2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Well actually not so much different but new. I am leaving full time employment with Foster Moore. After two very enjoyable years with the team there I am returning to public service. I have accepted a role with the Ministry of Justice based in Christchurch.

I will be working on the rebuilding of Christchurch and on the rejuvenation of my earthquake damaged home city. I am excited at the opportunity to contribute to Christchurch and to apply my skills (whatever they might be) to innovative service delivery within Canterbury to the Justice Sector.

I’ll be involved in a bit of this http://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector/christchurch-precinct , this http://beehive.govt.nz/release/pm-unveils-design-christchurch-justice-precinct and a bit of this http://www.justice.govt.nz/courts/modernising-courts/technology-in-courts and some other interesting things as well.

In some respects it feels like coming home. My first public service role was with the Companies Office who were at that time part of the Department of Justice.

I shall miss my colleagues at Foster Moore and all the wonderful registry people I have had the privilege of meeting across the globe.

I will enjoy popping my passport away for a while (I will not miss US domestic air travel one bit). I have been very lucky to have seen so much of the world. I want to see more of it but wish to do so with my family by my side.

I am looking forward to spending a few more weekends at home with Katherine and my girls. I hope they’re looking forward to that also! I shall particularly enjoy working in an office once more. These last two years have proven demonstrably that I am ill suited to working from home.

I shall dig out my suits and ties, polish the shoes and head off to do my bit for a better future for Christchurch. I take up my new life from mid October.

I am a registry geek and will of course stay in contact with happenings in that world.  Some registry consulting may also be on the agenda.

I will still bore anyone silly enough to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or this blog. The observations will not be from such exotic places and will by necessity be non-political but they will be my observations of life nonetheless.

Change is the only constant in the universe.

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Voices

The dead walk among us
My mother joined me on my walk this evening
I wandered past a place we’d been and she joined me
We laughed a while and I missed her
As I read my daughter some AA Milne
My father did the voices
He was good at the voices
They just pop in…

Airplane Lavatories

The only thinking I have ever done in an airplane loo is… try not to touch anything. I’ve frequently calculated the hours before I’ll get to the nice clean spacious hotel one, occasionally I find myself worrying about whether the person in there before me has been sucked onto the bowl (this’ll no likely be due to the urban myth about aircraft toilet disembowelment no doubt).

I am never very comfortable in an aircraft dunny. It’s a quick pee for me and I’m out of there.

I am always terrified I’ll open the wee cantilever door to find some dear old lady sitting upon the throne unaware of the need to have locked the door with a solid slide of the bolt. There’s never enough water, space or proper towels.

Except that one time I flew on a Qantas flight, first class on a 747. We had a toilet set aside for 8 of us as big as the cockpit. Marble bench, string quartet music (for all I know they may having been playing in there with me somewhere). There was a porthole window on to the sky. So we chaps could wave to flyers in other aircraft in the most inappropriate ways. Mind you if any fellow flyer was close enough to see my rude waving I was in the right place given the pending doom it would have signified.

The washrooms in business class on the Singapore Airlines A380 were rather pleasant. But they were brand new when I first met them. The ones in economy on a recent Lufthansa A380 flight resembled glorified portaloos which we in Canterbury know all to well. All grey plastic and Tupperware’esque molding.

The worst ever were those on a Singapore Airlines flight from Dubai to Mauritius. Unspeakable evil had been wrought in one of them. I opened the door and at first I thought a vampire had been staked in the style of True Blood. I closed the door and walked back to my seat traumatised.

And here’s a thing, do you flush the moment you’ve finished? (thus signaling your impending exit and forcing a more hurried ablution) or do you flush when the hand washing is done and dusted? Either way there is invariably a face to great you the moment you exit the cubicle.

Something I really dislike…

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Me and Tim

This year marks a 20 year anniversary for me and a dear friend. No not my wife (that’s a 24 year anniversary).In 1993 I met and fell in love with Tim.

Well Tim Horton’s actually.

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Katherine and I set off on our delayed big OE (overseas experience) in 1993. We travelled to North America, Europe and Asia. We started the trip with a week in Honolulu and then headed up to Canada. This first visit to Canada saw us land in British Columbia and travel East to Ontario by rail, stopping in Alberta and Manitoba en route. We arrived at Toronto Union Station and were met by my Aunty Kate and Uncle Jimmy. We stayed with them in Ajax, Ontario for several weeks.

On our first Sunday in Ajax we joined Kate and Jimmy for church. After the service we were taken, as part I believe of their regular routine, to Tim Horton’s for a coffee and a donut… and so began my obsession.

Tim Hortons  is a Canadian fast casual restaurant known for its coffee and donuts.

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In 2001 I won a study award from the New Zealand Government and had the opportunity to visit any business school of my choice. I was very keen to return to Canada and so selected Queen’s School of Business in Kingston, Ontario. The business school was excellent and had in fact been ranked as having the best food of any business school in a survey that year. While the food was good it wasn’t so good as to stop me wandering off each evening to the nearby Tim Horton’s.

I visited Ottawa in 2003 as part of a visit to the Federal Companies Register and prior to the IACA Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. My dear friend Dick Shaw ensured that the hotel my colleague and I stayed in had a Tim Horton’s in the basement. We travelled to New Brunswick by car and enjoyed several Tim Horton’s roadside experiences along the way.

Dick and his wonderful personal assistant Louise would send me a Tim Horton’s calendar every year and it would take pride of place in my office.

When Dick and I attended the Corporate Registers Forum conference in Cape Town in 2009 Tim Horton’s were having their annual Roll-up-the-rim to win promotion. Dick had bought a Tim Horton’s cup for each morning and I was able to play from South Africa.

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Myron Pawlowsky and I snuck off from the CRF in Fredericton for breakfasts of bagels at Tim Horton’s on a few occasions.

There was a Tim’s in Fredericton pretty much attached to a Catholic Church. I found this rather amusing, seeing two ‘religions’ so close.

Now many will know that I am a bit of a coffee snob and it will therefore come as a surprise at this point to learn that I don’t actually like Tim Horton’s coffee. It is not the coffee that we drink in New Zealand at all. I have never uttered the words, Double Double.

When I visit a Timmie’s I drink a small French Vanilla. It has become for me ‘the taste of Canada’. Every time I have one it evokes my fondness for the country and seems to contain the entire (growing) collection of my memories of great times spent there.

I do love donuts. Shamelessly. There was a time in my history where I would have happily sat in a Tim Horton’s and ‘done the menu’. In my more recent wisdom I limit myself to the occasional Canadian Maple.

I took a nine-hour car ride to Vermont from Toronto a few years back and limited myself to a humble dozen Timbits. Quite controlled of me.

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I have a collection of Tim Horton’s mugs, coffee canisters, Christmas Tree ornaments and most recently was given a ‘rim roller’ for those times I manage to coordinate travel with the roll-up-the –rim promotion.

The place is pure franchise. Consistent, bland, formulaic. The staff uniform is beige. But it is warm, friendly and remarkably inexpensive. And absolutely ubiquitous in Canada. According to Wikipedia there are in excess of 4500 stores across Canada. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve been to a Tim’s in at least 8 of the 9 Provinces I’ve visited.

My recent visit to Regina in -28 (wind chill -42) degree temperatures proved the value of Tim Horton’s soups. I’ve found comfort in a Sour Cream Glazed at many an airport terminal.

The whole story of Tim Horton and the company he started is also kind of fascinating and would make a good movie (it would need an intermission of course so one could stock up on Dutchies).

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I’ve loved Tim for 20 years and he doesn’t really know it…

There’s Wisdom in the Words of the Wise

Went for a walk with Katie (6) this morning. She had asked to join me on one of my morning wanders. I waited several hours for her to wake up (I normally get up at 6:00 for my sojourn). I am very glad I did.

She was delighted when upon waking I reminded her that we were walking this morning. She sprang into life and was ready in minutes.

We headed off around our little holiday village of Mapua and Katie was in full (verbal) swing by the time we got to the gate!

Soon a fellow passed us on his way to work, he was smoking. That elicited a screwed up face from Katie and the observation that “that man was smoking, he’ll end up with ugly feet“. This I took to be a reference to the photos of gangrenous toes that now adorns cigarette packets.

Katie then proceeded to tell me that if I smoked she wouldn’t like me very much. She recalled the fact that I had confessed to having ‘tried’ a cigarette in my youth. I was subjected to a firm interrogation as to why I did such a thing and where. I remarked that I wasn’t sure where it was but I thought it might have been a pub.

This drew the response that “a pub was a holy place“. I have no idea where this idea came from and enquired what she meant. She informed me that Ms Adair (her teacher) had told her that a pub is a holy place. Now I am sure there are many who would consider a pub to be just that. Certainly I have achieved many spiritual highs over a glass of the amber… I might have to have a chat to her teacher when next I see her.

We interrupted our walk at this point for a coffee and a hot chocolate at my wee local holiday coffee spot.

When leaving the cafe Katie remarked that “we should just keep walking, we could walk away from it all
I have no idea what the ‘all’ was she had in mind. But it was a very tempting idea… I’d walk anywhere with this wee person, she’s awesome.

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