27 July, 2009

Australian Animals, Bottled Beer, Captivating Containers

Seeing as, at the end of the week, I'm off to the land of kangaroos and creatures that hop (skip, jump), I thought a novel New Zealand beer might be in order. And what beer could better punctuate the end of my time studying in NZ than the Amrageddon India Pale Ale from Epic breweries with a massive 42 hops per bottle. 42 hops! That's more bounce than the combined population of wallabies who wander my future place of work.

Modestly calling itself "the answer to everything" Epic Armageddon is not as bitter as I expected having already tried the Epic Mayhem and Epic Pale Ale which both have (nominally) fewer hops per bottle. The Mayhem in particular had significant resiny bitterness which made it a beer which it is inadvisable to rush. The Armageddon, however, is much more citrusy and fruity (though not in a Belgian Lambic style) with some delicate floral flavours mixed in. In short; is delicious an worth every cent of the ten-odd dollars is costs for a 500ml bottle (I got mine at Moore Wilson's but Wellington Regional Wines and Spirits may have it available for ordering online.)

Still on the topic of beer, I bottled ours on Sunday. The specific gravity was still over 1.01 but the signs of fermentation which were previously present seemed to have vanished.

Hopefully the reading was overestimating on account of all the sediment (there was a layer of about 9l of gunk in the 20l of beer) and I haven't bottled too early and made bottle bombs. Anyway, now I think some labels are in order. One challenge is that I bottled it in re-used Grolsch bottles which have a pattern stamped onto them making it hard to apply a sticker smoothly. There are a few dozen bottles and I was thinking that if someone with a background in graphic design, or something, (Travis?) came up with a label then a few bottles might head their way in exchange.
Just sayin...

24 July, 2009

Bikes and guns: two things to worry about.

This from an article in the independent about a lack of supply of bikes in the UK.

Although the UK bike industry is a rare manufacturing success story, outperforming every other sector of the UK economy over the past five years except weapons production, we produces barely 5 per cent of the one million machines that Raleigh, our best-known bicycle maker, was producing in the 1950s.

It seems that a government scheme to promote cycling has been more successful than cycle manufactures had planned on. And since most bikes are produced in factories in south-east Asia, there is a long lead-in time before more can be produced.

Meanwhile, the number of cyclist fatalities in 2008 for the UK was the second lowest number ever recorded, the same year that the number of kms cycled in the UK reached its highest level in 17 years. This would seem to be perfect evidence of safety in numbers --- the more people cycle, the safer it becomes for cyclists since motorists learn to share the road (and presumably cycle friendly roads, etc, develop). This is counter the the current views of some Wellington city councilors who have stated that they think people should be discouraged from cycling since it is unsafe --- people can be encouraged to cycle after the the council have figured out how to make cycling safe and how to fund whatever plan they come up with.

Academic Success

...and there I was thinking I'd done well to submit my thesis. Turns out T-rex has something to say about that.

23 July, 2009

Beer Bottles

It's almost time to bottle the beer that Erich and I brewed a week and a bit ago, so I've been getting the bottles ready.

The beer itself is busy fermenting away. The specific gravity has dropped to about 1.014, though I'm not sure how accurate this number really is since the huge (huge, huge, huge) amounts of sediment in the fermenter --- on account of poor filtering of the wort and the large amounts of hops we used --- seems like it might make the specific gravity higher than it would be if the density depended only on the amount of sugar remaining in the solution. Still, I'll wait a little longer since there are still more bubbles being produced so the yeast must be doing something.

18 July, 2009

Brooklyn War Memorial

Now that I've finished my thesis I see the world with different eyes. For example, I was sitting in the car park behind a doctor's practice in Brooklyn, (I was waiting for someone who was inside alright!), and I looked up and saw a statue standing above the trees on Brooklyn hill.

It was the Brooklyn War Memorial.

To get to it, follow the signs for the wind turbine from Brooklyn village, about half way up the hill the signs for the war memorial start.

From the statue there's a great view of the Wellington and the harbour.

And of my apartment building.

09-07 Brooklyn War Memorial

16 July, 2009

Deliveries: of thesis and families

Finally, on Thursday, (and just within the four year deadline), my thesis was done.

Which is to say, four copies have been printed, bound and delivered to the Graduate Research School.

Three copies will be sent to my examiners, (the fourth copy will be used for magical rites, or left sitting about in a dark room for no particular purpose, or something), and in a few month's time I should have my exam. And then, all going well, I'll be done.

In addition to my submission, there was an additional reason to celebrate on Thursday night: Karin and David are parents (as of Bastille day). That's two more than the necessary number of reasons for going to the Celtic.

And Travis and Graham are back from climbing French Direct on Alpamayo --- one of the nicest looking mountains there is. No doubt, Travis will soon have some photos of the trip on his swanky re-jigged site.

Since Marco asked for it, a PDF copy of my thesis can be downloaded here.

09-07 Thesis Submission

10 July, 2009

The sun's setting on the week. And N's back.

The sun is setting on the week

And in these photos it's setting on the Rimutaka hills too.

Though these were taken earlier in the week. Not that the sun doesn't set in the Rimutakas on a Friday.

And, on an unrelated note --- though at the same time --- N.'s back from Berlin & Helsinki.

Back too, or possibly just arriving, is a small boy, well padded in a highly coloured jacket.

09-07 Sunset Tararuas

07 July, 2009

More Tararua Photos

More photos of the Tararuas and the snow on them. This time, taken early-ish in the morning and out the car window (I wasn't driving). The secret to whatever steadiness these have? The active vibration reduction setting on the Nikon AF-S 18-200mm lens, so beloved by Ken Rockwell, amongst others.

Mitre Flats hut

I'm really in the final stages of writing at the moment. So, the weekend before last, (or thereabouts), I took some time off to get some distance from a particularly troublesome paragraph. (I'd re-written it five times by that point, yet it didn't seem to be getting any clearer.) Steve and I walked to Mitre Flats hut in the north-eastern Tararuas. Good weather on Saturday, but a bad forecast for Sunday meant we only shared the hut with two other people. The walk out was a bit wet but the track was still pleasant. It took about 3-3.5 hrs each way going about as fast as the slippery roots and mud allowed for. The route is mostly level, traversing along above the Waingawa river, though the start of the track is a bit dull where is crosses farmland to get to the egde of the forest park.

The weather didn't really encourage photos. A couple are here:

09-06 Mitre Flats Hut

Martinborough Farm Walk

The other week, to break up my writing, I went for a short walk on a farm near the edge of Martinborough. (I can't find a link with details of the walk --- I believe the Martinborough Rotary club organised and sign posted it. It starts at the end of the wonderfully named Shooting Butts Road if anyone is interested.) Here are a few photos from my stroll in the country (and the rain).

09-06 Martinborough farm walk