23 December 2008

Christmas Bonus


My Apple experience just got better. I received a iPhone for my Christmas bonus yesterday. It is simply awesome.

16 December 2008

Away in a Manger


I often think of the first day we saw Ari. It was in this humble Fale deep in the jungle. I think of the Savior being born in similar surroundings. It really helps bring the real spirit of Christmas.

Christmas Girl


Ari and Uncle Lu



In Samoa Lu was Ari's very favorite next to Kel. After 2 years the bound is still there. We had Lu over for dinner and found out that he and Ari are blood cousins.

Nine Predictions for 2009

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
⎯ Viktor E. Frankl



The reality of the coming year is that the precipitous decline in the economy will create a collective pause; a “space” of epic proportions for organizations and individuals. Yes, it will be unpleasant for many. But it will also be an opportunity in disguise for those willing to seize the moment.

#1 The Earth will complete its 584 million mile, 67,000 mph trip around the Sun without incident.
I know, that’s a pretty lame kick-off prediction. But think about those numbers for a minute. We’re all outgrowths of a living mass that is rocketing through space around an enormous ball of fire. Does that make any sense to you? Me either. So stop trying to figure it all out. Stop trying to protect yourself from an unknowable future and instead be a connected and passionate part of the here and now.
“What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.”⎯ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

#2 Many things will change, but many people will not.
Most of us will be doing, thinking and feeling more or less the same things this time next year as we are now. If you don’t want that sameness, grab yourself by the collar and yank yourself off of that comfortable, well-worn path and onto the one less traveled by you. Let go of your past and grab onto your future. Because while you’re waiting for that grand insight to point you in the right direction, the beauty of life is flying right on by.
“Withoutchange, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”⎯ Frank Herbert

#3 Most people will sit quietly in their seats and watch life unfold around them.
A recent New Yorker magazine cartoon made it comically clear: There’s a lot that we all want to experience, but not much that we actually want to do. Most of us simply want to go along to get along and enjoy the ride. Well, the ride is slowing to a crawl. And when it starts back up, it’ll be a much different ride. What kind of ride? The best way to know that is to put yourself in charge of creating it. Grab the wheel and get moving. Let the pull of what excites you and what you care most deeply about be your guide.
“The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” ⎯ Robert Frost

#4 A lot of people and businesses will fail.
That’s the unfortunate nature of life. You try something, it doesn’t work. You try something different, it works. If it works big, people copy you (or steal it). You try something new, failure again. If you’re trying, if you’re living, you will fail. So what? Live a life of no regrets. Seize this opportunity to learn and grow and experience, while everyone else snuggles deeper into their comfy routines.
“He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great.” ⎯Herman Melville

#5 Many “friends” will be lost and many new ones made.
Social networks are all the rage today: MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, Twitter and Plaxo, as well as the many recurring real world gatherings. And indeed, they can be great ways to stay connected and to gain attention. But many of the people who have “friended” you through these groups did so for a reason; their reason. And once that reason goes away, so will they. Don’t sweat it. Keep connecting. Keep reaching out and sharing with people with similar interests and beliefs. But also, spend more slow and deep time with your family and your true friends; those who accept and care about the real you, not the social status you.
“In prosperity,our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.”⎯ John Churton Collins

#6 The passionate will not only survive, they will thrive.
What’s bugging you? Whatever it is, for your sake⎯and for those unwilling or unable to change⎯do something about it! That’s the key to growth and success. The inventor David Levy referred to it as the curse effect: “Whenever I hear someone curse, it’s a sign to invent something.” Well, perhaps that someone is you and that “cursing” is resonating between your ears. If so, don’t let it irritate you and drain your life and passion. Use it to fuel you and drive you forward. The future belongs to those unwilling to accept the stifling status quo; to those who stay puzzled, excited, frustrated and surprised.
“Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” ⎯ Peter Drucker

#7 Success will go to those with the best questions, not those with the cleverest answers.
Do you know the definition of an expert? An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing? And a generalist? A generalist, like so many afflicted with digital A.D.D., is someone who knows less and less about more and more until he knows absolutely nothing about everything. Successful people know that they’ll never know enough, especially about what really matters. So, they pay attention. They catch on and refocus rapidly. They never stop trying and learning. They’re driven by the questions, by their desire to understand and to change things.
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”⎯ Mark Twain

#8 Execution is the new strategy.
E.L. Doctorow wrote, “Planning to write is not writing.” Here’s the funny thing: Writing is not writing. It’s editing. You’re really not sure where you’re going until well after you’ve begun; until you’ve put pen to paper (or type to page). And then, the work unfolds in unpredictable and mysterious ways. Sure, vision and planning are important. But with the accelerating pace of change in today’s world, the important insights are more likely to come through doing and editing, than through speculating and strategizing.
“Change will lead to insight far more often than insight will lead to change.”⎯ Milton H. Erickson

#9 Making a difference will trump making a buck.
Walt Disney’s mantra was, “I don’t make movies to make money. I make money to make movies.” What about you? Why do you make money? Think really hard and long about that simple question. If you’ve been putting off being passionate about your work in order to make a lot of money, now may be the time for you to make a change. Why? Because the business of making money simply to make more money is quickly coming to an end. The future is not in making a buck; it’s in making a difference.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”⎯ Winston Churchill

The great Danish physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr wrote, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” But, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Edna St. Vincent Millay, reminds us, “It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damned thing over and over.” Physics and poetry. Such is the nature of our paradoxical world. Just remember, it’s your future that you have control over, and only you have the power to change that one damn thing.

21 November 2008

This is appropriate after witnessing the MLS Western Conference Championships between RSL and NY Redbulls at Rio Tinto Stadium last Saturday night.


Thanks KDAY

19 November 2008

The edifice complex

Why do banks spend so much money on marble lobbies, high ceilings and yes, $400 million to name a baseball stadium?

Why do marketers buy TV ads that don't increase sales in the short run?

Why have a receptionist and not just a house phone where you can call the person you came to see?

For the same reason that so many people have a green front lawn.

It's organized waste. Profligate spending designed to communicate confidence and just a bit of hubris.

Do you really want to invest money at a bank run by a guy with nothing but a bridge table and a cheap suit? Probably not. At some level, we like the confidence that we get from that big lobby. We are more likely to perk up when the reporter has her cameraman aim a huge black video camera (with lights!) at us, even though the little hand held camera might work just as well...

In times of financial stress and bailouts, the obvious solution (eliminate all the waste!) is not the one that works. In fact, in these times, we're more likely than ever to be nervous about the status of the organization we're working with.

I'd replace the expensive sponsorships and buildings with something more valuable, quicker to market and far more efficient: people. Real people, trustworthy people, honest people... people who take their time, look you in the eye, answer the phone and keep their promises. Not as easy to implement as writing a big check for the Super Bowl, but a lot more effective.

Who are you today?

Patience

"In this age of one hour dry cleaning and one minute fast food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. . . ."When heaven's promises sometimes seem afar off, I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. . . . God will remember you."
Spencer J. Condie

16 November 2008

Sleeping angel

The Shrine



Ari and my office is almost complete. Here is a preview. Thank goodness Ari is a rugby fan!

Ari Attitude

It Doesn’t Matter Who Is President

Whatever your political affiliation, last week every citizen of the United States (and every citizen of the world) saw the American Dream and the American ideal demonstrated firsthand. Americans proved we actually act and deliver on our declarations. We have claimed that America is the land where anyone, from any background, any race, creed or color can achieve anything they set their mind to. President-Elect Barack Obama is confirmation that these promises are indeed true.

It is my belief that it doesn’t matter who is president in regards to how your life works out. The only person responsible for your present reality and your future opportunities is you. Hope, change and the betterment of your future are not dependent upon who lays their head on the pillow in the White House. You have to take responsibility for your own hope. You have to be the creator of your own change. You have to design and act on your own better future. Nobody is going to do it for you, not even the president.

The only person responsible for your present reality and your future opportunities is you.

08 November 2008

A little slice of Heaven


We spent the better part of the day watching 2 International Rugby matches at Real Stadium. The first match was between the USA select XV and the New Zealand Heartland XV. Our boys in Black came out on top. It was an awesome match. The second match was the USA National Team and the Uruguay National team. For the first time since before the World Cup last year the US were victorious. It was indeed a slice of Heaven. And the best part was spending it with my beautiful wife. She was a great sport for enduring 6 hours of Rugby.




video
Fig with some of the Heartland XV.

07 November 2008

As real as it gets!


For all of you out there who live in a CS3(photo shop) world I found this! Enlarge it and look at all the detail. Very cool!

02 November 2008

Halloween 2008

Grandma Cathy
Ari and Grandma Great!
Ari and her cousins!
Our little angel!


video
Some where over the Rainbow!

10 October 2008

"The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing it offers do much more than provide the opportunity for repentance from sins. The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure 'pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,' because our Savior also took upon Him 'the pains and the sicknesses of his people' (Alma 7:11). Brothers and sisters, if your faith and prayers and the power of the priesthood do not heal you from an affliction, the power of the Atonement will surely give you the strength to bear the burden."
Dallin H. Oaks
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity." ~ Charles Mingus, Jazz composer and bassist

27 September 2008


Kia Kaha is Maori for Forever Strong. I often here the question "Why Rugby?" Last night Kel and I saw the movie Forever Strong and it describes why I love Rugby so much. We live in a time when sports is dominated by ego driven jerks. Rugby is a true team sport where for 80 minutes a team has to work together to win. As a Highland Alum I had many friends that played for Highland Rugby. See the movie and you will be forever changed. Kia Kaha!

23 September 2008

Total Saturation with the Savior's Gospel

"We begin the process of being born again through exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, and being baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one having priesthood authority." 'Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life' (Romans 6:4)."And after we come out of the waters of baptism, our souls need to be continuously immersed in and saturated with the truth and the light of the Savior's gospel. Sporadic and shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity. . . ."Total immersion in and saturation with the Savior's gospel are essential steps in the process of being born again."
-David A. Bednar

The last desk you'll ever own.


They call it the “OneLessDesk”. They say it will be “the last desk you’ll ever own”. It’s … quite a desk.

Sleek. Silvery. (Unless you buy the white version.) Made out of solid steel, strong enough to hold two 24 inch flat panels side-by-side, cut from raw sheet metal with lasers, baby.

“Built”, they say, “like an American tank.”

And a steal at just $649.

19 September 2008

Invasion of the i-men

Behold! The i-men. Gareth White of New Future Graphic made them using Photo Booth, some props and a pile of imagination.



12 September 2008

Fig Fam Update

Kel has her own Blog now. Here is a very in detail entry of our comings and goings as of late. The Fig Fam

08 September 2008

Biker Babe


Ari getting ready to go for a ride on my scooter.

Sleeping Beauty



Ari loves to listen to all types of music. When my Ipod comes up missing I usually find it attached to her. On Saturday I found her sacked out on the floor with her giant head phones on.

30 August 2008

Utes Big Win!


Utah quarterback Brian Johnson stood in the Michigan end zone listening to the cheers of Utah's fans and looking at the scoreboard after Utah's 25-23 win Saturday. He was soaking in the atmosphere of what he called his biggest win when he was brought back to reality by a Michigan reporter's question.
"So how does Michigan's defense compare to the ones you face in the WAC," he asked Johnson.
"Nobody knows us, still," Johnson said, shaking his head.
No, apparently not all know that Utah is from the Mountain West, have a great quarterback and one of the toughest defenses in the country. But if the Utes can keep winning games like Saturday's, college football fans all over will soon know about the Utes.
Facing a Michigan team intent to erase the memories of their horrible start of 2007, the Utes instead added to the Wolverines' misery by taking a 25-23 win in front of the usual Michigan Stadium sellout - this one numbering 108,421.
"We knew we had one chance to do this," Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles said. "We have a veteran group and we know how to win."
Michigan's fans packed the Big House well before kickoff expecting their team to know how to win too. They had the leadership of new coach Rich Rodriguez and a highly touted defense, but the Wolverines were missing a key element - a seasoned quarterback
who could run the offense confidently who knew when to run and where to pass.
They needed a quarterback the caliber of Johnson.
Playing injury-free for the first time since the 2007 opener, Johnson finished 21-of-33 for 305 yards, an interception and a touchdown.
Johnson's TD pass was a 19-yarder to Bradon Godfrey with 13 seconds left before halftime.
"This is right up there with the Louisville win," Johnson said, referring to the Utes' 44-35 win over the Cardinals last season. "I'll remember this for the rest of my life."
It could be just the start of a season full of memories for the Utes. They'll probably break into the Top 25 today and showed the potential of meeting all the hype surrounding them. At least for a day, the BCS hopes are alive and well, not that coach Kyle Whittingham wants to hear about it.
"It's not even in our vocabulary," he said. "That is absurd to talk in those terms right now. We have played one good football team and won one on the road which is nice, but we have 11 left."
They still have some improving to do too. As well as the offense moved the ball for most of the game, Utah had trouble getting the ball in the end zone. Luckily the Utes had two other strengths - Louie Sakoda and a seasoned defense. Sakoda kicked field goals of 28, 41, 43 and 53 yards, with the last being the longest of his career. It also put the Utes up 25-10 in the third quarter.
By then the game seemed all but lost for the Wolverines, who had replaced starting quarterback Nick Sheridan with Steven Threet but couldn't find a way to move the ball. Through three quarters the Wolverines had only 26 yards rushing and 126 passing.
To avoid their second season-opening loss in a row the Wolverines needed some sort of game-changing play. It came in the form of a blocked punt on Sakoda.
Michigan recovered on Utah's 33-yard line. On the following play Threet threw a touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway, cutting Utah's lead to 25-17.
Sensing its moment, Michigan's defense played its best series and sacked Johnson on third-and-15. Johnson fumbled and Michigan recovered on Utah's 31-yard line.
The series was one of the few times Utah's defense lost its composure, committing a 15-yard facemask penalty and a 15-yard pass interference penalty that moved the ball inside Utah's 5-yard line. Freshman Sam McGuffie ran the ball in from there, making it 25-23 with 6:26 remaining.
That was plenty of time for the Wolverines to finish off the comeback, only Utah's defense wouldn't allow it. Utah's offense stalled, failing to get a first down on its next three possessions, but the defense wouldn't allow the Wolverines to move the ball either.
The game ended when Utah's R.J. Stanford wrapped up receiver Michael Shaw after a 7-yard gain.
The Wolverines needed more, much more than that, to beat the Utes.

Superb win for Waikato

Waikato looks to have finally found some form and has thrashed Auckland 34-13 in Hamilton in week five of the Air New Zealand Cup.


The home side really stepped up and gave it to the defending champs, picking up a valuable 5 points in doing so and putting its 2008 campaign in good stead.

Waikato ran in four tries to Auckland's two in a game that saw Mooloo All Blacks Sione Lauaki and Stephen Donald truly shine as they dominated all aspects of the game.

Auckland first five-eighths Lachie Munro scored the first points of the evening as he kicked an easy penalty in front of a very local home crowd.

Waikato was straight back on the offensive however and scored a brilliant try through wing Tim Mikkelson on the back of some impressive backline play.

Donald successfully added the extra points as Waikato took the 7-3 lead after 12 minutes.

After having to valiantly defend its tryline, Auckland then ran in a try against the run of play when centre Ben Atiga slid over the line and put Auckland back in front.

A collapsed scrum right in front of the Auckland posts resulted in a penalty and allowed Donald to add three more points and reclaim the lead after 22 minutes of play.

Waikato was looking the far more dangerous of the sides as it chipped away at Auckland and started to create some real pressure.

Big Mooloo No. 8 Lauaki looked to have finally found some form as he threw himself into the game and terrorised the visitors with his outstanding tackle-breaking and ball-running abilities.

Donald was able to show his class when his chip kick and re-gather paid off and he scored Waikato's second of the night.

The 17-8 score remained the same for the res t of the half with Waikato looking confident going into the break.

It took 10 minutes in the second half before Donald slotted another penalty and boosted the points buffer to 12 over the defending champs.

Lauaki then showed all he was capable of when he stole a ball from a ruck and then sprinted down field before passing to second five-eighths Callum Bruce who scored Waikato's fourth of the evening.

Donald kicked the extra two and took the score to 27-8 with just under 30 minutes left in the game.

Munro was able to pick up a crucial try for Auckland in the 68th minute when he was flicked a good pass and used the overlap to score in the corner.

Although time was working against Auckland, the visitors put together some of its best play of the evening in the dying stages of the game.

It was Waikato that had the final say of the night when Lauaki drew a man and passed to lightening quick winger Soseni Anesi who sprinted down the sideline before passing inside to hooker Ole Avei who scored.

Donald converted the try just moments before the fulltime whistle and Waikato claimed its first win in 2008.

Waikato 34 (Mikkelson, Donald, Bruce, Avei; Donald 4 con, 2 pen)
Auckland 13 (Atiga, Munro tries; Munro pen)

28 August 2008

My New Ride


With the price of gas going out of sight and our new move I decided to purchase a scooter to save some money.

05 August 2008

Waikato still positive

Kiwi rugby fans were provided with the first Air New Zealand Cup upset of the year last Thursday when Waikato was downed 18-10 by a spirited Northland side in Whangarei, and was not the only heavyweight side to be toppled by a minnow team in the opening round.


Canterbury was soon beaten 25-24 by Manawatu and defending champions and Ranfurly Shield holders Auckland was beaten 17-6 by a Counties Manakau side that didn't notch up a single win in the 2007 season.

New Waikato first five-eighths Callum Bruce was not at all disheartened by the result and said he and his teammates have taken a lot of positives from the match.

"It ended up just being the simple things that let us down," he said.

"We played the better rugby though. If you look at the stats on possession and territory we were the better team, we just blew it with silly mistakes close to the line."

Although it was clear that Waikato was the dominant team in the match, Bruce admitted that the weather and style of play ended up hugely in Northland's favour.

"The conditions really suited the way they wanted to play, but we have taken heaps from the game and are all looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the season," said Bruce.

"[David] Holwell played really well and was dictating the game with his kicking."

The rest of the season for Waikato begins with the Mooloo's first home game of the season where it will face a solid looking Tasman side.

Tasman went close to beating Bay of Plenty last weekend and showed it is a team that should definitely not be written off, especially in a competition that, so far, has been littered with upsets.

Twenty-five-year-old Bruce said he is aware of the challenges that lie ahead in the Tasman clash and said the team has been preparing in much the same way it did for Northland.

"They have a big forward pack that looked good last week so we will approach this weekend the same way we did last the last game," he said.

Bruce is a recent addition to the Waikato squad and is looking comfortable in his red, black and yellow striped number 10 jersey and said he is glad he made the move.

Bruce was drafted to the Hamilton-based Chiefs Rebel Sport Super 14 team for the 2008 season after playing 22 games for the Highlanders and representing Otago at provincial level in 24 games.

"I'm really enjoying my time with Waikato," he said.

"I had a good season with the Chiefs and obviously that helped my decision to stay and play for Waikato.

"It's a really professional outfit here and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."

Recent talks of a European style trans-Tasman competition that would spell the end for both the Super 14 and Air New Zealand Cup would severely impact players like Bruce who use these competitions as a gateway to higher honours.

New Zealand representative teams such as the All Blacks and New Zealand Maori (who Bruce played for this year) are usually selected from the Super 14, whose players are most often selected from the Air New Zealand Cup.

Bruce said that he hasn't given the proposed format much thought but was confident the right choice would eventually be made.

"I know that whatever decision is made will be the right one for the players," he said.

"I still think we need to stick with something close to the Super 14 though.

"It means that players get to experience rugby at a high level and when they get selected for the All Blacks or whatever it won't be too much of a big step."

All Blacks call in Toeava

Auckland's Isaia Toeava will join the All Blacks squad for the South African leg of the Philips Tri Nations.

Toeava returns to the All Blacks as an injury replacement for fullback Leon MacDonald who is making a gradual return from concussion.

Meanwhile wing Rudi Wulf will not travel to Cape Town as the All Blacks selectors have opted to include three halfbacks in the 26-man travelling squad, a decision that will see Wellington’s Piri Weepu fly out with the team on Friday morning.

Weepu is also set to play in Thursday night’s Air New Zealand Cup match against a North Harbour team that will feature fellow All Black Anthony Tuitavake on the wing.

“Isaia is currently at fullback for Auckland and has played there previously at the international and the Rebel Sport Super 14 level,” said All Blacks coach Graham Henry. “He’s also got the ability to play elsewhere in the backline which is helpful when we are a long way from home.

“Leon is improving, but the medical advice is to take things slowly,” Henry added. “He’ll gradually get back into exercise and then training and then may look to play an Air New Zealand Cup match.”

While Wulf sprained an MCL in provincial rugby last week, he could be able to resume training this week. However, the All Blacks needed to omit a player from the travelling squad, Henry noted, and Wulf’s injury question mark tipped the decision.

Hikairo Forbes - LDS return missionary signs with Waikato

"Hikairo would have played the other day but he became a father on Tuesday and that took precedence," said Hanks, who expressed confidence Forbes would do a good job despite his complete lack of experience at this level. The Hamilton-born 2004 New Zealand Secondary Schools representative has been known for his outstanding mobility and ball-carrying ability since his school days at Church College of New Zealand. (LDS High School located next to the Temple)

"Hikairo is someone who was identified as a schoolboy as someone having potential," Hanks said.

After school, Hikairo went on his Mormon mission. He returned last year. Last November, he joined the Waikato high performance programme, training fulltime under trainer Wally Rifle, playing for Hautapu and earning this week's start. "He and Josh Hohneck have both brought ball-carrying ability to the team and are both also good defenders," Hanks said.

Mark your Calendars

Heartland XV to tour the United States

New Zealand's best heartland provincial rugby players will undertake a tour of the United States in November, the New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed today.

The New Zealand Heartland XV side, selected from players competing in the AA Rewards Heartland Championship, is scheduled to play two games on their first tour of the United States ¬– against a Pacific Coast XV and a USA Select XV.

The final game against the USA Select XV will be played in Salt Lake City, Utah to open the city’s new stadium on 8 November.

NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said the New Zealand Heartland XV side represented the best of the country’s heartland players.

“Selection to this team is recognition for their outstanding performances in the AA Rewards Heartland Championship. The tour to the United States is a fantastic opportunity for these players to represent their country and wear a black jersey.

“At the same time, the tour also underlines the NZRU’s commitment to supporting rugby development in that part of the world. Over the last few years the New Zealand Maori and New Zealand Sevens teams have both played in the United States where rugby continues to grow and we are delighted to contribute to that growth,” he said.

New Zealand Heartland XV match schedule
4 November: Pacific Coast XV in San Francisco
8 November: USA Select XV in Salt Lake City

Waikato 10 - Northland 18


The Mooloo men went down to Northland 18-10 in the opening game of the Air New Zealand Cup held at Okara Park in Whangarei tonight.

Northland had not beaten Waikato since 1999.

Northland led the way in the 80 minute encounter, leading 13- 3 at half time.

Waikato's only try of the night was scored by Sione Lauaki who came off the bench early in the second half. Sosene Anesi unfortunately had a try denied by the Television Match Official ten minutes from full time.

How the Air New Zealand Cup sides shape up

Air New Zealand Cup premiership teams at a glance (* denotes new head coach):

AUCKLAND

NPC Champions: 1982; 84-85; 87-90; 93-96; 99; 2002-03; 05; 07

2007: Champions and Ranfurly Shield holders

Coach: Pat Lam - mid-season replacement to be named

Prospects: Unbeatable last season, it doesn't appear so easy this year. An entire starting line-up has either relocated or retired, a gigantic 619 games worth of provincial experience - and nine All Blacks. Inexperienced first five-eighths Lachie Munro will guide an inexperienced forward pack - Daniel Braid is the solitary All Black - around the park. Coach Pat Lam departs after round five to focus on the Blues, adding a possible impediment to continuity. Will be keen to utilise their three current All Blacks - Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and John Afoa - if and when available.

BAY OF PLENTY

NPC Champions: 1976

2007: 13th

Coach: Kevin Schuler

Prospects: Things are grim off the field, and will struggle to gain break-even on it. The union is battling financially, so much so that head office staff face redundancy after recording a $915,000 loss. Front row bookends Ben Castle and Simms Davison have headed to France, another big loss. Arden David and Joe Savage, bit part players with Wellington B and North Harbour respectively fill those experienced voids. Pivot Murray Williams has drifted to Japan though Highlanders draft player Mike Delaney is an adequate replacement to run a backline bolstered by the acquisition of sevens stars Zar Lawrence and Nigel Hunt.

CANTERBURY

NPC Champions: 1977; 83; 97; 2001; 04.

2007: Beaten semifinalists

Coach: Rob Penney

Prospects: For all the Crusaders' Super 14 dominance, the same success has rarely been replicated by Canterbury in the provincial competition. During the Deans dynasty, Canterbury won the domestic title just twice - coach Rob Penney has his third attempt this year with a squad that appears as well-equipped as any. Despite missing a bevvy of internationals the roster is still laden with experience and in new captain Kieran Read and Stephen Brett they have a couple of All Blacks-in-waiting.

Read has Japan-bound seasoned pro Mose Tuiali'i in a loose trio which sees Hayden Hopgood and George Whitelock lined up as Richie McCaw's understudy.

COUNTIES-MANUKAU

NPC Champions: 1979.

2007: 14th

Coach: Greg Aldous *

Prospects: If there truly is no place like home, then Counties-Manukau should anticipate emerging from the cellar with a new coach, new signings and the security of a solid financial footing. Repositioned back at Pukekohe - for the daytime kick-offs at least - one of the thriftiest unions may be about the reap some rewards. The Steelers have brought in some key personnel. Pivot Tasesa Lavea, front rower Lance Po-ching and national sevens captain DJ Forbes have arrived from Auckland, while former Blues and Highlanders midfielder Romi Ropati is back after an extended OE in Japan, France and Italy. Lelia Masaga is a trump card while fellow wing Frank Halai has been mentioned as the next Jonah Lomu.

HAWKE'S BAY

NPC, second division winners: 1979; 88-90; 2001-03; 05.

2007: Beaten semifinalists

Coach: Peter Russell

Prospects: Will the fairytale continue? Unscripted semifinalists last year, Hawke's Bay have been the real winners since the provincial rugby competition was revamped, freeing them from second division domination. Conquerors of Wellington and Waikato (twice) last year, the Magpies have a similar squad led by the evergreen Danny Lee. Crucially, a select few have had a season of Super rugby under their belts: speedster Zac Guildford, imposing prop Clint Newland, New Zealand Maori hooker Hikawera Elliott and pack workhorse Michael Johnson.

MANAWATU

NPC champions: 1980.

2007: 12th

Coach: Dave Rennie

Prospects: Another province fearful for the future given the competition format is ripe for review, Manawatu can at least point to gradual improvement after they understandably propped up the table in 2006. The Turbos finished 12th last year, the product of a strong work ethic - openside flanker Josh Bradknock personified the collective effort from an undersized pack. Hayden Triggs was recognised with a second Super 14 contract while Johnny Leota joined Highlanders. Argentine fullback Francisco Bosch will add flair from the rear for a third season.

NORTH HARBOUR

NPC: second division winners: 1987.

2007: 9th

Coach: Wayne Pivac

Prospects: After missing the playoffs and surrendering the Ranfurly Shield with barely a whimper, North Harbour have an easy act to follow this season. An unprecedented representation in the All Blacks has a downside as the loss, for however long, of Rudi Wulf, Anthony Tuitavake, Anthony Boric will be keenly felt, as will No 8 Nick Williams' season-ending shoulder surgery. Jimmy Gopperth, on loan from Wellington, and Chris Smylie, back home from Otago, should at least add some stability behind a scrum sure to be tutored wisely by academy coach Craig Dowd.

NORTHLAND

NPC: Second division winners: 1977, 1997.

2007: 10th

Coach: Marc Anscombe

Prospects: Northland will be grateful veterans David Holwell and Justin Collins are available to impart their wisdom to a squad featuring a dozen new faces. The northerly drift has also bit in Whangarei with nuggety halfback Corey Tamou now in France while one-season Crusader No 8 Jake Paringatai is plying his trade in Japan. Daniel Bowden has headed in the opposite direction - to Dunedin, further emphasising Holwell's importance on the paddock. Fetu'u Vainikolo, who made the return journey after an impressive Super 14 debut with the Highlanders, will be expected to provide a fair share of the five-pointers.

OTAGO

NPC Champions: 1991; 98.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Steve Martin

Prospects: By Otago standards the player exodus has been relatively languid for a change. The damage was done last year, to the Highlanders at least, but Steve Martin's side has a settled look to it. Inside backs Callum Bruce and Charlie Hore have departed, while wing Matt Saunders in now a Southlander but promising Northlander Daniel Bowden has struck around since the Super 14 to slot in at first five-eighths. Waikato loose forward Steven Setephano will be anticipating more minutes on the field since his move from flanker-clogged Waikato while wing Lucky Mulipola has been signed from a fracturing Tasman.

SOUTHLAND

NPC: second division winners, 1989; 94; 96.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: David Henderson/Simon Culhane

Prospects: At long last the Stags might have a backline to complement another typically rugged pack. Guilty of being a tad three dimensional in the past - scoring options revolved around a Paul Miller barge, Jimmy Cowan snipe or Blair Stewart penalty. With Miller long gone and Cowan on All Blacks duty, Southland have assembled an encouraging back division with Stewart and James Wilson at pivot and fullback, New Zealand Maori Jason Kawau in midfield while Matt Saunders has winged in from Dunedin. Prop Chris King has also transferred from Otago to occupy Clarke Dermody's tighthead spot. With Cowan expected to be rarely sighted, halfback duties fall to his brother Scott and Dane Shelford, son of late Kiwis prop Adrian. Hoani MacDonald, in his farewell season before heading to Wales, will be expected to secure a steady stream on lineout ball.

TARANAKI

NPC: second division winners, 1976; 82-85; 92; 95.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Adrian Kennedy *

Prospects: One of five new coaches in the competition, Kennedy has a wide-ranging CV having spent time in South Africa and English club Saracens. He takes over from provincial legend Kieran Crowley and inherits the standard confrontational forward pack, albeit one with a more expressive component. Taranaki's loose forward stocks have been replenished by the arrival of Wellingtonian Alex Tulou and another potentially damaging offloader Taisina Tuifua. A strong club season should also see Nemia Soqueta, brother of the rangy Tomasi, feature. Kennedy has lured Saracens lock Tom Ryder south though the Hurricanes second row duo of Craig Clarke and Jason Eaton is well-established. The competition is key for Eaton who has clearly dropped down the All Blacks' pecking order. Behind the pack, former Waikato utility Willie Ripia looms as an astute - and necessary - buy.

TASMAN

New team in 2006 from the amalgamation of Marlborough and Nelson Bays.

2007: 11th

Coach: Todd Blackadder *

Prospects: At risk of becoming the new Central Vikings, Tasman represents rugby's equivalent of an arranged marriage beset with irreconcilable differences. The union's decision to sell off Blenheim's Lansdowne Park to help clear debts of $4 million has prompted widespread anger in Marlborough; partner Nelson Bays are considering splitting and joining Buller. Propped up by the Canterbury Rugby Union, their benefactor has recalled last year's captain and hooker Ti'i Paulo to Christchurch while prop Ben May has signed with Waikato from next season - an indication of where the player's feel the union may be going. Todd Blackadder, named as Robbie Deans' successor at the Crusaders, could hardly start his New Zealand coaching career in a more challenging environment.

WAIKATO

Champions: 1992, 2006.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Tony Hanks *

Prospects: A year older, a year wiser - that could be the mantra of the Waikato squad under Warren Gatland's promoted assistant Tony Hanks. With injuries causing havoc Gatland had no choice but to call on the likes of midfielders Roimata Hansell-Pune and Jackson Willison; Hanks will be hoping the relative rookies are better for the experience. Hard hit by a significant representation in the All Blacks - including first timers Stephen Donald and Richard Kahui - Waikato conscripted Otago discard Callum Bruce and Kevin O'Neill in the off-season. Tom Willis, Marty Holah and Steven Bates are overseas and Jono Gibbes has retired but Liam Messam is still on hand, ever hopeful of a place on the All Blacks' end of year tour.

WELLINGTON

NPC Champions: 1978; 81; 86; 2000.

2007: Runners-up

Coach: Jamie Joseph *

Prospects: Can the abrasive former All Blacks hardman take Wellington to the top? Jamie Joseph takes over the top job from Aussie McLean with the intention of taking Wellington a step further after they have been the losing finalists in each of the Air New Zealand Cup finals. Youth was a focal point when the initial 27-man squad was named. The polarising Jimmy Gopperth has been jettisoned to North Harbour, leaving under-20s World Cup winner Daniel Kirkpatrick under pressure as the first choice pivot though Piri Weepu might deputise from time to time. Wing is a concern with Hosea Gear the only specialist named - thanks to Ma'a Nonu's All Blacks' rebirth and Shannon Paku's departure. Joseph is hoping to gain dispensation to field 18-year-old Buxton Popoali'i. Fortunately the pack still has a hard edge to it, with or without the All Blacks. Jacob Ellison, Ross Filipo, Jeremy Thrush and Thomas Waldrom should ensure Wellington are rarely outmuscled.

03 August 2008

All Blacks power to big win

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw helped inspire his side to a commanding return to form when beating Australia 39-10 at Eden Park to keep its Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup hopes alive in Auckland.
It extended the run of losses Australia had suffered at the ground, not having won since 1986, but more importantly it proved the all the competitive instincts associated with the All Blacks tradition are still apparent in the modern breed as they claimed a bonus point win with a last-minute try to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu.

Nonu and prop Tony Woodcock each scored two tries.

It was a display of concentrated application aimed at eliminating the frustrations of the first Test between the sides in Sydney last week. Ball retention was almost faultless by comparison while the scrum was able to operate efficiently under the control of referee Mark Lawrence.

That gave the inside backs the opportunity to dictate terms. Halfback Jimmy Cowan had clearly his finest game in the All Blacks jersey while first five-eighths Dan Carter, who landed two conversions and four penalty goals for 16 points, demonstrated the subtleties of his kicking game with a superb display.

There was also a hunger among the chasing pack when Australian runners were dislocated from their support and a ruthlessness all too rare in recent displays.

Conditions were damp, but expected rain stayed away for the first half in a game which produced the expected amount of kicking, but with much more effect by the All Blacks.

Two tries in three minutes at the end of the first quarter to Woodcock lifted the All Blacks' confidence.

Leading the way with a challenging display was lock Ali Williams who was in outstanding touch, complementing his control at the re-starts where New Zealand looked so much more assured. He also competed at Australian lineout throws to upset the Wallaby momentum.

McCaw's return in the loose gave a competitiveness lacking in his absence and his determination eliminated the effect of the Australian loose forwards George Smith and Phil Waugh significantly.

The first try, after 20 minutes, from a scrum at which Australian prop Al Baxter was told by referee Mark Lawrence, "I've been as patient as I can, now you've got to scrum properly."

The All Blacks spun the ball where second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu charged at the line. When he went to ground the All Blacks set up the ruck and it was Woodcock who positioned himself off the ruck to take Cowan's pass and batter his way over the line, perfectly slung in low body position.

From the re-start, again well-controlled by lock Ali Williams, the kick was taken and Cowan sent a lovely kick which rolled towards touch at the corner flag where fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper had no option but to let the ball go out.

Williams rose to take the ball and direct it down to Woodcock who took the ball again and charged through to score.

Australia's reply came in the 31st minute after first five-eighths Matt Giteau kicked behind the New Zealand backs. Replacement lock Dan Vickerman, who was on for Nathan Sharpe in the blood bin, secured a fine take and with centre Stirling Mortlock running onto the ball at pace, to beat Conrad Smith's tackle and set up Ashley-Cooper for the perfect run in to score.

Giteau's conversion made the score 18-10 to New Zealand.

Yet another penalty conceded by flanker George Smith, for playing the ball off his feet and deliberately ripping the ball resulted in Carter landing his third penalty goal of the half.

Two minutes into the second half, a thumping tackle by Richie McCaw on Australian halfback Luke Burgess saw the ball drop loose and it was cleared by hooker Andrew Hore with second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu handling twice before going over wide out.


Scorers:

New Zealand 39 (Tony Woodcock 2, Ma'a Nonu 2 tries; Dan Carter 2 con, 5 pen) Australia 10 (Adam Ashley-Cooper try; Matt Giteau con, pen). HT: 21-10

30 July 2008

A Polynesian Weekend

We spent Thursday and Friday at the Samoan Cultural Celebration. Then went to a baby blessing on Sunday of our Friends Ben and Lini. Lots and Lots of Polynesian food. We really miss all of our friends and family in Samoa!

23 July 2008

It is Official we own a Home!!!!



Financing went through yesterday and we close on the 7th of August!!!!

Ari's Big Luau Performance

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The Hukilau


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Ala Moana Annie


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Otea


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E Piko

16 July 2008

The Corn Dog Song



Anyone who knows me very well knows that I Love Corn Dogs! This song sums it all up.

13 July 2008

Happiness

If you understand the great plan of happiness and follow it, what goes on in the world will not determine your happiness.-Boyd K. Packer

Creativity

Thus creativity involves both a process and a result. It springs out of our seeing possibilities we have not seen before, seeing connections between patches of truth and beauty, and responding to them in ways we have not done before. Feelings that lead to poetry, mental imagery that leads to painting, and pondering that gives birth to prose are but examples.

Creativity, therefore, is not simply innovation but organization. Self-discipline is required as part and parcel of that self-discovery which is paralleled by the discovery of the universes, vast and small, of which we are a part.

Gospel gladness can give us a precious perspective about all these things and can spur us on to share that beauty which our Father in Heaven helps us to create. It is a process that should not trouble itself overmuch, initially, with questions of originality and utility but, rather, with quality and excellence. ~ Neal A. Maxwell

Ari's 4th Birthday July 7th, 2008