Take the Scenic Route

Friday, July 29, 2005


Whoever said puns were bad. Ahem. Anyway.

The town hall didn't *quite* sell-out, but that's still 2,500 odd punters. Interestingly, had they dropped the price $20, removed the seats (thereby increasing capacity to 3,500), perhaps they would have enticed some more young people along, but come away with the same money. However, I digress.

Those of you who know my musical tastes well will be aware that I'm frequently a little luke-warm on the recorded output of Finn the Younger. Which is not to say that I don't appreciate the abilities of the seemingly less dark and frivolous one. It just seems like somewhere there's a "If we make the mix a little bit blander we'll get more cross-over into pop" demon lurking. It's no surprise then that my most treasured Crowded House output is the live disc that came as an extra in some versions of the best-of. And live, this demon is well and truly put to bed.

Last night was no exception. They rocked hard, with Neil doing some welcome soloing. They had a piano on stage, which they took in turn for playing various numbers.

I'm also a big fan of deviating from the set-list. It makes it seem like somehow they're tailoring the concert to the audience, and that it's not an exact replica of all the other gigs. It would be nice to think that the moment of shirt removal and speaker-stack climbing by Mr Toogood is spontaneous, but my inner cynic is skeptical. And it was extra pleasing that the deviation was then dedicated to Mr Hester.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


The ungardening has more or less come to an end, which now leaves me in the position of having to work out where I should be 'gardening'. I've got quite a little collection for that purpose. Some I've bought, some I've grown myself, and some that I've acquired from my father and grandfather. I have quite a nice little collection of Hebe's that I've grown here.

Possibly a few too many. Mercifully, there seems to be a pattern in my family that men grow forests rather than retire, so perhaps I can palm some off on them.

Some of the more botanically astute of you might notice that some of the ones I acquired from my father and grandfather might grow rather big. In addition to manuka, kowhai, some miscellaneous pittosporum (pittospora? heh), but also rimu, matai, totara...

These some cool carex (tussock) from dad as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I'm sure that many of you will be deeply disappointed. Over my lunch hour, as part of Dunedin's annual chocolate carnival (where Cadbury give back to the community) there was chocolate body art and girls-only chocolate wrestling. And I left my camera in my office. The wrestling, tastefully referred to as "Human Fondue" also featured, for the first time in its history, several three way contests. And you can guess how that was billed to the crowd ...

Chocolate was the winner at the end of the day.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Been shopping for an MP3 player/USB flashkey for L*, and one that has caught our attention has possibly the single best engrish in context I've ever seen.

OK, so it's a 512MB flash memory key that plays MP3s, but apparently it's also:
* The world's first drinkable flash key -- "A strong potable digi-mate for your picky minding"
* "MUSIC DISK ...is able to be powerful file storage with 400 bps/sec file exchange speed for work at day time. When it comes to the night time, just like a super hero, it switches to be a portable entertainment center. Jazz/Lounge relaxes your body and mind. Techno/Trance releases your desire to dance... It offers different emotional adjustment by music playing."

O'Rite Technology Co., Ltd

Seriously, go there and browse round, and find the blooming of warmth in your mind.

A snippet from a different page:
"Someone says, the land in winter, is not fit for the growing of love, but don't forget it ! We can use the energy of the music , irrigate the nursery garden of the love continuously."

Sunday, July 17, 2005


So I know that some of you will find this amusing. No it's not mine. Surely you must credit me more taste than this.

I can't say I'm the biggest BMW fan, but this is just all types of wrong. The clear tail lights, the silver spoiler... This is someone who needs naming and shaming. Surely this has got to be one of the worst images on the web after those of she-who-shan't be named. And no mentioning her here, lest she google in.

These are my wheels. Far more appropriate. The thinking person's SUV. That is, it's not, but it is four-wheel drive. And going by past experience, getting stuck or not is a lot more to do with sensible driving than ground clearance or traction. But more about that in a scenic detour post...

And the motorbike. A wild child of my acquaintance told me a joke when they discovered I was learning to ride:

Q. What do doctors call motorcylists?
A. Organ donors.

Ummm, anyway, so thoughts of imminent death aside, motorbiking is a fabulous way to see the countryside in an intimate fashion.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


It seems surprising in hindsight. I was absolutely shattered walking home after a long long day at work after too little sleep, having worked until after midnight the night before. It was brutally cold. The fire was warm. The wine was making me snoozy. I'm shocked I made it out of the house.

The promised snow down to 200m had not eventuated. And then, for some reason, I left my jacket in the car. Sad to say, but I've been becoming a leather jacket wearing guy standing at the back of the venue, nursing my drink.

But not tonight. I'd intended to take it pretty quietly. I was tired after all, and still recovering. However, fate had me back in the mosh. Not quite old-school prepared[1], but I at least wasn't wearing a 10cm wedge of pounamu (which is pretty brutal to run with, let alone jump). So, um, yeah. In case you hadn't worked out where this is going, it was fucking awesome. It reminded me of amazing concerts I've been to in the past, where you're existing just in the ecstatic moment, swimming in the music (I suspect the six sub-woofers either side of the stage may have played some role in this sensation). I didn't once think about the evil reviewer, or the work I was supposed to be doing this morning, or even realise how much my legs hurt. And man do they hurt today. Heh. I guess with having been sick and all I'm below average fitness, plus my legs kind of suck anyway, so I'm extra-sore this morning.

Despite some possibility that is might be a Wellington-only treat, they played Deb's Night Out in the encore. Unfortunately, I think the rest of the crowd were fairly underwelmed by this. However, it made at least one person *very* happy.

And then in time-honoured fashion [2], the moon was huge and golden and setting over the city as I arrived home. Unfortunately I didn't quite get the ideal exposure set before it started to go down. It was waay cooler than this pic reprezents.

[1] That is, I was wearing a watch, I'd made no attempt to attach my glasses to self (nothing like being in a wild mosh and attempting to catch glasses before they hit the floor...), I wasn't wearing particularly old clothes, and I didn't have my wallet in a plastic bag(!). Once upon a time, I found it amusing to wear a hypercolour t-shirt to gigs, for a visual indication of how 'good' the going was...

[2] Shihad concerts are frequently accompanied by amazing natural phenomena. For example, there was a magnitude 8+ earthquake during the encore at a gig in Invercargill a couple of years back, followed by an aurora on the way home.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My Brain Hurts Too...

The last ten minutes my computer has been furiously churning away. Hopefully it's getting itself emotionally prepared for some Naive Bayesian analysis. This is, of course, where you find some nice young naive bayesian... wait, no! But either a few hundred pages of ascii text was a little much for a fairly elementary program written in common lisp, my computer sucks, a combination of the both, or there's a nice loop or bug in the program which is eating at its soul...

If I can get it working, it might finally provide some justification for the fact that I have over a dozen computers in my office, but no one other than me to use them. I can get them all running icky jobs all at once. Glee. On the other hand, I could always attempt to sell them on trade-me, and buy a printer that jams less often. If only trade-me weren't blocked ...

Functional Fixedness

I arrived home in the dark yesterday and accidentally put the wrong key in the lock. I took it out, used the right key, and wandered inside. However, once I was inside, I realised that the 'wrong' key had happily gone in. So, uh, yeah, turns out that six months ago when I looked at the keys, I just assumed the two new shaped keys were for the sliding door, and the old looking keys were for the front door. But, actually, like, the sliding door was keyed to fit the front door. D'oh. On the other hand, now I don't need to get another spare key cut, but I have been carrying two of the same key round for the last six months...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Taking the Scenic Route...

Taking the Scenic Route isn't just a metaphor that could be applied to my decision-making process or lifestyle (perhaps we'll take that, er, detour, another day). Those who have ever travelled with me will know that I need little excuse to take a lesser known route, or merely drive down a road "because it's there".

Last week, as I was driving out of town, it occurred to me that I should really write about some places to go. I hadn't been out of town for a while, so was feeling pretty nostalgic for the "just drive" mentality. I was also feeling rather grateful that I'd been put off Subarus by a mechanic acquaintance, both for fuel and ongoing maintenance costs.

I was driving up the coast, to Kakanui, a small east coast beach settlement, a place were I lived for about six months after finishing varsity. It's a great place, I love swimming there, walking along the beach, and staring at the sea. But it reminds me also in some ways that I'm an east coast boy. For me, the sun should rise over the sea, and set over the mountains. I remember being surprised that my Dad, who despite being born on The East Coast (deep in the heart of Ngati Porou territory), felt himself a west coast boy, perhaps having spent a little too much time in the Rangitiki and Wanganui during his formative years. I bring this up, because there are some things I love about west coast beaches. They tend to have steeper bush-clad hills, wilder surf, and more breath-taking vistas. Or something. East coast means browned off grass, old-man pine and macrocarpa on the ridges. Marram grass on sand dunes. And while it's what I know, it doesn't quite take my breath away so much. That said, the sunnier climate of the east coast probably makes the beaches 'better' on some level in the long run. And I've spent many happy summers at Kakanui, and further north, on a little beach on Banks Peninsular.

And there are exceptions to the rule. There are wild bush-clad hills rolling down to the sea on the east coast, just not so common. Bushy Beach (perhaps the name indicates its atypicality) just south of Oamaru springs to mind.

Perhaps it is also something to do with the hills. My early life in the Mackenzie and further north in Canterbury, along with Mum's strong connection to central makes something about plains and wide open spaces gel.

The distance from hills and valleys may underlie my thing with the sun. Mostly a feature of Wellington and Dunedin, because of their hilly terrain, it is possible to live places, cold damp places, which don't see the sun for tracts of the day, especially in winter. I'm very, very glad to have found my place in the sun in this town.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Man...

Ha. I just acquire a digital camera (thanks to Jessie for the link), via the ubiquitous trademe...

Portait of the Scientist as a Young Man

And on a semi-related note... the beast takes four AAs.... but what the hell has happened to rechargeable batteries. Like cellphone batteries certainly are smaller and charge faster these days. But varta have gone a step further. I have 15 minute charge AA batteries. It'll be interesting to see how the go in the long run (and the charge is not so cheap, but 15 minutes aint long to wait... (available from a Dickies near you)