Friday, December 26, 2014

2014: A year in review

Happy Holidays to all our friends and family and greetings from New Zealand!
2014 has been a great year. We moved to the Auckland area from our small town Thames last December when Kaleb started a new job. He works doing programming and BI for BCS, a company that builds and runs baggage handling systems at airports and package handling systems for shipping companies. Chances are if your baggage was lost on some vacation, BCS systems weren’t at the airport you were travelling through. Kaleb’s first week on the job was spent in Kuala Lumpur. He now works with cities all over the world. We keep hoping he’ll be sent to America for work, so at least the flight there is covered.

I’ve been working on my master’s degree in predictive analytics from Northwestern University in Chicago. The program is completely online, so it’s all possible from here. I went full time until August, and now am just doing part time. I have only 2 classes and a capstone project or thesis until I’m done. I should finish up in August this year. I’ve also found employment as a Geek (yes this is my job title) for Datamine. I do predictive modeling and data analysis for a variety of New Zealand and Australian companies. It’s a company with a great many smart people working there, so I’m learning a lot.
Kaleb and I are not the biggest fans of living in Auckland. Though we live in a nice house in a great area (and have a pool), we find living in the city a bit defeating of the purpose of living in another country and we miss the sheep in our yard in Thames and the beaches of the Mount. For this reason, we may look to work remotely for at least part of 2015 from somewhere else in New Zealand, likely by a beach or mountain. We are lucky that being IT geeks this is possible.
PhotoSo, what have we done in 2014 you ask? We started the year with a visit from my parents. Luckily, we were in between houses, so we were able to spend some time in Auckland, some time in Thames, and some time in Akoroa at a timeshare. We did a lot of hiking in the time they were visiting. We hiked the lava fields of Rangitoto Island, around the Coromandel peninsula, up the Pinnacles track on Christmas, and in the hills of Akaroa. We also made time to visit Hobbiton.

After my parent’s visit, it was my friend Angi’s turn to come for a visit. Her and I spent some time in Auckland and took a road trip, hitting up the beaches in the Mount, the mountains in Taupo and Tongariro National Park, the wineries of Napier, and the small town of Te Aroha. Angi got to experience hostels for the first time and we had a blast. We were also able to see my friend, Kat, finish her 41 km swim across Lake Taupo. Yes, that’s 1 km short of a marathon in pretty cold water without a wetsuit. The other reason we miss Thames is the town has an abundance of nutters like Kat who make us look normal and who do Ironmans as training days. days after Angi left, Kaleb’s dad came for a visit. He was there in part to watch Kaleb do his first Ironman race at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo. Unfortunately, Kaleb broke his foot earlier, so running was out of the question. Still, he finished, though walking the marathon portion was incredibly boring and took him longer than the swim and bike combined. Predictably, Kaleb was not satisfied with his performance and wants to do another one at some point. In a month from now Kaleb will be doing the St. James Mt. Man race on the South Island. It’s not exactly an Ironman as it has only 2 km swimming (in very cold water), 100 km mountain biking, and 50 km of running up and down a mountain.

April and May were packed with busy weekends. Kaleb got his certification for scuba diving, so we can finally dive together. We both got our advanced diving certs later in the year, so we can go deeper and cooler places. We went cave tubing in Waitomo where the caves have glow worms. We went up to Northland over Easter weekend and enjoyed staying on a house boat, climbing some dunes, kayaking and seeing where the Tasman and Pacific meet. May brought the 50th Rotorua marathon. I managed to sprain my ankle, so had to drop down to the half marathon, but Kaleb was able to complete his first marathon where he got to run. He is a nutter as he didn’t train.
2014 was one of those magical years that included a World Cup, so naturally Kaleb and I had to be in Brazil to watch some of the games. We flew through and stayed for a few days in Santiago, Chile. We explored the city and even got to take a trip into the Andes. That’s when we realized that we don’t miss snow or its ability to get buses stuck on mountain roads. In Brazil we first stayed in Fortaleza, then Natal. We went to three games. Driving in Brazil was quite an adventure, as was navigating the mishaps caused by FIFA and Brazil’s ill-preparedness for the games. Despite this, we had a wonderful time and were sad to have to leave South America. We were almost getting to the point of simple communication in Portugese. late August and September, I took a trip back to the States. I planned things brilliantly so my birthday lasted much longer than 24 hours. I left New Zealand at 11:30 pm on my birthday, and landed in Honolulu at 10:30 am on my birthday (also my nephew’s birthday). I was able to spend a week with my sister and her family in lovely Honolulu. We did a lot of swimming and made a trip up to the North Shore. After that, I spent a few days with Kaleb’s brother and his family in Minneapolis, and was able to see many friends. Then it was on to Milwaukee, with a brief day trip to Northwestern University where my cousin Pauline, a freshman there, showed us around the school I had been attending for more than a year, but never been to. After that, Angi and I spent a few days in Vegas visiting friends and luckily, not losing all our money.
This Spring (Fall in the US) has been fairly uneventful, with both of us working and training most of the time. We went to Queenstown last month for the marathon. I made it a whopping 5 km before suffering a stress fracture and having to pull out. Kaleb was using the marathon as a training day, so did it with a full pack on. Despite the cold and torrential rains, he had a pretty good race.  The week after this, Kaleb went to Taupo and did the cycle challenge, an 85 km mountain bike ride (not a race, as most is done single file). Kaleb has been in Rotorua and Taupo several weekends in prep for his race next month. We’ll be driving down to the South Island and found a great Russian cruise ship wreck we can dive along the way.
SEAFARERS: DOC ranger Alice Hostod, Blair Tuke, Peter Burling, competition winner Beth Kreitzer, Kaleb Kruse, James Noad and Helen Bowen. PHOTO/JOHN STONEEarlier this month, we went on a dive trip thanks to Air New Zealand and DOC. I had won a competition they had, and we got a free trip to Northland to go sailing and diving. We were even able to invite two of our friends to go with. We went sailing with two of New Zealand’s Olympians and dove some beautiful areas in the Poor Knights marine reserve. We even had a DOC (department of conservation) representative to tell us about all the wildlife we saw. The weather was brilliant the whole time. Pictures and video should be up on Facebook soon.

Kaleb got Lasik on Monday. With his sensitive eyes and my healing leg, we are having a pretty low key holiday week. We don’t have a lot planned for the upcoming year aside from Kaleb’s race next month. We hope to both make it back to the states. We’ll also be applying for permanent residency here in New Zealand. This is almost like citizenship and allows us to move back and forth if we want, though for now we plan on staying in New Zealand. Happy holidays to all! We wish you a great New Year!
Beth & Kaleb

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sizzle, sizzle, crackle, oh crap that's me

I finally pulled the trigger on getting LASIK. I've wanted to ditch glasses and contacts ever since I had to start wearing them in college. I still remember sitting in the first row and asking Kelly what the numbers for our homework that the teacher wrote on the board were. So I've had glasses since 1998 and just got around to having my eye ball shot with a freaking laser.

Prior to surgery, the nurse warned me that the next 24 hrs was going to be the worse of it. I said I handled having my ACL done twice and my shoulder once. I can handle pain. That pain last a lot longer than just 24 hrs. Recovery took months not weeks. This shouldn't be terrible. They also kept mentioning that I would smell vapor from the laser. I have to say that vaporized Kaleb smelled a lot like bacon. So in other words to 100% of the bacon lovers out there tasty.

Its been 24 hrs since I laid down in what they called 'theater', to me it was akin to the sterile room the Intersect was located in. (Not everyone is a Chuck fan so there is your hint.) Anyway, I laid down had some suction cups forced on to my eyeball. I felt like the Mountain was trying to squash my skull (GoT reference). I was a little paranoid that my eye would explode at one point and managed to eek out an 'ouch'. They were done about 3 minutes later. I sat in the recovery room waiting to be picked up. Beth drove back home which I don't remember much of as I slept. I know for next 12 hrs when I was up it felt like I had sandpaper for eyelids. I also go to wear some cool plastic shields over my eyes until I woke up today. When I woke up this morning, there was no pain only a little dryness and I was able to read without my glasses. I did my follow up this afternoon and I'll be able to swim and run in the next couple days. As I'm supposed to avoid dust, I'll be doing inclines on the treadmill until next week when I will return to the trails in my neighborhood. I also have to update my drivers license to say I don't need corrective lenses anymore. Now I wonder if I can sell my unused contacts back to 1800contacts.