Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Talking to Peter & Roni

Hey, all. This is a quick note to let you know that Roni and I are available via Skype pretty much all the time when we are home. Our joint username is 'schmiedeskiwis' and you should be able to reach us pretty much as reliably as via telephone.

For those of you who don't know about Skype, it is a piece of software that allows you to place internet telephone calls for free. The quality is generally on par or superior to telephone, especially if you have broadband. Quality is acceptable even if you only have dial-up Internet access. Please run (don't walk) to and download it.

When you call here, please remember the time difference. Also, we haven't (yet) figured out a good way of accurately setting our status, so it may show us online/idle/whatever regardless of where we actually are. Suffice it to say that, if you ring and we're home, we'll answer. It's a lot like a regular telephone that way :-)

We may eventually switch over to a different internet based phone service, but until that time, Skype works very well.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Happy Queen's Birthday!

Today New Zealand celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's birthday. Her birthday is actually 21 April, but New Zealand celebrates on the first Monday of June. The country enjoys a three day weekend, and there are a few ceremonies held here and there (though there was nothing special going on here in Wellington).

The nation-wide excitement that happens on the Queen's Birthday is the Queen's Birthday Honours list. This is a list that the Queen comes out with to acknowledge those New Zealand citizens who contribute to New Zealand's culture and society. You can see some of the recipients here:

As far as I can tell, most people use the weekend a lot like Americans use the President's Day weekend: make home improvements, take skiing trips, visit family, go shopping, etc. One of the main differences is that here, any business that chooses to stay open on a public holiday like this has to pay their employees holiday pay. This means that restaurants will tack a 15% surcharge to your meal (a very fair thing to do, I must say), and some stores and shops choose to close in order to avoid the added operational costs. So it's a crap shoot as to what's open and what isn't. We spent the day in classic kiwi style: we went shopping for furniture for the new apartment and went out for lunch. After all, it's our new patriotic duty. :)