Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Listening to: American Standard - Seven Mary Three

Further to the recurring dream post, last night I got the double variation, trying to get to school fifteen years late, and returning to my job of two years ago for a day, and royally screwing something up.


Its now two years since I left my job of seven years at Schering Plough. Its a significant date, as it means my signature will no longer be on any document there as a final reviewer (an industry standard period of review for quality controlled documents is two years). I am now officially relegated to the history section of any procedure I had a hand in authoring or reviewing there.


Strangely unconcerned about Charlotte's op tomorrow. More worried that she won't get to go through with it due to her cold than anything else. The concept is a bit stressful sure, but no worse than anything else we have had to go though with her. Relatively speaking its a little finger poke to a place that has been punched often.
I have caught her cold, to the extent that I have forgone all netball this week, and even got sent home from work today. My head is clagged.


This post coming to you courtesy of the USB keyboard the Kirsten gave us. Slightly novel, but a lot more comfortable than pounding away on a laptop.


Enjoying the film festival at the moment. It has been a while since I was in a position to make a maximum effort to get to the things I wanted to see and I am happy I have been able to get along to a few things this year with good company. More about this later.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Self Indulgence

Listening to: Pisces Iscariot - Smashing Pumpkins. A 1994 ish compilation of B-sides and offcuts, it is actually better than some of their albums proper.

Playing around the other day trying to get a good selfie of me and the kid. Note: this is much easier with a compact camera than my D-SLR

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty Years Ago

Got this in the paper the morning to mark the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing. Its a reprint of The Dominion's edition for that day.
There is a copy of the original at my parents place. Strange to think that this era defining event occured the better part of half a century ago. Strange also to think this was only seven years before I was born. The last moon landing occured less than four years before I was born. The whole Apollo programme now feels like the last dramatic expression of the technological idealism and innocence that marked the immediate post war era. Nothing in manned spaceflight since has even come close to inspiring the imagination the way Apollo did.
I have been interested in this for as long as I can remember. I grew up poring over the images of dusty astronauts exploring an alien terrain, and I still have the capacity to gaze at them in awe and wonder. Given the chance to time travel, high on the list would be viewing a Saturn V launch. Seeing a contraption the size of the aerial on Mt Kaukau launch itself into the sky alas is something I can only imagine and watch on video. I even have a favourite era of Apollo exploration. The first couple of missions were little more than proof of concept day stays; the first moonwalk lasted only two and a half hours. The later missions after Apollo 13 are much more interesting to me, with mulitple moonwalks lasting hours on end, with the lander remaining on the surface for up to three days, a rover to extend the astronauts reach, and real science being performed. While the historical focus is on the first landing, its easy to forget that there were five others, equally as successful, and equally as dangerous.
In the glory days of 1969, it felt like the start of a new era, which ultimately never came to pass, which is often the way of history. If the sixties were the party, the seventies were the hangover, and there were other and better things to do than build on Apollo's foundation. Rightly or wrongly, NASA is now a pale shadow of the organisation that put men on the moon. The sixties kids had the dramatic Apollo moon rocket as the spacecraft of their generation. Us seventies kids got the much more sensible and grown up Space Shuttle (itself now nearing retirement after 28 years of service). While I missed seeing any of the moon missions as they happened, I do remember a dark early morning in 1981 watching on live television the Columbia land after the first space shuttle flight into orbit. If the chance materialises to get to Florida for one of the few remaining Shuttle launches I'm there. And I still want to grow up to be an Astronaut.
P.S. Don't even get me started on the whole hoax/conspiracy thing. Thats a whole other post / rant in itself. It's depressing and frustrating that the idea has gained enough currency that it can be a topic of serious discussion, or failing that, being the question of the day to breakfast radio callers like I heard this morning. Its the ignorance posing as fact that both annoys and dismays me. The idea is simply not credible, let alone plausible. And the 'evidence' just isnt.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Headlines you really don't expect to see in New Scientist

Including lab studies with willing volunteer erm, demonstrators. Thats one way to get more people into science.

*For anyone wishing to investigate further, the article is in the May 30 2009 edition of 'New Scientist' magazine issue no. 2710. I like New Scientist, it makes science accesible without dumbing anything down. I find something interesting on every issue, and thanks to work get to read it at my leisure for free.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yay modern medicine!

Listening to: Apropos of Nothing - Various Artists under the Angry Rabbit banner

We had another consultation with the surgeon who did Charlotte's TOF repair yesterday and got to see the results of Charlotte's Barium Swallow (linky) yesterday. The swallow was done since Charlotte hasn't progressed to solids as fast as she should, and can't in fact eat anything more solid than pureed and sieved vegetables at the moment. On the swallow images the area where the two ends of her esophagus were joined together is quite dramatically visible. At the site of the join her esophagus narrows to a width of about 5mm, which explains why even a grain of rice is too much for her to take.
The theory is that maybe some acid reflux from her stomach (which had to be stretched upward a little to enable the upstream connections to be made) irritated the scar tissue at the join site and stopped it widening with the surrounding tissue. This is a common complication for this surgery. To fix it, in a couple of weeks Charlotte will have a balloon run down her throat under general anaesthetic, which will then be inflated at the join site to stretch and widen the passage to something approaching normal. All going well, she should be able to eat more normally for someone her age. It would be nice to see those little teeth chewing on something we haven't mulched first.
It means some more hospital time for us (hopefully only a day or two), but we are kinda used to that, and we have seen lots of kids far worse off than her in recent times.

NB, for any newish readers unfamiliar with the story so far, my daughter Charlotte was born 9 and a half months ago with a defect known as Esophageal Atresia with tracheo-oesophageal fistula (linky, specifically Type A in the diagram at the top of the page), which was fixed surgically at one day old and kept her in the neo-natal intensive care ward for three weeks after she was born. Still feels wierd writing that down in a normal way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recurring Dream

Listening to: Man of Colours - Icehouse. I admit its fully MOR late 80's soft rock, but it scratches a nostalgic itch, and you don't need a psychologist and a thesaurus to understand the lyrics.

Last night I dreamt I was in New York. It wasn't a very realistic New York as far as I can tell (I have never been there in real life), seeming to be a melange of bits of Wellington and perhaps Venice transplanted to a demonstrably exotic location, but I saw the Verrazano Narrows bridge off in the distance, plus I knew I was in New York. For some reason I had my old film camera instead of my digital one, in a decision that was initially dream logical but quickly turned out to be wrong. It was fun being a tourist, but frustrating, as I kept running into my friends who live overseas but wasn't able to catch up beyond a few pleasantries and a hug before they had other places to be. I woke up missing my distant friends. It was also a long dream, playing out in several hours in real time as evidenced by my waking up and seeing the time before returning to New York.

Despite the melancholic ending, it was an interesting dream, incorporating a couple of recurring elements of my nightly subconscious wanderings. I have enough of these to make a list.

1. The Camera Fail
At the moment this one seems to be most common. I'll be somewhere and there will be things crying out to be documented, or great photographs to be had (often at airshows). Except I have forgotten my camera, or I can't get it to work. Another way this happens is I will go to pick up my own camera, only to find it is someone elses and I cannot operate it. I once went through half a dozen cameras in this routine before finding my own, by which time the moment had long gone.

2. The Long Player Epic
The dream that lasts all night, which can be woken from and returned to. Sometimes this is good, and I don't want to wake up. Other times, like the time I dreamt the scenario in On the Beach had been transplanted to my home city its not so much fun. This happened once and the dream was so nasty I cannot remember anything about it, other than it was unpleasant.

3. The Crazy Netball Dream
I will be playing Indoor Netball, except it will be fundamentally nuts in some way. 50 players on the court, a six foot high hoop, using a tennis or squash ball instead of a netball etc. I almost never dream about indoor netball in a conventional sense.

4.The Elevation beyond my skills dream
I will find myself playing rugby for the all blacks, or playing drums at a Foo Fighters concert for example, despite having no demonstrable skills in either discipline.

5. The Study Fail
The standard 'The exam is tomorrow and I haven't studied or even attended lectures for the entire term' dream that a lot of people have I think. I have to wake up and remind myself that I graduated ten years ago.

6. The Bailout
I'll decide that I don't like the particular direction the dream is heading and wake myself up. I'm quite proud of this particular skill, even if I am not always capable of executing it.

In addition to the above, I am told I also sleep talk, sometimes walk and awake in very confused and agitated states on occasion. I can also remember dreams that were recurrent in my early childhood, but ceased as I got older. Tricksy things subconsciouses.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Work the camera baby

Listening to: Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins. The soundtrack to many parties of my teens, brings back too many memories to recount and often makes me come over all wistful and nostalgic.

Special guest photographer/star for this post is Kirsten after seeing an opportunity and grabbing my camera during an idle moment with Charlotte in the hospital. The pictures span a time frame of about thirty seconds.

The last one is my favourite.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Recent Imagery #5

Listening to: Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind. 1998 feels like a long time ago....

About the only recurring title on this blog, this is at least the 5th iteration. Make of it what you will.

Playing with perspective in Mt Victoria tunnel
Saw this line up while investigating a new photography location at the airport. I like that the aircraft are ordered sizewise bigger to smaller as they progress into the distance.
Low cloud and mist creeping across the hills in front of my house on a cold winter's day
Also in front of my house, high clouds on the horizon at sunset signalling a change in the weather in the next few hours
Hungry beanbag devours baby, NOM NOM NOM
Bucket Fountain on a sunny winter morning. I like how all the water droplets are catching the light.
The recently closed Griffins biscuit factory in Gracefield, awaiting demolition or redevelopment
Late afternoon sunlight piercing a hail shower in the hills

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Deja Vu

We spent four days and nights in hospital last week while Charlotte dealt with a bout of Bronchiolitis (wiki link). Her respiration rate doubled and she wound up on oxygen and a fluid drip for a couple of days. Nothing to do with her previous troubles, more of a something that can happen in winter thing. Both of us caught her bug but it only gave us colds.
Along the way it gave my parents and sisters a chance to retell their stories of my stays in hospital as a small child with asthma. My parents spent many long days and nights at my bedside and now I was following in their footsteps with my own child. I grew up hating hospitals, and have only really gotten used to them as an adult. They are strange places at night, simultaneously still and busy, quiet and noisy. Fitful and unsettled sleep is interrupted by strangers coming and going, to be remembered as vague shapes and shadows, and the beeping and other noises of equipment. Overriding your comfort needs is tending the sick child who is your reason for being in this place. If you are lucky they will sleep, and you will only be woken every couple of hours by the beeping of the drip needing resetting. If you are unlucky like Fi was the first night, the need for cuddles and settling will override your need for sleep, and the most you can hope for is that she will eventually settle and not keep the other occupants of the room awake.

On my night in Charlotte slept mostly, and I only had to deal with the drip and one of the other parents snoring. We got our own quiet isolation room after a couple of days while the virus ran its course, until Charlotte was released on Thursday pretty much good as new. We on the other hand were tired and rundown, and coming down with colds.

Four days is better than three weeks though. Charlotte remains awesome. I marvel daily at my luck in being able to call her my daughter, even when she is being a complete baggage. Baggage phases are not often though, and here she is in complete sleeping non baggage mode.