Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was out on the waterfront a couple of weekends ago on a nice calm day, and came across this guy using a couple of wands to make bubbles in the still air:

Really big bubbles:

It was slightly surreal, but very peaceful and serene.

Bubbles details:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Corporate Knowledge

The corporate sponsorship requirements of the upcoming Rugby World Cup are making for some interesting observations at the moment. To protect profits, any sponsor or business not involved in the tournament funds is being ruthlessy shoved out of the way, sometimes gently, but other times absurdly, like making charity ambulances cover up the sponsors that keep them operating.

Most noticably so far in Wellington, with it's naming rights sponsor not being involved in the RWC, Westpac Stadium has lost part of it's external signage:
This fits with the 'clean' requirement, but does make the stadium look like someone has been busy with a giant label maker lest anyone was wondering what the big round thing was (although it now reflects what most locals call the thing anyway). It still lights up at night, making the incongruity even more special.

Another sponsorship curiosity has been highlighted by this TV ad:

I quite like it. It is sweet and nostalgic, and neatly sums up the disappointment for fans resulting from the arguably best team in the game not winning its premier tournament for a generation. Steinlager have sponsored the All Blacks since the mid 80's, and are re-introducing the old style white cans for the duration of tournament, which I also like.

The first thing though is, if security is halfway competent, there is no way our loyal fan is going to get his talisman through the gate at the game venue. The second thing of note is that while Steinlager might sponsor the AB's, the official beer of the tournament is Heineken, so the latter will be the only beer available at any game :).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

35 today

As of this afternoon I'm 35 years old.

I'm reminded of the lyric at 3:41:

(with apologies to The Boss) "I'm 35, we got a boy two girls of our own now".

It is one of those lyrics that Springsteen has a habit of penning that in context just nails a theme dead on. I was about 8 the first time I heard this song, and at 35, can identify with it's protagonist more than ever, not in terms of the economic disarray the song relates (thankfully), but in the introspective looking back sense, seeing what is new and what has changed, and sometimes wondering just where the time has gone, which in turn reminds me of this:

35 feels like a milestone year. Halfway between 20 and 50, and halfway to seventy (crikey!). I have seen a few constants, but a lot of change, and try not to take things for granted. My favourite era of music and movies that I most identify with happened half my lifetime ago. I firmly believe in the cliche that one is only as old as one feels, but somedays I feel younger than others :).

I have a few grey hairs now, but also have an amazing wife, two beautiful and equally amazing daughters, and family and friends I am privileged and grateful to have in my life. They have provided me memories and experiences to treasure (and on the odd occasion a few to forget to be fair :) ), and hopefully will provide many more. So unlike Bruce's everyman above, at 35 I can look around and say, you know what things are pretty good right now. Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Big Chill

Running out of chill related title puns...

So with the snow all gone and the Model Expo last weekend done and dusted, I can kind of get back to regular service with this thing. Not before going back a week for some more recap of what was a slightly epic weather event for us (apologies for those who have seen some of this on facebook already).

Monday morning I got to take one of my 'It's like this right now' backyard thermometer pics with PROPER SNOW ON MY LAWN:
After it stopped snowing on Monday evening the hail and sleet started. I've never seen so much. Not so much the size as the volume and duration. It hailed for hours, and started piling up on our south facing windows like so:
Before dark though and between hailstorms Charlotte woke from her afternoon nap to find a snowman had been busy on the back lawn with something to see from her bedroom window:
She then got to go out and properly play in the stuff for only the second time ever (the first being the night before), describing the funny white stuff as 'squishy'. I love the bit where she figures out she is making footprints:

The best was still to come. Tuesday afternoon saw late afternoon snow forecast to about 100 metres above sea level (with our house at about 200 metres), but when snow started falling like this at my work at sea level and settling, I figured it was time to get out of dodge and go home while I still could:
All the way home I caught glimpses of people on the street and leaning out of doors in fascination, snowfall at this level in this locale being at best a once in a generation event if not totally unheard of.

Waiting at the intersection to turn up the hill road to home and seeing this bus having just come down the same road didn't fill me with confidence about getting up in my underpowered, understeering, non snow tyre or chain equipped car. I'm a confident driver, and have driven in snow a couple of times before, but that was in much more suitable vehicles. Driving our wagon in snow wasn't something we ever thought we would have to do :).
After a nervous few minutes I made it home, where things looked like this out the window:
The road was closed to traffic not long after. Since we had nothing else to do, a bit of snowman making was in order. Sophie was tucked up warm in her afternoon nap, so missed out (something she will no doubt grump at us for when she is older):

For those who don't know me in person, yeah that is my voice on both videos, and me at the end. I loved the quiet. I had heard about the way snowfall deadens sound, but never experienced it until now. With the road closed the only noise was the soft hiss of the snow falling, the 'shuff' of it falling off trees, distant trains and planes, and the voices of family and neighbours carrying much much further than they ever normally would. It was serene and verging on magical.

Venturing down the hill on foot to have a look around it was apparent the serenity wasn't universal. Most of these vehicles are parked where their drivers realised they had run out of grip/talent.
Not before at least one found the limits of their vehicle the hard way though:
Moving further down the hill revealed the valley floor snowbound (something I have never experienced in my lifetime, or even heard of), and people climbing the hill on foot having abandoned their vehicles below. It isn't much snow, but when no-one is used to it things get surreal pretty quickly:
The drive to work the next day, as even though the snow was melted, there were still cars littered all over the place at wierd angles and odd places.

Despite the disruption, there were some pretty sights to be seen on the walk back home:
Our road later that night after a grader had cleared it:
And our birdbath/skating rink:
As if to underline how unusual snow like this is here, by morning overnight rain had mostly melted it away, leaving our front-lawn snowmen looking a little forlorn:
Although at work there was a large snowball that managed to persist for a couple of days:
The cold weather lasted until the weekend, but we didn't get any more snow, no matter how many times Charlotte asked for it. This will probably go down in local history as one of those things that get talked about in a "remember when" way, like the floods of 1976, or the Wahine Storm of 1968. I'm glad we got to experience it (myself having only seen snow at close hand maybe half a dozen times in my entire life, and never at my home).

A lot of people have linked this next video, and I'm going to because I love the way it sums up people's reactions to snow in a city where many will have never seen it there before. This was shot in Cuba Mall in central Wellington on the Monday afternoon, and it is cool.

It might be normal for a lot of people, but it was pretty special for us :).

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Chillier

The current snowstorm is now being referred to as a once in a lifetime event. I can vouch for that; I have never seen conditions like this in thirty years of living in the area :).

My street about 4pm today after a couple of hours of snow and hail:
Earlier in the afternoon:
Tonight during a lull:
Weather info for around 4pm. It is a funny kind of cold, in that I go outside and don't realise just how cold it is at first like on a frosty morning. It takes a minute or two to get chilled.
I came home early from work today because I was concerned if I left it too late I might not be able to get up the hill. Now I am wondering if I will be stuck up here tomorrow. Unlike yesterday, most of the stuff that fell today (snow, then hail, then snow, then more hail) isn't melting yet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I thought the weather a few weeks ago was memorable, but this evening it has been just surreal.

Here is what it feels like right now and is forecast to do for the next few days in Wellington. We are in one of the hill suburbs expected to get more snow tomorrow (source Metservice, click to enlarge):
And here is what the street outside my house looks like. I have never seen it like this before, and have never heard of snow falling lower in the valley like it has today:
It might not look like a lot to those who are used to it, but this really doesn't happen here very often. We happened to have the house re-insulated earlier this week, and I picked up a nice comfy down jacket today, both of which have paid off handsomely already. Cool :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just like Uncle Joe used to make

Out and about today I noticed the new sculpture commemorating Wellington's involvement in the GLOЯIOUS PATЯIOTIC PEOPLE’S COLLECTIVE SPOЯTING EVENT Rugby World Cup has been emplaced (future patriots/revolutionaries for scale).
I know the all praiseworthy Weta designed it, and I like public sculpture, and I'm not even against some being created for this event, but the first thing I think of when I look at that is 'Communist Bloc', since to me it looks just like the sort of thing those regimes would have commissioned to keep the people thinking proper :).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Calling

I was wondering how some of the people I know in London were getting on. Thanks to TVNZ I now know how at least one of them has fared:

Kiwis in London Lie Low (video link)

Danielle and I used to hang out in the same group of friends in the 90's. This being New Zealand, I used to work with the sister-in-law of the reporter as well.

Still haven't seen or heard from the other people I know in the areas affected, including a friend in Croydon. I still don't really know what to make of the riots in general. They have happened before, and that they happen at all is indicative of serious things that are awry. So much though of what is being seen and told now is removed from protest, and looks like simple opportunistic criminality. Crime is crime. I get that people are hopeless, disenfranchised, angry. What I don't get is how destroying homes, property, locally owned businesses and employers in your own community is supposed to make things better.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Cute. I think.

This could either be the cutest or the nails-on-a-blackboardest thing you see today.

My three year old daughter trying to calm my three month old daughter by singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her sister in her own unique style...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

High Score

Listening to: Big Boi and Dre Present Outkast - Outkast (2001).

One of our players failed to show at our indoor netball game tonight, so we had to take the court a person down and play the game 5 vs 6. After a few minutes of shambles as we looked despairingly off court for our missing person, and adjusted to having one less pair of hands to move the ball, we settled down and tried to play a little harder and smarter than our opposition.
Sometimes (the minority of the time in fact) playing one down can be easier. There are tactics and techniques that can be used to make up for the absence, and teams with inferior nous can get their patterns upset by having one less person to defend. At any rate, whatever we did worked and we wound up winning though, 30 -27.
That's kinda cool (having been beaten on occasion by teams that did the 5 player thing so well I didn't even notice they only had five), but I was too busy shooting the longer range 2-points shots from the edge of the circle to notice that I scored all of those 30 points. We figured out after the game that I was the only one in our team to land any shots (apart from a couple of singles that were disallowed).

So that's cool, I've never done that before, and it is probably a personal best score for me. My game stats were at best 70-80% of shots landed vs those attempted, but it was one of those games where I got a nice groove going with the shooting early on, got the confidence up and just kept on going (not having any defenders able to trouble the shots helped). Having been in a general shooting slump recently I like it when that happens.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pigging Out

Listening to: Riot Act - Pearl Jam (2002). Like a lot of their latter work, this album is a grower for me, that gets better every time I listen to it. Especially songs like this one. I haven't listened to it for a while but have had it on high rotate for the last few days.

Not much time for regular type blogging at the moment, due to the big model expo and national competition being two weeks away, and spending a lot of evening time that isn't sport or family working on the stuff I want to put on a table there.

Like turning this:
into this:
Via a bit of this:

And a bit of that:

I am the blu-tack sausage king.