Monday, April 6, 2020

A beach summary

We came. We beached, and beached some more. We thought it best to warm up on the beach activity before jumping into hard core beaching in New Zealand. So we visited my buddy Susi in Nanaimo and visited Neck Point Park. It's a nice walk and some lovely driftwood.

Then the long but wonderful flight to Auckland, clear customs, pass the bio check, change planes and on to Dunedin. There are beaches within city limits and we didn't get there last time! Why am I not living in a city with an ocean beach? Can't imagine how that happened. But we wanted to beach big time this vacation, and didn't waste any time.
-St Clair (These two are essentially one long beach, nice walking, not much driftwood. If you're looking for eye candy, this is the place; Dunedin is a university town.)
-St Kilda
-Ocean View (Lovely for walking, great cloud reflections, not much driftwood.) (Yes, I know you've seen this shot before, but I didn't think you'd mind. This is photo of the year so far.)

-Brighton (near Brighton, of course) (stunning driftwood, great walk)

-Long Beach (near Port Chalmers) (Lovely sand, some good driftwood.)
-Aramoana (doing the left side) (Lovely sand, some good driftwood, fantastic rock.) This lovely natural amphitheatre needed (NEEDED!) a model wearing a slinky cocktail dress leaning on a microphone stand.

We took a break going to the Orokonui ecosanctuary in the morning, then the beach.
-Aramoana (doing the right side.) Not as nice as the left side.
-Kuri Bush (Just north of Taieri, nice walk, fantastic trove of driftwood.)

-Taieri (yes, near the town of Taieri Mouth) (nice to walk, windy so nice sand dunes, some good driftwood.)

Drive to Invercargill, did Florence beach lookout again, but though the weather was nice, beach access was closed due to high tide.
-Oreti, (Long, long, long, nice to walk in places, some ok driftwood. You can drive on this beach, and people did. Cars and tire tracks are so disruptive for beach photography!)

-Corlac Bay (for the night shoot, strolled enough to know it was a coarse pebble beach.)

Over to Stewart Island and short strolls on a couple beaches. Essentially as far south as you can go in New Zealand without a lot of walking.

From Invercargill, going west.
-Cozy Nook

-Monkey Island

-Jemstone (I was loving the shafts of sunlight, but the camera didn't see it the way I did.)

-Corlac to see it in the daylight. Strolled each end a bit, but called it early. Not that nice.

From Invercargill, going east
-Omaui (nice walk, and a forest walk, but not much driftwood.)

-Waipapa Lighthouse, short stroll

Slope point lookout, but no beach stroll.
-Curio Bay (Fantastic walk, but essentially no driftwood.)

-Fortrose (Crappy walk, and while there was a lot of driftwood, not much of it was nice. The so-called sunken ship was a disappointment.)

Two big travel days. Drive Invercargill to Dunedin, fly to Christchurch, overnight, train to Picton, drive to Marahau, near the start of the Able Tasman Great Walk. No beach time.
-Marahau (South side of town, short, ok for walk, little driftwood.)
-Marahau (North side, near start of Able Tasman Great Walk, is good walk, lots of nice driftwood.)
-Porter (Actually on the Great Walk. Both Porter and Tinline are short, ok walk, a bit of driftwood, some interesting rock formation.)

-Tinline, showing the long tidal flat.

Up and over Takaka Hill to Golden Bay. (Hint, you really, really, want to pay attention during this drive.)
-Pohara (These three were long, lovely to walk, with some driftwood.)

-Patons Rock


(back again the next day to Farewell Spit, the very north most part of the South Island.)
-Whararika, (Dunes to die for, some nice landscapes, a bit of driftwood, nice walk.)

-Ocean (Bleak, flat, very windy, only one piece of boring driftwood in sight, yet I'd be willing to give it another chance. It's a long walk so I'd bring a bicycle if I had the chance.)

(Saw the Able Tasman beaches from water taxi, but didn't stroll, too crowded with kayaks.)

-Motueka spit on the ocean side. (Ok walk, gradually getting more gravelly. Lots of nice driftwood.)

Back over Takaka Hill again. Those that love beaches could do worse than find a place in Takaka or even Collingwood.
-Tata (stunning piece of driftwood at the end that kids play on. The nude sunbather a little further along was nervous about me and my camera. )

-Ligur (a bit of a disappointment.)

-Moteuka beach (inland side of the spit, mostly a bike path walk.)
-Kina beach (coarse gravel, Linda didn't walk, very little driftwood.)

Fly Nelson to Auckland.

West coast near Auckland
-Whatipu, (Long and really wide, lovely walk, a bit of driftwood but really spread out.)

-Cornwallis, (OK walk, but nothing special. A bit of driftwood, some interesting tree roots on display.)

Cormandel peninsula
-Hahei, (Lovely sand, no driftwood to speak of, very popular beach.)

-Cook's Bay, (Long and nice walk, not much driftwood.) The long one is actually Cook's beach.

-Hot Water (nice to walk, next most populated to the Dunedin beaches, one nice chunk.)

West coast again, these are amazing.
-Piha (fabulous walk, some nice driftwood. Lots of surfers.)

-Karekare (merges into Whatipu, but I don't think we got that far. Both together are about 9 or 10 Km long. Some spectacular driftwood and stand dunes combinations.)

-Muriwai (just awesome to walk, and walk and walk and walk. It's 60 Km long. There is an amazing treasure trove of driftwood. Oh, and surfing.) This is from the south end near the gannet colony.

You might think you could visit the west coast beaches 1, 2, 3, 4, but you would be very wrong. The roads to each spread out like fingers, and you essentially have to drive back to the outskirts of Auckland to get from one to the other. Well, Piha and Karekare are close together, but you can't take a tall camper down the road to Karekare.

Which would I visit again? The west coast beaches had it all. If I had a daring model, Aramoana. Golden bay was right up there as well.

Looks like 44 beach visits, counting separate visits to different parts of the same beach separately. Bookmark and come back when winter is getting you down.

Scroll back up to Tata or Waipapa for the Driftwood of the Day. You know you want to.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Day 15, Freedom! Sort of

It was our first day after our travel self-isolation was over. So what did we do on the big day?

The getting up, feeding cats, making coffee, having breakfast all happened like normal, if perhaps with a bit more purpose than lately. The showering and pants happened a little sooner than usual.

The it was out! Yes, out, in a cautious but legitimate way. Fresh bread from Cobs, observing the social distance. Depositing a cheque at the bank, disturbing a guy sleeping in the lobby. The Calgary Farmer's Market for fruit and other produce, and some treats. Co-op gas (cheap!) and some other odds and ends. Linda hit another market for some pies from South Island; not quite as good as Fat Bastard, but infinitely better than Simple Simon.

Home, unpack. Lunch. On line version of Cards Against Humanity with friends, which is fun, and better than last time's semi-drunk navigating around the table to deal with the cards, drinks, and snacks as required.

Later tonight will be more Big Bang Theory. We are part way through season 4. Season 5 will be acquired tomorrow.

Most of the key wording is done,  but there are always some that I missed or have picked up the incorrect keywords. In other photo related news, the camera table downstairs is much more organized than it was, but there's a little more work in progress.

It will be no surprise to you that the cats are NOT observing the social distance thing.

The serendipity shot has been blogged before, but I didn't think you guys would mind.

Linda showing her commitment to the social distance thing by texting up a storm with a buddy. Yes, she's awake.

A pretty shot just because. I'm hoping this sort of view goes away really soon.

To balance it, two friends walking through a forest.

In other isolation news. My regular desk is still a mess. Aside from a start on the camera table, essentially none of the clutter was dealt with. Don't ask about the rest of downstairs. I did not settle into a deep dive into The Starless Sea. Maybe tomorrow. The same answer applies for getting on the bike spin trainer. If the weather was a bit nicer I'd seriously consider digging out my run gear and starting that again. Yes, seriously consider. Seriously serious. Swimming is right off the table for the indefinite future, and by then I'll probably have forgotten how again. Unless, that is, I build a handyman special endless pool in the basement. A few 2x4's, some poly sheeting, an outboard boat motor, some duct tape to hold it all together, what could go wrong?

Driftwood of the Day

Friday, April 3, 2020

March Image of the Month

Oh boy. Here we go into major dither territory. Let's just say it was a good month for photography and leave it there. I'd hoped to complete my edits before choosing image of the month, but, well, golly. I don't think I missed a potential image of the month.

Only 45 minutes into the new month I was pretty sure I'd captured image of the month, and a strong contender for image of the year. That was a shot of the galaxy over Invercargill with a bit of aurora. Some of you may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram. And then another dozen contenders came along to make life difficult. Such is a photographer's life. It's a good problem to have I suppose. Decisions, decisions.

Second Runner up
Linda was working hard to repeat her Image of the Month success. Here I've caught her looking out over the world near Cook's Bay.

First Runner up
I've been working on what makes a good photo since even before becoming a photographer. Normally something has to be the centre of interest. The leading lines should lead to something. Here there is nothing, and yet, everything. I lose myself in this photo.

Image of the Month
Rarity kicks up the rating here. I have other galaxy shots, even some from my last NZ trip. I have some spectacular aurora shots from Yukon, but I will probably never get another photo of the Aurora Australias.

Driftwood of the Month
Normally I don't do a Driftwood of the Day on the Image of the Month blog, but I couldn't help myself. This was itself a contender for image of the month.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Too soon to talk paradigm change?

Momentous events have a way of changing the world, whether humans want it to change or not. There's a saying, "Science progress happens one funeral at a time." and it's true in other human endeavours.

Big surprise, the wealthy and powerful like the world they have created for themselves. Consider this in reference to Mayer Rothschild; "He never paid his employees a farthing more than was necessary for their bare subsistence, or at least not a farthing more than they could compel him to pay." George Armstrong, "The Rothschild Money Trust", 1940, pg. 26" That is the essence of labour negotiating, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

I like that quote better than the alleged; "Let us control the money of a country and we care not who makes its laws."

Sickness, pandemics, epidemics, and their ilk don't care about the status quo of a person, a nation, or the world. They don't care how rich you are, though they find it easier to prey on the poor. The viruses and illnesses just do their thing. Mother Nature at work. Things change during and afterward.

The Black Death essentially led to the end of Feudalism. Spanish Flu created the desire for Public Health programs to prevent a re-occurance. What will the fallout from COVID-19 look like? Is it too early to start thinking about that?

Pollution has started to clear. People in Indian cities are seeing blue skies again. Demand for gasoline is dropping like a rock, and the price is reflecting that. Fish are being seen in Venetian canals. That's all to the good, if you value a clean world, but I don't think anyone would say quarantining millions, possibly billions of people in their homes is the optimal way of going about it.

There's been discussion of a basic income, and the main argument against it is that it is considered a disincentive to working. Well, given the number of people who are breaking quarantine to go to work, I don't think that's the problem it's made out to be. People want to be doing something. Preferably something useful. Look at all the people that volunteer their services for various causes. How many more of them could happen if people didn't need to worry so much about making rent and grocery money? If they didn't have to worry about living in a cardboard box under a bridge in their old age if they don't save enough? What if there were enough volunteers would could do it because they got a basic income, because they loved doing it, that it would disrupt a predatory business trying to get rich by forcing the poor to work for them?

The billionaires will protest, of course. If people had some choice, some fundamental economic backstop, they wouldn't be forced into low paying dead end jobs. They might not have to prostitute themselves. They wouldn't have to put up with abusive employers.

Why is it that the rich protested so much about a $15/hr minimum wage? For many CEO's, there isn't a unit of time fast enough to express how little time it takes them to make $15. That $15/hr minimum wage affects all employers equally, so nobody gets a competitive advantage, or more to the point, a disadvantage. They can raise their prices a bit, and the consumers won't really notice. They go to the places that serve the food they want to eat, not the cheapest places.

There is much angst in the right wing commentariat about the oppressive hand of regulation and how cutting red tape frees up the economy. Yes, frees up the race to the bottom. This has been demonstrated many times. Some demonstrated winners so far were the Chinese companies putting poison in powdered milk and toy paint. For an example closer to home, look at the meat packing industry of a century ago. It's like the rich and powerful want to go back to that, because they can afford meat that's properly processed.

After the Depression there was a New Deal, one that was fairer to ordinary people. The result was an enlarged middle class and increased social mobility. The wealthy have spent the lifetime since trying to roll back those changes. The result? The upperest fraction of the upper 1% have most of the pie, and it isn't enough for them. They want it all. If the game goes on long enough we'll end up with one person or family that owns the world, and the next wealthiest have some crumbs, and everybody else has nothing. Something has to change.

What does a New Deal for 2020 look like? I'm not too sure of the details, but I think the key is that it has to work for everyone. I mean everyone, including those that get overlooked now. I'm mainly thinking of disabled people, the homeless, those nursing chronic conditions including substance abuse, First Nations people, the injured, immigrants, refugees. There's more to it than just the economy measuring how much wealth has been funnelled to the already rich through stock market manipulation. When they bleat in protest, remember that equality, to them, looks like discrimination.

Is a Canadian CEO really worth more than 200 times an average worker, and many more times for a minimum wage worker? Consider than on January 2, the top CEOs have already earned what an average worker makes in a year. Who is more important, that cleaner in a grocery store, or a fat cat in his office?

Think about how badly some of those CEO perform, and you wonder why they get paid so well. It's a become more than a bit of a circle jerk, boards paying CEOs more to attract 'better' ones, and board members wanting to become those CEOs, or CEOs retiring to a board to push the circle around to a younger buddy who has blown them, I mean kissed their ass, I mean sucked up. You get the idea. If you are "one of us" this gravy train is your expectation. Went looking for a video clip of Yes Prime Minister explaining the 'one of us' concept and got sidetracked.

As a quick political hit, is there anyone that thinks Premier Kenney is doing a good job? He just laid off 20,000 education workers to save $120 million dollars, and funnelled Billions to an American corporation. The right wing at work.

1. I sometimes think this is the view they bring to the world. A sculpture near a scenic lookout in Port Chalmers.

2. A reflection from Nanaimo. The bottom of that puddle was gross, but really, all you can see is the lovely trees. Another metaphor for our society? Hmmm.

3. A micro-landscape for you, but I suspect the rocks aren't going to grow. The moss might.

4. A rock and sand pattern.

Driftwood of the Day

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day something

I suppose I could look at our calendar to find out which day of isolation it is. But I don't really care which day it is. Life goes on. Photo editing. Reading. Working on novels. Watching Big Bang Theory in the evenings lately, except last night was a video chat with the community association executive.  Overall it's generally been pretty much like my regular retired life. Not bored yet. Nobody here that I know of is wishing for a retroactive option B. Well, maybe the cats.

The couple cm of snow yesterday and last night was a bit of a downer. That's one of the reasons we went away, hoping to avoid the whole darn thing. But then, I guess if you totally want to avoid snow in Calgary, you'd have to live somewhere else. New Zealand is nice this time of year.

The following the news thing has been getting a bit out of hand. We all knew the numbers of infected people would explode, and it has done so. All too soon, the number of people dying will explode too. The headlines are filling up with the deaths of known people, as if they are more important than all the other people who are dying of COVID-19, and all the other causes of death that are not taking a vacation.

Which brings to mind the TV series, Dead Like Me. If you don't know it, a small but plucky group of reapers try to take the souls of people about to die. It turns out they are the unusual deaths division, and are pretty busy, given that human stupidity never rests. They get told who to reap via a sticky note with initial and last name, place, and time. In one episode while awaiting their scheduled death, they are watching a group of old guys playing Bocce Ball and looking bored. The leader the of the reaper groups says, "plague division, I hope they never get busy, because we get even busier." Or something like that. It's been a while since I watched it. You know of some of the people in it, like "My name is Inigo Montoya...", Dr Fraiser and Sgt Walter  from Stargate, and Dr Will from Sanctuary. IMDB is my friend.

And groceries just arrived! Yay our neighbour Jeff!

The editing goes apace, though I can only go so long. I found yesterday I'd made a mistake and it got applied to a bunch of photos. Going back and fixing it was just as difficult as doing it, provided it's done very carefully. I'm just starting to work on March 13 (cave day) and have 5 more days after that.  That's 442 photos to look at. Maybe I'll go wild with some of the cave photos, and set the editing sliders into new and unknown positions, just to see what happens.

As a further informational thing, the photos not blogged in 3 months folder now has 971 photos in it. So having a choice of photos for the blog is not a problem. Deciding which, and why, is a different problem.

1. Taieri Mouth beach. I didn't have to wait for people to clear out of my shot. I like having an island to break up the horizon line. This is the first one where the sand dunes got interesting, and started trying to include them in the driftwood shots. Editing sand is trickier than it sounds.

2. And another for you. Brighton Beach.

3. You tell me, rock or driftwood?

4. Sea lion butt. Susi has already seen it.

5. This is why I want a model to roam beaches with. Without her the shot is so boring I probably wouldn't have taken it. But she was the only other person on the beach beside me and Linda, and watched carefully as she wandered along. When she started scrambling along the rocks I held my breath. I couldn't have asked her to pose more nicely, and yet we didn't even wave at one another in passing. Thank you anonymous lady!

6. I finished this the other day. If you like honest British mysteries with a bit of a twisted sense of humour, you'll like this. You know those movies where the actors are making it clear they know they are in a movie and enjoying themselves? Yeah, that's what this book is.

Driftwood of the Day
The rusty metal found in some old wood can be interesting.

Some other posts you might enjoy.

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