Sunday, 22 June 2014

Palmerston North and a Childrens Menu

I've had a good weekend, thus far, with about 10 hours of Sunday left to go. On Friday my family and I took our much anticipated, suddenly thought out, long trip to Palmerston North to see Massey university.
It was originally intended that we (Mum, Dad and I) would catch a plane and go to the open day - in August. However, after looking and looking at flights, trying to find a cheap one and one at a suitable time was just too hard. It wasn't until my Uncle told us that we are actually able to have a personalised tour at any time, that we started looking for earlier flights. Then Dad said, "Why don't we just drive there?"

After arranging a good time with a liason person, we organised to drive down on the 20th, stay at a hotel and come back on the 21st. It was settled. At this, my brother decided that if we were driving, he too would come - just to see the wind turbines (lol). So Friday came around very quickly and we had to all be up at the crack of dawn (3:30am) to be leaving the house by 4am - it was an 8 hour drive and we had to be at the uni for 2 o'clock. Phew, tiring! Anyhow, we made excellent timing by leaving at 4 and stopped at our usual place for a quick coffee - for the parents - and hot chocolate - for my brother and I. We got there at 5:30, only to find they don't open until 6! Along to BP we went and got the drinks there, yum. You know those cafe things in BP, I would suggest getting a chocolate cookie - they're the best!
     We stopped in a town just after the Desert Road, I've no memory of what it is called,  for breakfast at 10. It was a sort of restaurant for travelers, you know, pies, hot chips etc., for a good price - just under $10 each for us all to have a big hot meal, and it was decent food too - if you count wedges, fish, nuggets and chips and the like as a decent meal. Filling, perhaps, is a better word!
     After that we were on the road again and arrived in Palmy at about 12:45, plotted in a Caltex in the GPS as we were rather low on fuel and then found and checked in at the hotel. There was a bit of drama there, when we arrived to find our payed for extra bed wasn't there, and the previous people had left KFC in the fridge and cleaners hadn't removed it. Lovely.
     1:30 we left in search of Massey - not hard to find considering there are signs everywhere pointing to it, and the fact it appears to be on the main road. I was expecting the uni to be about 10 minutes drive out of town - after looking at the map. But discovered that it's really just there on the outskirts, which surprised me. Again, a little bit of drama getting in, but we found our way to the correct place.

I think I was a little bit excited to finally be seeing my dream destination, we met the guy who was showing us around and off we went. First we went to the library - wow. Three stories high, a sort of cafe on the second floor, heaps of computers and study areas on the second floor, and we were told the top floor was just plain books - shelves and shelves of them. As we had an hour to spare before we saw a course adviser, we went into a little sectioned off office space that you can shut off and use for study groups. There, we were given a tonne of information about this, that and the other in relation to studying at uni. I already knew quite a bit, but it was good to be able to ask questions and confirm what I already knew, and then Mum and Dad were given the chance to gain a bit of uni insight too.
     At 3 o'clock we went to see the course adviser - who, quite honestly, was absolutely useless. Her first question was asking if I was a Massey student? umm no. Have you not been told who I am and why I'm here? I mean...
Anyhow, she told us nothing new, and seemed intent not to want to know what we had to say. After I told her that I was interested in a bachelor of science, she asked if I was any good at science? My gosh. After sitting in her office for about half and hour, we were all glad to get out and she seemed to be in a hurry to leave herself. (I don't think I'll like her all that much.)

From there, our "tour guide" drove us around the other side and showed us the food hall and the linguistics of that, and then we walked down to Mc Hardy Hall of residence. Unfortunately we couldn't see inside of it because nobody was around to let us in. As it was the last day of exams, many students had already left to go home, while others were in sitting their exams. It's a gorgeous two story building from the outside and has large park area with trees and grass - it's quite secluded and is just overall nice. I think it's the oldest building on campus. Only five minutes walk from the food hall, but a bit further away from the science towers and such that I would be using.
     Next we went up to Colombo hall of residence, and managed to catch some students to let us in, this is a three story building that holds about 60-70 students. We went to the second floor, and it's very bright. Every so often down the hallways there is another patch of bright colour on the walls. With the RA not around, one of the students there showed me his room. It's not big, but not small either, as it has a king single bed, wardrobe, desk, a large window, shelving/cubby holes. And somewhere in there I think should be a wall heater. It's got enough space to move around in, but you wouldn't want too much guff. The bathroom seems okay, and one of the kitchenettes we saw had two fridges and a table and chairs - and perhaps some cupboards but I can't remember.
     These two halls were not designed for self catering so you can only make yourself the most basic of food in there, they're also completely alcohol free but co-ed. Which is why I'm keen on these two halls. Apparently many of the vet students generally stay in these halls - they don't like to study together obviously because there is a lot of competition between them, but someone like myself, doing the same papers but not the same thing wouldn't be so much of a problem to them.
     Colombo is great because it is central to everything, the food hall is five minutes walk, the bus stop is right outside (free buses by the way), the science towers are also right there, and the recreation centre and main parking lot is also five minutes in the other direction. So I've really got two options here - quiet and secluded, park-like hall, or a hall that is in the middle of everything.

It was funny though, how we managed to go in there on the last day of exams, as there was nobody around. However during the normal semester times the whole place is said to be a bustle of activity - about 14,000 students (1000) of whom live on campus, plus about 1000 staff members and the like, plus added extra people coming and going. It's going to be crazy living there! The great thing is that there are free buses into the city centre and only a five-10 minute walk or bike ride into town. I'm so looking forward to it. Now the hard part is organising studylink - which is mostly done. Then I'll apply soon for accommodation once the applications are open. Then after October 1st, enrollments open. So I've got to figure in the next month or two what I definitely want to study, a double major or single and which papers and then which electives. Meanwhile finishing off NCEA, which is going to be easier said than done, as I'm so far behind.
     Having been to Palmerston North has just made it all seem more real, so it's given me an incentive to just push my schoolwork back into action. It's as if it's just occurred to me that, hey, this is my last year of school... o.O

We had dinner with my Aunty Karen, Uncle Wayne and cousins Samara and Jacob - none of whom I've met before. So we had a nice meal at the restaurant at the hotel, it was worth the money but I wish that I had gotten myself a different dish for main...Dessert was chocolate decadence, with chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup, berries and cream and chilli chocolate ice cream. It was divine, but I couldn't eat it all. The ice cream was interesting with the chilli too...The only part I didn't like was when the guy asked if, like my younger cousins, I would also like the childrens menu?


Monday, 9 June 2014

My Kitchen Rules

Firstly, my blog has hit a record of 1112 views! I saw 1110 and 1112, but not the all anticipated 1111. I was pretty annoyed with myself! One of those significant numbers are sure to come around again, I just happened to miss this one...

left to right: Frodo and Tiny
Tonight, My Kitchen Rules is back on again - I'm super excited as it's one of Mum's and my favourite programs. The great thing is that it is on three days a week. The not so great thing is those four days in between where we've gotta sit around and wait for it to come back on again. It's a cycle of life, but by the Angel it's frustrating. Anywho, tonight the guys, Harry and Christo are back on for their second round of Instant Restaurants, should be exciting to watch and hopefully they prove themselves from last time. But there's always been this look over the blonde one, Christo, that had me curious. What did that look remind me of? And one day it occured to me - my cat. Tiny, my very long lost kitten always had a bit of a dopey, drowsy look and she'd look up at you with this face that screamed; "Let me please you!" So there it is, every time I look at Christo on TV, and he's got that similar sort of look, I can't help but smile. My little kitten is showing herself again - in an Australian guy of all things! I'll show you the pictures so you can see for yourself. The picture of Christo I found wasn't the best one, as it seems all of these "moments" were only caught on video....

Last Tuesday Mum and I went to our local Take Note store. It's actually slipped my mind as to what we were headed there for in the first place, but there it was sitting on the shelf in its usual spot; the last book of The Mortal Instruments - City of Heavenly Fire. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you haven't read any of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments, you're really missing out! Do it! Go to the library, get out one of the Infernal Devices first (you must do this, as they have a big connection) and get that nose glued! Do it!!
I finished that book yesterday, and now I'm into a new book - it's for school this time, don't worry. It's an interesting book so far, called "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, basically about science and whatnot, but put into a book form, kind of like a journal piece actually, but more professional - obviously! But yeah, so far it's pretty intriguing and the reviews are really good on it too. Should be worth it hopefully.

Yesterday when I got home from work we were out of water. I think it was the washing machines that alerted my brother that they weren't getting any water, then he listened to the water pump groaning, then he checked the tank. It was dry. Okay, so maybe that's a little exaggeration, but it was too low for the outlet pipe, which basically accounts for it being dry! All day we were scavenging around what water we find, and ended up just using bottled water for our hands and that was all we could do. We knew there was a rainstorm coming, so why would we buy a truck load of water? That and they would've made a massive mess on our front lawn if we had called them in, but anyway. So throughout the day we struggled away, no water to do the washing (there just happened to be more than usual - Murphey's Law, no?), no water to wash the dishes. The dishwasher had been almost finished when the water stopped running, but we weren't using any of the cups or plates in there incase the soap hadn't been rinsed off yet. And then we had takeaways for dinner because we couldn't clean up for dinner, or after dinner. Why make more mess? And during the night......the Heavens opened the flood gates. Hallelujah! We actually didn't have much rain yesterday and last night, but it continued to rain all day, very continuous, wetting rain which filled the tank to one third. 
My reaction (quite understandably) was "Sweet, long showers tonight!" Yeah, right!
Usually we'd run out of water like that in summer, when you least expect it or want it to happen. Recently we've filled the spa up and haven't had too much rain, and I guess we figured since it was winter and we were positive it was almost always raining, that we would have plenty of water to go around. What a joke!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

You And Me Were Made To Be Free: HM RAGE 2014

I had the best time over Queens Birthday weekend - went to HM Rage with my cool as youth group! Only 13 of us went - including three leaders, but hey, it was cool all the same.
We arrived at Totara Springs, Matamata at about 9:30 pm, Friday (quite a bit later than we first intended as we were held up before leaving), registered and found our cabins and joined the crowds of youth. Music was pumping, lights were flashing and teens were everywhere. My first thought was - our group really needs designed t-shirts or something, as everyone seemed to have them.....

The Late Night show began at 10, where we were introduced to everything that was going to happen. Firstly, youth groups were put into colours - pink, yellow, blue or rainbow. We got rainbow. Each corner of the auditorium had one of these colours so we stayed together in our teams each time we went in there. Each Late Night show had a form of game where two people from each colour had to compete. During the late night shows, and "sessions" a worship band "Mosaic" played - they only had about four songs, but they were pretty cool anyhow. We got to hear a guy called Jeremy speak during the sessions, he's a really awesome speaker. Like, he starts talking about his life, or a funny story or something and gets us interested, and then relates it back to what he's really talking about and it's just like, "wow, that's so true". His main message this year was "you and me were made to be free", how we were made to be free, to be ourselves, to do whatever we want.
     An example he showed us was a video on how to catch a baboon. A guy in Africa put some form of food down this hole, the baboon, being curious couldn't help himself and stuck his arm down this hole. At the end is a sort of bowl where the food is sitting, so he scooped up the food in his hand and suddenly couldn't get his arm out, giving the guy the chance to capture the baboon. The idea is that if the baboon was to let go of the food, he would be able to remove his hand - because the fist hold on the food was what had caught him. At first I was horrified - I mean, who does that to capture a baboon? How mean! And then the realisation hit me and I knew how true that is. If we just let go of the things that are holding us, then we too would be free. My next thought was "where does this guy find these things?"
     A couple days later we were given another, similar example - this time of an elephant. If you catch a baby elephant and tie a rope around its leg and attach it to a massive tree it won't be able to escape. You have that rope and tree attached to the elephant 24/7 and he will pull and pull, but will never pull down the tree. He'll give up eventually. Then, once he's bigger, you can attach that rope to a fence post. The elephant will not escape because he knows full well that he's tried his best, but he just isn't strong enough. I suppose you could say that it's been beaten into him that he's weak and just can't do it, so even though he's this massive monster his mindset has been altered. But, if the elephant were to see other elephants hauling down trees around him, he will have the opportunity to realise that he too can do the same thing. It's not that he's weak, more so that his mind is telling him he can't do it. Which is pretty sad when you think about it...

After the late night show was after hours, so you could do whatever you wanted up until 1am when it was strict lights out. There was karaoke, where one main guy sang heaps of cool songs, basket ball, caged soccer, table tennis, the pool. You could buy a hot chocolate, smore or cheese toastie and basically just hang out.  I think that was my favourite time, because you could just sit and listen to the music with a hot chocolate to keep you warm. Even though that time of night was pretty cold, it was nice to just sit.
     One night, Beth (from our group), her cousin and I got up and sang "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift, just straight out without the guitar. It probably sounded really really bad, but hey, it was fun, and it was certainly not something I would normally do! Anyway, everyone there was singing and dancing along, so it mustn't have been that bad!

On Saturday and Sunday morning we had a session and then went off to different "breakouts". There were six or seven different ones, and you picked two. They ranged from a testimony of seeing God, addictions, relationships, serving etc. The bulk of our group went to hear of the testimony on Saturday, which was actually really neat and then to the relationships one on Sunday. I didn't actually like the second one, I found I couldn't possibly take it seriously. Sure, it was true what she was talking about but because I couldn't relate to it at all, I found I couldn't take it with a straight face. It basically just bounced off of me. Everyone seemed to be soaking it in and I was like, yeah okay, when does it end? Sounds kinda bad aye?

Saturday we had the Wide Games, where we were put into our colours and sent onto the battlefield. 4 wheelie bins were lined up in a valley, and 4 drums were placed at the top of this massive rigged hill. The idea was that we were to take a plastic cup, fill it with coloured water from our bin and run across a section of grass - probably about 50 square metres - without losing the water. There are people running over this section knocking the water out of your hands, so the idea is to avoid these people as much as possible and get to the hill where you are safe. If you lose the water, you've gotta go back and refill. Once you've climbed this horrifyingly massive, stepped hill, you dump your water into another teams barrel. The hardest part is getting back down the hill... The winning team is the one with the least water in their barrel. Sadly, Rainbow didn't win....
     After the wide games was a kiwifruit slide, where mashed rotten kiwifruit was set free from a tank down the hill, and people slid down with it. It was disgusting! It absolutely stunk! I did not do it lol.

Saturday was also X Factor, where talented people showed off for the judges and Sunday five of them performed in the auditorium during the Late Night show. Two guys sang "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeren, it was amazing and they got runner up. And a girl who played on the piano won overall and got $750! She must've been stoked!

Sunday was a sports competition of soccer and tag. Our youth group lost the round of soccer and the game of tag. I was just happy because I didn't need to participate in either of the games, as only 7 were in for soccer and 5 for tag. Of course there were subs, but if you didn't want to play, you didn't have to. Which was probably good for them since I'm not a sporty person at all - I probably would've scored a goal for the opposite team... o.O

Sunday night we also had the Bright and Tight banquet, so we all dressed into our bright and tight (those of us that brought it anyways....) It was funny how some of the guys came to our cabin and asked for nail polish! One was convinced to wear lipstick, which in turn caused a couple more to show up for it too. It's definitely not something you'd normally see! During the banquet a girl and boy from each colour did the last round of "Distraction", (the games that happened each night) They called them up on being brave, smart, strong minded, and good lungs to name a few things. Monique, one of our girls, bravely volunteered. I guessed that it'd be a food oriented game, so I was not putting myself up there. Lucky too, because the first thing they each had to do, was take an egg and smash it on their forehead. If it was hardboiled, they were through to the next round...if it wasn't....well....'twas a little bit messy! Two had this happen to them!
     The second round was a questionnaire. A question was asked, if you knew the answer and got it correct everyone had to put three pegs on their face, if you got it wrong, you would have to as well. This sent another four packing, including Monique, if they hadn't answered a question or had the most pegs on their face.
     Monique was probably really pleased she only lasted that long, because the next round.....*drum roll* two eggs were smashed into a pipe (and this is were you needed the strong lungs!) you each had to blow in an end of the pipe and force the raw eggs into the opponents' mouth. Yuck!! Two people lost in this round, leaving one boy and one girl.
     Next came probably the worst of all. The boy had a full bottle of milk tied around his wrist, the girl had a half bottle tied on hers. They had to hold onto a loop of wire, and not touch an electric wire that was running through it. I say that was probably the worst one, because it's really mind and fear oriented - I mean, who wants an electric shock? And as your arm is getting heavier and heavier, the hand starts to shake and you lose concentration quickly, it must get pretty horrible! The girl lost it a split second before he did, so it was pretty close! Although it went on for a good five minutes.

So yeah, it was a pretty awesome long weekend, we had the best food served to us all weekend, and our youth group had the easiest duties. Just setting up for lunch on Saturday and wiping down the tables after breakfast on Monday.
     We had a frost fight on Sunday morning, heaps of people were off doing their group duties, so three of us were just wondering around and discovered the ice from the frost on the trampoline spring pad things. It was so thick! So it started pretty quickly, fingernails turning frozen from scraping up the ice, next minute ice is flying everywhere and more of our group joined in. It was so much fun! The great thing was that it was so warm that you didn't stay wet for very long either :D
So on Monday we made a big spectacle of our group when we left after lunch, most groups had some sort of chant. The boys began it by dragging out the name of our group, which is simply the name of our town, and after a while we sort of stuck to it. A lot of people knew it, so as the first to leave Rage, half way through lunch we all got up in a line, and as we walked out the door did this spectacle with our "chant" and interrupted the final notices and suchforth. We totally stand out as a group! I won't say what it was as it will kind of void my privacy policy on no names (lol), but those of you who know it, will guess it pretty easily.We all think it's pretty awesome now!

On the way home we stopped at this cool little town and got real ice creams from a takeaways/dairy thing. You could get up to twelve scoops of icecream! Omgosh! We all just stuck with two scoops, and there was so much variety. I'm gonna make mum and dad stop there next time we go past, because it was just $3 for two scoops of ice cream on a cone, dipped in chocolate. It was so yum! Jo, our leader, took a photo of us all with our ice cream outside the shop, and it was only when we were half way home that I realised there was a photo bomber in our group. Just this guy, standing there on the side, so casually as if he were part of our group. No-one knows who the heck he is! Pretty creepy :O

Annoyingly by Tuesday morning I was sick with a cold, Tuesday afternoon it got worse and by Wednesday morning I was hit by this full blown cold. So I was living off the Robitussin and the Dimetapp cold tablets. The chemist reckoned the day ones were non drowsy and night ones would put me to sleep, well, the day ones knocked me out....  It may have just been part of the cold, but I'm certain these tablets had something to do with it! Thankfully I woke up today, not quite a new person, but a heck of a lot better. Not fully better, but on the track to recovery, which is all I can ask for. It was a pain, because I had to skip youth last night, but at least I don't have conjunctivitis like someone else caught at rage!