Saturday, May 12, 2018

Winter is Coming.. Again!



We are approaching the 18 month milestone and I realized we have not written a single blog this year. Where did the time go? Time to reflect back and look forward at the same time.

After the kiddos fantastic visits over the Xmas holiday, we have pretty much been working during the week and ocean swimming on the weekends. We had a great visit in March from one of our dear Boulder friends, Susan, who we took along to our Bay of Plenty swim event. Other than that escapade, no exciting travel adventures to report. Sorry. We kinda visited as much as we could on the North Island and now longing to visit the South of the South Island (Lord of the Rings gorgeous sceneries) which will take some planning (and a well fed bank account) to do properly.

Family reunion: Madison, Spencer, Bill, Cath, Shelby, David
Work-wise, Bill went back to his normal job at Vesper Marine while I looked for new consulting opportunities. It turned out to be harder than expected to find another consulting gig, so I decided to take the plunge into a full-time contractor position to experience kiwi working life, complete with the same bus commute as Bill every day. Sometimes we think we are back to school sweat hearts. I am now an Agile coach at Auckland Transport, the government-funded agency managing the public transport in Auckland. It is very cool to see, behind the scenes, the bus and ferry services we have been relying on for the past many months. As a testimony to how serious Auckland is to build a bike-able city, they imported someone from the Boulder city planning group (small world!) to learn from our beloved Colorado network of superb cycleways. Replacing car lanes with cycleways is a controversial proposition in a city where people love driving their cars. As of today, it is still not safe enough to bike in town and since we now live in a beach community across the harbor, we couldn't bike to work if we wanted to. 

The work scene here has been an adjustment from the US. Due to a shortage of skills, half of the workforce in Auckland is a diverse population of contractors, many from South Africa, India, China, and Britain. Contractors are brought in for their skillset and tend to work on exciting projects while "permies" (permanent staff) maintain the new shiny things the contractors built. It makes it a real challenge to establish stable agile teams. One can't be agile purist here. You gotta figure out what works best. Because healthcare is covered by the government (yeah to socialized medical care like France), the difference between contractors and permanents is mostly higher pay (contractors) vs better job security (permanents). Contractors don’t get company training or time off, but contracts tend to be 6-12 months long so you can plan an extended vacation between contracts. See where I am going with this? Travel freak has found a gem. We’ll use my August break to visit Spencer and friends in Boulder, Shelby and David in California and my mom in France. 

Swim marathon man with his kayak escort
Weekend-wise, Bill has passed on his ocean swimming obsession to me. Heck, I was not going to watch him have that much fun alone. Turned out to be quite an experience. How hard can it be if you already are a pretty good swimmer? (hint: ocean swimming is much more of a mental game than a physical challenge. Tells you something when many 60+ folks are faster than we are). Boy was I in for a shocker. It started with frustration and even panic, but slowly grew on me. 

Our social Sunday brunch
We joined a social swimming group that swims from one bay around Auckland to the next every weekend, then have brunch together. That was a pretty good motivator to get with the program and keep up with everyone. Swim first, then you'll get your flat white Cath!. The group is pretty eclectic: an Italian working at Rocket Labs, the latest aerospace NZ endeavor (you may have heard of the controversial Humanity Star?) an Irish gent (that I can barely understand, but is funny as heck), a Canadian, a Dutch, a Zimbabwean, several Brits....We add to that diversity with our American and French flair. We finally have a social circle we feel part of and with whom we can be our funky selves! Only took over a year…: as long as driving solo on the other side of the road. As we say in France "good things take time".


Take a peek at this inspiring video from one of the NZ ocean swimming series event we did (ironically in a lake, but nevertheless part of the official series). Gives us the chills every time we watch it. We also collated our swimming season in an album, including Bill's end of season swim marathon that took 4 hours to complete. Next weekend we signed up for a “swim safari”… you swim around a harbor for four hours stopping to discover caves and jumping off bridges. 

As we approach our second winter in NZ, the water is getting colder by the week (17C right now, will go down to 12C) just like it warmed up over a couple of weeks in the summer. Water temps fluctuate 10C during the year. The goal is to equip ourselves (neoprene gloves, booties and cap) and keep swimming like Dory says. Bill is more hard core than I am but I have a warmer body temp than he does, so between the two of us we should manage. There is always the pool, but seeing a wall every 25 meters is such a drag now. If swimming gives us too many brain freezes, there is always winter muddy hiking. Never a shortage of physical exercise in the land of the long white cloud to compensate for full time work in offices.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see a new post! Thanks for taking the time to get together in Boulder, Bill. It was wonderful to see you!

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