MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 7 – Bush walk

A looong day today…a busy day with the ambulance followed by a night at Schnapps, getting into a new role…

…I’ve had to dive into the archives again and still will barely post with time to spare before it’s time to start thinking about tomorrow’s challenge…

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The Ridge Walk, Whakapapa Village

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Tupapakurua Falls, National Park Village

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 6 – Nature indoors

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Nature Indoors

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Nature wants indoors

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

Delivery | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.

Source: Delivery | The Daily Post

 

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In 2011, before meeting up with Josh Wineera for the Irregular Warfare Summit in DC, I was working with the USAF’s Building Partnerships Team (nee Centre for Irregular Warfare) at Nellis AFB. That’s where I met John Mangan and how I got my fingerprints on this, his first novel.

Living rurally, we doing a lot of shopping online. We’ll support locally as best we can but often, greater selection and better cost win out. Online tracking means that we usually have a fair idea when a delivery is due to hit the main box so surprises are rare but nice.

Such was the case when I found this brown USPS envelope in the mailbox…rather heavy and suspiciously anonymous…I had forgotten that John had said he would send an advance copy down-under…

John asked for a hand with the Kiwi characters in his story – they appear late in the story but play key roles. Over the next six years, John and I played a game of cultural 20 Questions, the answers to which may provide background for his next novel(s). My part in the production was minor albeit over a period of years and unlikely to colour my thoughts one way or another (if anything, I am probably more likely to hold it to a higher standard because I have been involved in its development).

Bottom line up front: I liked Into a Dark Frontier. It’s a good contemporary tale; the characters are credible and well-developed and the story flows smoothly between chapters: it’s a good read in its own right. Set in an Africa not too long from now, the environment feels gritty, dirty and real.

At just over 300 pages, it is relatively short…a big plus. For me one of the marks of a good writer is that they can tell their story efficiently and economically without pages of back-story or monologue. I did think the beginning a little brief until I realised that it imparted all the reader needed to know about the main protagonist’s background.

I enjoy Tom Clancy, Larry Bond et al and their takes on technology-dependent modern warfare but the overly-repetitive descriptions of the inner workings of each and every weapon system wear me down after a while. How radios work, weapons shoot, and vehicles drive: we understand enough about these things to not need detailed descriptions. Also in the back of my mind is the thought that the military techno-thriller, as a take on reality, probably died with the myth of DESERT STORM, certainly it was dead in the water by 911.

The protagonists (bad guys) here are neither Third Shock or Eight Guards Army, nor some variation on the theme of revenge-focused, Death to America, Islamic jihadist. John had mentioned to me wanting a really evil villain for his next novel. The evil in his first novel will take some beating: the worst of the 1990s: Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia mixed in with the randomness of Michael Myers…you probably get the picture.

The Kiwi characters don’t appear til late in the book. They play key roles in resolving the plot line and offer tremendous scope for both pre- and se-quels. Not just a novelty, their presence reflects the level that Kiwis are engaged in the international private security sector. As late arrivals, not a lot of space is committed to their back story and that’s not necessarily a bad thing (see above above concise writing). It does mean though that the character development that might shape a reader’s perception of their language hasn’t occurred.

There been some discussion about whether they actually sound like Kiwis or not. For most of the world the question is probably moot as most Kiwis speak so fast that no one can understand them anyway, even before any matters of Kiwi jargon, slang or incorporated Te Reo Maori come into play. It’s a challenge in spoken speech – which is why Ben Kingsley’s Mazer Rackham, an apparent Maori, sounds South African – and even more difficult with the written word. Personally, I rely on my take on the character from their description and actions to date to imagine how they speak. Within the limitations imposed by their late entry into the story, John has done a pretty good job introducing them into his ‘verse…they will rock in the ‘quels…

Was there anything I didn’t like? Yup. There is a long anti-globalism rant near the end of the book. It’s disproportionately long compared to other dialogues throughout the book and unfortunately detracts from the story. It feels a little like a shaggy dog story where this is the punchline. This message could have been delivered more effectively, woven through the story as the plot developed.

The mark of a great read for me is wanting more when I get to the end. John has certainly delivered that and had better not take another ten years to produce his next work. With only a few pages to go, I couldn’t see how he could resolve the plot line. He did and very effectively…

Recommended as a refreshing change from jihad and an insight into what might be in only a few years…

Into a Dark Frontier

by John Mangan

Published by Oceanview Publishing, 2017

ISBN 978-1-60809-261-1

On Goodreads

At Amazon

 

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 5 – Small treasures

P71005-153221Small treasures that live in a cabinet by the front door…survivors from childhood Christmas stockings and souvenirs of trips overseas…tangible value low…sentimental value immense…

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The unpainted wall is where the old pre-spiral stairway was…some day that will be pushed out level with the rest of the north face of the Lodge…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 4 – Water

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[curses…forgot to schedule this one for last night]

Water was today’s theme in the MHAW Photo Challenge – the one day it hasn’t rained and that I haven’t had to go off the property in ages…once it was dark, I had to cast back into the archives for something suitable…I think I had the same issue for ‘water’ in last year’s challenge…

Anyways…nice and simple today…this is the stream that forms our eastern boundary along the edge of the Raurimu Spiral Scenic Reserve…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

Star Trek – Discovery

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In addition to Tight-As Ribs night, Tuesday night at Schnapps Bar in National Park Village, it is also Quiz night – so long as the crowd looks ‘quizzable’…it’s a challenging combination as patrons smear rib sauce over their answer sheets and struggle for a decent grip on their pens…

I wasn’t quizzing last night – in fact, the questions looked way too hard for this former member of the triumphant 2003 Trentham Tote Quiz War team – as I was a bit pushed for time…busy busy busy…an intended quick shop after my ambulance shift turned into a very productive chat with a local Council member…and had plans for the evening at home…

I was probably 6 for 1 in the Name this Event round as I mowed into my caramel sundae (watch this space for a future item on the perfect commercial sundae) and Round Two started up. I think the theme was Who Am I? and the clue started off “I am a TV series that premiered in 1967 and only screened for three seasons but spawned three TV movies” + some other stuff that I can’t remember. I think the actual answer was Gunsmoke but my first thought was – naturally – Star Trek

That random question reminded me that the latest in the long line of Star Trek spin-offs of TV series (6), fan series (2), and movies (13) had been hyped on Netflix for the previous month or so….so much for plans for Tuesday night…

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So, three episodes in [NO SPOILERS}, what does Discovery look like..?

Very flash graphics. Possibly a little too over the top and for their own sake; a distraction from the story.

Alien subtitles. Suck. Total distraction from the very flash graphics and vice versa: the viewer must choose between following alien conversations OR watching what’s happening on the screen, Very annoying. The subtitles add no value. Whatsoever.

Pretentious and bloated. The pilot (episodes 1 and 2) is not much more than the worst angsty bits of the Abramoverse all mixed in together. You could skip the first episodes and dive straight in at Episode 3 without missing too much. Everything prior is covered by statement or implication in Episode 3.

In the ‘verse. Discovery seems to be set around the same time as the Abramoverse Star Trek, or maybe between this and Enterprise (there are some unsubtle references to Spock). The ships seems more angular that those of Kirk’s era and the alien ship designers seem to follow the spiky bumpy school of alien spacecraft design.

Peacenik philosophy. Federation thinking seems to be of the same ‘we come in peace’ as the Abramoverse or the early period of The New Generation. None of Kirk the Original’s “we come in peace – shoot to kill” philosophy here.

In fairness, Star Trek series, on large and small screens, traditionally start from a  weak position. The pilot for The Original Series had to be reworked; the first series of The Next Generation were quite boring and uninspired; Enterprise, well, I only last about two episodes on my first go-round; Voyager picked up with Seven of Nine (there is much to be said for lycra uniforms in certain circumstances) and the stronger Borg story arc; and, despite my best efforts, Deep Space Nine remains on the whatever list…

Apparently, 15 episodes of Discovery have been filmed to date and will be weekly drip feed on Netflix. It has potential but we will have to wait to if this is realised or not. Binning the subtitles will be a tremendous step forward but it remains to be seen if the story will mature or remain a trite collection of what has gone before…

In meantime it can’t hurt to remember the spirit of Star Trek as it was…

Better than the beach…

As we near the end of the 2017 snow season, I took the opportunity for one last run on the free bus that has run from National Park Village to Whakapapa skifield this season.

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Signage is still non-existent: even with the special restrictions on signage in the Village, this is a little too minimalist. There was no indication where to go from SH4, and no sign that this was the right place to be for the bus – nice coffee and cake inside while waiting for the bus though…

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The car park still needs work. Even for a transport ‘experiment’, this is pretty rough – at least it’s not still covered in ice.

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The bus was a nice new 22-seater with rear bins for skis, poles and boards which otherwise might become hazardous inside – people have to be encouraged to use them though, otherwise it defeats the purpose.

It’s about a 20 minute drive from National Park Village up to the ski field – sit on the right side of the bus for great views of Ruapehu. One of the best things about catching the bus is that it drops you right at the top of the road and you don’t have to worry a. about navigating up from the car parks, b. getting skittled while navigating up from the car parks, or c. finding the car parks have filled and the road has been closed after you’ve departed National Park Village in the car.

Get the bus!should have been the RAL mantra this season. I’m not sold on the idea of the free (with caveats) bus although I’m most happy to use it while it’s there. It’s not clear what RAL was trying to achieve with this experiment when there is already an existing solid transport infrastructure  on the western side of the Mountain. If the problem it sought to address was inexperienced drivers on the approach roads, then reducing the number of car parks at the Top of the Bruce and allowing the existing transport operators to carry the load (literally) would have mitigated this hazard, especially if coupled with an effective information campaign.

Enough with the logistics though…a glorious bluebird day…and not too busy on a Friday, although everybody was bracing for a big weekend…!

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Lorenz cafe and Vertical Retail front, ticket sales and lost and found (more on this later!) on the right. getting a ticket was fast and painless – the big screens over each counter display most of the information you need…

The first lift up to Knoll Ridge cafe goes from the left of the shop/cafe building…an easy walk in the snow…regardless of the day, though, be warm for the lift…

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Looking back at the top of the first (Rangatira) lift…

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…and walking towards the Waterfall Express lift for the final leg up to Knoll Ridge…

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There’s a short slope from the top of the Waterfall Express down to Knoll Ridge cafe…this needs a little care if it’s icy and also being aware of skiers and boarders around you in various states of control…

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Coffee!! Yes!! And, contrary to much of the social media cry-babying, prices are reasonable…in fact, no much different from those at the Station cafe while I was waiting for the bus…

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Just plant a chair in the snow and enjoy the view north…

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…and over my right shoulder…I think I dropped my lift pass when I paid for my coffee – you don’t need one to get back down but you do need one for the bus home to stay free – no drama, the young lady at the counter just smiled and handed me another: I am probably neither the first nor the last…

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Starting back down on the Waterfall Express – an image cleverly cropped to eliminate the fingers that filled most of the frame: I may have been a little worried about dropping my phone…I could happily have stayed another hour but I had a mission to complete before heading home…

A fried had been skiing with a mate a few days earlier…”post-ski beers” had prevented her mate clearing his gear from his locker in Happy Valley…could I please see if I could recover it for him? Armed only with my wits and what might have been the locker number (it wasn’t), I set off…

Happy Valley is the big success story from the Whakapapa 2017 snow season. The beneficiary of a multi-million dollar investment, it was able to open a month earlier than the tradition first week of July (and that usually with crappy rock-studded snow). The enabler for this early opening was a new-tech snow-maker that’s able to operate effectively in temperatures up to 24 degrees C. Thus not only was snow guaranteed for Queen’s Birthday Weekend, it was guaranteed to be rock-free…

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Looking down into Happy Valley from the plaza area in front of Lorenz’ and Vertical…the new elevators on the left and a far sharper means of ingress and egress; rentals at the base on the left and the revitalised Bistro cafe on the right; in the left distance is one of the new magic carpets to bring punters back up to the top of the Valley, on the right is the old chair lift that will hopefully disappear over summer.

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The top ends of two of the carpets…very smooth, very slick…

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…looking back up the elevator tower…

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…and the outside dining area in front of the Bistro…

So…my mission…onwards…actually it was pretty simple. I explained my challenge to the nice staff at the rentals counter in Happy Valley – again, not the first time they’ve managed this issue – once they were satisfied with my bona fides, senior staff member bypassed the locking mechanism to open what we had determined was the actually locker in question. I was soon in possession (thankfully temporary) of a Hunting and Fishing top, and some stinky sox and runners…

Getting the bus back to National Park is a little more complex than getting to Whakapapa…there aren’t any more signs but the staff are really helpful and make sure everyone knows which bus to aim for…

The Transit bus back to National Park was packed, not even standing room only. With the weight of skis, boards, boots, etc on a busy day, I wonder how close they get to overloaded..? I also wasn’t too fussed about the number of people carrying their ski/boarding gear on the bus with them: untidy in the event of an accident…

Strangely after all the hype about needing a valid pass for the day for the return bus to be free, there were no checks at the ski field or the transit stop in Whakapapa Village. I’d heard that this was the case with some drivers and I wonder why a ticket check is a. hard and b. how much this added to the total loss generated by this season’s ‘free’ transport experiment…?

As days go, my day on the mountain was great…blue skies, no wind, good coffee and awesome views… #betterthanthebeach

(…in fact, so much better than the beach, I’m seriously considering a an early season ticket for 2018…at the current early bird price, it would pay for itself just coffeeing @ Knoll Ridge…)

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Winter Office 2018..?

 

 

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 3 – Light

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Last light

Snapped after dinner outside Schnapps…almost forgot…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 2 – Gratitude

I’m not sure if the doggie theme will last throughout the MHAW Challenge but it survived to Day 2 – Gratitude

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Aaaah…a chance to rest without that little cannonball…

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At last…just me and MY bone without that Monster giving me crazy eyes…

The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

#MHAWNZ

Bosch – Season 2

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After being impressed by Season 1, I was looking forward to Season 2 of Bosch when Mighty Ape hammered $30 off the shelf price…I was underwhelmed…

A dead body found in the trunk of a car on Mulholland Drive appears to have mob connections and leads LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch down a dangerous trail of corruption and collusion that stretches to Las Vegas and back. As the case becomes more complex and personal, and Bosch’s search for the truth more relentless, the dark side of the police department is brought to light.

That is a description of Michael Connelly’s Bosch novel Trunk Music. I’ve read Truck Music a number of times: it is a fast-paced story with plenty of plot twists and turns and the novel in which Eleanor Wish re-enters Bosch’s life. It doesn’t need any additional sub-plots to beef up the story and it certainly doesn’t need to marginalise The Last Coyote by adding that plot line to the last few episodes of the Season 2 story. Coyote is one of the best Bosch novels and deserving of its own season – it resolves a number of Bosch issues and sets the scene for the next few novels.

I really like the idea of adapting a  novel to a ten (or so) episode TV series and appreciate that there will always be some literary license applied. I don’t mind that the Bosch-verse has been updated to the current day or that he’s no longer a Vietnam veteran. I do mind when a great story is marginalised for no apparent reason; it’s certainly no improvement on Michael Connelly’s original (although I noted that he is listed on the series production team).

Recommend Bosch Season 1? Absolutely!

Season 2? Meh…maybe if you haven’t read the books or once it turns up on Netflix…