Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beijing Bound

I am off to Beijing tomorrow. I am meeting my good friend Stephen from Scotland and we are spending a week at the Olympics. I am really looking forward to the experience having had a keen interest in the games since 1976. One of the fun things is that SPARC (the New Zealand Sports Council) have asked me to be an online correspondent. I will be using Twitter to send short "tweets" each day on what I am experiencing. You can read this at http://beijing.sparc.org.nz/ or http://twitter.com/nigel_pollock if you join twitter.com which is free you can follow my updates that way or as a RSS feed. For the more technically challenged I have added a link on the right.

We bought our tickets from a number of different sources. A few of them were lost in the online ticketing scam. This was a fraudulent web site that took $60 million. An Australian IT expert was interviewed the day the story broke. He works in online fraud investigation and is an expert in the field but he had spent several thousand dollars on the site. He described it as the best scam he had seen. We should not lose any money and have not been as badly hit as many.

The site was well laid out but was helped by being recommended in Forbes Magazine and on MSNBC and was number one on google for Olympic Tickets for 11 months. It raises interesting questions about what and who you can trust. I felt especially bad for the families of athletes who lost tickets. You can't really put a price on lost experiences and broken dreams. I am really excited to be going and glad that we have tickets in place. I am sure I will learn a lot.

On a sporting front nearer home the hockey season is in full swing. Jamie's Wellington Bears U13 Rep Team is unbeaten so far. He was down in Blenheim at the weekend and scored his first goals. The Hutt P1 team which I coach and Jamie plays for is improving and is on course for the play offs. The St Marks 1st X1 is also unbeaten and had a great result last week against Hadlow in the Wairarapa. I am coaching the Wellington Bruins U13 Development Team and we have a lot of work to do but there are glimpses of what could be. I have a great manager Vicki working with me at Hutt and Wellington which makes a huge difference. Luke's U15 Wellington College Team and Craig's Hutt P3 Development Team are having mixed fortunes but they are both having fun.

Some of the boys were excited to see an Olympic Gold Medal from Montreal where NZ men won in 1976.

The weather has been absolutely shocking. There have been over 20 landslips in Wellington. The wind and rain have been battering the whole country. Luke played the match after this. Vaughan Roberts from Oxford was in the country this week and commented that the only time he was not cold was when he was in bed.

We have not been immune from the weather and have had a bad leak in our roof which will require some of the ceiling being replaced. The picture is a bit like our lounge wall was but with a little more water!

Liz Watson, our Communications Manager and my PA left this week in advance of heading to Nepal with her husband Matt for a couple of years. She has been a big help and we will miss them both. The good news is that the long awaited new TSCF website has gone live. There is much still to be added but I am delighted that progress is finally being made. We are also starting to make good progress on Graduate Work in NZ and PNG which is exciting.

Ollie and Emma passed through on their way from Argentina to visit Ben and Jen. I was in the UK but the boys were pleased to meet baby Seth. Ben is speaking at a mission in Christchurch this week.

Ailsa has been cycling when it has been dry and holding the fort. two American girls have just arrived to work with the church for a year and she has been asked to handle their supervision. They are called May and Holmes and were here for the first time today.

I am in the process of writing a major think piece reflecting on my observations from the first two and half years in New Zealand. I have been encouraged to capture these reflections while I can but it is not easy condensing 30 months into 2,000 words and whenever you go beyond "it is a very nice country with friendly people" you run the risk of causing offence.

It was great being in Scotland en route from Singapore to the US and a real encouragement being at Davidsons Mains and the PPT Board Meeting. Although it is amazing how quickly things change. I am sure when we lived in Scotland that you could not buy a choice of Polish paper.

We are all planning to visit in December for 3 weeks over Christmas. Which we are already starting to look forward to and should give us a all a chance to do a bit more of this kind of thing!

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