Friday, January 21, 2005

The beginning of the blizzard...


This is how things started to look from my apartment balcony earlier last night...


as the snow began to fall...




...and this is the scene I woke up to this morning.


This is actually one of those raised garden areas, however the snow all but reaches the top of the brick wall.


... but atleast the sun is shining. :-)


... and I love the way the sidewalks are constantly poughed so that they are always spotlessly clear of snow!


Here's the view from the steps leading out of my apartment building



Thursday, January 20, 2005

The flight from Kansas City to Cincinnati

Here are some photos of my flight between KC and Cincinnati last Saturday night, which show a few of the after affects of last week's flood in the State of Ohio (as well as my approach and landing into Cincinnati).

The first time I flew into the city it was dark and foggy, so there wasn't much of a photo opportunity... :-)


Some residual flooding of the Ohio River up State...


Flying over one of the townships on the river, somewhere between Kansas City and Cincinnati...


...Isn't the river a yummy brown colour after all that rain?? :-)


The outer suburbs of Cincinnati as the plane approaches the airport...


Landing into Cincinnati

Monday, January 17, 2005

Welcome back to Cincinnati, the place of action and adventures??!!

I arrived back into Cincinnati on Saturday night, feeling all relaxed and calm after a great five days in Kansas City with my friend Renee. That was until I read the great big notice on the message board downstairs saying:

"CRIME ALERT - ARMED ROBBERY IN NEIGHBORHOOD:

At approximately 7:45PM Wednesday January 12, 2005, a male resident of Calhoun Hall was confronted on Calhoun Street by one male subject who produced a handgun and demanded that the student give him his wallet and the property he was carrying."

Okay ... well, I'm just glad I was in Kansas City on Wednesday night. :-)

THEN - this morning, someone in the building obviously figured it would be nice to cook themselves a fry-up breakfast, being a public holiday and all. Thanks to them, I can now add an apartment block fire emergency to my list of experiences, hahaha!

I awoke to screaming fire alarms and a voice-recorded message booming "an emergency has been detected, please leave the building". I was okay with that for the first 5 seconds or so, knowing that fire alarm testing most likely happens occasionally ... except then I started to hear the fire truck sirens as the engines approached campus.

AAARGHHH!!!!

I'm still lying in bed at this stage (trying the hell to wake up and think properly!) when I suddenly remember I'm on the 9th floor of this building, I don't actually know where the stairwell is, and I've still got to get dressed yet!!! (I also broke all the rules and packed my little backpack with a few things I didn't want turned into charcoal. :-D)

That was a couple of hours ago now. I can still smell some of the burnt toast in the corridors.

Geez, if it's not walking into an armed robbery at a bank, it's gun weilding wallet snatchers, or freaking apartment fires down the hall!!!!

...I guess this morning's episode was ONE way of meeting all of the 3769 neighbours living in my building... :-)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Frozen fields from the air...

As I flew out of Kansas City yesterday, I took some photos of the "frozen wonderland". :-) The airport sits in the middle of farmland about 45 minutes from the centre of KC. These pictures give a much better view of just how icy it really is over here in the midst of winter.













Friday, January 14, 2005

Kansas City...

I've been in Kansas City, Missouri, for four days now - and I now know what minus 21 degrees celcius feels like.

It hurts, haha!

I went outdoors yesterday, WITH my thermal gloves on, and within 5 minutes my fingers were ice blocks that I could no longer feel. Once I got them indoors again they started to "burn" and it took three hours before the tingling stopped. I wonder if that's the start of frostbite???

Anyway, the silly thing is that it was a totally clear and sunny day. Below are some of the photos I managed to take before my fingers completely seized up and I could no longer push the little button, ha!

You can see how nice a day it looks. It doesn't exactly appear to be all that menacing or death-defyingly cold?! But I guess that's why people can die out there in no time at all if they get themself stuck unprepared, or if they are easily fooled by its sunny appearance.

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of central Kansas City. It wasn't worth losing any of my fingers over... :-)


One of the many sculptures that just happen to sit alongside the walkways...


One of the fountains in the middle of Brush Creek


See that funny white thing coming down off the underside of the bridge? It's actually a really long icicle that has formed through a crack in the road above!


Walking through the park that leads to Brush Creek


Brush Creek (which is actually an elaborate storm water overflow that has kind of become a water feature with fountains, as it makes its way through the city).


Some of the buildings along Brush Creek


Another fountain in the creek! :-)


The very outer edge of the Plaza section of the city...


Another one of the parks





Sunday, January 09, 2005

FLOOD ALERT!!!

...It stopped raining for long enough this afternoon to wander downtown and take a peak at the developing flood in Cincinnati!

At this stage, the Ohio River is approximately four feet above what is supposed to be the "official" flood level. There is more to go, however, with peak levels not expected to arrive until later on Tuesday.

Goodness knows what state the river will be in by then...?! :-)


The Ohio River bursting its banks...


...I'd be moving my car if it was me...! :-)


Underneath those flagpoles are supposed to be some seats!


And you can see how the River is creeping into the recreation area...


... And that house in the middle of the picture? It's supposed to be on dry ground. :-)

Friday, January 07, 2005

My first week in the "Queen City" Cincinnati...

I arrived in Cincinnati on Sunday night, so it has been a rather mad week of settling into my apartment, registering at the university, meeting and getting to know all the staff at the Law School, getting my ID card, sorting out my externship placement downtown at the Hamilton County Appeal Courts Mediation Department, and figuring out how to navigate my way around campus without getting myself lost amongst the concrete jungle of cranes and construction sites. They are doing quite a bit of new building at the moment, but I am sure it will all look just fantastic in, arhhh, 2006?! :-)

I've also been introduced to a handful of Law students who happen to be around campus at the moment, before the flood gates open and everyone arrives for the start of the semester on the 18th. There is even one girl who lives in the apartment block next door, who has been to NZ twice, and spent one of her trips there living in Christchurch!! How cool is that?! Someone who understands me, hahaha!

As well as that kind of thing, I've been figuring out how to do grocery shopping without a car in a suburb that doesn't have much in the name of a supermarket(!) - and opening a bank account whilst holding the door open for the bank robber, hahaha. (I was just being polite ... how was I supposed to know that I was actually holding the door open for the nice thief to run out of the building? :-) Luckily the police weren't too far behind, so I didn't unwittingly cause a massive armed defenses squad call out or anything, and the entire suburb didn't have to be cordoned off - fortunately. (I did wonder about leaving my money in there though...)

Another fascinating discovery this week has been that NO-ONE in this "free" country can buy a mobile phone, even a cheap-as-chips prepay one, without a social security number!!! I've been trying all the companies all week, but no. Nothing but a social security number will suffice.

So, today's mission was queueing downtown at the Department of Social Security to put in my application. They said that the number can take anything up to 90 days to arrive, so, add in a delay or two, and who knows when I will get one. :-)

Apart from that, Cincinnati has been on high flood alert all week - the result of torrential rain that has been pouring down every day, and last week's snow melt draining into the river. The Ohio River (which flows through the centre of Cincinnati a bit like the Avon River does in Christchurch, only a whole lot wider!) is getting ridiculously full. Basically overflowing. And the peak water level is not even supposed to be reached until next Tuesday!

Two things are good about that: (1) the fact that I live on the 9th floor of my apartment building, which just also happens to be situated up on a hill ... and (2) that I fly out of Cincinnati first thing Tuesday morning anyway, to go and spend five days in Kansas City, Missouri. :-)

So I think I will get to miss the mess - what a shame. :-) Just like I got to miss last week's big snowfall (woohoo!) which is one of the main culprits for this upcoming disaster, and how I got to miss this week's horrendous ice storm in Kansas City before I fly there next week when the temperatures are supposed to be all balmy again! (An "ice storm" is a particular type of meteorological event that just does not happen in NZ - where the air temperature in the upper atmosphere is really hot, the ground temperature is below freezing, rain pours out of the sky and literally freezes instantly to whatever it lands on. It ends up looking quite bizarre, and is definitely very unfriendly to any kind of air OR ground travel, ha!) Come to think of it, I also missed the big freeze in Chicago before I arrived, AND the big freeze that they happen to be going through right now. :-D I've been very lucky.

By the time I return to Cincinnati on Saturday 15th, everything should have subsided.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Chicago Museum

On Sunday (my last day in Chicago) we all went and whiled away a good five hours of the afternoon in the local museum. :-)

Needless to say it is massive, and we only saw about 1/8th of all that was on display. Everyone was unanimous though on seeing the Egyptian display (yay! ... always my favourite!) so that is where we spent most of the afternoon.

Below are a selection of photos of just a few of the mummies and ancient artifacts that were out. I also took a liking to the bronze sculpture of the lions ... and couldn't resist photographing the largest white tiger ever to have existed in recorded history. :-)


Dad, this one's for you! :-)


A huge bronze lion-and-lioness sculpture


The biggest white tiger on record to have lived


Ancient limestone sarcophagus heads


A young Egyptian child, mummified.


Another Ancient Egyptian mummy...


Some Ancient Egyptian wall scribings


A mummy amongst other Ancient Egyptian artifacts

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Photos of New Year's Eve in Chicago...


When the band dragged Kathy, me and Angie up on stage to sing...


Happy New Year!! :-)


A group shot of all of us ... Shag (Kathy's partner) Kathy (Jake's sister) Dave, me, Jake and Angie


Me and Angie


Dave and Angie