A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

australia summary

so we headed over to australia to visit my aunt and uncle in melbourne, with the idea that we would then travel all over the land of oz going on zany adventures and looking at huge rocks in the middle of the desert.  however, this did not happen.  due to the exchange rate not being so favorable, the jacked up rugby world cup prices in new zealand, and the general pricy-ness of australia, we decided to ditch said plans and go to south east asia instead.  yup, that's how we roll.

but i couldn't just skip to tales of malaysian adventure without telling you about our fabulous but brief adventures in the land down under.

the bolshevik finally realized his dream of being a professional didgeridoo player and i made friends with a very sociable, and very tall, kangaroo .... just kidding.  well, i guess it's actually not quite that far from the truth ...
tasmanian devils fighting over
a wallaby leg

i think one of my favorite australia activities was the penguin parade, which sadly we were not allowed to take pictures of.  but pretty much, you go to this island where they have lots o' penguins and you sit on these little bleachers and wait for all the penguins to come in from the ocean.  these particular penguins are very small so it's super adorable to watch these foot-tall penguins come over the sand dunes and then waddle over to their nests.  and as it was mating season, we got the rare opportunity to watch two penguins getting it on.  yup, happened right in front of us.  the male penguin flaps his flippers surprisingly fast.  that's what she said?

then the bolshevik and i headed over to tasmania for a couple of days where we frolicked with various wildlife.  i've realized that outside of the u.s. they run fast and loose with the safety rules and will allow tourists to do all sorts of questionably dangerous things.  for example, walk into a big field of kangaroos and feed them without any supervision.  so there i was happily feeding a bunch of little kangaroos when a very large kangaroo snuck up on me from behind and started eating out of my hand from over my shoulder.


we stayed in a little beachy town called bicheno (pronounced "bisheno" not "bitchin'-o") and did a walk along the shore to see a blowhole.  there were many inappropriate comments inspired by the blowhole that i will not repeat here.  but trust me, we covered the gamut of blowhole jokes on our walk.

so that's pretty much a week in australia.  while i'm sad that we won't get to explore the outback or go to the great barrier reef, i think we made the right decision to give up on oceania and venture over to asia.  so next post: awesome malaysian adventures!

a koala and her joey ...
c'mon, you can't have a post
about australia without a koala

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

new zealand wrap-up

we are currently in the town of Waipu, which i had picked for the specific reason that it had nothing to do.  that's not entirely true ... i thought there would be a few activities, but enough boredom to force me to do some schoolwork and finish up my novel.  well, there is certainly no shortage of boredom.

there is one bar in town, which is conveniently attached to our hotel and is populated by old men gambling on horses, beginning from the early hour of 11 am.  there is one cafe called "y-not" and then an odd take-out place boasting "magic tasty" chinese and european food.  what exactly is "european food?"  i am imagining pierogies topped with spanikopita wrapped in a pizza on a bed of paella.  anyway, the only "fancy" sit-down restaurant is called the "pizza barn," however, when we tried to eat dinner there at 8:30 on a sunday, we found out that they were no longer accepting new dinner customers.  walking the streets, the entire town was abandoned.  i kid you not, the bolshevik shouted "helloooo?" down the street and it just echoed back at us.  8:30 pm.

anyhow, we will be off to melbourne, australia to visit my aunt and uncle!  but before we head over to OZ, i'd like to do a brief summary of some of our adventures that i had not previously discussed.  here goes:

we spent a couple of days in christchurch, despite the fact that the rugby games were cancelled because of all of the earthquake devastation.  i think it's important to continue giving business to areas that are struggling after a natural disaster.  while we were there the entire center of the city was fenced off due to the reconstruction work.  however, i've heard that they will soon be offering tours through the city center to see the devastation and the money will all go to rebuilding the city.  here at the city gate there was a memorial of sorts where people have left flowers and notes to their loved ones.  it was quite sad actually, but i'm glad we went.
we also went to a place called waitomo, where they have a system of caves that are full of glow worms.    we did this thing where we rappelled into a cave, went tubing inside the cave, then climbed out.  this picture doesn't really get the full effect, but you can see there are these little glowing dots behind us, which are in fact glow worms.  it was actually quite cool when we shut off our headlamps and then all of a sudden the cave was filled with all these brightly glowing dots that hadn't been there before.





while we were in dunedin, we visited baldwin street, which is the steepest street in the world.  (even steeper than in san francisco) ... which leads me to comment that new zealand loves to proclaim that they have the most superlative something: steepest street, tallest rock arch, most voluminous sea cave, etc etc (we have in fact seen all of these sights).  it was difficult to really photograph how steep it was.  this was the best we could do.  but it was seriously steep!

alright ... that is all i need to report on new zealand.  on to australia!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

bay of islands and The Rock

relaxing in our room on The Rock
(please note awesome bay of islands
 island in background)
i am not one to endorse products and/or services, but i'm going to give a little shout-out to The Rock cruise in the bay of islands, nz.

first off, the bay of islands is a big bay in new zealand with something crazy like 150 little islands in it.  it's quite beautiful.  and the bolshevik arranged for us to take an overnight boat cruise through the bay and i must say that it was awesome.

the boat itself was kind of like a huge house boat with a big bar/dining/lounging area on the first floor and then bedrooms on the second floor.  i was quite pleased with our bedroom because it had a huge window, sliding glass doors onto a shared balcony .... and best of all it was private.  the bolshevik and i have been staying in hostels to save money, which i do not care for as i do like my alone time with my man.

moving on!  so the staff on the rock were all young people who were very friendly and were very enthusiastic about having the opportunity to get paid to hang out on a boat.  they were great though, they really went out of their way to get to know everyone.

i think the best thing about the boat was how many activities there were.  as a children's librarian, i love activities.

first we did some target shooting, which consisted of shooting a paintball gun at a floating plastic duck.  no plastic ducks were hurt during this activity.  then we did some fishing and amazingly, with no fishing experience, the bolshevik was the first person to catch a fish.  as a reward he was given a free drink, but not before having to kiss the fish he caught.  the fish was ultimately thrown back because it was too small.

after fishing we had a big bbq dinner, and then we went night kayaking.  the night kayaking was absolutely amazing.  once you got far away from the lights of the boat it was really dark and you could see millions of stars.  and apparently in the bay of islands area there is a strange plankton that lives in the water so any time you touch the water in moonlight the plankton let out this luminescent glow, so it looks like you're making the water shimmer and glow just by touching it.  it was pretty magical.  sadly this was impossible to get a picture of, but it will be in my memory forever.

the following morning we had a big breakfast and then went out to one of the islands to do a little hike up a hill (all the islands are quite hilly) and get an amazing view of the bay.  then we did some snorkeling and diving for sea urchins, then some more kayaking, and then we headed back to the dock.

while in the bay of islands we also did this "hole in the rock" boat tour which is just a few hours and they drive you to this very tall rock in the middle of the sea which has a large hole in (hence the name) and then the boat drives through the hole and it's pretty cool.  however, this was really nothing in comparison to the fabulousness of The Rock boat tour ... so if you're in bay of islands and you can only do one thing ... go on The Rock.

bay of islands, nz (i have learned how to stitch together many shots to make a panoramic shot!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

what would George Bernard Shaw do?

so we went to this town called Rotorua where they have a crazy amount of thermal activity ... there are hot springs everywhere, and hot mud pools and random steam escaping from the ground in various parts of town.  in fact, we were told that some people have even had to move their homes multiple times due to a dangerous amount of steam and activity on their land. i think after i moved my entire house the first time, i might consider moving my house to a less thermal town the second time.


anyway, we went to this place called "Hell's Gate" which is a barren rocky wasteland with huge thermal mud pools, many of which are so hot they would actually cook you alive.  others are just like a really nice mud jacuzzi.  a maori tribe used to live in the area and they used the pools to cook in, create medicines, have a bath, commit suicide, etc ...  very useful these pools.  but it makes me think of how shocked they must have been when they went to visit other tribes and found out that other people had to actually start their own fires in order to create heat.  suckers.


moving on!  apparently, although europeans visited from time to time, the only white man the maori tribe seemed to accept with open arms was George Bernard Shaw.  random, no?  i don't know, maybe they  were all big fans of Pygmalion.


so GBS visits and he is really taken aback by this crazy thermal area that the maori's live in, and he dubs it "hell's gate."  and then as he's being toured around he proceeds to rename all the different areas as he sees fit ... "oh this pool is now called  'sodom' and this muddy area here is now called 'gomorrah.' 


can you imagine?  he just renamed half their land, and they allowed it.  strange.  they must really dig irish playwrights.


anyway, it is in the spirit of George Bernard Shaw that i have coined my first rugby term.  now, if you have ever watched a game of rugby (and i assume most of you haven't) there is this thing called a "scrum" in which the players get into a huddle sort of formation and then slam into each other and whoever has the better scrum gets control of the ball.  (this may not be an accurate interpretation of the rules)  


but then there is this other thing they do when someone with the ball gets tackled, their teammates make a train behind them, passing the ball between their legs until finally the player on the end of the train is able to take the ball away from the area.  the players are all very very close and there is a lot of ass on groin action, not to mention some head in ass action as shown here ... well, it's all very homoerotic.


i feel that this move is different from the scrum used at the beginning of the game, however, as it is a means of getting the ball from the tackled player back into play.  with that said, i hereby call this move ... "the ass train."


yup, you can thank george bernard shaw for that.  he was my inspiration.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

you won't get my chocolatey secrets: a cadbury factory tour

apparently, here in new zealand everyone thinks you're going to steal their recipe for everlasting gobstoppers.  so it wasn't a big surprise when we went to tour the cadbury factory that we weren't allowed to take our cameras.    but if you are wondering what it's like inside, it's pretty much exactly like this ... http://youtu.be/RZ-uV72pQKI (please ignore the strange 10 second anime intro)

one thing i have to say about cadbury is that they know how to run a tour ... a woman in a purple oompa-loomap-esque jumpsuit led us around the factory, her pockets laden with mini cadbury bars.  sometime she would pose a question to the group, such as, "where does cadbury get their milk from?"  the answer is right here in new zealand, and if you answer correctly, you get a piece of chocolate.  and if you answer incorrectly, you also get a piece of chocolate.  and sometimes you get a piece of chocolate just for climbing several flights of stairs or holding the door for someone.  brilliant.  i love the reward system.  i am way more prone to actively participate if chocolate is involved.

this actually would've been very helpful on a 4x4 excursion we took in tahiti.  our tour guide would stop for easily 15-20 minutes at a time and ramble on about various tahitian things, asking us questions that we didn't know the answers to and then waiting an uncomfortably long time before finally telling us the answer.  this process could've been made much more pleasant if there had been miniature cadbury bars involved.

the highlight of our tour was when we watched the chocolate "waterfall" inside a large chocolate silo (the silo housed chocolate and was not actually made of chocolate) ... the waterfall rapidly dumped one ton of chocolate in a rather spectacular cascade.  the tour guide told us that one ton of chocolate is worth about $5,000 NZ ... when asked what purpose this waterfall served in the chocolate making process, our tour guide said, "none ... it's just really cool." ahhh, new zealand.

by the end of our tour we had accumulated quite a large variety of cadbury products, not to mention all the chocolate and/or marshmallow-centered items we ate along the way.  (i think there is an unusually large amount of marshmallow here in NZ)  needless to say, we felt a bit ill upon exiting our tour.  and then we were suckered into eating an unprocessed cocoa bean, which tasted absolutely awful, and only got more repulsive the longer you chewed it (as shown here at right)


Monday, October 3, 2011

dorking out in new zealand: auckland library

you may or may not know that as a librarian i have the extremely dorky habit of wanting to visit public libraries when i come across them in foreign countries.  i like to look at their books, see how they organize things, check out their teen room, scrutinize their seating choices, etc etc.

yes, i am that much of a geek.

i was very impressed by the auckland library, and i'll tell you i don't go easy on these foreign libraries.  i really scrutinize them.  first, they have a variety of excellent seating options.  there are cushy seats with special little laptop tables, comfy couches, study tables, etc.  everywhere you turn there's a little seating area with a different type of furniture, all of which were being utilized by the patrons.  while we were there they implemented a high "express" counter that people could stand at and use their laptops or read books while drinking coffee.   it was almost as if they designed the library with patron-use in mind.  crazy.

there is also a very nice cafe attached to the library with a surprisingly good selection of food.

the library also implemented a variety of eye-catching displays.  when we first arrived there was a rugby display.  by the time we left town they had changed it to an exhibit of banned books.

of course they had the typical computer labs that you need to sign up for with your library card, but they were pretty liberal about how much time they'd allow you.

when i went to the circulation desk to see about getting a card i noticed that they had labeled the desk "issues."  i really like the honesty in this labeling, because really, that's what the circulation desk is: dealing with a bunch of random often ridiculous issues.

i happen to be taking a couple of online classes, and i found some materials in the library that i wanted to take out.  i thought it was a long shot, but i asked if it was possible for me to get a library card.  amazingly, all they wanted was a letter saying that i am staying somewhere in auckland (accompanied by a photo id of course).  now, they didn't want anything with official letter head, anything proving that i will be staying in auckland for any sort of extended period of time, or anything which would allow them to track me down after i left auckland (which actually was only days after my card was issued).

so i got a very shady letter from my hostel and i am now a member of the auckland library!  oh the people of new zealand are so trusting!  i could've walked off with hundreds of dollars of library materials never to be seen again!

one thing i do not approve of is that the new zealand public libraries seem to charge you in order to take out certain items.  for example, i needed to take out two dvds and they were $2 each.  cheap, sure, but it should be FREE!  there were also charges for new books and selected paperbacks.  audiobooks are free though which is strange because they are way more expensive than dvds, but i guess fewer people want to steal them?

anyway, there were many other things i would've liked to take pictures of but i was told by a librarian that there's no photography allowed in the library due to privacy issues.  oh, auckland library, so considerate of the patrons!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

this is not a picture of hobbiton

this photo was taken outside
of the tourist office in matamata, nz
it is NOT part of the hobbiton tour
a friend recently asked me, "hey miss dewey decimal, where are the pictures of hobbits?"  well new zealand is more than just hobbits my friend.  shame on you for thinking otherwise.

that's a lie.  new zealand is all about lord of the rings.

so i did go to "hobbiton" which is the sheep farm that peter jackson turned into The Shire and will be filming the upcoming film, The Hobbit starting next week.  however, in order to be let into hobbiton i needed to sign my life away, promising not to post any of my pictures on the internet.  SO, if you know me in real life and would like to see my pictures of hobbiton, you will have to come over my house and look at them in a private, personal, non-commercial way.  like, maybe i'll leave my laptop open and then while i am fixing us some tea and finger sandwiches you will happen to locate my pictures in iPhoto.

but here is what i can tell you without fear of peter jackson suing me ... hobbiton consists of many hobbit houses built into the sides of hills.  they look really cool, i swear.

the tour consists of walking around hobbiton on a fenced-in path so that you can't ruin the set.  apparently they have had some problems with visitors climbing on stuff and killing plants and doing other damage to the very carefully crafted set.

but you do get a very nice view even though you can't go right up to the houses and pose in the door frames like they did in America's Next Top Model.

our tour guide told us many interesting facts about the making of the set, none of which i can share with you here, as i am sworn to secrecy.  then afterwards we got to watch a sheep shearing show.

yeah, that's right ... a sheep shearing show.

there is something i realized being here in new zealand ... it has always been my dream to shear a sheep. i think i must have seen some little clip about it on mr. rogers or sesame street, and now i really want to take those crazy shears and shave a sheep.

i finally get to hold a sheep ... almost as good as
shearing one myself
they do NOT let random tourists shear sheep in new zealand.  even though they have SO many sheep available.  and trust me, i have tried.  we have seen many a sheep show advertised and none of them let audience members shear the sheep. wtf?!

however, in hobbiton, after watching a trained professional shear a sheep (apparently it takes four years of training to be allowed to shear sheep) ... we were allowed to go into a penned little area where the nice sheep farmer released a whole bunch of lambs.

ps.  i think more villains need to shout "release the lambs!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

eye on "sports:" zorbing

so new zealand is a very beautiful place with lots of many natural wonders to explore.  however, when you are not exploring these natural wonders, it has come to my attention that there isn't a hell of a lot to do.  but do not fret my dear blog readers, the good people of new zealand have invented a variety of activities to keep busy!

if you've ever had a pet hamster, you probably already familiar with the concept of zorbing. pretty much, due to what i can only imagine was immense boredom, the people of new zealand created a large human size hamster ball.  this is no normal hamster ball though, it has been engineered by top new zealand scientists to allow for human beings to be propelled down steep hills without injury.  thank god!  how long did mankind have to wait for such technology to be developed?!

there are a few different zorbing variations: wet, dry, single, group.  in a dry zorb you are strapped in to a space simulation type device inside the zorb, so as you are rolling down the hill you will be tumbling upside-down, leaving you very very dizzy.  this sounded torturous to yours truly as i do not like to be upside-down.  in a wet zorb, warm water is sprayed into the zorb allowing you to splash around freely inside the ball whilst you are rolling down the hill without fear of friction burns (and without fear of drowning).  then there is the option to do the wet zorb with up to three people all bouncing around at the same time.  so many choices!  what a country!

and that is how my beloved bolshevik and i wound up splashing down a hill inside a giant hamster ball on a brisk new zealand day.

p.s.  if you stand up in the zorb when you start to move (as the bolshevik did much to my initial dismay) you go down the hill crazy fast.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

eye on sports: rugby world cup

you can't go anywhere without
running into some
argentine hooligans
i bet you have always thought to yourself, “self, i wish that miss dewey decimal would commentate on more sporting events!”  (and by more you mean at least one)  well dear blog readers, you are in luck because today i am going to expand my charming brand of witty observations into the realm of rugby.  hold onto your hats!  (hats are something that people sometimes wear when playing sports, but not so much in rugby where hats are not typically implemented ... are you witnessing this sporty knowledge?!)

SO, here in new zealand everyone is very excited for the rugby world cup.  i am supporting the new zealand national team, the All Blacks.  i support this team for the following reasons:

          1.  they do a maori war dance called a "haka" at the beginning of each match to 
          intimidate their opponents.  it's pretty badass and i like dancing.


          2.  they wear all black, which is much more sophisticated than the typical garish color 
         combinations that many sports team have on their uniforms.


          3.  i already own an All Blacks hoodie that the bolshevik purchased for me the last time    
          he was in new zealand.  this is part of his attempt to get me to like sports by appealing to 
          my interest in accessories and outerwear (i now own three, yes THREE, sports related 
          hoodies!)

waldo watches the maori boats row
into town on the big screen
yup, getting my support of your team is that easy.

moving on!

when we arrived in auckland it was a few days before the opening game of the RWC and the excitement was palpable.  every store window was somehow tying in rugby and the All Blacks into their displays, there were signs all over the city advertising different opening day events, etc.   even though i really don't care about sports, i found myself getting excited too.

on the day of the opening game, there was a huge event in the city center where hundreds of maori tribesmen rowed into the harbor on huge maori war boats.  sadly, we couldn't actually get anywhere near the harbor since there were so many people there.  but we were able to catch glimpses of it on the huge screens they had in the middle of the street.  this was followed by a maori parade down the main street which we also couldn't see because there were so many people.  it was around this time that we decided that maybe it was best to just get to the stadium since we couldn't actually see any of the events that were going on where we were.

i join in a haka
at the stadium there was an opening ceremony that included a long dance number that was not dissimilar to the interpretive dance numbers that they used to have at the oscars.  there were hundreds of people running around the pitch (that means field!) in loin cloths, carrying shields and spears, and weird metallic sailboats raced across the grass.  then another hundred or so dancers came out dressed as rugby players and were dancing with a young blonde boy who was then dramatically raised about 75 feet in the air as he tried to grab hold of a gigantic inflatable rugby ball floating overhead.  this part was actually quite cool, although it made me wonder how this kid's parents ever signed off on this as it seemed highly dangerous.

then there were some fireworks and a maori guy blew a large horn and then eventually some guys came out and played a game of rugby.

sonny bill williams gets help
putting on his super tight jersey
deeeee-lish
rugby is very similar to american football except they don't stop the clock every five seconds.  they just keep playing, which is nice because it keeps the game moving.


the highlight of this particular game was when sonny bill williams' jersey was ripped in a scrum (big pile of sweaty rugby men) and it exposed his very cool maori tribal tattoo.  then there was some lovely footage on the big screen of him getting assistance in putting on a new jersey.  (these jerseys are super tight)  turns out he's totally cut.
miss dewey d
reporting to you live from
the new zealand rugby world cup
2011

oh, and the All Blacks beat tonga.  GO THE MIGHTY ALL BLACKS!

and thus concludes my short-lived career as a sporty commentator.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the story of auckland sky tower



Once upon a time in a far away land, there was a large tower ...


one day this tower was visited by a boy in lightning pajamas ...


and then THREE ...



TWO ...




ONE ...



SPLAT!




just kidding, he's fine ... he did it twice in fact.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

tahiti ... where the french go to speak french and act fancy

i know that i like to get my kvetch on now and again, and i hope that usually it is lovable and charming in a woody allen meets larry david meets phoebe buffet kind of way.  but i know that some of you beloved blog readers will have difficulty with my complaining about being in the island paradise of tahiti.  but i shall do it nonetheless ...

here goes ...

on with the kvetching ...

poolside sunset in tahiti ... do not be seduced by the
beautiful tropic tranquility!
so, we arrived at our free hotel in tahiti and it was just plain gorgeous.  definitely of a fancy caliber beyond our means.  on the grounds was a very chic looking pool overlooking the beach and the mountains and the little floating huts out at sea.  very lovely.

at happy hour we sat on oversized armchairs on the beach and sipped extremely pricey cocktails that were only affordable from 5:30-6:30 pm ... thank goodness for this or we would've spent the entirety of our trip sober!  the shame of it.

in the morning we arrived at the breakfast pavilion and were given warm chocolate croissants and breads, and then we gorged ourselves on a buffet of french cheeses (i must say that the combination of french cuisine and island living is quite nice) ... however we were quite shocked when we found out that said breakfast cost about $30 per person.  to be fair, the bolshevik did eat his weight in brie.

side note:  we were in the rare minority of non-french speakers in tahiti and i have developed the odd problem that when someone speaks to me in a foreign language i cannot help but answer in spanish.  this is not helpful in french polynesia.

it is also interesting to note that the majority of visitors to tahiti had traveled there from france.  if you look on a map and are successfully able to find tahiti, you will see that it is damned far from everything, especially france.  i can only assume that wealthy french people are choosing to fly across the globe in order to have tropical vacations where they can still have the comfort food of home and speak their native language.  odd.

anyway, moving on ...

we tried to save some money by having dinner in town where (i had read in our guidebook) they have a plaza filled with food trucks every night selling "cheap" food.  mmmmm .... food truck food.  when dining in tahiti there are three food truck options ... seafood, chinese, and crepes.

we quickly found that the cheapest dish at the food trucks was about $20 ... seriously?  it's food from a truck, which is then eaten on plastic picnic tables.  this is not to say that i do not love food truck food, however, i think it should come at a discounted rate.

heaps of raw fish deliciousness
anyway, we opted for seafood and i must say that it was deeee-lish ... i got a dish that was pretty much a pound or so of raw tuna in a coconut milk sauce and a side of fries.  it was definitely a good value considering the amount of food i received, however, it would've been nice to get something like a half a pound of raw fish and save myself some cash.

i will not bore you with the rest of my complaints, which all revolve around expensiveness ... but here is a little list, just so you know:
rental car: $150 ish for about 5 hours
polynesian dinner show: $75 per person (we didn't actually go due to pricey-ness)
very short cab rides after the bus stopped running: $35 each
hotel wifi (which was extremely slow, and had the odd habit of continuing to charge us even when we had logged off and left the hotel room) - $6 per hour

anyway ... after a while we kind of felt like we were hemorrhaging money, and all in the period of a three day layover.

okay, enough with the kvetching ... i will now tell you about fun things we did in tahiti:
view from our 4x4 adventure
- we swam in a cave
- we visited a religious site with tiki statues
- we rode in the back of a 4x4 through the mountains and looked at flora, fauna and waterfalls
- we swam in a waterfall
- we drank tropical cocktails (but only from the hours of 5:30-6:30 pm)
 - we ate ridiculous amounts of french cheese

in conclusion ... tahiti is quite beautiful and filled with natural splendor.  however, if you are not independently wealthy i would suggest visiting a different tropical island.  next time we will try fiji.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

just one thing before you go ...

i was talking to my ex-step-father (don't ask questions, just go with it) ... and he was saying that he doesn't ever prepare for vacations because he always goes to the same place and he doesn't do any activities beyond eating and sitting on the beach.  must be relaxing.  anyway, as you could imagine, our adventures take some planning.  and of course when you're leaving for an extended period of time, there are all these little things you have to get done before you go.  as stressful as this can be, the past 3 weeks seem to have included an inordinate number of ridiculous problems.  observe:

- went to the dentist and found out i have 4 cavities, one of which needs a root canal.  after many phone calls with my insurance company i found out that said root canal is not covered because i have 8 other teeth that touch.  yup, that's right ... because i am neither a hobo nor a crackhead, my teeth are too good for a root canal to be considered a "necessity."  moving on!

- spent an extended period of time desperately trying to prove to a community college that i am in fact a resident of new york ... please note that i have never lived in any other state other than new york in my entire life.  thankfully i finally convinced them (it involved my brother venturing into our mother's attic in search of old tax returns) and they have allowed me to enroll in online classes.  nothing better than lugging a bunch of textbooks around an entire continent for 2.5 months!  yay!

miss fifi took this lovely shot of me
amongst the flash flooding caused by the
"hurricane" ... do not confuse this flooding
with a small puddle created by a hose left on.
news casters have assured me that this is
hurricane related devastation.
p.s.  does this guy have enough sandbags?
p.p.s.  does this guy even understand what
sandbags are used for?
- went out to long island because my mother was having a medical procedure done, only to experience a minor earthquake while she was in the operating room.  it was a very minor earthquake, but seriously?  an earthquake?

- after planning a nice little going away party for ourselves, our lives are interrupted by a "hurricane" and the city's entire mass transit system is preemptively shut down for no reason, making our party impossible to get to.  thank you to those two devoted guests who attended!

- however, during the extreme boredom of the non-hurricane, i was able to finish the online portion of my scuba certification.  i am now ready for the practical portion of my open-water training!

- yesterday i proudly strode into the dentist office for the 4th time in 3 weeks, ready to receive my crown, only to find out that the crown didn't fit.  really?!  but it was so expensive!  and of course there is not enough time to re-adjust the crown before we leave today, so i am being shipped off to Oceania with only a temporary tooth that is cemented in place.   no salt water taffy for me.  le sigh.

- and today, before we leave for the airport at 3pm we need to rent a zip car, load it with our crap, and move our remaining stuff into storage.  why didn't we do that yesterday?  because after the crown fitting i spent several hours tracking down textbooks.  one of which i found in nyc and was able to purchase for the bargain price of $145 (what the hell?  these books aren't even interesting!  why are they so expensive?)  the other the bolshevik was cleverly able to find on a new zealand website and it is being shipped to our hostel in auckland.  ridiculous.

so .... off we go!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

things i didn't do

so i had this whole idea that i would write insightful and witty posts about the many odd culture shock things that happened when i returned to new york and wound up living in long island for a month.  of course, i did not do this.  and really, the only massive culture shock moment i had was when i stared at a shopkeeper in disbelief when i got change for a $20 without any grumbling, complaining, dirty looks, etc.

across the street from this lovely
sewage treatment plant there is
some sort of recycling center
that collects and sorts through
garbage.  you can imagine
that the smell in this particular
area leaves much to be desired.
then once we moved to nyc for the summer, i thought i would write about our random nyc adventures ... like the time i found a piano locked up in front of the nearby sewage treatment plant.  obviously, when you find a piano in front of a sewage treatment plant the first thing you do is go to the nearest public library to find a book of sheet music (all they had was children's folk songs).  then call your friend to sing several rounds of I've Been Working on the Railroad, only to later be joined by a passing unicyclist.  yes, this happened.  exactly like this.

but alas, poor forsaken blog readers, i didn't do that either.

i also did not bore you with the many details of tests and classes i am taking in order to become a certified school librarian.  apparently, years of experience as a children's/teen librarian does not count for anything when you want to be a librarian inside a school that would work with children and/or teens.  of course there is much red tape and many hoops to jump through.

BUT, the bolshevik and i are about to depart on a new adventure and i think that it is only fair and just and proper to try to resurrect this sadly ignored blog!  so here's the deal:

this is merely an artist's rendition
of what it might look like if i tried to drive
a pickup truck full of money all the way
to tahiti.  i do not plan on bringing
any large sacks of money with us, as the
bolshevik has urged me to pack light.
also, driving pickup trucks to tahiti
 is not recommended.
the bolshevik and i are going to new zealand for about 5 weeks to go see the rugby world cup and then traipse around the country seeing many beautiful things.  we may even go zorbing!  then we will go to australia to visit my aunt and also see more beautiful things and go on more zany adventures.

but my favorite part about this trip is that after months of fretting over the jacked up prices of air travel, we found an amazing deal on air tahiti which provides us with a FREE LAYOVER IN TAHITI ... yes, we are going to tahiti!  and we are getting A FREE HOTEL ROOM FOR THREE NIGHTS!  they keep offering us these deals to upgrade to a super fancy room that floats in the ocean, but f*#@ that!  we will keep our free tahiti room and just walk the 30 seconds it will take us to get to the ocean.  TAHITI!

we leave next week.  hopefully i will get my act together and keep you moderately informed.

xoxo
miss dewey d


Thursday, April 14, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things ... part 2

i forgot to mention public holidays!  now, working in a public library i got a fair amount of holidays off.  however, i often had to work the day after thanksgiving, the day after christmas, election day, etc.  but in argentina they sure know how to celebrate a holiday.  first off, everything closes.  EVERYTHING.  there is no office left open.  everyone has off for every holiday.  there's no, "oh, i don't get columbus day off."  not in argentina my dear blog readers!  dia de la raza is celebrated by all!

now, during our time in buenos aires the good president Christina decided that it was a travesty that there was no public holiday in november ... so she created a new holiday!  just so there could be a holiday every month!  (check out the calendar of national holidays, all of which must be kept oh-so-holy and work-free)

then, in march this year, there were two holidays that fell mid-week ... one on a thursday and one on a tuesday.  so it was decided that a feriada puente or "bridge holiday" would be instituted.  this means that if the holiday falls on a thursday, everyone gets off of work thursday and friday.  or if the holiday is on a tuesday, everyone gets off monday and tuesday.  which means that in march we had not one, but two  four-day weekends!  four days!  it may only be one day more, but a four-day weekend totally kicks a three-day weekend's ass.  ah, i remember those sad sad days in hell's library where i was excited by a two-day weekend.  lame.

the only problem with this is the productivity was at an all-time low during march ... everyone was coming off their summer holidays and you'd hear things like, "well because of the two bridge holidays this month, we probably won't get to that until April."  but really, who cares when you have two four-day weekends?

did i ever tell you about the time that the entire city shut down so that they could take the country-wide census all in one day? maybe next time ....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things ...

as i'm sure you've noticed, sometimes i like to get my kvetch on.  but i love buenos aires, despite any complaining i might do.  so i'd like to highlight some things that i think are really cool ...

1.  free bikes
bike kiosk at plaza italia
several months ago, the city of buenos aires created a free bike borrowing program.  all you need to do is bring a passport or DNI card and proof of your address (bill, bank statement, etc) ... you wait on one line where they quickly set up an account for you, taking a picture of you for their files, and showing you how to create a PIN.  then you go to the other line where you can use your PIN to sign in and you are given a bike with basket, helmet, and lock!  you're only allowed to use the bike for 2 hours, which kinda sucks, and the weekend hours are limited.  however, there are bike kiosks all over the city, so if you wanted to ride to work, you could drop your bike off when you get there and then pick up a different one when you're ready to ride home.  it's definitely a good start, and if people continue to use the program maybe they will expand the hours.  in general, although the traffic is a little scary, buenos aires is quickly becoming a decent city to bike around.  in the short time i've been here they've massively increased the number of bike lanes throughout the city.  now all they have to do is get cars to stop parking in them.

2.  free cultural events
call me a socialist, but i love free stuff provided by the government.  the city of buenos aires provides extensive free cultural activities throughout the summer (and the rest of the year as well): free tango performances, children's theater productions in the botanical gardens, "drive in" movies in the park (bleachers provided for pedestrians), concerts in various plazas and outdoor venues throughout the city, etc etc.  i wish we had took advantage of this more, but the few events we did go to were all excellent.  one was a concert in constanera sur, near the nature preserve ... they had a reggae singer that apparently is mildly famous.  the music was great, and within the crowd there were people selling homemade breads and other snacks, and people going around selling beer.  mind you, these are not official vendors; these are just random people who thought they'd bring beer or make sandwiches to sell at the concert.  at one of these events i even saw a guy pushing a shopping cart filled with all the makings for milanesa sandwiches (this is a breaded steak cutlet that is very typical in argentina).  sure, the health department could have a field day with this, but i love the industriousness of these people and the sense of community it creates.  much nicer than having to pay $10 for a taco from some vendor at lollapalooza (and that was back in the 90s ... think about how much the price of tacos must've increased with inflation!)



3.  random charming silliness
an argentine friend once complained to me that she felt argentines were completely illogical.  at the time i had just moved to buenos aires, so i had no idea what she was talking about.  but then as time went on i would encounter random odd things and wonder to myself, "why on earth would anyone choose to do this in this way?  certainly there is a better more effective option."  and of course, when pressed for an example it is often difficult to come up with something concrete.
pares y impares
or odds and evens
the other day i went to a new doctor and i was waiting in the lobby for the elevator.  when an elevator came, i walked into it, holding the door open for the other two people who were waiting beside me.  but they just waived me away, saying that they would wait for the next one.  at first i thought this was odd, assuming that they purposefully did not want to share an elevator with little ol' me.  but then when i entered the elevator and tried to push the button for floor 11, i realized that the elevator only had even-numbered buttons.  so i had to go to floor 10 and then walk up a flight.
yes, that's right ... they had an elevator for odd-numbered floors and an elevator for even-numbered floors.  now, while i could see how this could be useful in having the elevator make less stops, the fact remains that it is highly conceivable that the proper elevator could be many many floors away and then the other elevator could be in the lobby, taunting you, unable to take you to the floor you need.  this leads me to wonder, "why on earth would anyone choose to have elevators operate this way?  certainly there is a better more effective option."

4.  street art / graffiti
i've never thought of graffiti as a problem.  sometimes i hear people complain about it as though it were a blight on our society, but i have to admit i like graffiti.  and i especially like murals, street art, and other colorful things painted onto the sides of buildings.  and such urban art is plentiful in buenos aires:



































5.  things that are filled with and/or contain dulce de leche
my favorite alfajor ... cachafez brand
mmmmm ... dulce de leche ... let me count the ways
     1.  alfajores - sandwich cookie with dulce de leche inside
     2.  various ice cream flavors like dulce de leche, dulce de leche con brownie, super dulce de leche etc etc
     3.  breakfast foods like toast or croissants with dulce de leche
     4.  on fruit like apples or bananas
     5.  on top of desserts such as flan, cakes, ice cream sundaes, etc
     6.  straight out of the jar or container using only a spoon or finger