« ? KiwiBlogs # »

« ? ScorpioBlogs # »

Join | Random | List

Subscribe to "CoffeeWaffle" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Email Me
Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.





  Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Fantails are my unicorns. The creature impossible to catch... in pixels.

Although they are difficult to photograph ironically they are not hard to find.  They are a very common bird in New Zealand, and to top it off they are completely fearless around people. Often they will follow you through the bush, dancing in the air just an arms reach away. Its almost like they taunt the photographer. They are such accomplished aeronauts that are almost impossible to predict their flight as the flit and dart around. The photographers best bet is to try and predict where they will land (hint: it's usually the perch where they can get the best view of you), then focus on the branch and wait for them to land. Even then you'd better be quick... they seem to sense the camera shutter precognitively and break their pose at just the right nano-second. To add more difficulty they usually hang out in dense bush where the low light requires slow shutter speeds. Any fantail that remains motionless for half a second is probably dead, and using a flash, in my experience, just ruins a closeup bird shot (I usually lose most of the fine details in the feathers from the flash highlight).

I have spent considerable time in pursuit of fantail shots. I could count the 'keepers' on one hand out of literally thousands off frames.

Then there is the Black Fantail. Unlike the Pied Fantail, the Black Fantail is only found in the South Island, and it makes up just 10% of the Fantail population here. Because their feathers are all dark they are even harder to photograph.

This afternoon I stopped down at the beach to walk Kaycee. This pair of Black Fantail came from the dunes and stayed with me for a good 10 minutes. They seemed as interested in me as I was in them and graciously allowed me to take their portraits to share with you.

8:46:58 PM    Comment []

A special wallpaper today for anyone who has the same dual monitor setup as I do at work.

(Click for 2560x1024 dual monitor desktop wallpaper)

The shot is the sunrise yesterday as seen from Port Nelson looking North across the Haven. The colour in the clouds was intense enough to make me late for work as I took a 20 minute detour to get some shots.

8:00:25 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Thank you all for you well wishes for my Dad and his big operation last week. He is now free of all those tubes they stick in you, and reports indicate he is looking and feeling more like himself every day. He and Mum are still in Wellington but he should be able to come home on Thursday, just one week after the triple bypass operation.

8:49:27 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 28 May 2006

I placed a new Geocache yesterday. This is the second cache I've hidden but this one is my first 'multi-cache'. It involves going to three different waypoints to collect clues. The third waypoint is the cache site itself where the little black lunchbox is hidden somewhere I don't think anybody will find it accidentally.  In fact I had to be very 'deliberate' to even get to the spot in the first place, thanks to the blackberry thorns.

The cache I placed last weekend is still waiting to be found (if it doesn't go this weekend I'll be very surprised), yet this cache placed yesterday evening just before sunset, was found and logged at 7.30am this morning, barely 13 hours (of darkness) after I hid it. Cool!

11:49:42 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 25 May 2006

After only finding out he had a heart problem less than 2 weeks ago, my father was scheduled to undergo a triple by-pass heart operation today.

He went to see the doctor about a fortnight ago after a couple of what he thought were minor signs. Small mumors. The doctor sent him to the hospital in an ambulance. I went to see him that afternoon in the intensive care coronary unit. Expecting to see him looking 'older' than usual, or frail, I was pleasantly surprised to see him sitting up in bed, looking comfortable and as healthy as ever. He seemed like nothing was wrong. Just a precautionary overnight stay, and maybe a change in diabetes medication and all will be back to normal we figured. I left the hospital that day feeling decidedly more relaxed than when I walked in.

I wish I could say that was the end of it. He didn't go home the next day. He wasn't even allowed to go to my niece's 13th birthday afternoon tea a week later. He was on the semi-urgent list and would have to wait on standby to fly to Wellington. Upon arriving in Wellington he would go into surgery the next morning. They would take arteries from his leg to replace three out of the four main arteries feeding blood through his heart.

He flew to Wellington yesterday afternoon. I am still waiting to hear how things went. They say you're up and about the next day.

I just realised I don't have any photos of my Dad...

10:19:21 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 20 May 2006

I have a new addiction.


This is a game played via the internet by people all over the planet using handheld GPS (global positioning system) units. People hide 'caches' in all sorts of places, then publish the GPS co-ordinates on , along with a few hints and clues to help other Geo-cachers find it. A geocache usually consists of a small waterproof container with a logbook and a few swappable items inside (eg. key-rings, fridge magnets, figurines, hacky sacks, etc). The 'treasure' is usually to be found in the location, which should be something of historical interest, a great view, a secret swimming hole, a nice picnic spot, or unique in some other way. You sign the log book, and if you want to, take something from the cache, as long as you leave something of your own for others to find.

So far I have found 11 caches, failed to find one (I wasn't the only one to miss it), and today I hid one of my own. Can't tell you where though, other Geo-cachers might be reading. I've just listed it. Some Geo-cachers really like to be FTF (first to find) when a new cache is hidden, so it usually doesn't take long to be located. My cache does have a 4 hour, rather steep hike to go with it though, so it will be interesting to watch.

Here's the a couple of shots of the view from very near the cache site. Worth the climb I thought...

The cache I have hidden is a 'traditional' cache. The co-ordinates given lead directly to the cache site. There are also multi-caches. These have two, three, or more positions to be found, in order, before the final cache can be located. At each position clues can be found (often using words and dates on memorials or signs) which will lead to the next position. There are micro-caches, no bigger than a 35-mm film canister. There are virtual caches, with no container to find at all, but a great location.

There are Travel bugs, and travel bug hotels. A travel bug is another odd twist to the game. You can purchase a set of dog tags with a unique serial number on them. You attach the tag to something (mine is attached to a small plastic crayfish) and 'release' it by placing it in a cache. The serial number can be used to track the bug on while it is moved around from cache to cache by other Geo-cachers. You can even give your tracking bug a goal, or a destination and other Geo-cachers will try to help it get there. When they find it they simply enter the serial number online to find out the bugs history and its current goal. (for example there is a kiwi cricketer figurine touring England famous cricket grounds right now, and my crayfish is going to try and visit as many different islands as possible). Near airports and trainstations you'll find "travel bug hotels". These are special larger than normal caches designed to hold travel bugs, so that Geo-cachers arriving or departing can pick up or drop off  'passgeners'.

The coolest thing about geo-caching for me is that it goes so well with my other hobbies like photography, kayaking and kite flying. Its given me another reason to get of the couch and out there.

(ps. Briggsy, Milky, Barely... you should try this game to enhance your walkies. Of course you GPS unit would have to co-ordinate (get it) with your sticks specailised walking poles ; )


10:16:02 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 19 May 2006

(click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

11:31:48 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 17 May 2006,2106,3671092a10,00.html

US releases new 9/11 video
17 May 2006 

WASHINGTON: Video images of a hijacked airliner slamming into the Pentagon taken by two security cameras on September 11 were released for the first time by the US government today.

The video, released by the government in conjunction with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Judicial Watch legal activist group, was a longer, more complete version of still-frame images that were leaked to the news media in 2002.

The front of the hijacked Boeing 757 can be seen entering one video frame, with a massive explosion and orange fireball erupting upon impact with the Pentagon, followed by a plume of smoke.

US authorities have said five al Qaeda hijackers seized control of American Airlines Flight 77, a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia bound for Los Angeles, and flew it into the Pentagon.

Killed in the crash were 125 people inside the Pentagon, 59 passengers and crew members and the five hijackers.

It was one of four commercial planes hijacked that day. Others crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 attacks.

Judicial Watch said the Pentagon told the group it would release the images "now that the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui is over."

Judicial Watch said the government previously had refused to release the video because it was "part of an ongoing investigation" involving Moussaoui, sentenced this month to life in prison for conspiracy in the September 11 attacks.

"We fought hard to obtain this video because we felt that it was very important to complete the public record with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

"Finally, we hope that this video will put to rest the conspiracy theories involving American Airlines Flight 77."

Various claims have circulated that a commercial jet did not strike the Pentagon, but rather a missile or something else.

I have a few issues with the story above and at the risk of going against popular opinion I'm going to voice them here.

  1. This is not the 'first time' these images have been released. I have had a copy of this piece of footage as part of my own 9/11 research for a year and a half. It has been distributed in several DVD's on the subject.
  2. I can't see anything in the released video that could be positively identified as an plane, let alone a 757. Is it just me or is it just a white blur in one frame that could be anything white coloured moving fast? How do these pictures prove it was flight 77?
  3. I don't know much about the pentagon but I'd be willing to bet these weren't the only two cameras rolling in and around the Pentagon that day. And what happened to the footage from the buildings across the road? The footage from at least two other buildings that was confiscated shortly after attack? Surely they show something more?

I don't think this will "put to rest" any "conspiracy theories".

(p.s. I know this is an incredibly emotive issue and I'm sure some of you will have something to comment here. Before you do I ask just one thing. If you intend to use the term "conspiracy theory" look up the meaning of those words in a dictionary first and acknowledge that that term describes the official 9/11 story just as well as any other.)

8:16:34 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 14 May 2006

I spent the day today exploring some of the many walks in the scenic reserve around Pelorus River. One track in particular that I wanted to do was a 4 hour loop track that took in two water falls and a trig-point lookout at the top from which I could see all the way to Rai Valley. Here's a couple of shots from the trail.

(Click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

(Click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

7:38:15 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 13 May 2006

"I want to know Gods thoughts.... all the rest are just details"
Albert Einstein

(Click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

10:01:57 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 12 May 2006

Sunset Thursday...

This is Western horizon during Friday's sunrise. The sun was rising behind me in a relatively dull sky yet somehow the opposite horizon held the only saturated colour in the sky. strange.

Finally two shots from Friday's sunset. Overcast skies with a clear horizon...

(click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

9:38:03 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 9 May 2006

This week phrases like "peak oil production", "move to a post-oil economy", and " investment in public transport" were heard in our Parliament! I'm not getting to excited though. At least peak oil is on they're radar screens but this feels like watching a car crash in slow motion. The inertia of our political system is painful.  Like the car crash victim, we simply cannot react fast enough. 

Below is a transcript of an exchange between Jeanette Fitzsimons (Co-Leader-Green) and the Prime Minister...


JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: What
instructions, if any, has she given her Ministers and her department
to develop a strategy for New Zealand's primary industry, transport,
tourism, and trading relationships to adapt to the reality of more
expensive and less available oil, in light of her statement of 18
April that the reason for high oil prices is "because we're probably
not too far short of peak production, if we're not already there?"

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Ministers and officials are
working on how to increase the use of bio-fuels, as well as
researching improvements in vehicle fleet efficiency. As well, a New
Zealand energy strategy is being developed, and the National Energy
Efficiency and Conservation Strategy is being reviewed, and I thank
the member for the work she is doing in respect of that. The actual
date for peak oil production is a matter of debate but there is no
doubt that it will occur.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is she confident that the national energy
strategy will take sufficient account of her statement, with which I
agree, that oil is not going to get cheaper over the long term,
given Treasury's projection in the December Economic and Fiscal
Update that prices will drop to $54 a barrel, from $75 now, after
this year and the 2003 projections still on the Ministry of Economic
Development's website that forecast a drop in oil prices to $25 a
barrel by 2020 and constant prices thereafter?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I think there will be fluctuations around the
price, but I have little doubt that the long-term trend will be for
the price to go higher. That is because of the huge demand for oil
now as a finite resource from the emerging mega-economies of China
and India and also the fact that the world's oil supplies tend to be
drawn from rather unstable parts of the world. All those factors are
leading great economies like that of the United States to start to
think actively about how to move to a post-oil economy.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does she agree that if cities are to remain
viable, investment must shift from new motorways into better public
transport, especially electric rail in Auckland and trolley buses in
Wellington, and what does her statement about peak oil imply for the
economics of a new Transmission Gully motorway at a time when the
affordability of private motoring is declining?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I absolutely agree with the member about the
importance of investment in public transport. The investment that
has gone in over the last 6½ years is many times what was there
before then, and that is the right thing to do. I think for the
modern day and age, people want the independence the private vehicle
offers, but for the future I think we will see the private vehicle
increasingly be powered by sources other than oil.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has she received any reports that suggest that
our current high use of transport fuels, which is growing by nearly
4 percent a year, could be sustained by bio-fuels alone, and what
impact would that have on land available for agriculture in New

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, I have not seen reports on that, but I
understand from colleagues that the Government is likely to be
setting a target around bio-fuels in June. I look forward to that,
because I think that will be part of our energy future.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Government consider establishing a
process involving both the Government and the private sector to
study the work done in Sweden, which plans to cut its reliance on
petroleum by 2020, and to plan a similar transition here?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am open to such suggestions. I am well aware
of the impetus that Sweden is giving to how to develop a post-oil
economy, and it is good to see those kinds of initiatives from
offshore now being reported in our own press, and quite fully. I
think we do need new initiatives, and I am certainly open to
discussing initiatives like that.


Anyone else feel like a crash test dummy?

8:37:18 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 8 May 2006

(Click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

After taking this picture I had a very earthy/mulchy smell about me all afternoon from laying on my stomach on the forest floor to get the best angle. It was a smell I didn't mind at all.

10:55:30 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 7 May 2006

Last time I went to Whispering Falls it was spring and there was a lot more water flowing there. Today, in late summer the flow was less but the place is just peaceful as ever. The sign at the start of the track says one hour to the falls. I did the return trip in about three and a half hours today which is typical for me. Along the way it occurred to me that one of the reasons I enjoy photography is that it gives me an excuse to spend half an hour kneeling in wet grass, examining dew covered spider webs without bringing my sanity into question.

Whispering Falls; one of the coolest places to play around with long exposure/blurry water shots.

(click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

(click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

10:54:25 PM    Comment []

I've had a great day. I have 750 megabytes worth of photos, a flat camera battery, and tired legs to prove it.

I got away in my camper-van last night to one of my favourite spots.

The lookout at the top of the Spooners Range is an inspiring place to be at sunrise.

The ranges to the southeast look like paper cutouts in the first light of the day.

A soon as the sun was clear of the horizon I drove to the Aniseed Valley and walked the Hackett Track to the Whispering Falls. I will publish a few photos from there shortly...

7:56:14 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 6 May 2006

I think this is one of the most beautiful man-made things I have ever seen...

9:23:08 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 5 May 2006

I've become a little disillusioned with the peak oil movement of late. I don't doubt that peak oil is upon us, and I definitely do not doubt its severity. In fact I think it is the enormity of its consequences for man kind that is at the source of my disillusionment. I find myself sitting around wondering what to do first, instead of leaping into action. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people putting a lot of amazing effort and self sacrifice into getting the message across to the public at large. Their work is of huge value to those few souls they get through to. One mind at a time as they say... I have been wondering lately though, where to apply my efforts.

Sure I've got my garden, my bike, and I'm doing a heck of a lot of study on everything from willow basket making, to nuclear fusion. All well and good as far as preparing myself goes (although there is also much more I could be doing there too), but I want to start preparing my community. I'm gonna need them, and they are gonna need me. I think the difference between a slightly uncomfortable post peak oil world and a disastrous one, will be decided by the way we react to the crisis, and the way we treat each other. When the pain of an economic recession caused by the coming energy crisis hits will we look at our neighbours as friends or foe? Are they people you want to band together with, share a meal with, and seek comfort from? Or are they more like competition, rivals for jobs, money, food, and the scraps of the industrial age?

Humans are not 'designed' to live as individuals. We need community for survival. The individualism of recent decades is something relatively new to humans, only made possible by the wealth and prosperity afforded us by cheap fossil fuels. To quote Ran Prieur "you will have to trade your sterile, insulated links of money and law for raw, messy links of friendship and conflict.". In other words, we are going to have to learn to work together and survive with the people in our immediate community, wether we like them or not.

What I'm seeing a lot of among the peak oil aware people I know is canvasing of local and national government, writing letters to the editor, setting up websites, forming groups, and organisations with the aim of getting the warning out there into the public consciousness. This is all good stuff BUT I feel that for me there is something more pressing to be done, and that is getting to know all my neighbours. I don't just mean getting to know them well enough to wave to when we pass on the road when driving, but well enough to know what I can do for them, and what they can do for me. Well enough to be able to trust them, and for them to trust me. Well enough to rely on each other like family. Sounds corny and idealistic doesn't it? If anyone who was alive through the great depression was reading this I imagine they wouldn't find it corny at all.

How does one go about enhancing their community relationships? Where could I start? One thing I'm going to try is car-pooling. Don't worry, someone's already informed me that "car-pooling does not work". I thank them for their input, but I'm going to try anyway. The number of cars I see everyday travelling the same route to town as I do with only one person in them tells me there are no shortage of candidates. Its just a matter of time before the price of fuel will prompt each and every one of them to reconsider their travel arrangements. The weathers starting to get to cold for me to be biking to work (I know, I'm soft), so I'd far rather be sharing my warm van with several other commuters. I've started by advertising a ride on; I'm on of two ride share offers for the whole Nelson region. I'll put up an advertisement on notice board at the local store and drop a note to the editor of the local community newspaper. I'm even considering a letterbox drop. At the very least I'll be planting a seed in the minds of locals for when they are ready to stop debating the reality of peak oil, and start making some changes... whenever that may be.

5:19:47 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 4 May 2006

"At high tide fish eat ants; at low tide ants eat fish."
Thai Proverb

(click for 1024x768 or 1280x1024 desktop wallpaper)

9:35:05 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 2 May 2006

9:23:35 PM    Comment []

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2009 Murray Neill .
Last update: 17/02/2009; 9:34:25 p.m. .