Monday, June 21, 2010

It's a slice of heaven (Dave Dobbyn and Herbs)

Well - we're back in Nu Zild after 7 months away. Biddy's funeral was a dignified affair - appropriate to a dignified lady and that wasn't surprising given that Biddy arranged everything - service, casket, etc. The guard of honour from her golfing buddies was a lovely poignant touch.

It's all been topsy turvey since we left Doha last Thursday afternoon. A night in Dubai was followed by the flight to Sydney on the Airbus 380. a short wait there and back onto the Airbus to Auckland. Ross and family met us at Auckland airport which was terrific. They ferried us over to the Domestic terminal and we had another wait until our flight to New Plymouth where we met Michelle. Phew - what an epic journey. But we are safely here. Where? Well I'm still in Waipukarau (Hawkes Bay region) for a few days before we head home to Stratford with Bazil (Sallie has been looking after him for us).

In other news: We had a frost this morning - from 45 degrees in Doha to minus numbers is a little bit of a shock. New Zealand kept Italy to a draw in the world cup. The country is in raptures!! Go the kiwis!

That'll do for now. I'll fix up the blogsite in the next week and do another post once we're home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some sad news

Tena koutou - sadly for the second time in my blog's history I have to report the death of a loved one to my whanau.

Biddy Moore, at 96, passed away yesterday after a short stay in Waipukarau Hospital. Our thoughts are with her children Sallie and Tim.

She experienced a wonderful and healthy life for 95 of those 96 years and my memories of her will be as one of life's gracious women. I have known her as the matriarch of the family since I started going out with Jacky - so when Biddy was 69, and of course my own children have known her as the wonderful lady who made the scones and pikelets when we visited. Biddy always thought of others first and never wanted to be a bother - she told us not to come home on her account.

We are naturally on our way home earlier than planned (sorry Biddy - we just have to) and we will be able to attend her funeral on Monday.

Ka kite ano - Wozza

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Heaven... I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. (Fred Astaire)

I've already used the XTC line from Senses Working Overtime for one of my titles (And all the world is football shaped of course) so we have heaven instead.

Four years after watching the 2006 world cup while living in England (what an atmosphere!!) I now find myself watching one in Qatar. The journey to actually get the games live on my TV has been as action packed as the journey NZ actually took to get to South Africa!

First I discovered that the games were not on Orbit Showtime (Arrgghh) but on Al Jazeera so I went to the lady behind the counter at the special Al Jazeera TV booth at Villaggio to buy a special card to get the games. Alas - she told me I needed a 6 month subscription etc etc and mega riyal. Aarrrggghhh!

Luckily my friend Rami gave me a good tip that a card could be bought from a guy at another mall for 300 riyal without any subscriptions so I made my way there. Plus, Rami added, he spoke English. When I got there he was surrounded by guys holding money, speaking Arabic and wearing forelorn expressions. Apparently it was a 2 hour queue. So it turned out. And when I say queue please don't picture an orderly English style queue. This is a everyone for themselves queue. But I eventually parted with the 300 riyal and finally got a card.

Now all I needed was a machine to put the card in. My friend Colin in the apartment above is in the UAE at present and he indicated I was able to use his machine...I thought I was about to watch some world cup. Not quite yet.

So far the process had taken a week and the opening game was the next day. I tried the card in Colin's machine but alas no luck and no signal - another trip back to the Hyatt Mall. When I got back to my mall friend he said - it only plays on a Humax machine. Okay. AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Now I had to track down a Humax digital machine that would take a card - I managed to snaffle the last one in a Carrefour store at another mall. Another bunch of riyals later we head home (Jacky has been VERY patient).

Back home - and a frantic search for the Al Jazeera World Cup channel - finally located at number 449 (of about 1200 channels!!) and minutes away from kickoff - South Africa verses Mexico...and the signal vanishes (some satellite problem apparently). AAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

All was not lost though. It came back for the second game (France vs Uruguay - a frenetic affair that I actually loved!) and I was finally - wait had been worth it - in heaven.

Tonight is England vs USA. Come on England (and come on NZ on Tuesday)!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When that fat old sun in the sky is falling, summer evenin' birds are calling (Pink Floyd)

Some traumatic happenings in Wozza's World this week with the departure of Najma. It's okay - he is fine but ownership has been transfered to a friend's parents. I'll explain.

A decision was looming over Najma (our canary pictured left). The bird man at the souq where we got Najma was willing to buy him back before we left Doha but we preferred to find him (the bird, not the bird man) a better home.

I asked around all my Cognition friends and luckily one of the members of the dream team (Reem, Rami, Andrea, and... me natch) volunteered to take custody. I handed over Najma on Monday during our presenting session at the Marriott Hotel, Najma having successfully made his way past security, to Rami who was giving Najma to his mum.

I am pleased to report that Najma - the best singer and most spoiled bird in Doha - and new parents are doing well.

In other news - I've spent the week marking Action Research assignments...written in Arabic! I can report that this turned into much more of a fun activity than it should have been because I was working with three great translators. Some of the research projects were outstanding in quality given that the participants only had 10 weeks to complete them.

One though will remain in the memory longer than others. The participant's chosen topic centred on researching why students lie. The researcher gave out a questionnaire to the students to ascertain the reasons why they felt compelled to lie, but unfortunately the data was found to be unreliable...because they lied!

We received some emails from Samantha during they week with some news of her road trip around America with Jesse. Here are some edited highlights so far (I promised my dad I'd do this):
Jesse graduated last Friday (it was fantastic, he looked great and the grad
party at his mum's later the same evening was amazing!!) so we moved out on
Saturday and got on the road Sunday morning after saying our goodbyes to Jesse's
Dad and mum. We hit Sacramento first and stayed at Rich's parents' house for the
night, which was lovely cos his mum is an amazing chef and baker...yummy to the
max! The next day we drove up towards Portland and made it just past the Oregon
border and camped for the night, with my other flatmate Peter and his brother
Colin and girlfriend Sarah. The next day we drove the rest of the way to
Portland and stayed at Pete's parent house, Portland is a really cool city and
is covered with trees and would love it. The next day (yesterday)
Jesse and i drove up and crossed the Oregon border into Washington. We took the
scenic ( and very long) way around Olympic National park to get into Seattle.
What should have been an easy 2 1/2 hour drive took from 9am-12am to complete but it was beautiful and even included the town where 'Twilight' was set and filmed. So we arrived at the Seattle ferry around 11.10pm last night and rode it
all the way into Seattle. This morning we toured the Washington University
campus (which looks a lot like Cambridge or Oxford campus life) and had a tastly
sandwich in town. Tomorrow we leave Seattle and head into Idaho (along Glacier
park or something like that) and then onto Montana to see Mt Rushmore and
yellowstone National park...

We have spent the last two days National park hopping in Montana (Glacier
Nat Park and Yellowstone) and here in Wyoming's own Grand Tetons. It has been an amazing drive so far with spectacular views and rare animal encounters.
Some of which include: Bald Eagles, 2x Black bears (a mother and her cub- i saw
the from the car and they we right behind two unsuspecting hikers by a river, so
i shouted "a bear!" and Jesse pulled over so i could warn the people that these
two huge bears were behind them) elk, Bison, White Fox, hundreds of deer (one of
which Jesse narrowly avoided at night on the road), Chipmunks, Osprey and lots
of other cool birds. I'm sure there will be more on this list by the time we
reach New York. Today's aim is South Dakota so Mt Rushmore and Badlands=
One of Jesse's graduation photos stars Fanfa (cute ain't they).

Ka kite ano - love and peace - Wozza