Saturday, July 19, 2008

Closing the Gaps

Spending time in North America meeting people and staying with various family members made me very aware of some of the gaps that exist between digital life over there and New Zealand. The stand out would have to be the amazing bandwidth Americans enjoy. Not only is it faster and more accessible, but it is uncapped. When they sign up for a cheap plan they have unlimited access. Even on the other side of the world emails from Telecom were finding me to inform me that "You have used more than 80% of your monthly allowance. Your internet access will shortly be downgraded to dial-up speed." iChat video with the family back home would be out of the question for the rest of the month. At the same time I was reading a blog post by Karen Romeis and appreciated her diagrams recognising that not all of us enjoy a completely Flat Earth.
Another moment of digital envy was captured on my Flip Video (below) when travelling on Air Canada in the cheapest seats in cattle class. Power points in all seats for those of us who want to continue using our laptops as we travel. Come on Air New Zealand - we're worth it!

However it is not all bouquets for North American technology. It has puzzled me during several recent visits. Something is very wrong in the construction industry. Every public "bathroom" I have visited in this nation has poorly constructed panelling so that there is always a minimum of a one centimetre gap right around the doors to the cubicles. This means that every woman sitting down can be seen by the other women waiting in the "bathroom" and vice versa. It is at best disconcerting and at worst, creepy. This trip I have taken a series of photos from within and, as can be seen below, one of the photos captures a woman at a handbasin making eye contact with me from within the cubicle! I have begun to ask questions and American woman are unable to explain to me why this shoddy construction is tolerated and my inside source assures me that this is not always the case inside the mens' bathrooms. If anyone could shed light on this I would not be the only one who is most interested!


  1. Eye contact? The rule in both the men's room (with open urinals) and women's room is no eye contact. Are you sure those women weren't looking at themselves in the mirror? BTW, dh gave me the etiquette rule for guys, it's not based on first hand knowledge. Public restrooms are all about feigning ignorance once the stall door is closed. You ignore the sounds and activity from the stall next door, etc. Only pleas for sanitary supplies or tp when you run out are acceptable. That's what made Larry Craig's footsie so noticeable.

  2. OK Go to the 52 storey of the Bank of America, San freancisco, and a lovely Asian woman escorts you an empty cubicle and shut the door behind you. You do your business and as you leave the cubicle she turns the tap on for you and shows you where to get the soap. After washing your hands she gives you a warmed towel to dry your hands with.

    I didn't take my purse to the dunny as she deservedx a tip. the was the flashest visit I have ever had.

  3. Yeah I've noticed that too... funny aye.

    Leave it to a Kiwi girl to mind that but not a Weta in the long drop...

  4. @Alice
    I had forgotten the Larry C thing until you mentioned it. And you will understand now that it didn't make sense to us antipodeans anyway -as we don't understand about the gap in the door that seems to have been vital to the story - until we have visited your country and experienced it for ourselves:)
    @Allanah -
    That is extreme service, but didn't you think it a bit creepy that she was probably watching you and knew when to have the warmed towel ready?
    @Danny -
    very funny. I had never thought of that. Cultural differences eh :) And I thought it was strange when I mentioned it to American women that none of them had ever noticed, totally overlooking the percentage of kiwi gals who don't think twice about the resident weta.
    So there's my answer to why they put up with it. But it doesn't answer why builders/architects do it in the first place...