Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rules For My Slave - by Kassia Carter

The Little Brown Burmese Cat with a Big Personality

1).Wake up time in the mornings is 6am. Licking your nose and chin means I'm HUNGRY and you MUST get up and do something about it. Do not go back to sleep.

2). When I paw your face it means I want to be tickled. FOREVER. You will not stop and go back to sleep.  Tickle Me!

3). When I YELL at the door I want it OPEN. I may not necessarily WANT to go outside. If it's cold toughen up.  Go and buy a fur coat. LEAVE it open or I will carry on YELLING!

4). If I'm on the bench in the Kitchen I'm HUNGRY. Feed me. I will NOT get down until there is food on my plate.

5).When I am on top of the Kitchen Cupboards and want to get down. I will CALL you. I CANNOT jump down the same way I got up. You MUST come over and present your back so I can JUMP on you. I will do this as often as I like.

6). IF I am on my back I WANT my tummy rubbed. HARDER. LONGER. FOREVER. DON'T STOP!

7).IF I am talking to you I EXPECT an answer. I will talk as LONG and as LOUD as I like. You will keep replying.

8). If I want to sit on your knee, I will do so. I do not CARE what you are doing at the time, or what you have on your knee. I WILL fit regardless.

9). If I've been out in the rain and come in all WET, then I will DRY myself on the nearest human. I will NOT tolerate a towel. Only warm dry Humans will suffice.

10). Bedtime is 9.30pm SHARP. You will come at ONCE. If you don't I will carry on YELLING until you do.

11). In bed you MUST lie on your back so I can USE your boobs as a pillow. You MUST pull the blankets over me because it's COLD.

12). If you sleep on your side you MUST cuddle me until I go to sleep. I MUST be allowed to have my head on your pillow like you. I am HUMAN.

13). You will NOT breathe on me. You will NOT SNORE. If you do I will try and smother you with my paws over your face and nose. IF you CONTINUE, I will press harder.

"There be Rabbits out there"


Kassia Carter

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Aviation Museum, Omaka, Blenheim

When my friends Jill and Ian were down from Auckland a few weeks ago, we paid a visit to the Aviation Museum, about a 5 minute drive from my place.   I was really impressed with the exhibits, well presented, fabulous very real looking wax figures, and some of the planes were actually real.  We were told that if the planes had a drip tray in front of them, then they were real planes and most of these would be flown in air shows around the country.  However, no drip trays, then they were just models built for the actual exhibit.

I'm going to put some images of the museum up that I took, but don't ask me what the planes are, as I was so busy taking photos, I forgot to look.  Besides I know nothing about planes.  As far as I know they have wings, a motor and make a sputtering/chugging noise, and they fly and get you overseas when you need to go :)  having said that, I did actually remember to take a picture of the information on this plane...

This is a Caproni CA 22 which was introduced in 1913 by an Italian Count (Count Gianni Caproni).   It was configured as a parasol monoplane, meaning that the wings were perched above and separate from the fuselage just like a lady's parasol or umbrella.  It served as a two seat observation aircraft and flew with the Italian army's No. 15 Squadron beginning in April 1915.

The example displayed here is the sole survivor, and until recently was the property of the Caproni Museum.  So a pretty rare sight and wondeful that it can be displayed at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim.

I found a website with more information so am using this from now on...

This is an Etrich Taube. At the time war broke out in Europe, Austrian designer  Igo Etrich's elegant Taube had already been a successful aircraft for four years, having first flown in 1910. Harking back to the centuries of man wanting to 'fly like a bird', the Taube (Dove) has the distinction of being the most bird-like of any successful aeroplane ever built. This is one of the most dramatic exhibits. The aircraft is displayed as though flying in formation with another Taube, at height above a huge photographic background. It is under fire from a British Be2c and the observer is twisting round to fire his rifle back at the attacker.

I have since been told that Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame has been involved in setting up some of the displays, with his Weta Workshops, and that he owns many of them himself.  Not that we heard that from the people in the museum...

Although the museum was wonderful to see, I really wasn't impressed with the grumpy old man/men that were there for information and/security.  Shortly after I took this shot, we were meant to go through a door to continue round the display.  However, there was a number of people milling around there, so Jill, Ian and I decided to go the other way, where there were no people.  We were then all told off for going in the wrong direction.  We were spoken to like naughty children and told 'the planes were numbered!! It was quite a tirade from this old man.

Personally, when we were leaving, we decided it really would not have mattered which way we went, as most of the planes were all WW I, and with our very little knowledge it would have made no difference to us.

Then... just after this incident, I got told off AGAIN!  This time really badly..  So badly that an American tourist also there, a complete stranger to me, told the guy not to treat me like a child and to keep his hair on.  I didn't realise this at the time, but she came up to me later and told me that she thought he was my father, as only a father would speak in that way...

It happened like this....

See this one - looks cool - wax figures getting an injured man out of a plane, crashed in a field of mud...

Right next to it was an old US Army car with a nurse driving it.  Notice all that mud even on her clothes!  It looked totally real.  Which made me wonder if it was really mud or not.  So I took my forefinger, and touched the edge of it.  Lightly.  I expected my finger to sink into the mud, but no, it was all fibreglass.

You would have thought that actually got into the car to get my photo taken or something at the way this guy went off at me.

Jill came over and said 'What did you do????'

I said in a sort of loud voice.  Okay - loud voice..

"Mummy - I want to go home!!"

Jill laughed.

In actual fact, by this time I wasn't enjoying myself as the behaviour of this guy was actually rude.  I would say he needed a bit of customer service training.

I accept that I probably shouldn't have touched the exhibit, but if they are really scared that one finger will damage the fibreglass, then mayI suggest glass enclosures?   A simple, please do not touch the exhibits would have been sufficient, rather than being rude and treating me like a 5yo!

Here is the plane from the front - notice the mud!  Fascinating!  It's a Morane-Saulnier Type BB, constructed in 1915.  Small two-seater bi-plane intended for the reconnaissance role.  This one is a reproduction and is presently the world's sole intact example.  Intact but minus a few bullet holes as the aircraft features in the drama of a wounded pilot being dragged from the cockpit.

This was one of the many smaller models put together.  They weren't that big, but I was able to take the pictures as if they were flying, which I found a cool thing to do.  I have no idea what they are, but if you'd like to tell me, just leave a comment, and I'll go back and name them.

Most of the exhibits told a story - a piece of history of the plane, and wax figures depicted these. This one is the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8..

Nicknamed 'Harry Tate'’ after a popular music hall performer, the RAF R.E.8 was considered neither popular nor much of a performer. It was nevertheless built in considerable numbers and proved a necessary if not ideal workhorse. Just two R.E.8s survived the ravages of time and these are displayed in museums in London and Brussells. The aircraft displayed here is a reproduction built exactly to the original 1916 specifications here in New Zealand.

There was a display of propaganda posters which I found most interesting.  Actually - it makes me wild that governments used these tactics to get people to go to war. There were many more but it was quite dark so I couldn't actually photograph them as I didn't have my tripod.  Here's another that was meant to help the war effort...

I thought silver bullets were only needed for werewolves??  Seems a waste of silver to me!

The next image is purposely 'out of focus' to give you the impression it is moving.  To get this I moved the camera sideways as I took the shot.  Worked well although I had to practice a bit before I got the desired effect....

This is a story to make all New Zealanders proud.  It's about a Kiwi pilot,  Keith Logan 'Grid' Caldwell.. A successful combatant and highly respected leader, Grid Caldwell became New Zealand's highest scoring ace with 25 aerial victories to his credit. The display shows an amazing episode in Caldwell's story in which he managed to regain control of his SE5a fighter after it was crippled in a mid-air collision, managing to stabilise it by placing himself half in and half out of his cockpit for just long enough to nurse it back to the lines and jump clear just as it was about to crash. Caldwell survived his fall, and the war, and was C.O. Of RNZAF Base Woodbourne for the first half of the Second World War!  Pretty amazing really.

Here it is again showing by way of wax figure, how he landed the plane!

The next image is of a Fokker triplane...

These planes were made famous by the successes of 'The Red Baron' and his fellow pilots of the famous 'Flying Circus'.

Since the last surviving original Fokker Triplane was destroyed when the Berlin Museum was inadvertently destroyed by RAF bombing during WW-II, these are all carefully crafted reproductions, built to original dimensions and techniques, and kept in current flying condition.

The Triplanes on display are wearing the specific and carefully researched colours of individual machines that were operational with Jasta 11 during March of 1918. During this period the Jasta was being led by Manfred von Richthofen flying his all red Dr.I.

The following images are of a Nieuport 27 and a Siemens Schuckert in snow.  

Here we see a Royal Flying Corps Nieuport biplane that has been damaged in a dogfight with a German Siemens Schukert. The Nieuport has crashed in a large tree and the pilot has managed to clamber down where he has been greeted warmly by the German flyer who has landed nearby. The two flyers share a cigarette as German soldiers look on, all of them standing in a think carpet of snow to produce what must be one of the most dramatic museum displays to be seen anywhere in New Zealand.

I did think the plane in the tree was very impressive.

Here is another one of the small model planes which I loved to photograph.  No information about these ones that I can find now I'm out of the museum!

The following image is of the Death of the Red Barron. It depicts the death of Manfred Von Richthofen on 21st April, 1918. The Baron had been mortally wounded by ground fire while pursuing a Sopwith Camel at low level, just as another Camel was trying to attack from behind. Barely able to hold onto consciousness, the German ace managed to crash-land the aircraft before he died. The display shows the crashed,Triplane with the late Baron lying beside it, as Australian ground troops tear the Triplane apart for souvenirs, just as it happened 89 years ago.

Finally - just one more model shot which I think is bright and colourful and very cute.  If I were to fly a plane, I'd want it to look just like this...

As we were leaving, Jill asked one of the men 'wardens' who worked there, how the displays came about as they were so fantastic, and so interesting.

His reply?

'Who cares????'

So we are still in the dark how this all came about.  A great place to go to, really interesting.  Shame about the grumpy staff, who could make such a difference to the visit.  I don't regret going, but I would definitely like to know more.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Images of the Rodeo

Back in the beginning of January I was up on my friends farm in Peria.  My friends were responsible for putting on a great day for the Rodeo.  So I grabbed my camera and went along for the ride!  I loved the excitement, the pink shirts, the cowboys walking around with limps, some in plaster casts, the boots, the hats, the dust and the power of the bulls.  I was quite surprised at how much I did enjoy it.  These are some of the images I took that day...

It's all about the turn of the head apparently.  Once the head has been turned the steer goes down quite easily, but until that, it's hard work for the cowboy as the steers are many times heavier.

I'm so glad jeans are made to last and they didn't split up the middle!  Or maybe it would have been a better image if they had...

These guys are so agile, jumping from a moving horse onto a moving steer.  They make it look so easy, but I know if I tried, I'd probably land face down in the dust.  No - I'm not about to try.  Ever.

Whoops.  There goes another hat.  You'd think they would glue the hats down with those toupee strips!  (Which by the way are excellent to stick your cochlear implant or hearing aids to the side of your head if you're going to do horse riding, or bull riding!)

This guy not only lost his hat, he lost the steer as well.  Toupee strips, toupee strips are the answer.  Sigh.

I was amazed at the sheer size and muscularity of the bull.  This is one animal I would not like to take on and I admire the bravery (stupidity?) of the cowboys that get on them, only to be flung off like a rag-doll, with the chance the angry bull could trample them underfoot.  It didn't happen while I was there, but apparently the day before someone was gored.

Amazingly this guy didn't fall off at this point and went on for another few minutes before being tossed off!

There he goes - and look - he's not using toupee strips to hold his hat on either!

I'm also in awe of how the bulls can leap around in mid air despite their size and weight.  This one looks snortingly angry!

That guy in the background spent a lot of time half way up that fence.  I'm not sure how safe he was up there really, if the bull got it into his head to use him for target practice.

Air-borne and dangerous!

This very distinctive coloured bull was probably the biggest of the day and put up a huge fight...

To me the bulls are so totally unpredictable in the way the lash out with their hind legs, I was surprised not to see more injuries.  I guess the guys in the ring have a bit of experience behind them.

Look at that dust storm beneath his feet.  Look how high he's off the ground!

And he's still on top!

But not for long!!!

And yes - my camera got very dusty that day.  So much so that I had to go out and buy a new camera the following month!

These are the cowboys in pink shirts that herded the steers/bulls out of the ring after each ride.  The shirts say 'Tough Enough to Wear Pink'.  Tough men actually look sexy in pink don't you think?

Another angry bull.  This one was just standing on one leg.  The rest were flying!

This next lot is a sequence of a cowboy in a pink shirt and his bid to stay on one of the larger bulls of the day.  The emotions, and expressions and movements of the men in the ring tell a story in itself...

Mr Orange Shirt getting out of the way.  If you look closely you can see how hot the day was, and how much effort was required to stay on the bull.  It's that damp patch under the arm.  Maybe next year they could get one of the deodorant companies to sponsor the event!

In my opinion, what makes this image so good is not only the fact that the bull is caught in midair, but also the eye contact between the guy in the orange shirt and the bull.   The guy in the orange shirt is almost in midair himself as well.  That makes the image exciting.

This is the next one in the sequel, notice how the guy in the orange shirt has his hand on the bull to try and guide it around.  Madness, madness.

Once again, another power image with the expression and eye contact of the guy in the orange shirt, and the bull in midair.  Even the mucus from the cow has been caught in the air.

The way this cowboy has stayed on has been amazing.  I'm pretty sure he must have won his round, but because of my deafness, I never heard who the winners were.

Now the bull is making mucus rings!  That was the last shot in that series.  I think the guy must have come off after that.

I have just two more images (hope you're aren't bored).  That I feel are worthy...

Yeeehaa!  But it also almost looks like the bull is smelling those daisies at the same time.

The guy fell off after this shot.    The bull wasn't as big either as the last ones either.  But still impressive how they leap so far up in the air.

Finally - just one more...

I thought bulls only did this in stories.  I was surprised to see it kicking up the dust in warning.  I wouldn't like to be in front of it just now!