Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Enjoyed by scruffy looking nerf herder rebels all over the galaxy

And here I was thinking Han's biggest choice was joining the rebellion and helping to take down the first Death Star at the battle of Yavin. Who knew?

*NB for any non South Pacific readers 'Solo' is a good name for marketing in the Pacific Islands. Even if the cream itself is a product of Thailand according to the label.

Felt it

I may have missed the big Christchurch earthquake, but I definitely felt this one (link) in my office a couple of hours ago. Interesting to observe that while geonet lists the time of occurence as 5:14 pm, I felt it at 5:17 as noted on my work PC* (NZ's official time/NZDT is calculated at my worksite, and synched to the site network, so us and geonet are running off the exact same time points). That's roughly three minutes for the shock to travel more than 600km (very rough guess, likely low) from the epicentre north of White Island to Lower Hutt. I was actually a little surprised to se how far away it was.

Adding to the "Kelson might be a bit base isolated" theory, while I noted it as a distinct shudder and wobble in Gracefield, Fi didn't notice a thing at home. It's a glacial rubble/silt and clay versus bedrock thing.

*Yes I note the time earthquakes occur for future reference. Something I do...:)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Two years ago

On a blustery spring night just like tonight our wee girl was born. And we were about to get a big early lesson in some of the bits of parenting they don't mention in the brochures.

I wrote a quick appraisal then after a long day, posted here. Fi's account here of our first few days as parents is worth revisiting too. It was a hell if a ride, but we were grateful all the same when we finally got her home three weeks later. Others have had to deal with worse.

So two years on, she is now a proper little girl, her last routine check up with the surgeon ended with a "see you in a couple of years unless something comes up", and her last routine check up with her paedeatrician ended with "we don't need to see you again unless there is something wrong". She still has issues swallowing some foods, which will improve as she gets older, but other than that she is perfect in every way. In my opinion at least.

I could do the 'letter to my kid' thing but that isn't really my style, so I will just say "Happy Birthday my pretty little girl!" for when she is old enough to read this...and hopefully not be mortified by her father's public ramblings :)

Pics by Fi
Pic by me

Pics by Lauren

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Job not exciting enough?

You could always get appropriately qualified and take this up for a living (that's if the dulling-it-down narration and motion sickness inducing camera work doesn't put you off):

Apart from the free climbing hundreds of meters in the air, the bit at the top where the climber takes both hands to adjust his carabiner especially makes me go 'eeeeek'. Funnily enough though, despite a healthy fear of falling (I'm fine with heights if I feel secure), part of me feels like I could actually do this for a job if I could get used to it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Too soon?

The Christchurch earthquake was two weeks ago, but this conspiracy parody blog emerged only a few days after the event, and is just too barkingly mint genius not to link to. Even if I am not sure if I should link to it....knowing nothing as I do about it's creators and intent and not intending any disrespect to the good city and people of the 03*.

Some of the main elements of the conspiracy**:

-The Mayor of Christchurch (who by the way is both a clone and not actually human) engineered the earthquake after investing heavily in the chimney industry. Also paving the way for a takeover by reptilian overlords on the side.
-The Prime Minister of New Zealand is in fact a hologram (you never see his legs!).
-The New Zealand Army has no helicopters (this one is actually true).
-A secret muffin tithing programme is in operation.
-The Feelers are involved as well (summed up nicely by this diagram), as other well known local celebs.

*In the interests of fairness I just want to say I have been very impressed the the real mayor's response and leadership, and the relief and recovery operation in general. From what I have seen I think a good job is being done down there, even if I am a little dubious about some of the potential implications and possibilities for abuse of the emergency recovery bill passed into law during the week.

** Apologies to any non NZ readers to whom many of the references to people and other things might make no sense whatsoever.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Wow

Further to the wow post I made back in July, here are a couple more photos-I-wish-
I-had-taken that have surfaced recently of the same incident:



Thursday, September 16, 2010

70 Years Ago

Listening to: Pop Life - Breathe (1998). One of the fine crop of Wellington bands that never quite cracked it. I got into Breathe with their first EP in 1994, saw them live a few times then followed them through their first and second albums. The first one (this one) did quite well, but the second didn't match it and they subsequently faded into obscurity. In a very Wellington thing, I am pretty sure the bass player now works at a record store I frequent. And my wife mistook me for the drummer the first time we met. Subsequently she put a song from this album called 'Started Something' on to a mix CD she made for me not long after we got together. Appropriately as it turns out :)

Those Wellingtonians with the opportunity yesterday might have noticed an elliptical and noisy silhouette over the city yesterday morning. A short time later an unusual shape turned up on the approach to Runway 16 at Wellington Airport. Photos courtesy of a well timed and executed early lunch break:

I can't think of any other time one of these has landed at Wellington before. It is a Spitfire Mark IX *, and flew down from Ohakea to overfly the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of Battle of Britain day. It is a bit more developed than the Mark I's and II's that fought the battle itself (and overshadowed their more numerous and successful but less glamorous Hurricane partners in the process), but it wears the markings of a Spitfire IX flown by a New Zealander (Al Deere) who had participated in the successful defence and served with distinction through the rest of the war. While the battle was waged over several months, September 15th 1940 was chosen as the date that the British pilots definitively gained the upper hand over their German attackers. There is a reproduced BBC report for the day in question here, and a lengthy wiki article on the battle itself here.
The date is also shared with International Day of Democracy, which isn't entirely unbefitting, given the stakes that rested on the outcome. A German victory, leading to either outright invasion, or even a subdued and non participatory Great Britain would have had massive and far reaching implications to the outcome of the Second World War, none of them good. It was arguably the single most important battle on any front of the entire war, fought barely a year into its six year course.
In London the day was marked by the unveiling of a statue of in Waterloo Place of another New Zealand participant in the battle (stuff link). The figure depicted is that of Sir Keith Park, one of New Zealand's most unsung and forgotten heroes, whose acheivements in context are far more significant than any mountaineer, yachtsman or film-maker. Park controlled the defense of London, and his leadership, tactical skill and careful use of meagre resources were crucial to the overall British victory, which at one point came very close to a British defeat. He would later be instrumental in the succesful defense under similar circumstances of the island of Malta. Given what there was to lose he should be far more recognised in his homeland than he is.
*This particular Spitfire has its own web page, with a nice history of the aircraft and its history and restoration. It is owned by a nephew of Al Deere, hence the markings.
** The other resident Spitfire in NZ, which I have blogged about previously here and here, recently returned to flight after a post accident rebuild. Third time lucky rule will hopefully apply.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wave form

Cool time-lapse video of wave cloud generated by a northwesterly bouncing up off a range of hills in Otago:

The northwesterly gales we had here last Sunday generated a pretty spectacular wave over Wellington. This is from my place looking southwest toward the city in the late afternoon:
Note the pine tree leaning with the wind at the bottom of the frame. Would have made for an awesome sunset but the weather closed in and started raining about ten minutes after I took the photograph and the cloud was hidden from view.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Wake up Call II

Most illustrative security video of the Christchurch earthquake as it happened that I have seen so far. The camera works loose on its mount early on and exaggerates the motion, but have a think about how much force is being applied to make it move that way.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Wake up call

Listening to: The Trip 3 - Various artists (1994). Starting in 1992 The Trips were a series of compilations put out by Warner Music in the 1990's to showcase the 'alternative' music scene as it was. I have 1 through 7. By the time 8 and 9 rolled around the series was starting to lose focus as the scene itself evolved. I think it got up to 10 or more before they pulled the plug.

Apologies for the cliches, but Christchurch city took one for the team on Saturday, while managing to dodge a bullet at the same time:

Big news linky

Slightly more scientific linky

Photo collection from various sources showing faulting, ground cracking, liquefaction, damage and the like linky

The taking for the team bit was reminding the country that powerful earthquakes can happen anywhere in New Zealand, even those bits thought not to be as prone to them as others, and that household disaster 'get through' kits are a good idea and a useful thing to have, and not just because some guy who used to be on Shortland Street says so on the TV. The bullet dodging was in the timing. 0435 was about the best possible time for a big earthquake to happen, with empty streets and people in their houses asleep. Not that many hours either way and it could have been a lot worse for the inhabitants.

Christchurch's experience has been interesting to watch unfold, thankfully from a distance. It is reassuring to see that building codes, plans and preparations seem to have worked, especially from a Wellington perspective, since this will happen here one day. Being on a different faultline, the Christchurch shake hasn't changed our odds any. The morgue is making a good point at the moment regarding preparation (link); it is something people need to think about, and judging by the reports about big buy ups of essentials over the weekend in Wellington a great many more are thinking about the inevitable than were last week. It is one of the reasons why I have my shoulder bag of useful stuff with me almost everywhere I go. I have certainly been pondering my scenarios a bit, and trying to plan ahead. We have the basis of a survival kit in our house, and will be completing it over the next little while (although part of me is aware it won't be much good if we aren't at home at the time, and wonders where you stop. Survival kits for the car maybe? Our cars already have first aid kits in them at least...).

Somewhat ironically, I slept through the earthquake even though it woke many others around Wellington. I didn't do my usual morning news check either, so remained unaware anything had happened until catching a bit of a news update around lunchtime. The ground under our place is a bit firmer than in other parts of the region, and seems to have a slight dampening effect on earthquakes, whereas other parts (like say where I work) could potentially amplify the shock. We have only noticed a few earthquakes since moving in four years ago. I felt this one no problem though (link).

Some on the ground in Christchurch say the earthquake was an audible thing, something I have no trouble believing. I have heard earthquakes coming before (albeit only a fraction of a second before they arrived, and have been known to tense up on sensing the bass rumble through the house generated by a passing truck. The first couple of seconds of any shake I always spend wondering if this is it, the fabled big one, and if I need to take cover. I have noticed though the biger the initial tremor, the more automatic my doorway finding is.

The worst shake I have experienced was this one (link) five years ago. It was only 5.5, but I was effectively at the epicentre. I had just sat down at my desk in my big industrial building, when there was a loud, very loud bang from the roofspace above. Knowing there was a lot of plant equipment up there, my first thought was that one of the air handling units had suffered a catastrophic failure and somehow exploded. I didn't quite finish the thought before finding myself in the doorway, not quite knowing how I got there as the shaking started. The bang was the first part of the shockwave hitting the metal roof structure of the building, having already passed through the concrete walls without causing attention. This all happened in less than a second, but it was an interesting thing to observe once the shaking had stopped and we had all calmed down.

While kind of inured to the notion of earthquakes over time, the actual sensation and accompanying adrenalin dose is something I have never quite gotten used to.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Black and Whites

Listening to: Nebraska - Bruce Springsteen (1982). The mostly acoustic album of demo tracks that was so good it was released as is (despite a full noise, full production version being recorded according to Wiki). Springsteen recorded the whole thing himself on a 4 track setup at his house. 'Atlantic City' is on this, and its one of my all time favourite songs, as well as being a good representative for the album itself (hint: it isn't a 'happy' album. There's no 'Born to Run' equivalent on it).

I was idly trawling through the archives looking for some post inspiration and cames across these shots from April 2009. I headed out to the airport in the morning to catch an exotic visitor (the Corsair in the last three frames). I'd been messing about with black and white shooting, and made the classic mistake of not returning the camera settings to normal when I was done. The morning sun on the display screen meant I didn't notice the shots were not in the colour I thought they were.

I haven't done much black and white, and thought intially that they would have been great if only they were in colour. I never got around to deleting them though, and now I kinda like them. There was a nice moody sky for a background that morning, and the sun lighting up the planes made for a nice contrast.

I had another go without colour the other weekend, and I've made a mental note now to try it more often for its own sake, just to see what I can come up with.