Sunday, March 29, 2009

Roadtripping ephemera

If you haven't noticed already, the results of the photo challenge are posted below. The winner was Janet, by virtue of having the highest proportion of submissions to hits.
Congratulations! A prize will be heading your way once I figure out what it is.

Just some random roadtrip pics

Just in case any Auckland readers are wondering why I visited their fair city and didn't look them up, its because I really was just passing through. I was staying in Orewa, attending an event in the upper harbour area, and spent no time in the city proper at all. I got in late Friday and left early Sunday, with a very full Saturday in between.

Chinook got to be the mascot for this trip, as he hasn't seen that much of his adopted homeland yet. As usual he insisted on riding up front.
This is one of my favourite ways to start the day. A full tank of petrol, nothing on the tripmeter, the morning sun shining and the open road beckoning.
Continuing my indulgence with old abandoned houses near Taihape. I saw an excellent example near Cambridge, but was running out of camera battery, so it will have to wait until next time.
Sunrise over Great Barrier Island from Hatfields Beach, Orewa 21st March 09
Wide shot from the same location
At the airshow Chinook wasted little time finding people from his part of the world (ish) to hang out with, courtesy of a visiting United States Air Force transport from Alaska
He also guarded my gear bag quite effectively.
The car after my journey from Wellington, with an interesting collection of mashed insects to ponder.
My quiet (very quiet) accomodations in Orewa
I mentioned earlier that in addition to a photo challenge I was also on something of an economy drive. I can state for the record that it is 592 kilometers from the Avalon Shell station in Lower Hutt to the Mobil in Mercer that I dared not go past. The fuel capacity on my MX-5 is 48 litres. I know from experience that when the gauge is showing empty there is still between 4 and 6 litres in the tank. However while the absolute capacity is 48 litres, that is no guarantee that all 48 litres are available for use (usable volume). Also once you are eating into that reserve you are off the gauge, and running the risk of running out of fuel at any time without warning.
So when the gauge looks like this (in Taupo on the way back) the drive gets quite exciting indeed:
My previous trip to Auckland saw me getting to Hamilton before refuelling. Mercer is only on the south side of the Bombay Hills which are the traditional southern boundary to Auckland, and from which you can see the Skytower so I did a lot better this time. I drove pretty conservatively, not overtaking, descending hills in neutral, and not revving the engine if I could avoid it. This plus the general reduced consumption on the open road got me an extra 130+ kilometres of travel compared to my normal around town driving.
That said I think I could have got more. The car wasn't as clean as I could get it, either literally or aerodynamically. I had the rear window down for most of the way which would have increased drag, the radio aerial staying up while I had the CD player on did the same, and the general layer of dirt and gunk on the car that results from me not having washed it in a while didn't help the aerodynamics either.
The tankful of petrol acquired in Mercer got me all the way to Taupo on the way home after some not particularly conservative driving in Auckland. Aside from the bits where I was wondering if I would run out of petrol before getting to a servo, it was a fun exercise.
I made a side trip to Palmy on the way home, and heading back to the main road I caught this great and moody underlit sky in the early evening.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Challenge Redux results 4: El Leonski's list

1. "The corrugated iron dog thing"

In Tirau, it was photgraphed for the last challenge in 2007, and hence ineligible

2. "A healthy sheep, free range and all"

3. "2 trees and a horse"

Near Cambridge. If it was going to be anywhere, Cambridge was the place
4. "Lake Taupo red with the setting sun"
Since I wasn't anywhere near Lake Taupo at sunset, I couldn't get this. So here is one I prepared earlier, from September 2006. Its a very red shade of gold.

5. "A hole in one on the lake Taupo golf challenge"
Also covered on the 2007 challenge.

6. "The tank outside the Waiouru military museum"
There being three tanks to choose from outside the museum, I chose the Scorpion since it was the youngest and prettiest (and also capable of 120+kph on the open road)
7. "3 good looking Kiwi birds"
Despite being open to interpretation, in the event I wasn't able to photograph anything that fitted this description.

Challenge Redux results 3: Richs list

1. "The Peach Teats Cow - extra points for a shot with a real cow in view"

Near Mangaweka, sadly sans famuex vache
2. "At least 5 Subways, all on the SH1 route taken (no detours) - the old one in Bulls (now opposite the new one on Bulls) could count if necessary."

I managed without the evil Bulls Subway

I. Orewa
II. Cambridge
III. Tirau
IV. Waiouru
V. Levin

3. "A laden Hithchhiker"
Too difficult to photograph, besides I hardly saw any (3 to be precise, and two of them were together)
4. "A truck stopped at the side of the road or in a rest area in the middle of nowehere"
Only saw one, was unable to stop and record it.
5. "The David Lange Memorial in Mangere"
Not on SH1, although I intended to go and have look on my way home but forgot.

Challenge Redux results 2: Janet's List

1. "The Waikato River Control gates in Taupo"

Note mascot Chinook proving I was actually there
2. "A sign protesting against the Transpower pylon upgrade in the Waikato"

I was expecting heaps of these, but this was the only one I saw, just north of Tirau
3. "The Huntaway dog in Hunterville"
Its amazing the quality of photograph you can maintain while boresighting the camera from a moving car at 50kph.
4. "A Lost Hubcap"
These were all presuambly lost at some point. Ohingaiti

5. "A combine harvester or other farm machinery being driven really slowly on the highway"
Tractor near Cambridge. Note the vintage car also being driven really slowly on the left
6. "A rest area with a pretty view"
Mission bay, lake Taupo
7. "The Mangakino Viaduct"
Against an ominous sky
8. "A stock crossing sign"
By the time I started looking for these on the way home, they had all disappeared. There aren't any in the lower North Island bit of SH1. There are heaps north of Taupo though.
9. "An empty riverbed"
Plenty of these on the Desert Road, but since they tended to coincide with gullies and windy bits there was nowhere handy safe to pull over and photograph them. Elsewhere they tend to be invisible.
10. "An interesting letterbox"
I know they are out there, but even when I was looking I just didn't see any.
Still no banks converted to antique or second hand shops. There must be one somewhere.

Challenge redux results 1 : Lauren's List

Right, the results are in from the photo challenge. I'm going to post each list separately, otherwise it just gets crazy.

To be eligible, a target had to be visible from a moving car on State Highway One. Several submissions failed to adhere to this dictum and were ignored.

1. "Kiwi Bird Highway sign"

There aren't any on SH1 between Wellington and Auckland

2. "A Sign with a cheesy Bull related pun in Bulls"

Try the Rat Hole pub in Bulls. Its remark-a-bull.

3. "The Giant Carrot at Ohakune"

Not on SH1

4. "The monument for the 1953 Tangiwai Rail disaster"

Not on SH1

5. "A Fish and Chips Shop, possibly in Paraparaumu"

"Snappers" Fish and Chip shop in Paraparumu. Used to be a hot bread shop a loooooong time ago.

6. "A wild horse sign on the highway"

Near Turangi. Note how much nicer the weather is than the last time we went looking for these Lauren!

7. "A Beautiful Sunset"
Missed the first two out of the three sunsets on offer, but I caught this at Paekakariki on the way home
8. "A winding road sign for a distance of over 2okm"
There aren't any on the stretch of SH1 I travelled. There might be some north of Auckland though
9. "Mt Ruapehu"
Was closed in by cloud when I passed by, so here is a shot I took when passing by in February this year. Looks different with no snow on it eh?
10. "Somebody wearing a beret or fedora or some other equally entertaining piece of headware.
I'm not sure how I was supposed to get that from a passing car, but in the event I didn't see any anyway. However at the airshow I did see this interesting man with ribbons in his hair, so made an exception to the competition rules. You had to see this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Game on

Right I'm off to Auckland for the weekend then.

And I have a list.......
Let the challenge commence.

Still not too late to submit en route by txt!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

48 hours to comply

Listening to: the radio Actually, no I'm not, since the radio got boring, so now I am listening to Nobody Town - Heavy Jones Trio

Photo Challenge Redux
Two years ago I drove up to Auckland on my lonesome to attend an Airshow. Having no-one to talk to, and pondering ways to stay alert, I hit upon a blog driven photo challenge to keep me occupied on the drive. I elicited targets from my readers, and it was wildly successful, in the way that only a man taking random pictures of things at the side of the road can be.

The initial challenge call is here
The results are here

So two years on after a planned family trip to the AK was scaled back, and scaled back again, I find myself facing 18 odd hours of solo tedium, which singing out loud badly can only go so far to relieve (although the airshow in the middle should help a bit, and hopefully my choice of campsite).

So who's up for a rematch?

The rules are simple. Via the magic of comments, or txt if you have my number, or email if you have that, tell which things between Wellington and Auckland that are notionally visible from State Highway 1 you want a happy snap of.

I'll only apply two caveats:
1. Nothing from the previous list is allowed. Too easy. I posted the links so you could do your homework.
2. Anything requiring an interior shot that isn't a tunnel will not be eligible. Especially not the interior of public toilets, which I got a frankly alarming number of requests for last time.

Whoever gets the most targets photographed gets a prize.

Since this trip is being done on an exact and tight budget, I'm also willing to run a side sweepstake on how far I'll get on a single tank of petrol by employing hypermiling (ah, where would we be without Wikipedia? Probably a little bit smarter I think) techniques. On my last trip up I got to the far side of Hamilton (about 530 km) before needing a refill. Since at a stretch I can get that sort of milage around town, I'm thinking a big improvement can be gained on the open road. Guess the best milage out of a tank I get and you get a prize.

I'm setting off at around 0700 on Friday morning, so you have until then to get your requests in.

Other Stuff

Homegrown was a lot of fun. I spent most of it revisiting old and good times, embracing the fact that in recent years I have diversified into listening to several genres, at heart I am a rocker.

Fur Patrol never really went away, although they are nothing like as visible now as they were in the late nineties and early oughts. Still a much better band live than they ever were recorded.
I had never seen Dimmer live before, so had no idea what to expect, but I do have one of their albums, so my expectation of effects laden fuzz rock turned out to be right on. I thought to be fair I should have gotten a picture that includes the band as well as Shane Carter, but since for all intents and purposes he is Dimmer, he can suffice (I mean, can anyone name any other members off the top of their heads?). If you don't know ho he is, google the name and follow the links around for a while.
I was hanging out to see Hutt rockers Weta, since I wasn't yet a fan the last time I saw them play (Supporting Soundgarden at The Wellington Town Hall in 1996). I didn't really get into them until they had ceased to function, albeit after revealing a very 'grows on you' album in 2000. Reforming just for this event, they stated that this was to be their last gig, so I am glad I was there. And it was a good set, they were tight for a band that hasn't toured in ten years, and played all of my favourites. It got a bit weird at the end when they had one too many hangers on on stage, but it was so worth it.
But what me and a whole lot of other people were also hanging out for was seeing the almighty Head Like A Hole (later shortened to HLAH) reformed. And they owned it like they had never been away, the best gig from anyone I have seen in a while. They have always been one of my favourite live acts. The music was loud and tight, and the banter truly kiwi rock and roll (including a hilarious send up of fellow festival performers Evermore). HLAH reminded everybody of just why they are local legends of the game.
Fur Patrol, Weta and HLAH were all prominent bands in the Wellington scene in the 1990's. Now the Wellington scene (for lack of a better word) seems to be a bit dub heavy (more about that later), but back then it was all rock baby. At the time I felt a certain pride and ownership that these bands (and others) were making good music in my city, and they were from my city, it was exciting. Revisiting it was a whole lot of fun, and more than a little wistful. Plus it was evident that while I always thought of them as 'ours' in the sense of being Wellington bands, a whole lot of people came to see them on Saturday because they thought of them as 'ours' in the sense of being New Zealand bands, which was cool.
I was a bit moany about the scheduling on Saturday, and still am a little bit (I missed Concord Dawn entirely, caught the end of Supergroove's set, and didn't realise Shapeshifter were still playing until after I had left), but overall it was nice not to travel anywhere to go to a decent one day music event, and I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Too much choice Bro!

Heading off to Homegrown in a couple of hours, and some difficult decisions about which stage and set to catch. The classic festival dilemma. I understand that scheduling is a fine art, but sometimes it feels like you are only allowed to be into one genre at these things.

The first decision is where to park the car. Fortunately there isn't anyone on stage I want to see until 4 or so, so I have plenty if time to resolve that issue.

First on my list according to the published schedule is Fur Patrol at 1625. All good, no clashes yet, at least until Tiki starts at 1640. I figure I will half and half on those sets.

Nothing much happening between then and 6 or 7. I might use the time to explore, or see The Black Seeds at 6, but I am not that into them at all, so might try and find some food, or check out the merch.

At 7 I have a choice of Dimmer or OpShop. Hmmmm, Dimmer methinks.

Then the real hard choices start to come thick and fast. I've been hanging out to see State of Mind perform for a while, and the start of their set at 8 is free, but then both Weta and Blindspott get started on different stages at 2025. Do I abandon two, or try and see bits of all three?

It only gets worse from here on in. Concord Dawn take over from State of Mind at 2130, another act I have wanted to see for a while, but also at the same time as Shapeshifter who I also want to see. To make things even more complicated, Supergroove and Head Like A Hole start at 2145.

At a Big Day Out once I blew off The Red Hot Cilli Peppers to go see HLAH, and never regretted it. That said, at another BDO I dropped Joe Strummer for Scribe, which I rue very much.

Wish me luck.....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

20 years ago

Listening to: A mix comp still on the hard drive. Currently playing 'Progress' by Midnight Oil.

I'm also listening to Charlotte coughing and spluttering as she deals with her first cold. Given that her lungs put together equate to less than half of one of mine, this is no easy thing. She only has little lungs.

I realised a little while ago that it is now twenty years since I started secondary school (high school for you foreign readers). The eighties seem a long long way away now.

The summer of 1988-89 is one I remember as lots of sunny days, which sounds silly but I don't remember the rainy ones. For Christmas I had received my first proper point and shoot autofocus camera (which I still have, and is still functional), in preparation for my first overseas trip at the end of 1989. I would see in the new decade at a house party in Sunderland in the northeast of England. A lot of time was spent at the beach or at the river, or just messing around as you do when you are in your teens. It was the last summer we had the use of the bach at Raumati South which we had frequented for the last five years. I hated to leave it behind, since the place and location were awesome. We would go up there for a week at a time during the holidays and basically do nothing but swim and play boardgames, occasionally going up to Coastlands or Waikanae. The last day I was there there was a high overcast with no wind and no swell. It was grey and still and matched my mood perfectly.

I had a paper run delivering the Evening Post six nights a week, which earned me about $30 per month in pocket money, which was reasonable money for a tween at the time.

Fluoro was definitely king, with pastel a close queen. David Lange was still Prime Minister. Walkmans were still a relative novelty, as were pushbutton phones. Cellphones were the preserve of the wealthy only. Def Leppard had released 'Hysteria' a year earlier, GnR's 'Sweet Child of Mine' was similarly only a year old, and together they were the summer soundtrack. The last dance at the intermediate Form Two disco was the number one cover of 'Sweet Lovers' by local band The Holidaymakers. On the night after the last day of intermediate there was a Blue Light Disco (dances for underage kids organised and promoted by the police) at the town hall, which I remember taking a break from to watch a bushfire on the hills near where I lived. Bushfires on the eastern hills used to be a regular occurrence, and this one in particular was comparatively large. You can still see where the burn was today. The Blue Light is a fun memory now, lots of early teen boys and girls thrown together with not real idea of what to do with each other. I was looking forward to seeing the first decade change I would remember, and being able to say I was in the last class of the 80's at my new school.

Its probably got a lot to do with changing schools, but 1989 doesn't feel like part of the 1980's at all.

I was in the top part of the school academically at my intermediate, to the point where myself and a few others can been considered worthy enough to try out for a scholarship exam at college. I remember the exam, but not exactly when it was, but late 1988 sometime.

After attending St Bernards intermediate, my preference was to move on to the college located across the playing field, most of my friends were going there, and I liked being a ten minute walk from school. Having been reserved a place at St Patricks Silverstream at the age of four however, remaining local was never an option.

I think the first day was late January of 1989. My parents have a picture of me at the front gate setting off for the train station, on a sunny summer morning. Being all of 12, and not turning 13 until the latter part of the year, I was the youngest of the 600 odd roll by a long way. I don't remember the first day. Catching the train would have been no big deal, since I had been doing that to get to primary school anyway, and was a seasoned train traveller. I remember hot summer afternoons in a new (and surprisingly comfortable) uniform, being indoctrinated into the lore and ways of a new school (like learning the haka and school song), and the vastness of the playing fields in the sunlight.

I soon found a like minded niche, collectively known as the 'Nerd Herd', and got settled, as much as you ever get settled at high school. Mixing with boarders from other parts of the country was a novel experience. Third form camp was fun, marred only by one guy breaking his pelvis falling from a positively dangerous variation on a flying fox mechanism. I encountered for-real exams at the end of the year, accompanied by my first experience of stress induced indigestion. I played soccer in the winter, and enjoyed that too, despite being forced to play for my school instead of the club I had previously played for. I met friends who I still make time for today.

I also tried to get my head around the fact that I would spend the next five years of my life at this institution. Back then it seemed like forever.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


I noticed this a couple of weeks ago:
Someone (not me, although I threatened to do it many times) has corrected the Ian Curtis mural on Wallace Street in the central Wellington suburb of Mount Cook. If it had been me I suspect I would have done a better job and not used pale pink to cover white.
This went up about three years ago around the time of the 25th anniversary of Curtis' death.

And has bugged me ever since, especially since I drive past it every time I go to netball or Frisbee. Over three years thats a lot of vision.

I mean if you care enough about the man, and are motivated to risk a wilful damage charge to express that feeling, surely you would get the dates right? Curtis' lifespan as painted was 1960-1981. Which isn't right. He was alive from 1956-1980, as our intrepid editors have rightly corrected. Well, attempted to correct at least.

Maybe Budgie knows more about all this. After all, Budgie RULZ:
PS, if you are wondering who Ian Curtis is, google "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and follow the links around for a while.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Build a bridge

We three braved the elements on Saturday to explore the first part of the Dowse to Petone interchange to actually get finished. I'd been wanting to take some pictures of the project for a while for various reasons (one being seeing it every day in various states while commuting to the hospital to visit Charlotte back in September), so sod the rain, we were in.

Letting people explore a major works project before it opens to traffic is a neat idea. The gold coin donation went to Te Omanga, and it lets people connect with what could otherwise be an impenetrable piece of architecture.

Plus wandering around on foot in a place where it will shortly be very dangerous to do so has a certain cheap thrill frisson to it:
I like watching things come together and seeing them in a half finished state, especially when you can follow progress over a period of months.
Some finishing touches were still being applied around us
And it will be cool to tell someone years from now that they were here when it was brand new.
Having ambled over it on foot, I have since driven over it since it opened yesterday. It has straight bit on the bridge part that is just straight enough to make your indicator self cancel when you need it to not do that, and the slip road back down to the motorway is a little bit short and angled for the required merge. That said the Hutt road entry and exit is really good, with good sightlines for oncoming traffic and clear signposting.
Also it was opened yesterday and has already been tagged. Admittedly it was supporting one of the schools participating in the McEvedy Shield athletics comp presumably held today (since I saw other exhortations in a simliar theme along the rest of the motorway into town), rather than graph art, but that has to be some kind of record time wise.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Carnival 2

More carnival madness, from the night parade this time.