99.9

We bought this puzzle last year during lockdown, but only got around to putting it together the last few weeks.

We have no idea why that one piece might have gone missing, but there you have it. When we think of this puzzle the future, that is I suppose IF we ever think of this puzzle in the future, it won’t be the wonderfully cheesy picture that we remember. It won’t be the long period of tension where we thought we had two too many pieces to fit in the top border. It won’t be how we scooped the half-finished puzzle up and moved it to another room for a dinner party, although I suppose that might account for the missing piece. No, we will mostly remember that it was the puzzle that had the missing piece that time.

My day job includes a lot of thinking about large-scale reliability. We are responsible for millions of transactions in a month, hundreds of services have to stay online more or less all the time, and so on and so on. Just like in this puzzle, the rare failures are given far more attention than the common successes. That is as it should be… But maybe there’s also some value in stepping back and looking at the whole picture from time to time as well.

What’s a Bosom Worth?

This very funky bike was parked outside the gym the other morning. I’d never heard of the brand Bosomworth before so had to go look it up.

Eddie Bosomworth built custom frames from a base in the town of Rotorua (a couple of hours from Auckland, famous for sulfurous hot springs) during the 70s and 80s. This “lo-pro” style was popular on the track for a while. The rider gets obvious aerodynamic benefits, but pays a price in comfort and maneuverability. So, all the funky frame designs of that era were eventually outlawed in competition.

Bosomworth bikes made it to the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. Even the more “normal” frames he made were top of the line, and I found a few comments online about how wonderfully light and responsive they are. 40 years on, they’re much more likely to be found in a museum than on the street.

Whoever rode this to the gym, in the rain, must be quite a bike nut. I applaud the notion of actually riding the collectible bike instead of just hanging it on the wall. But I would still worry about getting a chip in the paint!

Mmm, yummy

I found myself in an Asian grocery the other day searching for something to take to an Indian colleague recovering from a recent operation. As you do.

I didn’t find anything useful for the visit (so ended up with some wonderful baklava from a different shop) but I did find the two surprising items above.

It turns out that Japanese curry is a thing… including apple and honey Vermont curry.

And it also turns out that Couques d’Asse sorta kinda exist… at least they serve as an important lesson in why grammatical niceties like pluralization can matter.

T minus 20

Setting up the Auckland Big Band for our gig at the Selwyn Village retirement community.

As public performances go, this is about as low pressure as it gets. We’re amateurs. The audience is, well, retired. Very retired.

But even so, there’s a lot of energy in the group, and it’s a little bit exciting, and that’s why you show up on a Saturday when you could be doing something else.

I’m bowled over

I’m at band practice tonight, in the Mount Eden Bowling Club. Lawn bowling is a big deal in New Zealand, and it evokes in me a picture of a bunch of very old people not doing very much, except for drinking stealthily between rounds.

But this score sheet that I am seeing tonight for the first time suggests that however slowly they seem to move, their sense of humor is completely intact.

Wheel People

The Birkenhead skate park on Saturday morning.

It’s especially cool to see the sk8r dads teaching their wee sprats the fine arts of skating and the even finer arts of standing around looking languidly dangerous whilst wearing a pink unicorn helmet and matching knee pads.

Lake Pupuke

A big volcanic crater that’s filled up with water over the last 100,000 years or so. Unlike nearby Tank Farm, Lake Pupuke’s sidewalls were never breached by the sea, so it’s still completely fresh water (but the ocean is just a few hundred meters away).

The lake is popular with paddlers and rowers. It’s surrounded by pricey homes, parks, and the old pump house , which now has a theater and cafe.

Over the edge

We needed a larger cutting board and hadn’t run across one so went searching online. This bamboo board is wonderful! The way it lips over the edge makes it extra stable (the countertop is perfectly square so that helps). And I thought showing it off with the knife I brought back from my trip to Germany 20 years ago is a nice way to tie old and new.

I took the above picture with ‘portrait mode’ so the background focus is fuzzy. I took a couple of other exposures where the effect is even more extreme, it really works…

ANZAC Day 2021

Lest we forget…

What a difference a year makes. In 2020, we stood on the little balcony at our old house in Parnell and listened to the dawn service on the radio. We were ‘together, apart’ with all the other people on the street, in full lockdown. COVID-19 was still new. We didn’t know how many of us might die in the coming year.

But then we were spared… lockdown worked and COVID is mostly a thing that happens elsewhere. Last Monday we all celebrated ANZAC Day with big crowds, military drills and parades, bagpipes and fly-overs. After my morning swim, I listened to the service in Devonport and wandered along the beach a bit. Then we went for a nice lunch.

Even if just for a minute, the holiday demands/allows a moment to consider all the possibilities we face as humans. Here we are in this life in this peaceful time in this healthy place with this much comfort. But other places, other times, are so very close, and so very different.

In much of the world, we humans have a lot of control over those circumstances these days… it is possible as individuals to not shoot each other, to wear the masks when there’s a bad virus in town, to vote for one candidate over another. In other places, poverty and propaganda make it harder to exercise those choices, which I guess means it’s even more important that those who can, do.

Toi Tū Toi Ora

There we are, totally color coordinated during our visit to the Auckland Art Gallery survey of contemporary Māori art Toi Tū Toi Ora. It’s billed as the biggest such exhibit ever. You can take the virtual tour if you want to visit.

The experience was structured to follow Māori creation mythology… we proceeded from darkness into light, from light to life, etc.

The art was artsy, some we liked more, some less. The artist / curator statements were especially high tone, aka pretentious. I can recognize intellectually that the significance of a lot of this artistic journey is lost on me, but that doesn’t necessarily make the explanations enjoyable…

Some of our best moments were actually watching our fellow museum goers, including an aging surfer dude and the staunch young activist above.

Neither of us is an unequivocal art gallery fan, but this was a fun afternoon (and followed by a really nice French restaurant dinner).

Takapuna Sunrise

Normally I only post my own photos here, but this one is so spectacular that I wanted to share it. It was taken by one of my fellow ocean swimmers who went out early the other morning and got this just before jumping in the water.

A Piece At A Time

Lee’s latest project. All the glass is left over from the lead light class we took a couple of years ago. The birds were given to her by Isabella, part of her mother’s estate. The little table is part of a set of nesting tables that we bought at an auction sometime back.

All Politics is Local

On the right, Trevor Mallard, Speaker of Parliament. In the center, seated and appearing to listen raptly, Lee and I. I will say parenthetically that the name Trevor Mallard sounds even more comical with a New Zealand accent, at least to my ear… the syllables are accented more evenly than in American dialect and the last part is pronounced just like the word lard. But whatever his name, he is the Speaker of Parliament and that ain’t nothing.

Our freshman MP, Shanan Halbert, has impressed us with his energy. If you hold an event bigger than a child’s birthday party, Shanan will be there and he will take a selfie and he will post it on Facebook.

On that same Facebook page he posted a note saying he’d be having dinner at a nearby restaurant (that we’d already been to and liked) and would anybody want to come? Done. It turned out he’d booked the entire restaurant, meaning there were about 50 or 60 dedicated Labour Party types and a few curious spectators like ourselves.

Trevor Mallard was there in the capacity of after dinner speaker and to present a few people with their Labour Party life membership pins. He told a few stories, which might have been more amusing to him, or at the time, then they were to us, or now. His phone went off while he was speaking, and he gets high marks for having a quack quack ringtone.

Shanan makes the third Member of Parliament I’ve had a conversation with. I’ve been in close proximity with the Prime Minister twice and had my picture taken with the Leader of the Opposition. And none of those interactions cost me a penny. Shanan has office hours every Friday within walking distance of home, and so did my previous MP David Seymour. Of course, that level of interaction with regular people would be impossible for American politicians… It would mean that Congress would have many thousands of members. But it’s amazing and wonderful to feel like politics is so accessible. I wonder how many US problems would recede if there were a similar level of connectedness.

Walkabout

For who knows what reasons, traffic has been worse the last few weeks, especially in the mornings as I’m trying to get to work. So, I’ve been leaving earlier and earlier to try and get ahead of the congestion. That’s not terrible… I’m usually awake anyway.

Some days I’ve been using the extra time for a longer swimming pool session (or a few minutes in the hot tub), and other times I’ve shown up at the office early to tame the email beast.

But on several recent mornings I’ve just taken a walk, something I’ve missed since moving to the new house and driving to work. Here’s a few pictures…

The old spiritualist society has turned into a boxing gym. I don’t know if boxing gyms are enjoying a worldwide spurt in popularity, or if it’s a local phenomenon… But you can’t swing a heavy bag around here without bumping into one.

Here’s a utility box painted by Paul X Walsh who I think is the best of the utility box muralists operating in Auckland today.

These cabbage trees are descended, supposedly, from the original cabbage tree which gave Newmarket its Maori name: Te Tī Tūtahi, meaning ‘Sacred Cabbage Tree Standing Alone’.

The sweetgum trees on this street were strangled by their previous metal frames. These new flexible porous mats should let them breathe a little better.

Garden art in Birkenhead.

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