Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This will be the first entry in the documentation and discussion of my adventures in this rather odd place they call "New Zealand". First and foremost, I'm sure those that actually know me are about half split between "What the hell is he doing there?" (in which case I apologize for not writing to you sooner) and "Why the hell haven't you started this blog sooner?" (for which I have no real apology - I can be a real lazy bastard). Those that don't are probably wondering how the hell they ended up here, and why they should stay. Well, I figure I might as well start with an entry that at least addresses some of the questions, first.

Why did I decide to give the US the finger and migrate to NZ?

Well, it's quite simple, really, and yet it might take a few examples to explain. If I had to put it down to a single event that really triggered it, it would have to be the RE-election of George "What? Me Worry?" Bush, which showed me clearly that there was a very large portion of the American populace who apparently are quite happy to shoot themselves, and anyone else that happens to be nearby, in the foot.
However, I could just as easily attribute it to a desire to be somewhere where there are far fewer people (only 4 million for a place the size of California), far more natural wonders that can still be seen (It's like a damn natural theme park down here1), an army that couldn't invade a sandbox (so no worries about having to feel responsible for it wiping out entire countries), politics that are considered so irrelevant as to rarely be worth conversing about, relatively few godbothering tubthumpers (and those that are around are laughed at whenever they try their hand in politics), clean air, clean water, extremely friendly folk, great outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, parasailing and bungee jumping, and of course - great SCUBA diving and beautiful reefs.
Last but certainly not least, there are tons of research opportunities down here (especially for an ichthyologist like myself); myriad projects that are worth doing and where there appears to be popular support for actually doing them. In fact, as much as I was disturbed by some of the things I saw in the US, like the growing anti-science movement, it was letters of encouragment I received from people in New Zealand that suggested to me that there were more opportunities for what I am interested in there, than there were in the States.
Moreover, New Zealand fascinates me as a place where, as small as the population is, it seems to generate a disproportionate number of people that have done quite interesting things. Take a look for yourself; I'm sure you'll find many recognizable names here. So, I was genuinely curious: What is it about New Zealand that causes it to be so unique? Well, I figured there was only one way to find out: Go down there and...

Poke it With a Stick!

Which at least might give some idea of why I named the blog what I did (credit for the actual name goes to one of the more friendly natives I've met down here, though).

So, Why did I decide to make this blog?

Frankly, this is an amazing place, and I'm more than happy to share whatever I manage to stumble across down here with my friends back in the States and elsewhere. I assume my Kiwi friends will just point and laugh, which is just fine too (there's damn near a language barrier with all the bloody "kiwiisms"!).
I will be posting some of the better pics from the places I've seen here, and folks can jump in with questions and comments as they see fit. I also figure it will be far easier to communicate with the many people that appear interested in what I'm up to down here than it would be to email each and every one every time something interesting happens (Did I mention I was a lazy bastard? I think I did.).
Anyone can feel free to comment on any given thread, but I do reserve the right to boot your ass and delete your posts if you become exceedingly obnoxious (In which case you will receive ample warning first).

So why don't I just get the fuck on with it already?

Oh, right.

Now that this post is home 'n hosed, kick off yer gumboots and take a gawk, it's gonna be so flash!


Next up: Landing in Auckland: why Auckland reminds me of Los Angeles suburbia, circa 1970.
...ooh, and the first pics!

1. However, see the section on why you really don't want to come the fuck to New Zealand, otherwise titled: "The Horror, The Horror..." (which should be up very soon)


  1. Seppos are munted.

  2. oh, hard case eh?

    ...I'm gonna throw a wobbly, you wanker!

    your shout.

  3. Pull ya finger out of arse and get to the head raping parrots, mate! - ESPness

  4. Congrats and good luck on your new blog and adopted little country! I'm very jealous. BTW sand flies that strip away your flesh in seconds sounds like a great way to keep the unwanted tourist population down... We have something similar in my native Brazil, their called borrachudos and they live near waterfalls on pristine beaches and are trained to only attack bloated sunburned tourists, hehe!

    Hey I don't know if you've heard of these people but I met Rob Stewart from the Sharkwater Team http://www.sharkwater.com not long ago here in Florida, seems like they are doing some good work. Maybe you could pass the word.

    Fernando Magyar

  5. You forgot to mention Zorbing! We holidayed on the North Island last August and fell in love. I wish you hadn't started blogging about how great it is, you'll only get it all crowded before I can get there. Hrmph.

    Judith in Ottawa

  6. Hmmm... Ichthyology eh? Plenty of ichths at the Goat Island marine reserve, just a short drive north of Auckland. Gotta check it out. Oh, and the Poor Nights islands, and the Three Kings, and all the fijords down south, in fact just get your snorkel and jump in anywhere. Although if you want to "do" the Kermadec Trench for the bathy-ichths you'll need more than a snorkel! Did I mention all the interesting things you'll find under the Ross Antarctic Ice Shelf? Did I mention lots of life around those ol' submarine volcanoes and smokers? You'll have a blast! Oh, and I should also mention that there is a shark nursery (natural, wild ones I mean) about 500 meters away from downtown Auckland, over by the Chelsea sugar works.

  7. Plenty of ichths at the Goat Island marine reserve,

    all over it mate!

    visited the Leigh Marine Lab last month, made contacts, just waiting to see what happens next.

    have been snorkelling all over, diving round coromandel, etc. Amazing how everything looks so similar to what I have seen diving in CA!

    I'll have more detail on that later.

    I'll put up the "horrors of NZ" page tomorrow morning; and will be adding to it periodically.

    I'll be covering various aspects of marine life in NZ starting with the first actual "tourist" page in Auckland (Kelly Tarleton asked me to take some pics for them even).

    thanks for the tips on the shark nursery; I know someone who works for DOC that does the same work on white sharks I used to in CA.


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  9. Sorry about that.

    There do seem to be a lot more Americans around my area these days. They pop in to the local library. (North Shore, Auckland.) Looking forward to your future posts.

  10. Re: Welly Meet & Greet

    You can register me as interested! I'm much more of a layperson, but can throw in my two cents and/or nod agreement to other more informed points whilst sipping on a Speights.

    I tried emailing you at the address you gave on Pharyngula (obviously inserting @ and .) but it bounced back...?

    Looking forward to your posts here. Rattle your dags & get on with it mate!


  11. oops, yeah, I posted an old email without thinking!

    maybe I've been infected with a brain amoeba??

    anywho, this is the one to use:



  12. yeah, I've been too busy looking for work to update this, but the material is all there...



    I'll be able to start posting again pretty soon, I hope.