Sunday, August 31, 2008
Today saw sunshine that was due yesterday, so we grabbed our cameras (including the D60x John acquired yesterday) and headed to the zoo to show ourselves to the inmates there.
Most of the animals seemed pretty laid back and most were dozing in the sun, or rolling on their backs, as relieved as we were to see the end (we hope) to the interminable rain.
Here are a few of the species that watched us being human...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Fridays NZACres conference was very good. Interesting speakers from all aspects of the clinical research spectrum, from Big Pharma to academic researchers, to regulatory and government funding agencies. Stopped afterwards for some wine & nibbles and the usual "put the world to rights" chatting. Didn't feel like cooking after that so John & I went to Blitza for some pasta and more red wine.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Am having today off in lieu of tomorrow which I will spend swanning around the Langham hotel in the name of work. Alright, I'll be working, attending the NZACres (New Zealand Assoc. of Clinical Research) conference. Last year I gave a presentation and ran a workshop, so it will be more relaxing this time as a plain vanilla attendee.
Pushed myself at the gym despite my lingering back ache. Driving along listening to Chicago's Greatest. I don't normally like this kind of upbeat music with full on high pitched singing and big band accompaniment. However, when I was 11 or 12 I had a pen pal in the USA who sent me his compilation tape of Chicago, and now when I hear songs like 'Saturday In The Park' and 'I've Been Searching So Long' it makes me feel like a teen again which cheers me up no end - I even sing along in the car. I think its called regressing. Maybe statistically I am 'regressing to the mean' in that its middle-of-the-road music. Ha.
The other day I discovered that my favourite red ankle boots have a crack across the sole, after 2 winters hard use which meant they are only safe to wear on dry days (not that we've had many lately) so I went foraging for replacements. Couldn't find the exact sort but these ones will do the job, and I got the 2nd pair for 1/2 price.
That's two pairs for $70 (about 25 quid in old money). Also treated myself to some new lingerie. Must be the effect of spring. I was going to call this post 'New Boots and Panties' (after Ian Dury and the Blockheads) but thought it might attract the wrong kind of reader.
"Einstein can't be classed as witless,
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splittleliness:
Frightened everybody shitless."
~ from 'There ain't half been some clever bastards' by ID and the BH's.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I had been trying to get hold of my accountant for the last 2 weeks and finally today he rang, apologising for being short staffed because he'd had to let one of his staff go after he'd been assaulted by them! It seems tax and accountancy can drive people crazy even when they are employed to do it. After 5 minutes talking about my tax affairs he spent another 15 talking about his camera and photography, for which I hope he's not going to charge me.
After the day was nearly done I needed some comfort, so I made an eggplant and mozzarella pie to have tonight with a baked chicken breast while watching Coronation St. (it returns - yaaayy!! although we are about 18 months behind the real-time UK) and a batch of walnut & date muffins. These are they.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Watching the highlights of the Beijing closing night and wondering if I will be in London (or nearby) in 2012.A springtime view of Boston from my travels a couple of years ago...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Not many people realise he has a great sense of humour which is often evident in his music.
This from Bob Dylans 115th Dream :
this from I Shall Be Free:
Thunder On The Mountain ( a couple of verses after name checking Alicia Keys...)
Several of his 'Talkin' Blues' tracks are very funny: Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues, and also Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues, but this one is my favourite...
Some time ago a crazy dream came to me,
I said, "Hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain.
Well, the whole thing started at 3 o'clock fast,
Well, I got up and walked around
Well, I rung the fallout shelter bell
Down at the corner by a hot-dog stand I seen a man,
Well, I spied a girl and before she could leave,
Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
Well, I remember seein' some ad, So I turned on my Conelrad.
I was feelin' kinda lonesome and blue,
Well, the doctor interrupted me just about then, Sayin,
Well, now time passed and now it seems
Copyright ©1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music
So next time you feel like a chuckle, listen to some Dylan lyrics. I can recommend it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Underneath the heavens above
Feel further away then I ever did before
Feel further than I can take
Dreamin' of you, that's all I do,
But it's driving me insane.....
Dreamin' of You is the pre-release track from Bob's upcoming Bootleg Series release 'Tell Tale Signs' . Great song. And interesting to hear lyrics that he used or changed slightly on studio albums like Time Out of Mind.
Been a bit social today too. Had a cuppa with Kim next door and then went for a late lunch with Mo at the Takapuna Beach Cafe and a wander around an art gallery afterwards. We must have a similar sense of humour because we always manage to have a good chuckle about something.
She had read an article about how to encourage children. Apparently if you recognise something good by telling them "they were clever" it doesn't help as they won't know how to build on that but if you say "Didn't you work hard" then they have something concrete to focus on that they are in control of. Makes sense to me.
It made me think of my school report aged 14, where my form teacher wrote : "Amanda must realise she is growing into a young lady and not a clown" .... my Dad thought it was a great compliment but my mum never had a sense of humour anyway. I tried to find this report (I know I saw it recently) but tis not where I thought it was - dammit. I was going to scan it for here. There is another one where the maths teacher wrote "Amanda seems to be interested in everything other than maths during the class" - which was pretty much true. No-one ever told me "Didn't you work hard" - which now I think about it is probably for a very good reason. Maybe I was clever enough to get away with being lazy :-)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Went to a Pub Quiz tonight, at a new place called The Quarry. Had some pub grub and the quiz was good fun but it makes you realise how much you don't know when you try to work out things like the 5th largest desert in the world or remember who sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Yes, it was Bonnie Tyler and yes, it is something I'd rather not have had to have remembered.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I couldn't face the gym, so I wrapped up warm and went for a walk down to Milford beach. Rain clouds rolled in pretty quickly though. On returning home I tracked down the cats, as they always know where the warmest place in the house is, and sat with them to read the paper. Looking for more distractions, I helped Paul move some furnishings and stuff we had donated over to his new flat in Belmont.
Then I could not come up any more justifiable excuses so I sat down and spent the next 4 hours spread sheeting data for my tax return. Oh Joy.
Milford before the rain.
The afternoon was eased mightily by listening to Cat Power. Here is her 'Song To Bobby' - about Dylan of course...
Monday, August 18, 2008
As for the cycling points races, I've watched 2 now, at 100 laps each and I'm still not sure how it works. Why do the leaders keep peeling off and dropping to the back of the pack where they score exactly zero???
David Byrne and Brian Eno have released a new album titled "Everything that happens will happen today" - it is available from this website . You can listen to it stream for free or purchase the download. I like what I hear so far (am listening as I blog) and will be adding these tracks to the 10,000+ on my iPod.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Here is Bob pondering the economics of whether to get a haircut .....It rained all day. Didn't go out at all but made a big hole in my tax return paperwork, although most of the time was sent sorting and filing with a couple of short breaks to see what was happening in Beijing. I reckon I could finish it with another full day on the job.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
We watched the excitement with Jaz and Mark who came over for dinner. We also chatted about their wedding plans over fish & potato pie and blueberry crumble. It was lovely to see them as always.
Need some advice? My friend Alan has written a very interesting blog about the "advice theorem" which is great news for those who give advice, take advice or tend to avoid it in either direction (like me). Apparently, "all advice is good advice, because there is some course of action , between the advised course and its complete opposite, which must with mathematical certainty lead to the best possible outcome". Read more here.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I out-stared Zappa for at least 30 minutes this morning while having a lie in past his breakfast time. He must think he can stare so hard that he can will me out of bed. Pushed some weights and had a swim (in a nice empty pool) then met up with a friend for coffee.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As for Mari's comment about 'peloton', I must have had a sheltered upbringing because whilst watching the gymnastics tonight I learnt another new word - 'Kachev'. Some of those manoeuvres look positively inhuman.
Monday, August 11, 2008
It looks like NZ are most likely to strike gold in the rowing, with Emma Twigg and Mahe Drysdale doing well in the heats. I learned the other day that a work colleague of mine is the partner of Ben Fouhy - the kayaker who won Silver at Athens, so we will be keeping an eye on him too.
Watched the football last night between NZ and Brazil but it was so poorly matched that I resorted to a bottle of Corona and a bag of Walkers Salt & Vinegar. Theresa - you'd be proud of me. In fact I was reminded of that day we went for an extremely strenuous swim at Little Shoal Bay and raced back here for beer & crisps (and I don't like beer).
Medal results table.
At Ngaruwahia we noticed a small crowd with cameras standing around the railway river bridge, so we pulled up, grabbed our cameras and asked an old guy what was happening. A few minutes later we witnessed the passing of a steam train on its way from Wellington to Auckland. It was pulling the original carriages to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the main line and purportedly carrying our P.M. (Helen Clark). I took a rather shaky photo as the train roared past - it was a section of track with no fencing whatsoever, so you could stand as close as you dared to and witness the sleepers bouncing up and down quite a bit.
We took the alternate route through Otorohanga and TeKuiti and after a couple of minor diversions and an impromptu photo session with some rather good looking bovines we arrived at Richard & Patricia’s about 5.30. We had become good friends when they lived next door to us here in Auckland, and kept in touch when they moved to Taranaki four years ago. Part of their move involved giving up the fast paced city life (as fast as it gets in NZ) for a more leisurely lifestyle. They now grow a variety of fruit & veges on their 3 acres just outside New Plymouth, are certified ‘organic’ and majorly involved with the Taranaki Farmers market.
It had been many months since we had last visited (for WOMAD 2007), so much catching up was done over a delicious dinner courtesy of chef Patricia. A warm & spicy pumpkin soup, snapper parcels garnished with a range of home grown veges and a mouth watering parsnip mash was all washed down with a nice Shiraz. After dinner Richard taunted us with some Belgian music, some of which may have been a type of pseudo-rap.
Saturday saw clouds atop Mt Taranaki (formerly Mt Egmont) so after a leisurely breakfast we opted for a coastal walk. Starting from the city we went around to the port, passing beaches, new housing developments and closed down water parks as we weaved our way to & fro across the port railway line. Later we went to Pankawalla for dinner – a very bright & trendy curry house in town. The food there was great and the owners very friendly too. As we know from Auckland, Richard & Patricia are good at sniffing out the best eateries in town.
Sunday was still cold and windy. After a lie in we had brunch at a French café and walked around the Farmer’s Market where we bought some local produce then packed up the Nipple for the 5 hour drive home. Chatting in the car - refining our own 'escape to the country' plans. Just a small question of 'which country'?
Richard & Patricia at New Plymouth city waterfront: ... and having a rough ride near the Port....
Some of their pumpkins ripening in the sun:
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Back to serious blog-stuff maybe tomorrow, maybe never.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The books were banned in the USSR and yet here was a teenager in North London reading about atrocities against people whose own countrymen could not access the same books. I found this equally shocking.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Further along we made several detours on side roads to check out wharves, bays and reserves - all devoid of other people which added to the peaceful feeling of wilderness. Mostly the rain held off or only fell when we were driving.
In the late 1870's up until 1922, there was a timber mill at Whatipu. An old dance floor from the timber milling days in the late 1800's and early 1900's is believed to be still under the caves at Whatipu today.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I am entranced by the beautiful photos of Auckland appearing every day here . Today I discovered there are many more cities being photo blogged daily, including Hanoi - which cheered me up even more to get a glimpse of Vietnam.
The weather is still pretty rough here. As I drove up to Albany this lunchtime I passed one of the green Motorway overhead route signs lying bent and buckled in the middle lane of the motorway. Traffic was carefully weaving its way around it.
Our storms made front page news on Guardian UnLimited today - with this video clip showing a lucky near miss as a tree fell on a departing car bumper in Nelson (which for those who are hemispherically challenged is a town at the very top of the South Island).
Pete's blog post about the Brighton Pride parade on this weekend reminded me of the fun we had watching the 2006 parade while visiting my ex LUL colleague Andrew. Here's a couple of the many photos I took of that day.