So are you eating right?

Panda expressPeople always ask me “how are you settling in?” and I always answer “fine, fine” but I really could elaborate on that quite a great deal. I have become a lot more comfortable with my surroundings and I thought I would share with you some of my experiences.

Mom’s always asking if I am eating ok. Well, the truth of the matter is, I have been dining on frozen meals (lean cuisine, sorry Richard, they are made by Nestle). As a single guy living in someone else’s house and only just getting back on my feet from the jet lag, I think I am entitled to indulge in that :p Continue reading So are you eating right?


Best sitSomething I didn’t expect when arriving in Texas was the idea that I may temporarily adopt 9 fish, 4 plants, a cat and a turtle. Looking after these animals is one of my allocated tasks while living here at my boss’ house. The cat (Sox) was an unexpected and welcome bonus.

I am a big fan of cats. At first he was a little bit weary of me, but as soon as he realised I was the one who was giving him food, he quickly warmed to me. Continue reading Sox

Prius driving

My first carI have a car now: it’s a Toyota Prius, year 2002 and I love it. I never bought it to save me money, but rather to make a statement about the fact that we all need to start getting off this black liquid death stuff and onto something cleaner. It makes that statement by being quite small in comparison to the other cars on the road, and by having quite distinctive lines.

Then there’s the way it sounds. When driving down side-streets at about 10-20 mph (16-40 km/h) all you can hear is the gentle whir of the powerful electric motor. This is what I call “golf cart” mode. In this mode, the car is running completely off battery. You can run the battery down pretty quickly like this but it’s nice to see the bar shoot to “100 mpg” for a few moments. The car currently makes one other statement: the yellow sticker on the back says “support our troops”. I don’t have the heart to take it off just yet, the Texans are so proud of their military. I will replace it with more liberal sentiments soon. Continue reading Prius driving

A ticket to ride

Prius EngineI just had a very positive bureaucratic experience getting insurance for my new car-to-be. They emailed me proof of insurance immediately after accepting my payment.

Perhaps I had better backtrack. It all starts with me wanting to buy a car. A Toyota Prius Hybrid car, no less (see pictures). I made this promise to myself more than a year ago: my first car (ever) would be a hybrid and I would never look back. So, I got to saving, I saved $1,000 a fortnight for over a year. It was hard and sometimes unforeseen circumstances made it downright impossible, but I was used to paying that much on my student loan so I just kept up with it. In the end, I had a little over $NZ 24,000 (roughly $US 14,000) saved up for my car. I had told everyone (and myself) that I would be buying a hybrid car in Texas and that it would have some very liberal bumper stickers. I aimed to keep my promised to myself and others. Continue reading A ticket to ride

Los Angeles to Denver

Rocky MountainsSo, I was on my way to Denver at last!

Once in the departure terminal, I had a quick change of clothes and some McDonald’s chicken nuggets (they taste the same everywhere). I also indulged in a little email at the Internet kiosk there. I love email.

I then got my boarding ticket (Seat 26C), sat down in the departure “lounge” and soaked in the ambiance. Some people may have told you stories about Los Angeles airport, well, I can say that most of them are probably true. On the whole, it just feels kind of grotty.

Little things like the fact that the toilets don’t have hooks on the backs of the doors (for hanging up jackets or bags) just mean that it feels kind of dated, kind of unfriendly, kind of grotty. Compared to large international airports like Singapore, Johannesburg and Frankfurt, it sucks. Then again, I guess Terminal 7 must be a domestic terminal, in which case, the grotty-ness is in keeping with the quality of New Zealand’s domestic terminal, which has next to nothing in the way of amenities. Continue reading Los Angeles to Denver

Los Angeles: Terminal 4 to Terminal 7

A scene outside LAXSomething I forgot to mention last time is the first thing that happened to me on my arrival to Los Angeles was that I had a digital photo and fingerprints taken. No, it wasn’t my idea, they do that to all non-citizens now apparently. I don’t know why they bothered because they took my fingerprints when I applied for my visa too. I didn’t really care so much, I was just happy to finally be on the ground.

After obsessing over whether or not my baggage would arrive in one piece, I am sure you can appreciate that it was with a great deal of relief that I picked up my baggage and headed out of the arrivals area. Continue reading Los Angeles: Terminal 4 to Terminal 7

Driving in the US

Just a quick aside and then we will resume our usual broadcast.

Speed limit: 70 MPHI drove to work today. Well, I did it at 9pm, but I drove there anyway since I need to practice for tomorrow morning. It is 29 miles from where I am living to work. That’s 46 km, or 30 minutes at an average speed of 60 mph (96 km/h). The speed limits on the interstates here are 65mph or 70mph (112 km/h) but everyone does about 5mph over the limit as usual.

I really enjoy driving here in the US. Even though I keep using the windscreen wipers to try indicate and I always grab to my left for the gear / hand break, driving on the right-hand side of the road is not all that difficult. I just need to keep reminding myself and I am ok. It turns out that two facts about American drivers really helps a lot:

Continue reading Driving in the US

Auckland to Los Angeles

Well, I can safely say getting to Dallas, Texas was something of an ordeal. Not quite as harrowing as getting the citizenship, Visa and passport in the first place but certainly bad enough.

This story is a little long, so I have broken it up into the three legs (Auckland to Los Angales, Los Angeles to Denver and finally Denver to Dallas). Sit back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy. I will add more instalments later in the week.

Sarah and I left for the airport early, at around about 1pm. My flight was scheduled for 5:55pm, so the recommended 3 hour check-in time was at 2:55pm. I sauntered up to the desk at about 1:30pm and asked to check in for my first and longest flight: QF25, Auckland to Los Angeles.

“I’m sorry sir, but you are too early” came the reply “please come back later”.

Too early? How is it I can possibly be too early? We are all told to check in at least 3 hours before departure, which is 2:55pm. The reason we are given is so as to allow for plenty of time for customs to cavity search us on the way through.
Continue reading Auckland to Los Angeles

In Transit

Hi all, just a quick update. After 10,000 km and 11 hours in flight, I braved the ordeal of American customs. I was searched for bombs, patted down and everything!

It’s very hot here. My flight for Denver leaves in about an hour. My phone also works here so you can call me (in emergencies only).

Finally, we have liftoff

I have finally received my passport with Visa attached!

It was quite an experience. The immigration consultant called me this morning to inform me that the DS2019 had arrived from Boston. I signed the form and she took it in to the consulate which meant I could have left today (Monday) instead of Wednesday as we previously had thought.

So, I scrambled to get a flight for today confirmed, but it became more and more apparent that it was near to impossible to make it from the consulate at 2:30pm (when they give back your passport) to the airport at 2:55pm (the required 3 hours prior to my booked flight).

So, I am now scheduled to leave at 5:55pm on Tuesday 18th July. This time, it looks like I will actually be leaving! For those of you who are really interested, a copy of my itinerary is below. I checked it very carefully this time because one of the previous versions had me ending up in Houston! Continue reading Finally, we have liftoff