For home-sick Americans in NZ

I came across this website (I think it was on another expat blog) that imports real American stuff to NZ. 

It's called Martha's Backyard and, if you email them, they will send you a list of what they have to offer!

If you live in Auckland, you can stop by the shop.

I think I have found a new favorite website!


Trivia time

This is what the internet says about NZ....

The old Government Building in Wellington is the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere.

NZ is the home of the only alpine parrot in the world, the Kea.

It is said, but can’t be proven, that Richard William Pearse took flight almost 2 years before the Wright Brothers.

Tongariro National Park was the first in NZ to be established as a National Park in 1887.

The longest wharf in the southern hemisphere was open in 1929 at Tolaga Bay. It is 1.3km  long.

New Zealand was the first country to have a government department for tourism. In 1901, the Department of Tourists and Health Resorts was established.
About 80% of all NZ flora occurs only nowhere else in the world.

New Zealand has more golf courses, Scottish Pipe bands, boats, cafes , sheep, cows, punk rock bands, Olympic gold medals, bookstores and cars per capita than any other country.

Bungee jumping, milking machines, herd ear tags, blokarting, zorbing, tranquilizer dart gun, propellerless jet boat, hay lift, Zamboni-like machine, water sprinkler, advanced air compressor and air conditioner, child-proof bottles, hairpin with the crinkle on the side, totaliser machine used for racing and sports betting, self-sealing paint lid and velcro were all first invented in NZ—or at least, so they say.

Curio Bay in Southland has one of the world’s largest petrified forests.

The heaviest and only flightless parrot in the world, the Kakapo, resides in NZ.

The pavlova, a meringue dessert, was invented here and named after the ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

Waikoropupu Springs near the town of Nelson, is home to the ‘dancing sand’. The springs hasve the clearest freshwater in the world and discharge 14,000liters per second—enough to fill 40 bathtubs—per second.

The world’s smallest marine dolphin, The Hector’s Dolphin, is only found in NZ waters, as is the Hooker’s sea lion, the world’s rarest sea lion.

Turangawaewae House was built in 1919 in Nguanawahai as the Maori Parliament building, but was never used as such.

Less than 5% of NZ’s population is human.


I admit it....I'm a snob

As most of you know, I have a photoblog and I loooooove taking pictures. At times, I am amazed at the colors and textures and such on other folks photos and I gaze in wonder at them--until I find out that it's not their prowess at photography or their super-duper great cameras that make the photos so cool, it's some program they have used to enhance their work.

Now, even though I am a purist of sorts, I'm not at all adverse to these things. I just can't justify the money for something that I would rarely use.

And all that leads to my confession of being a snob.

Each time that I read about a new 'something' that someone is thrilled about on their gizmo (be it a phone or ipad), I check my old faithful program and, sure enough, I find something that I could use as comparable.

That program is a free download called photoscape.

As I recall, it was probably the very first free program that I downloaded and it seems to work well with my limited technical vocabulary. Having learned  some of the phrases and terms that are used in such programs, subsequent downloads were still beyond my older-than-dirt mentality and I alway go back to my old faithful photoscape.

I don't do a lot of fidgeting with my photos, but I know that I could if I wanted to.

And I think that makes me a snob.....

Here are some pics that I had some fun with on photoscape

taped corners

blurred except for rocks

cute cube


all kinds of add ons

And, finally, proof that you can't believe everything you see on the internet...

And all this is just in the 'editor' portion. There a lot more stuff but I'll save that for another day!


Annual Beloit College mindset list

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. 

The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. 

The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”

4. Al Gore has always been animated.

5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.

6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.

7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

10. Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren't afraid of immigration...unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.

11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.

14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.

22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.

23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.

25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

31. The first home computer they probably touched was an Apple II or Mac II; they are now in a museum.

32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always offered an alternative to the hospital.

35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”

38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.

43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.

48. Someone has always gotten married in space.

49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.

50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

51.  Food has always been irradiated.

52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.

53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?

54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.

55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.

57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

58. Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.

59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.

60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.

64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.

65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.

67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

69. It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.

70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.

71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.

73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.

74. They've always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi (SYFY) Channel.

75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at


Tangaiwai Railroad Monument

I posted this photo on the Soaring through the World with Pictures blog but found the information on the disaster quite interesting.

  • Christmas Eve 1953 was a fine night, after a day without rain. There was nothing to show that the Whangaehu River would be in flood when the Wellington-to-Auckland express was due to cross the rail bridge at Tangiwai.
  • When part of the wall holding the crater lake of Mount Ruapehu collapsed, a huge flood of water and silt, known as a lahar, flowed down the side of the mountain carrying uprooted trees, rocks and ice into the Whangaehu River.
  • A giant wave of water, mud and rocks 6 metres high hit and swept away one concrete support of the rail bridge at Tangiwai, almost 10 kilometres from Waiouru.
  • At 10:21 pm the express, consisting of one engine, nine carriages and two vans, and travelling at about 60 kilometres per hour, rocketed onto the weakened bridge.
  • As the express left the bank, the rest of the bridge collapsed and the engine nose-dived off the edge into the air, almost hitting the opposite side.
  • The first five carriages followed, catapulting upwards before plummeting into the floodwaters. Four of these carriages were broken up by the force of the river waters, with little hope for the passengers.
  • The sixth carriage teetered on the edge of the ruined bridge while Cyril Ellis, whose car had stopped at the submerged road bridge, and the train's guard, William Inglis, climbed in to warn the passengers and move them to the carriage behind.
  • Almost at once the carriage broke free from the remaining carriages and fell into the river, where it rolled downstream before coming to rest.
  • Ellis, Inglis and a passenger, John Holman, managed to get all the passengers, except for one, out through the broken windows and onto the side of the carriage. As the level of the floodwaters dropped, the survivors were able to form a human chain and make their way to the bank.
  • Meanwhile passengers from the other carriages in the river struggled from the wreckage and made their way or were helped to the bank. Some freed themselves only to be swept further downstream before being able to crawl ashore.
  • Many were drowned or smothered by the thick silt in the river, and some were swept downriver and out to sea, their bodies never recovered.
  • On the opposite side of the river, Arthur Bell and his wife had stopped at the flooded road bridge and saw the express crash into the river. While Mrs Bell went for help, Arthur helped rescue survivors from the carriage which had landed on the river embankment.
  • Soldiers from the army camp at Waiouru joined forces with local volunteers, but rescue was difficult and dangerous. The water was full of debris - rocks, trees and wreckage from the train - and still flowing with enough force to knock people from their feet. Oil and silt covered passengers and rescuers alike.
  • The rescue operation soon became a body recovery operation. Of the 285 people on the train that night, 134 survived and 151 died, most drowned in the floodwaters.
  • The last three carriages had come to a halt before they reached the bridge. It was later discovered that the train had been able to brake before it hit the bridge, undoubtedly saving a number of lives.

  • The noise of the disaster was loud enough to be heard 10 kilometres away at Waiouru. The name Tangiwai means Weeping Waters in Māori.
  • Because no newspapers were produced on Christmas Day, the first detailed news of what had happened was given in a radio broadcast by the Prime Minister, Sidney Holland, from Waiouru Camp.
  • Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were visiting New Zealand when the disaster at Tangiwai happened. Queen Elizabeth made her Christmas broadcast from Auckland, finishing with a message of sympathy to the people of New Zealand. Prince Philip attended a state funeral for many of the victims.
  • Cyril Ellis and John Holman were awarded the George Medal, for their bravery, and Arthur Bell and William Inglis were awarded the British Empire Medal.
  • A commission of enquiry found that a lahar or mudflow was responsible for the disaster. After the collapse of the crater wall the Mount Ruapehu crater lake level had dropped by 6-7 metres, meaning that approximately 2 million cubic metres of water had flooded into the river and hit the Tangiwai bridge with the force of a tidal wave.
  • The flooded river was at its highest point when the express crashed into it. A mixed goods train had crossed the river about three hours earlier when it was still daylight, and the river had appeared normal then.
  • Later investigation has suggested that the bridge had been weakened by an earlier lahar flow in 1925, and that warnings by amateur geologists about the state of the crater wall should not have been ignored by the authorities.
  • At the time, Tangiwai was the eighth biggest railway disaster the world had seen. It is still the fifth worst disaster in New Zealand's recorded history.
  • On Christmas Eve each year the express train slows as it crosses the new bridge across the Whangaehu River, and the driver throws a bunch of flowers into the water. A card reads: "In memory of all who died at Tangiwai on Christmas Eve, 1953."


The birdhouse

A couple of years back, Missy made a really cool birdhouse in one of her school classes. We couldn't really find a good place for it at our old house, but when we moved here, Hubby sat it up on the privacy screen on the back patio, next to the house. 

I could see it from the front room lounge and it seemed like the perfect place. I watched birds check it out, getting closer and closer and finally dashing inside before hopping back out. I was excited about being so close to the nest and was looking forward to taking pictures of the goings on.

Bubba had brought us some 'gifts' of dead birds on occasion, but I don't think he even knew the birdhouse was there.

Phred, on the other hand, is a different story. When I heard him and his 'ginger' friend tromping across the roof of the house, I didn't think much about it. 

Then I saw this.

So much for watching the birds up close.


It's a strange world we live in

The public high school here requires school uniforms. They are, of course, not cheap, but the uniforms (one skirt for Missy and shorts for Otterboy and 2 polo shirts each) that are obtained in year 9 usually last (barring any cataclysmic accidents) through year 11. At that point, the 'seniors' wear a different uniform for year 12 and (optional) year 13.

As a matter of responsibility and following directions, Missy and Otterboy rinse out their shirts and socks every day and, when the weather is nice, hang them on the clothesline. They do this each day without question.

I glanced out the kitchen window on Friday and noticed Missy's shirt on the line  and thought, 'Hmm, I guess Otterboy will do his after he's finished talking to Hubby.' No biggy.

I took the kids out on Saturday and when we came back, just Missy's shirt was hanging on the line. After a questioning look, Otterboy said he had done his clothes and hung them out and Missy chimed in that she had washed her skirt and tights and 'where were they?'

Apparently, shortly after Otterboy had hung his uniform out, someone stole nicked everything off the line except Missy's shirt. I couldn't believe it. Granted, the clothes line isn't inside the fenced area of the yard garden, but it's not exactly close to the street, either.

So, we get the shirt and skirt replaced--$98.00. And the skirt wasn't even hemmed!!

I hope whoever took them really needed them.


The harder a wife works, the cuter she looks

is the title of a fun book by Kate Parker and the Advertising Archives, here are a few favorites. My, how life has changed!


A few more random thoughts....

Ford Falcons look like older Ford Torinos.

Some of the companies that have just one product line in the US have a myriad of products here: Electrolux vacuums and  Bosch spark plugs, for example.

There is a scene in a tv ad advert where a lady says two words--and one of them is grammatically incorrect! So much for setting an example for the kids.

I still wear sterling silver jewelry every day that is over 12 years old and still looks great. We bought sterling wedding bands for the ceremony and they took a matter of months before they were worn through to the crappy brass (I assume) inside. What is up with that?

The school system still has no respect for parents/guardians. They regularly give out notices on Friday of trips or tests or something that costs money and expect us to miraculously cough up with whatever is necessary by Monday. How rude.

It's no secret that NZ is anti-American most of the time. You can read it in the news and blogs most every day. But, I don't see people flocking to NZ for freedom or asylum. And, I guess it's not worth the trouble to try to sneak into the country illegally for all the 'wonderful benefits' one can find here. Kinda makes you want to go, 'Hmmmm....'.

As I recall, I have yet to see any advertisement on the telly to get us to use bleach on our white clothes to get them clean.  And there are very few fabric softener adverts, either.

There is an influx of products that have demonic names and brands here, like the pizza company that I discussed in an earlier post and sports drinks. I wonder if they would survive in the US.

I guess it's a matter of the US breaking away from English ties that makes the figures of speech so different. I find it strangely interesting that people are 'in hospital' instead of 'in the hospital' or that' High' Street here is 'Main' Street in the US.

'Full stop' is the period at the end of a sentence and also an expression of total completeness.

In Stratford, and in most places, the only shops open on Sundays are take-out take-away shops. And bars, of course.

I still am not used to the NZ pronunciation of 'teen' numbers. Here 'thirteen' is pronounced 'third-een'. The others leave off the 't' sound, too, but are not as obvious.

I have given up on trying to figure out when flowers and shrubs should be in bloom. Hubby says they know that the shortest day has passed and that's why they start to grow and bloom. To me, it's still winter, so they should still be hibernating! Alas, I will simply enjoy the pretty blooms and not worry about whether they are on time or not.


Need suggestions

We will be having a holiday in the Nelson/Picton area of the South Island in January and I was wondering if any of my bloggy readers can suggest anything for a family to do. We will have 2 teens with us.

Any suggestions you can give will be greatly appreciated!