Friday, September 23, 2011

rugby world cup 2011 hits Wellington

I'm a volunteer for the rugby world cup. Here I am getting autographs from the United States team in Wellington. Unfortunately, they lost. But what lovely guys they were! My friends and I reckon that come another 20 years and they could be real contenders. They seem to be getting better every world cup.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Second September Swim

Well, we had our second September swim at Hataitai Beach just a few days after our first September swim. It didn't seem too bad actually. September was a bit of an ogre above our heads because of last year when we left our September swim until late in the month, then it rained, and the tides were wrong and the weather cold and we were horrified that we wouldn't get our swim in at all (it was one swim per month last year and, of course, two a month this year).
My swimming friend says that if we add an extra swim per year, then in another thirty years we'll be swimming every day of the month and that will be a bit of a shock.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Orlando Bloom at Wellington Airport

I was at Wellington Airport last Saturday night and the terminal was practically empty when bounding first of a plane from Auckland - along with his entourage of look-alikes - came .... Orlando Bloom! I'd always figured he was overly tall, but he was just average-tall or did it look like this because the guys bustling close around him were of the same height? Bloom had extremely short (curly) dark hair.
It was 7.50 pm and apparently he was trying to make it to the Sth Africa v Wales world cup rugby game by 8.30 p.m. I think, though not too sure about this, that he was trying to make it home to Seatoun first to pick up someone before the game (his wife?), then onward to the game where he had a complimentary ticket.
I figured he would never make it on time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Las Vegas scams. And tipping

Attached is a photo of New York/New York Hotel and Casino (on the left of photo) and MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (on the right of photo). Note the MGM lion, apparently the largest sculpture in America.
I was very scared about tipping when I was in Las Vegas. How to do it? When to do it? Do I give it to a person, leave it on the table just sitting there all by its lonesome? Will someone steal the tip? Will the wrong service person take it? How much should I leave? It was all a giant mystery. Luckily on my first night I watched the young women at the table next to me to see how they left the tip, and I followed suit. I estimate that I tipped over a hundred American dollars during the two weeks I was in Vegas. And I didnt tip a lot of times, especially the times when I felt it was absolutely positively stupid to do so.
When I moved to the convention hotel (The Rio All-Suites -' everybody has a suite' . See attached photo of view from my hotel room), the hotel was one road back from The Strip, and there was an advertised free shuttle bus to get you to a couple of sister hotels that were on The Strip. All the Americans tipped the driver! Just imagine you tip when you got off then when you caught it back to the Rio, you tipped again. Well, I didn't, neither did a lot of foreigners.
Going on my Colorado river rafting trip, people tipped the bus driver who collected us from our hotels, then the driver who took us to a meeting spot, then the driver who took us to the raft, then the raft driver (I tipped this guy), then they tipped all the earlier guys again in reverse order on the way back to our hotels.
Because the 'free' shuttle didn't start until 10 a.m. we were virtually prisoners in our hotel. Well, this annoyed me so I decided to take a taxi to Paris (Hotel) for breakfast. I had to go to a valet standing on the footpath, hand him a dollar, and he signalled a row of cabs that were lined up about 10 paces away (I could have done this myself!). The valet stuck his head in the taxi window and shouted 'Paris' to the driver. I slid in the taxi and repeated 'Paris'. The driver raved and rattled on practically the entire journey to me about how I was only going a short trip and he'd been waiting in line for ages and now he'd lost his place in the line for my tiddly little fare. Then he said "We'll be at the Palms in a few minutes".
I said, "I'm going to Paris"
He slapped his forehead and intimated what a silly billy he was, but that sorry I would still have to be the additional fare as it was automated on his meter. And I tipped him! Everyone has since told me how I was taken.
When I booked an afternoon tour to Red Rock Canyon, I told the concierge not once, not twice, but three times that I wanted to be picked up at the MGM Grand, not the Rio where I was staying because I would be at that end of The Strip at the given time. She handed me my ticket and said "pick-up at the Rio at 1.15." I politely pointed out "This will be the fourth time I've asked to be picked up at the MGM Grand." She altered my ticket.
Guess where I wasn't picked up? The MGM Grand. After waiting till 2 p.m. I buttonholed another driver and he found out that they'd been hunting for me all over the Rio. Well, they sent an emergency guy to pick me up. When I got back to the hotel, I kicked up merry hell. I got my money back the following morning. I refused to leave Reception until I got satisfied.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Las Vegas holiday

The Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas was great. But first I spent four nights at the MGM Grand before the con. From here I went on a sightseeing raft trip (leisurely, not white water - the raft was more of a pontoon and took, about 40 people). We were given wet towels for around our necks and and endless supply of water. We joined the raft at the foot of the Hoover Dam and rafted down the Colorado River. A lovely lunch w/ chilly bag was provided. We saw lots of wild rams/sheep who came down to river edge to drink. We stopped on shore for lunch and I swam with my clothes on, was dry inside 20 minutes. The water temp was 11c (the same as Wgton's winter water temp), but the air temp was 42c!!
It was hard walking in LV because of the heat. Mostly I walked but I did take the bus and the monorail. I went on a sort of flying fox over the heads of pedestrians down Fremont Street (the main street Downtown). Started at about a 5th floor level and zoomed down, suspended by a harness from an overhead wire to about a 3rd floor level). Only cost $15.
I had real fun at the convention, lots of stars, got my photo taken with Brent Spiner who plays Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation (see photo). Had the best rack of lamb ever at the special convention buffet that was thrown in with my entrance fee - and I guess it was American lamb.
I hurt my back on the plane coming home (NB: on a long haul flight always stuff a screwed up blanket or jumper against the small of your back). I had to go to the doctor as I could hardly move from the pain, for a week.

First September Swim

Today, my friend and I had our first swim for this month, September. I was a bit worried because what with my holiday intervening and a sore back (more about this in another email) I felt nervous.
However, the swim was great. We just slipped into the water as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We had a little bit of an audience this time. Also a couple of cyclists yelled out "What's the water like?" We answered that it was quite warm (liar, liar, pants on fire)
Roll on September no 2 swim.