“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The rain will never stop, and more musings

This has been the rainiest winter in the North Island for about 20 years. It's rained at least 1/2 days every weekend since May, and we've had 1.1 meters (1100 mm) this year (most of it fell since June). My sister's land has had a slip. We had two trees fall down at our house, one fell on my car, left a dent on the top side, and smashed the back window.

We finally made it back up to our property to find, surprisingly, that the fruit trees we planted were still standing. We worried about them during all the weeks of fierce storms. We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary by renting a "bach" or cottage in Whakapirau for the weekend. The owners allow dogs, the house is right on the beach, and there are kayaks in the garage for use (when it's not raining). There is a great restaurant in nearby Paparoa, the Sahara, where I enjoyed a rabbit stew for dinner. Also worth a visit, should you find yourself in Maungaturoto, is BJ's cafe, where you can get yummy real milk shakes and steak and cheese pies. ("oooh I love BJs!" Ha ha!). We tried to see the falls near Maungaturoto, but the stream crossing was flooded. We enjoyed the scenic drive through the Waipu Gorge, seen below. The Waipu area hosts a plethora of outstanding scenery, including the caves, as previously mentioned in my blog. We really like our neighbor, who previously owned the land. We've been to their house for tea several times, and this time we got to see the fabulous rotating dairy shed and the baby cow shed. These cuties are known as a "Kiwi Cross", which is bred to optimise the protein and fat content in the milk. Our neighbor also raises cattle for beef, and told us that the US pays quite well for old dairy cows past their prime, that have very little fat on them. Their meat gets mixed with the super-fatty, corn-fed American beef.

The following weekend found us back up at our land, this time to plant another 22 trees (mainly varieties of citrus: lemons, limes, orange, mandarin, feijoa, and plum). We found a flock of about 30 turkeys there. They are very well adapted and prolific breeders around that area, and we agreed to bring the gun next time. So we did, and though we didn't see them right away, I spotted them down by the stream. We snuck around the top of the hill and ambushed them. Darin took out the big tom, which I estimated to be about 35 pounds dead weight, along with 8 others. Fortunately, out other neighbor stopped by and was so pleased that we'd taken some out. We encouraged her to take 2 of them. We were totally wiped out when, after planting 22 trees, we then butchered 7 turkeys on the front porch (covered, fortunately, from yet more rain). The result was 8.5 kg of turkey breast meat, along with unmeasured but large amounts of turkey parts for dog and cat food. I had the job of gutting the birds, and saved some the liver and hearts for making home-made dog treats (pureed with egg, banana, and garlic, mixed with flour and baked- so easy!). I never realized before this, but the lungs are very spongey and sort of stuck in the back ribs. I had to really get my fingers in there- gross! Good thing the trash men came on Monday morning, heh.
I have been super busy at work. I'm learning so much, and getting to do a lot of different things, so that's a positive. Also, one of my trials is a big one for Roche Pharmaceuticals. This is my most demanding trial, so I was pleased when I was invited to go to a meeting at their expense in Melbourne. This was my first trip to Australia. Melbourne is a great city, a "real" city, very cosmopolitan with lots of parks and arts. Though I was only there for 2 days, and I definitely want to go back. The meeting was at the Langham, which is a very nice hotel, right on the river.

Roche took us out to a very nice dinner and covered all my expenses, even my visa, so I FINALLY got what I deserved- a bit of luxury for all my hard work. I also learned that the New Zealand clinical trial sites are kicking the Australian trial sites' asses, in terms of getting paperwork done on time, and getting patient's visits done within their strict time window. What's the trial, you ask? It is for the drug Avastin, and the target is colon cancer. It's not a chemotherapy as such, it is an antibody directed against "vascular endothelial growth factor" or vEGF. The idea is that it interrupts the fast, new growth of blood vessles on which tumors depend.
Entertaining myself
Books I've read recently:
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach - Enjoy reading her work. Stiff was better.
The Other End of the Leash Patricia McConnell - good stuff, but sort of obvious (to me anyway)

Movies I saw recently include:
Hellboy 2 - definitely worth a watch, with Guillemo del Toro directing (Pan's Labarynth). Best line in the film: "I'm not a baby, I'm a tumor".
Lars and the Real Girl - very good. Surprised, and a bit disappointed, at how NICE everyone was to Lars- because REAL small towns are definitely full of redneck bigots who love to find any excuse to beat the crap out of you for being different.
Be Kind, Rewind- amusing, but less than I'd hoped for. I was planning to see Kung Fu Panda on the way back from Melbourne, but flew on one of the Air NZ planes that doesn't yet have the in-seat video.

Auckland is host to an annual event promoting the Erotica Expo, "Boobs On Bikes". It was during the week at lunchtime, and so Darin, working only part-time and flexible hours, managed to get downtown to snap a few photos. What a spectacle, and I don't mean the boobs, but all the dicks that came out to look at boobs- ha ha! Woo hoo, free show!

Finally, I can't pass up an opportunity to poke fun at the Republican VP selection, Sarah Palin- she's FAILTASTIC!

If McCain is elected, the probability is good that he will die or get sick in office, and this mother of 5 will be running the USA. Someone, please tell me, how you are supposed to be a good parent AND be president? The results are in, and she is a failure as a parent- her opposition to contraceptive education and support of "abstinence only" sex ed. has gotten her teenage daughter pregnant. Does this girl, just 17 WANT to marry the father? Does he, who says he doesn't want kids on his MySpace page, want a family at age 18? Surely a baby is not going to solve anyone's problems. I don't want a potential president to be torn between the needs of her family and of her country. She has a special needs child not even a year old; this kid is going to need extra support from his mother. I don't want to hear any of that "double standard" crap now, because that mudslinging is designed to agitate the over-worked moms who "want to have it all". Guess what? We're all over-worked; and it doesn't matter if you think women should stay at home barefoot and pregnant, or if you think women can raise a family and have a fulfilling career too. The question of the day is: who is going to pay the bills, and where will you live when you can't pay your mortgage on the McMansion (TM)? Most anyone can get pregnant and give birth, but to be a good parent is a completely different skill, which is critically important and unfortunately very time consuming. I do think it's fair to draw a parallel between one's parenting skill and management skill. Obama hasn't failed his daughter(s) (yet).

Election=OVER. Congratulations President Obama.