Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011 (Wellington, N.Z.)

BETWEEN A RUCK AND A HARD PLACE: We entered the world of rucks, locks and grubbers tonight when we saw our first 15-man rugby game at Wellington's Westpac Stadium, joining an agonized crowd who watched the hometown Hurricanes lose a close one to the first-place Auckland Blues, 17-11. (That's the Canes in yellow, above.)
The game was complete with lightly-clad cheerleaders, who danced in the 14-degree (C) dampness (right) before a stadium that was much less than half full.
While nursing a shocking 11-9 lead in the second half, one of the Canes was sent off the field for spearing, leaving the home team one man short. (According to a news report, this allowed the Blues to start "purposely focusing on the fringe of the ruck"--huh???). That also led to a 3-point penalty kick and a subsequent 5-point try. Too bad for the home team, which came tantalizingly close to pulling even.
One Cane lost the ball when he dove for a try in minute 51; another was denied at the goal line by the "TMO" in the final seconds. (Here's a play-by-play account.)
One of the key items that helped us navigate our way through the match was the "cheat sheet" provided by Cambridge Associates' Eugene Snyman, who oversees the Sydney office. In this he lists all the positions for a 15-player team. Some of it is legible. Nowhere did he explain "TMO." It is the Television Match Official, similar to the NFL's video reviews that confirm or overturn an official's call.

SUSHI DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE: A visit to the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) brought us face to face with a former denizen of the deep.
The beast (above) is the centerpiece of the Colossal Squid Exhibition. It brings to mind an expression that's roughly equivalent to "all bark, no bite." This image shows that this situation is the opposite of the expression, "All ink, no squid." Not sure how many this could serve at a sushi bar.
One exhibit dealt with earthquakes and volcanoes (a hard-to-miss topic of interest here). There's lots of information on the earth's plates, crust and core. Visitors are challenged to lift an iron rock. Here, the iron is cast to look like a meteorite. Iron is one of the heaviest types of rock on Earth. The weight surprised Sandy (right). The museum is free. Children seemed to be enjoying it immensely. It's considered a must-see in Wellington. I concur.

REMEMBERING: I wandered over to the National War Memorial here. The tower (right)--complete with a full-throated carillon--was dedicated in 1932--with World War One in mind, with a nod to the South African war, too, I suspect. Little did they know how much more memorializing would be needed. Inside, a gentleman described some World War Two experiences to some seemingly rapt students (above). Outside sits the tomb of New Zealand's Unknown Warrior. Very understated and very dignified.

CRANES CAN BE WATCHED ANYWHERE, ANYTIME: I'm unable to maintain the Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator, but I can provide a Wellington Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator. This morning, two cranes visible from the top floor of the hotel were DOWN, loading/unloading a large NYK ship. (The photo at right shows the cranes in the inactive UP position on late Thursday afternoon. Note the weather change.) It can be stormy here.

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