Saturday, December 16, 2017

Vulnerable, Entitlement, Diversity, Transgender, Fetus, Evidence-based, Science-based

These are all important words, but apparently the CDC is no longer permitted to speak or write them. So I will, as often as possible in these increasingly repressive United States.
Policy analysts working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told on Thursday about a list of forbidden words being imposed by senior CDC officials, according to a report in The Washington Post. The forbidden words are reportedly “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
More here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Great Barrier First Island To Be Designated Dark Sky Sanctuary

Via The Telegraph...
This island of steep forested hills, wetlands and sweeping white-sand bays is completely off grid. All the residents are responsible for supplying their own power through solar, wind or gas. There are no billboards or street lights. And the complete lack of light pollution makes for a very sparkly stratosphere. 

We tried like crazy to get there toward the end of our North Island visit, but it was not to be. In 2019 I'm thinking we'll land in Auckland and fly directly there.

The Milky Way, seen from Great Barrier 
Credit: The Renegade Peach Project/Mark Russell

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jacinda Ardern New Zealand's Youngest Prime Minister in 150 Years

After an agonising day of waiting Peters announced he would support Labour because the global environment was undergoing rapid and seismic change, and he believed a Labour government was best-placed to handle the social and economic welfare of New Zealanders. 

More here from The Guardian.

Photograph: Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images 

Also via the Guardian... 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Kakapo: Every One Of These Endearing Parrots Will Have Its Genome Sequenced

Via The Atlantic (full story here)...
When humans first settled in New Zealand in the 13th century, they found a wonderland of strange creatures—including a green, bumbling parrot with the face of an owl and the mien of an old gentleman. That was the kakapo—the world’s largest parrot, and its only flightless one. It had a set of endearing traits—a disc of whisker-like facial feathers, a ponderous slow-motion gait, and a habit of awkwardly climbing trees with its beak and large wings—that made it easy to love. It also had a set of unfortunate traits—an inability to fly, a naïveté toward danger, a distinctive earthy smell, and a habit of freezing when threatened—that make it easy to kill.
...the kakapo—once thought extinct—is one of the most thoroughly studied animals on the planet. Every single one of the last 153 kakapos on the planet is known to researchers. Every one carries a radio transmitter, so scientists know its position, as well as its movements and sex life.

And speaking of the sex lives of kakapo, please do not miss this video (click here to see if reading in email).

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Waiomu NZ To Chicago + The Power of Circadian Rhythms

Well, that was a lot of flying. 17 hours plus three in LA between flights, enough time to look up from my seat in the waiting area and see a guy across from me wearing a red Make America Great Again hoodie.

And then I wondered: am I jetlagged or did I read that the US president threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?


Rocko is the Springer spaniel who ran the motel (at least he thought he did) in Waiomu, where we stayed our last night in NZ. Hard to believe that was only yesterday. We hit the road toward Auckland around 11 and dropped the trusty Rover with Selwyn and Rawyn before having lunch with them near the airport. One last piece of NZ fish, this time tarakihi.

That fish didn't hold me for 20 hours, despite a decent effort on the airlines' part to feed us. When we arrived home just before 10 pm last night we weren't hungry, but after attempting sleep for 3.5 hours with no luck, I finally realized in the middle of the night that I was famished.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to a group for their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms. I spent the hours between midnight and 3 am pondering the power of the biological clock (ours was certain it was seven hours earlier).
The biological clock is involved in many aspects of our complex physiology. We now know that all multicellular organisms, including humans, utilize a similar mechanism to control circadian rhythms. A large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock and, consequently, a carefully calibrated circadian rhythm adapts our physiology to the different phases of the day. Since the seminal discoveries by the three laureates, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with implications for our health and well-being.

On the last NZ newsstand we glimpsed, a chilling headline. These two were engaged in NZ, she murdered in the Las Vegas massacre.

Our arrival home was a bountiful one, with piles of produce and snacks and a fridge stocked with homemade soups and cleaned French breakfast radishes and cheese and salmon. We are very lucky indeed to have friends who are like family and family who are friends. Thank you all for helping us ease back into...breakfast salmon.

One last map (click here to view if you're reading in email):

Monday, October 2, 2017

E Noho Rā, NZ

Click here and scroll down to hear the Maori pronunciation of "goodbye."

Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud and the cleanest air I've ever inhaled. Seven months to the day, Oct 4, and I could start another seven tomorrow. We're deeply grateful for the chance to live here so long, but today our goodbyes are keenly felt.

Behind each photo are a dozen Kiwis who were kind to us, extending friendship, concern, and good humor (and asking us how the US could have elected such a racist putz).

Which is to say Kiwis feel like a people apart. It's not that we don't know and love good-hearted people in the US--there's you, after all--but in NZ, ranked the second safest country in the world, people outside of major cities don't even lock their doors.

There's a pervasive sense that Kiwis know how to live the best possible life. Is it inherent in the culture? We will never forget the generosity of spirit extended to us every day. Or the approximately 900 flat whites we sipped in the exquisite landscapes of this country.

4816 miles later, a look back. Some stops were like re-visiting old friends, others new to us. Here are a few of our favorite things...

Auckland, City of Sails

Fish, god the fish

2015 friend Selwyn, who keeps the Rover for us

 Surf town Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island

New friends Hannah and Logan, his six-month campervan healing journey a success

Lake Hawea, South Island 

Anything cooked on Art's homemade grill

Lake Wanaka, South Island

The ability to walk for hours

The Queen Charlotte Track, SI

Raw milk from a 24-hour dispenser

 Inscrutable sheep

Art's sheep-horn walking stick

The Abel Tasman Great Walk, SI

Every organic shop we visited

Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park, SI

Lambchops (forever)

Cape Foulwind, West Coast SI
Getting soaked on a Buller River jetboat ride (Murchison, SI)

This campground in Punakaiki (West Coast, SI)

NZ rain showers

Blue Gorge near Hokitika, SI

A little caffeine in case you're growing tired

Road to Haast, SI


Lake Hauroko, deepest in NZ, SI

Riverton, SI

Stock crossings

Lake Te Anau, Fiordland, SI

Lake Manapouri, Fiordland, SI,

Doubtful Sound, Fiordland SI

The Catlins, SI
The road to Nugget Point Lighthouse, SI

Dunedin, SI

The Otago Peninsula, SI
Allans Beach on the Otago Peninsula


Sea lions on Waikouaiti Beach, SI

Fleur's Place (and Fleur herself) in Moeraki

Moeraki, SI

The historic quarter in Oamaru, SI

The inland road via Lewis Pass, SI
The Aorere Goldfields hike in Golden Bay, SI

Collingwood Beach where we camped in Golden Bay

Wharariki Beach (bows deeply), Golden Bay

This French girl at the Farewell Spit Cafe

Farewell Spit, Golden Bay

Patons Beach, Golden Bay

Totaranui Beach, Golden Bay, SI

The road to East Cape Lighthouse, NI

The beach at Whangamata, Coromandel, NI

Hot Water Beach in Hahei, Coromandel, NI

The Kauri Grove outside Coromandel Town, NI

 The view from Ben's airbnb in Kuatunu, Coromandel, NI

Until next time, campers, kia kaha