Monday, January 6, 2014

Auckland bound, visitors, and more

We are still settling in to our place in Auckland.  Even though I needed to be up here almost exactly a month ago for work, I've only been in the new house for about a week.  The first week was spent working in Malaysia.  The day I got back, Beth picked me up and we went back to our place in Thames.  We decided to use that house as our vacation bach for when her parents were out.  The next week I spent in Auckland working while Beth's parents arrived on Wed and they went to Thames. 
Chicken in a cone.
On Friday, they came back up to Auckland and we hit up the Auckland Night Market.  These take place nightly from Thursday to Sunday in different locations.  There is your typical arts/crafts, shirts, and food stalls.  We also hit up the 2nd Hobbit as they had been out to Matamata to see Hobbiton the day before.  This also happens to be the cheapest movie ticket I've ever seen in New Zealand! 

On Saturday we boarded the ferry and went out to Rangitoto Island.  Its an interesting place to go see, but the next time I go there I would like it to be apart of the 5k swim.  We got to explore some lava caves, see the crater, and sit on a idyllic beach.
Was thinking of climbing it

I don't recall the day, but we drove around the Coromandel Peninsula.  We stopped in Whangapoua and hiked out to New Chums Beach, where I happened to sprain my ankle.  I had just stepped to the side to allow an on-coming person to pass on the track.  Last time that is going to happen, ever.  If this place sounds familiar, it is where my friend Phil has a bach that he let us use.  Its a really awesome place and if you ever get a chance to visit, stop in to the only store in town and ask Steve for directions.  Let him know that Phil sent you!  We were torn between my ankle and doing more.  We ended up going to Hot Water beach bypassing the long (2 hr) hike to Cathedral Cove.  It has been about a year since my last sprain and I've tried to be careful with my half on Jan 4, but that didn't work out so well.  I would have rather stayed at New Chums and left the masses to the few spots to catch the hot water.  We may head out that way during the off-season when the bus loads of tourists will most likely not be at capacity. 

On Christmas Eve, the plan was to hike the Pinnacles and camp out in the 80 person tent.  I had enough problems walking down the steps that I opted out of the hike.  Beth and her parents did the hike and left early on Christmas morning to avoid the worst of the downpour that hit New Zealand's North Island.  Prior to making our last moving trip up to Auckland with the camping gear and some other odds and ends, we hit up the first tour of the Thames Goldmine site.  The site has been going under renovations over the past couple years however the battery stamper was not functioning.  It was interesting to see the site as I had ran past it so many times over the last year, but it was behind a fence. 
Cathedral Cove

We then spent the following week in Akaroa on the Bank's Peninsula, SE of Christchurch.  We were staying in a timeshare located on the edge of town.  The weather didn't cooperate for us as it was pissing down.  Beth and Betsy did puzzles and Bill and I read.  I finished the 5th Jack Reacher, Inferno, and 2500 pages of Game of Thrones.  I also got 3 chapters done of my T-SQL studying done.  When it wasn't raining (at least not that much) we got out on the Fox II for a trip around the harbor and out into the ocean.  It was nice to meet Captain Roy, from NY, who seemed knowledgeable about the area, but liked to repeat himself when describing landmarks.  We got to see a bunch of dolphins, penguins, Cathedral Cove, seals, and enjoyed being on a boat.  Well Bill got sea sick and Betsy and Beth got really cold. 
Over looking Akaroa
We did get out to do some hiking around the crater around the town as well as walking around the town.  The hike went from Sea Level to about 600 m for us.  We didn't summit as the trail wasn't that flash and I didn't want to further injure my ankle.  Betsy and Bill went to the summit and I believe they both took a spill.  The views up high were pretty awesome.  There were sheep a plenty and I couldn't stop harassing them with my 'baas'.  We also stopped into Barry's Cheese where every other day you can watch them make cheese.  It appeared to be a milk delivery day when we were there so we watched a short video and bought some cheese.  We also took in a Maori and Colonial Museum that reminded me of Centennial Village back home.  There were a lot of buildings with a lot of displays that gave insight into the region and some of the colorful history.

After the week we jetted back to Auckland for the evening before heading to Tauranga.  While in Auckland, we ran around town getting some things for Betsy and Bill to take back with them and I tried in vain to get my bike inspected.  Who would have thought the 2nd would still be a holiday and many shops would be closed?  Not this guy.  We got to Tauranga about mid-day and our first stop was Koop's to get my bike and helmet inspected.  It was good to see the guys again (Dan, Craig, Will, and Phil) who all gave me a little crap for becoming a JAFA. We then went to our old neighborhood in the Mount to check into the hotel and drop by the registration booth.  We later went out to La Barca, a small Italian restaurant that was surprisingly not packed.  It often is.  A lot has changed in the Mount in the last year.  There are new places on Maunganui Road and even a board walk on Pilot Bay replacing the foot worn path I was used to. 

I could bore you with the race information, but I didn't do as well as I hoped, as I had some strange cramp/pulled muscle that made it very painful to breathe deep and I couldn't keep food down and I vomited 4 times.  I did finish and my first 2 events went well.  It was my first time racing with a wetsuit and it was too hot.  The bike ride was easy and I averaged 21.5 mph,, but I realized that my stomach was starting to go pear shaped on the 2nd lap.  I about lost it eating a banana so I stopped eating solids and kept trying to drink my nutrition but that still made me feel funky.  I started the run feeling good but after about 2 kms I had what I felt was a stitch, but it never went away.  It appeared to be something else as it continued to hurt after the race and hurt every time I breathed in deep, coughed, yawned, or tried to sit up from a laying position.

Now its back to a normal life for awhile.  I have 8 weeks until Taupo and it sounds like my dad is coming over again.  So its now time to study and train.  Hope you guys are enjoying your days that are getting longer as they are getting shorter here. 
My treat post race of fried Moro bar.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Role

The last I wrote was about the starting of my new role.  I was tossed into the deep end and had to make sense of a live environment in Malaysia.  Prior to boarding a flight with my boss and a co-worker for the red-eye flight to Singapore, I was handed my company laptop and a stack of induction paperwork.  This was at 11 pm on the night prior to my first official day.  Little did I know, but I would be going full throttle all week and it doesn't stop there.
KLIA Terminal 2

I slept almost the entire flight to Singapore only waking momentarily to eat some food.  I was told that we were going to maximize our time on site so we would most likely go right to the site.  What is this site?  It is the new KLIA terminal that is scheduled to be opened in May. So what are we doing here?  We are installing the baggage controlling system.  This means all the physical aspects including conveyor belts, sorters, and scanners, as well as the software to manage the entire operation from a control room.  I'm currently getting very familiar with all the data being produced for the site.  I'm working with all the BI and database development with very little understanding of the environment.  As I'm doing trouble shooting, I have an end point to work back from and I've gained a much better understanding of the data structures in my first 50+ hrs on the job.
The Control Room

There was no exploring of Kuala Lumpur as I would have liked, but I was there to work first and play second.  The days were long and I hardly moved from the control room.  That had some benefits as the temperature was in the 90s and very humid.  This played some havoc in my training schedule as I didn't have a pool or bike, but I did get out and do some predawn runs where the temp was still in the high 70s.  I had some tasty eats while there, but the curry balls and the venison curry probably rank the tastiest. 
Venison Curry was still in the kitchen

My 2nd week was actually in the office.  I drove to work the first day as I had my laptop to get to the office, but since then I've been doing the commute on my bike (approximately 10 miles a day).  Its a good ride uphill that requires a cold shower before starting my day.  I'm currently working on several projects.  I'll probably talk in reference to location to keep things straight.  KL is having site acceptance testing 6/1-8/1, so I'll be adjusting my hours to reflect their business hours.  STL is looking to have some changes done to appease the TSA and Perth is going to have a factory acceptance test next week.  I'll be busy getting their environment up and running as the data warehouse scripts haven't been written nor the SSAS cubes.  However, there are 2 students doing an internrship that I get to assist with some of the report writing.  I've also started to study for the MSCE: Data Platform exams.  There are 5 of them and at our final team meeting (my first meeting) the expectation for all of the development team was to have the exams done by March.  I'm going to be a busy guy with my training and studying.