September 14, 2006
After working from my 6am telecon til 1pm, I decided to head off on a bike ride as it was a beautiful sunny day and about 55F out. First I biked over to Ferrymead by the Port Hills and then I biked past Cashmere where I will be living in a week. A ten minute bike ride from past my new place, I was riding alongside pastures and the Port Hills and in the distance to the west I could see the snow-covered Southern Alps! Can you imagine having views like that 10 minutes bike ride from your house and still live only a ten minute drive from downtown? I wish that I had brought my camera so I could show you all the views. But I promise to take it next time.
I ended up doing a 30-mile circuit around the city with one small detour into town when I took the wrong road. But it took me past a bike shop where I went in because I couldn't shift into my big chain ring, which of course is better than not being able to shift into the small chainring, but still a nuisance. I couldn't resist going in because the shop was called Chain Reaction and I bought my bike at a Chain Reaction in Redwood City, CA (just a coincidence, not a chain - no pun intended). They fixed it immediately and charged me nothing!
It's impressive how nice everyone is here and they aren't being nice with a purpose to get something from you, sell you something etc. They are just nice for the sake of being nice. When I was looking for a house, a couple picked me up from the bus stop, drove me to the house and showed me around and, even though I didn't take the house, they then drove me over to Turner's Auctions where I was going to look for a car!
Well, I got my IRD number and my GST number today so now I can be officially in business. An IRD number is like the US Social Security Number that everyone has to have to work here. The GST number is so I can collect GST (goods and services tax - 12.5%) from my clients and then give it to the NZ government. You Americans may not be familiar with it but all my Canadian friends and family certainly are.
Last night after swim practice, the team went to the local pub for a pint (or steamed milk and a cookie in my case so I could drive home!). They do it twice a month and they are a great bunch of people. So it's nice to be able to create a bit of a social life.