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  Tuesday, 30 November 2004

9:08:27 PM    Comment []

I read the last two posts on Baghdad Burning this afternoon.  I will be reading more often and probably passing it on here. The post American Heroes stopped me in my tracks. An incredibly strong, and moving insight into the dark atmosphere of Iraq at the moment, told the way you won't hear it on prime-time.

"It's difficult to believe that in this day and age, when people are blogging, emailing and communicating at the speed of light, a whole city is being destroyed and genocide is being committed- and the whole world is aware and silent."

7:56:20 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 29 November 2004

Heres some spring colour from the roadside, for all you Northern hemisphere readers in the icy grip of winter.

10:27:24 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 28 November 2004

After a lazy Sunday morning Briggsy and I decided to check out Abel Tasman National Park this afternoon. We walked in along the track for an hour or two then clambered back across granite boulders, and golden sand beaches along the coast.

A typical Abel Tasman National Park coastal scene. We were impressed by the tenacity of that Manuka tree clinging to life on that rock outcrop.

A pied Shag drying its wings on one of the many golden beaches.

The sky was grey and moody most of the afternoon. Some strange looking cloud formations in this shot.

Briggsy discovered this crab in a rock pool. He was busy trying to prise open a mussel and apparently didn't see us sneaking up on him. Even the flash from the camera didn't seem to phase him.

By the time we walked back to the van we were both very hungry. A feed of fish and chips in Motueka saved us from what seemed like imminent starvation.

11:45:41 PM    Comment []

This shot was taken by Briggsy from the kite-buggy trailer yesterday as we travelled along Rabbit Island Beach. See Q4A for more.

1:25:03 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 27 November 2004

A perfect day here in Nelson. Too exhausted to write much so here the photos....

Briggsy and I checked out the Nelson Markets (which are only on Saturday mornings). Then dag-wood sandwiches from the bakery for lunch.

Briggsy practising with an Excalibur (large Delta-shaped stunt kite), while Kaycee supervises.

After a couple of laps of the park in the buggy trailer behind me, it was time for Briggsy to try out the wheels for herself. She did pretty well to...

...its happens to the best of them. This shot was just after a very well executed emergency buggy exit followed by and almost perfect chin slide. Note, she managed to keep the kites in the air like a true professional.

Later we drove out to Rabbit Island, and buggied the length of the beach with buggy and trailer. Tune in later for some pictures taken by Briggsy from the trailer... (just as soon as she has offloaded them).

9:56:07 PM    Comment []

The worry is over. Briggsy arrived safe and sound and we're getting on just fine. I did however come down with a strange  virus (or something) last night. My ankles got really sore to the point where I could hardly walk, then I started breaking out in cold sweats. I hope its not an allergic reaction to Briggsy. She thinks I'm trying to get out of horse riding... not so. I fact I'm kind of looking forward to that now that the idea has sunk in. Its been years since I've been on a horse but I remember enjoying it then.

Yesterday we had SW winds which around here are not the best for kite bugging. I had spent the day at Rabbit Island with a big group of school students from work. They were having there end-of-year picnic and their teacher asked if I would go along and bring my kites and buggy. I arranged the loan of a buggy trailer too so I could take them for rides. Unfortunately because Rabbit Island is a North facing beach, and a southwest wind mean there is only an unpredictable, gusty wind there, at best. Normally I wouldn't have bothered trying to buggy in that wind, but they were all expecting a ride (or at least to see a kite buggy in action). So I had a go. It lasted all of about 15 seconds before a big gust grabbed hold of my 8.5m c-quad and literally launched me up out of the buggy seat (lucky I didn't have my seatbelt on at the time), carried me 15-20 meters through the air, and dumped me into the tide! Although it was a real 'crowd-pleaser' I wasn't to keen on repeating that performance. I stood up, took a bow for the applauding onlookers, and packed the kite up. I had to feel sorry for the lad who had been first in line for a ride on the trailer. Theres no steering, so when I was launched, he was left in a pilot-less buggy, that was rolling fast into the tide too, with no way to stop it short of bailing out, which he did... too late. He ended up as wet as I was. We were both still smiling though :)

By the time I rushed back to town to pick up Briggsy from the bus I was running late. Fortunately, so was her bus.

So today its either horse riding, kite buggying, or both. The forecast is predicting a fine clear day, with afternoon sea breezes... perrrfect.

Briggsy's travel companion, 'Humpy' relaxing in the morning sun, on my porch this morning.

8:22:11 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 25 November 2004

Briggsy is heading this way all the way from the UK (hey, that rhymed). Tonight she is staying in Wellington and will be crossing the Cook Straight to the Mainland (South Island) tomorrow. I've never met her before, except through our blogs. I hope she's not an axe murderer... I'm sure she's not.

She wants to learn to kite buggy which should be fun, although the weather forecast for the weekend is not looking favourable; but... they've been wrong before. Theres plenty of other things to do and see around here anyway.

This will be the first time I have met someone in person that I only know through the internet. Its kind of exciting. Anyone got any stories about meeting another blogger in person?

10:09:29 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Following on from the fascinating article I read the other day about the work of Masaru Emoto, photographing the molecular structure of frozen water, today I followed a few links from there and discovered Cymatics. Well actually Cymatics was discovered by a Swiss scientist in the 50's, but today I read a fair bit about it, including this article (warning 1.6mb pdf).  Using sound waves to manipulate matter, scientists create amazing fractal like images, but its what we could achieve with this discovery that I find most interesting...
9:46:31 PM    Comment []

One of the best photo opportunities I got while on my recent road-trip was the Gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. The birds nest in large numbers there and a track along the hilltops above them provides some fantastic viewpoints. I published some of these photos at the time but there were so many I liked you only saw the tip of the iceberg. But of all the pictures I took that day this is one is unique.  Its the only one with a chick visible (look under the bird on the top right), and the chicks are so well camouflaged I didn't even notice it until later.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

6:38:39 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 22 November 2004

On my way home from work this afternoon I stopped at Neale Park (again) to take advantage of the beautiful, smooth, warm nor-wester that was flowing in off the sea. Out on The Haven it was tearing the tops of the ripples that were attempting to become waves.

During the hour and a half I spent ripping around the park, seat-belted into the buggy, while flinging my little kite all over the sky, I had a 'moment of clarity'. I had a sudden understanding of just what it is about kite bugging that has such a primitive appeal.

I've often thought it's the simplicity of the sport that attracted me to it. The fact that there is no engine, no fuel, no noise... and no brakes; but that's not exactly it. Then there's the speed. You hear race car drivers talk of it all the time; the addictive nature of speed makes the danger acceptable and keeps them coming back for more. But that's still not it.

It is something to do with teamwork. I know, there are no teams in kite bugging; so maybe partnership is a better word. A partnership with Mother Nature, God, a higher power, whatever you want to call it. It is not an attempt to conquer or tame nature; that would be fruitless, and just when you thought you were winning, you'd lose. Ask any surfer who's just been pounded by a big wave, or a kayaker who's just run a big rapid, and they'll tell you every time, mother nature makes the rules...

You've got to be on the same side. When I'm going as fast as I want to across a wide open field or beach, and with a flick of one wrist I throw the kite into a down-turn, back toward the center of the wind, just a split second before throwing my upper body weight to one side and turning the buggy full-lock the same way, throwing it into a power-slide that ends with me facing the kite, just in time for the kite to reach the center of the wind and grab full power again, snapping the lines taut and rocketing me away in the opposite direction.... there's a feeling. A feeling like I'm not the only one having fun. Like I've just reached out and high-fived something much bigger than me.
8:43:02 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 21 November 2004

9:39:14 PM    Comment []

The Nelson Kite Club monthly kite day was on at Neale Park today. I didn't arrive until about 2.30pm (it starts at 1pm), so there was already some racing going on when I got there. Some close racing to with three phantoms in the air along with Bill's Quad-foil. I got the buggy out and unpacked my 3.0m Flexi-foil Blade II. Soon I had that little 3 meter blade looping and swooping under, over, and between 12-15m Phantoms (and holding my own... almost). I was sweating while I worked the little kite all over the sky, hunting for power, while the guys flying the Phantoms were just cruising. Great fun!

Two Phantoms flying very close, shows just how competitive the racing was getting :)

Bill (left), Paul (middle), and Sam (right on board) enjoying the breeze.

8:43:47 PM    Comment []

I get spam. Lots and lots of spam. It doesn't bother me anymore. I am almost completely desensitised. As you probably know spammers often use 'word soup' at the start of an email to confuse spam blocking software. I just got a spam mail selling diplomas and degrees with 'no interview required'. The first line of the email was word soup, which I found particularly appropriate, but perhaps not the best sales technique:

"Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their enemies using complex machinery" doesn't that just make you want to buy something?

10:52:07 AM    Comment []

  Saturday, 20 November 2004

"Weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society - things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed."
E. B. White

9:08:47 PM    Comment []

Anyone got a photographic microscope I can borrow? I have got to try this for myself.
12:20:44 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 19 November 2004

Here's a quick exercise I'd like you to do just to satisfy my curiosity. Its not a riddle, there is no right or wrong answer, so just answer as simply and honestly as you can.

Put on the table in front of you (or imagine) a glass of water. Next to that, a $20 note from your wallet (or any other note you happen to have).  Now look at these two things for a minute and ask yourself this question: What do these two things represent, in their purest essence?
5:40:49 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 18 November 2004

I let Wallpaper Wednesday slide again yesterday. I wasn't in the mood. I am now. This image I've titled Late Break, is one of my recent favourites. Taken while sitting in the dunes at Muriwai Beach on the night I arrived there. I find it soothing...

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

Origin: Scottish Gaelic 'MOROGH'
Meaning: Sailor or sea warrior. From the place name 'MORAG' meaning beside the sea.

4:22:19 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 17 November 2004

"I believe America may totally succumb to the fearful militarisation which engulfed Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. There is real danger that political power and the power to influence the minds of people will pass increasingly into the hands of the military, which is used to approaching all political problems from the point of view of military expediency. Because of America's supremacy, the military point of view is forced upon the world."

"In all countries power lies in the hands of ambitious power-hungry men. This is true whether the political system is dictatorial or democratic. Power relies not only on coercion, but on subtle persuasion and deception through the educational system and the media of public information. One can only hope there are enough people the world over who possess the integrity to resist these evil influences. What is important is that individuals have the honesty and courage to stand up for their convictions."

Albert Einstein 1949

4:13:40 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 15 November 2004

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . . get on your way."
Dr. Seuss

11:32:57 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 14 November 2004

Actually its Ngarunui Beach according to my map (or the Ocean Beach near Raglan), but if your talking to a kite buggy pilot, you'd probably just call it Charlie's Beach.  Charlie, a kite buggier, kite designer/builder, and veteran Muriwai Moose Meet attendee from Raglan invited me to come and have a buggy on his beach on my way back home from my adventure in the far north. An offer I couldn't refuse.

I spent an afternoon last Thursday cruising up an down this lovely beach. Charlie arrived later in the day (after he finished working) and we buggied till sunset. That was the last chance I got to fly a kite on my holiday and I could think of a better way to top it all off, than a quiet buggy in a light breeze along a beautiful beach, into a setting sun.

We weren't the only things flying above the beach that day. Here Butterfly Dave searches for lift along the hilltops above the beach.

Charlie and his magic 4 meter c-quad.

Charlie going backward. How fast was it Charlie? 60, 70 kph?

The early stages of the sunset...

...and the last light of the day, just after I finished packing the van for the night drive South, toward home.

10:25:39 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 13 November 2004

I am not in Fallujah tonight. If I was I would probably be inside my home, like I am here. There the similarities would end. I would not be typing on my laptop, because electricity was taken away several days ago. With it went the water supply.Three days later any bottled water I had is gone or running low. Any fresh food I had will have been eaten or spoilt by now. Thirst and hunger are probably beginning to dominate my thoughts. Up until now it has been the deaths of countless friends, family, and neighbours from the relentless thundering of 500 pound bombs raining on the city. Nowhere seems safe with even clinics and mosques being hit. I have nowhere to go. I am a male of military age (15-45) and so I will not be allowed to leave the city if I tried. Young soldiers have been ordered to shoot to kill anyone thats moves... why do they fear us? Up until now that has been a good reason to stay in my home but the hunger and thirst will soon force me out. I can do nothing for the injured around me. Anyone driving will be shot dead, with no exceptions made for ambulances. The ambulance has no where to go anyway, as the one remaining clinic is swamped and the hospital, across a bridge out of town, is currently occupied by the military and could not help even if I could get there. I must stay in my home waiting for the next bomb. I could dig trenches to hide from the bombs like some of my neighbours, but would that not look like rebel activity to these young, scared fighters? How will I prove I am not one of the rebels they seek? What have we done to incur this wrath? How long will it go on?

I am safe in New Zealand tonight. The above is just some of what has been going through my head for the last few days as reports of the atrocities in Fallujah come in. I have never written anything remotely political on this site before. I have been very reluctant to change that. I am tempted to go on now but I will stop writing. My opinion about the motives behind this war will not help anyone in Fallujah tonight.  I hope I can encourage you though to pause, at least for a minute, and imagine yourself there.

ps. One of my news sources is whose reports I have found to be balanced, and without the sugar-coating of the mainstream media. I challenge you to compare their newscasts from the last few days with whatever your usual source is. Their history of protest against censorship in the media is impressive.

8:06:56 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 11 November 2004

"Human subtelty will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous."
Leonardo DaVinci

10:02:58 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Since I missed Wallpaper Wednesday last week, this week you get three to choose from. This is last Tuesday in the dunes at the Northern end of 90-mile Beach. These are the biggest sand dunes I have ever seen.  The buggy pilots pictured are Craig (yellow kite) and John (red kite) who came all the way from Ashburton to buggy this area with me.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

9:59:20 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 8 November 2004

The red sunset over KariKari Beach, in Northland last Monday night...

...and a stormy blue evening in Marlbrough Sounds on Friday as seen from the Interisland Ferry.

10:36:38 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 7 November 2004

Heres some action from last Sunday after waking up to a still smoking bonfire and a clear day. Charlie and Kent constructed a ramp on the front beach.

I'm glad I got that seat belt installed a few weeks ago.

The campsite on Sunday morning as a few nursed hangovers. I should have been selling coffee from the back of the van. I could have made a quick buck.

Craig jumping his bigfoot buggy (even though he promised his wife he wouldn't do anything dangerous). Buggy jumping photos were taken by Ted.

On a different subject, I am 33 years young today. Happy birthday 2 me...

9:18:30 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 6 November 2004

Camping in the dunes of Murwai has a way of making you feel small. We had a full moon and an almost uninterupted view of the hevans. I took these two shots as the moons rose over a nearby sand dune. Soon afterwards Craig and I had a go at night time kite buggying with torches strapped to the buggy frames.

More pictures from Muriwai tommorrow...

11:27:27 PM    Comment []

I'm back. I got home from my two week trip late last night after a lot of driving. Sorry for the state the site was left in last week. It turned out blogging from the road was not as simple as it should have been. Finding somewhere to upload was a  problem, and then when I did get the use of a phone line (thanks kiteworks) many pictures just didn't want to upload in the time I had. I decided to have a holiday from blogging soon after that... there was just too much other fun to be had (and Muriwai sand dunes are not the most laptop friendly places so leaving it in its bag was a good idea). But the good news is I kept taking pictures, so you have a few days of catching up ahead.

This is the scene at the North end of Muriwai Beach last Saturday. We had just arrived after driving the 45km length of the beach.The wind was a solid 18-20 knots and everyone was rearing to go.

I must go and pick up Kaycee from my parents place now, but tune in later for more photos.

10:28:13 AM    Comment []

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