December 2008, Christmas and motorbikes

Attended our office Christmas party on Dec. 6 and was the only one to volunteer to be Santa. NZ is definitely not a big celebrator of Christmas or in my office for that matter. Much more like summer holidays than Christmas.

A couple of shots of my room in Wellington. I'm living in a 4 bedroom townhouse on the edge of the Central Business District (CBD) with a decent garage. My room has a balcony with ocean views, yes! It's like being in Paris in the spring, haha.


Rudoph, who was the Secret Santa gift I received at the office party, helped me open my presents from my mom and grandparents.

Sweet diving flash light (torch for UK and Southern Hemi)

Boxing Day and the Wanganui Races. My first live bike races, may be next year I'll race, Yeah Right! Saw a couple of crashes and top speeds of 200km plus on this rare street race circuit. Not a lot of Street races left in the world. I believe the most famous one is the Island of Man, UK.

Great day for a ride.
Lots of riders passing by and tonnes of cops.

Some of the race day group. Glen made it out of the house as he has been feeling pretty good for the last couple of days.

A mate of the group, Jarod. I think he managed a fourth in one of the races.

How am I not a sports reporter? I guess the only thing missing is a sweet interview.

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Time to take it to the track! Lovely photoradar I got in November. 25km over in a 50km = $170 and apparently it's enough in NZ to send this photo with a hand recorded license number.

Movember 2008, My friend Glen and other stuff

Before I begin for November, please cross your fingers and hope for the best for my good friend Glen (39) who was diagnosed with Lymphoma a couple of weeks ago (beginning of December). He is in the hospital getting treatment right now and has some challenges ahead. Glen is part of the great couple who took me in when I first got to Wellington even though they didn't know me at all. My motorcycle instructor Rachel (a Wellington girl living in Canada at the time) introduced me over email saying they were to people to talk to about motorbikes in NZ. Lynnda asked if I needed a place, I thought that was nice and they picked me up from the Airport when I got to town (Feb 2007). 8 days later I crashed a motorcycle and when I got out of the hospital they put me up again for another week until my mother came down to take care of me. It took Glen a week or so to start talking to me in the first person, but since then it's been a blast. Get well mate!!!

So, Movember. I raised $270 for Men's Health and Prostate Cancer. Thank you to all, especially the donations from Canada, which I didn't expect at all. Ah what the hell, thanks Bonny, Bill, Brian, Nicola, Emma, Terry, Tracy, Bruce, Mari and Michael. Here's the result...

Day 1
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Final Result, next year I have something special in mind.


Mid November there was Toast Martinborough. Once a year in a little town over the hills about an hour from Wellington they hold Toast. This is an excellent event that boasts great wine sampling, food and music. Shuttles take you around to 10 boutique type vinyards that mostly specialize in Pinot Noir. They could easily hold this twice in a summer as the 10,000 tickets sold out in 20 minutes. Good sun that day and good fun.

Claire, Tory, Emma and Nicola.

Nic and I

Drunken train ride home. Claire, Me, Nic, Rob.


A joyous moment of getting my finger prints. I will try to keep the story short. In order to get a Security Check from Canada while I am in NZ I have to send finger prints to Canada from a NZ police station. Canada then does a search on these and I get the result (nothing, as I have never had prints taken before) in 120 days or less. Then I will be a NZ resident! This process of prints from NZ to Canada and back cost me $100 NZ and will effect my plans in 2009 as I need to stay in NZ for 6 months 1 day once I am approved hopefully some time in Jan/Feb 2009.

More detail if you want it...
Why I need Prints. Initially I picked up a security letter from Calgary (with out prints) before I came back down to NZ. It was no good because all the applications here have finger print searches which is a product of proving to Canada from NZ that you are who you say you are. (My guess)When Canada started receiving prints to prove who you were some where along the way they started searching for prints purely because they had them in their hands. Now the system is backlogged 120 days. Brillant! Sad part is, if you apply in Canada to the NZ embassy or whatever it is, you do not need to provide finger prints. Yet another glich in an otherwise perfect system. Even sadder is I tried to explain this to my African immigration officer who of course didn't go for it even after I provided a second letter directly from the RCMP stating I was cleared, but a finger print search had not been done (the exact letter you would use if you applied in Canada). My immigration officer SUCKS and for more than just this. It amazes me that an immigrant like herself is so hard on other immigrants. Just had to get that off my chest.

October 2008 Work, Bike arrives and more

Well October is gone! What did I do? Attended my companies' 35th anniversary, received my motorbike, sold my bosses car and had a Kiwi Halloween.

Attended the 35th Anniversary of Octa Associates in Auckland (50 staff plus partners). It was a good time and very good to meet the rest of the company that is seeded in 4 major cities in NZ. The company picked up the first night in a great hotel, an incredible dinner at the War Museum atop one of the major parks in Auckland and an amazing breakfast on Saturday. The Museum dinner was a make shift restaurant right in the middle of the beautiful lobby that never serves food. After the museum some of us went to town to represent. The first bar was a bit slow so we we decided to leave and as we were walking out the door in came 3 directors and drunken Howard. I was beside myself that A) they found us and B) it was after 12 am when they joined up and one of them was still going when I left at 3:30am. Could this be the right company for me?

On Saturday I got to have drinks with Brad Senior and Tracy who I hadn't seen in a while. I finally found some good bars in Auckland although it did remind me of Canada a bit too much (lots of money throw around on looks).

Me and the rest of the company viewing a Maori Dance (one of the dances being a "Hakka" made famous by the All Blacks, NZ's world famous rugby team)

The Wellington team
Me, Howard (Rough Diamond), Andrew (Comment for all occasions), Sharlene, John (Director and tallest), Nicci (Surfer), Marlene (Smiling with Wine), Sarah (Social club leader), Bruce (Carrying the team), and
Terry (Future head of family) and Ben (Irish handcuffed) in front.


My baby came to town. Well Akira arrived in good shape after only 1 month (Sept. 28 to Oct. 22, Van to Welly). It was great to finally get it out of the box and everything else I had shipped with it. Hockey stuff, golf stuff, tools and in soles which I'm loving. Sure you can get everything in NZ, sort of, but the stuff from home is the best and it's much cheaper.

Thanks to Ben and Gavin for the hand. I couldn't have done it without you!

The brothers sharing the garage at work. Morning Star (1998 Honda VFR)and Akira (2001 Honda VFR). Which one do you like better? As a parent I like them both equally!


Brad the Used car salesman. As most of you know I'm a pretty good wheeler and dealer when it comes to selling cars and motorbikes. Probably all kinds of crap if I have the time. Anyhow, when I returned to NZ and got back to the office in Sept. I went in the garage to ensure I had parking for my motorcycles. To my surprise I saw one of my bosses' 328 CI sitting there had been in there since I left. He now has a shining new one (530?). Even though there was lots of room for my bikes and the old BMW, the poor communal company car was left in the rain. Since no one else in the company is a wheeler and dealer like the "kid" I decided to sell it on the Kiwi version of Ebay = Trademe. I thought it would be fun to clean up the BMW and take it for a couple of test drives in order to see what was good and bad for my ad. Also it would be a good experiment to learn more about how trademe operates and since I got cleaned up selling a mates car at the Auctions last year I was all for trademe. To shorten the story; Everyone had no faith, I sold it in 3-4 weeks for what I thought was peanuts (poor market with recession, $10,300 for 1999 BMW 328 CI) and everyone congratulated me like a hero. Perhaps I should look at a career as a Used car salesman, one of the least respected jobs on the planet.

What an amazing photo!


Halloween. Good. Unfortunately no photos from the actual Halloween turned out as the bar was quite dark. The night was good even though few dress up on Halloween in NZ, but every year it grows.

Ben and I went as Hans and Franz Van Schnitzel, Twin Tennis Stars from Luxembourg.

September 2008, back in NZ

Long time no update.

Firstly, a quick shout out to the Juno Thai restaurant. Got your note and glad the Kitchen is up to date! (see Juno blog for reference)

Ok. So, before I left Canada I decided to send my baby, "Akira" to NZ and learn the importing process. MAF, Customs, Port charges, blah, blah, blah. I'm sure I will publish after it's over.

Me, my first helmet, my first jacket, my first gloves and My first bike bought in Aug 2005 (photo from Aug 05 after owning it for 24 hours).

Knowing that shipping the bike would be a bit of a project, I relied on my good friend Brendan fitting the wood and kicking me in the ass to complete it. He always manages to forge through on whatever the task and the bike was no exception even though I was 50% on whether or not to send it. Brendan built a wooden case around a metal frame that my friend Mike had picked up from Trevor at G W cycle last year. I had hoped to send the bike then, but that didn't happen for one reason or another. Good thing I waited as I was able to take my last North American trip on Akira to Alaska which completed over 30,000 km in North American in 3 years. So, once Brendan got the wood ready and I got the bike ready I brought in Bill and Mark for energy and power before wing night completely slipped away. After some interesting pauses and maneuvers the bike settled in and was boxed. Finally, we ate wings and drank beer!!!

Brendan and I, and Akira with some extras (hockey gear and golf clubs) on final box up night.

Off to NZ with dodgey truck driver. Not show in the photo, we almost dropped the entire crate off the back end of the truck when the driver left the park brake off a little too long. Hard to explain, but believe me it won't have been good.


Video at the Vancouver Airport just before flying back to NZ.

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Made it to NZ and I got picked up from the Wellington Airport by my welsh brother Gareth and went to his for a planned two weeks (see October). Gareth and his partner Dorit are fabulous flatmates and have a great spot up in Brooklyn with views. I hope everyone is as luckily as me to have people take them in like Dorit and Gareth.

Back on the Job. Back to work and funny enough the projects I left 3 months ago were in the exact same place. I guess that makes me feel important as nothing gets done with out me or there were a lot more important projects to worry about? I choose the first option!

Shot of "Casual Friday" me reviewing a flooring issue at a lab at the Malaghan Institute (Cancer research). Work is work with a side dish of fun.


Immigration note: It sucks to immigrate! Checked my residency status to find out that I was missing a couple of things. Example: RCMP security clearance (apparently the Calgary Cop search of Canada is not as good as the RCMP search of Canada. Oh, by the way they are the same search!) and original degree, etc. Anyhow, sorting it out and should have it to them in October. Stay tuned!

August 22-24 Baseball Tourney / Fire jump

For 8 years in a row I have attended the Engineering Slo-pitch finals and this year was probably the best for multiple reasons. A good weekend of slo-pitch, sun, drinking, campfires and Seventies ball outfits!

Baseball Fun.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Rico Costa.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. S T.

Instead of the coin toss, 4 people relay around the bases to win home field advantage. Each runner has to drink a beer when they get to their designated base, place it upside down on their head when the beer is done which starts the next team member to their designated base. Mine was first base and I got us a nice lead. Practice pays off.

Alex Harms brought home the win and home field advantage.

Injury time out as the butt muscle was still not fully healed.

Campsite fun.

Off to the river for a dip.

Beer darts. NOTE THE SIZE OF THE 4 FOOT HIGH SILVER FIRE PIT BEHIND STEVE.

The object is to puncture the can, not stick it in the tab. Once the can is punctured your opponent must drink it.

And finally the Fire jump. It's a bit of a funny video and the jump isn't that clear, but a good laugh anyway. Enjoy.

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Oh yeah and the next day with hang overs galore we won the whole dam thing!

Last Day of the Alaska Trip! August 22/ Day 28

The final day finally came and boy was it beautiful. For a trip full of low temp and rain this day was more welcomed than Sunscreen to an Australian!

Started around 8:30 am from Kelowna with a very healthy hang over considering I only had 4 hours sleep. It really wasn't too bad. I decided to take the long way back to Revelstoke which is 350 km and two ferry rides versus 150 km, so the day was going to be long and hopefully worth it.

Between Kelowna and Vernon.

Hwy 6 from Lumby to the Needles ferry was absolutely amazing and the best ride of the trip. Mostly motorcycles on this piece of British Columbia heaven. A couple of choppy spots and a section of fresh pavement, which was as smooth as a marble counter top. C=9,R=7,T=1,V=8.

Shots taken on less challenge areas of the road. It's always hard to get the good stuff as I usually need to pay attention and there are not very many places to stop.

At the Needles ferry landing.

Fauquier to Revelstoke. Good. C=6,R=8,T=2,V=8. Barely made the 20 minute ferry from Galena bay. Had I missed it the day would have been another hour longer which I couldn't afford.

Revelstoke to Calgary was hampered with traffic and construction (at Lake Louise). I rode a little crazy going up the shoulder in spots to by pass 8 km of crawling vehicles after Golden. C=3, R=6, T=7, V=7.

Rogers Pass Tunnel (one of 5 or 6?)

Wonderful Traffic.

Alberta welcomed me home.


Well that's it! I made it back to Calgary at 7:30 pm, had a quick shower, grabbed my baseball gear and all the stuff off the bike, packed it in to the truck and went to Carseland for a weekend of fun!!!

August 21, Kelowna

Short day as it was raining and the next promised to be beautiful and sunny so I elected to stay in Kelowna, which was only 350 km from Maple ridge.
Maple Ridge to Hope on hwy 7 is awesome. Mountains, Prairie type valleys, and rivers. No pics as it was raining too much. C=5, R=7,T=3,V=8. Oh and Hope is where they filmed "First Blood" with Sylvester Stallone. A classic.

Hope to Merritt on the Coquihalla ($5 toll road). I couldn't believe it. On each side of the toll both which sits in the middle of this section of road there are two completely different weather patterns! Hope to the Toll booth was and is usually rainy and that day was as low as 8 C. From the Toll booth to Merritt starting literally on the other side of the booth it was dry and temp of 13 C. I couldn't believe it and when I asked people in Merritt they told me it's usually like that. Wow. C=6,R=8,T=4,V=7.

Cool Rainbow. Stayed behind the rain for most of this stretch stopping every once in a while and getting some good pics.

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That's how I saw it.


Sweeping decline in to the Okanagan Valley. Merritt to Kelowna C=6,R=7,T=3,V=8.


Stayed at Samesun Bakpakers. Really good and got in to some drinking games with another 20 people. Went to Roses with a good group. Me and the Canadian version of Ben Affleck.

Yet another cool French-cdn girl, Ariane.