Shameless plug

Just a quick reminder that I've started my tour of NZ, and I'll be blogging about it at - so check it out and subscribe, if you're so inclined.

This is the last time I plug the blog here, I promise*.

* I reserve the right to renege on this promise. It _is_ my blog, after all.


I've been blogging regularly or semi-regularly about App Engine on this blog since mid 2008, and I've been on the App Engine team for even longer, and I've decided it's time for a well-earned break.

With that in mind, starting January 30th, I'm taking eight weeks' leave from my job at Google, during which I'll be cycling the length of New Zealand! Not just on a regular bike, either, but one one of these. With any luck, I'll come back from my break revitalised and ready to bring more new and interesting things to the App Engine community.

As a result, I won't be updating this blog during my vacation. Nor am I likely to answer (m)any questions on Stack Overflow or respond promptly to email directed my way. My most capable and excellent colleagues, Amy Unruh, Ikai Lan and Johan Euphrosine will continue to take good care of the community in my absence.

I'll be blogging and vlogging my experiences riding around New Zealand while I'm gone on my new blog, Laid Back Touring, so for anyone interested in following my exploits, that is the place to look ...

Response from Gohop

I did eventually get a response from Gohop - my apologies for not posting it sooner. Here's the response:
Dear Mr. Johnson,

Thank you for your email received, the contents of which have been noted and passed to our IT department for investigation.

Firstly, may I say how disappointing it is for us to be made aware of any aspects of our customers holiday that fail to reach complete satisfaction. are a privately owned and Irish operated Travel Agency and we rely heavily on goodwill and repeat clients, the comments we receive from our customers are treated with the utmost respect. We pride ourselves in devising good quality and good prices but above all high customer service.

Naturally we are most concerned to learn of your dissatisfaction with the organization of your seat assignments. We always Endeavour to secure the best seating as requested from our clients, despite this however, subject to seat allocation at time of booking, the system in this case booked the next available alternatives, seating you apart. I would like to advise you at this point that this is the first problem of its kind we have come across and are most certainly ...


Just a quick update: Yes, I did get back from Switzerland (with a new passport), eventually.

I also went back to NZ, got married to my (now) wife Hayley, and had a wonderful honeymoon. After a horrid flight back (about which more later), we're now back in Ireland and ready to go back to work.

Photos of the wedding will be forthcoming in a week or two for anyone who cares.

Stuck in Switzerland

(Though of all the places to be stuck, this isn't a bad one)

I've been on holiday in Switzerland with my SO for the past few days, staying with a friend. Just after christmas, however, we took the train up to Zermatt to spend the night and see the matterhorn. However, on the train from Losanne to Visp, my bag was stolen. The bag containing my Passport and my Work Permit, not to mention my work laptop, the new watch I bought just the day before, and a bunch of other things.

To top it off, it looks like we're _not_ covered by travel insurance (I thought we were).

And now I can't leave until I get a new passport issued and mailed to me. Fortunately, this only takes 3 days (plus postage) if I pay for expedited processing, but the passport office doesn't open until the 3rd.

Also on the plus side, I got some nice photos of the fantastic fireworks show in Zurich for new year, which I hope to post soon, and I'm able to work out of our Zurich office while I wait for my passport.

Leaving NZ, again.

So, first a quick update on everything I've been leaving out on this blog: Waaaay back in February, I was offered a (phone) job interview with Google. Things proceeded well, and a while ago, I was made an offer of a job as a Site Reliability Engineer in Dublin, which I accepted. I resigned from my position in NZ, sorted out stuff for moving, and hopped on a plane.

I'm writing this entry from a Dublin internet cafe. I arrived here in Ireland mere hours ago, and I'm still exhausted and jetlagged, but I have to do something with the time until I can let myself try and sleep. Hence the sudden update.

First, for those wondering, Hayley, the love if my life, is, alas, still back in NZ for the moment. At the moment it looks like she'll be joining me up here in about 6 weeks.

When I arrived in Dublin, I was met by someone hired by Google, who drove me to my temporary accommodations provided for me for the next 30 days. Light commentary on the city was provided. Upon reaching my accommodation, I was handed off to someone else, who gave ...

Homeward Bound

So here I am, sitting in Vancouver airport, wasting time while I wait for my flight back home, via Sydney, via Honolulu (two new airports to get lost in! Oh joy!). And what better way to waste time than by blogging, right?

Checking in was, this time, fairly uneventful. I had to pay extra for my bike and because my suitcase was heavy, but less than I expected - Air Canada charge $50 for a bike, instead of the usual $175 for an extra piece of luggage. Because their system can't handle having _both_ a bike _and_ an overweight luggage item, I had to line up a second time at ticketing to pay for it. Oh well. After that, US immigration, checking my baggage in, and the inevitable x-ray scans and inspections were relatively simple. I'm just ophing I don't have to check my baggage in again at Sydney, since hauling that much baggage around on my own is no fun, but I have a sinking feeling I'll have to.

I'm really not looking forward to the long flight, but at least I have a light at the end of the tunnel. I'll be home ...

Of Canadian Customs

Oh, and I forgot: More customs/immigration excitement!

After being questioned by customs, I was, to my not-so-great surprise, directed to the immigration counter for further investigation. I got a rather friendly person, who nevertheless was asking about my work/holiday/movement situation in great detail. I discussed my previous issues, and he asked for the documentation I'd hustled up but never had to use last time. As I did, he recaps:

Him: So, you work for this US company, Haydrian
Me: Used to. I resigned
Him: Oh. Right, in that case don't worry. Just show me your return ticket.
Me: *shows ticket*
Him: *examining ticket* Why'd you quit?
I explain.
Him: Off you go, then. And good luck!

So there's the easy way to solve all your issues: resign! ;)

Back in .ca, for now.

I just got back into .ca this evening. In some ways, it feels like I never left - my apartment is, of course, exactly as I left it, as is Vancouver, and Hayley and I are back to trying to deal with the inadequacies of text and voice chat. I miss her already.

I wish I'd only gone up for a couple of days to pack. At least this way I have time to catch up with Illiad, KS and Dark before I head back for good.

I'm also thinking I may just stick as close to NZ time as I can. I don't have anything to do in my mornings anyway.

Why I'm back in NZ

So. The promised post about just why I'm back in NZ.

Fair warning: For once, this is not a post about XML transforms, or work, or travel, or anything like that. If you're allergic to emotions, stop reading now. Still reading? Good.

Just over a month ago - very shortly after I moved into my Vancouver apartment, I got talking with a good friend of mine - someone I'd known for years, but only ever seen as a friend. Things went from there, and pretty soon I found myself trying to work out how I can get back to NZ to see her. To put it simply, I'm crazy about her.

Thanks to the wise advice of several people I trust (you know who you are), I arranged a 3 week trip back to NZ. Having got here, pretty much from day 1 I knew that I no longer wanted to work away from NZ.

So who is this wonderful person, you ask? Her name is Hayley - #sporks members will know her as Lex (but then, this is all old news to #sporks members anyway) - and she is, without a doubt in my mind, the most wondeful person ...