Friday, 30 November 2007

... and then the shit hit the fan

I should probably be feeling smug about this... or not. We've been out in the prospect for a day and a half, trying to lay out the gear, and as expected the weather's throwing a major tantrum :|. (I just thought I'd leave the gory bits out of the hike post...)
I wish I could just slip back a couple of days, in Bluff harbour. The Trident lying brightly lit, rock steady, with the town slumbering all around. Unfortunately, there weren't any further delays and by early afternoon, we were out of the harbour and Bluff Hill was merely a little haze on the horizon, fading fast.When I did get out on the back deck at midnight, it was brutal :(. Only the thickest of jackets and woollen caps could afford some measure of protection from the freezing winds knifing through the deck. We were eagerly waiting for the sun, but the world around us merely changed from pitch black to a mottled dark grey. No sun, no horizon except for the envelope of grey clouds as they descended right down to the grey ocean. And with daylight came torrential rain. We actually had to go inside to thaw out our hands and faces every now and then :|.

But then the weather got too bad even to deploy, so now we wait :-<. In the mean time, I've got the quite enviable task of putting up the massive pile of photos I've managed to amass on my first tryst with New Zealand :).

Currently: standing by
Listening to: Travis - Slide show

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Red dot

It turned out to be one of those perfect days, all in all :). So having put in my previous post, I decided to go up to the bridge, where I was told that our departure time from Bluff had been revised from 5 pm to 1:30 pm!! I was completely gutted! I'd just had visions of a hike to the top of Bluff Hill and the potentially spectacular view from there, and to Sterling Point (detail descriptions of which follow), and now I wouldn't have enough time once off shift to make it :(((. I'm guessing I wasn't exactly subtle in hiding my disappointment, if you get my drift :P. The Chief Mate told me quite matter-of-factly, to just go anyway. I'm not sure if he actually expected me to, but seeing that there wasn't a whole lot to get done before we left, I did just that!!! :DWell, I coaxed my boss to grant me permission first, of course :). Fortunately or otherwise, I also managed to gather a couple of trainees who were probably not entirely aware of what they were getting themselves into :|. So off we went, in our bright orange coveralls/ workpants that were lent only a slight semblance of respectability by the blue work jackets which was more than offset I think, by the grease stains... Thankfully, it was too early in the morning for anyone to be up and about to notice.The destination was lookout on the summit of Bluff Hill, easily the highest spot in the vicinity, and as such clearly visible from almost everywhere in the town and the adjacent waters, as I'd noticed on our way in. However, the path to the spot wasn't quite as obvious, we thought. One security guard, one early shift construction worker, one road-cleaning-machine-borne janitor (you know, on one of those little buggies with the multiple scrubbing brushes that sweep the road as the thing drives past?) and finally one bakery shop lady all pointed out the rather obvious looking signboard 100 metres from the boat :|. After that it was a piece of cake :P. There was a two lane tarmac road leading right up to the top :|.Well, by about what I judged to be halfway the inclines had already forced some to start walking backwards, trusting the increasingly breathtaking views to detract from the aches etc. It seemed to work too! All involved managed to make it, and in fairly good time!! When I finally got high enough to be able to look over the Foveaux Strait, and onto Stewart Island however, I realised that where there should have been the island, there was only a mountainous bank of very dark clouds:-S. In a flash it all came back to me! The hyper-quick gear shift that the weather here seems to possess, the severity of the rain when it did fall, and finally of course, the strength of the winds! The last of these was a seriously scary issue since given our position, there was absolutely nothing that could stop us from actually getting physically blown away, if the weather gods so willed :(. I watched helplessly as the grey spread out of the south and covered everything.Soon there came the first drops. Then some more, and then, perhaps not that surprisingly, a few fingers of light through chinks in the grey :). Even as we looked on, the main body of the rain passed within a whisker of us, but refrained from causing serious dismay, and a truly spectacular vista was revealed in its full glory! We were definitely blown away :). It wasn't really that high up, maybe 200-250m above the sea level, but the surrounding land and waters were simply gorgeous in their colours, newly unveiled by the now rampant light!Once the euphoria was over, the aforementioned aches etc. reared their heads :|. This time, one of our shoreside support people, who'd just driven up in his car to get a few nice photos came to the rescue. One of our group got a lift back to the ship, and the remaining two decided to follow a trail that cut through the thick brush and promised to take us to Sterling Point.The walk itself was probably better than the destination in this case. The trees dripping water from recent rain and the whole thing about being completely enveloped by trees and a sloping hillside brought back too many memories, and all of a sudden we were at a crossroad with absolutely no clue which way to head :|. Another alarmingly familiar habit from the past :-<. But this was my lucky day, I kid you not, less than 10 seconds after, we met the first and indeed only person in all the 40 minutes we spent on the trail! Pointed in the right direction, it took us barely any time to get to the end of all highways in New Zealand, the southern end of Highway One, aka Sterling Point. Apart from the view, the interesting thing is a little signpost that informed us that contrary to widespread belief, we were not a mere hop away from the South Pole, but merely a little over halfway there from the Equator :).Eventually we made our way back to the wharf, past quaint houses, with sidewalk-invading plants and tail-wagging, heel-sniffing, finger-licking dogs (and also annoyed dog-, and presumably house-, owners who were clearly not impressed by the aforementioned grease-stained orange :|) and curious kids (with their sometimes amused, sometimes not quite so amused parents..). It was getting close to what might almost be considered the busy morning in the dreamy little town.
--

The trainee who'd remained with me happened to be on his first ever trip on a boat :). He was just in awe, I could tell, I'd been there not so long back... Right then, I wasn't unhappy myself, but then a couple of things occurred to me. Firstly, that such moments only come few and far between. And that even when they do, sooner or later one gets blase enough about it to be in danger of missing out on so much that at some point used to be fun.

Currently: back to the grind :-<
Listening to: Jackson C Frank - Dialogue

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Arriving somewhere...

Transit's finally done, and I must say we were exceptionally lucky with the weather. I kept expecting the big waves and the wild seas but all we got was a little bit of swell /:). Have I said this before?! I have the worst luck when it comes to bad weather. It's true, every time we're in a really bad weather location and not shooting, (i.e. when the bad weather would be most welcome to provide some entertainment without screwing things up) it's all nice and calm, and then we start deploying cable and it all goes to shit :-<. Oh well, at least the deck was accessible throughout the trip across to New Zealand, despite some intensely chilly winds. Then finally, over a thousand miles after our last sighting of land, a couple of little humps appeared on the horizon. And so it is that the first bit of New Zealand I set eyes on was the rocky Solander Island. A perfectly respectable name I must say, especially when compared to the likes of Big Moggy Island, Mutton Bird Island and of course, Dog Island :|. Soon enough though, the bottom end of South Island came into view, through low heavy clouds, and it took us a while to realize that at the tops of the tallest peaks, there was actually some snow amongst the clouds!The weather here in the Foveaux Strait is seriously insane though! It changes quicker than most people can change out of coveralls stinking of barnacles. It switches from bright sunny blue skies to dense low clouds that blot out all light and descend all around you in a blanket of torrential rain literally within seconds! The extremely high wind speeds and mountains close by would probably have something to do with that I suppose. Not to mention the not too subtle presence of Antarctica just over the horizon :|.By and by our destination came into view, Bluff, the southern most town in New Zealand. Well, we could only actually see the bluff (hill) that it is named after until we actually turned into the rather shallow harbour with it's scarily narrow entrance :|. You can tell that the weather's a bit on the extreme side :) the windward side of the hill has absolutely nothing, not even roads!!Anyway, we'll be here for a full day it seems, the harbour's tidal, so there's only two times a day that we can get in or out, and we've just missed the morning high tide :P. Well, I'm not complaining, might even get a chance to actually look around.

Currently: all excited :P
Listening to: Sheryl Crow - Ordinary morning

Friday, 23 November 2007

Bobbin'

So we're back in the Bass Strait now, almost past it in fact. The trip down from Port Lincoln has been happily uneventful thus far. Yesterday we sailed more or less through some of the prospects where we spent the last summer, and now we're passing another old neighbourhood. Till this point we'd been keeping quite close to the shore, often within sight of sometimes familiar landscapes.Here onwards however, lie the wide open spaces of the Tasman Sea, the wide waters separating New Zealand from Australia. And with it we lose all the protection afforded by Tasmania from the storms spawned in the Antarctic :-S. This is the first time I've been consigned to an upper bunk in well over a year. The timing it seems, will shortly prove to be less than opportune :|.
And speaking of timing, we've just been handed the first of the time zone clock adjustments that are part and parcel of long transits. Only this time, we've changed into a practically non existent time zone :|. Geographically speaking, we're somewhere between Melbourne and Sydney, both of which are at GMT+10. We travelled from close to Adelaide, which is at GMT+9:30. So ideally, we should have gone up a half hour, instead, we've gone up one full hour to GMT+10:30 /:). The problem? Try setting your pc to GMT+10:30 :|.

Currently: transient
Listening to: Moby - Rafters

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Part - !!

There I was again, stuck in Bangkok airport with a long stop over. This time it was enforced mainly by a delayed flight. Only the second time flying with Emirates, and the second time I was likely to miss my connecting flight because of a delay, talk about consistency :|. And the surly airport 'support' personnel weren't really helping /:). The flight itself wasn't too bad thankfully, what with a mind boggling in-seat on-demand entertainment system. There were at least about 300 movies available, out of which 149 were new releases :O. Insane. I picked the insanely hilarious Wild Hogs, which was quite thoroughly entertaining :D. And then I managed to get some sleep in.

Got to Sydney with barely 90 minutes for my domestic departure. There was immigration to clear, checked in luggage to pick up, and then customs. Not to mention the transfer to the domestic terminal. I managed not to run, barely. But I did end up at the immigration counter without a queue ahead of me! And then the conveyor decided to spit out my bag pretty much right in the beginning and even though I had to open up my bag at customs, it was all wrapped up in 15 minutes! That's from the time I stepped off the aircraft! A mini miracle. And soon enough I was back in Melbourne.
My room at the Hilton was better than anything I've stayed in for a while :P. And this time we managed to squeeze in a trip to the St. Kilda beach. Unfortunately, we had to take a tram, and I almost got fined 162 AU$ for no particular fault of mine :|. The beach itself was nice, though it was getting a bit cold for summer.Then it was time to get back to the boat. The weather was appropriately bleak, scattered rains with an overcast sky. And we were off on the chartered aircraft to Port Lincoln close to Adelaide that had me spend about half my break trying to pack. The baggage allowance had been slashed further down to 15 kgs. I'd given up at 17 eventually. I figured I'll wear more stuff on the flight if need be :|. But the weather made it quite necessary in the end.Somehow or other I'd ended up with insufficient sleep 3 days in a row, so it wasn't at all difficult to just crash once I'd settled into my cabin. So now it's a week steaming down to New Zealand, and then another 3 weeks and I'm off road trippin'!! Well, again, there's the usual disclaimer, but we've already booked accommodations all over South Island. Hopefully, we will end up using them :).

Currently: cold!
Listening to: Morcheeba - Big calm

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Peace

Not that I've had a close familiarity with it in some time, but today I had a bit of a revelation. It seems to manifest itself in such a time and place from which you do not want anything taken, and which you don't feel the need to add to in any way. There is nothing (much, :) okay, I'm back to being just a little bit realistic here) you miss, no one else you wish was there.
It's a shame the only one I can call upon with any hope of consistency involves such a drive to and from that drives all the aforesaid peace well and truly out of my mind :-<.

Feeling: tired :((
Listening to: DJ Shadow - What does your soul look like, pt - 3

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Backdrifts

I really shouldn't be doing these flights where I land up at home in the morning :|. So another zombie day. And before I'd been home 24 hours I got my flights out that have me leaving bright and early on Sunday morning /:). And while we are at it, there's a 'super cyclone' headed for Kolkata even as we speak.

Finally got back to reading on the way back, and realised that it had been long enough for me to have completely lost the thread, so it was a restart of The Silmarillion. But before that I finally managed to locate the first A Song of Ice and Fire book in Perth airport! It's strange but somehow this one's never at the stores, and not just the ones in the airports. I've been looking for it for quite a long time now. At some point I did read about half of the book, but I think when I do get to it again, I'll have to start at the beginning :).The flights themselves weren't so bad, except that the choice of movies was terrible in the first one, and non-existent in the second one :|. Imagine a six-hour flight complete with in-seat screens, but no movies :-<. Beyond frustrating. Especially when you're practically waving to you final destination as you fly over it :|. Well, I couldn't see, I was in a middle seat, but I'm sure the Singapore - New Delhi flight went pretty much over the top of Kolkata. One thing I was very relieved to note was the internal transport arrangement within the IGI airport. Can't say the same about the number of times I got held up at check ins and immigration counters 'cos of trouble with my name on my new passport. (That's the one with the million errors and smudgy corrections :|.) I'd almost forgotten about the weekend's games in the rest of the week's excitement! I didn't do too badly actually, managed to stick on to my spot, albeit by a whisker :P. My luck with captains ran out, but there was enough scattered brilliance to keep me above quite a high average :).
--

This is gonna be really touch and go... I'm still half dead, and leaving the day after :(. Oh, and I have to be up at 5:30 and I'm still here :((.

Currently: slipping
Listening to: Radiohead - Backdrifts

Monday, 12 November 2007

Part - !

The wait is over, finally got my passport back today, with the Kiwi visa, and I am supposed to be off tomorrow!! But possibly because of a very potent bandh in West Bengal, there seemed to be no direct flights into Cal today or tomorrow!!! Perfect timing naturally, so these people have managed to get me a set of flights that have me spending the night gallivanting around Delhi! Oh well, at least I get home nice and early on Wednesday, and then I'm supposed to be off again Sunday. Yes, that would be this Sunday :D. I'll shortly have reset my 'shortest trip home ever' record. My mum was naturally thrilled when I told her :|. I hope it's not too cold in Delhi just yet :-<.

Currently: beyond caring
Listening to: Everclear - Learning how to smile

Friday, 9 November 2007

Low light

Funny how many cats seem to be sitting on the side walk on my way to/from work these days. Must be the weather. It's getting nice and toasty in the sun (and of course the sun is happily up till about 8pm :|). Except when the wind blows. I was told the other day that the only time there's snow in WA is October! Umm, that would be surprising because that's the beginning of summer /:). Something to do with the cold winds blowing up from the Antarctic...

Why am I indulging in this weather report? Dunno. Oh, I got my Kiwi visa! Well, supposedly. My passport's on it's way back to Perth, but I've not actually been told yet whether the visa stamp lies within or not :|. But it won't be getting here till Monday, so yet another delaying of flights. Oh well, at least I managed to finally inform my boss of my intention of taking a nice long break over the new year. No office :D, hopefully a look around South Island, a longish visit to the old city, and a wedding :D. Actually I kinda just mentioned it in passing, half hoping he wouldn't notice :P. He did notice, and was quite nice about it :). So there, now just for another million other tiny little details left to fall in place, and voilà!

Saw The Motorcycle Diaries, and was duly impressed by the scenery. :D Awright, there was more but the best part I thought was how genuinely funny it was in parts. Oh and the bit around Machu-Picchu was totally awesome!! I keep being presented with these awesome reasons for the Trident to go get that job offshore Columbia!!!! Unfortunately just today the country manager (whose desk I'd been happily using the last week while he was away :P) gave us a nice lengthy presentation which firmly established the fact that the Trident is in fact not going anywhere outside Australia for a long long time if he has his way :-<. Except for the little excursion down to Kiwiland that is (looking forward to the famed horrific weather :P). Oh well, there's a course in Bogotá that I can go for :P.

Currently: --see below--
Listening to: Air - Somewhere between waking and sleeping

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Gameweek 12

If last week was fantastic, this week was out of this world!!!! I don't know how, but I managed an earth-shattering 77 points!!! Well, okay, so most of it was down to an astute captain selection :D. (I'm like so dying to gloat, but I'm not on the boat!!! Not that I'm dying to get back to the boat mind you.) Anyway, while most people went with the Lampards and the Ronaldos and the Fabregas(es?! :P), I went with my newly acquired Aston Villa defender, Laursen. You see, they were playing Derby, at home! The Derby that are yet to score a single away goal!! So a minimum of six points was a dead sure thing. And then he scored. They even gave him a couple of bonus points just to sweeten the deal \:D/!! To make things really spectacular, another three of my players scored! And two further clean sheets! Man, it really does not get a lot better than this. (Which, actually, is a bit of a concern, but we'll get to that as and when things start going southwards again :|.) But the absolute, absolute best part. I jumped almost 10 spots, and landed squarely back on 4th. Not just single digits, within the top five!!! Oh! Oh-ho-ho! Sweetness :D.
--

Sometimes, you just need the right sunglasses. Rainbow colours in the sky, clouds the shades of a kaleidoscope, the ocean in colours you can't even think up names for.... Euphoria served. Just remember to take them off every now and then, just to make sure it's not your eyes :).

Currently: *YAAAAYYYYYYYYY* \:D/\:D/ :D
Listening to: Travis - Pipe dreams

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Laberinto

It is beautiful, fantastic and terrifying, heart warming and heart rending, all at the same time. Pan's Labyrinth. I can't quite figure how I am not feeling horribly depressed after watching the whole movie, but I'm not! If you've seen it, maybe you will understand. The thing that I find most surprising though, is how this and Hellboy happen to have been directed by the same person /:).
--

I think I've mentioned this before, but I've been getting this feeling that I should probably leave Perth. Sometime soon. Any time this decade would be fantastic. I mean, it's not just me! First all the eating places decide to shut down. Well, not all of them, only the ones I liked. Now it's the theatres. I went up to my favourite one in the city on Friday and guess what I find on the doors? "This theatre has been shut down. Permanently. Thank you." :|
And of course, just to remind me how long I've actually been stuck here, the Red Bull Air Race is back in town! I saw it last year!! I'm terrifyingly close to becoming a full blown Perth resident :-S. Okay, this time it was actually good fun :). They had these massive TV screens put up along the river, and numerous speakers. The fact that we sort of knew what was going on helped a whole lot :D. I was quite content to sit through the two rounds of qualifying, poring over split times and snapping at every take off and landing. To add to the excitement, my fellow WesternGeco SE incarcerated here in Perth, John, managed to drop bits of his Nikon D40 into the river! Okay, just one bit. And not the lens or the body :|. We even managed to fish it out! But despite all that, I ended up watching the finals today from the comfy confines of my couch.

Feeling: jumpy
Listening to: Radiohead - All I need

Friday, 2 November 2007

Trails

There be disasters. And then there is the aftermath. Who would stop to wonder which is worse? Few ever see both. Fewer still see them hard upon each other.
--

It's official! I've finally had to cancel the last of my three courses in Norway. Yep, they cancelled two and I cancelled the last one myself :). And so it is that I now have a visa that cost a fair bit of doing to obtain, but in the end will end up expiring unused. Oh the irony :). At least I'm not freezing my ass off getting wet in the fjord in the middle of winter :-<.

Feeling: sleepy :|
Listening to: The Prodigy - Smack my bitch up