Doing your civic doody

The dog park on a Monday morning.

I am both vaguely disgusted by the giant pile of dog shit and also kinda pleased with my fellow residents for at least using the can.

A walk in the park

Ok, actually two walks…

Above… We had to drive across town to pick up a table we’d bought online. The Te Atatu peninsula is gentrifying now, but used to be a relatively tough part of town (by Auckland standards anyway). But they have a beautiful shoreline park so we got our daily steps in with a nice walk. That’s Lee almost hidden behind a truly gargantuan tree stump.

And then on a different day I turned right instead of left at the bottom of my own street and found a whole new trail.

All these beautiful city parks aren’t exactly the kind of attraction that make you want to fly halfway around the world to visit, but they do make it nice to live here.

Road Construction Ahead

That pavement doesn’t look so bad, but I guess if you have all those heavy sugar trucks going up and down a steep hill, you want perfection.

So on two recent nights an assortment of apocalyptic machines with lights and smoke and noises ground up the old asphalt and put down new. I was super impressed at how quickly and efficiently the whole process seemed to go.

And then the machines themselves got loaded onto trucks and moved in to their next assignment. This one was shedding lumps of asphalt mix as it trundled up the road. A disgusted bus driver, who had to wait for the loading process anyway, got out and kicked the lumps off the road, waving his arms, muttering, shaking his head. Bus drivers, as their union reps will eagerly explain, have to put up with a lot.

Waitomokia / Gabriel Hill

Out near the airport, this volcano’s three cones were quarried away to make roads, etc. Now it’s mostly covered in vineyard owned by Villa Maria winery, one of the first big NZ wine houses.


Yesterday, Friday, was a day like most others… except full of a vague dread.

I started the day expecting a difficult conversation with my bosses. However, after looking at my slides overnight, they decided they wanted to wait until next week.

When I opened the news, I learned about an earthquake off the coast which had happened overnight. We didn’t feel it here, but it left us with tsunami warnings. Then another quake, and another, and more coastal warnings, and people having picnics on high ground. Thankfully, the earthquakes stayed mostly out at sea, and there was no human damage to speak of. My evening swim was canceled.

And with all this waiting, 4:00 PM was looming … The moment when the government was to announce either an extension or an end to our weeklong Covid lockdown. As things transpired, there were no new cases in the community, and so the lockdown will end as originally hoped on Sunday morning.

So, another day, none of the bad things actually happened. Nonetheless, I found myself completely knackered come evening time.

Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill

One more volcano.

This time I didn’t actually climb to the top, which is sort of cheating except I make the rules.

Last Saturday the band played in Cornwall Park which surrounds the volcano. I figure that counts as a visit.

Lockdown again

We’ve had more new cases of COVID, so back to lockdown for a week. Obviously I’m not looking for sympathy… it’s still remarkable to mostly not worry about the virus.

No, for me lockdown means no commute, which means morning walks. Here’s some municipal cast iron…

And here’s a sculpture in the Chelsea Reserve just down from the house. The land was sold to the City in 2008 by the sugar mill which still operates. Those jaws were on a crane that dug the raw sugar out of ships holds from 1943 to 2005… not great art out of context I’d say, but pretty cool if you know the story.

New phone!

My iPhone 7+ lasted almost 4 years of pretty heavy use. But it’s been having a hard time holding a charge, and it wasn’t hard for me to convince myself that $2,000 for a new phone is the same as $200 for a new battery. Maths is hard.

As usual, the camera improvements are the most obvious change in the new iPhone 12 Pro. Above is “realtor mode”, a wide angle that really enhances our long narrow living room. Below is a zoomed in closeup, definitely better resolution than before.

Bike to work

Last week I finally managed to take the bike-ferry-bike route to work. There was a citywide challenge for cycling, and I got a ride in just before the deadline, so yay! for me.

I joined half a dozen other riders , with our mandatory masks, on the rear deck of the ferry. The morning crossing was lovely as expected.

In the afternoon we made a stop at the newly reopened Northcote terminal, which added a good 10 minutes to the trip.

Pleasant trip, but certainly the longest and most complicated way to go… sadly not something I’ll be doing often.

Grafton Volcano

Here’s Outhwaite Park, which sits on one edge of the Grafton Volcano. You wouldn’t even know it was a volcano, it’s mostly covered in roads and buildings except for this little park. It’s just across the street from the Auckland Domain volcano, and apparently their lava flows overlap (thank you core samples).

There are only a few more I can walk to from work…

Leroys Bush

… is the name of a nearby park we finally went walking in this afternoon.

It’s mostly made up of undeveloped land straddling some small creeks. There are nice boardwalk trails throughout the park because they don’t want people exploring the wild parts. Besides erosion and whatever hazards come from steep hills, the main worry is Kauri Dieback disease, which is steadily killing the 1-2% of native Kauri trees that weren’t logged or built over. Here’s a medium size one… the giants get really big.

As we got down to the coast, things opened up into marshland, and there was even a pool with eels.

I love these forest oases, have done since I first got here.

Winter is coming, but I’m ready

Just this past week I noticed that I have to turn on the headlights for the early side of my morning commute. And at New Years this glorious sunrise would have happened long before I joined my fellow swimmers at the beach.

Winter here is mild: it never freezes (except for car windshields get frost on them sometimes… why is that?). But ocean swimming gets really cold in winter. At the worst, it’s low 40s on land and low 50s in the water.

But I’m ready. Lee made me this poncho out of a couple of oversized beach towels. It will be perfect both to keep me warm and also more modestly change clothes in the parking lot. Win win!

Fishes would be great, but even some loaves would be ok

This was the bread aisle after 2 days of COVID lockdown last week. Actually there was some gluten-free nonsense available just outside the frame, but like everybody else I don’t count that as bread.

Apparently we dodged the contagious bullet, and the restrictions were relaxed after 3 days. Bread supplies yesterday were almost back to normal.


After months of guilty self-righteousness occasionally interrupting an otherwise idyllic summer, we enter a 3-day lockdown at midnight tonight.

An airport worker (and family) have tested positive forCOVID-19 disease. I hope they will be fine.

Although this setback sucks, I find myself grateful for all the precautions that person took up to now, and ditto for all the thousands of at-risk workers who gave us these past few months of freedom. Now it’s one day at a time like everywhere else.

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