November 2009, On the move again


A busy November had a little bit of site seeing in Vancouver, flying back to NZ, wine drinking in Martinborough, political unrest in the Nation's Capital and my first paid film job in 2 years!

I made my way back to NZ in early November. Before getting to there I stopped in to see my old friend from university days, Davy B, who has been living in Vancouver for the past 7 years or so. Lately he has been living the dream on the weekends when he gets out of the city to his farm in the beautiful Okanagan Valley about 3 hours from Van. Good thing I stopped in on a Wednesday / Thursday in order to catch him in the city. Thanks for picking me up, showing me around and returning me safely to the airport. Good times.

Thursday night on the town. Gastown Steam Clock behind me.

Davie B and myself at the Cambie.

A friend Carol and Gassy Andy a busker / bum who I paid $5 to use his guitar and sing a couple of tunes on the street for the peeps. My hopes were to scratch playing for money off my list of things to do, but unfortunately Andy keep intercepting the earnings as I was busy playing. I'm going to count it anyway! Too bad I didn't think to get the video rolling either, damn.


Last Canadian Sushi for a while and it was fantastic.

Back to NZ Friday Nov 6/Nov. 8. The flight from Vancouver to Auckland takes approximately 14 hours and you lose a day, so I left Friday night in Van and arrived in Auck Sunday morning.

First return as a NZ Resident, wow!


Absolutely awesome view of Mt. Taranaki which stands along the west coast of the North Island about 4 hours drive from Wellington.


Back one week and already into the NZ culture. Toast Martinborough, which is an annual event held in mid November where the wineries / vineyards of the town and area put on a party. With wine, food, music and shuttles to and from the surrounding 10 or so spots it's a good day out especially if you get the weather. A bit windy this year, but sunny enough to make us all happy.

The beginning at Leuven in Wellington before getting on the train.

A quick look around TK wineries about 12 ish.


Sarah, Dave and I on one of the shuttles.

Having a good boogie at Escarpment around 3pm.

Alex and me in the back, Sarah, Dave, Laura, Emma and Shane. Great photo taken by Niels.

Late in the day and the cops are starting to take control or are the kiwi patrons getting out of control? "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?"


November 17, the Battle between the Government of NZ and the Motorcyclists of NZ begins.

With the election of the National party last year in NZ a focus on ACC levy increases has begun again (ACC is the government body that compensates and covers everyone involved in accidents). ACC have recently claimed that motorcyclist should pay higher ACC levies when registering a bike as they are costing high compensation levels. Currently my 800 cc bike costs about $300 per year and if this policy is implemented I will have to pay approximately $800 per year, Ouch!!! Silly government, don't they know that radical change doesn't happen in politics. This is also amusing as it has been stated that the ACC had a $1 MM surplus last year.

So, this spurred on a peaceful protest on Nov. 17 by bikers around NZ which consisted of bikers riding together into the city to convene on the Parliament grounds to confront the Minister of the ACC, Nick Smith.

It was an absolutely amazing experience with about 12,000 bikes turning up in comparison to the expected 4000 bikes. I have never felt so loved as a biker than on this day as we all road in to town paired over 5 to 10 km along the motorway to crowds of people waving and cheering. After arriving and hearing the biker supporter speeches I was amazed to see the ACC Minister address the crowd. And even more amazed to hear him say, "I was unaware that the levy increases would be this substantial." He must have been on vacation that day? At the end of his speech Nick Smith left to chants of "Bullshit" and disappeared back in to the "Beehive" (NZ parliament building). This is expected to be only the beginning and other motorists should be preparing their fight if ACC pushes through this policy for bikes.

One of the two main start locations for the ride into the city.


Riding in...




Great day to see every kind of bike.

This 3 wheeler had a V8 in it and I doubt it would be legal in any other country.

My first interview on the Life of Brad.


And finally as the month moved to a close I managed to pick up some TV work as a Production Assistant / Transport from my good buddy Carly at Kraft:haus (a group I worked for in 2007 a couple of times and my link to getting on AVATAR (due out in Dec 2009)).

Carly brought me out to give a hand with a Web ONLY show they were doing for TV NZ called Reservoir Hill. 8 episodes shot one per week and heavy interaction with the audience who actually guides the character through the show via text messages. Very cool idea which has turned out to be quite a success claiming the number one spot on the TV NZ On-demand shows. I was involved in Episode 7 and 8 and was even given an Extra role in episode 8.

Some behind the scenes photos.

This scene was written to show teens that police are now testing for drugs as well as alcohol which was part of an agreement with LTNZ who sponsored this particular episode. We even used a real cop / ex-bouncer from da clubs.




Unfortunately I can not provide footage of the show as it is only webcast in NZ. Regardless the mug shot below is me in character as part of the "Hoodies". Take my word that it was a brilliant performance, may be too good as I was asked to stop moving so much. I'm no actor. And check out the Movember action.



what's next for our masked adventurer?

October 2009, Stag Kevin, Goodbye Civic, Halloween

A comfortable October passed me by with the Stag of a 5 year friend, the sale of my 10 year friend and my 15th drinking Halloween (legally).

The boys got together to put the gears to Kevin on his last single night out. With a belly full of drinks and food, a scottish theme and a skirt too short too be legal the stag raged on til the end. Good luck Kevin with the whole married life thingy. You found yourself a gem. Hope the wedding went well.


October also was the end of a friendship as the day came when I had to let go of my wonderful civic, Sato. Poor little guy had a good 5 years and then was forced to winter duty while I drove the 944 around in the summers, some SPFX duty on Heartland and then put in to a shed for the last two years during my time in NZ. No wonder he was blowing white and blue smoke from the tailpipe and a hole in the side of the exhaust by the back tire. Instead of getting $300 from the government recycling program I was able to find these genious from the hood who didn't mind the smoke screen that trailed the car ($700 and a Badminton racket). When the question of insurance inspection came up his friend said, "don't worry about an inspection, they will just ask you for it every couple of months by mail, but I just don't reply and nobody does anything". What a great system. Someone had to buy Sato and I would have felt bad selling him to anyone else. Ciao my friend.


Halloween 2009. 15 years of legal Halloween celebration as an adult, yay...

Muskateer, Otto and the Pope.

The Pope controlling vampires,

discipling devils,


and kicking ass!

A Hard nights work, but just another solid eve for the Pope.



Side notes while visiting my Grandparents in Saskatchewan...

A circular house?



October sky in Eston, SK, Canada.


Off to NZ...

September 2009, Work? NOOOOO!

In September I started updating some of my skills again and some new ones too. I went back to work at D'Angelo Photo Studio and I picked up some training sessions at Professional Skate. Plus I bought yet another bike, see below.

Two years ago I worked for Donna at D'Angelo Photo Studio doing restoration work and assisting the head photographer in order to learn lighting, composition, etc. And in September 2009 I have gone back to it hoping to gain more experience, especially in restoration which hopefully I can do a bit of in NZ when I'm back. I have enjoyed my time back at D'Angelo. It has been good to get back in to the photography world even though I think it will be more of a hobby in the future now that I have tasted all that is required to excel at this craft. There is a lot.

Front of the studio with Photographer Trevor and Restoration Expert Donna. Thanks guys.


Also in September I started training at a top notch Hockey shop called, "Professional Skate", which does just about everything hockey including work for some of the pros. How did I get this opportunity, and why am I doing this?

Firstly, why? While living in NZ the last couple of summers I really missed hockey and began investigating why Wellington has no Ice considering all the other bigger cities do. I'm still not really sure as there seems to be good interest in it, but the need is somehow filled by inline hockey for now. This does not work for me so I tracked down a few people involved in bringing Ice to Wellington and heard good things towards the end of 2009. Probably won't happen in 2009 due to the recession, but I thought while I was back home I could learn how to do things properly in order to get a good foot in the door when the rink does pop up. Hopefully we will be able to bring some of the Pro Skate guys down for NZ training sessions when that Ice is put in. Fingers crossed.

How did I get this oppurtunity? Beer! I went to Pro Skate to get my skate fixed and while I was there I asked if they could show me some services they provide to the hockey community. Apparently they liked my interest and agreed to a case of beer in order to use the facilities and get taught by the best. Miller Guinune Draft was not my idea of a case of beer, but that's for them to decide. Next case will be Big Rock (local Calgary beer). Some of the things I have learned in my Thursday morning sessions are sharpening, blade replacement and riveting, truing blades, machine maintanence, boot extrusion and stick tricks. Special thanks to Murph, Voldy, Boots, Mark, Josh and Peter for helping me along the way and letting me practice on junk stuff before I beat up on my own skates. Also, thanks for the job offer Murph, but you know I am just not cut out for full time work, yikes!

Voldy and Murph out front of Professional Skate.

Replacing rivets.

Sparking it up and sharpening that cool steel. The most important service!

No look! Thank god for the practice skate.


Now for the bike.

This is my previously owned 2008 Kawasaki KLR 650 which is to get me from Calgary to the tip of South America next Sept 2010. What do you think? It makes me smile.


And finally a couple of pieces of info for you. A friend of mine has started a Movie critic blog which makes me chuckle. Check it out http://thefantasticmrfilm.wordpress.com/ (note that some of the language is a bit heavy).

And...

On a final point of interest from Kraft in 1971.

August 2009, Canoing and Softball

Two events of note in August. A quaint little camping / Canoeing trip and Carseland 2009!

In mid August a handful of us made it out for a night to Todd Mcbride's Red Deer River Cabins. A very nice spot on the side of the Red Deer River about 10 minutes drive from Dinosaur Provincial Park. For those who don't know, Southern Alberta is home to many archaeological sites containing Dinosaur fossils. Todd was very informed on this, but unfortunately with the rain through out Saturday it left little time for a proper exploration of the Park on Sunday.

A bit of drinking games lead by Algernon and myself, a big meal on the BBQ as we huddled inside the mess area, a big outdoor fire once the rain stopped and a canoe trip on Sunday down the River. The biggest challenge of the weekend was navigating the muddy roads in and out of the place. Definitely a good spot to see for travellers from outside of Alberta, especially when it's sunny!

Drinking games

Fishing off the shore

Roaring warm fire.

Explanation vid for Sunday morning.


A couple solid hours of canoeing.

On the way home through the Indian Reservation I took this photo. Teepees set up everywhere for one of their weekend festivals (Pow Wows).



Then near the end of August there was Carseland 2009, a season ending softball tournament for the league I have played in every summer for the past 9 seasons. I have never missed a season ending tournament yet. Good times. Over the past 6 or 7 years the team has turned up in costume and this year it was Tennis players. Kind of a rib to all the other teams showing that we are there for a good time and softball isn't even our main focus.

Junior and I on our way out on Friday night.



Some of the crew. We actually had two teams this year and this was the group of hard cores out of those two teams that camped both Friday and Saturday. Good group of people.

Myself in my casual off court clothes.

Fireworks footage of Darrah on Friday night. Very entertaining stuff.


Tom Anderson the next morning leading the team in to battle.

Getting down to business.

Is it a ball in my pocket???

A classic video of how we choose home field advantage with IMV Projects every time we play them in the tournament. Beer Relay, have a look to see how it's played. Thanks for capturing it Tommy.



A good tournament again. This year we won some and lost enough not to win it all. Didn't do very well in the tennis either.



July 2009, The Wedding of CK and Jenny

Well, the big day finally arrived one week after Chris' Stag. As Best Man and MC I had my work cut out for me in front of a crowd of 80 or so. About 50% family and 50% friends from Engineering school and work mates from the Engineering / Computer world. Basically a bunch of people smarter than me who normally I would be quite nervous in front of. The ceremony and dinner was held all in the same place, "The Rouge". A very, very nice restaurant that grows their own vegetables in their backyard garden where everything was to take place. One ounce of rain could have seriously cramped the occasion, but fortunately not a drop was spilled by the clouds on this day. A nice and to the point ceremony began around 5:30 ish pm. Laughter, sighs and tears were all part of it as the two photographers and one surprise videographer recorded this moment to be set in time.

I was responsible for the rings which I had to bribed away from the 2 year old ring barrier, Zack, with a crayon that his mother provided me. Vows were exchanged and sealed with a kiss. The couple then signed the official docs and pre dinner drinks were consumed. After that I jumped in to action and got everyone to there seats for dinner and speeches. Of course I went first and set the tone for some very good words that followed by others. Chris's sister even through a pretty decent rap in to her 20 minutes on the mic. Once everyone was properly lubed up we proceed inside to the dance floor for some retro music and a good conclusion to the night.



Best of Luck to Chris and Jenny Klementis!

Some behind the scenes photos and video at the beginning of the day.


Finally with all our gear on in 30 C heat.

Pre wedding snags


The crew


Racing to the Ceremony...


July 2009, CK's Stag

So, I survived Stampede and moved right in to Chris's Stag party a week later. As the Best Man I was responsible for putting CK through his paces and making sure he got one last night of drinking, etc out of his system. One of the Classic Canadian Bachelor parties = Paintball, BBQ and Bar.

Not to say too much as I really shouldn't even be posting photos, but it was a good time. Now that most of us are in our thirties it was a well behaved evening except for loosing Martin. One casualty is not bad.

Bragg Creek Paintball in the afternoon. 29 deg C in those suits! I think we all lost about 3 or 4 lbs. Bill, Brad, Algernon, John, Mike, Jeff, Brad, Tom, CK, Kelvin, Me and Martin.

BBQ and a couple of rounds of shots/drinks.



Rounded up the boys and went to the Back Alley for some fun and yet another Bikini contest (not the norm in Canada, but fun anyhow).

All the boys decided to go as Brad's since there were already 3 of us in the group. Thanks Alge for the name tags.

CK in his "Game Over" shirt.

Kelvin and Brad, two of the more intoxicated of the tribe.

A good night. Stay Tune to see if CK goes through with it!