Going home for a visit


Everything grows quicker in NZ

We’re heading back to Sunny Central Queensland for a brief visit next Father’s Day weekend and I’m so excited to catch up with the kids, family and friends for a few days. It’s been five months since we landed in New Zealand and whilst we have had such a good time getting established and finding our way (even with the few hiccups we’ve encountered), I have missed the family connections and friendships built up over time.

I’m not so excited about reacquainting myself with the heat however. We’re still doing 4 – 14 degree days here (although today is a huge 17 degrees!) whereas Emerald will be getting back up to 17 – 27 degrees while we’re home. Still, that’s fairly reasonable. I think I can take it. Except for one tiny little thing … It means I’ll have to wear shorts.

And that means I’ll have to shave my legs.

Those babies haven’t seen sunlight for months and I checked out their condition just out of curiosity the other day. I must admit … it’s not a pretty sight, people. Those poor pins are the palest colour I think they’ve ever been and whilst the overall hair coverage is relatively sparse, what is there is long and wispy. I relayed these facts to my daughter and the reply was a very disgusted “Sort dat out lady!”.

It’s on my list of things to do this weekend, along with finalising my taxes and seeing Final Fantasy XV in a special showing at the cinemas.

So I’ll be greeting the family with legs that will be bare-haired, pale and pasty … and possibly sporting a few razor cuts from lack of practice.

But at least I can console myself with the fact I’ve saved a fortune in razors.

I’m dreaming of a … BIOS PXE boot?


Oh my god what is this?

For the past six weeks, I have been on a major learning curve. Like, HUGE.  I considered myself fairly proficient with technology. Almost advanced, even. Then I started this job and now I realise what I knew was just a teeny tiny tip of the gigantic iceberg that is all things hardware, software and world wide web based!

All my dreams are about keyboards and data and trying to recover passwords I didn’t know I had to have and understanding procedures that are not procedures but merely checklists. I guess you could say that each night my brain is trying to sort through the learnings of the day and figure out where best to shove it so I can retrieve it again – a defrag, if you will.

I was warned when I started that documentation wasn’t strong and part of my role is to fix that up. I’m bugging everyone in my section with “how do you do this?” then writing up a procedure for it as I go. I’m well aware of the irony of creating the “Infrastructure for Dummies” guide that I wished I’d had when I started but at least the next poor bunny will have a little more to go on than “BIOS settings for PXE boot (Enable)” when trying to reimage a computer for the first time.

The conversation went something like this …

Me: So, how do I do this?

Them: Easy – we have a document for it. Just follow the steps.

Me: Huh. Ok.

[Finds document. Reads document. Scratches head. What the actual hell is a PXE boot? Is it small and green and pointy?]

Me: Uhhhhh. What’s a PXE boot?

Them: Oh. It’s the setting in the BIOS.

Me: [slowly, trying not to upset them] Uh, what’s the BIOS?

Them: [looking at me now like … well, like the dumbarse I am] Uhhh it’s the Basic Input/Output System.

Me: [pause. FUCK. Just say it.] Ooookkkkaaaayyy. How do I find it?

Them: [trying not to sigh] Just turn the computer on and hit the delete key until it comes up.

Me: Well! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. They are a great bunch of people and infinitely patient with what must seem like a constant barrage of questions from me. But they’re computer engineers. They know this shit like the back of their hands. I, on the other hand, am a complete novice.

But I do know how to write a step-by-step guide. It’s probably been a great way to cement the learning process and build my confidence a bit at a time in the process.

And all my procedures start with the very basics, such as:

  1.  Turn computer on and hit that delete button until a blue screen of jibberish shows up.

You don’t know what you don’t know

tumblr_mh6eljSrzR1rx06nvo1_500You don’t realise how much knowledge you absorb by simply being born and living in a country until you move to another one. Even one as similar to Australia as New Zealand.

There’s the big things you notice straight away – accents; different phrases or names for things and currency. This is as much as the average visitor will have to learn in order to get by.

Then as you start to entrench yourself into everyday life, there’s more mundane things – IRD (Tax File Number); WOF (Warrant of Fitness – not to be confused with an actual service and vehicle check. It’s a basic tick and flick that says the car is allowed on the road, regardless of how crap it may drive); KiwiSaver (as far as I can tell, just about the only superannuation in existence here); ISP (so many companies offering great deals and not a monopoliser in sight. The kiwi version of Telstra is Spark and if my business dealings with them are anything to go by, they are the complete opposite of their Aussie counterparts. Quick, efficient, helpful, get the job done.)

Then comes the little things … like posting a package.

Now, in Australia the general rule is you post stuff from an Australia Post office. If you’re in a particularly small town, you do it from an agent (usually part of the corner store/pub/service station). If you live in a particularly large city, you may do it from an Australia Post Shop.  However it’s done, it’s usually quite obviously going from Australia Post.

In New Zealand, this is not necessarily the case. My saga began last week as, birthday present in plastic bag, I took a whole lunch hour to do what I could have completed in 15 minutes … if I’d known what I didn’t know.

I first dropped into a Whitcoulls (NZ’s answer to Angus & Robertson) and grabbed some wrapping paper, sticky tape and a birthday card that was:

(a) suitably funny; and

(b) suitably appropriate to send from a mother to a son.

Not as easy as you would think.

So this task took a little longer than expected but still left me with 45 minutes to walk to the only post office I could seem to find in the city. Weird. Only one? But sure, ok. Let’s do this.

Off I trotted. It wasn’t too far and besides, I had Pokémon Go to keep me occupied for the walk.  I got there and the seeds of doubt started. It was large, yes, but seemed to be mainly mailboxes. Inside, there was just an outlet with a few parcel bags … and I noted with increasing worry that they were only for local NZ mailing.

Regardless, I wrapped the present and wrote in the card and took my place in the line. Turns out the Paper Plus outlet (like a NewsExpress) does international mailing … and there was one just across the road from where I work. Great.

So off I went, retracing my steps and sure enough, if I’d only known I could have done the whole job in 15 minutes tops – including picking a card and wrapping paper!

I came back to work with a minute to spare and told my story to one of my co-workers. His reply? “So, what you’re saying is New Zealand is too efficient?”

Yes. Yes it is.