Monday, April 23, 2007

Wellington sunrise

Taken from the window of my room at the Intercontinental Hotel around 7 am. The ship coming in to dock is one of the ferries that carriers passengers and vehicles across Cook Strait between New Zealand's North Island and South Island.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wellington (again)

I arrived in Wellington (NZ) today via Denver, Los Angeles and Auckland. This is my third visit in the last 12 months. One of the wins I had last year was a contract with a government agency here and we are actively chasing another one, so it won't be my last visit either. Fortunately, I like Wellington. It's like a bigger version of Hobart (Tasmania) where my parents lived for many years.

I managed to sleep for most of the flight between LA and Auckland mostly thanks to flying business class for a change. Surprisingly (or maybe not), it's much easier to sleep in a seat that goes completely flat than sitting nearly upright!

So I only watched one movie, The Holiday starring Jude Law (great performance), Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and Kate Winslet. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm a sucker for romantic comedies so you should discount my opinion accordingly. Unless you also recognise that the romantic comedy is Hollywood's crowning achievement, in which case see this as soon as you can!

P.S. If you read this hot off the press in the US where it is still April 21, and you are wondering why the post is dated April 22, I've adopted the practice of applying the local time (being the local time wherever I am posting from) to my posts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's supposed to be a free country

Of course our political masters are more than happy to forget that when it comes to their obsession with drugs. It recently took me 15 minutes to buy a packet of Sinutabs - what is from a drug safety perspective an over-the-counter medicine - because they contain psuedoephedrine which can be used to make meth. Too bad this measure has been totally ineffective since meth is now mostly smuggled in bulk from labs in Mexico. To make it worse, it was my Mum that needed the Sinutabs, but she couldn't buy them at all since she doesn't have a US issued ID.

So following on from that smashing success, some bright spark of a Congressman from Missouri wants to ban baking soda - yes, you read that correctly: baking freaking soda - because it can be used to make crack cocaine. Well even if that's correct (and I don't know anything about making crack) I would have thought that it's the cocaine in crack cocaine that's the problem.

Take me to your baking soda overlords.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Final day?

Today was my final day for the 2006-07 season unless the weather intervenes and we get some significant snowfall between now and the 15th.

I went out today mostly because I like the idea of skiing on my birthday*. My expectations were low based on the reports from friends who skied over the last few days, but all in all it was better than I expected.

Yes it was quite slushy in places and bare in quite a few spots and worst of all there were several places where the snow was very sticky, which is really hard work. But the very top of the mountain, maybe the top 500 vertical ft, was great due to one or two inches of new snow overnight and enough cloud cover to stop it melting.

Bumps are really fun when it's like this. The soft sticky snow means you don't have to worry about going fast and can instead concentrate on the huge number of things you need to be able to do simultaneously and instantaneously if you are going to ski bumps well, including:

Picking the right line. You need to choose a path between the bumps which involves enough turning to slow you down without turning so far that you end up bouncing off the top of the next bump.
Not over-edging. Everything you learn about edging on groomed terrain you need to unlearn to ski bumps. If you over-edge your skis shoot our from underneath you and you lose control. Over-edging also means turning too far which we've just talked about. Instead you have to concentrate on flattening the skis.
Skiing not in the valley between the bumps but down and around the side of the bump while allowing your (un-edged) skis to slip down the side to bleed off speed (see the previous point on flattening the skis).
Allowing your legs to compress as you come over the top of the bump and then extend as you head down the other side, smoothing out the ride.
Making an early and aggressive pole plant on the top of the next bump, which commits you to the line, prevents you from over-rotating and over-edging, and keeps your body forward which naturally helps you avoid all the other potential problems.
Got all that?

So I really enjoyed the bumps on Rolex, BC Lift Line, Surprise and the bottom section of Whiteout. The 3.30 and 2.30 trees were also nice, but my best run of the day was definitely Big Meadow where a fresh dusting of snow and very little traffic (there were about 15 people on the mountain today, or at least that's how it seemed) meant I could make beautiful tracks, and the sun peeped out from behind the clouds in the middle of the run to give it a totally surreal feeling.

So here's what is likely the final map for the season. Today's total of 10,802 vertical ft brings my season total to 519,001 vertical ft.

* Not only is today my birthday but it's also the third anniversary of my arrival in the US as a permanent resident, which means I'm now eligible to apply for citizenship (normally you have to be resident for five years, but it's three if you're married to a US citizen as I am).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Almost done

The 2006-07 season has ten days left to run (the counter at the bottom of the page says nine days because the ski company just recently extended the closing day from Saturday 14th to Sunday 15th), but I think I'm close to being finished. It's not that I mind spring skiing, but it just serves to remind me how much more I love the real thing - skiing waist deep powder!

However next Monday is my (44th) birthday, and I do like the idea of skiing on my birthday so I may head out again then. Or I may go snowshoeing with my wife instead.

Anyway, here's the map of today's runs for a total of 15,856 vertical ft and a season total of 508,199 vertical ft. I didn't get close to my million vertical feet goal but at least I made half a million.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April skiing

Today was a mix of typical spring skiing - warm and slushy - with patches of cooler, overcast weather thrown in and stashes of surprisingly good snow hiding amongst the trees.

Here's the map of today's runs for a total of 15,932 vertical ft and a season total of 492,343 vertical ft.