miscellany

It’s been a bit more rainy so we have some mushrooms growing in the garden.  As of last week, 3 different kinds were growing within a 2 meter square area.

I can’t identify any of them… so I didn’t try to eat any!

I got a new telephoto lens (70-210 mm) on TradeMe for $80 so I have been experimenting a bit.

My lunch

Some not very exciting photos from the Carter Observatory yesterday.

Several years ago when I lived in Montreal I developed and designed a prototype of the hottest new fashion accessory of the 21st century, the fashion eye-patch.

Cameron models Fashion Eye-patch in 2008
Cameron models Fashion Eye-patch in 2008

I decided to update the look for 2012, and the other day crafted this new, more contemporary and glamorous version of the fashion eye-patch.

Fashion Eye-patch 2012
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new zealand music month

It’s New Zealand music month and to celebrate I am encouraging people out there in other countries to enjoy some fine NZ music.

I will admit that upon first moving here, I wasn’t much impressed by anything I heard from local acts.  But as time has gone on, my opinions have changed as I have discovered some sweet jams.

One of my very favourites is Fraser Ross.  Not only is his music amazingly awesome, but he is my former neighbour.  Fraser has recently departed the fair heights of Coromandel Street for the Scottish Highlands in pursuit of love, and I wish him all the best.  I first met Frase at our yearly Christmas neighborhood bbq this past year, and when he told me he had a special lady friend in Scotland I asked him how they met.  With a completely straight face, he told me they met online.  I very innocently believed him.  About 30 seconds later he told me he was just kidding and they met here in Wellington, and 6 months later when I heard he was moving overseas to be with her I was really glad, though of course I’m sad to lose such a wonderfully musical pal & neighbour.  As I know well, long distance relationships aren’t easy, so I’m really happy for him as he makes a go of his musical career closer to his sweetheart!

His new EP is called “To Places” and features some really sweet melodies.

I recommend a listen.

Another local act I adore is called Glass Vaults.  It helps of course that the band is comprised of a trio of handsome gentlemen.  Their musical style is a big hard to describe, though according to their bandcamp site it’s been called “post-ambient” and “glacial pop”.  Whatever name you give it, it’s lovely.

They also make some awesome music videos and are clearly just really talented boys.

I’m a big fan of the fabulous folks from Orchestra of Spheres.

They wear amazing costumes, sound like they’re from outer space, ride bikes, and are awesomely dedicated to supporting experimental music around town.  Also they have really mastered the art of having on-stage personas.  By day they are book editors and music teachers, by night, Orchestra of Spheres turns into:

Baba Rossa – biscuit tin guitar, sexomouse marimba
EtonalE – electric carillon
Jemi Hemi Mandala – drumkit
Mos Iocos – keyboard, gamelan

Another former neighbour of mine plays in the band Phoenix Foundation.  They’re quite popular here in NZ and were even musical guests on a BBC programme.  I think that means they’re famous?  After hearing he was in a “famous” band,  I actually tried to ask my neighbour if he was considered “famous” and if people recognised him in public, and he reluctantly admitted it.  I don’t know why NZers would feel uncomfortable about admitting fame… isn’t being famous the whole point of being a rock star?!?!  I guess it’s just a testament to the very humble down-to-earth nature of most people in the country.

My pal Matt the music librarian at the National Library of New Zealand is in Golden Awesome, a band definitely worth checking out.

Matt, being an excellent librarian, also compiled and posted an album of NZ music on the National Library website, all songs freely available under the creative commons licence.

It’s called the Turnbull Mixtape, after the Turnbull Library, a national institution dedicated to preserving NZ culture.

Aren’t librarians awesome?

There are literally dozens of other bands I would love to describe in this post, but unfortunately due to time constraints only my top 5 have made it.  Others worth checking out in Wellington include:

The Blue Onesies

The Shocking & the Stunning

Jetsam Isles

Sunken Seas

Terror of the Deep

Paper Scissors

French for Rabbits

Newtown Rocksteady

Thought Creature

…and more!

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.

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.

travels and time

Things have been a bit busy lately as my best pal from Chicago came to visit, and we went down to the South Island for a few days.  I posted some pictures from the trip on Picasa:

Jenny’s visit

We were very lucky to get to see tons of wildlife in Kaikoura, including 2 sperm whales, tons of dolphins and seals, spotted shags and a penguin!  It was an amazing trip and a lot of fun.  She went back to Chicago on Sunday.

I’ve actually just come home from hospital where I had surgery on Wednesday.  I’ll try to write more about it when I have more energy.  Don’t worry, everything is fine.

A very Merry un-Christmas, to you.

There was absolutely nothing Christmassy about December 25th this year.  It was a beautiful day in Wellington, hot and sunny, and amazingly wind-free.  I spent it at the beach, with friends, but it felt nothing like Christmas.

I tried playing my Reggae Christmas album on my iPod but then I was asked to play something different.  There was no gift exchanging, no snow, no Santa, no family dinner, no carols, no chestnuts roasting on an open fire, no jack frost nipping at my nose.

The Un-Christmas
Bubbles on the beach

Here are more photos from the holiday season.

windy city?

More “severe” weather makes front page news..

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-comed-service-restored-to-517000-20110712,0,4966588.story

In one article they describe the “blitzkrieg” winds… at 75 miles an hour!  Roughly 120 kms per hour, less than what we get around here on a regular day!  While lots of people in Chicago are still without power.. ours never went out.  I don’t know how Wellington manages to keep all the services running and power flowing despite the wild weather!