Sunday, March 5, 2006

LIFE: Things That Are Good And Not So Good

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Ah, the sun is shining in New Zealand and there's a foot of snow at my parents' house in California, so life is grand. Also had a very nice lunch talk with an Auckland couple who are friends of my in-laws. One of them is the former features editor of the country's largest newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, and we had a very positive conversation about NZ journalism jobs which boosted my hopes about finding one here.

Things that are good here:
Peter's festering cold continues to fester, so today we decided to take him to the doctor. All kinds of horrifying long green goopy things keep coming from his nostrils, and it's been more than a week now, and we're flying out next Friday and don't want him to have sinus issues on the flight.
Here is why NZ's health care system is so infinitely better than the tangled corrupt morass we call U.S. health coverage. Avril called the doctor at 10:45 a.m. on a SATURDAY. Got an appointment for 11:15 -- THAT SAME MORNING. She and P walked down to the office, where P was checked out (he was given antibiotics to deal with the infection, and a good going-over), and they were back in time for lunch.
Complete cost of checkup, doctor consultation: $20. That's it. No insurance red tape, no co-pay, arguing with irritating woman on phone about why they won't pay, etc. Prescription: 100% FREE.
Seriously, there's a lot of good things about the U.S., but the cost of health care isn't one of them.

Things that are not so good here:
Man, the things that are nonessential but good in life are expensive here -- books, CDs, DVDs, et cetera. I've known this from prior visits of course, but now that we're moving here it's that much more obvious. Typical costs for a new book, maybe $30NZ, large books up to $50-$80NZ; a new single CD, $30-$35NZ. Yeah, you take into account the NZ exchange rate (currently it's worth about 70¢ to the U.S. greenback) but that's still a good markup from American costs, since we're all the way out here in the lonely antipodes.
Even my beloved comic books take the hit. I found a very nice new comic shop that I hope to be a patron of once we're here, with a great selection of everything from Spider-Man to Optic Nerve, but man, that import do take a bite, don't it? A typical $3 U.S. comic (which is already highway robbery for most comics these days, but I digress) is about $6-7 NZ here; softback TPBs and graphic novels from $30NZ to a staggering $50+ NZ. I don't blame the shops for the cost, it's just part of life here, but I'm definitely going to have to cut my comics obsession to the bone once we're here, from 15 or so titles a month to maybe 8. Just can't afford to do otherwise!
And this is why we're bringing over/shipping so much of our CDs/DVDs/books -- factor in the costs of replacing them here, and it's the cheaper alternative.
Ah well. At least it's sunny today.

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