Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Work Trip

My normal work routine of living in front of the computer each day was shattered last week as I was required to travel to Napier and SFF's Takapau Plant for three days of internal auditing and meetings.

Initially I wasn't keen at all to audit another laboratory but in hindsight I'm glad I took the opportunity. It was great to get out of Balcutha for a while and spending time in another SFF lab made me realise the problems I have in my own lab (eg., minimal bench space) are not unique to our Plant.

While I was a tad nerous about conducting my first audit I actually enjoyed the experience. I was worried I wouldn't find anything useful to write about but after a day and a half of digging I managed to write about 14 recomendations which I think were well received.

As for the Lab Managers' meeting on the first day, it could have gone a bit better but we did agree to action a couple things relevant to all three labs and I did make some useful contacts.

But, the only problem with this kind of work trip is the hours. I was up at 0430 last Monday morning to catch the flight from Dunedin to Wellington and was only able to relax by myself in my motel room after 2030 that night. That's a long day. Then there's the extra study involved before doing the audit and writing up the recommendation and corrective actions. 

Nevertheless, a good learning experience.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter Road Trip: The West Coast

A week late as usual but a quick post today documenting our trip to the West Coast over the Easter break. Unfortunately a departing Cyclone meant the weather was absolute crap during our visit, but nevertheless we spent a good three days exploring the Haast region and Fox Glacier.

Here are some pictures:

Lake Wanaka - the only time we saw the sun.

Warbirds over Wanaka Air Show.

Good Friday - DOC Haast Visitor Center, before the rain.

The Haast River Bridge. Strong winds had blown a car off it the day before our visit   
Our accommodation for several nights - Erewhon Beach Motel, Haast Beach.

 Knights Point. West Coast.

 At times the rain was so heavy that it became difficult to drive.

Jackson Bay Wharf - The road between Haast and Jackson Bay was almost impossible as heavy seas had eroded into the road in places.

 Jackson Bay, looking South towards the storm.
We did a short walk across Jackson Head.

We didn't stop long here as the rain was torrential.

A great place for a bite to eat. 

Storm debris on Bruce Bay.

 A nice touch on Bruce Bay. 

 Traffic delays as the Karangarua River Bridge was limited to one car at a time.

Fox glacier. Rowena's first glacier visit.

 Soaking wet. Time to purchase a better jacket I think.

 A side stream below Fox Glacier. DOC were closing the track behind us as we walked back to the car park as some rivers were becoming flooded.

 Photos in the rain!

My favorite tramping track - The Copland Track - was closed due to storm damage (tree falls) and flooding.

The wind must have been ferocious as the Copland Track Shelter toilet had been blown over (you can see the remains in the distance)

Snapped branches near the Copland Shelter.

 In contrast, the weather at Kingston was brilliant.

Forty Today

Where has the time gone?

Yep, today is my 40th birthday. Time to go and buy an expensive sports car or motorcycle, head to the gym to regain my old body and pretend I'm 25 again. Nah, been there, done that.

But seriously, it seems like only yesterday that I was having my thirtieth birthday dinner in Palmerston North with a bunch of good friends. Ten years on and most of those friends are scattered across the world pursing there chosen careers.

For me, my thirties represented a time of changed. I left stable jobs in New Zealand to travel and work overseas. I meet my wife while in Korea and we returned to Nz to start over again. Not an easy task.

Soon my wife will become a permanent NZ resident and we will have a few more choices to make.

But for today it will be a quiet one for me. My wife and I are heading to the beach for a stroll in the autumn sun and a big thank you to her for making my day special.


Thanks ma and pa for your surprise visit!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Day of Interviews

One of the joys of being a Manager is that I get to spend the entire day tomorrow interviewing short-listed applicants for a Laboratory Technician role in my department that opened up recently. 

Yep, 7 interviews in total tomorrow starting at 8 am and finishing at 4pm. One interviewee is an internal applicant and one interview will be conducted over Skype which can make things extra awkward at times.

The problem I have with conducting interviews is that they require a lot of concentration and can be extremely tiring. At least thou I'll share the burden with my boss whose joining me.

On the positive side, the more people I interview the more chance I have of finding the right person.

5 Hilarious Job Interview Sketches from Saturday Night Live 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beep Fitness Test

Running, running and more running.

In the 4 weeks leading up to the start of the soccer season our new coach has been killing the 20 or so people coming to training twice a week. Full-field progressions, hill sprints, stair running, beep tests, 2.4 km time trials, core strength exercises are just some of the fun things we have been doing.

Of course I'm feeling fitter but with only three days until our first competitive game the coach still hasn't told anyone whose in what team, which isn't great. Further, we haven't practiced any set pieces or worked on our ball skills at speed or under pressure.

Anyway, last night I did a beep test for the second time in three weeks and the improvement was there to see.

date: 11/03/2014, Level 7.0
date: 3/4/2014, Level 10.1

bleep or beep test diagram 
Again, I do feel fitter and last weekend I managed to play a pre-season against a Southland/Otago Premier Div Team for almost 70 minutes without hurting the following day. But I still feel that I'm not as fast or as fit as I use to be. Age is a bugger really.

Rock & Pillar Range

It was Otago Anniversary Day (24th March) meaning no work. Sweet!

With not much to do I dragged Rowena off the sofa and toured along Highway 87 to The Rock and Pillar Range, about 1 hour West of Dunedin. This place is famous for its harsh weather and numerous rock tors, seen in Peter Jackson's LOTR Two Towers movie.

During our day we did a cool circuit walk around Sutton Salt Lake - New Zealand's only inland salt lake - and then stopped off at Macraes' Flat.

Standard picture in front of a sign.

The driver doesn't open gates.

Another hobbit spotted in the rock tors

Sutton Salt Lake. Middle of no where basically.


Macraes Flat

Macraes Flat...again

Gold Mine

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wananka Trip

As a second anniversary trip my wife and I spent a weekend in Wanaka. We wanted to go somewhere different and Wanaka seemed like a logical choice.

We arrived  before lunch and Oour first activity was our course, Puzzling World. The last time I was here was with my parents over 20 years ago. I remember them arguing with one another as we struggled to navigate the maze so I did my best not to do the same this time with my wife. So I'm pleased to report we  managed to reach the 4 seperate corners of the maze in quick time, but finding the exit door was a real challenge.

After the maze we spent some time in each of the 5 optical illusion rooms. Both of us felt dizzy at times and Rowena ending up crawling on the floor at one stage.

We then had lunch on the Wanaka waterfront before heading to the shops for a look. After booking into our accommodation we spent a hour at Click N' Climb. It's amazing how tired you can get racing up a wall for 60 minutes but heaps of fun.

To finish off the day we walked up Mt Iron in the late evening, which turned out to be harder than we predicted as we took the long way back to the carpark. In fact, we were both buggered after a day of exercise.

The next morning we took a very long side-trip to Haast Pass before heading back home. On the way we stopped at Lake Hawea, Makarora , the Blue Pools (where are sand flies are just horrible) and Fantail Falls.

A good trip but I just wish we had more time to explore the beautiful places we visit. 

Puzzling World
So strong.

Ready for action at Click N' Climb.

  At the top.. now what do I do?

 Right at home.

Not my best pose.

At the bottom of Mt Iron.

Half way up.

Coming down the other side.

Blue Pools, Haast Pass.

Cool stone pillars.