If you visited this site on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you probably either saw nothing but a directory structure or a blank page. That’s because the server that hosts this blog was subjected to a denial of service attack. In the end, the hosting company had to move everything to another server and, of course, that took time. We’re back up now, however, so I can continue to annoy those who don’t like science!
The trip to Milford Sound was amazing, but it was a really full day. So our next day was just a quiet, relaxing day. Kathleen went into town, and I went fishing on the lake. I actually caught a nice rainbow trout.
“Incredible” just isn’t enough to describe our experiences over the past few days. We left Hastings and flew to Queenstown. Once again, there was no security on the plane. We just walked up, gave them our names and bags, and off we went. I will definitely miss this kind of flying.
Kathleen was looking forward to this part of the trip more than any other, and it is easy to see why. We are staying at a place called Blanket Bay. It is on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, which is just amazing. It is New Zealand’s longest lake (about 50 miles long), and it is nothing short of spectacular:
When I ended my previous “travelogue,” we had just arrived in Hastings, which is in the heart of one of New Zealand’s best wine-making regions. As I said, we stayed in a lovely lodge that regularly treated us to sights like this one.
I am not sure how much time I will have to write while I am in New Zealand, but I hope to post at least a few updates. So far, the only word I have for this country is AMAZING! Getting here is long, difficult, and expensive, but it is so worth it. I am just in awe. If you want to truly experience the grandeur of God’s creation, this is one of the places you must visit.
I flew from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur to Auckland. My lovely and far-too-patient wife, Kathleen, was there waiting for me. This is how we are celebrating 25 years of marriage. Well…I am celebrating. I suspect Kathleen is mourning. In any event, we stayed at the Auckland Hilton, which had an amazing view.
They have me working pretty hard at this convention. I have given three talks each day and have done several individual meetings with different educators. As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of time to see the sights. However, the hotel has a really nice view:
We went to a restaurant last night that is on the river that goes through the town in which the conference is held. It was very pretty, and because it is so warm here, we ate outside:
The restaurant did something very interesting. They brought a lantern that was covered by a thin fabric down to the river and lit the lantern:
As the lantern warmed the air in the fabric, it become like a hot-air balloon. Eventually, they released it, and it floated out over the river:
It then rose high into the air:
This is based on a Buddhist ritual in which the believer casts his or her bad luck, bad feelings, hurts, and stresses onto the lantern. As the lantern rises, those bad things are carried away from the believer. Nearly 95% of Thailand’s population is Buddhist, so most of what you see in Thailand has been influenced by Buddhism.
Even though I don’t typically blog on things like this, the dives I had in the Caribbean were amazing, so I have to show some pictures. The best one, by far, was the dive in Tortola, where I got to examine the wreck of the Rhone. The ship sank in 1867, and the remains are awesome! Here, for example, is the tip of the bow:
Here are the remains of the “crows nest” that was on top of the mast:
And the remains of one of the boilers used to drive the steam engine:
There was even a section of tile floor that was still intact and not completely overtaken by coral:
While the Rhone was by far my favorite dive (it actually took two dives to see it all), my favorite pictures are as follows. First, the “serious side” of a spotted moray eel:
and these wonderful red-and-white shrimp:
All in all, it was a great set of dives!
My blog will be silent for the next few days, because I will be on vacation in the Caribbean. I’ll be doing a lot of diving, and I am especially excited, because I will be seeing things like this:
Expect something the week of the 15th!
I will be speaking at PHILCON again this year. This has become a yearly tradition that just keeps getting more enjoyable. My good friends Richard Stout, Christopher Stout, and JJ Brannon will be there, and we always have an awesome time.
This should be a better-than-usual convention for two reasons:
1. My old college room mate, Frank Wu will be there. He has made quite a name for himself in fantasy art, and I haven’t seen him since college.
2. While I normally speak on how realistic the SCIENCE part of “Science Fiction” is, this year, I am especially excited to be on a panel about one of my obsessions, World of Warcraft. It should be a hoot. Philcon always gives you a sign to put in front of you when you speak on a panel, but I am thinking of making a special one for this talk:
As that is my main character on World of Warcraft.
Because I spend most of my time people-watching (there is NO better place to do that than at a science fiction convention), I won’t have time to do any blogging. Look for something after Thanksgiving!
He’s a music man and he sells clarinets to the kids in the town with the big trombones and the rat-a-tat drums, big barass bass, big brass bass, and the piccolo, the piccolo with uniforms, too with a shiny gold braid on the coat and a big red stripe runnin . . .
If you don’t know what that is, it’s a line from the Broadway Musical called The Music Man. Why am I posting this? Because I was just cast as Harold Hill in our local community theater’s production of this classic Broadway Hit.
So…if anyone is in Anderson, Indiana for the first two weekends of October, feel free to come see me make a fool of myself!