Mo & Terry Smedley


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Auckland, New Zealand - October, 2006

Click here for October 15 Update from New Zealand

Click here for October 17 Update from New Zealand

Last update from New Zealand - October 21

For two weeks starting October 8, I will be in Auckland, New Zealand.  I am working in Rayonier's Auckland office, on a software system similar to one that we have been using in Hoquiam for a year or so.  About 15 years ago, I spent six weeks in Auckland when Rayonier first opened its office here.   I don't expect to have a lot of time for touring, but I will post pictures and witty commentary as I come across interesting things.

I flew from Seattle to Los Angeles where I connected to a Qantas 747 flight to New Zealand.  I was seated in Row 1 of the 747, right below the "flight deck", in the very nose of the plane.   It's been a very long time since I've flown on a true Jumbo Jet - it takes a long time during takeoff for a plane that big to gain enough speed to lift off - I thought for sure we were going to use every last foot of the runway!  It's about a thirteen hour flight heading West, a little over twelve hours coming back Eastward.  I was seated in Business Class, with a "Sky Bed" that reclines to a completely horizontal position for a good rest.  I will try to get pictures of the cabin on the return trip.  The Qantas service was very attentive, with superb meals.  The lengthy flight is entirely in darkness, so there's not much to see.  I guess there wouldn't be much to see anyway, since it's just a very long trip over the Pacific Ocean - not like a train trip where there are things to see.

I arrived in Auckland about 7AM Sunday (after jumping ahead a day crossing the International Date Line just East of New Zealand), took a bus to my downtown hotel, then set out for a little exploration of the town on foot (of course).  I headed up to Mt. Eden for a nice overlook of the city, then went through the downtown area to refresh my memory about where I could find places to eat.  

The time here is four hours behind Pacific Time, but one day ahead.  So I guess that makes it twenty hours ahead of Pacific Time.  When it's 8AM Monday here, it's noon on Sunday at home.  While I lost a day coming this way, on my return trip I should arrive home before I leave - I'll leave Auckland about 5PM Saturday, and should be home (SeaTac anyway) about 4PM the same day.

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This is the view of Auckland Harbor from my 18th floor balcony.  I hope nobody in nearby buildings was watching as I inched my way out on the balcony to take this picture, then quickly retreated to the safety of the room.  It's a long ways down from the 18th floor. Another view from the balcony.  I think the large building in the distance is a museum - I'll have to check it out. The SkyCity Tower is a new addition since I was last here.  I'll have to check this out, too. Fifteen years ago, I had my lunch in the Rational House just about every day.  I would pick a deli sandwich from the display case, peel the sliced beets off it, then take it back to the office.  The Rational House people thought I was an odd duck for not wanting the beets.
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Fifteen years ago, this was the Sheraton.  That was back in the ITT Rayonier days, so of course we had to stay in the ITT Sheraton hotel at that time. This is what used to be called the Clear Building, and it's where Rayonier's offices are.  Now it's called the Symonds Centre (it's on Symonds Street). A couple of miles walking from the hotel brought me to the top of Mt. Eden, where I had good views of Auckland City. Mt. Eden is an extinct volcano, and there's a very large crater just below the summit.
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More views of Auckland from Mt. Eden. On my walk up to the summit, I saw this industrial-strength cattle guard, and wondered why one would be necessary in a city park. Shortly after, I came across evidence of why it was required. And I eventually found the cows, grazing on the grass just below the summit.
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This time, I'm staying at The Quadrant.   This is a very trendy hotel - everything in it is white, black, chrome or stainless steel. If I can find a suitable grocery store, I will be able to make light meals here. This commissioned artwork in my room is also available for sale.  I'm not sure how it would look next to a Brenders, Bateman, or Maija print. I am at least twenty years older than anyone I have yet seen in this hotel.  It is located right across the street from the University of Auckland's city campus. 
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I always enjoy interesting signs. STAY TUNED - I will be snapping a picture of a Lee Jeans billboard I saw when I was out without my camera.  You have to see it to believe it, but at least you'll then know why I prefer Lee Jeans. Nothing too special about this sign, other than that it made me think of Goldie.  I was also surprised by how few dogs I saw when I was out and about. This is picture #1 for Bob and Betsy - a group of rowdy motorcyclists causing traffic problems for all the auto drivers.   This was some kind of planned parade - there was a police escort ahead of and behind the large group. Picture #2, mostly for Betsy:  I walked past the Auckland Ducati dealer on my way to Mt. Eden.
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This picture is for Mo:  No matter where you go, some people are unhappy with their city council. This is for me: Somewhere there's a train! I'll have to explore this - it looks like commuter service of some kind. Those tracks don't look capable of high-speed, heavyweight service. Just interesting.
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I found this rather bizarre.   I walked past numerous stores advertising these "party pills", which contain mostly Benzylpiperazine (BZP) or other Piperazine (TFMPP) derivates.  The pills are stimulants with a "hallucinogenic-amphetamine effect".  I'm astonished this stuff is legal here - it is certainly not legal at home.  Its sale here is restricted to persons aged eighteen or older.  We tend to think of us (the USA) as being at the leading each of technology use.  But I haven't seen this kind of technology used at home - many city bus stops have these electronic displays that are continuously updated with schedule information for the next buses that stop here. Or how about this - the downtown Auckland city parking garages use this electronic billboard to advise drivers of the number of empty spaces remaining. Or what about this - Auckland is a "text-crazy" place.  For those over 50 years of age, "texting" is the process of sending cryptic text (typed) messages via cell phone.  If you pass someone busily flipping their thumb all over a cell phone keypad, you can bet they're "texting".  In Auckland city, if you don't have change for the parking meter, you can text a message to the parking meter from your cell phone, and the parking fee will be charged to your cell phone bill!
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This parking meter display is telling me to text the message "61836" to address 7275 get $6.00 worth of parking at this meter.  Each meter has its own code.   When this specific meter receives your phone text message, it prints a receipt that you can put on your car - just as if you paid using coins. Nothing too exciting about a Subway (though it was, at least, familiar territory). can text message your sandwich order to any New Zealand subway and have it waiting for you.  The text message that would have generated the sandwich I had here today is "an2sb7akojph", sent to address 5757.  That cryptic string identifies the particular Subway restaurant, the sandwich type, and what kind of bread, veggies, and condiments I wanted.  Click here to see the flyer that explains fully how to use the texting at NZ Subway restaurants.  See if you can figure out what kind of sandwich I had today! Toilet technology is always interesting.  This is the toilet in my hotel room - look carefully at the flush controls.  It is a two-piece button.... Can you guess what the two pieces of the flush button do?  See the next picture if you need a hint...
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Here's the toilet in the Subway restaurant (trust me - nobody knew I was taking pictures of toilets!) with buttons that are a little more self-explanatory.  What a great way to get around the low-flush volume we have at home.  You have one button for a full flush when it's needed, and another button for a mini-flush when that's all that's required. Houston, we have a problem.

 NZ uses 240 volts, and the prongs aren't straight like in the US. 

A $20 adapter takes my straight-blade US plug, and turns it into a angled-blade NZ or Australian plug. So that's how I am able to put these pictures together!  WARNING - these simple adapters work only if the appliance you're using can tolerate either 110/120V or 230/240V AC power.  Nearly all computer power supplies are dual-voltage.  But if you plug a 110/120V only appliance into the wall with one of these adapters, you will have a very quick meltdown.