The Great Pumpkin

This volunteer vine suggests that while the worm farm does a great job of turning our food scraps into good looking black stuff to put on the garden, it doesn’t necessarily kill every seed! Unlike a traditional compost pile, the worm farm never gets hot.

But all good! We’re looking forward to enjoying some pumpkin this fall 😀.

The Great Marangai of 2023

As we approach two weeks since the Auckland floods, the extent of the damage is coming clear.

There were hundreds of little land slips like in the picture above. The water in the bay remains murky and probably full of s**t from all the sewage overflows. Only a few people actually died, which is good, but dozens of homes will be torn down and thousands more are seriously damaged. Lots of cars written off. It’s still unknown how much damage to the sewer and water systems. The residents of one nearby area seem to have gotten a bad tummy bug and suspect their water is contaminated.

Here’s another shot of the tennis court in Little Shoal Bay. The Bowling Club is redoing the floor… with real plywood this time instead of the MDF that was in there before. It’s surprising that it was ever allowable to use that MDF in a building built on piling above a tidal marsh. Probably it wasn’t.

I found this informative timeline of how the storm developed… it was a convergence of multiple factors that brought us so much rain.

This week’s earthquake in Turkey is a reminder — if any was needed — that this storm was No Big Deal. But that’s only a little comfort to the people affected. And we have another cyclone heading our way this weekend which has the potential to be just as bad… ugh!

New Zealand Open

This weekend was the annual NZ Open Triples Pétanque Tournament. Pictured above left is one of the winners from the New Caledonia team, and in the blue shirts a couple of the French guys who lost this semi-final match.

I was planning to play, but then there was a swim scheduled for the same weekend. But then the swim got canceled and I almost got on a team but then I didn’t. So Lee and I went and watched the final games on Sunday.

I have never seen players at this level in person before… only on YouTube. Wow! That big New Caledonian guy could put the ball anywhere he wanted, and if the opposition got close, his partner would smack their ball out of play. It was a close game … and I wonder if the French guys were a bit overconfident… but the New Caledonians won this game and the final with panache.

The tournament is structured such that the early rounds are random… so someone like me might get the privilege of being thrashed by players like this… but over the two days you sort yourself into divisions so that the finals are genuinely competitive at the different levels.

Next year…

Wagyu beef sliders this ain’t

Misty is surprisingly uninterested in people food, which is a great relief.

But sometimes she will sit like this, and the reproach is clear. No, I don’t want to jump up and lick the butter. But this? Really?

If only she was just a little less plump around the middle we might even feel sorry for her.

The Great Flood of ‘23

The official Auckland reporting station got something like 10” of rain on Friday. In our neighborhood, the total was more like 12” according to some amateur meteorologists. Our driveway turned back into the stream it once was. But luckily our house sits out of the path so no damage to us.

Lots of friends and neighbors had their basements get wet. We know one person whose ground-level apartment was chest deep underwater, and her car was completely submerged. Yuck! The bowling / pétanque club took on close to a foot of water, so we went down and helped clean up.

There were a lot of mudslides, and with so many houses perched on hillsides or next to cliff edges, the damage will be costly. In the shot above, that house is a lot closer to the edge of the cliff than it used to be, and the public tennis court is out of service for the foreseeable. Surely this flood will reignite the discussion about letting the whole Little Shoal Bay park complex go back to marshy wetlands.

We’ve lived through floods before, one-day events like this as well as the big Midwest floods of 1993 and 1995. People will recover and rebuild. But it will be hard, and it will eat up so much of the financial and mental breathing room for affected families and the whole city over the next couple of years… instead of doing whatever was next on the list, our efforts will step back down the hierarchy of needs ladder by a step or two. It’s a shame, although I think unavoidable with this many people living in this particular place. Of course drainage systems could be improved, but the cost of truly flood-proofing all the houses and roads in Auckland would be unacceptable.

Leaving Las Vegas

After a wonderful visit with cousin-in-law Elizabeth (during which I completely failed to take any pictures), it’s back home again.

This friendly jackrabbit sits in the airport terminal as you head toward your flight. Legions of kids pass by it every day. It struck me as somehow wrong that in this metropolis so singularly devoted to pleasuring visitors you can’t climb on the rabbit. That rabbit is exactly the right size to be climbed on! My favorite memory of visiting the La Brea tar pits is of climbing on the giant sloth statues outside. Kids want to climb on statues! #climbtherabbit could become the rallying cry for a whole generation of kids who want to break the bonds of xBox. Or not.

Goodbye Strip! And PS, it was way easier to crop this picture to show you the RUMP hotel than to photoshop in something like FASCIST ASSHOLE, so I did. Maybe not quite as impactful, but still.

I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve been to Vegas… maybe a dozen? It’s spectacular, no question. But these days it takes a real effort for me to actually get excited about the pleasures on offer. Gambling in particular has lost its appeal for me… I used to really look forward to an hour at the slot machines. But these days, meh. Even though it’s legal and convenient to go to the casino in Auckland, I never do. Which I guess is a good thing for the possibility of retiring some day… it sure is easy to lose your money quickly!

Trip to the Strip

We drove in and walked around a bit.

I wonder if I would get the friends and family discount here?

Lots of bright lights! And one difference from when I was last here… pot is legal here now, and a LOT of people were enjoying a smoke as they strolled along. I can’t say I enjoy that… although saying so makes me feel old and crotchety.

Lake Las Vegas

For this week’s HL7 meeting we’re in Henderson NV, about half an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. That half hour equates to a $60 round trip to do much of anything off the resort. And the resort is mostly shuttered because it’s the deep off-season. So let’s go for a walk…

Those bighorn sheep adorn a roundabout… it’s a helluva roundabout for being basically in the middle of nowhere.

Insert housing development here.

Across the road from the resort is this pretty rushing river. It turns out not to actually be a river, but rather something called the Las Vegas Wash. Go figure. Still, very pleasant spot with pretty trails, lots of birds and desert plants.

The resort tries to channel the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

These coyotes, who were just exiting the resort proper when I saw them, looked pretty well fed. Later, I saw a manicured lawn teeming with bunnies and quail. That made me think the coyotes have plenty to hunt. But on reflection I’m betting the coyotes eat even better by raiding the dumpsters.

Our group’s planners made a conscious decision to not be on the Strip, and I get that. But being captive on the property may not be an improvement… can’t please everybody, that’s for sure!!

So close and yet

Here I am in the middle of the desert, but it’s not that there’s no water. Lake Las Vegas literally laps at the faux-Italian foundation of my hotel.

But it’s off-season, so the water activities are all closed. But that’s OK, I don’t need a crowd to go in for a morning dip. But I do need some minimum amount of body heat in order to not drown, and that water ain’t warm enough. So, lovely as it looks, the lake is off limits.

But that’s ok because I’m at a massive resort where people will want a place to cool off… of course there’s a big beautiful pool.


Third time lucky

After failing in Sydney and Houston, last Friday I was in the right place (the San Francisco Swatch store) at the right time (an hour before opening on a stormy weekday).

I was #2 in line, and according to Mr #1, who is semi-professional speculator / dealer, I was pretty lucky to get in so far to the front. By the time the store opened there were about 10 in line.

When the doors opened, I was pretty excited. But sadly the staff killed that feeling quickly. I hoped for “Welcome to Swatch, we’re so glad to help you achieve your collection goals” or “Wow isn’t it cool that we get to share this pop culture moment together?” What I got was “One at a time!” and “Step back, DO NOT block the door” When I approached the island with the samples, the guy just stood there, waiting for me to name a planet. You don’t get to look at or touch or interact with the merchandise in any way. They don’t ask you if you’d also like to buy the special San Francisco souvenir watch.

My friend Paul had a specific set of choices, and luckily the limited stock on hand included a Mission to Mercury, one of his top picks. So yay! My mission accomplished. There were no Mars watches in stock, so I didn’t have to make a Sophie’s Choice between his pick and mine. Maybe I’ll get up early one day this week and try the shop on the Las Vegas strip…

Qué rico sabor

On the one hand, a perfectly ordinary meal at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant (La Paloma in San Bruno, CA).

On the other, a wonderful superlative orgasmic delicacy because you just can’t have it in New Zealand.

It can’t hurt

It seems unlikely that the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of everything would give you special attention if you built them a shrine on the corner of your house in San Bruno.

But then again, I guess it can’t hurt to ask.

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