Thursday, May 31, 2007

All We Are Saying..

Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free

Dizzy with eternity

Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea

Call it home for you and me

A peaceful place, or so it looks from space

A closer look reveals the human race

Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face

But afraid we may lay our home to waste

On May 30, Mom's birthday, a study was published called the Global Peace Index. This is a list of every one of 121 countries in the world that are ranked regarding their "peacefulness'. Taken into account were number of murders, relations with neighbors, percentage of budget spent on military and weapons, number of people in jail, corruption level of govt. You get the idea.

The study has won the support of an influential and distinguished group of people many of whom are dedicated to promoting global peace, including former U.S. President James Carter, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Richard Branson and Harriet Fulbright of theFulbright Centre. Pinkos,all, some would say.

You can see the list on the following link:

Some highlights are that the US and A comes in at a disappointing #96 immediately followed by Iran. In dead last is Iraq, the country we are dying to turn into a democracy. It's like foolish altruistic teacher trying to turn the truant, inbred, mongoloid, gang banger into Valedictorian.

Ain't gonna happen, Mr. Kot-tah

Israel comes in at #119 - OY!

Other notable numbers... at #61- Kazakhstan.

(Please note, this picture of Borat was chosen by Kimberly after my much more graphic one was soundly rejected because of "bad taste")

Number 1 is Norway...

#2 - New Zealand

Friday, May 25, 2007

The First Days Are The Hardest Days

It was exactly one year ago that our plane landed in Nelson Airport and we were introduced to life in New Zealand. The weather was cold and rainy and we were completely out of sorts. Our housing turned out to be freezing with extremely poor facilities. Luckily, as always, we had each other.

In the last 12 months, we have purchased cars, a home, secured jobs and quit them, learned about banking, income tax, insurance, health benefits. We taught ourselves to drive and eat on the left. Kimberly knows more about Rugby than football. We have made new friends, stayed in close touch with old ones.
At least 3 trips back to the states for joy and sadness; losing our hero who fought his last battle with dignity and gaining a granddaughter who rose from the ashes.

Dear friends have come for visits and we look forward to many more.

The Internet has been our best resource. From it we get news, SKYPE, email, Sirius Radio, music, movie downloads and travel. And Howard Stern.

After this short time, New Zealand still looks like the right choice for us.

It seems like we still have quite a few readers so the blog will continue until there is no more to say. ...

Thank you Robin for the constant comments. You are always first.

Howard, sorry we will miss your daughter's wedding. We will send a nice card.

Margo...We will thank you forever for coming to our family.

Tom, we are atheists...why do you try to have us climb backwards on the evolutionary ladder? Perhaps Betty can explain this to you.

Good luck to the Politos in Colorado

Wild Bill will be the funniest man alive. as soon as Don Rickles passes away.

Go Ho J...cut off the jam. And while you're at it, cut off Barry's jam.

To all our teacher friends in SoCal.... Your weather may be better, but English is still spoken here as a first language.

Donna H, we still love you even though you can't use a computer for anything other than a paperweight.

Eyal, the golf lessons are coming. But you will never beat me. And soon, when I figure out how to play leaning on a washing machine, I will be ping pong king.

Frith, you are my newest cookie fan and yoga buddy and much much more.

Tall Deb, Heidi, Jan...come out and experience the blog for real. are remarkable with those know what we mean. Jeff, as usual, you don't know what we mean.
Lauren and Jeff..thanks for all the help with the old house, the car and the Boy.

Rick and Barry...Pam says there may still be a DOD in the future. Hope for the blight, dot, and all that implies.
Laura, hope you found a Dan Carter poster.

Cindy..miss our Saturdays at the Forum. We will make it up in SF.

Bill and Nancy. we may have a deal for you on the Maitai River...wink,wink. Stay in touch.

Brandon and Vanessa..that kid of yours give us the most important reason to come back to the USA. Air New Zealand thanks you.

Debby and are the new Golden Couple. Good choice to honeymoon here.

Jenny...are you still paying to download music? You shame me, no kidney for you.

Joshua...stay above the ground.

Love and Happiness all year to everyone.

And as Eric the Actor always says, "Bye for now"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

There May Come A Day I Will Dance On Your Grave. If Unable To Dance, I Will Crawl

Are we weird because we like to visit cemeteries? Everywhere Kimberly and I travel, we stop at old graveyards and read inscriptions and look for the oldest headstones.

Nelson is no exception. After living here a year, we found a large cemetery in nearby Wakapauka.

There were heaps of graves dating back to the 1840's. The site was on some beautiful property that is worth millions because of the view of the estuary.

It's funny that while some of these folks were alive, they probably never could afford to live on land like this. Guess they got the last laugh.

In this graveyard, the dead folks were all divided up into sections based on their religion. Most all were of the Christian faiths. Wesleyan, Anglican, Presbyterian, and then some. No atheists that we could see. All God's chillun got faith.

We searched for a long while and finally found the Hebrew section. There were a total of 5 graves...also not the best view if the truth be told.

The property was extremely hilly and difficult to climb. Crikey, even the dead are fit around here.

Some of the inscriptions were quite descriptive and well written. So had funny Harry Pitt.

There were a bunch of Bushes, but hard as we looked, we couldn't find a George. I guess that means W. wouldn't be caught dead in New Zealand.

Perhaps that's another reason why we moved here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mountain High, River Wide, So Many Roads To Ride

So many roads, so many roads.

This week, we decided it was time to take an old fashioned road trip. The locals tell of a town called Wanaka, where Autumn leaves change colors like they do in Vermont. It would take 2 days to drive there, but driving in NZ is not like driving from San Diego to Tucson. This place is dramatically beautiful.

At one stop, a bird came and sat on the mirror and kept staring at us. Aren't these things normally afraid of humans?

We made a coastal town called Hokitika after the first day, where we met up with Jamina Shupak, a student I had at Lincoln Middle School 9 years ago. I taught all the Shupaks, and we went to a few Bar Mitzvahs too. Her dad is a Rabbi in Oregon. We had a great visit and when it got dark, we went across the road and gaped at glow worms. Jamina tried to photograph them, but the worms refused.

We went out to dinner and I told her the truth about the backpack incident. If you don't understand to what I am referring, tough.

The following day took us past magnificent glaciers. Kimberly has always refused to ride in a helicopter, as she believes they are dangerous, but the day was so perfect, she actually considered it. In the end we continued driving and saved 500 bucks.

On the day we were here, a couple of Americans had a bad fall and one died. We could have seen it if we had taken that ride.

There is a road called Haast Pass which everyone should drive before they die. These pictures cannot really show what the scenery is like. Lets just say that we should have taken 4 hours to get to Wanaka, but it took 9 due to stopping and weeping in awe.
This is why we came here.

Wanaka is our new favorite holiday spot. There are about 5000 inhabitants and a great big lake. The place has a Tahoe feeling and is a famous ski resort. There is a golf course with stunning views and is practically free to play.

We had rented a place on the Internet and it was way better than it looked on the web site. my sister Lauren could have moved right in. The kitchen was so modern, they even had a built in latte machine. Of course, Dr. Joe figured out how to make it work and it was coffee coffee coffee 24/7.

Apparently, we missed the best colors by a week... Oh well, we will be back next year.

We returned a different way, through Christchurch. More spectacular scenery.

There were heaps of wineries all the way, so we finally stopped at Montana Wine to buy a case. Turns out the grocery store has better prices than the winery..even if you want a case.

Wine snobs.

Just got home, Kimberly already went to Yoga.

I feel like I need a vacation.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Law Come to Get You If You Don't Walk Right

Decades ago, my brother Barry with the aid of our Dad, purchased a cheap car from some Asian guy...Mr.Kim...paid cash.. about $5000. When Barry registered the car with the DMV, he said he paid about 2K in order to owe less tax.

We all do it, don't we?

Well, a couple of months go by and Barry gets a formal letter from THE MAN saying a car of that nature could never sell for that little, he is lying. They determined that he owes more tax based on their valuation.

The only out would be if he could get a letter from the Asian saying that the car sold for 2 grand.

Of course, that letter could never be produced...

So this was the beginning of the concept known as "The Mr. Kim Letter"

Barry and I sat down and wrote a letter as if we were the seller. We explained that the car needed to be sold at a fast deal because we bought it for our daughter and she was unable to drive a manual transmission. Total BS.

Then we had to go thru the note and make it sound more Oriental or Korean.

Our favorite phrase went something like" My daughter, she no can drive stick so I sell car to Mr. Barry for $2000."

We signed the letter sent it in....and never heard from DMV again. Scoreboard!

The "Mr. Kim" letter has proven to be a useful tool ever since. Basically it is a phony document full of falsehoods that sound true. Most institutions only want a letter for their records so they can cover their own asses. I have written Mr. Kim letters several times after that with great success.

However recently, Mr. Kim was totally disrespected by the long arm of the law and it still pisses me off.

In February, just days after Dad passed away, Kimberly and I went to San Francisco to see Brandon, Vanessa and the new baby. It was also Vanessa's birthday. We were all trying to be happy and ordered a cake from a fancy shop that was very busy. I jumped in Brandon's car and ran down to pick up the cake, but the street was packed and there were no parking spaces. I whipped into a spot that was a bus stop, left Kimberly in the car with the motor running and asked her to move it if a cop came by.

I was in the store for about 3 minutes. When I came out a policeman was writing a ticket. He did not allow Kimberly to move the car and was very cold hearted to an old recently orphaned grandfather. I took the ticket and went back to the car. Kimberly read it and the fine was...

$250.00!!!!! for parking in a bus stop.

By the way, the buses stopped running already for the night.

I could not blow off the ticket and head back to NZ because it was Brandon's car and he got the ticket, not me. Believe me, if I had gotten the ticket personally.... well, you know.

So out came the pen and another Mr. Kim letter was born. It was full of pathos and drama, touching upon Man, Woman, Birth, Death, and Infinity. A whole Ben Casey episode wrapped in an envelope. I even agreed to pay, but simply asked for a reduction of the fine.

The mother****ers shot me down like a Kamikaze pilot. No sympathy whatsoever. I should hit Barry up for part of it due to Karma payback.

This whole story brings me now to a parking ticket Kimberly just got here in Nelson. Nelson has a bit of a black mark because it is one of the few small towns in New Zealand where they have parking meters. It costs about $1.50US for 2 hours. They have these meter maids who go around on foot all through the town checking all day. But locals hate paying for parking. In fact, a really boring suburb, Richmond, to attract shoppers uses the slogan, "Richmond - where you always park for free".

The ticket cost is a whopping $15NZ, or 12 if you pay in 28 days. That's more like it. If Kimberly worked, I would take every last dime out of her paycheck. But it looks like the 12 bucks will have to come out of the family coffers. Unless Barry wants to do the right thing.

Either way, it is not worth getting Mr. Kim involved on this one.