Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Humbug

I’ve never liked Halloween.  Not quite sure why… it’s just never been a thing I’ve enjoyed.

I do have vivid memories of children visiting the house on Halloween and giving the house a coating of eggs or flour if they didn’t get the sweets they demanded.  I know eggs are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s not a nice memory.

I don’t mind the costumes (although vampires and vampire lore and vampire TV shows make me want to gouge my own eyes out, but that’s a whole different rant!).  I quite like the very clever pumpkin carving like this fantastic carved self-portrait

from my friend Matt (the history books say it was traditional to carve a turnip in Scotland)

The thing I just can’t seem to let go of is the feeling that the modern day basis for Halloween is about Trick or Treating which is about getting stuff for free.  And that for me just feels like begging.  Historically that’s what it was, with the poor going from door to door trying to get scraps to stay alive.

The other thing I just can’t get away from is that to threaten people with some kind of undesired consequence if they don’t provide you with what you demand is basically extortion.  How is that a good thing to teach your children?  That’s not the way I want the world to work…

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Auckland is changing.  There are so many projects on the go at the moment.  Many were in the lead up to the rugby world cup, but that’s all done now, so it will be interesting to see if the rate of change slows significantly.

One project that has nothing to do with the world cup is the change to Aucklands motorway in the Victoria Park area.

The Victoria Tunnel Project re-routes around 450m of motorway through a new northbound tunnel in order to allow traffic in the opposite direction to use all four lanes of the fly-over (currently two north and two south).

Admittedly it’s not quite as impressive a construction project as other tunnels, for instance the The Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland at 57km long, but when the opportunity arose to walk through it on the open day we had to take it!  We’ve been regularly driving past the works for more than a year and there was mostly very little to see.  Occasionally you would get a glimpse of the uncovered trench of the cut and cover tunnel, but mostly it was largely hidden from view.

I really hope they have the traffic modelling correct because if they haven’t it’s going to be a very big expensive way of moving a bottleneck 450m further south!

I’ve included a few photos of the family and some civil engineering ‘porn’ for other tunnel fans!

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Time for some photos!  Where the North Shore ends there is a natural hill called North Head.  During the war it was a gun emplacement and the historic tunnels and some of the guns are still there.  It’s all open to the public and a great place to go on a sunny spring day.  On this particular spring day Josie and her running buddy had run from Torbay all the way down to North Head.  They’d stretched it out to a 21km run to prepare for the Auckland half-marathon some weeks later.

We timed the arrival of the rest of the family and some other friends to the end of their run and all had a picnic up on the side of the hill, looking out over Cheltenham beach.

The kids had such a fun time, firstly rolling and sliding down the steep grass banks and then investigating tunnels and caves, spotting submarines and firing imaginary guns at boats that weren’t there to win a war I hope they’ll never have to understand the reality of.

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Well, that was an even LONGER gap between posts.  I offer no excuse.  It has been rather busy round here lately though.

We’ve had an entire Rugby World Cup since I last posted.  The whole event has been fantastic.  Right from the unbelievably over-successful build up to the opening ceremony to the last point of the last game where New Zealand won as the All Blacks beat Les Bleus by a single point.  Although you could argue that All Blacks didn’t deserver the game, the French truly did not deserve the cup.  Their campaign was lacklustre, sporadic and inconsistent.  The All Blacks on the other hand played solid rugby in every match and their performance was nothing short of inspiring.

Josie and I decided to be part of the action live and treated ourselves to quarter final tickets and watched the All Blacks play Argentina at Eden Park.  The game was brilliant to watch although a little odd as well.  For starters there was no commentary!  Maybe obvious, but without camera closeups and replays and experts nudging along your understanding you have to just figure it all out for yourself.

To get to the match we walked the ‘Fan Trail’.  This was an ‘Only in New Zealand’ scheme where a route was marked out from the waterfront of Auckland all the way up the main street and then the full 4.5km to the stadium.  They dotted the route with entertainment and some art exhibitions, sausage sizzles, face painting, free stuff etc.  It took an hour and a bit to walk the route and the atmosphere was brilliant.

Well it’s all over now and the country has the outcome it wanted.  Emily idolises Richie Mccaw the captain and was utterly thrilled to catch a glimpse of him at the utterly packed victory parade on Monday.

She has several big broadsheet double page posters up on her wall of the team in various poses.  Both she and Lucy absolutely love the Haka of course.  Lucy does a hilarious rendition herself which I haven;t managed to catch on video yet.  She does the first bit ok (Ka Mate, Ka mate, Ka ora, Ka ora) then drops into a kind of speaking in tongues three year old mimicry of a language she can’t speak and finishes with a big ‘He!’ and jumps in the air.  It’s quite delightful to watch.

So I’m a little wiser in the ways of rugby (partly through watching and partly from the book I got when I left Asda).  I’ve been to my first live rugby game.

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