New Year's Revelations

Welcome back! Happy New Year! Etc.! Hope you all had a nice break. I had a wonderful holiday. It was interesting on so many different levels. Let me describe the ways:

Virtual reality
We made the decision to stay on Campus over the holidays. SFP now has a new nickname in our household – it’s called “the twilight zone”. My son got into the habit of running around the corridors screaming like a banshee because there was no one around to complain. But, for the return price of $10 we did get back to New Zealand for a few hours. I guess you could call it a virtual holiday – we went to see Lord of the Rings. And, since Christmas is a time to go home and see friends and family it made me quite homesick. As the movie was filmed exclusively in New Zealand, I got to see all my old favorite places – the awesome South Island mountain ranges became the Misty Mountains, the volcanic plateau with Mount Tongariro was Mordor, the grassy lushness of the North Island was the Shire. I recognized lots of people too. Many of the actors were regulars on New Zealand television. Most of them had acted in our longest running soap opera called Shortland Street; a sort of “ER” meets “Days of Our Lives” (Yes, that is just as frightening as it sounds!). All through the movie I was expecting Dr. Ropata to pop up and say “this elf is too far gone; there’s nothing I can do for him.” As a movie I can really recommend Lord of the Rings – lots of action, lots of great special effects and some serious undertones if you are in the mood for thinking.

But, most importantly, if you look past Saruman’s tower you can almost see my house.

When the world comes to stay
We’ve also been entertaining (the verb, not the adjective). Funny how, if you live at the end of the earth, no one comes to visit. But if you are handily positioned between Europe and the West Coast of the U.S., the whole world drops by. We’ve been playing the game of “how many adults and children can you squeeze into a two bedroom apartment.” The results have been worthy of an undergraduate psychology experiment (or a reality TV program). Certainly, the person who ended up sleeping in the bathroom might be in need of therapy some time soon. But lots of people got to come and see us living the Harvard dream. It is surprising the odd things you realize when you are showing the place off to your friends and relatives. I had forgotten that in the real world no one shovels snow off public footpaths at 8pm on Christmas evening.

An intruder in the house
We’ve survived a long time here without a TV and I haven’t missed it one bit. The evenings were longer, there was more time for reading, talking, cooking. But over the holidays a Panasonic managed to escape from Best Buy and nestled down in the corner of our living room. It now sits resolute and immovable in the corner like a… well, like a large black box really. The reason we allowed this intruder into our midst? Primarily because, over winter, we found the evenings were longer and we’d tired of reading, talking cooking. So if my contributions to this publication dry up it is because I have succumbed to the siren call of Oprah and her daytime television cronies.

It’s a funny old hemisphere where the New Year coincides with winter, snow and ice. Friends back home delighted in asking me what the current outside temperature was. My routine reply was “She’s not tropical.” Oh, how they must have laughed as they ate their freshly barbequed lunches on the beach. Perhaps I should have told them the temperature but omitted the fact it was Fahrenheit and not Celsius.

So welcome back everyone. You may think this article suggests that you didn’t miss much over the holiday break, but that would be wrong. We had a grand time amongst the Hollow Hallowed Halls of Harvard.