You want me to do what?

OK, so exercise is not my strong point.  I have many excuses for not getting up off my butt more than I do--a few (ok, one) is even legit.  But I can't ever see myself lifting weights. For some reason, it seems to me that laundry baskets and vacuum cleaners are heavy enough and I carry dishes and clothes a fair distance and in my world that constitutes lifting weight; ergo, exercise.
The other day I read about a gym in England that was trying to make weightlifting more 'interesting' and 'personal'.  So, I looked at the picture of the 'weights'.....
and all I could think of was one of their faces in mine, screaming like a drill sergeant about how I should be doing more lifting, doing it faster, doing it better.... 
On the other hand, I have to give the 'weights' credit for supplying the demand this gym has created.
And, just in case you think I made this up, here is the actual article.

A British gym is trying to add human interest to otherwise dreary workouts by replacing traditional dumbbell weights with human ones.
The Gymbox chain gym in central London says fitness enthusiasts can now swap their usual lumps of metal for human beings in a range of shapes and sizes.
According to the gym's owner Richard Hilton, it's all about visualising strength.
"Creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel is proven to improve physical and psychological performance," he said in a statement. "The human weight lifting apparatus. . . is the ultimate embodiment of visualisation theory."
The human weights range from the "Dainty Dwarf" 32-year-old Arti Shah, who weighs just 30kg, up to the "Super Human" weight of 37-year-old – and 155kg – Matt Barnard.

I need to lie down.....



You'd be surprised how much one takes for granted living in a huge, industrious, competitive place like the US.  There are many things that make me stop in my tracks for a moment and realize that I'm not in Kansas any more.
  • Wiper blades for the car have to be cut to size when you get them home
  • You learn to buy on the spot because it might not be available again--ever
  • Ground coffee is not a viable option for homes
  • Those 'imported' items--like cameras and cars--that are sooo expensive are the norm here
  • There are very strict laws on bringing anything organic into the country
  • Windows have net curtains in about 3 different designs in the whole country
  • Political correctness is very optional here
  • Light switches are opposite of US--down is on and up is off.
  • There are few stray animals roaming the streets
  • Ice in cold drinks is non-existent in restaurants
  • No one has ever heard of 'iced tea' here
  • No one has ever heard of 'long island iced tea' here
  • Microwave mac and cheese is just catching on--the step kids had never eaten mac and cheese  before I made some from scratch 
  • All cars have to be inspected yearly or semi-yearly, depending on how old it is
  • Insulation in new houses is only required the last 30 years or so
  • You can tell the dairy farmers had a great year because there are more John Deere's around
  • There is very little trash on any highway or town street
  • Houses have doors in just about every doorway
  • Sun hats are required for kids to play outside at school
  • There are very few brand names I recognize: palmolive, John Deere, uncle bens, raid, nescafe, best foods (owner of hellman's mayo), kellogg's, nestles, act II popcorn
  • Nothing costs a dollar, hence 'the 2 dollar shop'
  • The BBC shows lots of stuff on tv, on local and cable channels
  • Most schools require uniforms
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive, but you get the idea.

Home life and family are not different at all.  Kids still need love and attention, hubby still goes to work, we rent a movie now and again, I enjoy cooking meals that we eat while we discuss important issues at the table, schedules get a bit hectic with after-school activities.

Now, where did Toto get to?


School ain't what it used to be!

We went shopping for school supplies last week, spending over $120 for two kids to get back to school.  This does not include any text books at all--just stationery for each class.  For my yankee friends and those who haven't been in school for a while, this is what our money converted to:

It sure is different than when I was in school.  Back then, we got a 2- or 3-ring binder, a few packs of loose-leaf paper and a few pencils and we were all set for all our classes!

Nowdays, each class has it's own requirements.  Most of the books are soft covered, but Otterboy needed 2 that are hard covered, too.

On top of that, his list suggested also that they be covered.  So we got rolls of what amounts to contact paper--which is very frustrating to use, but thankfully, he isn't all that fussed about perfection!  

That, too, is different from "covering" books back in the stone age. We covered the text books to keep them in good re-selling order. And it was all done with a few paper bags from the store.  Anybody remember that?!

My how things have changed.


It's not just me!

I know it sounds harsh using the word "rude" to describe the acts of others--especially a whole "country" [that's as big as Nebraska]--especially a country that has allowed me to move here, but no country is perfect [as I hear every day from some kiwi how bad America is, blah, blah, blah] I really don't know any other word to use. But, let me tell you what happened yesterday...

We were shopping in New Plymouth and there was a very sweet South African cashier who checked us out.  She immediately noted the accents hubby and I have and she and I got into a quick conversation about kiwis and their attitudes. We agreed that kiwis in general aren't as polite as the folks we were used to in our home countries. 

As we spoke, I noticed that there were many other customers (presumably kiwis) looking and listening, which is a bit rude in itself, but maybe they can realize that having a good time talking to strangers who are waiting on you is fun!
It's not an easy thing to teach two teenagers that some of the culture they have inherited is not acceptable behavior.  We don't bump heads over too many things, but they just don't seem to be able to understand that one must look around before you take off across an aisle at the grocery store or that allowing other people to walk past you is preferable to just scooting into someone's path.

So now I know it's not just me and American values that are different.


I am impressed with NZ

Moving from midwest, US, to New Zealand isn't really all that different if you just look down the street. And most of the day-to-day workings of life here aren't all that different from life in Kansas. But, finally, I have found something that really stands out from the American way of life.   

We got an electric bill that had a refund in it! Not just a refund, but a letter explaining that we are not on the most economical plan they offer for our money and a statement that we have automatically been switched to that plan. Never in a million years would that happen in America!

Most of the laws here rely on self-control and common-sense--which I find refreshing, to tell the truth.  I mean, I should be responsible for my actions and shouldn't try to find someone else to blame when I have a lapse of smarts. But, apparently, the electric companies are legally obliged to let consumers know the most economic way to heat and cook.  I am impressed.

However, I have found an inconsistency here that I intend to make noise about, and it is this:

If your car gets caught speeding by a speed camera that has been set up in a car parked along the road (there are too many open spaces and not enough population to create revenue for police to cover a lot of the country here), the owner of the car gets sent a ticket and is expected to pay it.  

Now, I am assuming that the police figure that if it's your car, you should be responsible for it even if it's not you that is driving at the time.  That seems reasonable to me.

However, if I take a video of the idiot "boy racers" cutting doughnuts in front of my house, I have to have the driver's face clearly identified before the law will issue any kind of warrant.  It seems to me that if I'm responsible if someone is speeding in my car--even if it isn't me--I should be responsible if some fool is making little-boy marks on the pavement in my car--even if it isn't me.


Summer is here!

Well, it's getting to be summer again.  It was 40C [which is 104F for my yankee friends] today. I do love the warm much more than I despise the cold and hubby has promised that we will move someplace much warmer when the kids are a bit older.    Until then, the summer pjs that I brought with me from Kansas will, most likely, stay in the drawer, since the nights are quite chilly under the mountain and I've only worn them one night since I've been here.

This, my friends, is some of the best surfing in the world--or so I am told.  This is in the southern part of Taranaki.  Personally, I will just take someone else's word for it because I have no intentions of taking up the sport.  Maybe the biggest reason is that I have never really lived close to an ocean, so I feel very insignificant when I stand on the shore and I'm pretty sure that the water wouldn't be upset if it swept me out to my doom.

There is an interesting story behind this rock.  Keeping in mind the aforementioned fact that the surfing is great here, apparently at the end of this road is one of the best places for it.  Locals, however, are reluctant to share the tides and beach with those pesky visitors that want to surf, so they would tear down the street signs to Stent Road. They did it so many times that the local sign-putter-uppers got tired of replacing the signs and just painted the name of the road on the rock.  No more worry about signs--however, the do have to repaint the name occasionally when it gets whitewashed. 

At Waverley [also in southern Taranaki], we were greeted one day with red seaweed littering the sands.  That was so very cool to see.  It seems that it is a bit rare but it has commercial potential.  Find out more by clicking here.
For those who are keeping up with the duckling situation, the total to date is 12 broods with over 70 ducklings! A brood of 7 showed up the day after Christmas and a Mom with a lone baby appeared today.  Yes, I still think they are adorable especially now that most of the others have found somewhere else to call home but we are still going to net the pond.  I'm sure the grass won't grow half as well without duck poo everywhere, but cleaning it up....  


Some interesting things in the new year

I know I didn't do much travelling when I lived in the states, but I am convinced that there is a vast difference in the two countries when it comes to decorating gardens ['yards' in Yank].  
These are floats for large fishing nets that are hung in the tree.

On the gate to the driveway is this sign for a hospice house on the beach called 'A House for Karen'.  Some teen jerks stole the electric appliances before it got to be used.  We were all glad they were caught!

Most farms that extent to both sides of the road have put in underground paths for the cows, but this is one of the few places left where cows have to cross the road to get to the milking shed.

Tv programs are erratic in their starting times during holidays since there are no ads all day long.  I can live with that.   But the thing that really amuses me is that this country is very far from being politically correct about anything--especially the US!!-- but there are no ads on tv on Sundays before noon. This isn't a particularly 'religious' country, so that seems a bit odd.

Unless we win the lottery, I don't think I will ever be picking out a dishwasher any time soon--not a big deal, I promise.  But the ads on tv for them always show two dishwashers side by side under the cabinet. Do they advertise them in pairs in America?  Please let me know.  OK, I won't give up living if I don't find out, but it's a very bizarre feeling to wonder if what you see on tv is up to date or years behind the rest of the world.  

Kinda like tv...my first thought is that we get second hand programs from the US and England, even with some of the cable stations.  I know that the episodes of Dexter and NCIS and Bones we see are at least a few months behind their showing in the states.  And the Simpsons are everywhere!! [I must admit that I never watched them before I got here, but things change when there are kids in the house!]  We get Mythbusters on one of the four major stations and also on Discovery Channel, but they are all reruns---Discovery is reruns of reruns!

I see that 'Emergency 911' is coming back to NZ tv. Apparently, it causes quite a stir when it was here last time.  Since the emergency number here is '111' there had to be a 911 number set up to redirect emergency calls to the correct number! 

I used to be very content knowing that the US government was rolling along without my help and without me knowing much of what they did since there were so many government agencies doing so many governmenty things.  I was happy not knowing the details.  Not so here.  The country is so small that every little thing the government does is pretty much all over the news.  I think I prefer the 'ignorance is bliss' concept since I'm probably not going to like most of what goes on and who is doing it to whom anyway [that is, if I actually knew who the heck they were talking about and who all was involved!]

Now, there's one thing of late that I do understand.  It's about a rich guy here who owns a chain of stores. His comments about charity

THE retail king Gerry Harvey may have a personal fortune of about $1.6 billion but the Harvey Norman founder thinks donating to charity is "just wasted".
Asked in a new book about the role he and Harvey Norman play in the community, Mr Harvey said giving money to people who "are not putting anything back into the community" is like "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason".

have lost him a lot of business, including ours.

Oh, well, I can't say life isn't interesting here.