Sunday, 24 February 2013

R2 D2

When we went to visit our Grandparents out in BC, our Uncle also came to visit them. When he came he brought the Lego R2 D2 for us to build together, so here are some pictures while we go along.
 This is when we are starting to set up, on the left you can see I am holding the THREE instruction books! This set has 2127 pieces. It has several moving parts including a retractable third leg, and a buzz saw. 
Here is us starting on the first few steps, in the first part it does is his body.
 This is at the end of the first booklet, in that we only do the body.
 on the left we have finished the retractable leg, and on the right we finished book 2 which was just the legs.
Here is a picture from when we are all finished.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Haka

During our post-conference hike, we spent two days in Paradise, where some of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. The scenery in the area is truly astounding, but more on that later. The cool thing that happens at U Otago's Physical Education program is that, prior to the start of 2nd year, students are taken on an outdoor experience in Paradise. There, they learn outdoor skills including firelighting, river crossing, tramping (hiking in Kiwi-speak), and teamwork. The other important thing they learn, apart from being comfortable in nature, is Maori history, worldview, approach to health and wellness, etc. It's really quite neat. At the end of each session of camp, the students perform a Maori haka, or song and dance.
Many of us know the Haka from the rugby All-Blacks, but that is just one of many songs, and both men and women can be part of it. As you can see here, the guys REALLY got into it, and it's very powerful to see it in action. Of course, if this was an angry 120 kg All-Black doing this, I'd be off to another continent (and incontinent!) in no time!

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Remarkables

So it has been fabulous here in New Zealand with the ICEE. It really is like a family reunion for me. All the usual suspects are here: Igor (my M.Sc. advisor), Nigel, Mike, Mark, Hein, etc. We had the Exec Committee meeting Thursday over lunch and I got stuck with another 2 years of chairing the unruly mob. Not bad though as a gig. I just finished giving the closing speech and banging the gavel to end the conference. We're heading to a pre-season Rugby match between the Otago Highlanders and the Auckland Blues this evening, and then heading up to our big 4 day hike up through Paradise, which ironically was Isengard in the Lord of the Ring series of movies.
 The "Remarkables" mountain range on the left, an amazing view right from Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. On the right are the Crown Ranges of mountains near Lake Wanaka.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Revenge of the Hotten-tot!

Revenge is a dish best served cold according to the old saying. But in my case, revenge is a pizza pie served flaming hot! This story started WAAAY back in 2005, at the end of my sabbatical trip with Jim Cotter. His Ph.D. student, Shawnda Morrison, who I co-supervised for both her M.Sc. and Ph.D., and I went on a trip out to the amazing Milford Sound. After a huge day of hiking, we were all insanely hungry. After getting to the campsite very late in the dark, we started making pasta. Little did I know that they only had "Sweet Thai Chili" tuna sauce. Not only that, they tossed the entire dish of napalm together instead of keeping things separate. Those of you who know my history with spicy foods can predict the result, with me pretty much putting out the campfire with the sweat geyser from my face...

So anyway, Friday in Dunnos, Shawnda, Geoff, and I went to Poppa's Pizza for a terrific lunch. Terrific for me because I picked the Veggie pizza with no capsicum. Even more terrific because Shawnda went for the Hotten-tot pizza (capsicum, jalapenos, peppercorn, chili sauce, and pepperoni) pizza. Her turn to recreate the Milford Sound Geyser!

Down Under in Dunedin!

The next phase of the continuing family adventures has me down under in New Zealand with my student Geoff Hartley for the 15th International Conference on Environmental Ergonomics (ICEE) in Queenstown Feb 10-15. ICEE is my "home" conference where many of the scientists I grew up with from graduate days reside, so it really is a family reunion. It's also interesting my life evolving, from being a first-year Ph.D. student in 1994 presenting my M.Sc. project at my first-ever conference, to now being one of the senior members of the field and society.

Above is the railway station in Dunedin (New Edinburgh from the major Scottish settlement to begin the city). This is where the Taeri Gorge Railway journey begins. I took it in 2005 and it's pretty stunning.

We started with a satellite conference in Dunedin at the University of Otago, where I stayed for Feb-March 2005 with Jim Cotter during my first sabbatical. It was a fun few days of deja vu, and also far warmer than I ever recalled Dunnos being! Interesting things so far:
  • Seeing Sebastian Racinais, a French working in Qatar, wolfing down a massive plate of bacon every morning (recall that Qatar is a Muslim country, and there's only turkey bacon and beef bacon there!
  • Watching Mike Tipton from the UK try to run a tutorial workshop on cold water immersion with no prep time and none of the equipment cooperating - just like a real experiment!
  • The irony of a busload of thermophysiologists getting absolutely boiled and baked on a long bus ride from Dunedin to Queenstown under a blazing hot sun.
The main admin building at U Otago, the first uni in New Zealand in 1868

Sunday, 3 February 2013

We're all soaking wet!

Yesterday we went to Hollyburn, and went snowshoing with dads friends Paul (who was dads professor at UBC) and Victoria. It took about 2.5 hours to get to the top but was much faster coming down. me, Paul, and dad went right to the top, but Jacob and Victoria, stopped about 15 minutes below the peak, because Jacob was getting tired. The best part is the descent because you can just slide down on your butt for about half the distance!

here me and dad are at the top of the mountain before sliding down on our bottoms!

in this picture, well... Jacob just decided he needed to cool of