nz

10 years in the US

This Friday is a milestone: 10 years ago my wife (Jennifer) and I moved from New Zealand to the United States.

I was born in NZ and she was born in the US. We met via the ancient command-line internet, she moved to NZ in 1994, and we got married on April 2, 1995. So yes, this weekend is our 16th wedding anniversary.

We enjoyed living in NZ, but eventually the call of Jenn's friends and family in the US became too much, and we decided to move to the US. It was quite a process, since I needed to go through the residency visa application routine, and of course shipping our household goods over in a container (and our three cats via plane) wasn't the easiest. But it was the right choice at the time, and still is.

We flew into Los Angeles on April 1, 2001. Of course, we visited Disneyland. Then we drove a rental car up the US west coast, staying in San Francisco for a couple of nights, then a stopover in Coos Bay, then up to Seattle to stay with Jenn's Mom for a week. Then we went back down to Portland (with a car borrowed from Jenn's grandmother) to stay in a friend's basement while we got established.

Jenn found a local job, we found an apartment, our furniture arrived, and we began to feel settled.

We've since bought a house and car (which we recently replaced), and I am now a dual citizen: I got my US citizenship back in 2004.

Naturally, my company came along for the ride. Dejal was basically a hobby in NZ, but one of my goals once in the US was to turn it into a real business. It has certainly flourished over the years, with revenues steadily growing.

Changing countries is quite a big deal, but it was worth it.

Will we ever move back to NZ? Who knows. We've learnt not to try to predict the future; plans can change. But we do have a dream of retiring in NZ eventually. We'll see!

Fourth annual HobbitFest

My wife and I have a recent holiday tradition which we call "HobbitFest": a marathon of watching the extended editions of all three Lord of the Rings movies in one day. It takes about 12 and a half hours, including short breaks between each movie and in the intermissions: the extended editions are each so long that they're spread over two DVD discs, so we have breaks when swapping discs.

We consider Lord of the Rings to be the best set of movies ever created. I may be slightly biased, since it was filmed in my native New Zealand, and by a Kiwi director. But even after watching all three movies several times, we still really enjoy the story and cinematography.

I'm not sure what we'll do once the two Hobbit films are done and available on DVD. No doubt they'll have really long extended editions, too... so we might have to make it a two-day event.

Yesterday was our fourth annual HobbitFest. It was a fun day. We enjoyed snacking on "Sarlacc dip", aka spinach dip and sourdough bread -- a favorite dip, named for a Star Wars themed party many years ago. Sometime we should come up with more LotR-themed snacks... salted pork, crackers, etc, perhaps.

Yes, sometimes my geek shows. I'm just glad that I married another geek, so we can geek out together. :)

New Zealand and the US: a comparison

As some of you may know (if you've read the About Dejal page), I was born in New Zealand, and moved to the US in 2001. I'm a citizen of both countries, and both have special places in my heart.

As a fun distraction yesterday, and to satisfy something I've been curious about, I superimposed a map of New Zealand (and a portion of nearby Australia) on one of the US, using the same scale for each. I lined up New Zealand's east coast with the US's east coast, being a similar angle.

The result is quite fascinating. It shows that New Zealand is about the same size as the small east coast states of the US, and where I am in Portland, Oregon is an equivalent distance from New York (say) as between Auckland, NZ and two-thirds of the way across Australia.

USA with NZ and Oz superimposed

Some interesting statistics (numbers from Wikipedia): New Zealand has a land area of 103,738 square miles and a population of 4,228,000. Compare that to the US's area of 3,718,695 square miles and population of 302,394,000... bit of a difference! Interestingly, the state of Oregon has an area of 98,466 square miles and population of 3,421,399 - both only a little smaller than the entire NZ.

I also did another comparison image, this time with Greater Auckland (NZ's largest city, actually a metro area made up of four cities) superimposed on Greater Portland (a medium-sized US metro area, Oregon's largest city). The size difference wasn't all that great this time, unsurprisingly; both Auckland and Portland have similar population sizes. In numbers, Auckland has a size of 419 square miles and population of 1,329,900, while Portland covers about 600 square miles with about 2 million people. Both have constraints on growth, too: Auckland has two harbors limiting growth, and Portland has very firm urban growth boundaries.

Portland with Auckland superimposed

What does all this mean? Nothing profound. The US is big. NZ is small. NZ is about the same size as Oregon. Auckland is about the same size as Portland. Whatever the sizes, they are both great places to live.

Oh, and I'm entirely too fascinated with maps. :)

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