Tim & Anja's New Zealand Adventure travel blog

Anja's at work today so I've been enjoying a leisurely day around the 'cottage' putzing around doing various things. I've enjoyed two days in a row of World Cup soccer in the morning as I wake up. Thank goodness for Sky cable television that shows the games on replay, b/c otherwise to watch them live I would have to get up at 4 am. I'm going to bite the bullet and do my best with the alarm clock on Tuesday morning when the USA plays their first game. Can't wait!!

Things at the good'ol IRD tax job were a little different and exciting this week because on Friday there was a 'white powder' scare. Not to worry, everyone was fine, I wasn't even in the building, but it was fascinating to see how these things get handled in such a small, remote country, that people don;t really think would be a target. Police, ambulance and fire all took part in the investigation, apparently someone was not happy with the tax department!!! On the completely flip side, I have seen 'thank you' cards posted on the bulletin boards from tax payers expressing their appreciation for geting their refund so quick. No joke!!

I've noticed other pecular things about the job, I guess that's what happens when you do the same, monotonous thing over and over again and your mind wanders and collects these random things. Have you ever called someone and during the ring tone, there is music being played in the background??? Seems to be popular here. Also, a funny message machine voice I seem to get when calling folks is that of a celebrity, for example, "Hi this is Brittany Spears and my friend ______ is not here right now, leave a message!" I'd never heard of that before.

Other random things to keep me enteratained at work include a 'pass the parcel' game where a small package is wrapped in layers of paper and as it passes along, people unwrap a layer and get a small prize (like a lolly) until the final unwrapper gets the big prize (still something goofy). Another game we've played around the office is Bingo with tax IRD numbers. Who would have thought!

My favorite story of late, however, is when opening mail one day I looked at the return address and couldn't believe it: the mail was from Somerville, MA, practically right down the street from where I used to live in Boston. What are the chances of that!! WOW!!

Two other expressions I've heard around the office have made me chuckle, taken totally out of context just sound ridiculous: "Has anyone scene my finger?" ie. the thimble like thing that helps you flip through pages of paper. And the other "I've had 3 dead people today". ie. when an envelope is returned indiciating the taxpayer is deceased, there is a special procedure to complete. Now I bet you had no idea all this happened in a government office processing center!! :)

My other job with the American study abroad students is winding down this semester, we just went out for a tasty Farewell Dinner on Thursday where I enjoyed a heaping portion of winter lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and veggies. I felt like I ate a brick, but it sure was good. I'm gearing up for planning next semester activities, the new group of 23 students arrives in Auckland on July 1 and I'll be there with them during a four day orientation.

Both the IRD job and this student job won't make me rich, but we're doing okay financially. Thank goodness because we just decided to visit Thailand on our way back home in January and are making final preparations for flights and signing up for a tour group. We're happy with our next 6 months in NZ, but now with something big like this to look forward, it will really fly by. The food, real culture differences, language, everything about it is so exciting, we're pretty pumped.

Alrighty, time to go. We're thinking of you as you sit on the beach or in the pool and we huddle by our heater!! :)

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