Otari-Wilton Bush Fungal Foray

I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of New Zealand fungi found in the Otari-Wilton bush this weekend.  This tour was led by Geoff Ridley who is extremely knowledgeable on the subject.

Geoff Ridley with some kind of mushroom

He maintains the site Spores Moulds & Fungi of New Zealand which is an excellent source of information on New Zealand mushrooms, including both native and introduced species.  He is also the author of A Photographic Guide to Mushrooms & Other Fungi of NZ.

The main thing I took away form the walk was how difficult it can be to identify different mushroom species.  The other thing I took away from the walk was how little research has been done on NZ mushrooms.  There is simply so much they haven’t studied.

The guide described these as “little brown mushrooms”, probably

Panaeolus sp. [a roundhead] – on wood chip. These mushrooms are ‘hygrophanous’ that is they change colour as they age.

According to the guide these mushrooms are in the same genus as those with psychoactive properties.  Unfortunately on our walk the guide didn’t point out any psychedelic mushies, though they certainly do grow in the wild here.  I was also informed that collecting or possessing those types of mushrooms is illegal in New Zealand.

We also spotted a few other varieties, but due to the drier-than-normal conditions this autumn, the mushies just haven’t been growing in abundance.

One we did see, that is edible, is called the “New Zealand Shitake”.

Here are some better photo’s from Geoff’s blog:

Lentinellus novae-zelandiae [bush shiitake] – on rotting log

 

He went into quite a bit of detail about brackets, veils, stems and other complicated stuff I barely understand.  I think you can get more information on that kind of stuff here.

You can see more photos from the fungal foray and other mushrooms on my Picasa page.

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excuses excuses

I haven’t had time to post much lately for the following reasons:

  1. I am trying to make some progress on data analysis and my PhD
  2. I have been working a lot at Te Papa.  If you weren’t aware, I since October I have been employed as a research assistant at the Museum of New Zealand.  It’s not a glamorous job, and pays next to nothing, but is flexible and gets me out of my office and interacting with people, which I enjoy.
  3. I have also been doing some work for the Open Polytechnic of NZ’s undergraduate programme in Library & Information Studies.   Thus far it has mostly been marking assignments for the Information Literacy course and the Children’s Literature course, both of which are quite interesting.
  4. The dean of the Faculty of Commerce & Administration asked me to get involved with her and a co-researcher form the School of Government on a Marsden grant application for a project looking into e-governance in the Pacific.  It’s quite an interesting project and actually peripherally related to my own research interests, and pays very well.  We’ll find out in a few weeks if our application made it to round 2 of the application process, and if we are eventually awarded a Marsden grant, it would look amazingly awesome on my CV! The Marsden grant is the most prestigious in NZ.
  5. I had an awesome visitor come to see me from Chicago, and we went down to the South Island to hang out with sperm whales.
  6. I had surgery for endometriosis, and have had to take it easy the past few weeks.  It’s a pretty common surgery and wasn’t critical, however because of the timing of the diagnosis it was better that I have it treated now, when it would be covered by my current insurance policy, rather than leave it to a latter date if it did become a serious issue, and risk having to pay for it out of pocket as it would then be considered a pre-existing condition.  During the laproscopy they also found polyps, fibroids, and cysts in my uterus, which explains why I would have to overdose on codeine every month around my period.  Hopefully this means a less pain-filled existence for me in the future.  Apparently endometriosis, cysts, polyps, and fibroids are all quite common and occur for no particular reason in more than 10% of women if child bearing age.  I’m just hoping now that they have been removed, they won’t come back!  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to prevent it from coming back, other than eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle, which I strive to do anyway.  Completely cutting out sugar and gluten would probably be beneficial as well, but is a life without cake really worth living?  That is the question I am now forced to contemplate… as I peruse recipes for cranberry-chocolate marscapone tarts.

One horrifying aspect of the surgery was getting to see photos of my insides… and not being allowed to ride my bike for 4 weeks!  However, getting to stay home for a week and milk my lovely friends for all their sympathy, chocolate, and other kindnesses made the whole ordeal more bearable.  I feel very lucky to have met such great people in Wellington who made me feel very well looked after.

If you want more information about endometriosis here is an article that meets the criteria I suggest students in the information literacy class I am tutoring use to evaluate the reliability, authority, and relevance of internet resources.

Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade

I just wanted to share this awesome article I came across thanks to Venusradiockut.wordpress.com

The Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade Make a Space for Women on the Eastside

by Kris Fortin from LA Streets Blog

The Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade is a all-women bicycle group based out of the Eastside. Xela de la X of the Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade throws up the Ova’s sign with the rest of the group in the background. Photo by Rafael Cardenas via EastsiderWriter.com

(We’re working on a photo essay tomorrow following up on today’s story.  So, come back Monday. D)

Two months ago, when 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman was murdered in Lincoln Heights, the all-women bike group Ovarian-Pscyos Bicycle Brigade scrapped their previously planned ride to ride instead through the neighborhood to protest the killing.

“Whose Streets,” one woman called out.

“Our Streets” the more than 30 women riding answered.

While many recent bike groups are either bicycling for recreation, bringing awareness to bicyclists on the road, or use the bicycle for social justice movement events, the Ovarian-Psycos Bicycle Brigade is a community inspired women’s movement that does all of the above and then some.

In Los Angeles, fewer than 1 in 5 people cycling were female, according to preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s most recent bicycle count. While this trend has been the constant in cities across the nation, the number of female bicycle groups in Los Angeles has grown from just a couple a few years ago, to at least four.

The currently all-Latina collective with roots from various parts of the Eastside pride themselves with their exclusivity to women, with sticker slogans like “Ovaries so big, we don’t need no fucking balls.” Their monthly all-women Luna Rides, which takes its name from the moons connection with a woman’s menstrual cycle, bring up to 30 women riders each ride. For their two-year anniversary in July, the Ovarian-Psycos are also planning the first female version of the monthly Critical Mass, which will be called Clitoral Mass.

For many of the women it’s their first time being involved in an all-female collective. The oldest members are 33 and the youngest is 20. Some are artists that ride bikes, and some are pure bicyclists. Yet the Ovarian-Psycos has become a type of sisterhood that, for many, they have never had before.

“Being around women, learning that we can interact in a way that was not hostile or competitive; it’s been a very new experience,” said Magally “Maga” Miranda.

Though the group has found stability recently, the group’s continued existence was never a sure bet. On the very first Luna Ride in July 2010, Xela, the de facto leader of the group at the time, hit a pothole on the road and fell face forward off her bike, hospitalizing her for one week.  Andrea Ramirez, or “La Blackbird,” recalls that many bike riders didn’t come back after the first ride because they were scared.

Though one half left, and another came back for the second Luna Ride, Xela said, the group stagnated for the first year, never topping more than 20 riders.

“I was worried always that it’s going to die someday,” Xela said.

The Ovas wait at Olvera Street to start their Take Back the Night Ride, where they rode to protest the murder of a 22-year-old woman from Lincoln Heights. Photo by GLoTography

Yet, right before the Ovarians one-year anniversary, Xela started to recruit core members to better organize the group.  After the one-year anniversary at Solidarty ink, and with a fairly consistent 12 core members, the group finally started to take off. Like before, each ride had a theme. Specific workshops involved speakers, and teachers on a range of social issues, and bicycle issues. Some workshops talked about women’s health, while other covered self-defense. Yet, the groups were getting bigger, and the core members were helping spread the word.

Many of the women say they feel they are not taken seriously in the biking community because their rides aren’t as long as traditional rides, there are usually many first-time riders, and the ride will stop and wait for one person. But, these limitations, Ova member Natalie Fraire said, can be a positive.

“We are encouraging a lot more riders and that’s more important,” said Fraire.

Riding as a women group has also made the riders more aware of the difficulties of riding in the city as a woman. Individually, or in small groups, Ova Elvira “Ashes” Arvizo has been catcalled by men on the street, and during one Luna Ride, the group noticed a male motorist was trailing the group. The women stopped and started to yell at the motorist, which caused him to flee.

Creating Sisterhood

As the group has grown, the women have needed to get closer. Many of their biweekly meetings resemble the chaos of a family dinner. At a recent meeting, Maryann “La Fingers” Aguirre would belch across the room, giving many of the girls a laugh, and Fraire ran to the oven to find she burned the artichoke dish brought. If the meeting ever got out of order, a clit checker (meeting organizer) would bellow out a warning to get the meeting back on track.

Each Ova have brought various skills in community organizing, photography, graphic design and bike mechanics which they also share with the rest of the group. Gloria “GLoTography” Vasquez takes most of the photos that are on the groups websites, but she has also taken the time to teach Ovas like Fraire how to use a camera. The group has also helped Vasquez to break her shyness and talk more with women on rides.

“Now run into women across streets and able to converse with them than just pass them by,” said Vasquez.

Each season there are rotating leaders of the group called a left and right ovary, and many of the women are expected to step up to take care of a portion of their work.

Many of the women have never ridden with an all female bike crew, and let alone worked with an all-women group. Yet, the same reason Xela started the group is the same reason the women joined: they couldn’t connect with the rides already in LA.

Andrea “La Blackbird” Ramirez said she could never get comfortable riding with the Midnight Ridazz because men always outnumbered women. Aside from men outnumbering women during Critical Mass, Arvizo said will leave riders behind, and that can deter a young woman-rider to join a ride.

The Ovas end one of their bi-weekly meetings. Photo by Kris Fortin

The Ovas offer a space for women, Xela said. And the rides though recreational, can become extremely personal, with some events bringing women to tears. During a stop on their ride that was themed on domestic violence, many women came forward about their experiences.

The personal nature of the rides, and the already numerous LA bike rides is the reason Xela said, why it’s exclusive to women.

“It’s just a time for women. If they are trying to open up, won’t be comfortable opening up if there are men around,” said Aguirre.

Xela, whose been a part of women collectives that have never lasted, said she knew the Ovarian-Pscyos was a different type of all woman collective at the one-year anniversary. Jocelyn “Joss the boss” Hernandez brought a cake she made and designed to the group at the end of an interview at the Boyle Heights online radio station Centro de Comunicación Comunitaria. The cake had a symbol of a car with a slash over it.

“You do that for your sister, your best friend, and she did this for the Ovas. “That’s nice”

For more information on the Ovarians, send an email to ovarian.psycos@gmail.com or go to their website at ovarianpsycos.com.

And check out this sweet illustration they have created:

How awesome would it be to have a clitoral mass ride in Wellington!?