Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cloud Formation

Listening to: Crystal Visions - The very best of Stevie Nicks. I picked this up today after realising it met my 'must like at least three or four songs on the album' criteria for buying CD's. Probably should have got a compilation years ago. It has a couple of nice live versions that are about the same as what I heard at the Fleetwood Mac concert last month, and I never realised until now that 'Stand Back' and 'Little Red Corvette' not coincidentally share the same melody (much like Bachman Turner Overdrive's 'You aint seen nothing yet' and The Who's 'Baba O'Reilly, but that is another story.)

I've been enjoying the thunderstorm producing cumulonimbus buildups over the previous few afternoons. An unusual set of windless and warm conditions more suited to a continental landmass than the large islands we inhabit prevailing over pretty much the whole country has seen intense thunderstorms building up in the interiors of both islands each afternoon. Wellington is missing out due to the local topography, but the storms occuring in the adjacent regions of Wairarapa and Marlborough are close enough to be readily visible (even if we aren't getting any lightning or thunder, the cloudscapes are nice).

I like watching cumulonimbus build, the cauliflowers bubbling up until they hit the stratosphere and can go no higher, flattening out into the characteristic anvil shape. Due to their nature they are usually fairly static in location, and if you are patient you can watch a weather system assemble itself in real time. Watching the clouds visibly boiling and rotating upward its easy to see how much raw energy is involved in the process, and to appreciate why they can be so potentially destructive. I also like just how massive these clouds are; they are so out of scale as to appear deceptively close, just over the ridge when in fact they are many miles away (over the next several ridges).

There is also the tension of watching a storm build, approach, and break. I like a good thunder and lightning display, but we don't get them in this part of the country all that often. These pics are all from the last couple of days looking toward neighbouring regions:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wait, you did what with your what?

Things you learn from the internet...

Caution: May not be safe for work (NSFW)

Linko 1

Linko 2

Discovered courtesy of The Blogess and The Huffington Post

Monday, January 25, 2010

Random Pic

Listening to: The Tutts - Get in the club

In what may become a regular feature, here is a hitherto unpublished shot from the OB archives (hey it works for National Geographic).

I just felt like posting more individual images for their own sake.

Blackbird on my letterbox, 7 November 2009. I just liked the way it was sitting there calmly in the late afternoon sun.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I happened to see 'Reign over me' (link) on TV tonight. Its not terrible and not great (although I did enjoy seeing Adam Sandler playing against type), and was kind of on as background while I read a new book I bought today*. I had seen the title in the promo and wondered if it had any link to the Who song 'Love Reign O'er Me', the cover of which was a highlight of the Pearl Jam Concert back in November.
Not having heard the Who version, I liked hearing it about halfway through on the soundtrack. It reminded me how good hearing it live sounded. It's rare that I like both original and cover versions of a song (I need to pick these two up sometime). Then the Pearl Jam version appeared at the end of the movie and over the credits and my night was complete.
I like it when things work out like this.

*'Arsenals of Folly', a history of the politics and motivations of the Cold War Nuclear Arms race. Yup, I read books like that. For fun even.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More roadtripping imagery madness

Listening to: The Pretenders - The Singles

I feel a bit lazy posting pics instead of lots of text (text requires more thinking), but I thought some more images from last weeks road trip were worth sharing. All taken between 09 and 16 January 2010.

Thunderstorm heading out over the pacific at sunset after dousing our campsite at Hot Water Beach.
And the troubled sky it left behind
Mercury Islands from Ha Hei.
Sunset at Blue Lake / Tikitapu #1.
Sunset at Blue Lake / Tikitapu #2 a few days later.
Offshore island from Hot Water Beach at dusk.
Carved wooden panels at the MacDonald's in Rotorua. Classier than you average McDecor.

Hot Water Beach Madness at low tide as dozens converge with shovels and the same idea.
The state highway across the Coromandel range.
And our rooster tail of dust travelling on it.
View from the tent at Blue Lake campsite
View from the tent at Hot Water Beach campsite.
The resident dogs at the Hot Water Beach Camp, George (Black Lab) and Alise (whom we quickly started referring to as 'Fur Alise').

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And we're back

Listening to: Straightjacket Fits - Best of. I haven't listened to this for ages; I'd forgotten how good they were.

We got back from our week long camping trip to Rotorua and the Coromandel on Saturday. It was awesome. Long hot days doing not much, in a part of the country I hadn't been to yet at an age I could remember it. Having knocked the Coromandel off means there are only two bits of the country left I haven't been to at some point (they would be Nelson / Abel Tasman and Stewart Island).

Packing the wagon for three adults and a toddler plus camping gear was a bit tetris like:
But was managed in the end, even if the car was filled to the gunwales. I know cars don't have gunwales, not being ships, but if they did have gunwales they would be somewhere near the roof line.
Leaving before dawn meant we could stop somewhere pretty way up the road and feed Charlotte her breakfast. Rest stop on the Desert Road looking toard Ruapehu, around 8:00am 9th Jan 2010.
I like seeing the mountains in summer. They feel a bit more inviting when not covered in snow (to see what they look like in winter, look here) .
Mt Doom / Ngaruahoe.
Our first destination was a campground on the shore of Lake Tikitapu (linky), a collapsed volcanic caldera near Rotorua. I liked the idea that where I was swimming was once inside a mountain.
Nearby is Lake Tarawera, the site of much more recent fireworks. The valley floor in the foreground was lake until Mt Tarawera (background) filled it up with ejecta in 1886.
The hulking brooding sleeping creature that is Mount Tarawera. The 1886 eruption (linky here and here) devastated the surrounding area, and remains NZ's deadliest known eruption. A distant relative of mine was in the first rescue party to go in to the area afterwards, my one claim to historical fame.
A much closer relative on the other hand proved quite adept at escaping from the tent...

And going wandering and exploring as far as her wobbly little legs could take her. She has only been walking since September, the novelty probably hasn't worn off yet.
Part of the reason for the gunwaling was that essential supplies could be brought along:
We hit out for the Coromandel on Monday, and a much-longer-than-we-thought-it-would-take drive later (east Coromandel roads are windy and wiggly as) we arrived at Hot Water beach. There are hot springs under the sand, and at low tide you can wield a shovel and dig your own hot pool. In theory anyway. The crowds of other people with the same idea and the odd rogue wave make this trickier than it sounds.
While there we visited nearby Cathedral Cove (linky) as seen in Prince Caspian. Sadly no Narnian talking animals were apparent, nor ruined palaces on the cliff top.

On the way back home we decided to forgo the windy roads on the east of the peninsula, and cross over to the nicer road on the western side. Ironically this involved a twisty turny dusty 30 kilometres of gravel road to cross the mountain range in the middle. This is taken from somewhere near the top of the road looking west to the sea. Not quite the middle of nowhere but in the vicinity. 15th Jan 2010:
The car / land ship was looking appropriately filthy by this time as well after nearly a week away from the city.

Friday, January 08, 2010

See you in a bit

I'm off to the Coromandel and other points north for a week of fun and frolic. Depending on how the internet access goes, I may post from the road, I may not (requires the availability and inclination to coincide. I tend to forget about the internet when I am on the road).

In the meantime to hold you over, here is a picture of my daughter putting the crayon manufacturers 'non-toxic' claim to the test by trying to eat it *:

*If she looks confused, it's because she has suddenly got the undivided attention of the four adults also at the table, at least one of whom is moving to grab the crayon.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Slightly wierd, but compelling

Listening to: the B-side 'Melodies' disc of the Incubus best of.

I had the opportunity to see some of the Unicycle World Championships (link) in town on Monday. It was more interesting and entertaining than I thought it would be. I suspect it is way harder than it looks (and since even the experts I saw were making lots of mistakes, it looked pretty hard).