IMR: 1999: September: 10 —  Friday, 5:51 p.m. NZT
Room 504, Rydges Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand

[ CEO Badge ]I'm dead on my feet. But I got my badge.

At the moment I'm taking a break in the hotel room where I'll be spending the rest of this trip. It's facing the side of an office building and it has the weirdest shower setup I've ever seen, but on the other hand it's a single. Tony's a great guy, but at least now I can snore up a storm without a second thought.

Given the extraordinarily high demand for hotel space in Auckland this week, we literally had to move out before noon today to turn the conference space over to APEC CEO Summit — quite an adventure given the fact that our meetings actually ran until 3 p.m. If you ever find dribbling a football too easy, just try and run an office that serves nearly 100 delegates and pack it into boxes at the same time.

Not only that, but today's proceedings were the most important. And there I was, with only one midnight run-through yesterday to draw upon, nervously poised behind a laptop for yet another PowerPoint presentation before our international leaders.

The show fortunately went well, and any flaws were quickly forgotten given the other contentious matters on the agenda. But let me tell you, there are some days I wish we were still back in the era of transparencies and overhead projectors.

So now our organization's administrative business is put to bed, and we're all changing our hats for the considerably more visible APEC CEO Summit — the private-sector conference held in conjunction with the APEC forum — which opens tonight with a reception across the street.

Fancy as my badge is, the icky brown trim indicates about the lowest level of access. Tonight's reception may in fact be the only official event I can attend... and no one's been able to tell us whether I'll even be able to take photos.

If I turn out to be absolutely useless, maybe I'll just be loosed on the streets of Auckland for the next two days?

Well, I can dream.

Wednesday, 11:48 p.m. NZT
Room 504, Rydges Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand

So I get back to the hotel just now, turn on the TV, start flipping through the channels, pick one at random and... hardcore sex.

"The Sex Files." A corny but stylish and properly explicit take off on "The X Files." The opening sequence had Mark Snow-esque music, but instead of photos of UFOs, there are clips of bodies rubbing together and live, leafy vines crawling down some woman's pants.

I had to fiddle with the TV for a while to make sure I hadn't accidentally hit the adult movie button by accident. (It's been known to happen.)

Nope. It's Sky 1, one of several standard local cable network channels.

Turns out New Zealand is a few eons ahead of the U.S. in TV blocking technology. Shows are encoded by varying degrees of content, and after a certain point, TVs in high schools and nurseries will just automatically blank out depending on how their "V-Card" is set.

This show is rated RL18. Hotel TVs must be set to "dirty old man."

This show is something else, though. Sex with ghosts? Psychics detecting the still randy spirits in an old brothel? Fornicating with a guy in a Death costume?

And for those conscious of gender equity, a fair share of male buttage is presented.

This makes that "bloody idiot" drunk driving ad seem positively tame. Though that's like comparing apples and bananas.

It also makes me wonder why there's pay-per-view porn in the first place.

In considerably less prurient news, I was informed over dinner tonight that I will need to be on hand for most of the CEO Summit proceedings. If only to keep the dinosaurs of computers left in the secretariat office running.

[ Sky City Tower ]A Compaq 486/33? A 12-inch monitor that can't do any better than 256 colors at 480 by 640 pixels? It's positively medieval. We'll be holding things together with paper clips and chewing gum.

I guess that means I'm going to have to leave the sightseeing and tour of the Bay of Islands up north for my next visit.

At least I did get to hit the definitive Auckland attraction tonight. not terribly exciting, but at least I can say I've been there.

[ View ]After the reception — held in an outdoor tent with a decadent seafood buffet and a string quartet — we went to eat at the rotating restaurant atop The Sky City Tower. It's pretty much the Statue of Liberty (or better, the Seattle Space Needle) of the city.

I couldn't help but compare the lights spread out below us to those of Honolulu.

With about one million residents, Auckland is a bit larger than Honolulu, but the lay of the land, with pockets of highrises surrounded by rolling hills covered low buildings and homes, it reminds me of a cross between downtown and Pearl City. (But cleaner.)

There's the carpet of orange sodium lights lining lazily curving roads. There's the marina, filled with masts. The sky is crystal clear, and the air is so crisp it almost burns. Echoes of the islands...

Or maybe I'm just a little homesick.

Clinton arrives in a handful of hours. This city is going to be a madhouse. I better get to sleep.

But first the end of "The Sex Files."

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 10 September 1999 · Last Modified: 11 September 1999