My life in Wine

Huntaway a great table wine for the price. By far a favourite.
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Not a bad table wine at all. Well balanced and not overly sweet.
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Dangerously easy and light drinking. A summer wine for when you need to drink a lot without getting too tipsy.
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We love their Syrah, but this wine was excessively sweet, more of a Riesling than a Pino Gris. We won’t be drinking this again. 20140118-100923.jpg

A nice wine, good body and happy to drink anytime. Medium all around. 20140118-100855.jpg

For the record this is one nights worth of drinking in NZ. Three people, five bottles. It’s a good life.

Merry Christmas from NZ

I can’t lie, my girlfriend is pretty darn amazing.  It hasn’t felt like Christmas here, in large part because it’s Summer and there are few to no Christmas trees to be had.   We even went to the Christmas parade that I blogged about last year; to my delight they still had the Smurf’s 2 movie float :).  Yeah, it’s really Christmasy here.  

But then I went to Auckland for three days; ah beautiful Auckland where everyone there tells you how much better it is than Wellington.  Bollocks, two out of the three days, Wellington had nicer weather and the third day was a tie.  Anyway, much to my delight I flew home to see CDR and this is what I walked into:

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Our own little NZ Christmas tree!   But she did more to make it feel like Christmas and while this may seem silly to others, it’s wonderful to me.

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And our very own Reindeer!

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Thanks babe for bringing Christmas to our home!

Misogynist, me?

So I got inspired to blog again, mainly because I wanted to share my thoughts on living here and various things and last night someone inspired me.

I told this young lady who works at Vino in Wellington that “I don’t normally like short hair on girls, but it looks good on you.” She proceeded to tell me that I’m a misogynist.

I’m sorry, but did the meaning of that word change?

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Nope, still means the same thing. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a misogynist; if anything I’m a philogynist. Perhaps on my next visit I should leave a dictionary with those words highlighted for her.

Do you still love NZ? (Part 2)

So the last time I wrote about the concept of liking it here, I said yes, but I followed that up with the earthquake that we had; magnitude 6.5.   Well, it seems fitting that I follow that up with a follow up since it’s been a month and we’ve just had another 6.4-6.8 magnitude quake (magnitude seems to fluctuate – don’t ask why).

Like most people I strongly dislike the earthquakes.  If you have never been through one, strong ones are a lot like tornadoes.  There’s a rumbling and a minor vibration, but it goes on for a millisecond or two, too long.  You realize that rumble isn’t from a truck, it’s intensity is increasing and things that shouldn’t be moving are.  If you’re in a work environment, minor hilarity ensures.  There’s me, the sprinter who within a heartbeat can be away from his desk, past his co-workers and braced by the safest part of our office building.  Seriously, my co-workers mock me for one being to quick and two for leaving the lovely young lady who sits next to me, behind.   (In my defense I swear I put my hand out to drag her along, she just never ever grabs it.)   We have my boss, who is a little like Helen Miren, very well put together and polished.  She “quickly” strolls away from her desk.  Others in my office, either try to ride it out like a paralyzed cat, not knowing what to do, or quickly embracing the World War II training their parents received and crouching under tables.  In the end we usually laugh at eachother, but the building I work in is earthquake prone and after seeing Christchurch’s destruction, I do not want to be in the facade as it crumbles so I’ll continue to sprint.

So now that we have the lastest dislike about earthquakes covered, let’s talk about still liking it here or not.  It’s not easy for me to break it into likes and dislikes, most things in my life are not black and white so you’ll have to bare with me here.  As you may know, New Zealand is EXPENSIVE.  I see this as a pro and a con.  When I lived in the states, I didn’t save any money and now that I live here I still don’t save any money – meh, but what has changed is how I few and think about things with money.  For example, meat here is not horribly priced but most people complain about it.  Putting all politics aside (just for this issue), the meat here is significantly better for you.  If you don’t believe me,  over 98% of all cattle in this country are purely pasture raised and fed off of grasses they graze.   What about the 2%?  It was an experiment to cater to a foreign market request, but NZ doesn’t produce enough maize naturally so it’s uneconomical for them to continue this experiment.    Given the health benefits, I’ll pay a little more for grass fed beef.  Image

To be honest the last time I bought grass fed beef from Whole Foods, it was probably equivalently priced ($7.99 a pound for ground US and $7.50 for half a kilo NZ).

So yes, things are most expensive, but there is a reason why.  There’s a standard of living with a minimum wage of 13.75 per hour.  This is close to the same rate that Wal-Mart balked at when DC proposed that they pay it.  A company that makes over a billion dollars in profit can afford to pay their workers a decent wage.  It’s also one of the reasons why profit margins are slim in this country; people come first.   All sales taxes are built into prices so you don’t have to worry about calculating how much things are going to cost.  If it says 5 dollars, it’s 5 dollars.

There are certain things that I absolutely do have a problem with being more expensive though.  Cheap shit from China.  When I buy something NZ made, I know that person is making a minimum wage so it deserves to cost more.  When it’s from China, they are still only paying those workers cents per hour and even with duty and import taxes, the price increase is negligible.  So yes, that pisses me off.

However, with items costing more in general, it makes you more conscientious overall.  You intentionally do not waste as much.  Leftovers, eat them.  Ziplock bag used to hold crackers, reuse it – it only had crackers in it.  Plastic tubs from take out, reuse – it’s cheaper than buying containers at the store and they are the exact same thing.   These may be poor examples, but it represents the cost to waste thinking that becomes a part of you.   If I ever go back to the states, I hope to never waste the way I use to as America really does treat everything as a disposable society.

What else do I like, NZ is strongly against GMO’s in general.  For example:
“No fresh vegetables, fruit or meat sold in New Zealand is genetically modified.”  On the flip side, they do allow the same crap that happens in the states, “this product is made from imported ingredients.”  Well, I prefer not to eat things from China and instead of guessing where it’s from, I wish they would just label it.

What do I dislike.  I miss my friends, immensely.  I don’t have normal friendships and I’m grateful that my OH accepts that, but I do miss all of the girls (bones, markey, hemmings), Chris, and even arguing with Chase.   That might be the hardest part about being here, which is weird for me to admit.

 One thing that is different is the dining out.  Because they make minimum wage they don’t try to turn over table after table, it’s like Europe in that regard.  When you want to leave you leave, no pushing you out the door.  I like this, but it takes getting use to and it can be confusing when you walk into a restaurant, am I suppose to seat myself, will they seat me, am I suppose to ask for the bill, or just pay at the counter.   These are little nuances that take time to learn.

Two things I do love and I mean I do love is the ability to take vacation when I want to and for how long I want to; one week, two weeks, three weeks, four.  It’s my life and I can take time off unpaid and it doesn’t have to be approved.  I remember at MIT and at American College of Cardiology if I wanted to take time off unpaid, it was “frowned upon” and may require “senior management approval”.  WTF.   This Christmas, my OH and I are planning on taking two weeks and hitting Japan, Bali, or Taiwan.  The other thing I really do love here and this is in regard to my company is that they do treat and take care of us.  American companies say they are great places to work, mine doesn’t say it, it is.  We are still small enough to do birthday cakes, team lunches on the company, monthly events on the company, an annual holiday retreat on the company.  Yes, I do probably work harder here than I did in the states (most of the time), but they also take care of us.  And you probably know how much I love opening the company’s wine on Friday’s!

The downsides to living here really are; general practice healthcare – they suck, lack of options but then again that’s not always so bad either, and and and, I’m drawing a blank.  I’m sure I’ll continue this post another time as I have other things I like and dislike, but mostly I do love it here.