Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Filling the Tank .... November 1st 2012

I am still adjusting to buying petrol (gas) by the liter - at New Zealand prices. Basically one has to fill up when one has to fill up, but that did stop me from having a mini panic attack when I filled the tank on the rental Toyota Corolla. NZ $ 103.24.  I hadn't really thought through how much it would cost.
The exchange rate is essentially 0.85 (US 85 cents = NZ $1), but it always seems like 1:1 because everything is much more pricey here.

I almost drove to Christchurch and back on a tank (I did Dunedin to Christchurch then back south as far as Glenavy - the warning light was on ....). After beautiful, Sunny, warm Christchurch, it started to get cold and wet in Oamaru. It is cold and wet in Dunedin as I write this.

More on Christchurch when I get a chance. I have to hunker down and wrap up Eyre Creek without distraction.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dance-O-Mat - Christchurch Oct 30th

Dance-O-Mat from a distance. Note cranes in distance.
It still all seems quite surreal; I am in 'post-apocalypse'(okay, post-earthquake) Christchurch, whilst Hurricane Sandy bears down on NJ (my mother) and NY (Joshua) and the eastern and central US, and it all sounds very grim. I could write reams about my Christchurch experience, but have selected one 'highlight' that captures the spirit of the City. I should add that today was the first day since being in New Zealand that I was WARM. Clear blue sky and SUN - finally! I even had to opt for shade at one point. That isn't the only reason I am upbeat about Christchurch, I am just amazed at how they are managing the demolition / reconstruction / rebuild, and the creative energy that one sees all over the place.

Introducing the Dance-O-Mat

 Witness the Dance-O-Mat. I wasn't quite sure what
it was when I came round the corner, but the following pictures should be self explanatory - (click on them so you can enlarge and read the instructions). More to follow in later blog posts. Oh, I also had a really productive meeting with one of my Lower Paleozoic collaborators in the Geology Department at Canterbury, so I'm feeling much better about stuff. In fact, visit me when I am in Christchurch, and we can go out to the Dance-O-Mat ! Go to .
How to use the Dance-O-Mat

About the group that designed / created it - 'Gap-Filler'

Another view of dance-O-Mat. Car park area behind was
formerly a building.
Another view. This time note the source of the dance
music on the left of the dance floor. Also note the disco ball.

Look under the lit for the instructions

Closer up of the whole thing.

Lid needs to be down to work. Don't forget change.

Plug in your ipod / mps/anything with an audiojack here !

Saturday, October 27, 2012

URL for Chch Earthquakes

These are two of many websites you can go to if you want to find out whether there have been any 'significant' earthquakes in Christchurch. I am in the middle of reading up on / learning more about the earthquake(s) (a good way to avoid other work ...).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photomicrographs October 26th 2012

Photomicrograph of radiolarian chert The little white blebs
are recrystallized radiolaria (microfossils).
Yeehah! I spent all afternoon taking photomicrographs (photographs through a microscope of a rock thin-section - i.e. a 30-micron thick slice of rock). This is the task I had been dreading and putting off, because it used to be so 'messy' and complicated, BUT they have a totally AWESOME digital setup here. I didn't even have to calculate the field of view or scale bars. I'm very happy about that. Now, I just have to wrap up the drafting and text. My aim is to finish (yes, you've heard this before ...) the Eyre Ck. mss. this wknd. Then I can move on to the Northwest Nelson mss. !! Ultimately, as long as I submit Eyre Creek before I leave NZ for AGU I'll be happy.

Guess this is part of my experience
Why? because I am heading up to Christchurch Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday to see some geologists there and to scope out the accomodation / cottage I have organized for February through May. I am kind of nervous about the visit because everyone tells me how overwhelming the earthquake devastation is. I'd better get used to it I suppose.
I suppose you could call this truth in advertising

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Perfect Woman ?? ... October 24 2012

Well, turns out I missed a couple of major events last weekend. First of all, I missed the New Zealand Gold Panning Championships in Arrowtown - but based on my experience thus far, I don't think I would have done too well.

The many talents of a Perfect Woman ???

More importantly, I forgot to sign up to take part in Wanaka's Perfact Woman Contest. I don't think I would have done too well in that either - the lamb-skinning would have got me. They did miss computer drafting as one of the items, which I would like to substitute for the Lamb-skinning.

The Finalists
Appropriately oriented for the Southern Hemisphere

In other news, it looks like the Vanuatu 'TSA' might be in for a bit of trouble given that someone flew from there to Auckland with a live artillery shell in their luggage.

Most importantly, I (finally) finished drafting 3 more figures (see down below). Still got the most complicated ones to go, but I'm moving forward S L O W L Y.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Baldwin Street etc. Oct 22nd

Sign at bottom (and top) of Baldwin St.
It is a dead end street.

Must be a slow news day - even the weekend paper was missing its usual interesting items. Was watching TV news last night and it turns out that the hair product "Fatboy" used by Romney is made by a Kiwi who insists that the product is "for the people" - seems to be happy with the PR, but somewhat embarassed about being seen as helping the Romney machine.

Snow down to 300 m forecast. It is Labor Day Wknd here. It is gusting hail as I write.

"My" house - it was really a workers cottage - had an
outside bathroom, and an excellent coal/wood range.

Yesterday I walked up the NE Valley - where I used to live when I was a grad student. I owned the house (and land) at the top of the steepest street in the world - before it got all the publicity it does now. Turns out that the person who bought the house/land from me subdivided the land, and there are now three (ugly) houses up behind "my" house, and "my" house has not been cared for - the bushes in front have grown out of control and one can't sit on the verandah and look out over the valley (the whole reason for living on a hill like that). It was strange walking up the hill (as I used to do, twice a day) with tourists that were discussing how someone would have to be mad to live on / up the hill !!

View down Baldwin Street from beside "my"
The view is still stupendous - even improved, now that the quarry across the valley is quite overgrown. A walk through the gardens afterwards with colourful azaleas to brighten the day.

"My" house is just uphill to the right. Together with the view
down the street, this is what you would see if you looked
slightly to the right from the verandah.

Taken from the Otago Museum grounds, looking somewhat
uphill. My room is in the yellowish house to the right of
the 50's school building. It takes about 15 minutes to walk
to or from the Geology Department.

My current "flat" - actually it is really just a room in a boarding house - is just up the hill above the city. It is all quite Dickensian - except that the landlady does not live in the building. The Dunedin Hospital is about 6 blocks from me, and I can hear the helicopter ambulance coming in - which is often 2 or 3 times a day. The noise doesn't bother me, it is just troublesome especially at night (11 pm - 5 am) because one knows that someone has probably been horribly injured or killed in a road accident.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mailed (via courier) my Ballot - Oct 20th

My US Election Ballot.
Minnesotans: Vote NO in NOvember.
I finally got over to the post office and figured out how to courier my U.S. Election ballot. I am so nervous about it getting lost, misplaced, challenged etc. The only way to mail it so I can track it and make sure it arrives is a special International Courier run by NZ Post. I had to put a value on it. I was tempted to put '3 trillion', but opted for 'priceless' - but was told that it would be returned to me if I did not put an accurate value. She said three trillion was out of the question, and would require insurance, so I opted for $1.00. Ugghh. Well, here is to hoping that both amendments fail, and that Obama is re-elected. It was quite scary mailing it - it should be there within 6 days - and I am tracking it!

In other news, it has been very quiet, even the newspaper has been very run-of-the-mill. Apparently I missed the parade downtown for the opening of the Babywearing Library. People can rent various contraptions for carrying their babies.

Oh, and it turns out that the US Election is on the same day as the Melbourne Cup (which is the Australian equivalent of the Kentucky Derby).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Second Location map ! Thurs 18th Oct

Second part of Location Figure.
Egads, this takes forever.

Second part of Figure 1.
A wet and windy welcome back to Dunedin.
Sunny and clear sky when I got back.
Left my raincoat at home.
Now it is blowing a gale and rain / hail.
Think I'll just stay at work a while ...

Visiting Cluden - October 18th

En route to Cluden - Looking across Lake Dunstan
Note the high terraces
I got back from Central Otago today. I had an excellent visit with Mark and Dhana. On Tuesday we went up to Cluden up near Lindis Pass (just over an hours drive from Alex) where Mark's family has (over many years) established a small camp. His brother had dropped three giant willows, and our task was to cut them up and deal with the consequent tree mess. After a hard days work everything was organized so that another brother could go and burn the small stuff and relocate/pile and split the rest of the wood. Afterwards Mark went fishing and Dhana and I went to take a look at some Maori petroglyphs on some nearby rocks.

Before (well, not quite - you can see
the pile resulting from work already
Cluden - almost done

Maori petroglyphs near Cluden

On Wednesday Dhana and I went to explore some old gold diggings - I had a particular task in mind. I got very interested in the erosional and depositional history, and I wanted to look for evidence of erosion by moving water prior to deposition of the gravels. We went along the south / west side of the Clutha and snuck onto some land there are some old gold workings.

View across Clutha River towards Graveyard Gully. It
looked menacing all day but never rained.

Then we went further down the Clutha River and went up a small creek to another old mine / working (Ketts Mine). Always amazing how much work they did. We poked around there looking at stuff for an hour or so.

Old workings at Ketts Mine - note all the schist
piled along the walls of the tail-race

In the afternoon we went just across the Manuherikea river so I could collect some good conglomerate samples for the SCSU teaching collection  - BUT it is also a conglomerate that contains gold in the basal unit. so we spent quite a while collecting samples. When we got back, we crushed the samples, and then panned them - I got a few flecks of gold, but no nuggets. Rats.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Typing in my gloves - October 14th 2012

View of Portobello Peninsula
from the public bench in Portobello

I have to admit that I am missing my warm, centrally heated house. They don't heat the Department over the weekend, and my office is very cold. About as cold as my flat/room. Right now it isn't bad outside, but the room has never warmed up, and I am typing with my gloves on. Kind of makes it hard for me to think properly. 

View back up the harbour (i.e. to the SW) towards Dunedin
Picture taken en route to Portobello.

After a grey start to the day, some blue sky showed up (between clouds), and it wasn't raining, so I took the public bus out to Portobello (small 'townlet' on the Otago Peninsula, which is itself beside a small peninsula which is the home to the Otago University Portobello Marine Laboratory. I just spent a while walking, poking around, then turned around and got the bus back. Very nice to get out. 

Ads for Moroccan Lamb Burgers ......

Other trivia include: All the ads I am seeing for a MacDonalds Lamb Burger (don't worry, I haven't gone over to the dark side). I bet they aren't available in the US ? Or are they having a big push there too - it is because they are trying to open up the market to non-beef eating cultures.  

Penguin in downtown Dunedin

Also, the penguin sculptures in downtown Dunedin. The title is "You are not alone" The road to Milford Sound was closed because of rockfall (see pic from TV above). I will take a break for a couple of days because I have completely hit the wall, and need a change of scenery - I am not making any progress. Dhana is in town tomorrow, and I will get a ride back up to Central Otago with her and spend a couple of nights in Alex with her and Mark.

That is a bicycle

Elevator buttons in the Geology Department.
Thus far I have resisted adding an
alternative set of destinations
 (atmospheric layers, going up from the basement).
Maybe the emergency button should read
'Meteorite Impact' ?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Figure (i.e. one map) Thurs 11th Oct

Location Map for Eyre Creek
drafted by yours truly in Adobe Illustrator.

Yeehah. VERY SLOW progress, but on the left you see the fruits of my labours! This location map (Figure 1 of 12 in the paper)  took all day. BUT I made multiple errors, and I think I have learned from them, so it should start getting faster. I gave my first draft to a colleage here to look through and they went through it - lots of suggestions for changes. Uggh. But they are all good comments - just means lots more work on it. And thinking.

It is still grey and wet and cold. Everyone is whining about it - wettest and coldest October since 2003.

Minnesota friends: I have a question. There are dasies everywhere growing in the grass. I swear we don't have dasies in our grass in Minnesota. Just dandelions and other stuff. Am I just forgetting?

The grass. Note all the daisies.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Slow Cold Wet day Tues Oct 9th

View out my window this morning.
Well, it was very grey, cold, and wet this morning. Really hard to get out of bed. The dryer at my flat is broken so I had the choice of damp clothes or dirty clothes. By the time I made it in to the department (I had to take care of banking and electricity bill paying) it was almost noon. I got a really useful (but horribly demanding) review of my first draft back for the Eyre Creek mss. Ugghh. Lots to do still - tons to fix. I decided to focus on drafting figures today. Humph. Because I am not really adept and savvy with GIS, the only way for me to create the location map I wanted (with geology on it) was to compile it on paper. I am sure there must be a quicker way. I am going to scan my compiled version, and then actually draft it in Illustrator. This is going to take forever! The good thing that came out of it was that I had an AHA MOMENT about the geology as I was doing this.

You probably can't see all the detail, but
this was the result of my work today.
Lots of time, little to show for it.

My office / desk. I had five different
 maps spread out as I tried to selectively
compile data from all of them together.

On a more upbeat note, I think I have found accomodation for when I am in Christchurch after new year. It is a small cottage that a GNS scientist bought because they were seconded to Christchurch because of Earthquake work (or at least that is my understanding). They couldn't find a place to rent, so they ended up buying the cottage - mortgage was cheaper than rent. They will still have access and have stuff in the garage, but I will be renting it from them. No bricks, no concrete, all wood, on one level - YEAH!  I am so relieved - I had been really worried about finding a place to live there. It is 20 minutes walk from the University - and much less by bicycle. I think I'll give up for the day now and go walk downtown to the public library. It will be warm there, it is open until 8 pm.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Middlemarch - via the Taieri Gorge on Sunday 7th Oct

Dunedin railway Station. You will be noticing
a trend in the style of the old buildings.
Basalt and Limestone.

It was cold but sunny and clear this morning. Which was great, because I needed a break. Walked down the railway station, and got my ticket for the Taieri Gorge Train. Departed at 9:30 am. Northstar folks, I'm sorry, this way outdoes the Northstar for 'spectacular'. They also let us get out at several localities - and there were no fences next to the drop-off. We could also ride on the outdoor platform when we chose. Oh, and we could buy beer if we wanted too. But, it was 10 times as expensive.

On the Taieri Plain

First the train gets to and crosses the taieri Plain. Then it essentially follows the Taieri River up the Taieri Gorge.

Starting up the Taieri Gorge. The yellow stuff is gorse = bad

Hindon. Nothing (other than fish in the river) there now

You might be able to see a viaduct just ahead of the train

The train climbs and goes through a bunch of tunnels and across a bunch of viaducts.
The sign on the building says "Strath Taieri Rabbit Board"
They deal with the rabbit problem.

The first stop (not for passengers, just to let us get out and have a view) was at Hindon.

Continuing. By the way we are in Otago Schist. Mostly Textural Zone 2A and maybe some 2B. Low greenschist grade.

There really isn't much in Middlemarch - which is part of its charm. BUT I must say that if they want to go for Hobbit-related tourism, they will need to add a few places to eat and get some places where tourists can spend money.

The inside of the trains. Wood panel, pressed metal ceiling.

The inside of the coaches - all refurbished originals with wood paneling. They were comfy. But no electric outlets (I know, I am spoiled) I forgot to charge my camera battery and ended up taking all the pics on my phone.

Heading back down the gorge to Dunedin

getting to the Taieri Plain

Heading home. There was a BIG flood in 1980. The Taieri rose 10 m (yes, ten meters) in 24 hours. The last station (Sheep station that is) up here was washed away. The family sold the land and it has been planted in pines. The trees on the riverbanks are mostly willows.
Walking to the geology department - I went past the
Cadbury factory. Yes, they do tours.
No, I am not going to do one.

Slowly winding down onto the Taieri Plain. The hills here are related to the Dunedin Volcano /
volcanic center (extinct)

We got back at 3:30 pm precisely so I headed over to the geology department - I needed to finish up the references on Eyre Creek. Refworks is kind of funky - well, I am not good at reading the manual. I have got a reference list done, and I have emailed it off for review before I submit it. Now I need to draft all the figures. Ugghh. Hopefully I will get that done this week. I am not going to succumb to the Cadburys Tour.