Friday, July 15, 2005

Notes from the front line

Posted on behalf of Mrs M.

First hour in Indiana . . .

The plane is descending and for the first time in the entire flight to Indiana, the woman next to me says, “Are you coming home or are you on vacation?” Mike and I say we are just moving to Indiana from New Zealand.

“Wooooooooooowwwwww. New Zealand!” she says, and I think, “Either this lady is a real innocent, and has no idea where it is, or she smoked way too much dope in the 60s.” Turns out it’s probably the former. “My church has some missionaries in New Zealand,” she continued. “I’ve heard it’s REAL beautiful.” Figures. Watch out, heathens!

We land and I send Mike out to book the shuttle to Lafayette from Indianapolis, while I load the luggage. When I arrive to load our suitcases, the late-20s, gum-snapping, female driver starts in:

Driver: “Where are you moving from? New Zealand? Why would you move from New Zealand? I hate Indiana. I just moved here from Florida, and I hate it. My dad had a heart attack, so I had to move up here to take care of him.”

Me, thinking: I’ve just traveled 30 hours to get here, with very little sleep. I don’t know you. I don’t care.

Driver: “The clubs in Lafayette are terrible. I just went out for the first time at this club called the Vogue in Indianapolis. You know, it’s in this area called Broad Ripple?”

Me, thinking: I know where it is! I lived in Indianapolis for a year and a half!

Driver: “Anyway, I had a great time, and it reminded me more of the clubs where I’m from in Tampa.”

Me, thinking: If the Vogue is like Tampa, then Tampa must suck.

Driver: Anyway, there’s this cool area in Tampa called Ybor City. It’s like this old historial district . . .

Me, thinking, nodding: Yes, I know, I’ve been to Ybor City. It was formerly a Cuban neighborhood, and you can still buy hand-rolled cigars there.

Driver: I used to be a driver there, but the car I drove there was much cooler than these vans. It was a . . . (insert a 60-second run down of a boy racer limo/pimp car with all the right features including big speakers, TV, drinks fridge, etc., which she reeled off like a real pro).

Keep in mind that at this point I still haven’t spoken yet. I’m nodding and uh-huhing, but if this girl doesn’t come up for air soon, she’s probably going to die.

Thankfully, the van finally pulls away, and she turns the music up. I turn to Mike and ask, “Does ‘shut the fuck up’ come to mind?” So many painful details revealed at top speed in about 5 minutes. I can tell I’ve been living in a Commonwealth country, as I don’t just find her a bit odd and annoying – I am MORTIFIED for her.

The saga continues about 15 minutes into the 75-minute drive. The driver starts shrieking for us to watch the back window, she needs to pull over! I think the sun must be hitting the mirror, so tell Mike to cross the van aisle and see if it’s clear to change lanes. Meanwhile, the hysterical driver continues to scream about the back window, until we finally see it flap a little bit. I ask her, “Is the window supposed to be shut? Is that what you want us to do with the window?” thinking all the while, Jesus, lady, calm down and communicate clearly what the problem is!

Turns out it was an emergency exit window, and since it was loose at the bottom, she was afraid it was going to fall out on the highway (a.k.a. motorway) and cause an accident. The bolts on the thing were loose, so after 2 episodes of this shrieking/re-latching the windows, I cross the aisle, sit in the back seat of the van, and HOLD THE DAMN EMERGENCY WINDOW SHUT for the hour drive to Lafayette.

Needless to say, I didn’t tip her.

And that, my dear friends, was my first two hours in Indiana. Not too promising, but seriously, it’s mostly been fine. There’s a great new beer on at the Lafayette Brewing Company called “Common Ale” – light, hoppy, and refreshing, though Mike’s probably got a different favourite. Our friend Peter has a great place to stay, with friends coming and going, impromptu barbeques, and so on, so we’ve been very comfortable and not feeling too displaced. It’s hot – damn hot, with temperatures from about 25-30 every day, and very sticky; humidity is high. I’m not going to complain, but you definitely remember what it’s like to sweat while just sitting around.

We found a great apartment in downtown Lafayette with tall ceilings and an old-school buzzer system. It’s on the second floor above an artist’s collective. We’ll send you the address/phone no. when we move at the beginning of August – visitors welcome! Mike started his job yesterday, and me, I’m just doing paperwork for the moment.

Also found time to rent a car and go up to Chicago last weekend – no time like the present. Stayed in Wrigleyville near Wrigley Stadium and my friend Dave’s condo; very convenient for walking around. Found a great guy who runs a tiny shop filled with barrels of coffee beans from all over the world, and will definitely stock up there. Also a grocery store called “Treasure Island”, which claims it is “The Most European Grocery Store in the USA”. Might be a little overblown, but again, a great place to stock up once we have a pantry – kind of similar to the Mediterranean Warehouse on Tuam. Had dinner at “The Hop Leaf”, with about 150 beers available. (Guess who Dave had in mind when he picked the place? Hint: Wasn’t me.) We also got a photo of a church sign with a great quote, and will send that little piece of Americana along as soon as we can download photos again.

Well, that’s it for now, but just wanted to say hello to all of you in New Zealand, thanks for all the help and good times upon our departure, and that you are missed.



Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Google Maps- great to look at, but where to now?

The hot new app from Google is Google Maps and its more recent offering Google Earth. Maps and satellite images are available in some detail for North America and Great Britain. Low res Satellite imagery appears available for most of the rest of the world.

Well that's one view of our planet, an Americentric view to be sure and admittedly a beta one at that. It does look great. The Google offering certainly seems to have more direction and purpose than Microsoft's vision of the same thing MapPoint, not to mention NASA's answer to 3D views of the earth WorldWind.

Does it have any real application though? Driving directions are all very well, but a satellite view of the route ain't gonna help me drive anywhere. There are already some interesting hacks, ones that really do work. Take for instance the Housing Map hack, a combination of Google Maps and Craig's List. This could really help me to find a house to buy in b*mf*%k Idaho. It would certainly be an improvement on the crap websites that real estate companies in New Zealand have on offer!

Mapping for the masses? Maybe - we still have to see if Google Maps outlives the Beta version. Professional map users are looking on with interest at this sudden expansion into what was until recently inhabited by a select few software producers. It all makes ArcGlobe look a bit overhyped, ESRI must be wondering why they bothered.

People have certainly picked up Google Maps and run with it in a very short space of time. There's even a Blog devoted entirely to Google Map hacks. Now, about that holiday to Brisbane.............

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thoughts of London

Kia Kaha brothers
we're thinking of you

Monday, July 04, 2005

Au revoir friends

Mike and Stacey flew out today for Indie.
I couldn't bear to see them off, too many goodbye's are surely not a good thing.
In your time here in New Zealand you've touched many people. You'll both be sorely missed by all of us, especially the fuelfools.
So how 'bout it, be our foreign correspondent.

Hei konei ra

p.s. I hear they've stopped brewing Big John in anticpation of the decline in custom.

there is no crime in the alley cat

Whilst surfing the web the other day I came across a small rural communities website in Japan.
The english was so bad but this one on rabies really took the cake.

As for register and preventive injection of love dog not forgetting
When with rabies preventive method, the pet dog is 91 day or more the after the raw, the register of one time and, every year the rabies preventive injection of 1 time is required of life.

In town, acceptance of the rabies preventive injection and the register is done with following schedule.Rabies preventive injection Injection fee of the gathering injection is 2800 Yen (injection end vote delivery).By circumstances, when it is not received to this period, please receive injection at such as animal hospital.In addition this year, we have already received the rabies preventive injection, as for the one where delivery procedure of injection end vote is not received, the injection end certificate, injection end vote delivery commission 550 Yen and in addition to you have the seal, procedure please do in the hygienic welfare section. By all means please make sure to receive the delivery of rabies preventive injection end vote.Register of dog Registration fee is 3000 Yen (license delivery) concerning a head. The one which is not registered yet, in addition to you have the seal, please register in the hygienic welfare section window.Modification of register When there is modification of address * name of the owner and the death of the pet dog, in addition to you have the seal in the hygienic welfare section, please notify.

Dog * cat birth control
Recently, when the puppy and the kitten are born, it has become difficult to find the new owner. Because unhappy pet such as dog and the cat which you cannot raise is not increased, the puppy and the kitten being born, you cannot raise, the one that will make sterile operation receive on responsibility of the owner it is not the recipient.Concerning the alley cat As for giving the feed to the alley cat, the number of alley cats increases to neighborhood, it is connected to damage concentrating. " Pitiful " " there is no crime in the alley cat ", saying, there are no times when it gives the feed irresponsibly the sea urchin please do. To neighborhood there are times when it becomes annoyance.Manner of walking The dog will try to walk connecting with the クサリ, and the ヒモ. The owner will try the droppings of the dog to process with responsibility.

Friday, July 01, 2005

no more bedtime stories ....

Heard of DRM (digital rights management)?
Came across the following DRM rights for an e-book recently:
DRM Rights:

  • Copy unlimited selections every unlimited day(s)
  • Print unlimited pages every unlimited day(s)
  • Never expires

ok, so that makes sense, right?
But wait, that's not all folks....included in the list is....

  • Reading aloud allowed

What the .....?