Alastair Cameron's Letter from America

News, views and opinions from the one kiwi expat sent to New York University on a Fulbright Scholarship to study his masters of law.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Time's up

I'll be somewhat surprised if anyone reads this post, with most having long since given up checking for new material over the past four months. Nonetheless, it felt necessary to do a final posting to round things off. As it happens, I did attempt a new posting a couple of months ago, but technical problems got in my way. In any event, this is a short closing post before I return to New Zealand. It'’s really just to highlight the highlights from my remaining time in the US, some London moments and subsequent travels.

As for the US, I had a nearly three weeks to fill-in following graduation before leaving for London. Many good times, but notably:
  • Brother and sister in town, with their respective girlfriends, and fellow travellers. Lots of fun, including an evening with Candyce. Celebrated Dunc'’s 30th with brunch, free mimosas and a New York style cake!
  • Six Flags Amusement Park in New Jersey - rode so many roller-coasters that I felt nauseous.
  • Visiting Boston with my German friend Sylvia, and staying with my kiwi friend and fellow Fulbright, Jo. Walked the Freedom Trail (Boston is, you see, "The Cradle of Liberty"). Had fantastic time with Jo (thanks so much), plus Joshua (another kiwi Fulbright). Really liked Boston, would go back. Bought some shoes.
  • John Forde arrived into the City; we rendezvoused on a street corner in Chelsea and immediately got accosted by a (Jewish?) woman carrying two trays of Krispy Kreme donuts asking us if we were Jewish. When we said we weren't she proceeded to tell us all about the intracicies of her life anyway, including what she was cooking for the dinner party she was having the following Wednesday (for which the Krispy Kreme's were the dessert - bought on a Sunday...not very fresh!). I don't know what she would have said if we had replied that we were Jewish. A very New York moment.
  • Fire Island -– sun, sand and homos galore at David & Barrie'’s beach-side bach (well, mansion really). Drinking cocktails from early afternoon, ended up in the pool, to another party, seriously hung-over by 8pm. Quite an experience. Thoroughly recommend it.
  • Hanging with my fabulous friends David and Lara who I met in Miami previous March. Tremendous fun.
Manue, me, Kirsty, Duncan and Catherine on the corner of W 3rd St and MacDougal, my old address in New York City

I wasn'’t too sad to leave New York since I was really looking forward to London. If I'’d had nothing particular to go from New York, I think it would have been a traumatic parting. As it is, I love London, but I do miss New York. The city itself, of course, with its buzz and everything it has to offer. But mostly the life I had there and the friends who remain. Being a student again provided for a great nine months. I didn'’t have much money, and had a lot of work to do, but my time was very much my own and I was the master of my own destiny. I like the routine of a job, but the change of pace in New York after working was tremendous fun.

Speaking of London, it'’s been a fantastic summer. My internship at FIELD was all it was meant to be - lots of climate change and energy work plus a bit of biodiversity, mostly new stuff so I learned a lot. Some work also included climate change issues as they relate to Pacific Island Countries -– perfect. I also met interesting and dynamic people (including Mary Robinson, the Chair of the IIED Board) and understand more the role these kinds of organisations play on the international scene. Main mission accomplished.

Otherwise, I'’ve enjoyed the summer buzzing around London on the free bike I managed to score, hanging out in the fabulous parks with my many friends, and even travelling a little. Mentionables include:
  • A trip with my fantastic friend Louise up to Manchester, the Ribble Valley, the Lake District and Blackpool. We stayed with Val, Louise'’s mother, who generously drove us around the gorgeous country-side. The stone fences and rambling hedges were as English as imaginable. Manchester had a very easy feel, the Ribble Valley and Lake District were stunning, and Blackpool was, well, worth saying I'’ve seen. Big thanks to Louise and Val.
  • Europride, the parade along Oxford Street, main party Ruby, and the benefit concert at the Royal Albert Hall -– all larger than life and fantastic fun. Post-parade drinks in Soho Square were like a gay-Wellington reunion as I bumped into faces from the past at every turn - nice to see you, Sam & Brendan. It was a star-studded line-up at the Albert Hall: Stephen Fry, Sir Ian MacKellan, Graham Norton, Elton John, Sandi Toksvig and Julian Clary among others. And of course the London Gay Men'’s Chorus, who provided sensational back-up for the person who probably stole the show -– Heather Small from the M-People (whose concert in the Wellington Show Buildings was my first ever music concert, incidentally).
  • Numerous picnic dinners in Kensington Gardens with Karlis, my NY buddy and fellow Costa Rica traveller. Sad when he left for home.
  • Toast New Zealand in St James Park with Duncan and Catherine, Jordan Carter from home, and many many others. Many faces recognised, but no names able to be put to them. Remarkably well behaved for a large group of drunk New Zealanders.
  • Spain -– travelled to Alicante with ten other NZ Labour people to attend the International Union of Socialist Youth World Festival. 4000 people all up from all over the world. All young socialists and social democrats. The workshops and panels were interesting and thought provoking. The social events were hilarious. What else would you imagine with 500 Spaniards, 400 Italians, 300 Germans, 200 Swedes and 100 Dutch among others all on their (subsidised) summer holiday looking for fun. The tent city was quite something...
  • Brighton -– went down to see my friend Kate and to check-out Brighton Pride. Kate (whom I'’ve hardly ever seen in NZ, but have hung-out with in Mauritius, New York, Costa Rica and now Brighton) was in fine form and showed me great hospitality. She displayed great humour even though I accused her of being conservative, reactionary and pessimistic. I retracted all three after considered discussion. I liked Brighton itself and could happily live there if I worked in London. And Brighton Pride was fantastic -– the best I'’ve ever experienced. 120,000 people from all walks of life, all out in a big open park with fair rides, food stalls, clothing stalls, fake tattoo artists, large dance tests, performance spaces. It was a big old mix, straight and gay -– you name it, they were there. A model to follow.
  • Being treated to a fabulous cocktail at the Long Bar in the Sanderson Hotel, one of London's trendiest drinking establishments, some public performance in Trafalgar Square, and a very memorable meal at the Oxo Restaurant on the Thames waterfront by Nick, a (now) very good friend I met through IIED/FIELD. The black muscat stood-out (and how lucky am I to have been given my very own bottle by Nick for my birthday!).
  • Cambridge for a day to see my German friend Moritz and his Canadian boyfriend Gavin. Super people, lovely town. Happened across Jean, with whom I did undergrad Latin at Victoria University of Wellington, on the petanque lawn of Corpus Christi Graduate Housing - very random!
  • Handel's Julius Caesar at Glyndebourne - very posh but a great experience.
  • Meeting Hamish at Heathrow after 8 months apart - phew!
  • Farewell dinner party at Jonathan's. Cooked for 20 people; quite a feat. Thanks to Hamish and others who chipped in on the night to make it one to remember!
Me, Mikey, Chris, two friends of Kevin whose names escape me, Kevin and Stu at Seven Dials (the Box) in Covent Garden one sunny Sunday afternoon (Hamish behind the camera)

From London it was on to Paris, Spain and Morocco with Hamish. Great to be together again, of course. Barcelona was groovy and cool. Ibiza great fun and something marvellous to have done. Super expensive with club cover charges of E45.00, and a bottle of water costing E8.00 (NZ$16.00)! Moreover, the buggers salt the water in the bathroom taps, so can't fall back on that classy option. The Alpuharras were beautiful - love to Rich and Hannah for putting us up. The Alhambra was magical (of course), and the souqs in Marrakech and camel trekking in the Sahara something to remember. It was a fabulous six weeks, but I think both Hamish and I are ready for some routine and no longer living out of a suitcase.

OK, so not such a short post afterall, but still a flying overview of the past four months. Thanks to all my readers, it's been a blast.

One last photo...taken above a Kasbah next to one of Morocco's amazing oases.



Sunday, May 14, 2006

All said and done

It's unofficial; I have my master of laws. My student colleagues and I graduated last Friday and had our degrees formally conferred. And while the small-print makes this conferral contingent upon us actually passing our exams, I don't anticipate this will stand in the way of me receiving my degree. So it's more-or-less official; I have my master of laws from NYU.

We had two ceremonies in the end. One was with the entire graduating class at NYU - 15,000 students or so - in Washington Square Park. Mercifully, the ceremony did not involve each student having their name called out individually, but rather our degrees were conferred en masse in our respective schools. The law school graduation in Madison Square Gardens did involve all 946 students - JSD (doctorate), LLM and JDs - having their name called and walking across the stage to be "hooded" before shaking the hand of the dean and having our photo taken. Although long, the speeches were genuinely meaningful on the whole, and it was fun seeing friends having their 25 seconds in the limelight, so I enjoyed the day. Some photos appear below and there are more here.

And of course it is always fun to dress up for such occasions. Our gowns did make some of us feel like breaking into a James Brown gospel number: something akin to his role in the Blues Brothers . Others felt very priestly, desiring to swing some incense around in time with the music that ushered us into the hall - luckily we all restrained ourselves. People's cameras were in full flight, and below is a photo of me with my flatmates, Quang and Harold, outside our dorm.


Still, it was interesting to wear something different from the traditional, black, open-front black gowns worn during NZ graduation ceremonies. The particular shade of purple wasn't an enormously flattering colour on too many people, although I think Sharon (far left; Canada) looks pretty good in the photo below, with me and Liliana (Brazil).


And there were some particularly meaningful moments, such as the four New Zealanders in the program each graduating. None of us knew each other well before coming, but have forged what I imagine will be enduring friendships.

Nina Khouri (Akld), Sarah Raudkivi (Akld), me, Quang Trinh (Wgtn)

The two photos above were taken in Madison Square Gardens, whereas the one below of me and Nina was taken during the Washington Square Park ceremony involving the entire university.


Nina was kind enough to invite me to join her family celebration after the law school graduation on Friday. Her boyfriend, Tim, surprised Nina (and me in the process) with a trip to the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Centre. The view was spectacular, the bubbly delicious and club sandwiches cute. Thanks so much to Nina, Tim, Philip and Suzanne for adopting me for the afternoon for a memorable kiwi celebration.

One of the best things about the two graduation ceremonies was that they provided a chance to see people before they began leaving the city, as many have done this weekend. The Barristers Ball, which is the end-of-year graduation ball for final year JD students and completing LLM students provided the same opportunity. Held at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, it was great to see people letting their hair down after a long, hard exam period, and taking advantage of the open bar. The level of behaviour was very respectable on the whole, although some people looked very green around the gills at 8:45am the next morning at the graduation ceremony. Below is a shot of me, Harold and Quang on the way to the ball (good to put up a before shot...).


I have to say that it all still feels a little unreal. The year here is all but over, but that fact, and what I've achieved, hasn't properly sunken-in, which I think is because it all ended so quickly. We finished exams, graduated more-or-less the next day, and had to be out of our rooms the day after that. So there's been little time to reflect on the whole experience. Still, that reflection will occur over the coming months, filled with happy memories and perhaps some feelings of remorse that the year came to an end so soon. But even now, I do feel some sense of the achievement involved with getting a masters from one of the best law schools in the world.

Right now, however, I will enjoy the company of my brother and sister here in New York, free from the pressure of readings, lectures and exam study. They're off sight-seeing at the moment, leaving me some much-needed own time to write this blog and read my book in a cute cafe on the Upper East Side (providing free wireless internet allowing me to use my own laptop - pure luxury).

If I can find something to say, I may post again before leaving New York. Otherwise, I'll hail next from London.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Exam Stress Causes Coffee Meltdown...

You have to see to believe how seriously people take exams at this university. The NYU Law Library goes into extended hours, staying open until 2am - and this is because people stay there unil then. 1Ls in particular start outlining for their exams weeks before classes finish; I've seen them working in the lobby of my dorm at 2am on a Friday/Saturday night. I heard that the University had to ban lecturers setting 72-hour take-home exams because people would spend the entire 72 hours working on them without adequate food, water or sleep.

Don't get me wrong, I take my exams seriously, but honestly...

A colleague from Fordham University Law School recently started blogging about the effects of exams on A-type personality law students: FishWatch2006. Take a look for a rundown of, and reaction to, a particularly nasty incident driven by exam stress and caffeine overload.

Luckily and NYU the librarians allow coffee into our library (if it's in spill-proof cup), so hopefully the risk of similar meltdowns here is lower. Having said that, people smuggle their sugar-loaded study-fixes into the library along with their spill-proof coffee, so the mix of stress, caffeine and sugar could get pretty volatile in the last few days of the exam period. (Apparently one Cinnabon, something that makes a regular appearance, has the recommended daily caloric intake for the average adult female...)

Anyway, enough procrastination. Three days to go for me!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Spring has sprung, and onwards to pastures new...

I promise this isn't a whole post about the weather, but it is worth noting that spring has truly sprung here in New York, and that after such a long, cold winter it is most welcome. It seemed like overnight that temperatures went from hovering around zero into the high teens (Celsius, that is), a remarkable change. Since then, they have graduated up and down, but have got as high as 28 deg., so definitely some lovely balmy days.

The main point is that the different seasons a very noticeable in this part of the world. They are too in New Zealand of course, although less so in Wellington. The photos below go some way towards illustrating the difference. Both are of Washington Square, one taken near the start of winter and other just the other week.



The only downside to this happy transition is that I am just about to enter finals mode, meaning that I'll be spending my days cooped up in the NYU Law library either studying or taking exams. Still, it is only two weeks, so only a short-term hardship.

But yes, only two weeks until this whole academic adventure is over. We actually graduate on 12 May, which is a bit of a faux-graduation since we don't have our marks, but it makes the point - we have completed our LLMs. I felt a pang of reflectiveness at the end of my final class today, but overall am looking forward to finishing and moving-on to new challenges. Not because I haven't enjoyed the experience - it has been incredible in a whole range of ways - but because it is simply time to complete the degree and take the achievement.

Speaking of moving-on, the adventure is not over quite yet. I'm going to London to do a three month internship at the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), which is an NGO focusing on international sustainable development law. I'll be working in their climate change/energy and biodiversity/marine resources programmes, which is very exciting (particularly the climate change part). I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but whatever it is should be interesting given the work they do now. Check out their website if you're so inclined (www.field.org.uk).

But before heading to London, I get to enjoy the New York spring/summer for nearly three weeks free of having any school work to do. More notably, there is a procession of visitors coming into the city before I leave who will ensure a good time. First, my big sister and brother arrive on 13 May for the week with their respective others and a whole posse of people, and then two good friends arrive from London. There were rumours of some other NZ arrivals, but they remain unconfirmed... So with the good company and the warm weather, it should be the ideal way to say goodbye to New York.

My arrival date in London is 31 May for a 5 June start date at FIELD. All going to plan, Hamish will join me in London on 31 August, at the end of the internship, after which we'll hang in London before traveling for a bit, and then returning home. Our tentative departure date is 10 October, getting us back onto New Zealand shores on 12 October. Still awaiting final confirmation of the flights, but either way, looks like an ETA of early to mid-October.

So that's my news. Will disappear into finals land for the next two weeks but will aim to post again before I leave New York, even if only with all the new photos I have of family and friends in sunny New York.

PS: I just have to mention two recent (independent) visits by two very cool Kiwis - Kate Lee (as seen in the Costa Rica post below) and Jessica Hodgson. Apart from having fun just knocking around the City together, Kate and I managed to elicit a request to bribe a bouncer so that he would let Kate into a club without ID (only $20 but the van full of NYPD officers nearby made us a little wary). And Jess and I saw the most excellent play - The History Boys - which of course played in the Wellington International Festival of the Arts. If you ever get a chance to see it, you must do so. It is a masterpiece.

Jessica outside Magnolia, a bakery in the West Village famous for its cupcakes, and made more so by the Sex in the City girls deeming it their cupcake bakery of choice.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Getting around a bit

Since there's less than half the semester left, I thought perhaps it was appropriate to post what I've been up to in the first half.

Most importantly I suppose, I'm still enjoying university life. My courses are all really interesting, dealing with a range of subjects: environmental values, ethnocultural diversity, economic and social rights and international economic transactions. Sounds like a bit of a dog's breakfast I know, but believe it or not they actually form quite a coherent programme, even when matched with the courses I completed last semester.

In addition to my courses, I've picked up some interesting research as part of the Global Administrative Law Project here at NYU, and am still doing graduate editor work for the Journal. And every week there's a wide range of talks on offer, some of which I attend. This week included John Brutton, the current European Union Ambassador to the United States and former Irish Prime Minister. He was great - very frank as only an ex-politician now diplomat can be. I'd relay his best musings except that the forum is supposed to be chatham house rules. Michael McCloskey, former long-time head of the Sierra Club (a major US environmental group) spoke later in the week and offered many insightful reflections about his involvement in the environmental movement from its inception in the 1960s until the present.

But school hasn't been the be-all and end-all of this semester. An early highlight was a visit from my very good friend Louise, whom having just completed her LLM at the London School of Economics, I hadn't seen for 18 months. It was tremendous seeing her again, and we had a great time together walking around the best parts of New York, going to my favourite places to eat as well as trying a few new ones, and checking out some of New York's cultural offerings. The play we saw was indescribably dreadful, but the Puccini concert in Carnegie Hall was fantastic. If you haven't already viewed them from two posts ago, click here to see some photos.

In fact, New York hasn't even been the be-all and end-all of this semester. Brief trips away to Washington DC, Miami and Costa Rica have proven fun little diversions. Take a look at the photos to see why.


No prizes for guessing where this is. Jacinda and I took the bus down to DC one Thursday night (I have no classes on a Friday, you see), and while we were supposed to come back Sunday night (as I do have classes on a Monday), the snow-storm that weekend delayed our return by a day. Special thanks to Fiona Hutchinson who put me up for the entire weekend, and the both of us when we suddenly found ourselves stranded in the City for another night. Fiona and I worked together in Wellington and it was great seeing her again in DC. We had some fun times, including Italian brunch in Georgetown, excellent frozen magueritas at a very popular Mexican joint in Dupont Circle, and sampling the local Ethiopian cuisine (Washington DC is evidently the largest Ethiopian city outside of Addis Abiba - who knew?)

Fiona, me and Jacinda enjoying authentic Ethopian food in the traditional style, ie. communal dishes and using our hands, along with rather grey, flannel like crepes. Sounds weird, but actually very nice. One word to the wise: avoid the honey wine...

As you'd expect, Jacinda and I spent a day doing notable places, monuments and memorials: the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, various bits of the Smithsonian, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. We did a lot of walking that day, but got a real feel for the "public" part of the City. Very much a capital city with large public buildings (all in the classical style to evoke the ancient republics), monuments of all kinds, and statues wherever a space could be found. There was very definitely a "public service vibe" and certain infusion of politics. I liked the City because of this, but also because it was a nice change of pace from crazy New York. Still a big city, but a lot less frenetic.

We also paid a visit to the US National Archives to view the original US Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Quite mixed feelings about this one, actually. Tremendously symbolic of the law's power to bind successive generations under enduring values, but also highlights the potential absurdity of attempting to govern people using words written over 200 years ago by men with no ability to comprehend how those people would be living today. The Holocaust Museum was equally thought provoking, although hardly a joyous affair. The exhibit was quite scathing of the US's failure to take more Jewish immigrants from Europe before the war broke out, and forn not acting earlier to prevent the final solution from progressing as far as it did, which was not a view I had seen represented in other holocaust museums.

A slightly different affair was Miami, Florida. This wasn't a self-initiated trip like DC, but in fact a "Fulbright Enrichment Seminar". In other words, 180 foreigners studying in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship were flown to Miami for a conference on "Civic Participation in a Diverse Society", ie. how to cope better with mass immigration, as has occurred in Miami where the white population is now a minority next to the Latino communities, the largest of which consists of Cuban exiles.

Perhaps the best part of the weekend was going into one of the local Miami high schools to give a talk about New Zealand. The school was enormous - about 5000 students - and very diverse. Most of the kids in my class were Latino, with some African American and a couple of whities, although every one of them spoke Spanish. They knew a bit about New Zealand - like that it is off the coast of Australia, grrr - but were interested to hear more, and asked clever questions. One guy asked what the food was like in NZ compared to the food in the US...I was diplomatic about American food but waxed lyrical about the wonderful food we have back home. Just doing my bit for tourism and the elimination of agricultural subsidies...

Apart from the academic content of the conference itself, which was genuinely eye-opening and stimulating, the really cool part of the weekend was the people I met. All dynamic, smart and engaged, as well as willing and able to have a good time. I've already had a coffee with one of the women - Kate - a Canadian studying at Yale who came to New York recently for a meeting at the UN. Plans are afoot to visit another Canadian - David - in Boston if possible, and I'm hoping some of the others might come through New York at some point (Moritz, Laura etc - that is your cue!).

Laura (US), me, David (Canada), Thembela (South Africa) and Michael (Germany) on the final day (we'd just been caught in a tropical rain storm)

Another blessing of Miami was that it was warm, which meant relief from this long, cold New York winter. Of course three days of warmth was scarcely enough, so it was lucky that two weeks later I left for Costa Rica. There was warm and sunny, with fabulous beaches, all of which means I now have a sun-tan! That is my usual state of being in March given the New Zealand summer, so it was bliss to lie in the sun long enough to restore that norm.

The beach at Zancudo: black sand, palm trees down to the high tide mark, warm water (about 25 degrees) - that is the Pacific I love.

Apart from the sun and warmth, Costa Rica really provided a fun Spring Break vacation. We (Karlis, Kevin and I) spent half the time in the mountains around Turrialba, and the other half down on the Pacific coast, mostly in a little town called Zancudo. The mountains were more temperate and offered activities such as white-water rafting through beautiful river gorges and hiking up the Volcan Turrialba. The coast provided beach relaxation, rain-forest and the odd bit of wild-life. It also involved delicious fresh mahi mahi cooked to perfection - if you're in Costa Rica and you want good restaurants, go to Zancudo.

White-water rafting near Turrialba. We stopped for a rest in front of this beautiful waterfall. Karlis and Kevin are in the yellow.

Splitting our time between both meant we got to see and do quite different things, which was great since we only had eight days. We even got a night in San Jose (the capital city), which in spite of being a bit of a dump overall, managed to put-on a fun night for the three of us. The locals - "Ticos" in their own lingo - were friendly on the whole and often had enough English to mean we (with little to no Espanol) could get through a reasonably complex conversation.

One thing definitely deserving of a mention is the roads. There are three kinds - paved as we know them, paved but with unavoidable, axel-breaking pot-holes, and unpaved bone-jarring dirt and gravel. One lane bridges featured prominently, and occasionally we had to drive through rivers or get ferried across them on a barge. Our little rental coped admirably, with no break-downs or even flat-tires, as did our driver Karlis, who managed not to lose his nerve as cars passed trucks going around blind-corners on single lane mountain highways. All good fun. In the end, I just lay down and closed my eyes so I didn't have to see, which I found a most satisfactory approach.

Rush hour at the river crossing...we are just watching at this point to see how it's done.

And just to emphasise that I am a kiwi and such things happen, I spent the final night with Kate Lee, a friend from Wellington. She is doing her masters at Brighton University in the UK, so the two of us - originally from Wellington but now one in New York and the other in Brighton - got together in San Jose to drink local Costa Rican beer (Imperial) and eat the national dish, Gallo Pinto (ie. beans and rice). It wasn't a complete coincidence in the sense that we unexpectedly bumped into each other, as Kate is doing her development studies project in Costa Rica so we realised we'd be there at the same time, but it is still somewhat surprising and a quintessentially kiwi travel experience.

Kate and me after our delicious beans and rice (the food was actually pretty good on the whole - Ticos know how to do beans and rice, and their plantain chips are so good!)

But now I am back in New York City, back to the cold, although there are small signs that things are getting warmer. And daylight savings starts in a week, so that should buoy the mood somewhat.

The thing I can hardly believe is that I only have two more months here. There are still a few things I want to do, but I feel I've given New York a pretty good go so far, meaning I don't need to go into a frenzy doing all the things I haven't yet done. Which is just as well since I do actually have to write a seminar paper and pass my exams...

Still, things are certainly wrapping up here. What happens next is nearly settled, so keep an eye out here for a formal announcement.




Thursday, February 16, 2006

SEX in the CITY

Well, I had to give this post an arresting title since it is actually about the weather. Would you have even got this far if the title had been: "Weather in New York"? Sounds like bad small-talk.

Anyway, I thought I should post something about the weather since I've received several emails and texts enquiring as to my wellbeing following the supposedly massive snow storm we've just had here in the Northeastern United States. It was very nice to know people were thinking of me, but I'd be interested to know how it was portrayed in the NZ media, since it really wasn't that bad. Sure, there was a lot of snow, and it shut things down for a bit, but only for a short time. They have plenty of infrastructure in place to cope pretty well (here in New York at least) meaning the city got back underway fairly quickly.

As it happens, I was in Washington DC rather than New York during the actual blizzard (more on my trip in a post to come shortly). We got the storm there too, although not as heavy as New York. Still, it was a decent covering, but of little inconvenience. In fact it was kind-of fun trudging through the snow in America's capital city. Also, I was staying in a nice part of town (Dupont Circle for those in the know), so the snow made things look rather pretty - see below.

These are taken from just outside Fiona's house (where I was staying). I'm helping her shovel snow because there is a legal requirement for people to clear the sidewalks outside their houses within 24 hours of the snowfall.

There were really only two annoyances in DC brought about by the snow. First, the taxis charged double price - daylight robbery! Second, my bus home to New York on Sunday night was cancelled, so I had to stay an extra night and catch the bus at 9:30am the next morning. But no big deal, especially as it was essentially an extension of my holiday, and we had a relaxing evening eating tasty home-cooked food and watching Grey's Anatomy (luxury, since I don't have TV these days!). Thanks to Fiona for putting me up another night.


Once back in New York the heavy snowfall was very evident - piles of snow up to my waist on the sidewalk, some cars completely covered and lots of hideous brown sludge all over the road. This sludge is really the worst thing following a snow-storm. It carries the hazards of either stepping into hidden deep sludgey puddles as you step off the sidewalk, or worse, getting sprayed by yellow cabs as they speed past with no regard for us mere pedestrians. Waterproof shoes are essential.

Washington Square (Greenwich Village, New York)...this is actually from the snowfall we had last November, but the effect is similar - just think a lot more snow.

luckily it's been warm the past few days (8-10 deg cent.), which means most of the snow has already melted.

So really, very little drama overall. Still, thank you for your enquiries after my winter wellbeing; I appreciated them.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2006 so far (in pictures)

As promised in my previous post, there are now photos online from our Christmas/New Year holidays.

There is also a new album with photos from this year, including ice-skating in Central Park, some pre-drinks drinks, and Louise Moreland's recent visit to New York.

Words to go with the photos will appear this weekend.