Author Archives: Nebula

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 2

Driving back from Te Anau to Queenstown, I spotted scene after scene of New Zealand’s stunning landscape. Here’s an example:

Southern Otago with autumn colors

The massive mountains that enclose Lake Wakatipu rise straight up with no foothills.

The scale of a glacially formed landscape

Passing through Queenstown and heading on to Glenorchy at the northwestern tip of Lake Wakatipu, the lakeside road winds, dips, and rises, giving access to some stunning views.

A stunning view along the lake

The light is constantly changing, giving rise to an infinite variety of scenes, especially with the current spate of storms buffeting the South Island.

A storm over Lake Wakatipu

Finally reaching Glenorchy, I had to turn around and head right back to Queenstown to check in to my hotel room.

A scene in Glenorchy

Since I took these photos, I’ve driven from Queenstown through Wanaka, through the mountains to Haast on the West coast, and up the coast to the Franz Josef Glacier. It may take a while to post the next set of photos as I’ve misplaced a key charging cable. Stay tuned…

NZ Trip: On the Road, Part 1

On 14 April I took the gondola to the top of Mt. Cavendish outside of Christchurch. From there, I had a commanding view of Christchurch, the south island’s east coast, and one of the several (flooded) calderas of the Akaroa peninsula.

The New Zealand coast from the summit of Mt. Cavendish


Next I drove to the shore of Lake Tekapo. The area is designated a dark sky reserve for its clear atmosphere, which makes it a great place for astronomy. The University of Canterbury operates several telescopes at its observatory at the top of Mt. John next to the lake.

The southern alps of New Zealand


I spent the night of 15 April in Cromwell, at the base of Lake Dunstan. Cromwell is at the nexus of major highways leading to Dunedin, Queenstown, Wanaka, and Tekapo.

On my way to Queenstown, I stopped at the hydroelectric power station where the Roaring Meg stream feeds into the Kawarau River gorge, and took a few pictures.

A scene at Roaring Meg


A little closer to Queenstown, I encountered a landform reminiscent of something from Dr. Seuss. It consists of two small peaks that stick out of the landscape like, well, a pair of nipples. Or maybe pimples. They’re known as the Judge and Jury.

The Judge and Jury peaks

2018-04-17-16-30-29I’m writing this in my motel room in Te Anau, from which I was planning to visit the spectacular Milford Sound in the southern fiords of New Zealand. Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering from a bad cold since I arrived in the country, and it’s been unusually cold with powerful rainstorms, so I decided to forgo Milford Sound and spend 17 April relaxing and creating this post. I have two more weeks of New Zealand to experience, so I’ll post more photos soon.

NZ Trip: Getting There

A photo at the Honolulu airport


I arrived in Auckland, spent Thursday night near the airport, got a SIM card, took a flight to Christchurch, rented a car, made it into the city in one piece, and I’m now checked in to my hotel room. Tomorrow I hope to ride the Christchurch gondola to the top of Mt. Cavendish, which has views of the Akaroa peninsula and the southern alps. Then I’ll drive inland toward Tekapo, an area that’s especially free of light pollution, for some night photography.

NZ Trip: Getting Ready

I’m going to New Zealand!


By B.muirheadOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

I’ll be driving throughout the country for three weeks, and will post photos and commentary as the whim strikes me.

Today I’m busy packing, trying to figure out whether the kitchen sink will fit in my suitcase. I leave in the wee hours tomorrow morning.



Gallery — Brooklands Museum, 2011

The British motorsport venue known as Brooklands was built in Weybridge, Surrey in 1907. It included the world’s first dedicated racetrack and an early airfield, and it was the host of many car, motorcycle and bicycle races until WWII. During and after the war, it became a major center for aircraft design, construction and flight testing. Since 1987 the Brooklands Museum has dominated the property, with vintage military and civilian aircraft (including a Concorde and other airliners), cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles.

These photos are not so much documents of the exhibits as they are explorations of color, light and form. They’re best viewed at full size (some have a lot of detail). Each one will open in a new window when you click the version displayed in this post.

Brooklands Museum, 2011 #24 picture

Brooklands #24

More photos — Brooklands Museum, 2011

Better Than the Average Joe


By Takkk (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing quite like a really good cup of coffee. In spite of the popularity of one ubiquitous beverage store (which we shall not name), most of what they sell isn’t so much coffee as liquid candy, which I admit has its moments. Mmm, mocha!

But real coffee is essentially about the flavor you can extract from coffee beans, which is unique, complex, and in my opinion, not to be missed. I’ll go so far as to lighten and sweeten my coffee a bit, but only to enhance the natural flavor of the brew.

This post describes how to make great tasting coffee, and ignores its physiological effects. So if you mainly drink coffee for the caffeine boost, there’s no need to read further.
Read further — Better Than the Average Joe

Gallery — Nevada County Fair, 2011

These photos are best viewed at full size (some have a lot of detail). Each one will open in a new window when you click the version displayed in this post.

Nevada County Fair, 2011 #65 picture

#65 — All Together

More photos — Nevada County Fair, 2011

One Way to Beat the Tobacco Monkey

Common adverse effects of tobacco smoking (See...

Image via Wikipedia

I listened earlier this year to a piece on NPR’s Talk of the Nation called “Kicking The Cigarette Habit A Global Challenge” (punctuation theirs). I have some experience in this area, and on the off chance that it’s helpful to some struggling tobacco user, I thought I’d relate my own story of quitting the cancer stick several decades ago.

My family history is rife with tobacco casualties. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles have succumbed to lung cancer, and my father smoked four packs a day when I was young. He eventually had no choice but to stop smoking during a month-long hospital stay, and to his credit, he never started again.
Keep reading — One Way to Beat the Tobacco Monkey

Losing Weight: Yes We Can

1906 Weight-loss picture

Image by Nevada Tumbleweed via Flickr

Before the current child-obesity epidemic got started, Americans under 25 years old were, to a great degree, almost effortlessly fit. Mind you, we were more likely to down a six-pack than to sport one on our torsos. But that was a benefit of youth; we could consume what we wanted, eschew exercise, stay up late, and as long as we stayed out of trouble, chances were that we’d still be in decent shape.

Then we turned 30, and everything started to change. The difference was subtle at first, but it accelerated. Weight gain, rising blood pressure, weaker muscles, brittle bones, all were inevitable if we did nothing about it. I went from being thin to, as my mother kindly put it, “stocky.”

Losing weight is a daunting prospect for the typical deskbound adult. As we get older, even the healthiest among us have to go out of their way to eat right (but not too much) and exercise if they want to maintain a decent level of health and fitness. The trick, in my view, is to integrate the right behavior into one’s lifestyle, so it doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice.
Keep reading — Losing Weight: Yes We Can

Cultivating Better (Tomato) Taste, Part 3

A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and fl...

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 2 of this series, I discussed how to choose a tomato variety, establish appropriate growing conditions, and plant the tomato seedling. In this post, I address watering, cultivation, problem solving and harvesting.

This is not a step by step tutorial. Each brand of planter comes with its own instructions for planting and cultivation, so I won’t duplicate those instructions here. I’ll emphasize some of the key points they make and add my own comments.
Keep reading — Cultivating Better (Tomato) Taste, Part 3

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