Thursday, January 29, 2009

Itsy bitsy spider

$2 coin for scale. Maybe not big compared to say a tarantula or something, but certainly not itsy bitsy to have roaming free around my house. We first encountered this guy on tuesday night, when it eluded my attempts to trap it (Fi was reaching for the bug spray, but since I don't like killing things without trying other elimination techniques first I managed to stay her hand. Besides, I have a soft spot for spiders). Those big long legs mean it can move quite fast.

It wandered up to say hello last night while I was at the computer. And after recording its presence, I successfully captured it this time, and reintroduced it to the backyard.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Still diseased

I was forcibly reminded last night that despite how fit I may get, despite being able to ignore it most of the time, despite having the lung function of a 19 year old, I am still an asthmatic, and probably always will be.

Lung function is no good if your airways are constricted. More than two hours after the frisbee game ended, I was still wheezing and coughing, speaking in a low quiet voice and having to pause for breath at the top of the stairs (while good for my calves, living in a three story house at times has its disadvantages).

I'm not sure if there is anyone out there who doesn't at least have a schoolyard understanding of asthma and its symptoms (wiki wrap up here. So useful wiki). Contrary to most people's impressions it is not a lung condition. Asthma restricts the windpipe and airways through spasmodic contraction of the surrounding muscle tissue; the analogy of breathing through a straw is a good one.

I was symptomatic since birth, with a remission between the ages of five and ten. A lot of my early memories feature driving through darkened streets to the hospital, coughing uncontrollably, and often with the familiar wheeze accompaniment. I remember the oxygen masks and the hospital stays as well, contributing to my lifelong loathing of such places.

That said, I am only very mildly afflicted. It plays up when I have colds, or run too hard or too fast, or get exposed to the wrong kind of smoke, dust or vapour. 90 percent of the time I don't even notice it. I don't use a preventer inhaler, all I need to carry around is a ventolin puffer to use as and when required. For some it is a debilitating condition, and for others life threatening (remember Scarlet from 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'? The actress who played her died from an asthma attack).

I am just symptomatic enough to be aware of it, be occasionally frustrated by it, and for it to deny me my lifelong career ambition. I hate having it.

I'm not sure what the trigger was yesterday. I think my utter lack of nous when it comes to Ultimate Frisbee may have something to do with it. I'm not unfit. I'm not super fit either. Having a cold last week didn't help either, as I couldn't exercise as much with the cold, and my colds tend to linger no matter how mild.

The problem I have with Ultimate is I haven't yet figured out my timing, or where and when I need to be, which means I have to run too hard too often, usually meaning I wind up stranded at one end of the field with no energy while the guy I am supposed to be marking scores at the other end.

I haven't yet had the 'click' when it comes to Ultimate, the moment where everything clicks together and starts making sense. Others like Kate, Jon and Dave seem to have picked it up naturally, whereas I have never met a sport I didn't struggle with at first. I am not a natural athlete. I can catch the thing okay, throw it properly sometimes, but so far have only the vaguest notion about the subtleties of the gameplay.

I am in it for the running around with friends bit more than enjoyment of the sport itself. Not quite enjoying it yet as a game yet. I need to reach a certain level of competency before the fun starts. I'm trying really hard to enjoy it, but a lot of factors get in the way. Not being able to get to many games is a big one, that limits my skill and knowledge development.

I find it an odd game. I can see the point about not having umpires, but it would be nice not to have seemingly endless faffing around when a play is disputed, or players following some rules and not others if no-one calls them on it. Also nice would be players who can dispense the rules without being really condescending about it.

The organisation for this league at least is laughably amateurish. Telling teams on game day they have three games instead of one is simply incompetent. And noble aspirations aside, there is no way it is the all-weather sport the organisers would like to imagine it is. Highly skilled players might be able to compete in high winds and rain, but for the rest it is farcical, and running around on soaking wet grass in anything without sprigs can get injury incurring very quickly (speaking from experience as a former Touch player). To put it another way, Ultimate gets played in conditions that would cancel Touch, a game that has much less sensitive equipment.

The players are a slightly different mix from most social sports as well. To put it one way, in indoor netball you encounter players from virtually every other social code. For a lot of the Ultimate players I have personally interacted with I get the feeling that this is the only social sport they would ever consider playing, almost like "I wouldn't normally play sports, but I can play this one because it isn't really a sport" sort of vibe, like ultimate has some sort of plausible deniability attached and its too cool for school when it comes to other codes. Where this feeling comes from I am uncertain.

It is a hard perception to define, but there is definitely an explicit undertone of exclusive snobbery and disdain for other codes vibe with some players, which is present in all codes, but feels more obvious in this one. I might be wildly off base with this and no-one will agree with me, but that's my perception. You don't have to agree.

And while every sport has its uber serious players who leave their sense of humour on the side of the pitch (I know, I appreciate the irony of me writing about this), the "Look at me, are you intimidated yet?" factor somehow comes across much more ridiculously with a disc in your hand.

My long held opinion, and I'm sticking by it, is that any player who wears skins (linky) for a social sport is taking the game way too seriously. Like last nights opposition captain, who was not only witheringly patronising and anal about exactly precisely indisputably locating where an infringement took place and what particular rule section or clause had been broken, ordered his team about like a bunch of servants, was the first player I have seen invoke a time out (not once but twice) and generally seemed to be having no fun at all. And was wearing skins. There is another guy like him I play fairly regularly at netball, and like netball, I am glad I am not in his team.

This wasn't meant to be a rant about Ultimate. I can see how it could be fun and rewarding, and I want it to be fun and rewarding, but I am finding it really hard work at the moment.

Still, I get to run around and be silly with my friends, which I like.

Monday, January 26, 2009

'Twas a good lash*

There was sunshine,There were pretty buildings,
There were well dressed men,

There were even more well dressed women,

There were heaps of other people too,

There was food and drink,

There was dancing,
Oh and two really nice people got hitched as well.....

Congrats M+C.
Thanks for the occasion, a whole lot of good times, and letting us be a part of it all.

* Quoting a cousin of mine referring to my own wedding

Monday, January 19, 2009


The colour of the Wairarapa in summer is definitely yellow
I took a detour through south Wairarapa on the way home from the airshow on Sunday
Being from a valley, I always enjoy epic sky scapes. Here a large cumulonimbus cloud is blowing itself out after losing all its energy crossing the Tararua mountain range.
This avenue of trees is near Gladstone. I have no idea why, but I love it anyway
Tree tunnels are just cool.
Church, Gladstone.

I also found a few more abandoned houses for my collection

This one has still colourful stained glass detailing aruond the front door, and an abandoned car in the tress nearby
Some houses are more abandoned than others.....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heads up

Always read the fine print:

"Warning: Phenylephrine may cause sleeplessness in some people"

Got that right.

I have a cold at the moment, which I am reasonably successfully keeping at bay with appropriate over the counter meds, most of which appear to involve two or three doses a day.

Thinking I was being reasonably sensible, and not exceeding the recommended dose, I took some before bed last night.


The induced sleeplessness resulted in several hours of somewhat altered conciousness and perception as I drifted between wakefulness and sleep, never quite managing either. There might have been some delirium, and there were definitely hallucinations.

I recall feeling like my head was separate from my body. I often woke up not knowing where I was (which admittedly isn't unusual for me), but often also not knowing who I was, which I found quite disturbing.

Underlining this was a vague and disturbing dream that persisted most of the night, the contents and subject of which I have great difficulty discerning. It had something to do with the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's. I'm not sure why or how, I just know. I am reading Robert Fisk's "The Great war for civilisation" at the moment, which probably has something to do with it, spending as it does a not inconsiderable period of time discussing the subject.

I think perhaps I may have been conscripted or something. The battlefield (I think thats what it was) was shrouded in dense mist, with isolated clearings filled with details I cannot recall, and my fellow conscripts and I were subject to imperatives and demands I could not understand.

I have spent most of the day trying to reconstruct the experience, but the best I can come up with are fleeting glimpeses and hints with no details. Confusing is a good summary.

Suffice to say, for good period of time last night I was somewhat seriously rewired, got about three hours of good sleep once the Pep wore off (hang on a minute; in abbreviating Phenylephrine it occurs to me that this could be the origin of the phrase 'pep pill'. Confirmations on postcard please), and found the whole experience quite unpleasant and disturbing.

Won't be doing that again.


This post was to have had a second part, in the form of a heads up for a flyover of Wellington city tomorrow (as I write, but today (Friday 16th) as you read this) by a restored Spitfire.

Lots of people have heard of the name 'Spitfire' (potted wiki history here), and this was an excellent chance for interested city folk to see and hear one flying in the flesh (hear especially, it is a lovely sounding aircraft, with an unmuffled 27 litre V-12 engine up front. Think of the deepest rumblies V-8 noise you can imagine. Then add some more cylinders and a bit of crackle and pop).

That was the plan anyway, until this afternoon, when the aircraft in question suffered some kind of problem (as yet not determined) and crash landed in Masterton, from where it was planned to be flying to Wellington, and where I planned to be sitting on the fence watching it.

(Image copyright: Wairarapa Times-age / NZ Herald)

There will still be a flypast over the harbour at about 1300 today, there just won't be a Spitfire in it.
These things happen, nobody was hurt, and it looks like it should be repairable, but damn and blast. I will still be on the fence tomorrow, just slightly less interested.

Its been a while since I've seen a Spitfire fly, I haven't yet tried out my digital camera on one, and was really looking forward to seeing one again this weekend.

And while I am disappointed, its probably nothing compared to how the owners and show orgainsers are feeling right now as well as the WW2 pilot who was supposed to be in the back seat for the Wellington flight. There is a huge amount of material and emotional investment in restoring, owning and operating an aircraft of this kind.

Still, there is another due to fly soon in the Manawatu, and this one is by no means written off. If this had happened in 1943 it probably would be flying again within a week.

Then again, in 1943 the aircraft would have had a realistic expectation of a life expectancy measured in hours, compared to the more or less indefinite expectation of a restored example.

The near certainty of seeing two Spitfires in the air together in NZ this summer (which last happened in 1996) has now diminished to probably sometime later on. I am naively hoping it can be repaired by April and the event-of-the-season show at Omaka, which the other one is almost certainly going to be at, but its not likely.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Right then, back into it

Ah summer. A healthy 29 degrees on the porch thermometer last Thursday and all is well. It was actually showing 31 when we got home fifteen minutes before I took the photo. Mind you the thing has probably never been calibrated so who knows.

I am pretty sure I will look at this again in winter and sigh.

First post for the New Year, and in the best traditions of blogging, I have had squillions of ideas for posts, none of which I can remember when it comes to sitting down and writing the things.

Actually, thats not true, I have a few things in mind (like how far into the year can you get before 2008 wrap up posts are inappropriate?), but they will take a while and its already getting late tonight.

Also I found myself more or less taking a break from the whole active internaut thing over the last couple of weeks, choosing the consume rather than contribute angle. It was nice to have a break but I think I am ready to start posting again about the usual collection of miscellany that is this blog.

And on that less than certain note, Happy New Year everybody! (best said a la Dr Nick of the Simpsons I reckon).