change of address

for years we kept hearing about this real estate boom and decided it was time to get in on the action – hope it’s not too late?

after 2 1/2 years of looking and countless open houses (probably close to 100 for the jboss) we finally have a signed contract on a house. it will be great to have a place of our own. makes it all seem less temporary.

if you ask the realtor she will say the house is in island bay, when actually it is in southgate – a tiny neighborhood on the ridge overlooking island bay. but we think of it as an extension of island bay – just like the bronx is an extension of manhattan.

we are going to create the story of how southgate broke away from island bay – stay tuned for that.

the details:

  • 14A Buckley Road
    Southgate, 6023
    New Zealand
  • settlement date: 14-JAN
  • moving date: 15-JAN
  • phone (unchanged) 04 971 6426

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nice view from the deck

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mini deck off the main room for coffee in the morning.

one large main room with kitchen, dining room and lounge (living room) combined.
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main room with views out over island bay and the cook straight.

open modern kitchen.

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one year in

today marks the one year mark for me in new zealand.

the highlights

– public transport that works. a 3 block walk to my bus stop in island bay, a wait usually less than 10 minutes and i’m in the cbd 20 minutes later. less than a block from my bus stop in the city to my desk. the buses are clean, the drivers friendly and the riders courteous.

– a 12 minute commute. i hop on my vespa, park in one of the free spots in the cbd for scooters/motorcycles and i’m at my desk after a short walk. 20 minutes from door to desk

– neighborhood shops. from our house in island bay i can walk to the grocery, butcher, bakery (2), dairy (4), movie theater, pharmacy, post office, library, doctor, book shop, cafe (3), bar, fish & chips, chinese (3), malaysian, indian & thai.

– the cafe culture. almost every block has several small, independent cafes with coffee, drinks, light food and outside tables along the sidewalk.

– common courtesy. for example i’ve ridden the bus hundreds of times now and i can’t think of a single time someone was yacking away on their mobile phone. before they get on folks switch their phones to silent mode. my boston experience was the inevitable hummer parked in the fire lane and blocking the entrance outside the whole foods. or the person ahead of you at the check out counter more focused on their mobile phone conversation than paying for their purchases

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– a vibrant city full of small businesses. only one mall way out in the suburbs and no big box stores. jackie went to our local hardware store and asked for a magnetic key box. they didn’t have any in stock but the manager said he would look into getting some. he called the next day to let her know they had been ordered, and then again when they had arrived. more than once i have been in a shop, asked for something it turns out they didn’t have, and had them point me to competitor

– a sense of community. wellington’s not small (500,000), but i feel much more of a part of the community that i did in boston. the city council takes out a full page ad in the paper with the latest community news, events and planned city works. i’ve already participated in two council surveys (public transport & road planning), something i never did (was never asked) before

– the ocean. i lived within an hour of the ocean for 21 years in boston and had no interest in it. since i’ve been here i’ve spent time at the water almost every day. i have no interest in going to the beach to lie down on a blanket and get a tan. but most of the coastline is too rugged for that anyway and is great to walk along. the rock and tides make it a new experience every time.

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– the climate. i haven’t worn a winter coat since i’ve been here. and none of the melting heat in the summer. it feels like spring or fall most of the time.

– renting. my home chore list is empty for the first time since 1991. our weekends are for recreation, exploring and having fun.

– safe & secure. no colour coded national threat level. no tsa hassles at the airport. and yet i feel *much* safer.

– kids being kids. playing in the streets, getting to school on their push scooters, busy playgrounds.

– the simple life. used car, small house, less stuff.

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– public healthcare that works. universally accessible healthcare for primary and acute care, the accident compensation corporation (acc) providing no-fault coverage for all accidents & injuries eliminating lawsuits, and pharmac objectively deciding what medicines will be provided. even though i had great employer provided coverage in boston there was always the fear of losing your job and being bankrupted by a medical expense. you do have to wait your turn for many procedures though.

– social services that work. kiwis may struggle to make ends meet, but no one goes hungry and everyone has a place to sleep. perhaps even a bit too generous at times, but i would rather error in this direction.

– the integration of maori culture into daily kiwi life. i’m struck by both the maori and pakeha (a new zealander of non-maori and non-polynesian heritage) actions here. the pakeha are very respectful of the maori culture – and the maori are comfortable sharing their traditions with the nation. when mahe drysdale wore a traditional maori cloak whilst caring the new zealand flag during the olympic ceremony it felt like a celebration of the maori traditions. the tomahawk chop at a braves game is not quite the same. when the national anthem was played before the all blacks game everyone sang both the english and maori verses.

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what i miss

– cheap books. even taking the exchange rate into account books are almost twice as dear here.

– tivo. once you’ve had it, it is hard to do without.

– affordable home ownership. things have peaked here, but home prices had reached the stratosphere – totally unaffordable (80% of take home pay for example). and we thought boston was expensive.

– good pay. kiwi salaries are quite low relative to the us, the uk or australia.

– going to the ballpark. hard to beat a redsox game at fenway park.

– dunkin donuts. i don’t expect there is anywhere that had more coffee cafes and better coffee, but sometimes i just want my big styrofoam cup of dd, ready for me in 30 seconds. and an occasional donut is a fine guilty pleasure.

– the vermont cabin. actually, the cabin in the first few years we owned it when it was a relaxing place to enjoy the snow and sit in front of the fire. unfortunately in the end it was just a place to do chores.

– the climate. i do miss winter a bit. something about a gentle snowfall, or even the feeling of battling mother nature during a fierce winter storm. and the smells of the flowers in spring and the leaves in fall are hard to beat.

– having a shared history with others – particularly with the few that tolerate my sense of humour and cater to my near constant need for positive feedback.

– turkey day. food, family & football.

– christmas in winter. it should be cold and the ground covered with snow when you are picking out your christmas tree. there are also noticeably few christmas lights and decorations. we may have to set the example this year.

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it a small, small, world

whilst i am employed by company e2, i on the account of a large nz telecommunications company (company t) and spend much of my time at their site. today i was sitting at my desk at company t when i hear “hey antony – how are things?” i turn to see a former colleague from my last employer in massachusetts – now also living and working in new zealand. 14717 km (9145 miles) from boston and i run into someone i know from a 30 person startup.

similarly i’m talking with my colleague at e2 who sits at the desk next to me. my time working at orange comes up since he is originally from the uk. i mentioned how much i enjoyed working in london. he asks where in london i worked:

“marylebone” (one of the sections of london)

“that’s a nice part of town. where in maryleborn?”

“an old heritage building on wigmore”

“anywhere near the music hall?”

“right across the street. i was in 33 wigmore”

“i worked on the 1st floor. you must have been up on 3?”

“yep”

mind you that london is a city of 12 million people and the chap at the desk next to me in wellington worked in the same small building at the same time.

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gotta love your stuff

today our container arrived.

after 94 days in transit (actually 113 since i left boston) me and my stuff are once again one.

maf (the biosecurity people) are way behind so about 20 items/boxes had to go back for inspection, but we’ve got the vast majority. great to have more clothes – i’ve been cycling through the same 5 outfits that i was able to stuff into my luggage for the flights here and some new variety will be welcome.

the whole move has been a bit of a logistical pain and i’ve vented quite a bit about how poorly gentle giant did providing nz customs and maf with the information they needed to approval our shipment – but – they did do an amazing job with the physical pack. when we opened the container nothing had shifted even an inch and – this is truly remarkable – there was not one bit of damage. nothing. notta. ziltch. amazing given the time and distance.

now that we have most of our stuff back i have to admit that it’s not as fantastic as i thought it would be. having almost nothing was quite easy and liberating. with one coffee cup you don’t end up with a pile of dishes in the sink. doing laundry was easy since there was never much to do.

it reminded me of an old george carlin monologue about “stuff”.

it is really easy to become a slave to your stuff

two amazing bit of logistics. firstly our house is at the end of a very narrow, twisty and hilly road that you access via a sharp turn off of a slightly larger twisty and hilly road. somehow the truck driver backed up the 40′ container down the entire length of the road, threading it between the parked cars. i don’t think i could have done that with our corolla. even more impressive was the method of getting the container off the truck. if you look on the back of the truck you can see two small mechanical arms folded up. their is a second identical pair on the front. to start the process the outer arm unfolds to place a foot on the ground to the right of the truck. then the second arm opens up and grabs the top of the container and swings it up, over and down. for the engineers in the crowd you can appreciate the forces required to cantilever a full 40′ container off the side like that. talking with one of the movers he said the mechanism was invented by a south island tinkerer who saw movers having to bring in a separate crane to lift the container off the flatbed truck

the new zealand moment was two youngsters (william & george, 4 & 6) from the neighborhood walking into the house with a plate of scones straight from the oven. i like to think of myself as a nice person but it would *never* occur to me to do something like that for someone else moving in.

sitting on the dock of the bay

88 days after our container left our house it framingham it has arrived in wellington.

Tracking Information
Container : MSCU5003138
Type : 40′ DRY VAN
Status : IN TRANSIT
Shipped To : WELLINGTON, NZ
Shipped On : 30/08/2007

Location Date Description Vessel Voyage
WELLINGTON, NZ 26/11/2007 Discharged
SYDNEY, AU 20/11/2007 Loaded MSC CLORINDA C7143
SYDNEY, AU 12/11/2007 Discharge
ANTWERP, BE 24/09/2007 Loaded MSC HAILEY 23A
ANTWERP, BE 17/09/2007 Discharged
BOSTON, US 07/09/2007 Loaded MSC JAPAN 634R
BOSTON, US 30/08/2007 Gate In Full
BOSTON, US 27/08/2007 Empty to Shipper

the careful reader may note the journey was not exactly the most direct route. we were told the container would travel by rail to long beach california and then travel by ship to singapore before a quick hop over to wellington. the expected travel time was 45 to 55 days. for reasons that no one will admit it didn’t take this route and instead first headed east (the wrong way) to antwerp belgium where it enjoyed a week basking in the summer sun before heading off to sydney australia. that route takes it through the straights of gibraltar, the mediterranean sea, through the suez cannel, the red sea (hello saudi arabia) and across the indian ocean before arriving in sydney.

our stuff is now seen much more of the world than we have.

our ship – the msc hailey

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now that we’re in our rental house and have our phone hooked up our contact details have finally settled down a bit.

to head off some obvious questions – yes, some mobile numbers are shorter than others (jackie’s has one fewer digit) and yes, the last 4 digits of our home phone are the same as my mobile (he who signs up for the phone service gets to choose the number).

antony’s mobile
+64 21 254 6426

jackie’s mobile

+64 21 954 423

home

25 tiber street
island bay
wellington 6032
new zealand
+64 4 971 6426

way too many ways to be contacted…

  • afoster@fryphone.com (primary)
  • fryphone@gmail.com (backup)
  • fryphone@mac.com (included with .mac account)
  • antony.foster@eds.com (work)
  • +64 21 254 6426 (mobile)
  • +64 4 971 6426 (home)
  • +64 4 474 5015 (work desk)
  • +64 27 208 1035 (work mobile)
  • +1 617 379 0869 (skype in number)
  • fryphone (aol im & ichat)
  • antonyfoster (skype)
  • fryphone (yahoo im)
  • fryphone (msn im)

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[ed. another image from sam brown @ explodingdog.com]

thank you bus driver

one more step in the moving process complete today. we checked out of our apartment in the city (my home for the last 10 weeks), i began my last walk to work and jackie dragged the last of our belonging off to the car and then drove to our rental in island bay.

during the day we got phone, tv & internets connected (same company) and our rental furniture (bed, couch, dining table & chairs) delivered so by the time i got home it was beginning to feel like a home.

but the highlight of my day was taking the bus home for the first time. the island bay line runs right past work so catching the bus couldn’t be easier. during rush hour the buses run every few minutes so i only had to wait 4 minutes before i was on my way. and then the great kiwi moment. when passengers get off the bus they declare “thank you bus driver!”. and not just quietly as they pass the driver and exit the front door. most exit out the back door so they have to really belt it out for the driver to hear.

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