Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Long time between posts, but I haven't missed a Christmas post yet with this thing.

After a Christmas Day full of contentment we made our now traditional trip to the beach in the evening. It's a tough gig but someone's got to do it.

Happy Christmas wherever you are!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Laughing at ignorance

I found myself revisiting this picture the other day. I took this when I was thirteen, in a British Airways 747 high over the Arctic on the way from London to Los Angeles on my first overseas trip in January 1990. I was fascinated to notice the contrails from the engines were forming so close to the aircraft that they could be seen from inside, rather than trailing behind a little. Besides being a cool process to watch, it was also a great indicator of just how fast we were travelling, something you don't often get in an airliner. So I took a photo.

At top left is the port horizontal stabiliser of the 747. The contrail from the port inboard engine is in the bottom third of the frame, with a gap between it and the outboard trail above. It's indistinct and imperfect, but it's one of my favourite old photos. That was a cool experience.

Many years later, a particular conspiracy theory involving contrails would arise and catch my attention, as it confluences a few interests of mine. Basically the "Chemtrail" theory as it's known asserts that the trails you can see in the sky aren't the normal by-product of humidity and engine exhaust or aerodynamic processes, but some kind of secret evil plot to spray chemicals from altitude and affect the masses below, via depopulation, weather control, or whatever particular flavour of un-sense is being propagated that day.

Beyond the fact that on the scale alleged it's logistically impossible, technically implausible, and scientifically idiotic (among a host of reasons for it's utter improbability), the people that promote it are usually utterly uninformed about the finer details of aviation, meteorology and chemistry. If they were informed they probably wouldn't fall for this crap, but there you go. While the unfounded nonsense being promoted and sold as fact and 'truth' (and if you question the 'truth', you're either asleep, a sheeple, or a shill) is annoying to someone who actually knows what they are looking at, and the threats made by some of them against contrailing aircraft and pilots are actually unnerving, occasionally (well more than occasionally), there is some amusement to be had. Usually because the chemtrailers are so unaware, and aren't actually knowledgeable in the subjects they lecture on, not only are some of their "revelations" and speculations hilariously inaccurate (I've seen them ponder for days over the role of a "mysterious" aircraft seen on google earth that was visibly unflyable to name but one example. It was a grounded airframe used as a training aid), they are also easily pranked.

This video frequently does the rounds as 'evidence'. It's a USAF KC-10 aerial refuelling tanker, being videoed from another KC-10, allegedly "spraying" evil chemtrails while the pilots openly discuss it. Note the manipulation when the "stills" are taken and elsewhere.

Unfortunately for the chemtrail argument the original video was shot and posted specifically to satirise chemtrailers. And they fell for it, and continue to do so en masse. See if you can spot the differences:

The trail is an aerodynamic contrail, formed by an interaction of pressure, temperature and humidity as the aircraft passes through the air. The trail varies as the immediate local conditions do. It's a well known and understood phenomenon obvious to anyone who knows about it. Chemtrailers don't. There are no "nozzles" on the wings. What was identified as such are housings for mechanisms that raise and lower the flaps (and anyone can look up a diagram of a DC or KC-10 and verify this for themselves). There is a theory that because the maker of the conspiracy version isn't a native english speaker, the sarcastic tone of the commentary may not have been noticed. You can make your own mind up on that one.

If those promoting the chemtrail theory were actually expert in aircraft anatomy, aerodynamics, weather and science like they think they are, and presented it with properly derived evidence, verifiable and obtained through validated methods they might have more credibility. But they aren't, and they don't have any. As well as the wrongness of what they promote, I'm also fascinated by the disconnect that means all of the rational evidence that they are wrong is not only uninvestigated and ignored, but routinely dismissed as "disinfo". Like followers of many scientifically illiterate conspiracy theories, it's adherents are choosing to be ignorant. In a world where basic scientific literacy and critical thinking skills are getting more and more important to have (in my view at least), that's just depressing.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

So a week ago, it's Friday afternoon, and I'm at my desk, the aftershocks from last month's quakes have pretty much died away and things have been feeling normal in that regard for a little bit, when this bad boy happens, and suddenly I'm under my desk waiting for it to stop. Which seemed to take ages. This was the first of the recent series I have felt somewhere other than at home, and away from the bedrock of that locale it was a lot more intense. That was the first time I've ever for real jumped under a desk or table in an earthquake. And I'd do it a couple more times that afternoon as more aftershocks came through. Not fun.

Thursday, August 01, 2013


So driving home after a stressful day, with a lot on my mind, and I look in the passenger seat and my two year old is sitting there singing "Wheels on the bus" complete with hand and arm movements, happy with not a care in the world, and this song starts playing on the radio, and suddenly everything's cool. It will be spring soon :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

12 Things I hate about X-Factor

Note: this was written a few days ago, when it was slightly more current, but Ruaumoko had other ideas.

1. The host. I'm not sure what look Dominic Bowden is going for, but if it is slick smug sarcastic insincerity, he's got it nailed. Oh, and the paaaaaussssinggg.

2. Moments like this:

Man, that Stevie Nicks dude wrote some great songs back in the day. . . If you are going to judge material, at least pay the courtesy of fecking knowing it.

3. The X-factor they are looking for isn't talent. It is marketability. In some of the few moments of actual honesty on it, the judges near constantly refer to their charges ability to sell records to the "market". They stop short of referring to the performers as "units", but it isn't far away. It's not about making music. more about making money. It has nothing to do with good music, nothing to do with learning and honing your craft, of doing all the hard and unsung work, and it's hard not to see it as insulting to the musicians and performers that have paid their dues. It's designed to create an instant disposable product for an audience that generally doesn't know any better musically. I wonder how many in the rent-a-crowd studio audience knew who The Manic Street Preachers were without having to be told. Probably too busy waving their elbows as directed to care.

4. The show itself like most of its kind is a disposable product, designed to do nothing more than generate revenue for it's sponsors. Both the show and the performers it produces are intended to be short lived , the details forgotten by next season so they can do it all again. Whoever wins it will be a figurehead for whatever campaigning follows the show. If they are really lucky they might have a career afterward.

5. It's not reality. It's insincere, scripted and contrived at every turn. "Look, here's one of our hopefuls at McDonalds. Who happen to be one of our sponsors! And look, they happen to be talking about the show! How lucky it was our camera crew was present to capture this spontaneous moment!"
Let alone all the banter, arrangement, song selection to favour or disfavour a performer and pretty much everything else.

6. It doesn't find artists. It creates disposable carbon copy performers, to fit in a narrow mould. When they let contestants write and perform their own material rather than soullessly butchering other people's in a sort of hyper karaoke I'll be much more interested.Which brings me to point 7.

7. Butchering actually good classic songs and turning them into two-minute cheese-fests.

8. The public voting system is dubious at best, since it doesn't appear to be transparent, and there seems to be nothing stopping the producers from just making up the numbers anyway. Even if it is legit, it further reduces the talent factor, by way of turning the thing into a popularity contest. Not to mention raking in the cash at $1 a text.

9. It promotes the fantasy that the NZ music market is big enough to sustain pop mega-stars for more than a few singles. Bowden can say "living the dream!" as often as he wants, that doesn't make it true.

10. "Taking it to the next level". Etc.

11. The hype. It's inescapable. Inescapable enough that I can mercifully write this without having to watch too much of the show itself.

12. It's just wrong. Hey, no-one said this had to be rational. Like all rant lists, the objectivity is all mine.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Well this is getting old

Hot on the heels of Friday's rocking and rolling, we have had today's memorable events.
This bad boy in the morning woke me from a doze to wonder if one of the girls was jumping on the bed (something it took about a second to realise couldn't be true), before waking up and heading to the doorframe to join the rest of the family.
Screengrab via

Then right on tea-time it's bigger brother showed up.
Screengrab via

I was just walking out the back-door to bring in the washing when it kicked off. I ran back in to fetch Sophie from the lounge (who at 2 seems impervious to the shakes so far), and paused in the lounge doorway to wait and see what was happening. A cry from upstairs revealed that Charlotte (who at 4 is not quite so ambivalent as her sister) had been woken from her nap and was most displeased at the house going all wobbly again. Fi had now appeared in an adjacent doorframe, so thrusting/throwing Sophie at her I ran upstairs to meet Charlotte coming down. Second babe in hand I went back down and waited for the shaking to stop. While our heartrates settled down, a plan was hatched to sort out who goes for what babe in future, and Charlotte instructed to wait for us in a safe place. Just in time for the aftershock about five minutes later

I've discovered that the big slab of peneplain my house sits on manages to insulate us from most things below a 5.0 or so in this sequence, so we've been spared most of the aftershocks, and the worst of the main shocks. The damage around the city though is of a kind I don't recall seeing here in my lifetime, with at least one person I know having their inner city apartment trashed, and the CBD closed for inspection until at least noon. The preliminary report from GNS gives a 1 in 3 chance of a similar size quake within the next week, and a 1 in 5 for the next 24 hours. That's not encouraging.

Post script: On pondering what the shakes actually feel like, and it feels obvious to say it, the big shakes have a palpably different feel to them. They aren't just little shakes writ large. They have more heft, more bass (the bass component is a wierd one to explain), more everything. The little ones tease with the possibility they may get bigger. The big ones leave no doubt they mean business.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Nice Day for an Earthquake

And it was. Blue skies, sunshine, light winds.

And a shallow 5.7 out in Cook Strait. News link with awesome koiwoi ucksents here.

And after a friend of mine suggested this track on facebook, I'm shamelessly stealing it. Dodgy quality but one of my favourite videos in one of my favourite places (Te Mata Peak in the Hawkes Bay). Seems appropriate:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The goat that ate Wellington

This time last month, I looked out my office window, saw the wind turn to the south and posted this on facebook in anticipation of the weather that had been forecast:

And then for about 24 hours nothing happened. But while it was calm for now, out in Cook Strait a stormy goat was arising. A very ANGRY goat.
 Screenshot from the metservice rain radar on the night of 20th June.

Besides the forecast, the big hint that something out of the ordinary was up was an email to my worksite from the electricity distribution company saying that not only were they anticipating the possibility of power cuts that night, they were expecting them. Just before heading home after a calm day, I looked out the window and noticed the clouds I could see were suddenly moving a lot quicker. When I walked out to the car the wind was picking up bluster, and by dinnertime an hour later it was violent. My place is slightly sheltered from the predominant northwest and southerly gales, but this one was out of the southwest, and shaking the house with every gust, gusts I could occasionally hear roaring up the hill toward us. And then it just built and built.

Mid evening I took a screenshot of current conditions from metservice, which showed the wind had shifted to the south and was now averaging just over one hundred kilometres per hour. I've never seen it like this, equivalent to a category 1 hurricane (and if that is a weak hurricane, I'm glad I don't live somewhere where strong ones happen). Up on Mount Kaukau above the city there was a gust of more than two hundred.

Around about this time the Kaitaki Interislander broke it's moorings after a particularly strong gust and went for a wander around the harbour, while roofs, trees and fences did the same all over the region, and the sea rose up and smashed south facing beaches in the face. I'd like to say I had some heroic storm stories about battening down this, or rescuing that but I don't. I went out for a careful look around the main street of my suburb to see what was going on, saw the blacked-out suburbs in the valley below, then just sat in my study and watched the storm unfold on-line, while listening to the roar of wind and rain and watching the glass on the windows bending inwards to a degree I had never seen before. Then forcing myself to not watch the glass bending in.

Watching it on social and news media was interesting as a collective experience, as stories and events were relayed in real-time. Before this era you just hunkered down and waited until it blew over to find out what had happened, maybe keeping up with whatever made it to the radio. Now you know what's going on as it happens, including those using their phones to stay on-line after their power dropped out.Watching one suburb after another around us (but not us, since the power lines in my suburb are underground) lose power it occurred to me that this was the worst storm since at least the mid-80's. That storm in 1985 I remember waking up to dad cooking breakfast on a camp stove on top of the dead oven. As it turns out it was one of the worst in 50 years, breaking into that rare category of being genuinely comparable to the Wellington storm that is still the yardstick that local people compare storms to.

We suffered no damage at our place, but a house around the corner from us suddenly found it's roof sitting in the street instead of atop the walls. The possibility of unwelcome things happening to my house though kept me up until I saw the winds start to abate a little to regular storm strength. After that it was just a case of waiting until morning to see what the storm hath wrought.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back in the saddle. . . again

Back in the saddle in a couple of ways, first time posting in over a month, and first time back on my bike for a couple of months. The last ride was back in autumn, and my leg injury had a slight relapse and the weather was ugly, and I'd had a bad day and I wound up walking the bike all the way up the hill  to get home. After that, for various reasons, I just didn't manage to get back riding until a nice weekend amble with wife and kids a couple of weeks ago, then back to proper commute riding this week. I got two rides in this week, and both were great. The leg was a little sore after the first one, but settled down for the second. And the second ride was awesome. The sky was threatening, but calm and settled, and the surface of the river I ride beside like a mirror.

A couple of moments stand out. Approaching the rail bridge I got to see two trains cross at once, the real one and it's reflection in the water. As I was moving and the perspective was constantly changing it was like an awesome steadicam shot in the darkening twilight. On the bridge the still water was reflecting the streetlights and the troubled sky so perfectly I wished I had a camera.

A few minutes later riding up the valley toward home a heavy rain shower broke over the hills in front of me. In the still air with this giant slate grey mass filling the sky in front of me, and the columns of rain falling down, combined with the track I'm linking below on the mp3 player, it was just cool.

Nothing much else to say, I just wanted to write those moments down before I forgot them.

A good track for a good ride:

Monday, June 03, 2013

Nice Music

Listening to: Hauraki

So further to the observation of my girls dancing to Soundgarden, with the public holiday today I had my mp3 player hooked up to the stereo on random all afternoon. It was still going quietly in the background at dinnertime, when I noticed Sophie dancing in her seat to this track:

"Sophie dance?" I asked.
"Music nice daddy!"
She liked the next two tracks offered up as well

This is encouraging :).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Darlings vs Discs

Right now the mini-mes are winning. It's a delicate balance between trying to encourage my children to enjoy our CD and DVD collection, while ensuring the little monsters cherubs don't destroy them in the process. Charlotte has recently developed a fondness for Bohemian Rhapsody, and the other morning I discovered both sisters dancing away happily to this Soundgarden track, which is good. I like.

There have been casualties though, mostly due to the inherent difficulty factor for little fingers getting discs out of their cases, and associated leverage issues.

This Muppet Show DVD looks fine right?

Wrong. . .

It gets worse.

Much, much worse.

Having introduced Charlotte to the first Star Wars over the summer, (Ep IV, we do not talk about that other trilogy that happened)  we thought she was ready for Episode V, and the reveal of reveals contained therein. We even had a camera ready. Then we went to put the DVD in the player, and found this. Can you see the problem?

Luke's response to Vader's daddy revelation seemed appropriate at this point. Not that we could WATCH it.

Witness statements as to who jumped the gun (both adults being out of the room at the time) were inconclusive. . .

Charlotte still hasn't seen The Empire Strikes Back.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I like weather but. . .

. . . I'm glad I live in a place where weather forecasters don't have to tell people to get underground if they don't want to risk their lives.

I like extreme weather, but the ultraviolence of tornadoes scares me as much as it fascinates. And we don't even get big tornadoes here, let alone ones that can play poltergeist with a car park in a matter of seconds.

That's the single most unreal image I've seen from Oklahoma today (that I'm going to comment on at least. As a parent of young children I don't have any words for what happened at the elementary school). There was a little one near Wellington a couple of years ago, and you can still see where it went when you drive by. What took place in Moore is surreal by comparison.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cool Contrails over Wellington

Having been involved in a couple of in depth discussions about contrails lately, I thought I'd share a couple of cool ones I've photographed over Wellington. The major air-routes where contrailing occurs run to the east and west of Wellington, so trails directly overhead aren't that common.

While heading into town to catch the theme decalled Air New Zealand Boeing 777 flyover for the Hobbit world premier last year (because that's the sort of stuff that happens in my town)-

- I noticed this apparition arising from the west. At first I thought it might be the 777 turning up early at altitude, but then realised it was unlikely to be approaching from that direction, and the four engine trails suggested something else.
It turned out to be a QANTAS 747-438 a few hours into a 12 hour flight from Sydney to Santiago, and laying a spectacular contrail over NZ's capital in the process. Normally this flight crosses NZ much further south; 747s aren't often seen here. Props to my wife for taking these pics with my camera while leaning out of a car window stuck in traffic:
I caught another cool contrailer a couple of years ago. I don't normally bother photographing trails too much, unless they stand out, and this one did. I hadn't seen a trail that fanned out like this one did before, and it turned out to be a USAF C-17 Globemaster III en route from Hawaii to Christchurch to support the Deep Freeze Antarctic operation that is based there.
One thing I figured out from this is that you can identify a C-17 from the shape of the contrail alone, which is kind of a neat if mostly useless trick.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Laying on the cute two days in a row, but my awesome wee Sophie is two today. This is a typical pose for her :)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Odd couple

Slightly strange superhero/american gothic portrait of my two favourite wierdos at a little airshow we went to last weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Remembering Juliette

Last week was the first anniversary of me finding out my first girlfriend had died. A year since the phone call saying the death notice was in the paper, a year since the funeral. It was the biggest reason I didn't blog much last year. I'd never lost anyone that close to me before and it really knocked me back for a while. I was pondering just what to blog about this, or even to blog about it at all. It's a confusing thing. She was the centre of my world once, but not for that long and it was half a lifetime ago, so why so bothered? What level of grief is appropriate? Is there even such a thing? But then you remember that even if you didn't see them often, you still cared about this person.

This is me and Juliette about a million nineteen years ago. We dated for 9 months between summers in 1994, when we were both 17 turning 18. I was a first year, and she was in her last year of high school. I wasn't her first, and very much a naif - she taught me a lot about how to be in a relationship. Somebody had to, since I was clueless on the topic. Both being stroppy teenagers, we partied well (I've been told we appeared virtually inseperable at times), and occasionally fought well too. Lots of good times, a few forgettable ones, and a few that will forever stay between me and her to protect the innocent guilty.

We didn't end well, and were on each others shitlists for a while, but stayed in the same circles and eventually realised that we actually could still be friends. After a few years we were pretty much reconciled (and ironically being a bit more mature much better suited to being in an actual relationship, had the prior history not been there). Eventually though as the 90's drew to a close we went separate ways, and lost touch a little bit. We caught up on the odd occasion, but after around 2003 I lost touch with her completely until a couple of years ago. The last time I saw her was about a year before she died (at a barbecue notable for the attendance of not only all of my exes but my wife. Since they are all nice people, my world didn't implode). My wife being the wonderful soul she is, left us alone to fill in the gaps. The deal fate gave her
in the form of bipolar disorder was a particularly shitty one, and the intervening years unkind. It saddens me still to think of all the talents she had (she was good at a lot of things), and potential and happiness she wasn't able to realise. After a lot of struggle though, things seemed to be looking up for her. We parted well that night, at peace with each other, and made plans to try and see each other a bit more often, but busy lives got in the way and suddenly there could be no more catchups ever. 

It occurred to me that when an ex dies, and you are still living in the same place as you were when you were dating, it's a bit like breaking up with them all over again. You look around and remember, this is where we did this, that is where we did that, like no time has passed at all. I thought about what I could write about, what stories to relate, but then realised that the things that most reminded me of her were songs. Music was one of the things we bonded over and nearly two decades later the associations are still strong, so that is the eulogy I'm choosing. They might not be particularly great or funny memories, but they're mine.

The song she hated because she thought love should be a 24/7 thing : Friday I’m In Love

The song that reminds me a lot of that time, of being old enough to date, but still young enough to be restricted, particularly when it comes to having to catch buses to get around if the parents you are still living with won't lend you a car: Dancing in the moonlight

The song that we discussed a lot, and just seemed to capture a lot of moments, including a discussion at a party with somebody or other's cousin, who was the lead singer with a deep voice of an improbably named band called Thrusthusband (a name they wrote in Greek), and just how the deep voice in the song worked: Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

The song she requested for me one night when we were playing dedication tag on Kix FM: Tunnel of Love. They didn't have it, so played Imagine instead, which isn't one of my faves (to put it politely). I still have the tape of the announcer's explanation somewhere.
The song I got played for her: Nights In White Satin. She loved The Moody Blues.

The song that at 2:20 reminds me of a single perfect moment at the 1994 Sacred Heart school ball : Hey Now (Girls Just Want To Have Fun)

The song she got bouncing up and down excited about in the car one Friday night on the way to her hockey game because she picked the “very late” lyric before it came up on her first listen: Round Here. It’s one of my favourite memories of her. I still remember the exact stretch of road we were on.

The two songs we bought a matching pair of cassingles together: Mr Jones and Streets Of Philadelphia.

The song from that year's Pink Floyd album, that we sat with nothing to say just staring out the window from her parents lounge one rainy day: Marooned. She gave me a Pink Floyd T-Shirt for my birthday, which still fits.

The song that always reminds me of a particular Friday night party in March 1994 and going to watch her play high school cricket the next day, and whose “time to say goodbye now” lyric particularly resonated after her death: Tear in your hand.

The album she introduced me to, via an arabian pirate copy she got when her family lived in Syria: Wish You Were Here

The song I first heard on a Vic Uni pub crawl we both went on, on a jukebox in the old St George Hotel bar, despite neither of us being Vic students, or of a legal age to drink: Disarm. The opening to this song from the same album is beautiful and always reminds me of those times. That album was everywhere then.

The song from an album that was at every party we went to then, and would remind me of her in the period after we split: Sitting Inside My Head.

The song I played at her the night we broke up. Yeah, subtle: Crazy Love Part II.

Two songs that for whatever reasons, helped me deal with things last year: Diamond Jigsaw and Scribble. When driving alone in the car at night for a couple of weeks I would just play them over and over.

We both loved Supertramp. I remember her favourite song of theirs was School, but they carried her coffin out of the church to Take The Long Way Home. It's a favourite of mine but I haven't felt the urge to listen to it since.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


This song by one of my favourite Australian bands plays on a perhaps slightly unfair myth about the ANZAC leadership, but still suits the day well, and is one of the better efforts in a field that often turns to the mawkish:

ANZAC day isn't, and shouldn't ever be about glorifying war or nationalism. It's a day for rememberance and acknowledgement, of what others had to go through (rightly or wrongly) in our name, and those who fell. And as an army Brigadier eloquently quoted at this morning's Lower Hutt ceremony, the bonds of mateship. Soldiers don't often fight for the higher ideals of national policy, which are close to irrelevant on the battlefield. They most often fight for those alongside them.

NB: The Christmas Truce referred to in the lyrics was a real thing that occured in 1914.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting it right for once

Listening to: one of my new comps, and this track right now: Run Run Run. I love the pun of the chanting at the end of the song.

It wasn't until I saw it on Huffington Post while following Boston news that I realised this had been noticed outside the country. It might not be as spontaneous as some are claiming, but this was still a pretty cool moment after the vote that made same-sex marriage legal in NZ this week.

Another unexpected viral clip from an unexpected source is this brilliant speech prior to the vote:

There's some post speech follow up including an "Ellen" invite here.

And a couple of friends of mine on why it mattered:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Re Compiling

I've been making comps for more than twenty years, first on tape, then on CD. I never used them to try and woo anyone, although I did make one for a girl I fancied as a birthday present, but more because I was broke than because I thought it would affect any other proceedings. They were more or less done for my own listening pleasure (for a while, there were times when I wasn't listening to actual albums at all). Besides countless tape comps, I made more than twenty CD compilations of my favourite tracks, including a 6-CD set that soundtracked my 30th birthday party. Listening to them now, especially the ones where I didn't record the tracklist anywhere can be a lot of fun, not only for reminding me of what I was into when I made them, but also since I've often forgotten what was on them, leading to lots of pleasant surprises. And the occasional skip or three when I wonder what I was thinking. Acquiring an MP3 player, and a car stereo that said player could plug into though effectively rendered the comps redundant, so it's been a few years now since I have put any together.

When that car died last month though, the stereo went with it. Our new ride has an actually much better stereo set up sound wise, but alas it doesn't have an AUX port (not yet anyway). And with it's first road trip beckoning yesterday, suddenly the comp is back in vogue, although being able to rip tracks straight from the MP3 player makes things a bit faster than the last time I did this. It was fun switching media on a whole bunch of new artists and songs I had never plonked on CD until now, and remembering the rules of making compilations. I was in a rush though, and a programme crash obliterated my first, near-perfect tracklist (which of course I neglected to write down first). Three road CD's resulted from a quick and dirty compile on Saturday morning.

The first one came out like this:

1. Unkle - "Keys To The Kingdom"
2. Dropkick Murphys - "Shipping Up To Boston"
3. Underworld - "Diamond Jigsaw"
4. Shihad - "Hard To Please"
5. Buffalo Tom - "Mineral"
6. Better than Ezra - "In The Blood"
7. The Twilight Singers - "On The Corner"
8. Big Country - "Porroh Man"
9. Third Eye Blind - "Motorcycle Drive-By"
10. Deborah Conway - "Today I Am A Daisy"
11. Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song"
12. The Twilight Singers - "Never Seen No Devil"
13. Jakob - "Everything All Of The Time"
14. Talk Talk - "Life's What You Make It"
15. Chemical Brothers - "The Test"
16. Friendly Fires - "Jump In The Pool"

Having literally roadtested it now it kinda works, although "Today I Am A Daisy" and "Mountain Song" more co-exist than go together smoothly, and "Everything All Of The Time" does slow the pace a bit with it's epic moodiness.

The second one had more of an electronica theme, and not planned so much as themed.

1. Concord Dawn and Rido - "One And Only"
2. Underworld - "Scribble"
3. Crystal Castles - "Not In Love" (the Robert Smith version with a proper vocal)
4. Computers Want Me Dead - "Circles"
5. Concord Dawn - "The Space Between Us"
6. The Tutts - "i20"
7. Underworld - "Two Months Off"
8. Leftfield - "Open Up"
9. Shapeshifter - "One"
10. Prodigy - "Poison"
11. Chemical Brothers - "Star Guitar"
12. Unkle - "Burn My Shadow"
13. Underworld - "Rez"

That tracks in this genre tend to be longer is evident in the shorter traklisting. "i20" works as a kind of halfway break, and I originally planned to close it with "Burn My Shadow", but opted for "Rez" as a more trippy rather than punchy ender, and sort of breaking one of my own rules about not having too many tracks by the same artist on the same disc.

The third one was most rushed, and is more or less tracks that had caught my eye while putting the other two together:

1. Julia Deans "Skin (Everything Is Coming To A Halt)"
2. The Twilight Singers - "Gunshots"
3. Interpol - "Obstacle 1"
4. Foals - "Inhaler"
5. Hunters And Collectors - "Angel Of Mercy"
6. Paul Banks - "The Base"
7. Pearl Jam - "Brother" (the version with lyrics)
8. Neneh Cherry - "Manchild"
9. Dave Dobbyn - "Shaky Isles"
10. Foals - "Spanish Sahara"
11. Concrete Blonde - "Someday"
12. Hunters And Collectors - "Run Run Run"
13. Motocade - "Commandeering"
14. Pearl Jam - "Hard To Imagine"
15. The Twilight Singers - "Sublime"
16. Neneh Cherry - "Buffalo Stance"
17. Ween - "Mutilated Lips"

It's probably the messiest to listen to, but all three could flow a bit better. Maybe I should just play them all on random anyway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Umm, yeah

I know my daughter made it with love and enthusiasm at day care, but this unicorn/baby/reindeer/yoghurt pottle thing is now resident on my kitchen windowsill and generally creeping me the hell out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Driving out 2012

Harking back to the summer that was, we spent the last day of 2012 driving from one side of the North Island to the other. Depending on which bit of it you are crossing, this can take either a few minutes, or most of a day.

Guess which one we were doing.

Going from the Waikato coast to Hawke's Bay is a longish haul straight through the middle of the island. that said we had good roads, perfect weather, active volcanoes and pretty waterfalls to look at, and even the odd moment of perfection in the back seat. 

SH30 from Te Kuiti to Taupo. One of my favourite bits of road that I don't drive on very often.
 The aforementioned moment of perfection.
 The white smudge at centre right is the active vent on Tongariro being active.
Waipunga Falls on the Napier Taupo road, another new discovery for us (having travelled this road all of once before). After revisiting Marokopa earlier in the day this was almost starting to feel like a waterfall tour at this point, which bizarrely, someone has actually done.
Our first sight of the east coast from the Napier Taupo highway. Moment of triumph tempered slightly by the reason we were stopped being to clean up a motion sickness related incident, after foolishly giving a toddler a book to read on a winding road.

Spending all day on the road, then setting up a tent at the collective friends of friends before putting the children to bed though doesn't exactly set you up for a night of New Year revelry though. Although long days that end with a promising change of scenery are usually worthwhile.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Summer's Kiss is over baby

Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach . . .
I feel it in the air, the summer's out of reach.

We made a trip to Days Bay after dinner tonight to wave goodbye to summer on the last night of daylight savings time. The distinctly unsummeriness of the weather didn't stop the girls from having a paddle though.

Lyric reference #1

Lyric reference #2

Both excellent tracks for this time of year.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thinking of this song a lot at the moment :)
It was funny to note the change in wording of the electronic billboards after our non drought ending rain last week too :).

People are actually taking it seriously which is good to see, including the guy at the car yard who apologised for our new car not being washed before we took delivery of it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free Treasure

One of the things about living in NZ is the ubiquitous green and yellow Department of Conservation markers you see around, particularly in rural areas, and how easy it is to ignore them, or think you'll come back to them some other time. Try not to; you might miss out on some cool stuff.

Near Marokopa there are three such signs, and on one of our days there we decided to check them out, knowing little or nothing about what they described. "We" being my wife and the old friend brothers we were in Marokopa with (seen here in best adventuring/don't-take-my-photo poses), brother's parents minding the kids for the afernoon:
The landscape around this part of the country is very limestone-y and prone to interesting erosion, as this appallingly lit photograph typifies. I love the view from the backyard of this house:
Our first stop was at the intriguingly named Natural Bridge at Maungapohue. For a few minutes you walk down an average little river canyon, like so:
Then suddenly you walk around a corner and are confronted with this, and involuntarily say "Wow" or words to that effect:
If you are wondering about scale, there is a person at the bottom of this shot. It's cathedralistic.

As to how it was formed, it's basically a cave with a collapsed roof. If you want to know more, click on this pic and read the info board :) :
And just a few steps out the other side and you wouldn't know it was there at all.
Also around the cave are littered eroded rock formations, including fun rocks for offspring to climb through, and intrepid explorers to conquer (note aforementioned DOC marker).

There are also rocks that look like they escaped from a Jim Henson movie and are about to wake up and start talking to you.
Moving on from the collapsed cave, a few minutes along the road at Piripri there is an intact one. This photographs about as well as you'd expect a large cave with only ambient lighting to photograph. On a hot and humid summer day descending into the cool gloom is incredibly refreshing.

And lastly a few minutes back along the road to Marokopa, and the last stop, are the magnificent Marokopa falls:
All of these things are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I love that these things are just freely available to explore and discover at your leisure. I knew nothing about these three things until we stumbled across them, and (taxes notwithstanding), no-one charged us an entry fee to go and look at them, or made us take a tour. We could just take it in on our own terms and in our own time.

Including family selfies when we took the children to see the sights on our way to our second camping destination the next day:
 I am smiling, it's just hard to concentrate on taking the photo as well :).