Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Southern Ocean - Fish & Chips (Sunday 30th)

Nice .... Flowers
Apart from small victories, I spent most of last week very frustrated with progress, the amount of new work I have to do etc., BUT after a beer at the Staff Club on Friday with Department Folks, and new determination I am slowly making headway again. Baby Steps. It was a slow start today - clocks jumped forward - it was and continues to be very grey, wet, and windy.

The Southern Ocean from St. Clair. Nothing
 (apart from that tiny island) between me and Antarctica
View northeast up the esplanade

After tapping away for an hour or so I walked downtown and got a public library card (excellent library here), then took a public bus out to St. Clair. The bus fare was $3.40 one way, which makes the Northstar fares seem like a pittance - it only took 15 minutes. Everything is very expensive here relative to the US. I wasn't really prepared for the cost of living. I had been rather glib when I packed, saying "oh, they do have stores there", but I am certainly trying to avoid buying anything I don't have to. Apart from the local newspaper.

St. Clair is on the Pacific side, and has a Beach and a trendy (?) area with cafes. Not too many people around today because despite being 'Spring' it was, cold and wet. I walked along the esplanade, and selected my eatery and treated myself to Fish and Chips for a Lunch/Dinner.Fish was just perfect - Chips were pretty good too. Nice salad on the side.

My Fish and Chips. At a restaurant, not
wrapped up in newspaper. It was too cold
to sit on the esplanade and eat.

The winning bloom from the World daffodil Convention

More impressive Flowers.
I don't know what they are.

In other news, you'll be glad to see the winning bloom from the world daffodil convention, I am sure. I am also sure that the other newspaper items give an ndication of the small community that it is here.

Dunedin is a small city. 

I have to get up extra early tomorrow because I left all my maps spread out in one of the classrooms on Friday - I didn't realize that they get locked over the weekend, so I wasn't able to get them out - and will need to extract them before classes start at 8 am. Funny how a 7 am start suddenly feels early.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hobbit Researchers? September 27th

Upgraded attic space - Note the label on the door.
Oh, and the lock.
My office is in the attic of the Geology Building (see picture from early blog). It has been significantly upgraded since I was a denizen of the attic as a PhD student. One of the upgrades is pictured here. I think I was pretty lucky - I had a whole enormous attic room to myself - or shared with one other student. Note also the Instructions for Care and feeding of said Research / Graduate Student. Again, no complaints from me.

Today I spent ALL DAY making an appropriately georeferenced base map. Ugghh. Just a base. One of nione maps. Now I have to port it into Adobe Illustrator and draft the geologic map. I REALLY WISH I had learned how to use GIS properly, because I could make my maps entirely in GIS if I was adept / more au fait with GIS (Arc).

Instructions for 'use' of Research / Graduate Student

What else? I have to grapple with all the work (mostly geochem) that has been done since I worked in NW Nelson. It is overwhelming, and I need to figure out what of my work makes 'sensible' publications. First to understand all the new data - this will take quite some time. I got some strips of paper that are cut-off edges from posters and I am going to resort to pencil on paper to try and diagram out annotated changes on a series of strat. columns. Uggh. NOTE: Always publish as soon as you have completed your research - even better WHILE you are doing it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Introducing 'The Wheat Sack' September 26th 2012

The Wheat Sack, with hand for scale
When I discovered the bag filled with some small beads (?) in the bed at Dhana's house I really wasn't sure what it was. I came to the conclusion it was for doing leg strengthning exercises. NO. It is the 21st Century hot-water-bottle. One just puts it in the microwave for 2 minutes before getting into bed, and it has all the benefits of a hot water bottle, without the risks of waking up to a cold wet puddle at the bottom of the bed. Wheat in cotton. Easy. I'm a convert. Dhana did tell me she accidently set one on fire in the microwave, so I've never heated it for more than two minutes.

About the perils of the World Daffodil Convention

In other news, I bet you didn't know that the World Daffodil Convention is being held here? I didn't either. Plenty of them in bloom, but still a tad cold - with frosts. As far as work goes I hit the wall yesterday. ALL my maps (all NINE of them) were done pre-metric grid. That means that I have to figure out how to superimpose a metric grid on them. Accurately. Ugghh. Knew I should have done more GIS.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lost ? September 24 2012

Look carefully at the destination
for this bus ... the passengers didn't seem too
worried about it, and the driver
seemed to know where he was going
On Friday evening I spotted this bus as I was waiting at the traffic lights. It obliged by stopping at the traffic light for long enough for me to get this picture. Busy weekend in town with not too much to show for it. managed to access almost all of my references online, which was an accomplishment. I now need to really get the Eyre Creek mss. draft DONE. I have to do more emails to people today so I can meet with them. Now I'd better get them done.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Things Electronic - Afternoon, Thursday 20th September

Today felt like a one-lane bridge (just like
this one at Millers Flat)
One of those days where I have been VERY BUSY but have nothing concrete to show for it. Met with my PhD Advisor and we talked about how I am prioritizing work on my manuscripts, and what I can 'ignore' (all the unpublished theses) as I work on the mss.

After help from both the Librarians here at Otago and at SCSU I have managed to link my REFWORKS account at SCSU to the databases available through Otago. I sat through about 5 online tutorials and am still a bit befuddled about how to manage my online searches and saving all the citations, but hopefully I can get the Librarian here to spend 30 mins or so with me to help me with a couple of the questions I have. Phew.
Today felt kind of like I was chopping and storing
wood for winter

Finally, I asked the computer / draftsperson here if they could help solve my Illustrator 'problem', and, well ... I didn't have the problem when they were standing behind me - BUT he gave me some really good pointers, AND he told me he could scan all my ginormous paper maps for me, so I don't have to scan them in pieces. So I gave all nine maps/cross-sections to him, and he said he'd do that tomorrow. Yes!

Remnants of buildings at Stewart Town at Bannockburn.
Note that those are 'clay' bricks - not schist

I also (finally) made myself a calendar plan for what I want to get done and when, which involved sending emails to people in Christchurch and Wellington. All of this takes SO MUCH TIME ! But I have to do it all to move forward.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Icy Roads - Evening Weds Sept 19th

Roadside warning for Icy Roads
I rented a car from Rent-a-Dent, and drove to Central Otago for the weekend. Apart from the fact that I kept on trying to use the windscreen wipers instead of my turn signals, the change to the other side of the road was no problem - neither were there any icy roads. Again, I spent the weekend with Mark and Dhana. I went to a grafting workshop with them on Saturday, and then we went and poked around at the old gold workings at Bannockburn / Stewartville.

View towards Bannockburn from paert way up the hill to the
ghost settlement

Dhana took me to a local store in Clyde where they sell local merino wool, and I decided that my birthday present to myself would be some merino wool for knitting a cardigan. Most of the merino wool gets sent to China for processing, then it is sent back here to turn into "New Zealand made" merino clothing. This wool is carded and spun etc. IN New Zealand.

We spent Monday evening 'classing' Walnuts - they have  many walnut trees - at least 6 varieties - and we did a tasting / description.  I had never thought about there being different varieties of Walnut before. Wine to cleanse the palate.

View of the goldworkings from down below

The drive back to Dunedin was uneventful - with the highlights being my stop for a coffee at the Vulcan Hotel (yes, Star Trek Fans) at St. Bathans, and the discovery of a wild-boar decorated fence between Alexandra and Ranfurly, and the 'New Zealand Gothic' mural I found at Wakouwaiti. I also stopped for lots of views / exposures of geological interest.

New Zealand Gothic ? Mural at Wakouaiti
Vulcan Hotel at St. Bathans

 Right now I feel like a kid in a candy store - I just got my online journal access - I get get the full text of almost any journal I want. It is absolutely wonderful after the limited access we get at SCSU. I am now trying to teach myself how to use refworks properly so I can put them all in a bibliographic database.
Detail of fence 'decoration'
Fence between Alexandra and Ranfurly

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pescatorian? On Friday 14th September

"Pescatorian" - does that mean one ONLY eats fish?
I registered for the Geological Society of New Zealand Annual Conference today (yes, it was the deadline), and faced a menu option I have not encountered before. I almost decided it was worth seeing what 'pescatorian' would produce, but since I am allergic to shellfish, I decided I'd stick with the standard menu.

I also received my US absentee ballot via email. I am now double-checking which ID # I used to request it, because if one writes the wrong one (last 4 of social or passport # or drivers license #) then the vote won't be counted.

View out of one of the windows in
my flat. Nice Slate. 

Finally got online Library access today - but I still need my password. The good news is that I almost have a rough draft of my Eyre Creek mss. complete. I am going to head up to Central Otago again this weekend, and have a longer weekend there -coming back Tuesday. I am taking the new NW Nelson QMAP with me so I can start wrapping my brain around the changes in Stratigraphic nomenclature so I can start working on the Haupiri Group mss. I also plan to buy some locally produced merino wool to start knitting a cardigan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A "Terrible" Lull - Thursday 13th September

It has been slow going. I've got horribly bogged down in nit-picky stratigraphic nomenclature and I still haven't gotten the electronic access (they say it should arrive today). We had a big front / airmass come in from the southern ocean and it hailed and snowed down to sea-level on Tuesday, so it was pretty cold and miserable. BUT I was cheered up immensely when I arrived in the Department this morning and saw this on the Student Bulletin Board:
Student Bulletin Board
The new notice

Tearable details

Monday, September 10, 2012

Excellent Weekend - Monday 10th September

View from Mark and Dhana's House. Snow-capped Dunstan
Range (I believe - I'm rusty) in distance
What an Excellent Weekend with my friends Dhana and Mark. First, the cuisine:
Roast Lamb on Friday night, follwed by Tahr Curry (see later for details) on Saturday night. On Saturday we took Lamb Sandwiches on our walk, and on Sunday we had Lamb Chipatis for lunch. All washed down with some very nice Leaning Rock Wine (, of course.
For those of you that have not heard me talk about them, Dhana and Mark are contemporaries of mine from the Geology Department at Otago - they (particularly Mark) are into gold prospecting, and they set up a small winery on land in Alexandra, Central Otago about 20 years ago.

Conroy's Gully. Old Man Range up ahead.
The bottom has fallen out of the wine industry (well, for small wineries like theirs, at least), but they still live in Central Otago, where they built a straw bale (insulation) house, and essentially live off their land. Their son Jake is a hunter, and provides them with venison and tahr ( as well as the odd goat. So, they eat well. The Tahr was recent - Jake delivered its head (as a trophy) to Dhana the night I arrived in New Zealand. The meat was very lean, but definitely needed to be in a stew or curry.

Dhana and Tahr Head

On Saturday we were going to go snowshoeing on the top of the Old man Range (I brought Dhana some new snowshoes), but the weather made that inaccessible. Instead we went up a small valley (Conroy's Gully), and Dhana and I headed up towards the top, and Mark fossicked around for gold. We had to head down when the promised rain arrived, and we had a rather interesting time getting out - the tertiary and deeply weathered schist made for a very slick / muddy surface on the 4WD track - but we made it.

For Juan: A very small stream viewed from viaduct.
After it rained
On Sunday Dhana and I went for a bike ride - from their place past the Alex airport (good blackberry bushes), onto the rail trail and 'down' to Clyde, and then along the SW side of the Clutha back to Alexandra - a total of 25 km. I was absolutely wiped - I haven't ridden that far in a long time, but it was absolutely gorgeous. After the heavy rain of the night before (snow on the ranges now), the river was way up, and all four floodgates on the Clyde dam were open. It is now Tuesday 11th, and there was snow in the hills around Dunedin last night, and it is squalling hail as I write. I'm wearing gloves as I type in my office.
Need a place to live? In Historic Clyde

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Central Otago this weekend - Friday 7th Sept

Mural next to one of the set of steps I use
View looking opposite direction across the harbour to the
Otago Peninsula
I'm desperately typing away - want to get a nasty draft complete before I head up to Central Otago this weekend - with my friends Mark and Dhana. It will be good to get out of town. For the Minnesotans reading this, it is kind of equivalent to 'heading up north' - only Mark and Dhana live in Central Otago (Alexandra), so it would be equivalent to living permanently in Northern Minnesota.

It took me about two hours this morning to sort out power for my 'flat' (I move in Sunday evening / Monday) - instead of one power company there are at least 6 of them, and they all have a variety of rates. Took me a while to figure out which would be the best deal, but that is now done.

As always, I am enjoying the local newspaper.

From the 'round-up' in the weekend paper ...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Data Tables - Thursday 6th Sept

Spent all day entering data into data tables (clinopyroxene geochemistry). Hardly exciting, but has to be done sooner or later, and it is slow going.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised - Wednesday 5th Sept

View to the SE across the southern part of the Otago Harbour
towards the South Pacific
After a slow start (and a not-so-early swim), and a Department Seminar / Talk, I tackled a task I had been avoiding. I had failed to give grid references for samples in my Eyre Creek Research, and I thought they must be lost to history (or, my field notebooks at St. Cloud) - but when I excavated the Otago sample catalog I discovered that (a) I used to have neat writing and (b) the grid references were all there. Now I am grappling with free software that allows me to plot the data - should be easy but it won't let me access the online manual and I can't get the symbols I want ... Illustrator won't behave either, which is frustrating.

Page from the OU Geology sample catalog

Last night it was really windy - a real sou'wester - accompanied by rain. I must remember to take my raingear with me each day - I got quite wet and cold walking home. The good news is that walking up the hill is a little less painful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Time Travel : Tuesday 4th Sept

I've realized that the date / day that is associated with each post is the US day and time, rather than the day and time that I actually post. For example, The post supposedly written on Friday, was actually written on Saturday etc. I have changed all the clocks on my computer, and even talked with the tech. people here, and no-one knows why. Bottom Line is I'll just put the *real* date in the title.

From the Job Ads in the Otago Daily Times
I still don't have access to online journals, but I have started working on the Eyre Creek mss.  Today I had lunch with my PhD advisor (Dr. Chuck Landis, now retired), and I talked through my plans with him. He advised me to focus on the tasks at hand, and not to let myself get distracted by anything - that I have more than enough data, and I will find that the time will go very quickly. I am going top pin a note to that effect above my desk.

As far as Dunedin goes, I am stunned by how it seems to be thriving - lots of places to eat - and a wide variety of choices. In the weekend paper I noted that there were almost two pages of job ads - mostly 'ordinary', non-professional jobs - but certainly more ads than I see in the Pioneer Press. This is an example.

For Juan: New Zealand plays Argentina in rugby this weekend !

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baby Steps

View from Maori Hill / City Rise to the northeast showing
University in mid-distance and hills (volcanic rock) beyond.
The Dunedin Harbour is to the right; hills in distance to right are
part of the Otago Peninsula.
I spent Sunday refamiliarizing myself with Dunedin. It was a relatively nice day (still damp and somewhat chilly), so I just walked up and down hills all day, which included a visit to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. I am really sore from all the steep hills. I also checked out the bicycle Dhana lent me (I brought my own helmet and lock etc.) - and discovered how incredibly scary it is bicycling on steep downhills - I'd forgotten that too. I got a three-month membership to the Swimming Pool / Gym. This morning I had my first early morning swim for a very very long time.

View in the Dunedin Botanic Gardens

I  stopped in at GNS (Geological and Nuclear Sciences) en route to work this morning and met up with Dr. Nick Mortimer, with whom I hope to do some provenance studies work. We talked about my plans, and he gave me pointers on navigating my way through the mountain of literature that has evolved since I last worked here, and gave me copies of the two key new maps that I will need to refer to. I also learned about how new stratigraphic names are handled in New Zealand (I'll probably be naming some).

New Zealand Bush - on the banks
of the Leith near the Botanic Gardens
Since this morning I have learned how to scan paper images to my thumb drive on their copier, so I am now only keystrokes away from actually making headway.

I smelt all the herbs