looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

NZ Trip: Memory is no substitute for a Permanent Marker

Today's my day in town with Walter's car. First thing after morning coffee I drive down to Browns Bay to visit the local branch of the ASB Bank, where we have an account. I have a very old EFTPOS card - so old that 1) I didn't even know I had it, Lisa had to find it for me and wave it at me before I believe her that it existed - and 2) I didn't know the PIN number. So the idea was to check in with the Bank and see what they could do. It turned out that they could do a lot: If I showed photo ID, they'd replace the card with a shiny new one and let me put in a new PIN - so I did.

I tested it in the automatic tellers in the foyer and yes, it worked - delivering to me a shiny new $20 bill that looked kind of different from the ones I had in my wallet - and I'm referring to the NZ ones here, not the US bills...

On the way back to the car I passed the Browns Bay Pet Shop. "Oh! Kittens!" I exclaimed as I noticed the little furry forms running around in the front window. I stopped for a while and admired them, before tearing myself away and back to the car parked round the back of the building.

I was meaning to go and walk on the beach for a minute or two but I forgot.

On the way out of Browns Bay I stopped at the Mobil Petrol Station, the usual one we used regularly to fill our car up at. I had a strange kind of pump that you couldn't feed your EFTPOS card into. I was quite non-plussed. What was one expected to do? I went in and checked with the clerk behind the desk. "How does this work? Where do I insert the card?"

The clerk laughed and said that Browns Bay was behind the times, and this station had never had pay-at-the-pump systems. What you do is, press "Fill", select the fuel type, and fill up. Then come inside to pay.

I had no memory of ever doing this before. Yet I must have done, because I used to fill the car up at this station all the time. This was so parallel-universey.

I reminded myself (as I filled up the tank) that this was yet another lesson that my memory simply can not be trusted.

I drove back to Walter & Becky's house (with the fuel tank indicator ominously reading "E") and collected Walter and dropped him off at CSL. (It turns out the car petrol indicator says "E" until it's half empty, at which point it indicates "half empty".) Then it was off on the motorway heading South to walk around Dominion Road, Mt Eden, and some of my old stomping grounds.

One Tree Hill apparently no longer has a tree on it. It took me a while to notice. I had the camera with me but I never thought of taking a picture of it. Do they call it "No Tree Hill" now?

I sat in Potters Park and enjoyed the lush green grass and big old oak trees.

Dominion Road is bending, under it's own weight
Shining like a strip cut from a sheet metal plate, 'cause it's been raining

I walked up and down Dominion Road with Muttonbird songs running through my head. It seemed like every street had memories attached. X lived down that street; that was the road I turned down when I was cycling to see Y; that corner over there was where we had that party; etc. Now the memories are vague and uncertain, and I don't even remember the people's names anymore. Just faces, removed from labels and times.

I sat in a cyber-cafe and wrote to Lisa. Cheap at $2/hour. It seemed like there was a cyber-cafe on every block, any flavor you want. I saw two "Indian Restaurant & Cyber Cafe". At least one "Chinese Takeaway and Internet Access". And other places were just cyber cafes, without additional condiments.

I had a lengthy lunch (actually a breakfast) at a cafe called "Zest" just down the road from the old Charley Greys picture theatre. It's now called the "Capitol" and was showing Bollywood movies.

There was a cooking/book store with a sign outside that read, "There is no such thing as a little garlic."

Then I call in at ArtRageous for my pre-arranged appointment with Paul Peachey.



I have my design all worked out and he does a great job.


I drove back into town to meet up with Walter and Matt at Zintel. Zintel were expecting me, and told me to go on upstairs to join them. Matt was heads-down debugging something, but introduced me to Sue S, of whom I've heard him mention before. Walter was furiously active in another corner of the office, something to do with an email server or something. Very manic. "Is he always like this?" I asked Sue.

"Yes. As the Warren Zevon song goes, he's an "excitable boy," replies Sue.

Walter was ready to leave, so we left Matt to his debugging and took a 15 minute walk over to Queen Street to check out Marbecks Records and pop in to the Bast leather shop in the arcade. I was actually wearing the Jacket we bought from the store 4 years ago (just before leaving the country - I got to pick up the jacket from Duty Free, if I recall correctly). I tell them how great the Jacket is. "The leather is still softening up," the woman said, copping a feel.

Walter and I talk and walk, back to the car, and drive into the traffic on the harbour bridge. The sun is setting, and at every other curve the traffic slows as the road turns towards the West.

Now we're back home and I'm cleaning up and packing my knapsack for a visit out with Matt. I'm going out to his place for dinner to see the family, but Matt is still at Zintel in town. I can't remember how to get to Matt's house out in the Waitakeres. Lisa and I discovered a route we called the "North West Passage" once but I've completely forgotten the middle part. Doesn't anything stick?

I give Matt a call and we arrange to meet halfway outside Soljans Winery on State Highway 16.

No sooner had I arrived at Soljans, stopped the car on the gravel, and switched the lights off, when Matt (arriving by a different route) pulled up in front and flashed his lights. Perfect timing considering he left from Zintel in the city and I from the North Shore - completely different routes!

Following Matt on the second part of the route, it all slowly comes back to me. I would definitely have been lost without Matt to follow.

Dinner with the Peirses was great, although we all missed Lisa...

Harry is really special. His voice is deepening. He's really hilarious. He's totally a fanatic about Lord of the Rings and he has a real Broadsword movie prop. He has a pet rat named "Mischief".

Harry and George were poking each other on the couch and giggling and wailing and finally Matt had enough and grabbed George and sort of restrained him with his hand over his mouth, and George sort of farted into Matt's hand for 5 minutes until Matt complained. "Aw George you've made my hand all soggy now."

Harry, in perfect Elrond accent, intoned "The Soggy Hand of Mordor," while gesturing mythically.