The Office has lost something, and I can’t put my finger on it – Jim & Pam being married? The co-managing thing?
17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Well, not hate. What’s interesting is when there is someone everyone in a certain circle seems to love. But you’re just not that enamored, and it seems to be mutual.
18. What was the best book you read?
The Jack Kirby book by Evanier. Or was that last year?
19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Well, there’s this British band called the Beatles that I seem to be newly into. Also, to a much lesser degree, Queen. About as little NEW music as I’ve ever experienced.
20. What was your favorite film of this year?
2008 movie I saw in 2009: The Visitor.
2009 movie: Up or Amreeka or maybe District 9. Though if I just got the Julia part of Julie and Julia, it’d be that. But there are a LOT of films I haven’t seen.
21. What did you do on your birthday?
Played (hearts) cards.
22. What kept you sane?
This assumes that I am sane. There’s no evidence I’ve seen.
23. Who did you miss?
Nobody, really. I mean I wish I saw some people more often, but that would be a shopping list. And because of the magic of electronics, I feel I DO keep up with them and/or know they keep up with me. Without that, it’d be pretty tough.
24. Who was the best new person you met?
There are some new folks in church I’m rather fond of, but I won’t name names.
25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…
Actually, it is the wisdom of Satchel Paige:
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”
Scott from the Scooter Chronicles – GIVE THIS MAN A JOB! – wrote several questions:
Since obtaining your current job, have you ever thought of switching careers?
What, and leave show business? Seriously, not really. I learn something new (and sometimes interesting) every day. I work with smart people, and I provide a valuable service, if I do say so.
Besides which, I came to it so late (library school at 37, librarian at 39), I feel behind the curve compared with people who are my contemporaries agewise but have twice as much experience in the field.
Do you think the Obama administration will be able to make changes to the current health care systems? If so, do you think it will truly change for the better?
It’ll be incremental change, and it’ll be marginally for the better. But it won’t be the sweeping changes you righteously ranted about a few months ago. I knew trouble was brewing when single-payer wasn’t even on the table. I blame Sen. Max Baucus for that. Then the single-payer people were at the table but could not speak. Do not underestimate the power of the insurance lobbies.
Who do you think will be in the World Series, and who will win it?
At the beginning of the season, I picked Mets over Red Sox. Still feel the BoSox will be there. I could/should jump on the Dodgers/Cards/Phillies bandwagon, but heck with it, I’ll stick with the Metropolitans.
Oh, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about “high-leverage” situation hitting versus the two-run homer in the fifth inning when you’re already ahead 11-1.
These are the best and worst, through June 13.
When growing up, did you play in any organized baseball leagues?
No. Tried out for Little League once. I was a middling to poor fielder, but what really made me give up was being at bat. This kid threw a 3-2 pitch for a strike and I never even saw it.
Is so, what position(s) did you play? (If you didn’t, what position would you have liked to play?)
I played a lot of unorganized baseball. I tended to play the right side of the infield, though I’m right-handed, because my arm wasn’t great. I could throw relatively accurately from second to first, but not from shortstop or third base. Also played first, since I was a large target. Actually got better getting throws in the dirt, but not throws that were too wide or too high.
I also caught some games. Didn’t much enjoy it, but I could block the ball if I didn’t catch it.
Who was your favorite baseball player while growing up?
Clearly, Willie Mays. He could hit for average and power, he could run and he could field well. That said, I always had an affection for National League outfielders such as Vada Pinson (Reds), Lou Brock (Cards), Billy Williams (Cubs), Hank Aaron (Braves), the Alou Brothers (Giants), Frank Robinson (Reds/Orioles), and Roberto Clemente (Pirates); I had a Clemente card that referred to him as “Bob”, but he was no “Bob”.
Do you have a favorite baseball player now? If so, who and why?
Albert Pujois (Cards). Seems like a decent guy and he’s very good.
Any big travel plans for the summer months?
At this very moment, we were supposed to be in Williamsburg, VA with my parents-in-law, my two brothers-in-law, their wives and collectively, their three daughters. But my wife Carol has so much school work to do in preparation for going away to college for 17 days in a row later this summer that we bailed. During that 17-day run, I’ll be doing the solo parenting thing. Having my wife back will be like a vacation; we did this last summer as well, so I know of what I speak.
There’s talk about going somewhere in August, but so far, I’m not feeling it. I don’t know about your experiences with Nigel, but my experience with Lydia is that vacation away from home is more taxing than just staying in the routine. I AM basing that on our vacation when she was three, and she’s more self-sufficient now.
As you can see from the map above, I’ve been to 30 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
The pictures interspersed in this piece are from my trip to my 30th state by some measure, Illinois, specifically Chicago, different shots from my piece on Chicago here. By other measurements, though, I’d already been there, since I’d been through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport 20 years ago. In any case, the descriptions below do not include airline layovers, and there now no states for which being at the airport is the only connection.
I started thinking: what were the circumstances of the first trip to each state I visited?
Born: New York
Day trip to adjacent state: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont.
When I was growing up, my friend Carol’s family had a cottage south of Binghamton, just inside the PA border.
State visited en route to another place: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia.
I feel guilty actually counting Delaware, since it was on a trip to DC. But I did eat there; the rest of them I’ve actually slept in.
Vacation: Georgia, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island
Is visiting your family actually a “vacation”?
Work-related, FantaCo: California, Wisconsin
California was a twofer. FantaCo flew me out to San Diego in 1987 for the Comic Con and I stayed with my sister, who had moved there a year or two earlier.
Work-related, SBDC: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
In fact the ONLY time (or in the case of FL, times) I’ve been to those states.
Finally, in 1969 or 1970, a bunch of us from high school traveled to Tennessee to help the folks in a very poor rural county. At some point, we were out wandering around without our adult supervision when we came to a sign: Now entering Mississippi. We walked about a half mile before we thought better of the idea of a bunch of northern high school kids of mixed races wandering around in rural Mississippi and returned back to the Tennessee farm we were visiting.
Pictures (C) 2008, Mary Hoffman. Used by permission.
One of the wonderful features about Blogger is that I can write posts and then have them publish on future dates. I was in Chicago from Tuesday through Saturday – more on that not just anon, but for a couple of weeks – and except for about an hour on Friday, when I could check my Gmail and AOL accounts and print my boarding ticket for my return flight, I had no access to the Internet, unless I wanted to spend 47 cents per minute. Note: I did not.
Writing ahead wasn’t all that difficult. What IS hard is getting started again. For me, there’s a blogging rhythm. If I’m posting every day, I’m probably writing at least every other day. When I came back from this trip, though, I needed to spend time with my wife and daughter, check my work e-mail (accessible from home, but not elsewhere remotely – 300 deleted on Sunday), mow the lawn (though I had mowed it Sunday or Monday before I left, the rain during the week, especially the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna, made it necessary again), church and other tasks precludes blogging. Here’s something: my suitcase probably weighed 15 pounds on the way to the conference; it weighed 41.3 pounds on the way back, so I had to sort through all that conference swag, papers, and whatnot.
But it’s more about the momentum. A blogger in motion tends to stay in motion; a blogger at rest tends to stay at rest. I have PLENTY to write about. (Rose, BTW, has some ideas about what to blog about if you don’t.)
Oh, one thing about Chicago. I tend not to tell people I’m going away until I return. Since I changed my Blogger links, though, that was undermined. I knew in the first case it would be, so when it happened the second time, it was no big deal. Time #1 was when my colleague Amelia wrote: Blogging for Your SBDC – Roger and Amelia go to Chicago back on August 27, the cat was rather out of the bag. Then when Gordon mentions we went to a Cubs game together, well the jig was really up. As I tweeted (that’s what you do on Twitter), someone tweeted about a session I attended in Chicago in real time; I’m still disinclined.
A couple things about the Cubs game: someone from the Astros, Ty Wiggington, hit a two-run homer; he used to be with the Mets . Meanwhile, a Cubs runner was thrown out at the plate; a MOST unpopular call, and at least one Cubs fan in our section was very loud and vocal in his “appreciation” of the ump’s brain functions. But the very worst play: men on first and third for the Astros. Runner on first caught 30 feet from first base and caught in a pickle (rundown). So the runner at third heads for home. Instead of trying to tag the runner heading back to first, the middle infielder throws home, but muffs it. The one runner scores, and the other’s safe at second; Little Leaguers would have done it better. I had the Cubs going to the World series from the beginning of the season – ouch.