28 May, 2008

Dinosaurs, Wikipedia, etc

Some of you may know already that I'm a big fan of Dinosaur Comics. I wanted to shared this one since it enlightens us of an important point: the true purpose of Wikipedia. It has always been clear that Wikipedia must have some hidden motive behind it. People wouldn't go to all the effort of writing those entries just for the information of strangers they'll never meet.
WIKIPEDIA! I would have donated during your last funding drive, if only I knew!!

Just in case you start to think that all the Dinosaur Comics are on the same theme here's one about bicycles and another featuring the devil.

utahraptor has used ''you wanna get sandwiches?'' as an all-purpose conversational filler for a few weeks now.  it works out great!  when conversation stalls, sometimes you get to eat tasty sandwiches.


27 May, 2008

Auckland Writers and Readers Festival

The writers and readers festival in Auckland the other weekend was very good. So was the weather there and the general traipsing about Auckland and riding the ferry out to Devonport (Devonport itself remains very pretty but kinda small and dull).

Michael Pollan was probably my personal highlight of the three things I saw at the writers and readers festival. I'd gone off him a little after what I thought was a weak ending to "The Omnivores Dilemma" but he spoke intelligently and articulately and entertainingly --- a rare trio of characteristics. A low point: perhaps Bernard Beckett in the science writers discussion --- he seemed more interested in trying to be clever an playing devil's advocate than actually giving decent answers. Well, I hope for his sake that's what he was doing. The alterantive is that he is as foolish as the ideas he was trying to hold up. The poetry reading was very good but very varied. Some stunning stuff (Douglas Wright, Kate Camp) and some that was less impressive. This happens though. At the end of the festival I had a new book (the Douglas wright poetry) and some new thoughts. You can't do better than that really.

pictures here.

20 May, 2008

Made in New Zealand!

Phew! I breath a sigh of relief. I got a reply from Cactus Climbing who assure me that Made in China Cactus gear is only a left-over from the bad old days and that they are now committed to manufacturing in NZ. Good on you Cactus! I'll be buying more gear from you for sure now. I implore everyone else to too. They really do make good stuff --- it would have been sad to have to write them off like I've had to do with Icebreaker, Macpac and such like as they move manufacturing off shore to chase more dollars. Here's the reply from Cactus by the way. I'm pleased I asked after getting my knickers in such a twist about them (apparently) deserting NZ.


Not to worry, Cactus used to make a few items off shore in earlier days. A few years ago we stopped making these items off shore and brought all the manufacturing back to NZ.
Cactus gear is now entirely NZ made but I guess there is probably a few items floating around out there.

Items like the Portal pack which used to be made in China we now have an NZ made version. The WP Dreadnought has undergone major redesign and will be available in a few months, this I think is the garment you were going to purchase.
The Wilbur which was our travel pack we simply no longer make it.

Thanks for checking the facts first. Cactus certainly feels strongly about first world environmental and labour issues and we are doing our bit here.

Made in NZ = happy Kiwi's all round

If you have any further questions please feel free to ask,

Kind Regards,

Made in China?

I sent the letter below after getting a nasty surprise this weekend when I went to buy a pair of pants from Cactus climbing. It looks like another NZ clothing producer has made a rapid yet silent switch from being a promoter of "Buy NZ Made" and espouser of the virtues of local production to the owner of a Chinese clothing factory with its very own coal-fired power station and troupe of low-paid slave-labourers willing participants in the free market dollar grab that is international clothing production. I guess it's clear I feel quite strongly about this. I'll keep you posted about any replies I get.


I'm the satisfied owner of several items from Cactus and love the quality and design of them. This weekend I was about to buy a pair of Cactus trousers for alpine travel but before reaching the checkout I noticed a new feature of cactus products: a MADE IN CHINA label. Was I dreaming or have I really lost access to one of the few locally produced sources of clothing and equipment that exist in this country? Please tell me that cactus haven't moved production to China in a chase for dollars. If they have, then have certainly lost any dollars that I, my friends or family might spend. I feel strongly about this issue and advertise this fact widely and loudly.


16 May, 2008

Night Sky Photos

I bought a tripod off Dan the other week and I've been carrying it places since then hoping that I'll be able to take some interesting photos from it. The other night the sky was looking nice with the moon at first quarter and a few clouds about to make things interesting so I got out my camera and had a play. Things were pretty dark so I needed exposures of 30 seconds to a minute to get enough light. Some of the photos were good straight off the camera. Some others weren't but lead to some curious effects after a bit of tinkering. There are a dozen or so pictures here

13 May, 2008

Not ice-climbing at Tukino

The plan was to leave P.N. early on Saturday morning, drive to Tukino ski field, walk up to Whangaehu hut and hopefully find some ice in condition for climbing higher on Ruapehu or, at least, go for a walk on about the top of the mountain. The reality was leaving P.N. on Saturday afternoon. Drive to below the normally locked gate on the road up to Tukino ski field.

Walk up to the ski field in growing darkness, with rain starting. Turn back and walk back towards the car (Rangipo hut was the first fall-back plan) after getting a message from Cindy and Graham (who had left at 6 a.m. and parked at the ski field) about bad snow conditions on the mountain. Altercation and negotiation on account of the key for the gate across the Tukino road (Graham and Cindy's car was on the other side of it). Bad weather and lack of functioning headlamps then meant we gave up on the walk to Rangipo hut and instead drove to Turangi and stayed at a backpackers.

The weather on Sunday morning was near perfect so we headind back to the mountain with our freshly negotiated key, unlocked the gate so Graham and Cindy could get down, and went for a walk up the mountain. Lucky we hadn't pushed on to the hut the night before. The snow was fresh and deep all the way up the mountain with no places where things were hard enough to get some crampons on and make some decent progress. It was a nice enough walk in the sun however, even if it was a little frustrating not to be able to do any climbing in the end.
There are a couple of photos here.

07 May, 2008

Lynn Hill Bouldering

I spent Sunday bouldering at Lynn Hill near Dannevirke, about 50 minutes drive from P.N. The place is in a farm owned by a woman called Lynn Hill who shares her name with the well known American rock-climber, one of the top climbers in the world. Since the boulders are on a hill too, the name Lynn Hill has been adopted for the bouldering area too --- at least amongst the people I know who've been there.

Romaric had been at the hill the day before when the weather was colder and he was feeling sick so he didn't really want to come along. He eventually joined us but just to take some photos with his new camera. Despite this, it was my camera he went off with for most of the time, and hence most of the photos
here are ones he took with it. There's a LOT of climbing at Lynn Hill, including plenty of things that haven't been done yet. Romaric and I cleaned off a new boulder and I can now claim a first ascent of something --- a VM/V0-ish problem (it might get easier after some of the remaining dirt gets washed out of a few holds).

04 May, 2008

Taranaki Pictures

Aurelie reminded me today that I still haven't posted the photos from Travis's birthday party at Lake Dive Hut, Taranaki. Well, this link'll take you to a collection of about four dozen photos from the trip.

The walk in on Saturday was very nice with good weather and views of the plains around Taranki. The bad weather forecast for the following day encouraged us to take the high track to the hut.

It was even nice enough for a (polar bear) swim in Lake Dive.

The totally still lake made for some really nice photos too --- if I do say so myself. Romaric took a couple too, all the time trying to convince himself that he could do almost as well with a compact instead of a D-SLR...