What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?

This page written circa 24 June, 2006.

My Soapboxes settled down to use song lyrics for titles. I find much wisdom in 20th-century song lyrics. The Hamiltonian will try using titles of, or lines from, movies. I guess I shall be dredging around in IMDb instead of the Lyric Wiki. Thus if you do not know where the title comes from or how it ties into the theme, cut, paste and click with IMDb!

I have been slewing between astounding enthusiasm for the possibilities in our new house, my new job, and this country on one hand, and on the other hand simply wondering what the fuck I have done in leaving Santa Rosa for Hamilton. As I said in my letter of application for this job, I wasn't doing it for the money. Apparently I have not done it for the weather, either. Hamiltonians have been apologising all week. Hands down the most flattering and positive input has come from my friend and colleague Dan, indirectly. His most recent email contained the line "I just had to wipe my mouth again - every time I think of your land I salivate." I have not even told him yet about our day trip today to Coromandel. For the first time in my life I actually asked Kay to stop the car so I could look at the scenery it was so goddam spectacular. Those of you who know my indifference to most scenery will be especially astounded. Quoth Kay: "The Thomassons and the Bonses would be in seventh heaven here with all the camping and hiking and shit that they like to do."

Speaking of shit, it is simultaneously alarming and reassuring to be reminded of how much people rely on swearwords in normal communication here. Kay counted over 50% swearwords in a sentence from a high-school girl passing our parked car, 4 out of 7. Quite an Antipodean linguistic trait. My VP at Agilent would never have summarised a meeting with a government official as Agilent having told the official's department to fuck off. Straightforward, frank, hard core and indeed ingenuous.

Kay has made mention of my choice of car. The characteristic of immediate interest is its cabin size, for its fits but two persons. I felt in my car search that I should have room for four, as we are a family of four, and if the kids go to Hillcrest school their daily path will be 85% of the way from our home to my work, so I should logically drive them there in the mornings. However, Kay graciously insisted that I do what felt right. I know I get on better with friends, with Kay, and with kids one at a time. This car forces the one-on-one interpersonal situation that I prefer and precludes a situation that irritates me immensely. I greatly lament my inability to respond to things quickly. Once upon a time I lived so that I could be out of the door and on the road in about 60 seconds flat. In Vallejo Street, I could be pacing and complaining and urging and still spend 5 to 10 minutes merely shepherding two kids into my car, ready to go to school. That annoyed me to death.
Time will tell how this works out.

On the whole, Kiwis seem to have a very reasonable and logical approach. A rare exception is the need to have cars inspected for roadworthiness twice a year, a bonanza for inspection shops. Income tax is so straightforward that most people do not even have to fill in a tax return form. If some box on a form asks for something daft or unobtainable they laugh and skip it, instead of jamming up as would a clerk in the US. They are green and peace-loving and friendly and helpful. (I guess you gotta be friendly and helpful when you are all living on wages like these, but heh.)

We'll be sure to tell you when we discover the bad things about this place. In the mean time we have learned to be hopeful.

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