September 2005

Wow, it’s September already.

I need to put in another plug for Servage, my website provider. The basic service provides 7500 MB of space (yep, that’s 7.5 Gigs). When I went to check how much I’m using, the control panel said 7632 MB. When I queried that through a support ticket, they told me that they add more to the space allocation each day, as a reward for being a customer. So along with their great service (tickets get answered within a couple of hours and often solved on the spot), they have incentives. Gotta be happy with that.

This next bit comes to you from New Zealand. We arrived in Hamilton after traveling all day, to be met by Les and his son Nick, who have been planning a surprise birthday bash for Karen for a couple of months. The highlight for the day on Saturday was a tour to the Hobbiton movie set from Lord of the Rings. What the producer saw when he flew over was the symmetrical tree (the Party Tree) by a lake. When they got onto the property, they found that from down by the tree, there was no sign of the outside world – roads, buildings power lines, etc. And they decided it was perfect for the entire Hobbiton village.

Apparently all sets outside the studios are either destroyed or returned to their original state after filming has finished. This set was partly destroyed when heavy rain set in and the contractor moved out. Probably because the Anderson family had been so accommodating during filming, they gained permission to leave the remaining set intact and eventually turned it into a tourist attraction.

In keeping with our instructions to stay out of the way until the surprise was sprung, we had a look around.

Of course the highlight of later in the day was the expression on Karen’s face when she saw Julie. Complete surprise and a great night, including a scratch match of inline hockey. (The whole family is heavily into inline hockey – the rink is their second home. Nick has been selected in the regional team this year.) In fact the call to get Karen there was, “I’m down here at the rink on my own – there’s been a break-in. Can you come down?” They were the “obvious” choice to call because they live so close to the rink.

Next day.

On to Auckland.

Ah, there’s the airport.

Then to Sydney.

And finally out of Sydney towards Canberra.

After all that excitement, it’s good to be home.