Posts by Andrew Johnson

  • Hard News: There in half the time:…,

    I've been using my ebike on and off for the last two years for my 12km ride from Pakuranga through Botany to work. Biggest difference: 126 average heart rate vs 150 on the regular bike, and not being a grossly sweaty teacher when I arrive at my first class.

    Not being the grossly sweaty teacher, as well as the crazy grin, are the main reasons for an ebike for me!

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: There in half the time:…, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Here's a great video of an early e-bike owning the Tour of NZ on the Rimataka hill... I've got the newer model, and it handles hills pretty well. Watch the battery weight on fast downhills, though...

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: Paths where we actually ride,

    I just been looking at the AT cycling maps, and for the life of me I cannot find a route from Manukau to the city that would be safe. Apparently you're allowed to cycle from the west, and soon from the east (well, as long as you not coming from further than the Panmure train station, sorry Pakuranga and Howick), but if you are from the south, NO BIKE FOR YOU.

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Up Front: So Farewell Then, UCSA,

    It's so weird - I had a very very large number of formative experiences in that building, and every time I've gone back to Chchch since the quake, I've been kinda surprised that it's not open.

    I spent over 10 years on and off in the Uni performing art clubs, even up to working at UC in the 00's. The Ngaio Marsh theatre is a huge, staggering loss to NZ performing arts. I'm not overstating this. Enormous numbers of NZ actors, writers, directors, and comedians got their first real taste of the craft there. The current Court Jesters at Court Theatre, 48 Hours teams around the country, chunks of Sam Neill's and Rhys Darby's career... all of these things are a testament to the UCSA and how its SPACES let us try things and grow.

    Dramasoc, Musoc, and Comedy Club didn't just rehearse, argue there, and flirt there - the UCR became the home for smaller shows in the 90s and 00s, and any spare space in the building got used for rehearsal pretty much every night of the year, unimpeded by authority figures and supported by good natured and sometimes conspiratorially helpful security staff. It was a place of experimentation - and some astonishing theatre, comedy, and improv over the years. Without it, many people I know who now work in the arts would NEVER had had the chance.

    And much of that culture is now being lost, especially with no replacement for the Ngaio going in.

    Aside from that, the beer, the baked potatoes in the cafe, the gigs in the ballroom, the endless games of pool in the corner of the main cafe, the sitting in the sun in the amphitheatre - there was CANTA and RDU, tucked in their little niches around the edges of the Ngaio. Both the starting point for endless fiddling with journalism and media, and for many of us, a crucial part of the uni experience.

    Sure, I got a degree or two at uni. But all my REAL education was at the UCSA.

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: Lowering the Stakes,

    I have cycled in every major city in NZ for the last 20 years. Now living in Auckland, I think I can say I've never been as terrified on the road as I am here. The roads are awful - cycle lanes disappear into multicar lanes with no curb space throughout the city, in a way that I haven't seen anywhere in NZ.

    I cycle 99% legally and 100% defensively... but in Auckland, I find myself more and more having to do illegal things (hello, footpath!) to stay safe. By the time my children get to cycling age, I'll be leaving Auckland. This city is increasingly unlivable.

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: Tooled Up for Food,


    My favourite kitchen tool doesn’t fit in my kitchen… yet.

    This is Mork, my kamado bbq. Oven, really. Bread, pizza, smoking, and charcoal bbq, and can hold temperatures from 80c to 450+c. Here he is, warming up before meeting an upstanding new friend.

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: Friday funnies, mostly,

    My wife is an electrical engineer who works in Electricity Generation planning for Large Power in Nz. She's also completing a PhD in the topic right now.

    She laughs at nuclear power in NZ, then gets stuck in to the uninformed who suggest it.

    3 major things:
    (1) Cost. Hugely expensive to set up and run, given the size of our country, power grid, and resources.

    (2) Earthquakes, risk, and risk. NZ and Japan have somewhat similar seismic profiles, even though their population leaves my Japanese friends wondering how we all stay sane in such a lonely place. Anyhow, everyone remember the quakes early this year in Japan? AND THE NUCLEAR POWER STATION THAT LEAKED? Nuff said.

    (3) NIMBY. NZers have major fits over WINDMILLs, for crying out loud. Imagine the public horror at having a reactor next door!

    Maybe the nuke power supporters could all band together, form a town, and have the generator there? That is, if they're comfortable with that....

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Hard News: We'll find out where all the…,


    Right, let's see: Christchurch, NZ's second or third largest city, (depending on how you count the valleys of sub-cities around Wellington) has a lively central city with a boozy populace. But wait... I travel NZ frequently in my work, hang in out cities and towns all over the show... and while the concentration of boozy meatheads is higher in central chchch, I'd actually argue that if you concentrated the boozy meatheads from the other cities in the fairly tight social areas that Chch concentrates them in, you'd end up with the same thing.

    This is not a chchch issue. Wellington (Hutt Valley!), North Shore, the entire centre of Hamilton... all of these places could have housed a party that parents didn't know about, that could have spilled onto the road, that could have gone rowdy. Heck, they DO. Most weekends. That's WHY this is news. It's happening all the time and it's a national "issue". This one resulted in some outrageous deaths. I went past a party in Wellington the other night that could have done the same thing, as they were practicing their bottle throwing at passing cars.

    Central Welly has more yuppies, as does certain bits of the Auckland nightlife, which dilutes the meatheads somewhat... but this stuff is happening down the road from you, no matter where you live.

    I feel perfectly safe in most bits of most cities in NZ at night. Bit if I see a boozy party or raucous group spilling out of a bar? I'm crossing the street.

    Auckland, mostly. • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report