Take the Scenic Route

Friday, September 30, 2005


I got a certain magazine today, and being the diligant reader that I am, I eventually noticed this rather drab advertisement for locum doctors.

What I couldn't get over, is how much this group of young doctors resembles all the young doctors of my acquaintance. I've always been really impressed with how they keep their work/life balance so well, managing to spend a lot of time at the gym and sun-tanning, in addition to their high-stress caffeine-fuelled existance...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The Kakariki is back. Actually, I have acheived a few things since it was last here, but it still doesn't feel like very long ago (and I think the other tanker has been in and out since)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Waipara II

Better write this before it goes completely stale. Following our night in the guardsvan, and a delicious breakfast, I got about assembling the bikes. Towbars are expensive (c$300), so I've never quite got round to getting one, and the wanky roof-rack bike holders are no cheaper, so they were in bits in the boot. We then set off for a little ride around Waipara. Ideal really, as it is (like most of Canterbury) rather flat.

Our first stop was Athena Olive Grove, where we picked up some subtley lemon-infused olive oil. The road to there runs parallel with the Weka Pass Railway line [1]. Being a designated sunday, the Express was all fired-up, and we saw it come flying past as we rolled back toward the village.

We then went on to visit Torlesse, and then had a slightly more energetic ride up to Waipara Springs. On the way, we passed a small cemetery, with an oddly ornate gate thing, which rather reminded me of Sutton's "Norwester in the cemetery". Our last stop was at Mt Cass, and we then had some lunch in the grass, enjoying the warmth of the sun and light drunkeness. The pick of the wines tasted was the Black Estate Young Vines Pinot noir. Mmmmmmm. Derishous

[1] The Weka Pass Railway is the remains of a branch railway line that ran inland to Waikari, and on past Culverden to the Red Post. Originally, there had been some thought that they would continue it on roughly along the Inland Kaikoura Road (well worth the trip) to Kaikoura, and that it would be the main trunk line. However, the coastal railway backers won through in the end, and so there was quite a long branch line going nowhere much. It was used for the train scenes in Snakeskin, one of the few bits not filmed around Methven.

Politics Test...

No real surprise here...

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(21% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Sunday, September 18, 2005


So it turns out that blogging isn't so dissimiliar from my previous diarying experiences (a little bit during high school). When life is most interesting and note-worthy, there's the least time to get round to writing about it.

So anyway, a couple of weekend's ago, we got out of town away to Canterbury, staying in Lyttelton and then Waipara. We stayed at Waipara Sleepers, in an old converted Guardsvan. Extremely cool. Better yet, freshly laid eggs and fresh bread in the morning. Mmmm, perfectly poached eggs with my espresso in the morning, sitting on the Guardsvan deck.


The kitchen facilities are in the 'railway station' in the background.

Still complete with many of there original fittings, there probably aren't many more unique places to stay in New Zealand. For any train buffs/interesteds, there are a few more pictures on Flickr.

More from Waipara later...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A bit Wonka-y....

Caution: Spoiler (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Rant below

It's a little while since I've had a rant. I would strongly discourage anyone who has yet to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from reading further. It has had numerous excellent reviews, and the person I went with really liked it. As you might guess, I really didn't. Which was odd, as I'm not usually overly critical of movies or books.

To me, there were two big things wrong with this movie. Firstly, although the '71 classic is called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this is the one that is all about Willy Wonka. Worse, Willy Wonka is all about the Edward Scissorhands and not about the Roald Dahl. Which brings me to my second point: while technically this version is more true to the book, it is completely not true to the Dahl essence.

The essence of much of Dahl's work was the ordinary/unfortunate/sometimes ostracised child finding out that they possessed a special talent or meeting someone extraordinary who saw their internal goodness in a way others did not (e.g., Charlie & the C.F., Danny the Champion of the World, Matilda, The B.F.G.). Overcoming the odds and triumphing (see also The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox) is also often a key element, and the success/revenge is frequently macarbely satisfying (sort of the ideal revenge fantasy). This is a formula which Ms. Rowling uses to excellent effect. Burton's first failure is imbuing the movie with a fairytale feel. I suspect Dahl would rather approve of Christopher Lee's character, and Willy's childhood appliance, but to have Wonka Snr.'s house disappear in a movie with no ostensibly actual magic elements was just wrong. Further, the bucket house is just a ridiculous misplaced fairytale element in a brutal city of terraced houses (although strangely remniscent of the inventor's house nestled in suburbia in that other Burton movie). Overall I loved the aesthetic of the city: dark, grim, industrial. I also thought (partly just in the colouring) that the Factory was very reminscent of metropolis. Actually, the bucket house reminds me a bit of Rotwang's Laboratory (shapewise, plus the discord with surroundings). I'm also deeply confused by the description of the movie as "dark". It is neither as dark as Dahl or the Wilder's Willy (heh). Rather than being deliciously implied, the misfortune's that befell the other children were fairly obviously under Willy's control. I think it also goes completely against the grain to have made it so obvious that the other children were alright. We did not need to know that the furnace was in fact broken, and seeing the other children leave the factory little worse for wear seems to defeat the whole point. Hrumph.

In some ways, I think I was rather disadvantaged. I had never seen Edward Scissorhands until a couple of years ago, so it is perhaps fresher for me than most. However, I was disarmed about how alike the two were. I won't go into too much detail, but I found the personality of Willy Wonka deeply inconsistent, alternating between smart-aleccy elements (ala Wilder) and a Scissorhands-like uncertainty.

That's it in a nutshell. There was some truly great stuff. I loved a lot of the visual imagery, the Bedford Wonka Lorries, and the re-characterisation of the children. Charlie was great. There was just a little too much of Tim Burton.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Archaeology is the New Black

Archaeology is the new black. Apparently. Or perhaps communication (in which case why did I leave that building?).

So yes. It's a bit disappointing. I think this could have made a nice sort of matt black, or at least a sort of shale grey:

Sensory science studies of aroma and flavour emphasise chemosensory properties of wine as the dominant source for judgments about wine quality. Smells and tastes are percepts that do not exist outside of the human observer, however, so an analysis of wine judgment that emphasises only chemosensory properties is incomplete. According to recent studies of the way that wine is perceived and judged, the sensory experience of wine is ambiguous and may be open to interpretation, with marked individual differences among even wine experts. Therefore, wine memory and perception are likely to be predominantly influenced by processes of construction and interpretation. Further, wine drinking or tasting is typically a social experience, and the ambiguous nature of wine allows a powerful influence by social factors, which have not been explored. The novel question of our proposal is whether wine judgements are subject to memory illusions and social influence. We propose to apply some classic procedures that can reveal distortions in normal memory over time and the influence of social situations on perception, in order to demonstrate memory illusions and social contagion in wine judgements and memory.

Oh well. Perhaps next time. Or some other dream.