Thursday, December 21, 2006

I like weather

Lightning, thunder and hail last night. Cool

Woke up last night to the sound of thunder.
"How far off?", I sat and wondered....

I didnt start humming a song from 1962 however.

I'll give you a chocolate fish if you name the above reference within, say, 48 hours.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Home has a very 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' feel about it at the moment.

Things keep disappearing (if you have seen the movie you will get what I'm referring to).

Occasionally disappeared objects appear to have been replaced by bottles of champagne.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Done deal

Listening to/watching the cricket. Monty Panesar just had a very good day. First time he bowls against Australia and he gets a five-wicket bag. How cool is that?

Signed the mortgage papers today. Settling on Monday. Felt kinda like aerobatics. Fun and exciting but slightly scary. Getting ready to move out of my home for the last two and a half years. Looking very much forward to our new house.

Maybe its because 'Snoopy's Christmas' and its odd partner 'Snoopy Vs the Red Baron' feature planes that I don't like them. The Red Baron or Manfred Von Richtofen to his mates, wasn't particularly bloody, just efficient. Some debate exists over who exactly shot him down. He was being chased by a group of British fighters while at the same time some Australians on the ground were having a go at him. Pretty sure no beagles were involved though. And while he is famous for flying a red Fokker Triplane, most of his victories were scored in a more conventional Albatros biplane.

Call me sad, but finally I have found a white paint that will actually cover a surface decently, rather than looking like a threadbare sheet. Citadel good....Humbrol, Tamiya, Gunze bad....

A little late for advent, but if you want an advent calendar this is fun.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shooting down Snoopy's Christmas

Notkate recently noted that I don't particularly like 'Snoopy's Christmas'. She's right.
"The baron had Snoopy dead in his sights. He reached for the trigger, to pull it up tight. Why he didn't shoot, well, we'll never know, or was it the bells from the village below?"
Bells schmells. His guns probably jammed, otherwise the Red Baron likely would have put a few machine gun rounds through the back of Snoopy's head.

But that wouldn't be a very nice song would it?

For a couple of years know I have turned Christmas into a sort of game of skill, where I can see how long I can avoid hearing 'Snoopy's Christmas'. I got through the whole season once. Alas, this year I encountered it fairly early. I don't pathologically hate the song (hmm, maybe I do), and quite like Snoopy, but I heard it once too often.

On that note, playing loud Christmas music in your shop does not encourage me to buy stuff. It encourages me to leave.

I'm not sure why I don't like Christmas music. That much of it refers to snow and winter cold and thus is irrelevant to southern hemisphere advent may have something to do with it. The cheesiness and inanity are also likely contributors. I love Christmas, just not the soundtrack.

Random notations

I watched the sunset in the red haze from the Australian bushfires from Petone beach. Took some photos.

I have my car back from the mechanics after the radiator top tank was replaced (expensive, but not as expensive as the cooked engine which would result from the complete loss of coolant which was imminent). I like my car. Running back to the garage from my house to pick up Fi's car after delivering my one home was not quite fun, but refreshing, especially as it was running to a deadline.

Orion and Taurus are dominating the eastern sky in the evenings now, with Scorpio banished until next winter. This more than any calendar date tells me that summer is about.

A slight misunderstanding concerning the house has been sorted. I am excited, but am trying to be restrained until settlement. Not quite there yet. Fi deserves almost all of the credit for getting us this far. She has talked to agents, arranged needful things, and generally been superlatively magnificent. I have just offered opinions and held her hand. Fi's mum also deserves a mention in despatches for mid-week finding of suitable open homes and a vehicle and fuel for driving to them.

Sunday afternoon not looking at houses was wonderful.

Netball was great fun. Meaningless clobbering of inexperienced minnows is great for reinvigorating jaded netball minds. Plus setting a high score for the dynasty team was memorable.

A total stranger complimented me on my new tattoo. The yellow border gets peoples attention, which isn't bad for an idea I had on the morning I got it. People have been saying nice things about it unprompted, which is encouraging for something I designed myself. Of course, if people don't like it they are hardly likely to say so aren't they? I find it amusing to think that people think I am somehow harder or tougher for having tattoos. At the same time I know I am doing what others have pondered or are too fearful to do, or look down upon as being degenerate.

After achieving the milestone of 100 posts, I have been re-reading some of the work. I quite like some of the stuff I have written, even if it has been somewhat uninspired lately. Thank you readers for reading and encouraging.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And its one more beer, and I dont hear you anymore...

Man the mosh pit at Elton John was awesome. There was some slamming, some surfing and one guy even got to stage dive from a speaker stack. I came out exhausted bruised and ecstatic.

Or maybe not :)

The above is one of my favourite forgotten lyrics. I hadn't realised how much I like it, or that I had forgotten it until hearing it live last night. Despite some unkind comments made about Mr Dwight's canon I have previously made, the Wellington concert last night was not an opportunity I could pass up. And it was well worth it.

It doesn't express much now, but I listened to a lot of Elton John when I was growing up. I have a somwhat dualistic relationship with him though: for every song I love (e.g 'Someone saved my life tonight'), there is one I hate ('Philedelphia freedom'). So while looking forward to seing one of the legends of the game live in concert, I was a little concerned that I would spend half the night waiting for the next song.

Fortunately, that notion was dispelled the instant the concert started when they opened up 'Funeral for a friend', and followed with 'Benny and the Jets'. With a new album to push I was expecting a modern tilting playlist, so it was cool to hear classics so early on, and that they dominated the set.

I like the 70's and early 80's stuff and I wasn't disappointed. I felt like they had deliberately chosen my favourites. Okay, so my favourite John songs also happen to be huge hits which helps. And there was no Disney, thanks God.

Also good was seeing an artist clearly still enjoying himself. The voice may not get to the high notes anymore (requiring masking/support at times by the band vocalists), but he really seemed to be having a good time rather than just going through the motions.

Going to a 'rock' concert with my Dad, the Waiata, 'Someone saved my life tonight', 'Rocketman', 'Tiny Dancer', the crowd la la laing to 'Crocodile rock', the person in the green polo shirt dancing exuberantly in the stand, at times rivalling the main stage for entertainment. You are a legend whoever you are.

Way fun in a mellow chilled out MOR kind of way. Wasn't perfect. The seating on the ground was way too confining (my arms were folded because I didn't have room to unfold them), and frankly I thought I would have had a better view from the stands.

Next gig to attend is Shihad. Which I expect to be considerably different. But also fun.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Or, how to discover who in my family is reading this blog. I like to surprise them with things like this.




Thanks to Chas at Tattoo City for the needlework, 2trees for refining the design and organising the whip-around at my 30th that produced the big wad of cash that paid for it. And thanks to you if that is some of your money in my hand.

Fi got another one at the same time, imagery to appear here at some point. My design has a couple of levels of significance and I am well pleased with how it turned out. Also nice to get in and actually get some ink done instead of merely looking at flash-art and musing.
Be warned. Tattoos are highly addictive.

In other news, we tried to buy a house at auction today and missed out by about 20K.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Music in my head

I've been working evenings for the last week, alone, so I've been getting songs stuck in my head. Alanis Morrisette's 'Ironic' has been prominent for some reason. In a moment of idle speculation I recalled the line "It's meeting the man of my dreams, then meeting his beautiful wife", and wondered if anyone has thought that about me.

Also on high rotate in my head for no apparent reason this week:

Various Frontlawn songs. Andy, Tomorow night, When you come back home.
'In the Valley' by Midnight Oil
'Idiotheque' by Radiohead.
'Until the end of the world', U2
'Haul Away' by Split Enz
'Sabotage' by the Beastie Boys
A couple of random snippets of songs I know well but cannot identify.

My head is a noisy place.

Big day tomorrow. More about that later.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Still on the Uchoose

Big ups to anyone involved in putting together the thanksgiving event today, and the alligator in particular for forcing it on us. Other, bigger events this weekend meant I spent less time than I would have liked at it, arriving retro 'so out of fashion its back in fashion' fashionably late, and leaving well early. After the second round of capture the flag I suddenly, instantly realised my state of fatigue. Breakfast this morning in Napier seems a long way away and a long time ago.

However, whatever it was we were playing was big fun (although, I think bullrush combined with the extravagant number of attractive participants would have been even more fun, and far less confusing. Bullrush has no sides, only yours. Only one rule that matters as well.).

Let it be known, that if there is random rushing around on a field or beach or court chasing some piece of plastic or rubber on a long summer evening or afternoon with good friends to be had, I wanna be involved. We don't do enough of it these days, and it is one of my favourite summer things to do.

No mo

Listening to the Uchoose. Covers and samples this week. To my surprise, Scissor Sisters version of 'Comfortably numb' not only works, but is actually quite good. As is the video for Bowie's 'China Girl', which looks far younger than it's 23 years. 'I will always love you', unsurprisingly, is still godawful.

The mo, having served its purpose, had to go. After exactly three weeks on the grow, here is what it looked like moments before removal:

Fun while it lasted, but I was over it. Anyway, I was getting ready to dress like this

on Saturday, and the moustache didn't really jive with the look I was going for.

The wedding we were at in Napier on Saturday was great, as every wedding I have been to has been. I love weddings. Call me sentimental, but I get a thrill out of seeing two people commit to spending the rest of their lives together. I love the whole thing, the gathering, the ceremony, the mingling, the speeches, the dancing, everything. I love watching the first dance, and watching the older couples take to the floor to dance properly and show how it should be done. Weddings are fun.

If you are already married, hearing two more people declare themselves reminds you of exactly why you are with the one you are with:

And there are few better ways of spending an hour or two on a fine afternoon than this:

(post wedding, pre dinner time killing, aided by bottomless glasses of various cold beverages)

Well makes up for having to sell my U2 tickets in order to be there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Tao of Indoor Netball

Listening to: Riot Act-Pearl Jam, and Doubt-Jesus Jones.

Tonight we played the same team we played last week. Our line up was slightly different this week, theirs was almost completely different. I thought their line up this week was better than last week, but we beat them by more than we beat them by last week. We had a slightly better game. Despite missing two regulars, our sub is a very fast learner, and brings a good game. And we finished strongly, building our composure in the last quarter while destroying our oppositions.

By my standards, I had a wildly varying game. Overall I'd give myself 6/10. My biggest issue was never getting into the game mentally, meaning I had to think too much about what I was doing, rather than going all zony and playing instinctively (I play much better when I am zoning). As a result of not zoning I was all over the place, physically and mentally, usually in the wrong for both.

I have been playing indoor almost continuously since early 1996. I have had only two or three complete seasons where I was not in a team somewhere. Several seasons have been spent playing in multiple teams at once (playing for two teams is ideal. More than two rapidly becomes unmanageable). I think right now my game is as good as it has ever been, although I think a comparison with my 1997 game self would be fun. I was a lot more aerial then, and a little bit faster. I spent a complete season at defence around that time. I only specialised in attack a few years ago. I had a near perfect shooting game a couple of years ago, missing only my last shot out of twenty or so.

I set very high standards (possibly impossibly high) for my game performance. If I feel I haven't lived up to them, played badly, and thus let my team-mates and myself down, I beat myself up about it. This is a reflection of low to middling self esteem I think. I've also been known for being very negatively expressive on the court, most commonly about umpiring decisions, something which I am actively trying to eliminate. I think I am much better at this than I used to be, although I still have lapses. I try too hard sometimes, and get frustrated when things don't work out. If I feel there is no chance of winning, I stop trying. My view of my own game and skills tends to veer toward the irrationally negative, interrupted by euphoric peaks of brilliance.

The highs outweigh the lows though, and keep me coming back. A great game is only a few quarters away.

I pride myself on using skill and knowledge to gain advantage, rather than dirty tricks. I am a very clean player. That said, I have been known to accidentally on purpose run into/through people if circumstances demanded it and after a fair amount of provocation. I will counter illegal play with illegal play to get the job done if absolutely required. I am fearless on court, and don't get physically intimidated, unlike in real life.

At times I think I can be a very good player. Sometimes I can be very average. I still haven't figured out how to play centre effectively, but it is still a relatively new position for me. After playing half court for so long, I am comparitively lazy over the full court distance.

In the last decade I have managed to learn a few things, and have been compiling them lately into a sort of Tao, in an effort to strengthen my mental game.

The 'Tao te ching' of Indoor Netball

1. Even if they are completely wrong, the umpire is always right.
2. No amount of gesticulating, eye rolling, or verbal discourse has ever changed an umpires call.
3.You are not the best player on the court. Sometimes you are, but this is generally a flawed assumption. The best indoor netball player in the universe is out there somewhere. Chances are its not you.
4. Even if you think you do, you may never know all the rules.
5. The ability to shoot well and consistently is as fragile as it is wonderful.
6. It is foolish to expect to enjoy every game. Some games will suck, and there is nothing you can do about it.
7. Winning every game rapidly becomes boring. Losses must be endured, to remind how good winning feels.
8. You are only as good as your last pass, shot, or play.
9. Old age and experience can indeed triumph over youth and raw skill.
10. Sometimes the perfect pass will be intercepted, and the perfect shot will not drop.
11. Sometimes no shots will drop, for no good reason other than mystic universal law.
12. No matter how good you think you are playing on a given day, you can always encounter someone better.
13. Umpires are not all seeing, nor all knowing. Sometimes you do know more about the rules than they do.
14. Oppositions will cheat and get away with it.
15. The net is both your friend and your enemy. Use it wisely and it becomes your seventh player. Use it unwisely, and it becomes your oppositions.
16. Umpires are not always neutral.
17. You can play brilliantly and still lose.
18. Pressure shooting cannot be taught, only learned.
19. No-one is good at penalty shoot outs.
20. Three seconds and three feet are infinitely variable measurements.
21. Tall players are often lazy. Short players are often underestimated.
22. Every player has a weakness in their game, somewhere.
23. If someone is trash talking, they are often hiding a weakness in their game. Or they are just an idiot. There is no sweeter pleasure than silencing a trash talker by out-playing them.
24. Good players don't need to trash talk to wear down their opponent.
25. Over aggresiveness, and short tempered opposition must be exploited. Rage focusses your game initally, but quickly overwhelms and destroys it. Composure is everything.
26. Sometimes, you need to take the hit to hold your position. Take the ball and brace for impact.
27. You are not more important than your team.
28. Sometimes medicocre teams will be elevated by single excellent players, who you will not be able to neutralise.
29. Never disparage your team on the court. Not cool.
30. You will almost always play better when filling in for another team than when playing for your own.
31. The object of the exercise is enjoyment.
32. There are always new tricks to be learnt.
33. Knowing how to fall is a skill.
34. Win with grace, lose with honour. And more grace.
35. Try to always play with humour. Some games it just isn't your day.

Feel free to add your own.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Listening to: Sams's Town- The Killers, and, Skin and Bones-Foo Fighters. Not at the same time.

You know whats nice after doing dishes for half an hour on a warm muggy night? That's right, a cold beer.

If I am not quizzing with Notkate, Thursday is usually my night off to potter around at home. I am out doing stuff most other nights. I am usually alone while Fi is at choir practice. Music is often played loud while doing other things, like dishes or model making or blogging or even housework.



As the result of a 'you should' conversation with a workmate at my 30th, I thought I'd try the Movember thing. So after 12 days of not shaving, the effect is thus:

Rather than shave around it, I just didn't shave for 12 days. I have no real love for being clean shaven. It's a hassle and quite sensitive for the first few hours thereafter. Thus, I generally beard up until I get bored with it, or have a reason to shear. And I like my beard. It is red, and different from my hair colour (this is either Irish from my mothers side, or Viking invader of north-east England from my fathers side). These days it is getting a bit of grey, which gives an air of distinguish-ness which I like.

I've had full beards before, and goatees, but never a moustache for for than 24 hours. It is almost a certainty it will be gone by next weekend (I have a wedding to attend).


November 1990

I seldom remember what I was doing when working on this or that particular model. This one is different.

Purchased in the giant Hamleighs toy shop in London in December 1989. Other projects got in the way, but by November 1990 it was almost done. On a fine late spring evening I was working on it in the lounge, with the TV news on. The big story of the day was that a madman had taken a gun and killed a lot of people in a plce down south called Aramoana, a placename I'd previously only known as the name of one of the Picton ferries. Video from a distant hillside showed black clad police rushing toward a house, the white smoke of tear gas filling the air as the sharp sound of gunfire filled the soundtrack. A man with murdered relatives angrily told a reporter exactly what he thought of her when she asked 'how do you feel?'. The killer was shot dead by the police special tactics group, his motives never to be explained.

The model reminds me of Aramoana. It is not the only association I have with it (it is one of my fathers favourite pieces of my work for example), but it is the most significant.

I saw Duncan Sarkies' retelling of the story, 'Out of the Blue' the other night. I wasn't really sure I wanted to, if enough time has passed for a movie to be made (I'm still undecided).

To Sarkie's credit, the film is really really good, the best film I've seen in a while. The story is told sensitively and entirely without exploitation. There may be spoilers here, be warned. All the tense part of the movie is after the shooting starts. The killing, when it begins, is entirely untelegraphed, and the start of the massacre is depicted in such a matter of fact way it is genuinely surprising and shocking, even though you are expecting it at some point. Most of the deaths are thankfully off-camera, which I think adds immeasurably to the film. Controversially to some, killer Gray is humanised a little, which I think is way better than having another carbon copy psycho. This does not in any way make him sympathetic, rather it just illustrates what little is known of the man.

It's a real downer movie, no happy ending possible, and I found it quite affecting.


Time travelling

The model is an F-14 Tomcat, the real star of the movie 'Top Gun' (as well as the mighty A-4 Skyhawk. Yes, kinda like the ones our air force used to fly). We watched it on DVD at the Spa Palace on Sunday for a laugh. Its a really fun movie if you're in the right mood. I loved it for a few years after it came out, went completely off it for a while after realising how wildly inaccurate a depiction of real-world dogfighting it is, then came back to it fairly recently. I can sit through it and point out everything wrong, and still enjoy it. The cinematography is still impressive, zero CGI, and almost no special effects. And the dialogue is actually pretty good. Having not seen the film for years, I learned things I hadn't previously picked up. The characterisation still sucks though. Apart from Goose. Goose rules. And the soundtrack is the archetypal 80's synth-rock melange. I have it on cassette somewhere.

Also the commentary is excellent. How else would you be able to pick out the real 'Viper' in the bar scene, or see a part fall off one of the aircraft during one of the dogfights? Or know that Goose's death actually happened as depicted to some poor guy? (which I had previously thought implausible. Shows how much I know).

Interestingly, every single type of plane visible (around half a dozen if you know what you are looking at) in the movie (which was filmed in 1985) apart from the 'Mig-28' have now been retired and are no longer used. The only air arm flying the Tomcat now is Iran, which I find really funny (the Iranians were sold a bunch during the Shah era, just before the revolution. Despite having no product support for 25+ years they still have some flying out of the 80 they bought).

The 'Mig-28' was fictional, and represented by F-5 Tigers, which were/are another training aircraft at the Top Gun school. So Charlie's line "we'll be using F-5's and A-4's as mig simulators" is kinda amusing in context. To me anyway.

I don't really see the supposed gay subtext (but then I usually don't), apart from maybe the volleyball scene. And why is everybody sweating, all the time?

Incidentally the model illustrates the 'variable geometry' idea I mentioned a few posts ago really well. Wings go forward plane goes slow, wings go back plane goes fast. Having moving swing wings on a model was all the rage in the 80's. Not so cool these days, because having moving parts means less detail and less accuracy. I have a more modern F-14 kit on which the wings are designed not to be movable.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Shop til you drop

Fi and I spent most of the day in the city today shopping and idly browsing.

Purchases include:

-Shihad tickets
-deposits on and booking of tattoos
-pastels and paint for model work
-a Christmas present for Fi's Dad
-Books for me:
'A brief history of the Cold War'. The Cold War era fascinates me.
'Homicide-A year on the killing streets', by David Simon. Spotted randomly in Dymocks, this is the journalist account of the Baltimore Homicide unit that inspired the grandtastic nineties television series 'Homicide'. I've been looking for a copy for years (Amazon is kinda cheating). I look forward to relating fictional characters to their inspirations.

-And a suit, which cost several times more than all the other purchases combined, but fills a yawning gap in my available options for formal occasions. Thanks D3vo for a rough price guide. Alas, I can no longer say with a shrug and a smile "I don't even own a suit".
A bullet was bit today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back to the drawing board

Listening to: Van Halen on the radio

Offer on house accepted: good

Builders inspection report: Bad, bad, bad. Lots of expensive bad.

We will continue searching...........

This is a most learning experience :)

And draining for wives who do most of the phone work :(

Monday, November 06, 2006


Listening to: Toad the wet sprocket-Fear

My wife rocks

As of today I have been married exactly two years. I have been with Fishy for seven and a half years. Feels like no time at all. When I was single and contemplating marriage it was a somewhat intimidating thing. In reality it is like the biggest fluffiest most cosy security blanket you can imagine. Finding the right person helps.
There was a Japanese movie at the film festival a few years ago, called "Waiting room" I think (I didn't actually get to see it but liked the concept a lot). The premise is that the recently dead found themselves in a kind of lobby, where they got to choose their own heaven. This manifested in the form of a single day in the persons life, repeated for eternity. You got to choose your own day. I'd pick my wedding day (from a long short list; I have had a lot of seriously good days). It was perfect and I wouldn't change any of it.

Other peoples offers falling through rocks

We put in a backup offer on a house in Manor Park yesterday, in case the existing offer fell through. It did, and if everything works out, soon Fishy and I will cease renting and start owning. Exchanging one payment for another, but gaining a sort of freedom. Does this mean we are adults now?

Retired Parents Rock

1. Dad being able to go on-line and secure Elton John tickets for me and him this morning. I'm only in it for the older stuff, but after not going to the stones and regretting it, I don't want to miss this.
2. Fi's Mum helping out with house related document chasing.
Thanks heaps

Netball Rocks

After a two week layoff from all kinds of sport, netball tonight was big fun. I was rusty. And not match fit. My passing game is the first to go. I could have built a house with all the bricks I sent tonight. Several times the rational part of my brain was saying "NOOOOOOOOOOO" as I released the ball, yet somehow I threw it anyway, knowing it would be intercepted. I also fell over a lot. Still my catching was on, and I shot about 12 points so it wasn't all bad. Fun and zoning zen was achieved, which is the point as I understand it. The Teachers Pet/Groosh dynasty has easily been the most fun of all my many teams to be a part of, the current line up particularly so.
The new umpire is steadily improving. Did anyone else notice he has dyed his hair black?

Blood bin update
As Fishy, Morgue, NotKate and The Alligator should recall I left the court twice to make some running repairs. As it turns out after close examinations of my lacerations, it turns out I only needed to leave once. The first time I bandaged the wrong finger. I was in a hurry, it had blood on it, I didn't notice my ring finger had even more blood on it, and was the source of the blood on my middle finger, as well as the blood on the ball (sorry). By sheer coincidence, I had restocked my little green bag with plasters only this morning.

On closer examination, my opinion that the wound was self inflicted is also erroneous. About a third of a square centimetre has been removed from my finger, to a depth of a few milimeters. As I did not find the corresponding piece of flesh on any of the fingernails of my other hand, I can only conclude it wound up under someone else's fingernail.

It will probably scar nicely, complementing the large scar already present on that fingertip from when I cut my fingertip completely off with a bandsaw at the age of 17.
But that is another story. One day I might do a post detailing all my scars and how I got them.

Thank you notes rock

Trees and Mrs Trees, that was very cool.

Hanging out with fun people rocks

The chilled out stag night I was at on Saturday night, and the chilled out spa and dvd at chez Kirsten+Rich last night.

Thats enough rocks. You should have rock rock rocked your way to firmer abs by now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Greatest american heroes

Listening to the above Uchoose

Miffed that Springsteen can't even make the top TEN (coming in at #16).

Good to see "subterranean homesick blues" though, even if Dylan only rates #14.
Seeing Tupac living and breathing is wierd.

Cynically betting Cobain is in at #1. Or Eminem. Pleasantly surprised to fnd GnR taking it out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Some slightly better pictures of planes

Listening to: Shadows On A Flat Land

After a leetle bit of cropping and playing with various levels, here is a selection some of my good shots. Not the best I have ever taken, but I'm happy with them. Apologies to those on dialup.

The pic at top is a cropped enlargement of the "I need a longer lens" pic from the previous post. F-111's (the plane in the pic) have a fuel dump valve located between the engine exhaust pipes. Should the valve be opened below 350 knots airspeed, with afterburners on (spray fuel into the jet exhaust. Fuel ignites, doubles thrust. Quadruples fuel consumption. Hence only employed when necessary. Not all the time like in the movies) , the dumped fuel catches fire. This particular gimmick is known inspiringly as a 'Dump and burn'. Must have surprised the hell out of the first guy to discover/try it. Also terrifies small children and activates car alarms. Its even more spectacular at night. As the rate of fuel consumption for this can be measured in gallons per second, its probably no wonder the Australians haven't ratified the Kyoto protocol. Burns very clean though.

This is a Hornet pulling quite a bit of G as it gets yanked into a climb by its pilot. The vapour around the cockpit isn't smoke. It is water vapour generated by really low air pressure being generated by bits of the aircraft. (If you understand how lift works this makes perfect sense). It is exaggerated by turns, which increase the pitch of the wing into the airflow, creating more low pressure above the aerofoil. This is not the gentle banking and turning you get in an airliner. Guys flying these wear six point harnesses and anti-G suits.

The Hercules on the right is a generation newer than the on the left, which is why its engines don't generate as much smoke. The Boeing 707 in the middle is ancient, and is basically a noise and smoke generator disguised as an aircraft.
The F-111 can move its wings backwards and forwards in flight ('swing wings') depending on how fast it has to fly (compare the photo below to the others). In the sixties when it was designed this was very futuristic. Aerodynamic advances since then have made 'variable geometry' (the proper term) unnecessary in more modern designs. Still cool. It takes roughly twenty seconds to go from one extreme to the other. Watching a jet change shape as it flies past doesn't really get old.

More not smoke, generated by vortexes of air rolling off the wingtips. Go to Wellington airport on a rainy day and you can see passenger jets making these. Combination of humidity and localised low air pressure.
This manouvre is known as a 'bomb-burst'. Picture the upper three on the same flight path as the bottom one about two seconds earlier and you'll get the idea. Always gets the crowd going. Especially as in this case it signalled a transition from sedate formation flying to hard-out spectacular stuff by the individual aircraft. Way cool.

Despite my concerns at the time, as it turns out I got a whole heap of good photos. Plus watching planes for a couple of days was fun too. Airshows are one of my favourite things.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pictures of planes

Listening to: Pink Floyd-Wish you were here

Just to mess with your heads, instead of sharing the best photos from my recent airshow sojourn, I thought I'd post the worst. Weather on both days was completely rubbish for photography. 10/10ths overcast is the great killer of airshow photos. Contrast disappears, which messes up your exposure, and causes light coloured aircraft to merge with the background, or to be underexposed. Also the amount of available light is less, which adversely affects your images.
The difference in my photo quality when the sun made rare appearances is readily apparent. Also limiting me was some camera inflexibility in manual mode which meant I couldn't quite set things up the way I needed to.

9-10ths of an F-111. Great pity, crappy framing spoils an otherwise excellent shot. You can see the crew in the cockpit, and the movement of the control surfaces required to get the plane rolling as it is. Sigh.

Again, same problem. Still I was head turning exorcist style when I took this one. I had to run out of flexibility at some point.

Slowing the shutter speed down just a little too much to make the propellors nice and blurry makes everything nice and blurry.

Appropriately for a 1950's aircraft, this shot looks like it was taken in the 1950's.

Overcast and general darkness resulting in under exposure. The landing lights sure are pretty to look at though.

If only I had a longer lens, this last one would be a freakin awesome shot. What this is a picture of will become clear once I post the good photos.

Clearly not a Jedi yet when it comes to photography....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First to go home, but the last to get there

Listening to: Tori Amos-Boys for Pele

I haven't listened to this album for probably two years or more. Hearing it again is almost like listening to a new album, as only parts of it are familiar. Still glad to report I like it. I have the first three Amos albums (Little Earthquakes, Under the pink, Boys for Pele), but she lost me a little after that. I was way into her music back in the day, when I was still a misunderstood and angsty teenager. 'Earthquakes is particularly nostalgic to listen to now. 'Tear in your hand' reminds me without fail of a Saturday morning in February 1994. The party the previous night had been particularly good, and I had the tape on in the Mini while driving to watch the girl responsible for the particular goodness of the night before play cricket (older Off-Black cohorts will likely know who I am talking about. They will certainly be familiar with the party locale in Heretaunga. New Years party 93-94 should be enough of a clue). I stopped at McDonalds on the way for a hot chocolate. While watching the game I could hear a radio playing Counting Crows "Mr Jones", which is another song and album (August and everything after) that has very strong memory associations for me. A long long time ago.

I love how music can associate itself with particular times and places. I love its power of
Some of my more prominent associations (i.e. those I can think of off the top of my head):

Elton John "Someone saved my life tonight"-Driving past lake Pukaki in the rain, on the way down to Wanaka in 1992. Despite the rain, the lake was still bright blue green.
Pearl Jam "Vs"-Perpetually associated with the summer of 1993-94. Last year of school, first year of freedom.
Nirvana "Come as you are"-Being sung by a band of merry drunken students on the Picton Ferry one night in 1992
Shihad "The General Electric"-A breakneck drive across Taranaki and the Manawatu on an early summer evening in order to get from New Plymouth to Palmy in time for Shihad gig. CD on in car, up loud.
Fleetwood Mac "Greatest Hits" -Driving to airshows with Dad in the late eighties and early nineties. Mainly reminds me of the drive home, long summer evenings and the contentedness of having had a good day out.
Faith No More "Evidence"- Was playing in the background one time while I was playing indoor netball at Cuba Street.
I think the oldest one is Kiss "I was made for loving you baby". I can remember watching the video (on our Phillips K9) for this while Mum did housework. I wasn't at Kindy, which I started in 1980, so this memory probably dates from 1979 (when the song was released) or 1980. Anyway, that's what it reminds me of, our house in Garden Road in Avalon, wondering why these odd guys were putting on all this face makeup. I can't get any older than that, I run out of memory in 1979.

Those are just a few. Still making new ones. I love how people relate to the same things differently. Readers will look at my list and have their own little reveries.

Big Weekend (and the point of the post title)

Put our first offer in for a house on Saturday morning. It wasn't accepted so we walked away. As I keep saying to myself, this is how the game works, and we must be patient. Plenty of houses and plenty of time. Of all we have seen in the last month, only three have been seriously considered.

The camping was fun, even if I didn't get any sleep worthy of the definition. I had pillow/head interface issues, and I was perpetually convinced that the next gust of wind would be the one that brought the tent down (having been sleeping in a tent when this actually happened once, this fear is not without foundation). I have been informed that one tent actually did incur damage in the morning. Didn't get rained out though, which is always nice when tenting.

Hanging out in wilderness with old and dear friends (and new ones) is always fun, even if I am not the best at expressing it. I have a sense I may be a difficult person to get close to....
The haka was particularly fun, but to make it more authentic the performers probably should have been barechested....I was going to present the St Pat's Haka, but realised I couldn't remember all of the words, even if I had the actions. I'd rather not do it than do it badly.
And Peter from Woolongong is a legend, particularly when every kilometer he rode to get out there was one he would have to ride back given that the road was a dead end. I like his style.
I hated having to leave early, but it was either do that or not be there at all. At that time of day it only took me 70 minutes to get back to Upper Hutt. But then I worked for 8 hours, so I got home long after everyone else. The morning sounded fun, sorry I missed it. Hope I didn't wake anyone up with my dawn activities, although some were definitely already up.

Primo driving though. Empty roads at dawn. I fully zoned. I realised at one point that I had not been referring to the speedometer for some time, instead fully concentrating on the physical actions of driving properly (brake on the straight, get in the right gear before the corner, power through it etc). This doesn't mean I was speeding (I wasn't) or otherwise hooning, just focussed (to an extent I tend to automatically regulate speed subconciously based on gear and engine noise and rpm, like most drivers I suspect). I have no interest in open road speed for its own sake.
/Start rant/. I fully don't understand the street racer must-go-faster mentality I see pretty much everywhere, town and country. Some of the driving I see on the open road scares the hell out of me. I've destroyed one car through my own incompetence and have no desire to do it again, let alone risk myself (I'm probably worth more than the car....). What I can't control is the dopes around me, and that makes me a very actively defensive driver.
/End rant/.

The only annoyance was having to stop three times to chase flying insects out of the car.
I hear others also had this problem.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh the pain

Listening to: Boy racers willy waving in the streets around my house.

The really annoying thing about spraining an ankle or thumb or whatever isn't the pain or inconvenience, or the forced break from sport that is sometimes required (although that is annoying).

Oh no.

If your injury does not completely ground you, but requires some kind of support, it's having to do this, so that strapping tape can be used:

Which is way faster, easier and more convenient than any alternative when to comes to removing the tape.

Still annoying though. Takes ages to grow back.

While we're on the subject, here's what my right hand looked like ten days ago, after a strenuous bout of goalkeeping the day before (which also resulted in the sprained ankle mentioned above. Note that some shaving has also been applied to the wrist to allow easy strapping).

The bit in the square is definitely the wrong colour. In real life the bruising is red, brown and blue-black (the flash washes it out a bit). As Notkate will attest, after the bruising faded, I rebruised it a couple of days ago, so the base of my thumb once again is a funny colour.

Handy hints for easy removal of strapping/brace tape or sticking plasters:

1. Hair dryer. Heating with a hair dryer softens or melts the adhesive, allowing easy removal.
2. Alcohol wipes. If you have these handy apply them to the tape or plaster; the alcohol soaks through the fabric of the tape and dissolves the adhesive.
3. Shave before the tape goes on. Easiest by far.
4. If your masochistic, just rip it off. Messy and painful. Prolonged if you have a full crossover strap applied.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More imagery

Listening to: Chemical Brothers-Come with us

Apologies for the heavy image content, but I am in a sharing mood.

This is a stack of Smartcars in Railway square (apparently if you hire one in the central city you get free parking or something like that). If you look closely the second one from the bottom has a smiley grin marked on its dusty windscreen. I appreciate the effort that someone made to put that there.

View from my hostel window, Railway Square, Sydney.

Graffiti written in dust on a ventilation louvre, I forget which railway station.

The sky at 37,000 feet over the Tasman Sea. Air Travel is pretty surreal anyway, but the view out the window is the final touch. I love the colour of the sky up there, and the clarity. The deep deep blue you get when above most of the atmosphere (density wise at least) is entrancing. Would have shown up better if I wasn't shooting into the sun when I took these.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Listening to: The rythm of the falling rain. My backyard is quietly flooding while I write.

Some Sydney imagery

Thunderstorm approaching Taronga Zoo from across the harbour on Friday. A few minutes later it provided a brief but intense downpour, which was quite nice, as it had been very hot and sticky up until then. Lots of thunder, but no visible lightning unfortunately. I like dramatic skies.

When one is travelling alone, one tends to take self protraits of oneself:

On the ferry to Taronga, Sydney harbour bridge above. I thought I was smiling. Need to work on that. Note also scar and general lopsidedness of my chin due to a spectacular cycling accident at the age of 14.

At the airshow on Saturday, wearing Notkates design. (If you don't believe it is me, check the scar).

Richmond airbase, where the show was, is about 60K west of Sydney. I got there by train, and thus here I am at Central railway station on Sunday morning.

Ones mascots also get a look in:
For the last several years whenever Fi and I have travelled we have taken a small cuddly toy as a mascot/companion/lucky charm. They are also handy for personalising photographs of scenery and sights. Snoopy (last seen modelling my one glove here) was planned to have made this trip, but got left behind when I was packing. So I bought a little Kiwi at Wellington Airport

Kiwi on Sydney harbour. Much warmer than it looks.

The Kiwi was joined by a Koala at Taronga. Here they are in front of the Bambi cloning facility (cunningly disguised as a spotted deer enclosure).

Kiwi minding my other camera at the airshow while waiting for the flying to begin, Saturday. The dude with the black cap on was one of those who prompted my rant about inadequate clothing. His two small boys got well rugged up, but by the end of the day still in only t-shirt and shorts he was visibly shivering to the point where I was wondering if he was becoming hypothermic.

Kiwi emphasising the red soil of the airshow location, Sunday.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Listening to: Ummm, Australian Idol in the hostel lobby. Yerrrgh. I feel unclean.

The details make the difference when you are not at home.
Sydney observations:
-The soil is a different colour. Red mainly.
-Given that the earth is a different colour, so is the majority of the brickwork. So the houses are a different colour. And they mostly appear to have shades above the windows and airconditioning.
-Eftpos here is very new and novel. I have seen several signs, mostly handwritten, explaining how it works.
-Drivers appear to be more aggresive, yet safer. This is based on two observations. Horns are more prevalent here. But when I have driven here (a few years ago) it felt less at risk from other road users.
-The public transport in this city rocks. It is efficient and works and easy to use for a noob.
-Everything is on a different scale. There are no earthquakes here (the 1989 Newcastle event/abberation aside), so nothing limits the height of the buildings. The Sydney suburbs go on forever. Around the train tracks at least, tagging is almost everywhere, including some impressively dangerous locations.
-It is odd being an islander to travel west and know if I kept doing so the next ocean I saw would be the Indian, a few thousand miles away.
-Going to an airshow by public transport is a novelty. Previously I have always driven or flown.
-Also novel is entering the airshow by crossing the only runway.

Airshow recap

Day two saw me use two more rolls of film, and pick up all the shots I missed yesterday. I also shared fence space with a cool Japanese guy with a grunty camera kit. Two Canon digital SLRs, at least four 16GB memory cards, a 400mm lens on one SLR, and a 200mm on the other. Moving between the two was a 4x teleconverter. Being digital both SLRs would likely have built in magnification ability as well. While quite expensive, the zoom capability on hand was awesome.
My 300mm lens looked quite inadequate. I tried to find a teleconverter (basically a magnifier for your zoom lens) to fit my camera before I left but this proved tricky as my camera is technically obsolete.

Still I think I got some good shots for an amateur.

Having done most of my photography yesterday allowed me more time to relax and gawp at planes the way I used to before photographing them became a hobby. "Damn thats cool" crossed my mind several times.
If any are adequate, shots will be posted later on.

Another early start tomorrow, this time to come home. I have Tuesday off. Most of it I think I will be asleep.


Listening to: 'Family Guy' in the hostel lobby

Smashtastic is my new word. It combines 'Smashing' and 'Fantastic' to create a new superlative that I am probably subconciously recycling from somewhere else.
The Airshow today was smashtastic. I'm going back for another helping tomorrow, which is only sensible given that it is the reason for my trip here. I shooot about four rolls of film today. I'll be a bit more judicious tomorrow, mostly picking up good shots that I missed today I hope.
By the law of previous experience, from the amount expended (96ish. Hmm. Lets say 100. This isn't high in the digital age. The guys using digitals near me shot 200+. Film limits you in this regard.) exposures I should get a dozen rubbish shots, 80 okay, with 5-8 great shots. I should take out the shots of planes on the ground, since they are easy to frame when they are not twisting and turning at 500-900 k's an hour. Leaving them in bumps up the OK's and Greats unfairly, and skewers the bell curve. I am optimistic about todays efforts, provided using a slower film speed to reduce graininess didn't completely screw me. I'll have to wait and see what develops.

Sydney has gone from being hot and damp to being cold and wet. Tomorrow should be better. I might even need my sunscreen.

I've been going to airshows for a long time, and I never fail to be amazed by what people think is appropriate dress for standing or sitting in a field or on a bit of tarmac with no shelter from wind, sun or rain. Today was cold and threatening rain. This was evident since dawn, yet still I saw people with no hats, coats, or even second layers. When it's overcast and your are standing in a southerly breeze for a few hours, T-shirt and shorts just doesn't cut it. It's makes you cold and grumpy, let alone your small children who are similarly dressed. Do people just assume it won't be windy or wet? Or do they not understand that an airshow is an outdoor activity? Still working this one out. I thought I was prepared, and still froze my butt off.
End rant.

By the way I wore the T-shirt not kate made me to the show. I have a photo to prove it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Waiting for happy hour

Listening to: 'Futurama' in the hostel lobby

Killing time waiting for the cheap drinks. No plans to get axed, too tired for that. Just a couple of nightcaps before sleep. I have had less than four hours sleep in the last 39 or so hours, which is always the way when I travel. I don't sleep much the night before the off.
I have been walking pretty much all day since I got to the Hostel. My feet and legs are sore.
I am mooching about in my flip flops at the moment (good suggestion Fi!), having finally taken off the boots I put on at 4am this morning. My body thinks it is 10pm. Actually it is coming up on 7:30pm. This was ok though, because I had second breakfast.
Got a little bit of shopping done, and finally made it to Taronga Zoo, which I have been looking forward to since missing out last time I was here five years ago. The zoo was cool. I made eye contact with at least four creatures who could rip me limb from limb without even thinking about it were it not for the impenetrable barriers between us. And its a great zoo as zoos go. And they had Tuatara.
So here I am in Sydney. It is humid. Worse than Auckland or even Fiji. There is always something fun about the first time you encounter the natural air of a place that isn't airconditioned or filtered. It is warm. Not really hot, but it doesn't really get cold. As you walk past buildings you can sense the cold filtered and scented air pouring out of them. The light rain is a relief from the mugginess. I thought I had acclimatised earlier, but not quite.

Travelling completely alone is a novelty. This is the first time I have travelled like this. This morning I felt out of place, but by evening I was OK. Sydney rewards walking around in it all day.

Pros: I have had no arguments yet.
Cons: I have no-one to talk to and share cool experiences with.

I am keeping a journal of sorts. I will try and distill them in a way that doesn't become another travel blog.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"It's a mynock. Chewing on the power cables"

Listening to Jakob-Cale and Drew. Nice call Billy.

We don't have mynocks in suburban Lower Hutt. We do have pet rats though, and after an unfortunate rat/laptop power cable interface the Hutt hacienda has been offline for a few days.
Hint: don't put a rat cage within pulling reach of anything you don't want to end up between the rats teeth. Despite munching on a live power cord, the rat is alive and well. Unfortunately the cord has been declared unusable, and laptop batteries really don't last that long.

I came up with several magnificent ideas for blog posts during the down time, most of which I can't remember off the top of my head.

Off to Sydney on Friday. Yay. Back on Monday in time for netball though, assuming we have a game (which I did back in July when I bought the tickets).

Since I didn't comment on the Uchoose on Sunday, and I know some folk emjoy my ruminations on such, here are my favourite New Zealand music videos. Limited to one per artist for the sake of room.

Emma Paki, "Greenstone". Cool storyline, nice visuals.
Concord Dawn, "Morning Light".
Concord Dawn, "Don't tell me". Mainly because Concord Dawn is in it, and by their own admission they can't dance for shit, which is brutally recorded for posterity.
Shihad, "Stations". "You want a crucifixion? We can do that."
Salmonella Dub, "Long time".
Trinity Roots, "Home, land and sea". This recording done at their last gig makes me wish I had been there.
Gramsci, "Complicated". Paul Mclaney walks while the scenery morphs around him.
Bailterspace, "Splat". One long take. Played backwards. Awesome.
HLAH, "I'm on Fire". I saw the filming of this while watching a one dayer at the Basin (they used helicopters). I love how the song ends, then they play it again only faster. Great cover of one of my favourite songs. Much missed.
Goodshirt, "Blowing Dirt". Again a single take, again played backwards. Goodshirt reassemble a Mazda 929 (my family had a similar 929 back in the day. Two in succession actually. We were loyal customers) with sledgehammers, don Scuba gear and drive away.
Kitsch, "Memory of me". How many musicians can you fit on one soundstage?
Netherworld Dancing Toys, "For Today". Not because it has any great qualities, but it evokes the mid eighties really well.
Dark Tower, "The Baggy Trousers Project".
Voom, "Relax". Man walks down street and removes clothes. Cooler than it sounds.
Fur Patrol, "Beautiful". Julia Deans. Strapped to the front of a truck. Striking.
Scribe, "Dreaming"
Crowded House (Not really a New Zealand band mind), "Fingers of Love"
The Mockers, "One Black Friday"
Supergroove, "Sitting inside my head"
Straightjacket Fits, "Down in splendour"

Back tomorrow, it is pumpkin time

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Organism Fabricated for Forbidden Battle, Logical Assassination and Ceaseless Killing

Synthetic Artificial Mathematics and Ultimate Exploration Lifeform

Offensive, Fearsome, Farmer-Beheading, Livestock-Abducting Creature from the Kingdom

Outstanding Fine Fellow Bestowing Loving and Arousing, Carnal Kisses