25 December, 2010

Christmas Photos

I know, that date of this post is a lie. But it's when I would have put up these pictures, if I'd put them up in any reasonable time frame.


23 November, 2010

Pictures from Switzerland

I've been trying to think of something clever to say about the week or so I spent n Switzerland at the end of October. I'll give up now and just post some photos instead.

Here's the gimmicky flash slide show version:

And here's a a link to the Picasa gallery.

I had a great time there catching up with people and hunting mushrooms. We ate 21 different species of mushroom which we collected ourselves, plus some uncertain additional mushrooms in the stew from the man at the Fully chestnut festival.

Give us a chance!

See N at 1:23.

Lucky escape

I was cycling to work when I heard a loud clatter coming from somewhere around the drivechain on my bike. I pulled over and found a four cm long piece of metal stuck through my rear tyre. It looks like the spike had entered through the centre of the tyre and then been deflected by the tyre liner and come out through the side wall. I pulled the spike out and, since the tyre didn't start to deflate in any obvious way, I carried on to work. There's now a pretty big tear in the wide wall of the tyre though. It probably means another tyre that needs replacing because it was cut to pieces well before it even got close to wearing out.

14 October, 2010

New Zealand's famous bigot

Sitting in the airport in Hong Kong and Paul Henry's in the South
China Morning Post. Great what one small-minded bigoted jerk can do
for New Zealand's international reputation. It also made me think
about how tenuous our reputation is in other areas; the clean green
myth which we rely on for our tourism billions for example. One
incident which gets the attention of the international media is enough
to change a lot of minds.

09 October, 2010

...and a close up

"So we reckon it's time that a New Zealand APA pulled on its Dockers, flashed its Blackberry, and generally talked louder than everyone else at the bar. Here it is."

Tuatara APA reverse label

Tuatara APA

I had bought a FYO rigger or two of the Tuatara APA from Regional Wines and Spirits a month or two back. At the time I thought it was one of the tastiest beers in the country. My opinion didn't change much at the launch party (also at RW&S) when the beer was released in bottles.
In general, I prefer my beer fresh from the keg, especially with styles like APA where the large amount of aromatic hops seems to fade with age, but given that the Tuatara APA had just gone into it's bottles (and isn't on the FYO system at RW&S right now) I thought I'd give it a try. It's absolutely as tasty as the fresh brew and the larger size 500ml bottles are a nice too. The labeling is also nicely done. I'll try to post a picture of the back of the bottle next.

04 October, 2010


Mike's Oktoberfest at Urenui outside New Plymouth. Not much to be said really; great weather, great people, great beer. Some curious local entertainment, and some even more curious locals. And (what looked like) good surfing the next day at "The Graveyard", a small beach off the surf highway south of the city.

Picasa pictures here.

27 September, 2010

Waiopehu Hut

A couple of photos from the trip last weekend to Waiopehu hut with Dmitri, Shriv, Matthias and Lisa. While the rest of the country had gales and storms, we just had clag. No views, but no real wind or rain either.

10-09 Waiopehu Hut

Waiopehu Hut

03 September, 2010

Moving House

Fourteen hours on Friday to moves all our boxes and such.

Then two more days to shuffle boxes and furniture around and finding space for things in our new home.

It's all worth it though.

Many thanks to David and Dmitri and Lorraine for all their help moving things.

10-09 Moving House

28 August, 2010

Munted, at last!

I ran the Mukamuka Munter last Saturday, along with Erich and Krista. It was a little sketchy as to whether I'd run in the end; I'd had some sort of flu for the week leading up to the race and on Thursday afternoon I found myself out of breath after going up the stairs at work. Friday night I had some pre-race nerves and it seemed a shame to waste them by not running. We needed to get up before six on Saturday morning and I figured that since I couldn't really distinguish between the general misery of waking up early and the pain of being sick so I must be better.

[Photos from Krista.]

The weather was entirely perfect for racing: cold, sunny and no wind. The race involved a couple of river crossings which would have been tricky after rain, and things would have generally been miserably and slippery. I didn't see Erich after the start. I was trying to put my GPS back in my backpack as the race started so I wasn't even particularly sure if he was ahead of me or behind me (but I figured behind.) My strategy was to pick a person who seemed to be doing a decent pace, and to stick with them as long as I could. this worked pretty well for the first 12km --- as far as the mouth of the Mukamuka river valley where I started to flag, and the first person passed me. Going up the river valley I dropped at least half a dozen places and gained none. Despite this, the Mukamuka valley was probably the highlight of the race for me --- bouldry, rough, numerous river crossings and generally a pretty wild and isolated feeling place.

Near the top of the valley, my calves started to cramp and they continued to do so from South Saddle to the Orongorongo valley. From here, the rough terrain was pretty much over. And so were my legs. Somewhere along the final 10km first one thigh, then the other started to cramp. As long as I kept running and taking small, small steps they were mostly okay, but if I tried to stretch out my stride, or even walk (and by this point I knew I could walk faster up the hills than the small steps my running allowed) my thighs would cramp up and I'd topple over --- pretty scary given that it hadn't happened to me running before. Annoying too, since, apart from the cramp, I was feeling good. The last 3km down the sealed road to the finish line, I made in a strange sort of straight-legged waddle. It worked though. I got there without stopping or keeling over or anything. And I was there before Erich, 3hr:41mins, not quite as fast as Steve was last year and well behind the winning time which was a pinch under 3hrs, but fast enough that I was pleased with myself. Erich was about 13 minutes behind me and Krista was a fair bit behind him, though still grinning a whole lot when she finished.

Mukamuka Munter

15 August, 2010

Putting things in boxes

I'm sick as a dog today, with some nasty fluey/cold thing that came on super fast. (Erich will hoping that it slows me down for the race next Saturday but he won't be so lucky!) One consequence of this bug is a lot of sitting around at home, hence these two posts in quick succession. Another consequence is more packing.

N. and I bought a little apartment the other month and so I've been spending my spare (and occasionally un-spare) time putting things in boxes. (N. would have been boxing things too, but she's in Japan.)

Lots of Boxes! (And evidence, in case you ever needed it, that the cameras in phones are pretty crappy.)

The moving date is just under three weeks away but, other than taking a couple of days off work, I don't think it would have been possible to get everything done in time without starting as early as I did. Though I do admit that I shouldn't have packed all the tin openers over a month before moving --- I had a bit of trouble when it came time to get the beans and tomatoes out of their tins for my re-fried bean the other night.

The apartment we're moving to is quite a bit smaller than out current place, but quite a bit nicer too --- at least we think so. I don't have any of my own photos of the place but I've snaffeled the low-res. ones that the Real Estate Agent used for the advertising on her webpage (don't tell), with all the lovely furniture from the current/previous owners.

(you can click on the wizz-bang slide-show to go through to the Picasa album.)

When puncture protection is no protection

Flat tyres are the curse of my cycling life. There are few things less pleasant than having to stop on the side of a busy road, in bad weather, to change a bike tyre which is covered in who-knows-what-toxic-road-sludge and all because some drunken moron (who will probably run me over in a month's time) threw his empty beer bottle out the car window. At one point I was getting a puncture every couple of weeks until i) I got into the habit of regularly inspecting my bike tyres for sharp objects which were stuck in the rubber but hadn't yet caused a puncture, and ii) got myself some tyre liners from Slime. Slime are the folks who make those fancy tyre tubes filled with some goop that is supposed to be self-sealing if you get a puncture. I'm not sure exactly how the goop works but I imagined that it could glue a tube to a tyre, or leave you with a slow leak that couldn't be patched afterwards of something. The tyre liners, however, are nice and basic --- a thin(-ish) strip of some flexible plasticy stuff. It feels sort of soft if you poke it but it seems to stop things making their way into the tube if they puncture the outer tyre casing. I've had a pretty good run with the slime liners so far, a few thousand kms cycled with no flats --- though I've still had to replace a couple of tyres when they got so cut up that they started to split. But even then, the tube stayed fine --- until last Thursday when I was cycling home down the side of State Highway 2 heading into Wellington. I felt that dreaded squishy feeling coming from my rear wheel. Luckily, I was on the part of the road where it is possible to climb over the barrier on the side of the road and use the track/cesspit/official cycleway to change my tyre, with an extra couple of metres between me and the cars. I couldn't see anything obvious stuck in the outside of my tyre. (I've learned to always look for things after replacing a tube only to have the new tube be punctured by the same piece of glass still stuck in the tyre.) The slime liners still looked fine too; but there was an obvious hole in my tube, running along a thin line. It seems that where the ends of the slime liner overlap the upper-most end had been pressing slightly into the tube (I try to keep my tyres at about 120PSI) and had pressed all the way through. So --- a puncture from my puncture protection. I'll stick with the tyre liners anyway though. I've certainly had far, far fewer punctures since I've been using them. It's just annoying that I don't seem to be able to get free of this problem of flat bike tyres.

05 August, 2010

Running, not running

I see it's almost a month since I last posted something. What have I been doing with my time? Not so much of interest it seems. Though I did run the last two races of the Wellington xterra trail running series.

The third race of the series was held out at Belmont regional park over a nice trail which climbed to an open ridge, descended a reasonably steep & rocky track then followed the Horokiwi stream (I think) for a bit to give the event a real off-road feel (and some chilly wet feet) before a final climb near the finish. This was the only race from the series with good weather. The sun on the top sections of the course and the views over Wellington harbour made it hard not to pause and admire the scenery --- maybe I can attribute my place of 6th to too much atching the views and not enough running; though I placed 3rd in the open men's division which sounds more respectable.

I'd been increasingly slack about training for these races, which, given that I started them without much training in the first place, means not much training at all. Training for the Belmont run consisted of a single trip to Central Park in Brooklyn and running up the hill there a couple of times. Still, that's one more run than I did in the three weeks between the third race and the final race, last Sunday.

The series finished with a (not-very-much-) starlight run at the Wainuiomata mountain bike park. The trail there was supposed to be pretty much the same as the Wainui Mountain run which Erich and I started with in May. A gale warning, and heavy rain meant the course was changed at the last minute, replacing 5km of exposed trails on top of the hill for an extra 5km loop of the mountain bike park. The track was slippery enough the first time round when I was only about the fifth person running on it, but for the second loop, once runners from both the short and the long courses had been over once each, things were slick enough that it was impossible to run up some of the steeper slopes. I had a couple of good falls. Both of the probably due to the fact that my head torch was pretty feeble. I'll blame those falls for loosing at least one of the two places I lost over the course of the race. I was happy enough with my final placing of 8th. The appalling weather meant there were fewer runners than races earlier in the series, but the medium and long races had been combined so I feel that I was running against some people who were used to running double the distance of the course, and doing it quickly.

The real test is now in three week's time: the mukamuka munter. I know I told Erich that I wouldn't do any, but perhaps I should do some training for this one.

07 July, 2010

Congratulations Dmitri!

Congratulations to Dmitri (Pictured below, intently discussing football at the Southern Cross) who successfully defended his PhD on "computational tooling".

10-07 Dmitri

03 July, 2010

Tinakori Hill, Wellington

A couple of photos from a Saturday morning walk up Tinakori Hill. The weather was particularly good; almost no wind, plenty of sun and fantastically clear views all the way to the Kaikoura mountains in the South Island.

10-07 Tinakori Hill

27 June, 2010

Nico's Birthday at Pourerere

Nico wanted to go to a bach on a beach somewhere out of the way for his birthday. Pourerere beach did the job well. The number of baches and caravans there suggest that the place is quite busy in summer but we were about the only people there that weekend.

The beach is sheltered from the Pacific ocean by a large mudstone reef. I don't really understand why the reef hasn't been washed away yet. The rock was soft enough that it turned to mud under our feet. More like clay then rock really. Yet the reef goes out a hundred meters or more into the ocean.

More photos at Picasa:

10-06 Nico Pourerere

21 June, 2010

Trail Running

Erich had been pestering me to enter the Mukamuka Munter run with him and the Wainuiomata Mountain Run, at the start of May was well timed as a warm up (for the originally posted date for Mukamuka). I'd done no real exercise since coming back from Melbourne so I was a bit surprised to come in 6th of the 23 guys in the 12km race, at 1:07:11, six seconds behind Erich.

While we were out for the Wainui run, someone had tucked a flyer, for the Xterra trail running series, under the windscreen wiper on the car. By now, the Mukamuka race had been postponed until late August so I needed something to keep me training in the meantime. The Xterra race locations sounded nice, I'd just enjoyed the uphill part of the Wainui run so I entered the four race series.
The first race was on the hills above Wellington's south coast. The 12km track headed up to the radar dome at the top of Hawkins' hill and then down to the coast at Red Rocks, coming back along the beach.

The run seemed pretty busy --- about 270 entrants in total, and 69 in the 12km male course. This time I didn't bother about trying to pace myself early on and slogged my way up the hill at the start. It seemed to pay off since I finished 10th with a time of 1:05:27. Erich came in 15th with 1:09:12 giving me a lead of 3:45 after two races.

The three minute lead must have been enough to demoralize Erich, because he didn't want to enter the second Xterra race. This one was in the Rimutaka forest park and involved the McKerrow ridge track. It rained pretty heavily until the start of the race, so the track was nice and muddy under foot. The first half of the decent was particularly fun. It followed a tramping track down the hill with plenty of dodgy sections of mud, tree roots, branches and sharp corners. I passed more than one person who slipped down a bank or lost a shoe in the mud (I did check they were okay as I passed). The last part of the descent was a thigh-burningly steep 4wd track straight down a clay slope. Here, the challenge (for me) was to slow enough to stay in control and let my feet keep up with the rest of me which seemed to be in free-fall.

I can't have lost too much time on the downhill, since I managed to come in 5th from the 35 guys running the medium course --- 1:27:51 this time. The guy come came in fourth just managed to pip me on the flat before the finish line. There wasn't much I could do about it either --- my legs were like jelly by this point. I felt a bit better about losing 4th place when I found that the (lanky) guy who snaffled it from me had won the previous race.

22 May, 2010

Turakirae Head

It was a particularly nice early winter afternoon so I went for a walk along the south coast between Wellington and the Wairarapa. It's certainly the nicest way to get past the Rimutaka hills.

Turakirae Head at EveryTrail - Click here for schmancy version of the map using Adobe flash.

More photos here:
10-05 Turakirae Head