Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Seventh One: Driving Miss Kiwi

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.

Doesn’t time fly. September is at an end (which reminds me, I need to go and wake up Greenday) and there are only just over two more weeks left for me in New Zealand.

I did my talk on Friday and I’m still alive. It wasn’t too bad in the end and I may even stretch to it being good. There weren’t that many people for me to speak at, three or four consultants (one of whom was the Head of Medicine at the hospital) and a few registrars. This in some way makes it worse than there being loads of people as you have to look in the eyes of the actual doctors while they judge your work. My biggest worry was that they would all start sarcastically clapping. Needless to say this didn’t happen so that was pretty good. I even got a couple of comments saying I should be pleased with my research and that it should be published. Which is nice. Perhaps they were also embarrassed by the relatively small number of people in the meeting room and were just being polite. Either way there was no sarcastic clapping so it would seem I got away with it.

So if anybody reading this runs a medical journal and you would like to publish some research on risk stratifying acute upper GI bleeds then give me a call. I am aware that this is possibly the laziest way to get published. Perhaps I will get my study in this...

Apparently there is no dedicated scientific journal for the subject of laziness or apathy. Perhaps nobody has been sufficiently motivated enough to start one. Perhaps I will. Nah, can’t be bothered.

Perhaps everyone else can get published in this... http://www.intuitive-connections.net/issue1/journal.htm ...as I am sure you saw that coming.

Having access to a car and a long weekend we decided to take a road trip around the North Island (the South Island being relatively tricky to drive to). Actually that last bracketed comment is incorrect as I had forgotten about the interisland ferry. This takes you from the North Island to the South island across the Cook Strait. The Cook Strait is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable “straits” in the world. On each side of the Strait the tide is almost exactly out of phase, resulting in high water meeting low water resulting in strong and unpredictable tidal surges. The remains of giant squid have been washed up from there. It would have been more accurate therefore to say, (the South Island being relatively tricky to drive to without a ferry, a strong stomach and a giant squid rifle).

Our trip was going to take us down the East coast to Napier where we would stay the night. Then on to Wellington where we would stay two nights. Then back up to Rotorua via Mount Ruapehu. Sorted.

Napier was a nice little touristy sort of town. All of the buildings are in the Art Deco style as the 1931 earthquake caused the previous town to fall down. Napier was then rebuilt in a style that was popular at the time. “This will never go out of style” They must have thought at the time. In a strange way it hasn’t. The town’s art deco, old fashioned appearance means that it remains on the map as a popular tourist destination. You can also pretend that you’ve gone back in time (if you ignore Starbucks and look at the collection of old-fashioned cars on display) which is fun Napier also has New Zealand’s national aquarium which is pretty good. You can see sharks, turtles, piranhas, crocodiles, tuataras (which technically have three eyes and whose teeth don’t replace themselves as they are actually projections from the skull rather than actual teeth. This means that as they get old they get worn down and tuataras need to switch from insects to softer food such worms or slugs. Perhaps I will make my millions by making false teeth for tuatara. ) and kiwis!

Kiwis? In an aquarium? Kiwis can’t swim (I didn’t check) but as they are fairly endangered I’m not going to begrudge an extra one hanging around in an aquarium. Kiwis are great. Obviously they are one of New Zealand’s national symbols, are one of the only birds to have a well developed sense of smell and are awake only for 4 hours, sleeping the rest of the time. Before you start getting carried away and start wishing you were a kiwi, dressing up as one at weekends and calling yourself ...um..Stevey, you should also know that they lay the largest egg in proportion to their body size (20%) of any bird. No wonder they are endangered. Perhaps conservations should concentrate on getting existing kiwis an epidural. Or at least some nitrous oxide. Surprisingly their closest living relative is the emu. I have never seen one attack Michael Parkinson though. I would like to.

Wellington was much different to any large city I guess but made a change from the smaller less lively New Zealand cities that I was used to. The national museum (Te Papa) is excellent and free! You can certainly learn a lot about New Zealand the country, the wildlife, the art and the people. As it was raining it was also pretty good to be inside. Well done Te Papa. Also your name is fun to say as it is silly. Also well done on pickling that giant squid. That is one big squid! (The lens from its eye was as big as an orange, but probably less tasty)

Not well done to whoever is in charge of New Zealand’s roads and also not well done to New Zealand drivers. Roads shouldn’t bend so sharply that you need a 25kph (15mph). Come on New Zealand. Anybody would think the Romans never reached you.
Now come on New Zealand drivers. I know that the state highways (New Zealand motorways) are single lane with sporadic overtaking lanes, but there’s no need to be such aggressive tailgaters. You are not haemorrhoids so could you kindly remove yourselves from my backside! Go and see Disney Pixar’s Up instead. It’ll put you in a much better mood as it is brilliant. You can see it in 3D as well. Imagine that! It might also inspire you to attach thousands of balloons to your car and float away from me. A good thing.

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