The Family Down Under
December 29th, 2003 | View Post


Riding the train from Auckland (taken after this was written)
The fam has now been in NZ for the last two days and it has been a fun time. We will be headed off in about 9 hrs from this writing to take a 12 hour scenic train ride through the North Island and end up in Wellington. Got some new pictures online. That's about all for now.

Christmas in Lake Wanaka
December 24th, 2003 | View Post

Merry Christmas Eve to all from Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. We have been at the Hughes lake house for the past two days. I have finally been able to do some yard work for the first time in over 6 months. It has been quite relaxing. The weather has been nice, just a bit windy.

The Warm Chubby is No More
December 22nd, 2003 | View Post

Well the times they are a changin. It was about that time and I have sadly moved out of 'Warm Chubby and the Shipwrecked Ostrich'. For now I am staying at Tisa's flat - about 1km from where I was. We will be here today and tomorrow and then it is off to Lake Wanaka again - but this time with Emma. We'll be celebrating Christmas with her family and then returning to Dunedin on the 26th (pending a pair of bus tickets). As soon as we return, we'll get to packing once more and on the 27th we fly to Auckland and will be staying with my former flatmate, Nick. My family will be in the air at that time and we will rendezvous with them on the 28th some time in the late morning (I need my rest). That takes us to a two week trip around the North Island, South Island, and Sydney, Australia. We'll then be back in Dunedin on the 11th of January only to pack for good and have hotel reservations in Wellington for the 15th-19th in such time we will be finding a place in the city there.

AS-Currency Converter v1.0
December 19th, 2003 | View Post

AS-Currency Converter v1.0 is a PHPNuke block/module combination. The block displays current exchange rate information - displaying countries that the administrator defines. The module is a currency converter.

Get this module/block combination from Freecode (previously FreshMeat):

http://freecode.com/projects/as-currency

Download directly:

Tar/GZ: AS-GasTracker_v1_0_0.tar.gz (43,789 bytes)
WinZip: AS-GasTracker_v1_0_0.zip (62,133 bytes)

The Tunnelweb Spider
Story circa December 15th, 2003 | View Post

I had an encounter with a New Zealand Tunnelweb Spider. To anyone who knows me, it's a well known fact that I am more or less terrified by most anything of the arachnid variety. It's entirely an irrational fear, this I know, but I can't seem to get over it for whatever reason. Thankfully, I think spiders are about the only things that I am afraid of.

Of course I also think most anyone would be afraid of a tunnelweb.

The Tunnelweb


A tossed a quarter next to the spider to give it some perspective
The other day while still living in my flat in Dunedin, I strolled into my bathroom (or toilet) for a quick pee break. So far there was nothing unusual about this sudden urge to urinate. I began peeing and as I looked down to my left, just near the upright shower, was a GIANT New Zealand Tunnelweb spider. Now that I was in a state of complete terror, not to mention mid-stream, instinct kicked in and I immediately stopped my flow and jumped about 6 feet to my left far, far out of harms way.

Once I calmed down a bit, I ran to get my camera and though I usually get pretty close to the subject in my nature pics, I kept my distance for this one. These were zoom lens all the way. I tossed an American Quarter on the ground near the spider to give it some perspective. FYI: an American Quarter is just under an inch in diameter. This spider clearly spawned about 2.25 of them.

A Peaceful Spider?

Is there such a thing? Though the Tunnelweb is about the size of a Tarantula, like the Tarantula, it is not poisonous. Don't confuse it's name with the Australian Funnelweb spider. The Funnelweb, on the other hand, is quite deadly. Also like our Tarantula, however, this spider can inflict a very painful bite if provoked to do so. If you look between the small front two legs, you can see the very large black fangs touching the ground below.

After this whole encounter (with death itself), I did a bunch of research on the particular spider. Though I had seen them around outside, I had not seen one in my bathroom, but that is apparently somewhat normal. As I read, every so often a Tunnelweb spider will find his way into a house and when it does, it becomes severely dehydrated (usually to the point of death). The spider will immediately seek out a source of water with it's sensing tools and this usually lands it either in the bathroom or the laundry room. Apparently sometimes they are able to sustain themselves for awhile in the bathroom as they can live off of the leftover humidity from showers, and drops of water on the floor. Usually though, they wither and die pretty quickly. This one was obviously somewhat resourceful.

New Zealand Spider
December 15th, 2003 | View Post

I would just like to say to anyone who has told me New Zealand 'does not really have spiders', you are wrong or a liar. For the past few weeks now I have been watching the so called Black Tunnelweb spiders make funnel like nests in front of my flat. Today I came home around 11:00pm and headed into the bathroom only to be staring at one of these monsters stretching perhaps 2 - 2.5" across. This is not my idea of 'no spiders' much less even 'small spiders'. It was huge to say the very least. I have read that they can be typically found inside of bathrooms as they seek the water when straying inside - but I am left to think that spiders aren't smart enough to know where the bathroom is. This would leave me to conclude that these things are crawling around in my house and eventually stumble upon the bathroom. I am hoping not to come across any others.

Congrats to Anne and John!
December 6th, 2003 | View Post

Wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to Anne and John for finally getting engaged! I will be looking forward to that wedding whenever it may take place.

On another note, I am currently working to get some music files online. I have been recording some stuff via my digital camera's microphone so while the quality isnt all that great, it will still work. The camera saves as .MOV files and so I am working to extract the audio into .MP3 - this is turning into somewhat of a nightmare but I imagine I will have it done in a few hours.

Gallery Back to Normal
December 2nd, 2003 | View Post

The gallery has finally been restored fully. There are now all 978 pictures online that have been taken in the last 6 months or so around New Zealand. Sorry it took so long to get the older ones back online but now that I don't live with anyone, I have been able to tie up the phone lines all day long. And yes, to those interested, I am in fact using dialup. It was a hard set-back at first, having been used to broadband for so many years, but I have adapted to it well.

Christmas is Coming!
December 1st, 2003 | View Post

Just wanted to add a little content to start off December. Only 25 more days till Christmas. If you wanted to catch up with anything from November, the link is in the top-left block.

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Packing Everything Up!
Sporting Clays
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My Retirement Video
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