November 21st, 2005


One not-so-sunny day on the way to Auckland...

Today I flew to Auckland. Thrilling, huh? It gets better. I flew to Auckland to learn about concrete. I kid you not. I was sent off charged with the task of learning two interesting things about concrete, and I did. But later.

Auckland is close enough to Northland, where I grew up, to have the same topography and the same plants. They have the Christmas trees up in the airport, but what really makes me think of Christmas, that you don't see so much here, is the flowering manuka. It looks like it has snow on it, and made me feel all sentimental. So I'm sitting in a taxi with a farting African driver*, listening to Kenny Rogers and getting dewy-eyed over shrubs. Then I saw some kikuyu (which you -never- see here) and I was almost overwhelmed. To the point where, when Kenny changed to Elton doing his tribute to Diana, and he sang the bit that goes "..and your footsteps will always fall here along England's greenest hills.." I had to turn away and wipe away a tear. Please shoot me now.

But seriously, I was really transported by strong imagery brought on through looking at plants. And, being able to see a long way because there are no hills in the way. It wrenched, in my insides, and I was 13 again for a while. 13 was cool. I got my first horse (read: independence to explore the world) at 13..

*Yes, I know it was him because it wasn't me and there were only two of us in the car.

OK, so the concrete seminar was run by a guy who every now and THEN randomly shouted WORDS, CAUSING everyone to JUMP wildly in their CHAIRS AND not be able to SNOOZE at ALL!!! He also finished every sentence by slurping breath in through his teeth and occasionally made a choking kind of noise as if he was trying to breathe and hiccup at the same time. I used to have this problem at school, too. I'd be so busy being distracted by the mannerisms and foibles of the teacher that what they were saying didn't even register. I blame Mr Brannigan's Irish accent for my low B Bursary in Chemistry. But I digress.

Despite his 'impediments', this guy managed to be relatively entertaining, and I managed to learn my obligatory 2 interesting things:

1. The Colisseum is made of concrete (indeed I did not know this and I'm not ashamed so yah).
2. If you add sugar to concrete, it slows its setting time.

Amazed? I was. I didn't think concrete could be that interesting.

Also, a shearing plant fell out of the sky today and I met someone who fences in counterpoint. The pieces are falling together. At this rate I should be set up by the end of the week. Why do I get the feeling this is supposed to happen?