Archive for January, 2006

Lunch with cicadas

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Today’s LDL cholesterol-avoidance lunch

Following the sad and untimely death of an employee last year, my employer has recently taken a number of steps to support employees more in terms of lifestyle, health care and insurance provision. The onsite caterers provide a good variety of meal choices (though they still cater for those Kiwis who love their stodge and cakes), the company has introduced death/disablement in service cover and now are providing wellness clinic health checks. At 0800hrs last Monday and having fasted since 0400hrs (not including the obligatory morning cup of tea), I went before the ‘company nurse’. After a chat to see if I was telling porkies in my health questionnaire, she measured and tested and prodded and drew blood.

The results are interesting and not unrelated to our emigration, hence baring my soul here. Whilst lugging 22 suitcases half way round the world might have stretched my arms and played havoc with my RSI, it didn’t compact my vertebrae because I remain 184cms tall. Sadly, the same cannot be said of my weight which has crept up by 2kgs to 87kgs since we left the UK in September of last year. The lack of routine, the increase in take-away food and the generally unsettled life of living in temporary accomodation and travelling for interviews certainly took it’s toll on my diet and the amount of exercise. These two measurements were used to calculate my Body Mass Index (BMI) by squaring my height then dividing my weight by the height squared or, for those that want the lowdown, 87 / 3.38 = 25.73. In general terms and ignoring the all-important family health history and lifestyle considerations that should always be taken into account, most folk’s BMI should be between 20-25. By exercising less (laziness through lack of routine) and eating more (easy to do in New Zealand), I have let a two kilogram increase in my weight nudge my BMI from just inside (24.81) to a little too far (25.73) outside the healthy range.

My resting pulse rate, at 64 beats/min, is well within the ideal band for my age and indicates that running at lunchtimes and in the forest at weekends over the last month or so has helped me regain some aerobic fitness. Furthermore, I can use this information to better inform myself as to how hard to push myself when out training by calculating . Using my resting pulse rate, I have calculated my minimum and maximum training heart rates (i.e. 60-90% of my maximum heart rate) as 106 and 142 beats/min respectively, which will help me train more effectively. Likewise, my blood pressure is pretty good at 125/80mmHg against the quoted national ideal of 130/80mmHg though, with 1 in 5 Kiwis suffering some form of hypertension, I’m aiming for an optimal of 120/80mmHg.

With a low ‘estimated heart event risk’ score (a murmur-inducing phrase if ever there was one), my main target is getting my LDL cholesterol down. Like my Dad, I like a bit of cheese with brown bread and butter most days but I suspect that my main downfall has been a few too many take-aways and lack of portion control with my own home cooking. My alcohol consumption is pretty fair considering our home is amongst vineyards and wineries, not to mention the boutique brewery down the road. I think, all in all, I am very happy with my wellness check. Already being aware that I’m still getting back into my regular routine and that I have some way to go yet, the ‘no worries but keep a watching brief’ result from the nurse is as good as I could hope for I think. All the above is a very long-winded explanation for the low cholesterol lunch you see above, which I have been munching whilst writing and listening to the sound of the chirruping cicadas in the grass and trees beyond my window. These noisy creatures seem to be celebrating an all too brief gap in the rainclouds now sweeping in from the West after two days of stormy North Easterlies.

I must be bonkers

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Another late evening and I’m tinkering with stuff that ain’t broke. Feeling the need for a change in email client, I’m currently experiencing the joy that is importing maiboxes into Thunderbird. Readers with long memories will know that I do stuff like this on a fairly regular basis. For those idiotic enough to try this for themselves, I would advise that I am having so much trouble, I am now enabling ‘pop access from forever’ all my Gmail accounts and downloading all three accounts back catalogue from scratch. Like I say, I must be bonkers.

And they say it rains in England

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Widespread heavy rain can be expected through to this evening […] 50 to 80mm of rain is possible,especially about the hills north of the City […] STRONG WIND WARNING AUCKLAND: Northeast winds are expected to rise to gale this morning, with possible severe gale gusts of 120 km/h in exposed places between 11am and 8pm today.

They are not wrong. Having bailed from work early die to ill-health brought on by budget forecasting, I was hoping to get home early. I hadn’t factored in the four-car smash on the North Western motorway that required me to spend another hour stop-starting through Auckland in an effort to make my way home.

Slipping through my fingers

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

For those who have endless time on their hands, the Falling Sand Game might prove to be a diversion worthy of an hour or several. Nice piece of coding.

The Winters Tale

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

“I was drowned by Montgomery Clift, run over by both Alan Ladd and James Mason, knifed by Robert Mitchum and strangled by Ronald Colman … I couldn’t understand a word Michael Caine said, I just waited for the gaps and then said my lines.”

Two of many great quotes by the late Shelley Winters that makes me want to go and buy her kiss and tell autobiography.

Like a stock market tip, only it’s music

Thursday, January 19th, 2006


That cranefly will be the next big thing is indisputable. The only things that are not clear are when, where, for whom and quite how it will all come about. In the meantime, the studio session and gig photos are great – if you’ve ever been in a band, you’ll know why – and the downloads will give you a flavour of something a little different. Though in no way musically the same, to my lo-fi ears cranefly are tapping the melodic vein of earlier times in much the same way as Grandaddy (listen to cranefly’s Knocked Down and then Grandaddy’s Pull the Curtains) has in the US and, to a lesser extent, Wolfmother are doing in Australia.

Lining up the second hurdle

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

I can hardly believe it myself. About 30 minutes ago, I willingly and without menaces, voluntarily read out my credit card details to SWMBO, who was seated at the family PC. That said, this was not your common or garden run of the mill internet shopping session but more of your landmark fingers crossed and hope for the best moment.

We have just coughed up $300 dollars in order to submit our Expression Of Interest to the New Zealand Immigration Service. If you follow the link, you will see that this process is not for the faint-hearted, the poor or the ill-prepared. If you are not up for being honest, spending many hours doing research, even more collating documentation and then having every aspect of your very being scrutinised, then emigration is probably not for you. It will test the strength of your marriage just as much as your resolve, it will provide opportunity for self-doubt at every turn, it will rob you of the time to enjoy your new surroundings and it will cause you to question just why you wanted to embark upon the journey in the first place. What is more, this is just the process to signal your desire to remain resident. We now must wait to hear whether I am selected from a bi-weekly draw from the pool of applicants, with the likelihood of success inexorably linked to the number of points attributed to one’s skills, qualifications and experience. If you have significant experience but no degree (like me) and you only just make the minimum number of points required to express interest, this could be the start of a long drawn out cycle of six-monthly submissions (with the attendant fee, of course) and bi-weekly draws. Whilst I am usually the half-full foil to the half-empty SWMBO, I am not holding my breath in this instance. New Zealand quite rightly attracts a lot of bright and highly qualified folks and I do not expect to have the same luck I had with the extraordinarily quick turnaround of my work permit application.

Having anaesthetised myself with half a bottle of our neighbours Pinot Noir, I am now off to bed. I will leave you with a mildly humourous but true work story. Next week, I shall be heading off to my first overnight business trip in my new position, on a two day management strategy and team building session with my peers. I scanned the email for the venue details, lobbed them into the NZ equivalent of Google Maps and, lo and behold, it is exactly 5.7kms from my home. I can’t decide if this is good (short drive home afterwards) or bad (was hoping for Pacific island resort).

From the ‘You couldn’t make this up’ desk

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Until today, I had no idea that a smoot was a unit of length. I shall never see the ISO (International Standards Organisation) symbol again without thinking of Oliver Smoot.

Easy like Sunday morning

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Our Sunday mornings are beginning to take on a semblance of normality, or at least what passed for normality before we decided to up stick and moved to the other side of the world. This means that SWMBO and the sprogs head off for church and I take the opportunity to try and get a couple of hours quiet writing under my belt. Sadly, the theory is great but, in actuality, what happens is that I invariably get diverted by email or checking out an interesting web site and before I know it, the family are back and baying for lunch. Another diversion has been my frankly pathetic attempts to settle back into running every other day, a simple enough programme but one which I have yet to accomplish. Compounded by a back strain earlier this week, my current sweat-drenched efforts are woefully inadequate considering that, in just four weeks time, I shall be taking part in an 18 hour, 160 kilometre relay race around Lake Taupo. All of which is my way of recording that I am finding it hard to get back into writing regularly and have found procrastination all too easy to embrace, even when I have house to myself and peace and quiet reign throughout. Not content with finding reasons and excuses for not being able to write here right now, I have also resumed my more geekish jottings over on my long-standing blog bignoseduglyguy, where I can get a shameless instant gratification fix by posting short and snappy comments rather than the longer, more considered pieces I have been posting here.

Teacher’s Note: Must try harder.

From Russia With Love

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

A not so cool things about moving to New Zealand is that unless I maintain a credit card with a UK billing address – or go to the trouble of pretending at least – I have now joined the ranks of disenfranchised Kiwis who have no local iTunes Music Store portal. Luckily, the entrepreneurial comrades at ALLOFMP3 are happy to relieve me of my NZ$ without being sniffy about where I live. Another less than cool thing about iTunes 6 is that the mini store bundled with it includes a snoop feature that provides data back to Apple on your taste so they can recommend other stuff. Disabling it is no biggie but naughty not to be up front about it with the loyal Mac minions.