Monday, May 31, 2010


Like any confirmation was needed that it was getting colder and damper and closer to winter, these guys popped up in my front yard last week.
Accompanied by these little guys on the grass berm by the road.
More info than you will likely ever need to know on the big red ones here (link).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vaguely well groomed

In a somewhat rare event for this blog, I am posting pictures of me.

Earlier this evening.
Slightly more earlier this evening. I knew my jaw was in there somewhere.
I can't remember the last time I shaved, but think it was in early April. I grow a beard a few times a year, mainly because I can, and because I hate shaving. I like my beard. It has lots of red in it (either Irish or Viking, both are possible, although Irish is more likely), and latterly slowly increasing amounts of grey. The periodical beard growing is a good way to measure how much the grey is progressing. I don't mind going grey. There are worse things to fret about.
The beard exists subject to whim. When I get bored with looking vaguely clean shaven I grow it out. When I get over it off it goes. I think this is the longest I have let it grow out in a while. It was getting longer than the hair on the rest of my head. Time for a change.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who makes the best impromptu play-doh dinosaurs?

Listening to: Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires dual disc deluxe edition disc 2 (2009).

We do Beatches! Because we know shit about dinosaurs y'all!

Physical challenge at the pub quiz tonight: make the best Stegosaurus out of play-doh. My friend Di did the back plates and tail spikes and I did the body and legs. Since we are both down with our dinosaurs our little sauropod came together quickly with no muss and no fuss. About 5 inches long and ten minutes work.
Since it was the most awesome (and anatomically accurate, a point noted by at least one discerning judge) it won easily.

Prize was a box of chocolate treats. We only finished sixth out of 18 teams which considering it was only the two of us for half the quiz wasn't bad, although down from a previous 2nd place effort. The chocolate made us feel better about missing out on a placing even with a score of 80/105 (the winners got 97 or so).

So you see, knowing stuff = chocolate. Stay in school kids!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Netball win

Thumping a team you have always had close and occasionally fractious games with (including one that was called off for excessive niggle) by 20+ points always feels good. Did that tonight with my new team. We got an early lead of a few points, but blew it out in the second half with a couple of big scoring quarters to post a 50+ final score.

Also nice was the Wellington Pulse finally picking up a win on the weekend, at the only game I have been to this season. I think they won because I was there. They had mojo when I was watching; when I got stuck in the queue for the bar for most of the third quarter they didn't and lost most of their lead. They only picked up again when I was back courtside. I may be their secret weapon.

Apart from highlighting where some of my windows need re-puttying, I am liking the rain tonight. It is falling more or less straight down since there isn't any wind, and it isn't too cold. It is perfect rain for a nice contemplative walk, but it is late and I am tired. That said, here seems to be the only place in the country that has avoided a heavy rain warning for the next day or two (link). The storm is passing around us it seems.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Because boys can post cute pictures too

Listening to: Capricornia - Midnight Oil (2001). I've been rereading a history of the band, so on something of an MO kick at the moment. My first favourite band.

Some shots of my girl(s). I like that they are imperfect images; to me they have a bit more character and feel like true snapshots. They remind me a little of some pictures of me as a wee person.

There are heaps of other things I'd like to say about these pics but can't find the right words for; suffice to say if I'd known I would have had a daughter like her I wouldn't have had so many reservations about becoming a father. She's cool.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Assorted bits of epic

Listening to: Redneck Wonderland - Midnight Oil (1998).

Just a few cool skyscapes I have captured in recent months.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't stand so close to the fire next time

Listening to: Breathe - Midnight Oil (1996).

So before a big airshow in the UK a B-1 Lancer strategic bomber is lining up to take off and pratice its display. Just outside the airfield boundary there is a good spot in line with the runway for enthusiasts to sit and watch the arrivals and departures, well placed to get exciting action shots of afterburners at full blaze and the like. Some intrepid souls gather behind the aircraft, determined to get the best shot or experience possible.

The Lancer lines up and throttles all four engines up to maximum afterburner. One of the engines doesn't go into afterburner for some reason, so the pilot throttles back that engine and tries again. In the meantime the other three engines are left at max power, producing the maximum possible thrust and heat. The unexpected delay results in a little bit more excitement than the spectators behind the aircraft bargained for.....

Check out the video here (Embedding disabled so you will have to clicky the old fashioned way)

Totally shadenfreude I admit, but I have to laugh when the crowd starts scattering. Heck if they are dumb enough to put themselves in that position a little derision is practically mandatory. Besides, no-one was seriously hurt.

There is a more complete account of the incident and background here (linky). Would I be sitting on that fence given the opportunity? Absolutely. Would I be sitting on the fence right behind one of the most powerful combat aircraft in the world? Absolutely not :) I'm not that keen.

Just randomly I have actually been to the base in the video, on a visit to the UK about twenty years ago. Being the middle of winter it wasn't quite as sunny.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ghost Bridge

Listening to: Darkness on the edge of town - Bruce Springsteen (1978).

Continuing my predilection for abandoned objects, here is the bridge at Opiki near Palmerston North. Opened in 1918 and closed in 1969, spanning 150 metres it was New Zealand's longest suspension bridge while in use. Photographed at dusk on a still autumn evening a couple of weeks ago.

The deck was removed after the bridge was closed, and now the cables support nothing but themselves. Technically you could say it isn't really a suspension bridge anymore, there being now no suspension or bridge. I could say something atmospheric like how I could hear the now redundant cables clinking in the sunset breeze but I'd be lying. There wasn't any wind when I was there, and I suspect the cables are too heavy to be disturbed by anything less than a strong gust of wind.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ghost town

Listening to: Red Sails in the Sunset - Midnight Oil (1984).

One of the bigger annual bookfairs around here is held on bits of the old Central Institute of Technology (CIT) campus in Heretaunga. At first the organisers used one of the bigger foyers, but outgrowing that they have occupied the gym. CIT happens to be where I did my tertiary training; I know the campus fairly intimately. After the bookfair last year I took the opportunity to wander through the campus on the way back to my car. A few months later I came back with my camera.

CIT opened in 1975 or so, and operated until the early 2000's, most of its courses moving to a smaller and less purpose built site further down the valley as part of merger with one of the regional Polytechnics. Some smaller operators utilised parts of the site after it closed, but at the moment it is effectively abandoned beyond essential caretaking work.

Having seen it alive and vibrant and full of people, seeing it empty and dead is a bit bittersweet, especially as the buildings look just the same now as then. Wandering around the site with a couple of classic 90's albums on my MP3 made it even more so, bringing back a lot of memories. I graduated in 2000; all but one of these shots are from August 2009.

About halfway between the teaching blocks and the cafeteria and library, this bit of grass was a good spot on a warm summers day to sit between classes with a walkman and watch the world go by. Especially when the first-year students were in their "I don't have to wear school uniform anymore-I can wear whatever I want, no matter how revealing" stage.
This is A-block (right) and the F-block stack of lecture theatres (middle). A-block was my turf. All of the pure science labs were in there. Before they planted trees and bisected it with a path, the field in front of the buildings saw many a pick up game of touch rugby, often with massive numbers of players on each side. The field wasn't even though. It sloped down toward the building, giving extra speed to any attackers. The speed though was more than compensated for though by the field at that end being several metres narrower than the one opposite, thus a lot easier to defend.
The pit below the lecture theatres in front of the main entrance was a great place to hang out between classes, play hackysack, and watch fallen leaves get blown into whirlwinds by air moving around the big concrete sail above it.
A big concrete sail that I abseiled down a few times, captured on film in 1996. (it was an orientation thing, organised by the event management course). This will be handy for proving to my daughter that her father was once young and craaaazzy too, using ropes and a harness to get down a six storey buidling that had at least two functional staircases and lifts. It's easy once you get over the edge of the parapet and lean back.
The Halls of Residence still look just the way they did in the 1990's.
Each residential block was linked by these elevated walkways at each floor. You could get quite a long way without having to descend to ground level. I recall at least one pitched lightsabre battle at dusk on one of these.
The campus map is still visible though one of the foyer windows.
The tree lined avenue between leading to the railway station. Ran down this a few times, either to get to a train, or to a class.
The hospitality course ran its own restaurant for the student chefs to practice in, priced to suit its student clientelle.
Deserted cafeteria seating, scene of countless cups of strong coffee, and the occasional pool ball dropping from the student lounge above.
Something I never entirely figured out attached to the admin block. Initially I thought it was some kind of hoist, until it occurred to me it might be a sculpture of some kind. While apparently sculptural, it also seems to be part of the roof drainage. It was always dripping water and still is.
This is where the semi infamous 'Clubhouse' bar was. Set up in a couple small of ex-army looking pre-fab buildings, it was the scene of many a cheap beer ($2.50 a bottle), and many a good time, as well as being a local hub for underage drinking, despite being ostensibly students only. It was generally only open Fridays, between 3pm and midnight (or whenever the manager turned up in the afternoon, or the cops at night).

The bar site sums up the whole place. Used to be something here, now its just memories and architecture.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Investigation rewarded

Listening to: The Iron Man 2 soundtrack. The best greatest hits comp that AC/DC never released (they haven't ever done one as far as I know).

Thanks all for the replies to the previous post. Definitely some good suggestions there for stuff to check out.

In the meantime, C42 is proving useful. I've already been reminded of half a dozen or so acts I had meant to check out at some point but forgotten, and found a few new ones to pursue as well. Back in the day I used to watch Juice TV until the wee small hours ("I'll just see what the next video is...."); I can see avoiding a return to that habit might be tricky.

Monday, May 10, 2010

So what are you listening to?

Listening to: So So Modern – Crude Futures

I picked up the above over the weekend, based on hearing it in a music store with no other history (although at first listen I realised I had heard one of the tracks off it on one of the radio stations I listen to). I have picked up a lot of music this way, although it feels like not so much lately.

Once, a while ago (mid nineties) I was reasonably in touch with who was doing what in my preferred music genres. Who was making the coolest sounds, who were doing the most interesting things, who was worth looking out for.

Now it’s a bit different. I haven’t ‘discovered’ any new to me or current artists for a while, and I have no idea what a lot of the names I am hearing bandied about sound like. Maybe it’s a getting older thing. I still try and get exposed to new sounds as often as possible but less and less of them seem to stick. I like a lot of what I hear in certain circles, but finding out names and following up on them is rare (like when I hear something cool on the radio, but miss the DJ saying who they are). To an extent I am still stuck in the old CD/record store model. If I can’t find a CD of an artist I don’t get into them as much, and wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to embracing the download model.

I’m really liking the idea of the recent introduction of C42 (link). Videos have captions telling you what they are for one, and the emphasis on new and old alternative rather than mainstream top 40 stuff also bodes well. Not that the top 40 stuff necessarily sucks (although a lot of it does), but the alternative stuff is just more interesting. The mid 90’s were a golden era for me in that respect; I watched a lot of music television, mostly late at night when the programming was a bit more fluid, and got into a bunch of artists as a result. I’m quietly hopeful there are new discoveries awaiting with the new channel.

In the meantime, I want recommendations from you the reader:

Which are the worthwhile web sources for good/new/interesting music? (naive maybe, but if you don't ask you never know)

Which artists or songs you have been putting on repeat, and what would you recommend as being worth a listen? Who’s rocking your ears lately?

Anything left in the comments will get at least a trial listen. I’m in the mood for proselytising and propagation….

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Day Away

I was listening to this album today in my car, in the bright sunshine and thinking of times gone by. And this video which is one of my all time favourites. Starting from some well known Wellington locales, the boys and their trusty Ford Escort road trip it up to Cape Reinga. From 1996: