The package from my family arrived with a much-welcomed array of goods. There was a veritable bounty of shelf medications like allergy medicine, cold/flu liquid tablets, motion sickness pills, and pain relief pills which would have been a fortune here or not available. This would have been enough on its own, but there were also some Christmas gifts and food from home which we enjoyed.
We also received our IRD numbers from the government so they can take out taxes. Yay. If there's anything to be excited about here, it is that one of my favorite numbers is the last two digits.
I made a goal of finishing all six Dune books before the year ended, and so I wrapped up the sixth book on December 30th, just in time. Reading them all together in a short time period meant that I could notice changes in style, character development, themes, and other things which was nice. Now comes the harder part of synthesizing all of my observations into the PhD proposal. Basically, I have to outline what my argument will be and what each chapter of the paper will focus on. I also have to provide a literature review, meaning an analysis of what has been written about the topic so far and what I think I will do to improve upon current research.
I also just finished 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) yesterday. It was not what I was expecting and seems a bit out-dated now that we have so much more information about our solar system than we did then. There were virtually no women in it, and it got really weird at the end. I continue to be surprised by how different the short classics are from Dune. The lack of world-building is so apparent, and the intent and goals of the writers seem to be very different.
We had a nice New Year's Eve with a live music concert in the central park sponsored by the city council. There were country, rock/funk, and Celtic bands who provided good music and energy to ring in the new year. There is an interesting tradition of having the "archwizard of Canterbury" cast a spell for the new year. He seems to be an equivalent to our old Father Time. There was also a sweet fireworks show right above our heads - the closest I've ever been to fireworks. Debris was even raining down on our heads!
D's jalapeno plant on the porch finally has some peppers ripening red. It has been fun to watch them grow and hopefully they are worth the wait.
We took a day trip to Akaroa, which is about 90 minutes south of Christchurch. It was a nice drive and a cute town, although it was overrun by tourists from the docked Princess Cruises ship. It was quite hot out, so we had a packed lunch in the shade and checked out the farmer's and craft markets. We also visited the Barrys Bay Cheese factory which still makes cheese the old-fashioned way. We watched workers spiking big cheese rounds with long metal sticks which will leave air holes and create the blue veins in blue cheese. D bought some 6-year aged cheddar cheese and garlic cheese. Both are good, and the aged cheddar is super intense!
|strange "field" of trees on a bare hillside|