Wednesday, March 16, 2005



I want everyone to know the value of 24 hour internet cafes...sure I pretended to be looking up the local Rugby score but switched to the ticker giving the final and beautifully blue outcome of the ACC Tournament. Way to go, Dukies, way to go!

100% KIWI


Being in New Zealand you realize they have many special, quirky, different, uniquely New Zealand style, sayings and mannerisms. They don’t mind being an odd lot and in fact, I think, aspire to this type of recognition. I will dedicate this section to regular updates by color-coding information that will make this notion come to life:

When they are really happy with you they say “good on you!”.

They LOVE to say the word “schedule” or scheduling” but insist on pronouncing it as shed-ual or shed-ualing…I can’t help it, every time they do this, I bust a gut….they have yet to laugh with me.

The “kiwi” they are referred to, is not the fruit we are familiar with but rather a bird. What concerns me is this bird is for starters, a bird, secondly it is nearly extinct, thirdly—I’m not sure it knows how to fly or fly very well and lastly, it’s not too pretty. The fruit would be a step up.

They have this great beer: Tui and better yet, Tui has this great ad campaign…”yeah right”…so the billboards all over town are: Camilla for Queen, yeah right!

This teatime thing twice a day is really sweet and for me, has become addictive. But seriously what a tremendous opportunity it presents to take time out to pause and connect with your co-workers twice a day over tea and food.

I know I’ve mentioned the food here—but it deserves another mention. Everything is so fresh, so plentiful, made daily from scratch and displayed in every other café window you walk by which is as frequent as every other window, period. Somebody, please line up a person trainer for me upon my return.

I should also mention the wine. I have yet to turn down a glass. New Zealand wines are fantastic and that’s an understatement. Clearly, I have lost my mind, what use to be my unbending willpower and any ability to consider “no thank you” as an appropriate response to anything food or drink related. “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”.

Speaking of the “mmmmmmmm” sound…I now find I ask the New Zealanders as often as possible, what does all this “mmmmmmmming” mean. I also ask them as frequently—how do you spell this sound and the repeating “m’s” is their most common response. I find this “mmmmmming” is both highly annoying as well as highly contagious. As troublesome as I find this—I also find I am “mmmmmming” as often as everyone else. I’ll need a decompression chamber, shock treatment or a third tier medicine to stop this before my return. I must stop.

Without exception every time someone finds out I am from North Carolina, they respond by saying…”you have good oranges there, don’t you”….what do you think they mean by this?



It is hard for me to believe five weeks have blown by like the winds of Wellington. Have I mentioned how windy it is in this city? For starters, Chicago has nothing over Wellington and for that matter neither does our North Carolina hurricanes. Just this week Wellington had the equivalent to 80 mph winds and no one blinked an eye. This would be reason enough for us to close the Triangle area schools (and notify the working parents an hour or more later :-)). Not here—they just keep trucking as if all is normal. And, in fact, all is normal to them except for me as I am holding onto dear life to any permanent structure as the rest of the world just moves or at times blows on by. I can’t figure out how they do it, they must all be part of an aerodynamically developed nation or have leaded issued boots. Just to underscore my point, I noticed along the streets and along the waterfronts, posts in the ground with rope hanging from the posts. When I inquired about this I was told, in case it gets really windy (yeah right) and you need something to hold to keep from blowing into traffic or into the harbor. Can you imagine that?…wind so common and yet so random you are at risk of being blown out to sea or as an occupational hazard on your way to work. Most people won’t notice until the second teatime of the day that perhaps you’re not absent but rather missing. Of course, when they did realize they were permanently down one coworker they would respond to this in the classic understate anything and everything kiwi sort of way by saying “I wonder what happened to Mary?”…everyone chimes in “mmmmmmm”, next person “she may well have bloody blown away”, everyone “mmmmmmm”, I guess that means we have an extra wedge of quiche to share over tea”, everyone, “mmmmmm”. I report this to you with compete accuracy—I’m not worried or even questioning if the kiwis have a heart, I’m most intrigued by and wondering if they have a pulse. Honestly, more often than not, no matter what I say in a meeting the frequent and standard response is “mmmmmmm”. Sometimes I get a double or triple “mmmmmmm” and then I know, I’ve got them in the palm of my hand.

So I asked the post with the rope historian, if I blow away in this town, will I really only be, at best, a one-day news story? I had always hoped for so much more. “mmmmmmmmm”, was the response. That’s it, I’m buying lead boots.