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Posts Tagged ‘Wellington’

Laufen

May 11, 2010 Leave a comment

For the first time in nearly three months, I’m able to run again.  And it feels great.

I ran a whole bunch in high school, doing both track and cross country for 3-ish years.  As I got into college, I stopped running on its own, but still got a lot of it in during outdoor Frisbee games.  Unfortunately, here in New Zealand, outdoor Frisbee isn’t very common, especially since we’re entering indoor season.

I started running again my first week here.  The scenery down by the harbor is gorgeous, and it’s very open and not too populated most of the day.  You could run for literally as far as you want (up to probably 100 miles), but you can’t really get a loop in for anything less than 10 miles and have to backtrack.

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During my South Island adventure with Lena, we climbed a mountain that was basically just hundreds of stairs straight up.  I didn’t feel anything at the time, but I’m pretty sure this is when I strained my Achille’s tendon.  Over the next few days, my left ankle started to bother me, but I figured it was just the fact that I’d been wearing my hiking boots too much.  (After all, I’d had trouble with hiking boots in the past.)

When I got back home I rested a few days, and then tried going for another run down by the harbor.  Within a few minutes, my ankle was throbbing.  I went back home, took some Advil, iced it, and took two weeks off.

Two weeks later, my ankle was feeling great.  There was no soreness in it at all, and I thought I had healed.  I went for an 8k run up into Karori.  There’s some hills, but nothing too terrible.  And it felt great.  I had no problems the entire run, and got home feeling great.

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Allenby Terrace, the 20-stories of stairs between me and the city

But the next morning, my ankle was worse than what it was before.  It was swollen pretty badly, and I had to take Advil just to walk.  Kat finally convinced me to make a doctor’s appointment.

Of course, by the time they were able to fit me in, my ankle had “healed” again.  It was still a tiny bit sore when going up large flights of stairs (of which Wellington has many), but otherwise had no problem.  The doctor told me, as I had done before, to wait it out.

And so I did.  For three weeks this time.

After three weeks of nearly no strenuous activity (no major hikes, no running, and only very light, short jogging in Frisbee), I decided to go for a very easy 5k run down at the harbor.  Once again, within 10 minutes my ankle was acting up.  UGH.

Back to the doctor, I was told that I should check out physical therapy.  Nothing major, just minor exercises to get slowly back into using my ankle.  Unfortunately, I had to put that on hold because I left the next morning for my two week North Island trip.

Throughout the trip, I had zero problems with my ankle.  It even help up to the 19km hike of Tongariro (including the extra 2km up gravel paths to Tongariro’s summit).  Maybe I’d just wait it out again and not worry about physio…

So I did.  School caught up with me, so I didn’t really have much time to think about running anyway.  I did a little bit of very short running in Frisbee, as always, and never thought about my ankle at all.  Even with Taranaki, the fairly brutal, nearly straight-up hike, I was golden.

And so here I am today.  This morning, I decided to give it another go.  I ran down The Terrace to Parliament, along the Harbor to Oriental Bay, and then back up half of the 20-stories worth of stairs that make up Allenby Terrace.  6.5km and I feel great.  It’s nice to have my body back!

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Regina Spektor

May 8, 2010 Leave a comment

This past Monday, May 3, we went to see Regina Spektor in concert at the Saint James Opera House.

For those of you who don’t know Regina Spektor, she’s a singer/songwriter who plays mostly piano and a little guitar.  She was born in Russia, but moved to New York with her family at a fairly young age to pursue her music career.  She’s got a fun personality to most of her songs, but she has quite a range, being able to explore both the high side and the dark side or music.  She also uses her voice as an instrument more than most singers I know, going beyond words to really get her point across.

Before going to the concert, John and I stopped at Hell Pizza on Bond Street for All-You-Can-Eat Monday.  For $12, you get all you can eat pizza for two hours (and $8 beer pitchers to boot).  Not a buffet in the traditional American sense, you sit there and they bring pizzas around every 10-15 minutes and you pick what you want.  It’s best to get there early, because there’s no telling how quickly the pizzas will come out.  For us, we only got 2 slices in the first 45 minutes, but were attacked with nearly 5 or 6 in the next 15.  And it’s good pizza too.  (Where else can you find a pizza called “Mordor?”)

Hell's Pizza

John and I also played a little darts while we waited for pizza.  He’s the first person I’ve met that actually knows how to play darts, and he schooled me.  Our first game, No-Score Cricket, was very close, but he ended up pulling out the win in the end.  But he dominated me in the second game, 41, until a fluke near the end had him clenching the victory for only a few points.

Dartboard

We took off towards the Saint James Theatre, meeting Lena and getting in just in time for the opening band to start.  The band, Jupiter One, started out with just a lone Asian man playing violin and singing on the stage.  He had an absolutely beautiful voice and used his violin in really interesting ways.  Soon he brought out a cellist, and finally a drummer who played only the snare.  After a while the violinist switched to electric guitar and the beat picked up a bit.  They were a really fun band and had a pretty unique sound.  What impressed me more than anything else was the mesh of the personalities.  The violinist seemed nervous and focused on the music, not talking much.  The cellist sat in the back like a sentinel, looking almost like a samurai, unmoving.  And the drummer was extremely outgoing and talkative.  He told lots of jokes and seemed like he’d rather talk than play.

Jupiter One

There was a long intermission between Jupiter One and Regina, and people started to get impatient.Regina Spektor More than once a train clap was started to try and bring her out.  (This is when I realized that Kiwis are completely miserable at trying to get a train clap going.  It ended up dying in a half-hearted golf clap before it got anywhere.)

But despite the wait, when Regina finally did come out and starting singing, I got goosebumps.  As incredible as her voice is on CD, it’s even more amazing in person.  She managed to hit every note perfectly, meshing well with the piano at the same time.

Regina played piano by herself for a while, playing a few songs I had never heard before, along with Wallet, Ballad of a Politician, and Summer in the City. After that she moved to guitar for a few songs, including That Time. That really surprised me, because I didn’t even know she played guitar.

She moved back to piano, brought in Jupiter One as her backup band, and continued with the rest of her setlist, a lot more popular songs (Folding Chair, Better, Machine, and One More Time With Feeling to name a few).  Machine was one of my favorites, especially the way they used the lights to match the mood.  (The video below is from YouTube from a show in Paris, not the show I went to.)

She finally finished with On the Radio, one of my personal favorites.  She received a standing ovation, and of course came back out to perform her 3-song encore of Samson, Us, and her most popular song Fidelity.

This was the first concert in a while that seemed to pass by in an instant.  I sat amazed for most of the time, only pausing to take a photograph here and there.  I tried to take some videos, as well, but the video on my camera didn’t turn out at all.  (I know that DSLRs aren’t made for video, but I expected the video on such an amazing camera to be at least mediocre, but, at least with the conditions at the concert, I could probably have gotten better video (especially sound) out of a cellphone camera.)

Regina and Band

Still, the show was absolutely incredible and 100% worth the money.  If you ever have the chance to see Regina Spektor in concert, I suggest you take it.

Full Album: Regina Spektor @ St. James Opera House

Power Outage

April 22, 2010 1 comment

Around 3pm today, I was talking to Kat on Skype when suddenly my connection died and my lights turned off–the power went out.  I thought that perhaps a circuit in my room blew, but checked the rest of the house, and it was all dead too.  The emergency lights had even kicked on.

Not being able to get any work done without a computer, I decided to head downtown to run some errands I needed done.  Leaving my house, I noticed that the lights were off in all the buildings around me.  Their power was off too.

Even down on The Terrace, the first major road near my house, the traffic lights were black.  Cars had to haphazardly guess when to go.  It’s a pretty big intersection, and stop signs are a rarity here–never at intersections like that.  I didn’t see any accidents, but there wasn’t any order to it at all.

Source: Wikipedia

As I got down into the city, the same thing–all of the traffic lights were off.  All of the lights in shops were off.  Most shops were closing since they couldn’t do any business without lights.  It was as though the entire city were shutting down, and it was an interesting sight.

Business men with only 2-hours left in their day, decided to leave work early.  They were lining the streets, either smoking or heading to pubs to pass the time.  Those that did decide to try and head home got stuck in large amounts of traffic.  And still no street lights.  Even the buses were unreliable since they partially run on electrical lines above the road.  Some of them were stopped dead in the street.

Of course, I couldn’t get any of my errands done since the shops were closed.  Sushi shops started selling their remaining stock at huge discounts (5 rolls for $2).  And everyone seemed just a little confused.

I read in a news article that quite a few people were stuck in lifts in office buildings.  In fact, a friend of mine had her exam cancelled for that very reason; the professor was stuck, with the exam papers, in a lift.

The whole outage lasted for about an hour and a half and aftected 84,000 homes (and countless businesses) including most of the suburbs and all of downtown Wellington.  Apparently,

The fault occurred in the Wilton sub-station, where “vital maintenance” was being undertaken on one of the “buses” delivering a power feed to central Wellington, grid operator Transpower said.

Another bus at the substation, which was carrying load instead, failed, removing the back-up that is always supposed to be available while maintenance is occurring.  [source]

Oddly enough, an article published just three days ago spoke of upgrades to the network that would “allow us greater flexibility to re-direct power during a supply interruption…[and] minimise outages.”

It seems a little crazy that the power could be put out in an entire city for that long a time by simple maintenance.  Then again, power has been cut to huge sections of the US in the past.  This is on a much smaller scale than that.