trixtah: (Default)
One of the nice things about going home this Xmas time was going to Daikoku Ramen, which, as it says on the tin, is a ramen shop that makes the real thing, in downtown Auckland, right next to the Britomart transport depot (the old GPO).

Daikoku Ramen

It's been there since the late-80s - I went there occasionally when I was at university the first time round. The place used to be heavily patronised by Japanese and Korean sailors back in the day (it's literally metres away from the docks), and of course now with the huge upsurge in immigration from east Asia, there are plenty of people who go there for a taste of home.

The place has barely changed. There is still the huge pot of stock simmering away on the stove, with mysterious items in it, and a stream of water constantly running from a tap to replenish what is lost in the steam. The cooks are big friendly Japanese guys with not-exactly-immaculate aprons on. The noodles aren't those slippery wriggly soft ones from a vacuum pack, and are cooked fresh every time in their own basket dunked into boiling water. The decor is bare-bones, to say the least, although the early-80s style oddly-shaped wooden seats have been replaced with more conventional metal-framed seats with padding. You can still sit at the bar by the kitchen area, on the benches that have coloured stripes to mark which is your half. The only notable addition to the menu is edamame, because naturally that was unheard of in NZ back in the day. Oh, and cold noodles - must give them a try, since I've liked hiyashi chuka when I've made them at home.

You can get all different styles of ramen, shoyu, miso, Hokkaido style. You can get extra corn, pork, wakame, mung bean sprouts, menma (bamboo) added to your ramen. There are side-dishes, including very tasty gyoza. On the tables are extra soy sauce, chilli oil, vinegar and shichimi togarashi.

If you like ramen, it's the only place to go in NZ. :-) And a great place to get a healthy and tasty meal for around $10 (or a bit more with additions and side dishes). Open 7 days for lunch and dinner!

trixtah: (Tattoo)
NZ On Air, the NZ govt broadcast funding agency, has spun off a website called NZ On Screen, which aims to present significant broadcast footage free on the interwebs, including full length documentaries, significant TV miniseries and even full-length movies (Patu! - an excellent doco about the protests against the Springbok rugby tour of NZ, which had an important effect on the national psyche for a number of years after).

Anyway, what I was just watching was Heavenly Pop Hits - the Flying Nun Story. Flying Nun is a record label that came out of the post-punk era (similar to Shoegaze, in essence), and certainly defined a particular kind of sound in Kiwi music. Many - but far from all, it must be said - of NZ's best acts recorded with Flying Nun. But the doco was interesting for checking out the personalities involved. I like some of Chris Knox's music, but, my god, he can be irritatingly sanctimonious. And there certainly seem to be a whole lot of men feeling butthurt about their various experiences, even over 20 years later. So, interesting doco, not just because of the music.

And I got to find one of my top favourite Flying Nun tracks evah on YouTube - Hey Seuss by the 3Ds. Not only did they make happy music, they totally epitomised the Dunedin sound, right down to the chick on bass, Denise Roughan (something about Flying Nun bands - one or two guys on guitar, a guy drummer... and the chick on bass).

ETA: Regarding my previous post on the joys of "floor" rather than "ground", any Brits want to speculate on the possible regionality of the usage?
trixtah: (Default)
I picked up my car today, which, after various comedies of error, I did literally 10 minutes before the place shut at midday. Getting a call from work because the mail server that was supposed to have been decommissioned 4 months ago (all it does is send bloody email and faxes from SAP) decided to have a minor melt-down didn't help. Still, fixed, collected car.

They tried to find a new seal for the screen, but unfortunately didn't in time. However, they did get the only screen that would fit that was left in Sydney. It's laminated, so it has a faint tint of exactly the colour I intended to get my windows tinted anyway. (Greyish.) So, yay, extra bonus.

I bought a bottle of Nick O'Leary Riesling, which is the first Canberra region wine I can unhesitatingly recommend. Most of them either have a peculiar taste that I don't like or they're ridiculously over-priced for the quality (viz. Clonakilla wines, which are nice enough, but not worth $35+, at least not the ones I've had). So, the riesling - very dry, very slightly astringent, lime flavours and a very very slight floral note, almost honeysuckle. And it was actually very nice with pizza. Pizza with anchovies. :-) $25 and worth it. Apparently he makes a rosé, which I must try (it's hard finding decent rosés!), and a shiraz. Haven't had any Canberra region shirazes yet - I wonder if they're more like the NZ-style syrahs, with the climate here.

Finally, yesterday, I caught a cab up to uni because I missed my bus, and I desperately wanted to go to the gym before my lecture. The cabbie, who was an elderly chap, was listening to some AM station with country music, and regaled me with stories about Slim Whitman  (who was playing at the time) and Paul McCartney. Then some chick came on singing Country Roads, and the old bugger joined in with the track on the radio, warbling along happily until we got to my destination. I have to say that I can't think of a true C&W song that I can bear (I don't mind some Anne Murray and Linda Ronstadt, but the more MOR end of the scale), but it was a cute moment.

Oh, and I'll be in NZ NEXT FRIDAY. For less than a week, but I'm going on a road trip from Wellington to Auckland, which will be FUN. I'm also going to take lots of pics, because I am fucking sick of certain people saying "Yes, the South Island landscape is spectacular." So is the North Island landscape, actually.

ETA: YouTube nostalgia of the evening: Fleetwood Mac (yes, late-70s soft rock, but Stevie was hawt, and I still love Rhiannon, Dreams, Sara and Landside, the original one, goddamit. And Tusk. Stevie Nicks twirling the twirly thing, OMG.), the Eurthymics (don't read the fucking comments on Annie's gender), The Cure (don't read the racist comments from morons who never heard of Camus, not that I like Camus) and this fucking fab fan vid of Placebo's My Sweet Prince.

ETA2: Ok, sometimes YouTube comments aren't that bad. Someone characterised PJ Harvey (yes, I was perving at her again, sue me) as: Polly Jean... the product of Iggy pop fucking Kate Bush.. Rock on.

trixtah: (Default)
90% of the voters in a referendum think it's just fine to thump children. (And I'm linking to the Beeb story, since it's actually neutral and has the right facts)


The context is that legislation was passed a couple of years ago removing the "parental defence" for assaulting (sorry, "smacking") your children. The context to that legislation was that NZ has one of the highest child assault rates in the world, with notable examples of children being killed by their parents (oh, of course that's bad, and there's no defence, obviously) down to kids being publicly assaulted with riding crops, hit in the face with closed fists, and the like. Under the previous law, the latter things were defensible! Regarding the "you shouldn't be locked up for smack on the wrist" arguments, the current legislation states that the Police have the discretion to not press charges if there is no merit in bringing the case to court.

Of course, the religious nutcases and the right-wing arseholes who think they should have the god-given right to do what they like to their children got all up in arms, as did a significant chunk of the "it never hurt me" contingent. Of course, you talk to these "never hurt me" kind, and there's always a story about when dad went a bit far with the belt, or mum knocked you flying out the door with a backhander. And, hur-hur, they "acted up" just as badly when their bum stopped hurting so much. Why do certain people think it's "funny" to tell stories about that kind of thing? It horrifies me every time I encounter it.

My mother tells a "funny story" about when we moved house once, and when she was packing up, she found no less than four wooden spoons hidden around the place. Apparently I must have hidden them; no prizes for guessing what her favourite "corrective implement" was. She and other family members thought the story was funny, at least. For some reason, I don't.

Anyway, a beautifully-worded referendum went out to the populace asking: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" And that's what the 90% voted "No" to.

Notice they didn't say "Should hitting your child be permitted under the law in New Zealand?" Notice they didn't define a "smack". Does it count if it's a "smack" with a belt? To the face? With the back of the hand? And what is "good parental correction"?

Given the backwards nature of the wording, there was quite a bit of confusion initially about if you're against hitting children, do you vote "No"? But one thing about all the debate around this debacle was that people quickly got the point of what "Yes" and "No" were supposed to mean in the context of the stupid question.

Anyways, it's a non-binding referendum, so what the govt might do about the legislation is fairly moot at present. But it disgusts the hell out of me.

ETA: The Christian nutjobs who lobbied for this referendum, and the language it uses, got funding from the US Christian nutjob organisation, Focus on the Family. What a surprise. And how amazing that certain groups mightily resent interference in their own country's borders, but have no compunction in exerting their religious and political colonialism overseas. Fuckers, again.

trixtah: (Default)
(Meme ganked from [personal profile] reynardo )

...there are not one but two large harbours (the Waitematā and Manukau), with anchorages and inlets to spare, and a low tidal range (3.5m at spring tide). The narrowest point between the two harbours is less than a kilometre, and Maori used to carry their canoes from one to the other. Not surprisingly, the road that was built on that track is called Portage Rd (alas, the tide was out in the Manukau Harbour and the mangroves obscure the Tamaki River that drains to the Waitemata in that satellite image). And Captain Cook sailed right past both of these large harbours.

...on a slightly related note, the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta has been running since 1840, when the city was founded. It is likely the largest one-day sailing regatta in the world. I've not been big into sailing - not being rich growing up - but I do know how to sail a P-class dinghy, and it was always fun to get somewhere close to the harbour and see it totally covered with boats. It's about the only city-wide event I have always enjoyed.

...there is the largest Polynesian settlement in the world, with over 175,000 Polynesians from various islands contributing 14% of Auckland's population. Samoans, Tongans, Fijiians, Cook Islanders, Niueans, Tokelauans, and so on. I can greet people in five of those languages, by virtue of attending a school that was 70% Maori/Polynesian. Maori aren't included in that population figure, although they they of course came from the eastern Polynesian islands at some point around 1200. The Pasifika Festival one of the largest of its kind, and is where I can stock up on pineapple pies, since a lot of corner shops in Auckland are now owned by Asian people, with not so many Samoans as when I was growing up.

...during WWII, the scandal of the day featured two women dancers at the Civic Theatre, Freda Stark and Thelma Trott. Freda Stark "was known as 'The Fever of the Fleet' after dancing in nothing but a feather headdress, a g-string and a coat of gold paint". Thelma's husband (a composer, nearly 20 years older than she) poisoned Thelma with barbiturates after he learned about their affair. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the Labour Govt was elected. Miss Stark spent a number of years in England before returning to Auckland in her later years. I regularly saw her - she was a tiny woman - walking about in Ponsonby wearing a black trouser outfit and carrying a silver-tipped black cane. I totally want to be like her when I grow up. After she died, her ashes were interred in Thelma's grave, 60 years after Thelma's death. There is a bar in the Civic Theatre building named Stark's in her honour, but I haven't had a drink there yet.

...Germaine Greer was arrested for uttering the words "fuck" and "bullshit" in 1972 during a speech against anti-abortionists at the Auckland Town Hall. Her arrest sparked off an avalanche of student protests, and was also apparently one of the reasons she decided to live in England, away from the censorship in Australasia.

...there are 50-odd dormant (not extinct) volcanoes - the central isthmus is really just one big volcanic field. The last eruption was Rangitoto Island (in the middle of the Waitemata Harbour) about 600 years ago. The eruptions have been getting comparatively stronger the more recent they've been. They've got maps of likely lava flows and so on for each of the volcanoes, in case of one blowing, but geologists obviously have no clue which one will blow or when. You can see a seismograph in the Auckland Museum - I used to think that the line was supposed to be constantly wiggling a tiny bit. Apparently not. They might be small, but I really wouldn't like to be there if one goes off.

trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
And on a more serious note, the National govt in NZ says to women in the public service: "No, you're not worth paying as much as men. Fuck off back to the kitchen, ladies."

The Government has axed two investigations aimed at improving the pay of women as it tries to save money by controlling public sector salaries. ...State Services Minister Tony Ryall said the [pay equity] investigations would "generate an additional form of remuneration pressure that is unaffordable in the current economic and fiscal environment".
Great! Saving money through discrimination! In the next news bulletin on Channel Trix, we look at how government can slash election costs up to 50% by repealing the 1893 Electoral Law Act that enfranchised those pesky women.
trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
It's the biggest circulation paper in NZ, and has a pretty good website, but its right-wing bias has become increasingly marked in recent years, and now there is a right-wing government, they're just having a ball.

Onto the dire crap of the day. Paul Holmes is a talkback dj and general "media personality". He's also a little shitfaced toad who should get fucked (although I believe he's "straight" these days), and emigrate to somewhere socially progressive like Saudi Arabia, where I'm sure the sexual politics would suit him right down to the ground. He was interviewing the putative new leader of the Labour Party (Phil Goff), who was explaining how the Labour Party should be proud of so many years of successful government. Holmes' skewer-em-when they're down interview technique elicited the following journalistic highpoint:

But when I suggested to him people might have been tired of being told what to do by intellectual left-wing feminist women, he acknowledged there had grown the perception of the "nanny" state.

Look, Paul, you pathetic little fucktard. We have been governed by jumped-up little selfish unreconstructed sexist classist dickwad men for the last nearly 200 years (Westminister parliamentary system), and some of us "intellectual" left-wing feminist women (who obviously aren't "people") are tired of the Entitlement you seem to feel is due to you and your ilk, and are tired of being told what to do by inadequate blustering Neanderthals. If you think having a few declared feminists in government in the last 9 years is such a threat to the country's (and your) health and well-being, you'd better either harden up and get used to it (once we get rid of this new lot of morons), or die in a fucking fire because you obviously aren't going to cope with life in this century where it's not all about women pandering to your and your equally-dinosaur mates' pathetic little penises egos.

Fuck I'm pissed off. GAH. Why why why did I click on that link?

trixtah: (Default)
Because now that NZ is going to be run by stick-in-the-mud wankers, fundamentalists, and free-market arseholes, I don't want to be there anyway. Helen Clark won't be able to horse-trade herself out of that debacle (by doing creative coalition negotiation).

Here's hoping the Nats cock up the next 3 years so badly, the lefties will get in by a landslide next time (having learned their lessons about complacency). I'm glad the Greens polled more than ACT (free-market arseholes who like selling off national infrastructure) and United Future (fundamentalists, although they don't say they are too overtly) put together. In an interesting development, the Māori Party only got just over 2% of the votes (Māori are around 13% of the population). I hope that Tariana Turia uses this as a time of reflection. Because if she thinks National and their cronies will give her what she wanted, she's SoL (she encouraged Māori party voters to consider National, because she has such an animus against the Labour Party).

Oh, and fucking Roger Douglas in Cabinet? How utterly wonderful. NZ just bought back the bloody railways (after the PM-to-be's company of the time snaffled them up at the firesale put on by their National Party mates). Definitely buh-bye to national infrastructure, then. And as much of the super and the best accident compensation scheme in the world as they can get their hands on.

trixtah: (Default)
It's funny when they pop up. I've been avoiding emailing two very good friends of mine back home for the last month, for no particular reason (although I have been busy and I don't want to unleash grizzlings on them, which I was liable to up until a couple of weeks ago).

One of my old colleagues from Wellington, who is the most grooviest of guys and extremely hot (I might be a dyke, but there are a few guys, ok? his wife is hot too, so there), like a cross between a sarcastic Rochester and Jermaine from the Conchords, made a connection with me on LinkedIn today. One of our other ex-colleagues also now has a group there for those who "live, love or work in Wellington", which I promptly joined. So, meh, I'd love to be there right now - it's great in spring.

Maybe I'll head over at the end of summer. It'd be nice to smell the sea and the bush, and hang out with groovy friends and ex-colleagues.

trixtah: (Default)
"...because it's all about brunettes, not fighter jets".
Yeah, baybeh, meaningful lyrics we can all get behind. *koff*

trixtah: (Default)
Man, I'd forgotten what rainstorms can be like in Auckland. It's exactly like a firehose on full bore. If you're driving on the motorway, all you can do is slow down and try and follow the lane catseyes. I'll stay and drink another chai latte in this cafe, methinks.
trixtah: (potter)
I'm at home (yay NZ) and it's very very nice here. It's warm for starters (15°C), and a wee bit of rain is not bothering me in the slightest. In fact, the humidity is nice. It's annoying to realise just how much I'm a creature of my climate-of-birth. Also, yay greenery.

I had been expecting to do some clothes shopping in the UK, but it didn't happen. It IS happening here. I actually spent an enjoyable day shopping, which is the first time ever in my entire life. I've also spent over a grand, bad bad bad me. However, I have a new paisley shirt, two three new pairs of trousers, a new dress-yet-casual jacket, and, um, a piece of art. Regarding the latter, I was walking past the gallery, spotted what was inside, and my tongue nearly fell out of my face. The guy takes photos, prints them on art paper, and then waterpaints the print. They're utterly atmospheric, and I fell in love at first sight. Obviously, I liked some works more than others, but I managed to keep myself away from the $850+ (unframed) jobbies. Yay art.

With my clothes shopping, I found that the designery shops around High St are currently having their winter sales. I was pleasantly surprised at the fantastic customer service I got. These are moderate-to-pricey shops, I was looking at the menswear sections, and each time I got prompt and friendly service. While I'd like to be cool and groovy and be able to stroll into any shop and look at what I damn-well please, I need to be in a particular mood to do that in challenging circumstances (ie. not very often) - not having to contend with uncomfortable, disdainful or hostile assistants makes shopping an order of magnitude more enjoyable. Not to mention the fact I found cool things to wear. Now I just need to get all the trousers and sleeves shortened.

I've also been pigging out on nommy Japanese and fusion fuds, and I've had two cocktails and three coffees. I'm glad my stomach appears to be 95% recovered; there have been no ill-effects so far. Heh. Oh, one of the cocktails was from Mea Culpa, which has a supposedly signature variation on a Moscow Mule, with lime, wasabi and ginger ale. I could taste the wasabi, but the rest tasted like a sweetened rendition of the cucumber slice that was used to garnish the drink. Too sweet, no lime or ginger discernable (if there was ginger ale/beer in it, it must have been Bundy). Very disappointing. The ridiculously sky-blue Sapphire Surprise at Honey was much nicer.

Onto all the wild socialising tomorrow!
trixtah: (potter)
A new MP, Louisa Wall, has been sworn into NZ's Parliament today. She's under 40, female (obviously), Maori, and a lesbian. This brings the number of out queers in Parliament to 6, out of 120.

5% of the parliamentary population is getting in line with the proportion of queers in the wider community! There are 19 Maori, which is spot-on. A few more PI (3) and Asian MPs (2)  wouldn't hurt - both of those ethnicities are about 5-7% of the population. However, the glaring lack is in women - the number needs to be increased by at least 50% (there are 39 at present), although I suppose that a third of Parliament being women (including the PM) isn't too shabby, really.

Of course, if you wander through the National Party's website, you'll see how dramatically those proportions will change if they get elected next time - two Maori MPs, total. There are a few more women (but not 30%). Of course, a rigid adherence to gender/race/sexuality balance in the governing body does not mean that body will do the right thing - but at least it looks like a House of Representatives.
trixtah: (Default)
With his tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary:

Bugger. He'd had a long life, and everyone goes sometime, but bugger just the same. He was a great New Zealander and a kiwi hero, not for climbing a mountain (though at the time people thought that was impressive), but for what he did afterwards. And he quietly symbolised kiwi values - honesty, decency, modesty - not like the loud and self-inflated "heroes" of the business community, who mostly seem to symbolise greed, selfishness, and self-aggrandisement. New Zealand just won't be the same without him quietly reminding us just by his presence of what really matters. Bugger.

I'm not a flag-waving patriot, but Sir Ed certainly epitomised a breed of New Zealander who I think we could all do well to emulate. It's just a shame the type of people that are increasingly promoted in the media are those whose natural mileu seems more that of ripping off people with dodgy Gold Coast timeshares. Here's hoping that more kiwis start reflecting on what values they truly want to demonstrate.
trixtah: (Servalan)
Despite the popular propaganda, most of NZ is not any further south than Australia is. Auckland (36°52S) is half a degree south of Canberra (35°18S), and 1½ degrees south of Sydney (34°S).

Wellington (41°17S) is 3½ degrees south of Melbourne (37°47S). Christchurch (43°31S) is not even a degree south of Hobart (42°54S). At 42 degrees, the length of a degree is 111km. Auckland is merely around 166km south of Sydney. ¾ of the country is thus in the same lats as the bottom half of Australia.

In other words, most of the people in NZ live in pretty much the same latitudes as most of the people in Australia. It is a bit colder in NZ over all, since it's surrounded by sea and is more mountainous. But it's not that cold.

(PS. I know plenty of Aussies who aren't so clueless - the ones on my flist, for example - but it amazes me to hear the same crap from people who should know better).
trixtah: (Default)


...but perhaps not so much for the kids.

Life in NZ

Sep. 1st, 2007 01:59 pm
trixtah: (lulz)
An ad for a new "adult-oriented" channel on Sky in NZ:

I counted more than 20 naughty references after a couple of goes - I had to look up the more women-hating references like Tony Danza and Sanchez... and a "rusty trombone" was a new one for me! But I have no idea what the lost watch is referring to - help please!
trixtah: (Default)
This is where I lived in one area of Auckland (out of the many). Our house was to the right and behind the grey roof in the right foreground. All that area beyond there is bush, which I'd disappear into for hours. The dip in the hills to the rear is where the beach is.
piccie )

This is the wee estuary just before the beach. There are mangroves, cabbage trees, and what I used to call toetoe (pronounced toi-toi), although it's actually non-native pampas grass, alas (toetoe is very similar, but has droopier fronds - the pampas grass is pushing it out of its niche). I would have had some piccies of that, but bloody hands again. The greens in the shot are unaltered, by the way. My camera is crap at washing out highlights when it's dark, but those greens really are lurid. There was a tui (bellbird) hanging around having a chat while I was walking to the beach - I tried to record him chirpling away, and I'll have to see what I ended up with.

another one )

And here's one of my favourite parts in the bush - a stand of young kauri trees. That bushland was all logged off in the late 19th Century (for house building, furniture-making and ship spars), and what is there now has been regenerated from that. The kauri trees there are just 70 or 80 year old tiddlers, not much wider than my own body. Mature trees can live for several hundred years (over a thousand is not unknown), and achieve diameters of up to 4-5 metres. These ones have a little way to go. Again, the quality of the photo is not good - the greens of the bush have been washed out due to the lighting "correction", and it should all look much darker.

trees )

Oh, and this is all right in the middle of suburban Auckland. It's a 15 minute drive to the central city (not during rush hour). As a kid, I was lucky to be able to spend time in such a place.


Jul. 5th, 2007 07:12 pm
trixtah: (Default)
And, yes, I know it's odd, because I'm here.

You know how it is with a friend you love and feel passionately about, and whom you miss every day, but whom you hardly write to or call because doing so is painful because you miss her/him more? I feel like that with my own country. It's going to be very very hard going back on Sunday. Partly because of some not-that-dire situations I'll have to deal with when I get back, but mainly because I'll miss this place so much.

Oh well, it's good that I get as much time here as I do these days. It isn't like when I was living in England, and I could only make it back for one week in 5 years.
trixtah: (Default)
Due to my shaky hands - I'm sure they're getting worse, btw - none of the pics I took of the hotel or my room here in Wgtn turned out adequately. I need to get a reasonable digital camera with image stabilisation (still a point-and-click - I can't justify the expense of a SLR-style one) - ah, maybe in a few years, when I actually have some money. Still, I have a couple of daytime pics.

The first is of a section of the reedbeds they've planted in the refurbished Waitangi Park, which is adjacent to the harbour, in the heart of the city. The river (Waitangi Stream, surprise surprise), used to be in pipes, but it's now been brought to the surface again, and the reedbeds are part of the way of purifying the water before it reaches the harbour again (about 100m from the place I took the pic).

The reedbeds seem to be doing a good job )

Well, who knows, maybe they have peons scooping out any rubbish several times a day, but there was no scum anywhere visible, there were a few swallow-type birds swooping in amongst the reeds, and a couple of ducks (which promptly hid when I took the pic). The rest of the plantings (which extend for a couple of hundred metres to the left of the pic) are coming along nicely. It'll be great once the trees get some height.

The next pic is just a generic postcard of part of the harbour. It was a gorgeous afternoon. The hill in the background is Mt Victoria, where the hobbits' first encounter with the Ringwraith was filmed for LoTR. Te Papa (AKA Museum of NZ or MONZ (hee!)) is in the right mid-ground.

pretty pic )

The pohutukawa trees (the two trees right by the harbour) were getting little flower buds! Since they're called the "New Zealand Christmas Tree" (for their usual flowering time), this is quite bizarre. Here's an example of one in flower (a slightly unusual distance from the sea - they're very much clifftop trees). Hah, that pic's been taken in Auckland - that's Rangitoto Island in the background.


trixtah: (Default)

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