Thursday, December 30, 2010

South Island

So far South Island has been great.  We started down the east coast of the island, but only went as far as Kaikoura.  A man who worked at the holiday park we were staying at suggested we skip Christchurch, since it was just another big town.  Not a bad idea from the looks of it, according to the paper they've been having aftershocks from their last big earthquake.

While hiking in Kaikoura I managed to sunburn my feet and legs pretty bad, so heading to Hanmer Springs meant more walking/hiking.  No trip to the hot springs pools for me.  I still find a hot shower uncomfortable.  We didn't manage to see any whales on our hike, but it sounds like they live much further from the coast than those we see in Hawaii.

Last night we saw our first glow worms.  It was pretty cool.  Across the street from the holiday park we are in there is a natural grotto.  When we first arrived around 10pm it was still a little light out, so only a few worms had started glowing.  We stayed for about half an hour and watched more of them start glowing.  No pictures, though they were bright enough to see they weren't bright enough for the camera to pick up.  I tried with video too, but it was just too dark for the camera.

Now we are in Hokitika, which is the hotspot for New Zealand jade (it has a real name, but I don't have the brochure with me).  We're staying right on the beach, and after a quick walk through town we relaxed on the beach, Doug with his book and me with a glass of wine and travel brouchures planning out the next move.  So far planning only for the next day has been great, we've seen things we probably wouldn't have otherwise by getting suggestions from locals.  The only set things in our timeline for the remainder of the trip are the ferry crossing back to North Island (which can still be changed) and a plane ticket back to Honolulu.

Probably won't get another update til we're home, then pictures.  Had to buy an extra 4GB card for the camera, and now we have over 1,000 pictures plus some videos.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hello From Picton

So, we've been out of the States for over a week now, and this is first we've been in an internet cafe.  (And just so you know, it totally sucks. The keyboard is sticky and Doug's computer won't even load pages. Of course the guy has stepped away from the counter, so he's just staring at a screen that won't load, wasting his time. I can't even check my hotmail.)

We tried to find online contact yesterday, but no luck.  I was able to connect a couple of times with my phone, but Skype wouldn't work so no Christmas calls home (sorry parents!).

The trip thus far is going great. We crossed to South Island last night, arriving a little after midnight.  "Camping" was sleeping in the van in a carpark.  At least it was cheap.  After this quick blog post (and hopefully email checking) we'll be heading south towards Christchurch.  No real plan in mind, just taking our time and enjoying each other.  We've taken over 600 pictures so far, so we won't be posting any til we get home. It would be too much to search through them to post a key few, so you'll just have to wait.

Auckland was great, so was Rotorua and Napier.  I've tried a couple of fantastic New Zealand wines so far.  One from Marlborough region when we went to a fancy dinner in Auckland (I had the roast lamb. I only want to eat that forever), and then another from Hawkes Bay - picked it up when we were there.

Our last night on the North Island (and Christmas Day here) was spent with other travelers, sharing stories over dinner.  The food here is a little expensive compared to the mainland, but so far the beef and dairy is MUCH better.  There is something to say for grass-fed free-range cattle.

Only got 10 minutes left on my time (sticky keyboard + crap internet connection = 20 minutes to write this short post), so I'll catch you later.  Next time we'll look for a real internet cafe, instead of using the computers in the lobby of a hostel.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall? Are You Sure?

Today is the first of October.  That means chiller days, sweater wearing.  Thinking about digging out a scarf or some mittens soon.  Digging out all the good soup and casserole and stew recipes.  Making sure the cupboard has a good selection of tea...

Or, none of the above.  Not having seasons makes somethings hard to remember.  Like the fact that Halloween is coming up.  Sure, we get the commercial reminders: suddenly there are TONS of bags of tiny candy bars.  Some stores have put out fall decorations.  Target has all their costumes out, and has for a few weeks now.  But it doesn't feel like Halloween is around the corner.  It just feels the same as always.

Warm, sunny days are nice, but I'm starting to miss my favorite seasons: fall and spring.  Especially spring.  I loved driving through pasture lands to see all the baby cows.  Watching the trees come back to life after sleeping all winter.  And waiting for the ground to send up tiny shoots of green.  I suppose Hawaii gets a rainy season, but it just isn't the same.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to the College Routine

Last week was the start of the Fall 2010 semester at the University of Hawaii.  It was also my first week back as a full-time student.  Only this time I'm not in the classroom.  Well, the college classroom.  For the most part, my entire program is online.

I say for the most part because we do meet face-to-face sometimes.  Our first meeting was over the summer, for a class on technology.  The second meeting happened this last weekend.  For two of my classes, it marked the start of the course - we reviewed the syllabus, did some "get to know each other" exercises, and in one class even did one of the four projects for the semester.  For my third class I've already turned in the first homework.

And that's it.  Only 3 classes this semester, 9 credit hours.  At the graduate level that is considered full-time.  Other than another face-to-face meeting in October, the rest of the semester is up to me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Expanding My Computer Knowledge

Since installing Ubuntu on Doug's laptop, that is all we have been running on it.  Windows still sits in the background, taking up a large part of the hard drive.  Just in case though, I don't want to delete it entirely yet.  Little has been saved to the computer as of yet, so I don't know if I can share files between the operating systems, though I am sure there is a way.  Afterall, the first computer I saw Ubuntu running on was a Mac laptop.  The guy had the Mac OS running at the same time as Ubuntu, and could switch between the two without restarting.

The latest homemade change was to the hardware of his laptop.  After spending hours getting Vista reloaded I learned that the "/?" key was no longer working.  Doug said that it had been giving him some trouble in the past, but that it always worked eventually.  After an entire weekend without that key functioning, I looked around online for a replacement part.  I found several do-it-yourself ways to take apart a keyboard to get tiny pieces to fix it, but that seemed way beyond my ability.  Then I found that had a keyboard for the computer for $15.  A whole lot cheaper than the Dell website.

Sure, the warranty can be voided by not using the proper parts, but it isn't under warranty anymore anyway.  And the fix was easy.  One panel to snap off, and two tiny screws to remove.  Now the computer has fully functioning buttons again.  Still not sure how much I will actually use it for school, but it has been getting lots of use since I got it running better.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giving Free a Try

This past weekend I had to take a class that would teach me about using the computer for my upcoming online program in which I will become a certified special education teacher.  Some parts of the class really felt like a waste of my time.  Not because the instructor was wasting my time, but because I had already had to learn to use some of the programs by taking online classes for the last two semesters.  There was plenty of helpful stuff too, but perhaps the most helpful to me was the extra attention I got for learning Ubuntu, a linux based operating system.

You see, Doug's laptop runs Windows Vista.  When we moved into our apartment 4 months ago, it was giving him so many troubles he quit using it and was using my desktop for all his computer needs.  But when my class said that a laptop was "highly recommended" in one place, and "required" in another, I figured it was time to give laptops a go again.

At first I emailed my Dad, the computer guy I trust most, about finding a good deal on a new laptop for school.  He suggested that in addition to looking at new computers, I also look at fixing Doug's up to meet specifications and reinstalling Windows.  Since I couldn't fix Vista without buying a new edition of software, I just reinstalled it, but took the time to upgrade hardware.  Seemed fixed, until the second day of class, when it crashed, like it always does.

Enter Ubuntu.  The guy who teaches the class I took was all about running open source software.  Somethings I was already running on my own and had been for years, like OpenOffice.  I had always been interested in Linux, but was worried I couldn't do it myself.  Turns out I was wrong.  The tech professor gave me a thumb drive with a copy of the installation software, and a print-out from his blog to get me started.  Saturday evening after class I spent a couple hours getting it up and running, downloading several free features to go along with it.

Back in class on Sunday I had only one problem: I couldn't get DVDs to work.  Tech professor to the rescue - he pointed me to a website that could get me through my problem, and then left me to follow directions.  It was actually really easy.  And now I am running Ubuntu on Doug's laptop, and it hasn't crashed since installation.  Not only has it worked as I want it to for the last few days, but it also boots up faster, connects to the internet faster, runs faster in general, and shuts down in seconds, as opposed to several minutes all those things took in Vista (if the machine didn't crash first).  Plus, it takes up MUCH less space on the computer.  And just in case I find I need Windows for something, it is still on the hard drive, I just have to tell the computer to boot Windows instead of Ubuntu.

I like free.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Plants

I've started growing a couple of different things. The first is broccoli.  I really like broccoli, and have been eating it in bunches. Good thing Doug likes it too.

I'm not really sure what is growing in this pot:

First I tried planting some herb seeds. The package I had was mixed, but I pulled out a few seeds that all looked the same, hoping for basil. After a few weeks when nothing happened, I decided to try bell pepper seeds instead. I figured that maybe the reason the last seeds didn't sprout was because my watering skills were junk. So I was better about watering. Instead of getting sprouts though, I ended up with moss.

Before trying anything else, I decided to see if stirring up the dirt would help.  It seemed rather compacted, so I figured it wouldn't hurt.  And now, a few days later, without planting anymore seeds, these two little guys popped up.  Guess I'll keep watering them and see what they become.  Hopefully I can tell soon, don't want to waste the pot on weeds.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Phone Blogging

Just a short post, made from my phone. Thought it was worth a try. So far I haven't figured out how to add photos, but it would be neat too.

Currently in California, in Seattle next week. Then back to Hawaii to work more on my masters. Keeping busy, just like always.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Few Wedding Pics

Our photographer, Dorothy Dean, posted a few preview photos of our wedding to Facebook. Since some of my family and friends read my blog, but are not on Facebook, I thought I would repost them here so you all could see them too.

The wedding itself was fantastic. Doug and I have said several times that we cannot think of anything we would have changed about the day. We had a little rain in the morning, but it stopped completely once it was time for Dad to walk me down to the beach, and only got sunny from there. The entertainment was more than we expected, and better too.

More photos to come, probably in a few weeks once the photographer has had time to go through them all. She took over 400. Plus, there are photos other people took, and they said they would share too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pictures of the New Place

I have managed to get my computer set up, which means a few photos. These were taken before much was moved in. At this point we only had a few boxes in the place.


Bedroom, with A/C unit and black out curtains

Living room. The open door goes to the storage section.

Kitchen. Think it looks tiny? It is tiny!

Second bedroom. To be used as an office/craft room/gear room (for all the outdoor gear). Right now it is being used to store all the boxes we moved in. They are slowly being unpacked, but we will need to get more furniture before that can be accomplished, unless we want to stack everything on the floor.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Moved, Sort Of

This weekend Doug and I moved into our own place. The move happened quickly: we signed the lease on Friday, and by Sunday all of our things were packed and moved. And we just started looking a week ago.

However, that does mean that as of yet, very little is unpacked. We did get to sleep in our bed last night, with clean sheets, and we did find clean clothes to put on this morning to go to work in. I even managed to find the peanut butter for a sandwich.

What we found is nice, and not too small if you take Hawaii standards into consideration. On the mainland this place would be called small, if not tiny, but we are just starting out, and this will be our first place. Better than the bedroom we were renting in someone else's house. It has two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and a kitchenette. One of the rooms will be used as an office/craft/gear room. Some space in the living room will be used for the kitchen. Most of all, it will be nice to have a bedroom, not an all-in-one room.

I know you're probably wondering why I'm bothering to write a blog at this point, but I'm pretty excited about having our own place and wanted to write about it. I'd post pictures, but they are in my phone, and flickr won't open. I would be unpacking/setting up my own computer, but I am still at school waiting for Doug, so it'll have to wait another hour or so. Somethings will have to stay packed until we find furniture, but that will just spread out the "Christmas" feeling I get when I unpack.

Pictures to come when I get my own computer set up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SomethingStore Delivers

Really, I should have posted this nearly a week ago. My item from The Something Store arrived last Friday, but finding the camera and the time to snap a couple of pictures didn't happen til today. I was surprised that it came so quickly. The item shipped from New York, so I thought it would be weeks of waiting. But it was less than a week. So here it is, the 'something' from The Something Store:

Its a leather travel wallet, made by Samsonite.

There are three snap-able compartments, and it is really nicely made. Sadly though, I have no use for such a thing. I don't even use a wallet as it is, just a card holder to hold the necessities since my old version of wallet was starting to rip holes in my pants.

But: I'm having a birthday party in a couple of weeks, and I think this will be one of the prizes for a game. So long as a girl wins the prize... Doug doesn't think any of the boys coming to my party would be excited about this.

Now that I have done this, I think I might do it again sometime. Even though I got something that will be gifted, it was fun to buy something, and then wait before I knew what it was. Plus, the price was right for that kind of fun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time for Change

I was never really happy with the dots background, but of the choices offered when I started my blog, I found it to be the best. I started noticing that a friend's blog always had changing backgrounds, and then today noticed the link. Not sure I'll stick to this background, but for now I like it better than the dots.

I should have known that it was possible to change my background from those offered by google. I follow lots of blogs on blogspot. Perhaps I just didn't care enough any other time I logged in.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Through some random searching in the internets, I found a store called The Something Store. It took about 3 seconds for curiosity to get the better of me, but I still did the "responsible thing" and read through all their pages and customer reviews (well, not all the reviews, just enough to decide it was okay to give in). And now: my order from The Something Store has been placed. If it is something kind of silly, it'll make a great gag gift for that someone special. Or maybe it'll be something really cool. Either way, I'll let you know when it arrives.

Even though I have no idea what is coming, this little bit of retail therapy has slightly brightened my day.