Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review Time!

I have just recently read 'Religion Saves: and 9 other Misconceptions' by Mark Driscoll and am reviewing this book (which is part of the Re:Lit series) along with other bloggers, as part of a blog tour over at Litfuse :) If you're interested in reading and/or listening to excerpts of this book, then head on over to here.

The idea behind this latest book from Pastor Mark Driscoll stems from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church where he answered a number of highly relevant questions posed by the Corinthians. This sparked a desire within Driscoll to call for visitors to his Mars Hill church congregation to submit the questions they most wanted answered on the church’s website. Out of this experiment, the nine most popular ‘hot topic’ questions of today's Christians were gauged and subsequently answered by Driscoll in the form of a sermon devoted to each one – starting from the ninth most popular question to the most popular one. Likewise, the book has also mirrored this structure with a chapter assigned to each question.

Beginning with the question on birth control, Driscoll frames his answer to this question (and the subsequent ones) with a mixture of anecdotes and examples (each of which are helpful in illustrating his point and showing where the 'rubber meets the road' so to speak), historical overviews, and an in-depth look at the different aspects of each issue which are at times broken up with slices of Driscoll’s trademark sense of humour.

Throughout the book, Driscoll constantly refers the reader back to Scripture by quoting numerous Bible verses and drawing attention to principles God has clearly given to guide us in our thinking and decision making on these nine particularly controversial topics. He also encourages the reader to apply these principles to not only these issues but other ones in life which may not be directly addressed in the Bible yet require us to respond to them with a clear conscience before God. Driscoll also draws upon a number of reliable resources when analysing the different viewpoints people hold along the spectrum on each of these nine topics. This then is how Driscoll tackles each question which range from the 'lighter' though not any less important (i.e. Humour, Dating) to the more 'heavy', theological hot topics of Predestination, Grace, Sexual Sin, Faith and Works and The Emerging Church, which may see you experiencing a bit of “mental gymnastics”. Driscoll then wraps up the book with this bottom line statement saying: "...when something commanded by God is not done, that is sin. When something forbidden by God is done, that is sin. When Scripture is silent, it is not God's way of giving us a moment to speak for him but to be silent as an act of worship."

I found this book to be a challenging and thought-provoking read yet an enjoyable one as I appreciated the depth to which Driscoll has gone in exploring each of these issues. As a result, I have gained a deeper understanding of topics which I thought I already had a good knowledge of. One little thing I personally found detracting, however, was the footnoting style Driscoll used which saw the numbering for Scripture references being differentiated from other types of resources referred to in each chapter. Yet in saying this, I enjoyed being able to go straight to the Bible verse whenever one was quoted. Overall, I would not hesitate in recommending this book to any Christian who is keen to gain a biblical perspective and thorough understanding on some of the key issues that are prevalent in Christian circles today.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Some pics from my trip

Me & Ang with her school friends - N.Y.E.

New Years silliness haha

Me & Ang

Cold enough to wear my winter coat! 2nd night in Jax

Me, Whitney, Elliott, Tracey, Jeff

Me & Tracey

Tracey & Me - pirates style!

Jeff, Tracey & Me in Lilo & Stitch shop

NZ display in 'Its a Small World' ride

Me with Disney castle

Walt Disney, Minnie & Me

Me & Irene

Friday, January 11, 2008

Philly, Jax & B'ham!

First up, Happy New Year! Hope everyone has a blessed 2008 :) Well its been a little while since my last update so will try to catch y'all up on what i've been up to...

Philly (home of the Fresh Prince & sweet chilly Philly)
I stayed in Philly from 23 Dec - 1 Jan with my long-time penpal Angela & her family :) As you can see from those dates, I was there for Christmas & New Years & Ang and her family (her sister Julia, and her mum & dad) were so lovely to me. They live out in North Philly in a cute neighbourhood & they have this standard sized poodle Asta who is still just like a big puppy...he was pretty huge esp when he stood up on his back legs!

Oh yeah before i forget, the flight down to Philly from Manchester, NH was definitely the worst flight i've ever been on!! To start with the visibility in Manchester was terrible & so my flight to Philly was delayed a few hours. Then when we finally got to board the airplane they said that it was a little bit overweight and asked for 4 volunteers to get off the plane (those that didnt have connections to make). They offered an incentive - a $200 voucher with US Airways (the airline i was on), good for travel within continental US. 3 people got up straight away & we all clapped and said thanks to them, but then 1 more person still needed to get off. They were like 'is there anyone else just goin to Philly?' & i sat there feeling a bit guilty for not volunteering but I didnt want to hold up Ang & her mum any longer than i needed to as they were waiting at the airport for me. But eventually 3 more people volunteered to get off. So we start to take off and i look out the window and there wouldn't have been more than 5 miles visibility, it was pretty crazy! I was like 'man i hope these pilots know what they're doing!'. It was pretty much turbulent during all 1.5hrs of the flight & the captain even said to make sure that the person next to you in your seat was awake & aware of the turbulence (dont know how anyone could have been sleeping thru it!) and to make sure their seatbelt was tight etc. But the pilots did an amazing job though, gotta hand it to them & it was definitely reassuring when the flight attendant said that these were the best team of pilots she'd ever flown with :) Anyways they did an awesome job of landing in Philly, was nice & smooth despite the wind & the rain that greeted us in Philadelphia. I was so glad to be back on solid ground!
*sidetrack over*

Anyway, on Christmas Eve we went to the Christmas Eve service at Angela's church which was good. Was pretty similar to Christmas Eve services back home - Scripture readings with various carols in betweens as well as some musical items. So that was cool. Their church didn't do a Christmas Day service though, so that was a bit different to home. Anyway later on Christmas Eve we went to their friend's Christmas Eve party which was fun - just mingled & chatted with people & i got to try hot apple cider for the first time! And yeah we just had different nibbles & desserts.

Christmas Day dawned sunny and cold...but alas, NO SNOW! so that was a bit sad as i was really hoping for a white Christmas but i guess i had seen a lot of snow up Hartford & Boston ways. Christmas morning we opened stockings and had brunch and then just relaxed a bit and opened presents. They gave me several things including a really good book on the history of Philadelphia (since they know i majored in history), a Target voucher, a hot plate thingy which was in the shape of a Celtic design i think, a novel, a bookmark etc etc. So that was really nice :) Later on in the afternoon Angela's nana & aunty came over and there was some more present opening & then we had Christmas dinner - turkey, stuffing, green beans & artichoke and sweet potato casserole, was good! Dessert was pumpkin pie and this fruity mincey dessert thingy (kinda like a Danish type pie/fruit mince pie) and cookies & other yum desserts. Us girls then finished off the evening by watching 'While You Were Sleeping' hehe :)

The next day i went with Ang & her mum into downtown Philly and we went to the Constitution Center which i found out was relatively new - has only been around 4 years! It was quite a cool place tho - we went into this like ampitheatre type room where they did a multimedia presentation of the history of the Constitution. There was this lady that was a narrator who stood in the middle of the room and she talked about some of the history while there was different images etc being projected onto the screens all around the room. There were audio and video clips which was cool to see and yeah it was just a really good presentation, very dramatic :) After it was over we went into this other room that had all these different statues of the signatories to the Constitution that included Jefferson, Washington, etc etc so that was cool and i got my pic with ol' George Washington & Ben Franklin haha. They also had this big book there that you could sign to show your allegiance to the Constitution and it even had a little blurb welcoming international visitors as well to sign it, to show their support for constitutional governments worldwide. So i thought that was cool and I signed it :) Then we went into the First Ladies exhibition which was pretty interesting. There was displays of different dresses and souvenirs from each First Ladies time in the White House as well as a bit of a bio about what each of them had focused on. One thing that stood out to me was how each First Lady has focused on a range of different things whether it be literacy/education, health or conservation.

The rest of the week we mostly stayed around where Ang's family lives and also went to some family things of theirs. On the Sat (29th) i decided to take a day trip by myself into Washington D.C. (via train) while Ang worked on her grad school applications. I thought i'td be a pity to get so close to the capital & not visit it so i definitely wanted to go. And im so glad i did! The train ride was good, pretty comfy seats, and i went thru 2 states along the way (Delaware & Maryland) too. The night before i'd worked out what museums i wanted to visit at the Smithsonian institute, based on some of the exhibitions that were on. My first stop though in D.C. was (naturally) the White House. I took the Metro from Union Station to Federal Triangle (i LOVE D.C.s Metro system btw - its so clean, modern & efficient!) and then walked from there to the White House, and saw Washington Monument along the way. The gate in front of the White House where everyone gets photos was waaaay further away from the W.H. than it looked in other peoples pics that i'd seen! But it was still cool to be there and i got some good pics of it. Security was extremely tight around there as you can imagine being the capital & all...i saw both marked & unmarked police cars/vans + all the streets around Pennsylvania Ave (the White House is at 1600 Pennyslvania Ave) were all blocked off & there were cops standing in the middle of some of the roads too. Anyways after gettin some pics at the gate i went on down to the White House Visitor Center which was really good (had to go thru security check upon entering it...which also goes for all the museums as well) and it had some interesting facts about the White House and info on all the different Presidents & their families that have lived there over the years. There were a couple of videos too - one by First Lady Laura Bush on Christmas at the White House (the theme for decorating it this year was celebrating America's national parks) & Pres. Bush did one on the history & significance of the White House etc. There was also a model of the W.H. too which was pretty cool. Then i went to the National Museum of Natural History which had this awesome photographic awards exhibit called 'Natures Best Photography' which had amazing pictures of all kinds of animals & environments. And the best thing was that you were allowed your camera so i took pics of some of the photos hehe. Also in the museum was a dinosaur exhibit which was pretty cool, had huge life size models of all the major dinosaurs: T-Rex, Bracchiosaurus, Tricerotops, Steggosaurus etc etc. Then i went and walked down to the gosh was it a long walk!! Did not look that far but it was several blocks down & took a good 20mins at least to reach it. But it was worth it though and i got some good pics of it as well as in front of the reflecting pool etc. Then i went and stopped by the National Air & Space Museum and went to this exhibit on Treasures of American History (it was being hosted there as the American History museum is temporarily closed for renovations at the mo). It was a really cool exhibit that had all kinds of original items such as Dorothy's ruby red slippers, the scarecrow costume from Wizard of OZ, Kermit the Frog, Abraham Lincoln's top hat (which he kept all his important documents in & which he was wearing when he got assassinated), the first pair of Levi Strauss jeans, C3Po & R2D2, one of Mary Todd Lincoln's dresses, portrait of Billy Graham, Muhammed Ali's boxing gloves, Marilyn Monroes famous white gloves, George Washington's hunting/war clothes, the first Barbie, first teddy bear, Thomas Jeffersons Bible, the Greensboro lunch counter (where the first sit-in was launched by African Americans in the 1960s) etc etc. I was also able to get photos of most of those things too :) Then i went and had a look at some of the space stuff they had on display - they even had 2 sample missiles there from the Cold War American and one Russian one. There were also astronauts' space suits + a model of Apollo 11 etc. Then i went & had some lunch at McDonalds down in the Foodcourt and spotted the first McCafe that i've seen in the US! They're not common here at all. Speaking of which they also dont have the Deli Select Sandwiches at McDonalds here either. Anyhow, my last stop before heading back to Union Station was to stop by the actual Smithsonian castle but i only went into 2 of the rooms there (one of which had a memorial thing to Smithson) as if i'd gone in any further i would have had to go thru yet another bag check & i was sick of them by then. But the best thing about the Smithsonian Institue/National Mall (where all the museums are) is that they're free! Its awesome. It also only cost me US$6.50 to get an 1 day pass for unlimited rides on the Metro rail :) (as opposed to when i was in NYC and me & Alisa had to pay $10 for a 6 trip on the Metro). Overall I really enjoyed D.C. - its a really safe city, easy to walk around & there is heaps to see. If i'd had another day there i would have gone to Holocaust Museum, gone to more of the Smithsonian museums, Arlington Cemetry, possibly up the Washington Monument, and past the Superior Court etc.

For New Years Eve, the Sopers had some of their family friends around who they usually have each New Years Eve. They came over for dinner & dessert, was nice to meet them and chat for a bit. Then later on me & Ang went to her friends place where some of their other school friends were for a bit of a reunion & we hung out & had nibbles etc. Just before midnight we tuned into Fox and watched live coverage of Times Square and saw the ball drop + other bands playing there. Man were there masses of people there! I was excited to be able to say that i'd been there like 10 days ago haha. Even though it would have been cool to be in NYC for New Years purely for the atmosphere, im glad i was away from the madness of it all as it would have taken forever to get out of Times Square! Plus it was nice just to relax at Ang's friends place & take some silly pics etc hehe.

Jacksonville, Florida (aka Jax)
On Jan 1, 2008 i flew down to Jax to stay with my friend Tracey. It was a pretty good flight (apart from having to circle the runway for half an hour before taking off, while the air traffic control tower sorted out paperwork for our flight!) and made it down there in just 2.5 hours. Stayed with Trace at various places during my time there as she had to housesit etc a little bit while i was there as well as try & move her stuff back into the place she stayed at before she went to Indonesia last year. The neighbourhood we were in was really really nice...the wealthiest bit of Jax, as its where some of the NFL players live and it also has a golf course that has big PGA tournaments i.e. where Tiger Woods & co have played. The weather tho was another story - the first couple of days i was there (Jan 1 & 2) it was freezing! like actually freezing. 32F and even below that a little i think. It eventually got a bit warmer during the rest of my time there so that was good. On Fri & Sat night i went out with Tracey & her friends to go hear some of their fave local bands play. On the Sat night there was also an NFL game on between the Jacksonville Jaguars & the Pittsburgh Steelers...the Jaguars one so everyone was pretty happy :) Still so funny for me to watch American football seeing all those guys with their bulky pads! haha. so different to watching a rugby game. On Monday just gone (Jan 7) we went down to Orlando to go to....Disneyworld!! The weather was perfect - nice & sunny & really warm :) In the 80sF (mid-20sC) which was nice. Was kinda surreal being there at first like seeing the Disney castle but it was cool tho. Got lotsa pics. We went on Big Thunder, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean cruise, Its a Small World and we saw the Monsters Inc comedy show hehe. Unfortunately the Spalsh Mountain ride was temporarily closed (reopening in late Feb...must be because of winter) which sucked & then when we went to Space Mountain it was closed for an hour or so as something small had broken. By the time we went back whatever was wrong had been fixed but the line was super long! So i was gutted about that but i chose for us to give it a miss so we could go to MGM and/or Epcot. Haha was funny seeing the NZ display on Its a Small World (they play the song over and over and over and over thru that ride & in diff languages too!) - its so small compared to the Aussie one heh (typical!). It has 2 Kiwis and a little Maori figure doll thing. But still good to see it there. I also got my pic with Winnie & the Pooh, Tigger & Darby so that was cool haha. We also caught part of the music/dance thingy that Mickey & Minnie and some of the other Disney characters do at the castle, which i got some pics of. We also went to catch the bus to MGM but for some reason the bus never showed up! So that was weird, so we went to Epcot instead and went on the Soarin' ride -it was awesome! And definitely worth the 40min wait. Its a paragliding motion master type ride, really well done :) The lights around the Epcot ball and the fountains etc were also pretty to see. We didnt have time to check out the World Showcase (they have a showcase of 11 countries - each country has its own little restaurant etc with people from the actual countries working there) as Epcot shut at 8pm. Overall it was an awesome day & im glad Tracey & Jeff and there friends were able to take me to the Magic Kingdom...where dreams really do come true (lalala)! haha.

Birmingham (aka B'ham), Alabaaaama
On Tues morning (Jan 8th) i flew up here to B'ham, Alabama where im currently typing this blog from. And on my flight there was a Kiwi guy! He was sitting near me so got to talk to him a bit and found out he'd just travelled around Europe for 7 months and was doing some travelling around the US before heading back home soon. Funny recognising your own accent being able to hear a bit of what the Kiwi accent must sound like to other people. Its hard to describe.
Anyways im staying with some girls from the missions office at Briarwood, they're really fun to hang with :) Its been good to have a look around Briarwood - it really is a huge building! With all diff sections to it. I've met people from Missions offic, Campus Outreach as well as those involved with the Jr. and Senior High youth. Was able to meet the Pastor's wife (Cindy Reeder) the other night too as i went along with Heather to Cindy's birthday dinner. But it has been really great & a nice surprise to have been able to hang out with Irene :) She's now not coming back home till Feb and she's been coming up to Briarwood a few days each week so i got to see her the last couple days & we went shopping etc. Im hoping to go down to where she's been staying and doing Campus Outreach work at Montevallo Uni. So will see what happens.

Well this has turned into a massive post so will leave it here for now. Will try and put a compilation of pics from my trip thus far in one post.

Monday, December 24, 2007

NM, AZ, NYC & Boston!

Translated that is..New Mexico, Arizona, New York City & Boston. These are all places ive been to over the last week or so - its funny because it feels like i've been in the States a lot longer than 2 weeks since i've packed so much in! So im going to break it down under those place names to catch ya'll up on what ive been up to :)

New Mexico
I stayed with my friend Nicole in a small town called Silver City in the southwest corner of the state of New Mexico. Its a nice little town with some cool shops & Mexican restaurants. Nicole took me to this cute little Mexican restaurant called Jalescos for lunch which was nice. Had proper traditional Mexican food which you just dont get in NZ! They have the best tortilla chips over here which they often serve as an appetizer at Mexican restaurants here. Anyways at this place i had an enchilada taco - tasted great! :) While i was in Silver we also went into Walmart which was cool - so much variety, its a massive store. Think The Warehouse meets Kmart but better quality stuff i think. Altho some say Target has better quality things than Walmart! so i really dunno :P

Anyways we went on our roadtrip my third day in the States, and we went via the Black Hills up to Albuquerque. It was beautiful driving thru the hills - dark trees with heaps of snow on them, it looked really striking. As we were coming out of the hills we saw a coyote! It was standing on the side of the road and just stood there eying us up as we drove by! hehe. But it was still cool to see a live one. Wouldn't want to be anywhere near one though. We stayed at a Holiday Inn at Albuquerque and then went and explored Old Town! :) This quickly became a fave place for me, had such a cool little village full of diff and interesting shops - many of which sold handmade Native Indian jewellery and pottery. There was also a church in the middle of the village that was built in 1706 and has had services ever since then!! Its a beautiful looking church and i took some photos of it - it was often on ABQ postcards in lots of the stores. Albuquerque is also famous for its hot air balloon festival it has at the end of Oct/Nov (i think) each year. While in Old Town we went to another Mexican restaurant which was really nice too. This time i had traditional tacos which were real nice - so filling!

Arizona is the state next door to New Mexico, closer to California side of the country. It is really dry, flat and dusty but has awesome things! From the Grand Canyon to Sedona to Phoenix to things like their cactuses and even the state license plates - they were all cool to see :) Grand Canyon was absolutely awesome!! You really have to be there to grasp how magnificent it really is - words and pictures will never do it justice (hehe as we were entering into Arizona i saw a cool sign that pretty much summed this up - "Take a breather before we take your breath away" & it had the image of the Grand Canyon in the background!) The day we were there was a beautiful day (in fact, the weather during the whole of our roadtrip around NM and Arizona was perfectly blue skies!) and you could see right across most of the canyon. The lady in the gift shop said just the weekend before it was snowy and the visibility really bad at the canyon so im so glad we were blessed with great weather so it could really glow in all its glory. Even though it would have been nice to have visited it in summer, it was good visiting it in winter b/c you could get a park easily (in summer its bumper to bumper up the road to the South Rim) and not be too crowded at the differnet viewing platforms. Plus there were still a fair amount of tourists there to (including a group of Russians and Asians). The South Rim looked so pretty with sprinklings of snow! One of my fave viewpoints was the Grandview Point, which you can stop at if u go east around the South Rim - there was heaps of snow here and it was cool seeing a diff angle to the rim. Also along the way to this particular viewpoint there were several elk (male & females) grazing on the side of the road! we pulled over (as did most others) and took photos from the safety of the car. Got some really great shots and they didnt seem to be too disturbed at all - they barely glanced at the cars. It was great seeing and being able to appreciate the elk in daylight, but it sure isn't fun coming across them at nighttime! On the way up to Grand Canyon National Park (we stayed at a place just outside the park) it was pretty dark since we left Flagstaff (the nearest town) after dinner. As we were going along we suddenly this movement not very far in front of us and had to slam on the brakes very nearly hitting this elk! Then we saw a whole lot loitering near the side of the road heh. So we took it real slow and careful as we carried on but we made it there safely.

On the way back from the Canyon we stayed the night in Flagstaff which is a nice little town nestled in the mountains. It is situated at quite a high altitude - 7,000 feet. On the way from Flagstaff to Phoenix the following day we went via Sedona as so many people we'd bumped into had told us to go see Sedona. It is a little mountain resort town nestled in the hills (but much lower down) and has great shops. I was surprised to see some trees still had colour in their leaves even while there was snow in the background! But it made it look even prettier. We had a look at the shops all along the main street and had lunch there too (yep at another Mexican place, except this one prob wouldn't be quite as traditional as the others we went to).

Following this we spent 2 days in Phoenix at this lady Suzy's place. She's a family friend of Nicole's family and is lovely and has a beautiful house too. She lives in a gated retirement village community which has its own community hall, big golf course etc etc. And all the residents have golf carts! Suzy let us drive her golf cart around the village which was fun :) always wanted to drive one hehe. Hers was all decorated with Christmas lights as they'd had a competition for the best decorated golf cart. We also went and did a bit of shopping in Sun City West (western Phoenix) and went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner - the first place i've been served by people who didn't have American accents hehe. The food was good. The next day we went to Suzy's friends Christmas party thingy for a little bit and it was here that I finally got to try some real lemonade - it was so funny, they were all shocked about how back in NZ we consider Sprite and 7Up to be lemonade! So they wanted to rectify that quickly and introduce me to the real thing. Have to admit, took me awhile to get used to it not having bubbles but it was nice tho and reminded me a bit of lemon cordial. Kinda thick in its texture.

On the way out of Phoenix we stopped at this awesome Swedish furniture store they have here called IKEA. It sells really good quality stuff for really reasonable prices :) Im even thinking about ordering some stuff online hehe.

Then we got to Tucson and went to a shopping mall (first mall i went to here) and had a look around and i bought some things from Bath & Body Works and Aveda (Nicole's fave makeup/body store). Then we went to this place Applebees for dinner - was good food here too :)

Then on the 18th (the following day) i flew over to Hartford, CT. So overall i really enjoyed being in the southwest (NM and Arizona) - the weather was awesome and Phoenix in particular felt most like Auckland temperature wise - pretty moderate and not cold at all! Oh yeah and i saw a ton of those famous cactuses too! They are all over the show - in people's gardens, along the road...even in the median strip island things in roads!

New York City
New York, New York! So cool to finally get to the Big Apple and see all the famous sights and sounds you see and hear in movies! In the two days we were ther (19th and 20th), me & Alisa managed to pack in a lot :) We were fortunate enough to be able to stay at her flute teacher's place in Upper West Side, it overlooked the Hudson River. We did A LOT of walking around NYC (it is not a city for those don't like walking heaps!) but it was the best way to get a feel for the city and get a picture of the multicultural fabric of the city. The first day we were there we managed to score half price tickets to a play at Broadway! We saw August: Osage County which has received rave reviews from all the big critics and we both really enjoyed it :) Then we went and had a look around Times Square and did some shopping. Then we went to Carnegie Hall and were stoked to be able to get tickets for only $20 to see Handel's Messiah! We were seated waaaay up in the heavens of the auditorium (beautiful decor inside!) and i think i had a touch of vertigo as i sat down and looked all the way to the stage. It felt like if i stood up and tripped over i would fall all the way down to the bottom hehe. But i got used to it and the choir and orchestra did an awesome job. Was mine and Alisa's first time hearing Handel's Messiah in its entirety. The next day we walked around Fifth Ave and past Central Park etc. I went up the Empire State Building which was awesome - really great views and it really helped me get my bearings for the city. I was so glad i did the audio tour which is where u pay a bit more to get this walky talky type phone that has this fictional native New Yorker Tony who speaks to you on it as you walk around the viewing platform. At different points of the platform are numbers so u just put in the number at each point. There was about 6 of these points all up taking in the different views of the city: North/NW, West, Southwest, South, South/SouthSE, East, and North/NE. It was also cool because you found out little tidbits about the city such as where the Titanic was supposed to have berthed. Oh yeah while i was in the gift shop up there i came across another Kiwi girl! We were both looking at the fridge magnets when i noticed she had a NZ flag patch thingy on her backpack. So i asked her if she'd been to NZ and she was like 'Im from NZ, im from Wellington!' hehe :) so that was cool. Anyways after i'd been up there (Alisa didnt go up coz she'd done that the last time she was in NYC), we went past Rockefeller Centre, Ground Zero (there wasnt much here but it was good looking at the memorials tho and you could see they'd started work on laying the foundations for the Freedom Tower to be completed by 2010), Statue of Liberty (we took the free(!) commuter ferry boat to Staten Island which goes by it hehe), SoHo and Greenwich Village. So it was an awesome two days and we were so tired by the end of it - mostly our shoulders from carrying our schoolbags and other bags!

I really liked Boston, went and saw it yesterday (22nd) and me & Alisa walked the Freedom Trail which was fun :) It is red brick line that takes you past all the really historical parts of Boston eg the cemetry where Ben Franklin's parents lie & Paul Revere, Boston Gardens (with the duck statues! its a mother duckling with her ducks), Paul Reveres house, Boston waterfront (where Boston Tea Party occurred) etc. There was a ton of snow around and it got quite cold as night set in but we stil had fun tho and managed to get some really arty looking pictures of various buildings.

I'm now currently typing this from my friend's place in Philly (Philadelphia). But i'd better sign off for now as its getting more on Philly later. Merry Christmas everyone!! xox

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hello from the USA!

Well i made it here safely :) Had a pretty good flight over - loooong tho. Got sick of being cramped heh but I managed to get a few hours sleep which was good & am not feeling too jet lagged - the No Jet Lag pills seemed to have worked which is great! :)

Flew into beautiful weather in LA - blue blue skies with not a cloud in sight & I also spied quite a few palm trees right next to the airport. What struck me though as we flew into LA was just how populated and sprawling it is - barely a square inch of green with no buildings! So i can understand more clearly why hardly any people like living in or near LA heh. Anyhow got thru immigration & customs fine, the only problem was the lines which made it take a little while to get thru. Which also meant that i just missed out on being able to check in for my connecting flight to Tucscon, Arizona as i got to the counter past the 45min cut off (they're really ruthless about that cut off!). Fortunately the lady was able to put me on the next flight out to Tucson which was 6 hours later. So i managed to while away the time writing in my diary and reading etc. But have to say I wasn't too impressed with LAX - its a pretty inhospitable airport in terms of facilities. No eating areas and barely any seating outside of security areas. I was expecting at least a McDonalds to be on the outside but nope. Auckland International Airport would leave it for dead like that! But everyone that I talked to there and here (in NM) are real friendly & helpful :) My friend picked me up from Tucson and then we drove 3 hours back to her place here in New Mexico. Along the way we nearly hit a skunk! All i saw was a big black & white thing crossing the road heh. Apparently they come in different sizes and this was a fairly large one that we saw. I'm still getting used to being on the other side of the road - still have to think twice about which side of the car I need to sit on! heh) and also their money and prices etc. Their prices don't include tax so thats a bit annoying. Haven't had to tip anyone just yet though. Went to a Mexican place for lunch today which was realy nice - had an enchilada taco :) One cool thing about the food places in the States is that its not just big food chains like KFC, Wendys, BK, McDonalds etc like we might think - theres little restaurants that are unique to different towns and states.

So now i'm sitting here typing this from Silver City, New Mexico :) Its a little town of about 10,000 people but it has a reasonable amount of shops etc. Heaps of people here drive pick up trucks (oversized utes basically) as quite a few people have ranches etc. I went to Walmart for my first time today and it was pretty cool - so much variety here in everything! You can get large size in pretty much anything too - from lollies to even toilet paper!

Tomorrow (Wed here) me & Nicole are heading off on our roadtrip thru New Mexico and Arizona which includes goin to Albuquerque (a pretty historic place) and of course the Grand Canyon! So i'm excited about all that :) Oh yeah Nicole was telling me that part of Transformers - the desert scenes that are meant to be set in Kuwait - were actually filmed right her in New Mexico at this place called White Sands. So thats pretty cool :) NM seems to be gettin more popular as a filming destination.

Well i better leave it here for now, will probably blog again at the end of this week just before I head off to visit Alisa :)

Take care,

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blog Revival!

Hey all,

Well well well, its been awhile since i last posted! Anyways thought i'd just let ya know that i have added reason to kickstart this blog again as i head off on my US trip a week today :) I leave 10th Dec. Will try and post as much as I can while im over there :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Importance of Family

Just came across this quite interesting article on the Ministry of Social Development's website, while I was researching an essay topic for my Geography paper (which is on international migration, not family). I only skim read a bit of bit but yeah check it out. I think it will come in handy as a reference for when I write an essay for my Sociology paper - we have several topics to choose from and im doing mine on the Family. We have to find an article on the NZ Herald website between May 06 and April 07 that relates to issues surrounding the family in some way eg the anti-smacking bill. But we also have to argue it from a sociological perspective heh.

Anyway better get back to the research, oh the joy...