Is It Irresponsible Chasing Rainbows?

Visions, Illusions & Me.

Recently I came across something interesting in Queenstown which has occupied my thoughts off and on since. It was a faint rainbow stretching out across Lake Wakatipu. 

It isn’t the location of the rainbow itself that is of interest to me, nor the question of how rainbows are created, what drew my attention was pondering the curve of a rainbow. Or to be more precise, do they always have the same angle? I keep imagining Kermit sitting on a schist stone dipping his toes in the water of Lake Wakatipu, bango in hand, singing rainbow connection. As a rule of thumb, I would like to suggest that if like me, Kermit the frog springs to mind when you think about the science behind rainbows, you’re probably not an expert on them. 

In this moment the contemplating thoughts in my mind went in two directions. The first was what other naturally occurring scientific concepts do I not understand. The second direction was understanding the mathematics behind rainbows. I decided that trying to understand the concepts of nuclear fusion, string theory, starling murmurations and Auckland traffic was far beyond my mental capacity at this point, so I went with exploring the latter. Plus, since I now had Kermit loaded into my Spotify playlist I felt I was committed. 

My curiosity aroused, I felt there was only one place that would provide me with the facts I needed, the one place that keeps me reliably informed and up to date with the latest world developments. Google.

I feel I should point out at this juncture that I’ve become suspicious about Google and our relationship. It has soured somewhat. The long held trust and mutual respect we once held I fear has been lost. What brought our relationship to this point? Well, I suspect that Google has been lying to me. I must confess that this realisation hurts. My suspicions were aroused when a recent trip to Ireland resulted in zero Leprechaun sightings. 

As it turns out I’m not the first person to become fascinated by a rainbow outside the window, in fact I’m in very good company. Greek philosopher Aristotle devoted serious attention to the study of rainbows as did Roman theorist Lucius Annaeus Seneca (who probably peeked at Aristotle’s study notes). This cycle of building off others’ study notes before adding their own thoughts then continued for some time, right through to Rene Descartes who started playing with light passing through a sphere of water. Throughout this lineage of rainbows, one person who does seem to stand out in a very understated way is Roger Bacon. 

Not only does Roger Bacon have a fabulous last name that makes me hungry, he can also tell you how to make gunpowder! It transpires that Roger Bacon was the first European to describe in detail the process of making gunpowder. He also proposed flying machines, motorized ships and carriages some time in the 1200’s. Now anyone who is suggesting motorized machines and can tell you how to make gunpowder in the 1200’s must have been fascinating after a few beers! Along with describing how to blow things up, he also first measured the angle through which light is bent to our eye by a rainbow as being 42 degrees.  

Having discovered that the arc of a rainbow is 42 degrees, that the length of rainbow is dependent on where it is viewed from, that everyone sees a rainbow differently, that they form perfect circles (which is why you never reach the end or the bottom) and that there are 12 types of rainbow, I naively thought my pursuit of had come to an end. Until, Google threw me a curve ball. It brought me back to Leprechauns. Now, I must confess that my curious nature got the better of me and no matter how distrusting of Google I was, I went in search of pots of gold. 

I had it in mind that there would be a fairly bright and easy yellow brick road that would lead me to the end of the rainbow, however unlike Dorthey I wasn’t lucky enough to have a glowing yellow road to follow.  My own search was filled with many no exit streets, detours and wrong turns that seemed to add neither confusion or clarity to my quest until I came across the Vikings! If you want to make a story interesting, just throw in an ill tempered Viking or two to jazz up the plot. Fortunately for me, the pot of gold myth that I liked the best, had loads of Vikings in it.  

It seems that back in the days of the Vikings – who weren’t really very nice people but had amazing beards – they spent much of their time raiding, plundering and looting Irish villages for money and gold before burying it all over the countryside. Upon leaving Ireland, the Vikings proved that despite having fabulous beards they were incredibly absentminded and forgot to take their treasure with them, which was promptly found by the underground dwelling and human mistrustings Leprechauns. Knowing the origins of this treasure and claiming it for themselves, they reburied the gold. Nowadays, whenever a rainbow appears it’ll end where the gold is buried.  But then again, can you trust a Leprechaun or a Viking for that matter? No matter how fabulous his beard is! 

Until a few days ago I thought that a rainbow was simply light reflecting and bending off water droplets in the atmosphere resulting in a colour appearing. But, it transpires that they are as complicated as they are beautiful.

From all this we can draw four important conclusions. Firstly, Aristotle was a science guy as well as being a philosopher dude. Secondly, Roger Bacon would have been a wonderful drinking companion. Thirdly, the Vikings had fabulous beards but were incredibly forgetful. Fourthly that a little green frog was the most insightful of all when he observed that ‘rainbows are visions and illusions and probably contain a little touch of magic.’It seems that pursuing rainbows isn’t a bad thing after all. 

Rainbow over Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.

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COVID-19

Coronavirus Information

I recently had what for me is a unique and rare situation. I experienced Wellington on a good day. I’m not for one moment suggesting that Wellington doesn’t have good days, more reflecting on the fact that most of my trips to the capital city have included wind, rain, strong wind or a blended mix of all three with scattered fine spells randomly thrown in. On this particular visit to Wellington, not only was the weather still and clear, but the temperature – according to the metservice – sat at a comfortable 21+ degrees late into the evening. A splendid autumn day all round. 

To make the most of this lovely day, I headed out around Wellington on foot. Feeling slightly overdressed and cursing my choice of clothing, I head out the door to find the waterfront via a breakfast stop. Once having partaken of a bacon buttie at a very trendy place called ‘The Hanger’ on Dixon Street and feeling freshly loaded with caffeine and bacon, I departed out into the sun for the waterfront. 

Walking through the sun drenched streets that zigzag their way between Courtney Place, Cuba and Wakefield Street I turned on to Victoria Street heading for Queens Wharf. At one point, Victoria Street as it is known today didn’t exist. It was once open land that contained a scattering of timber cottages before numerous redevelopment programmes over 150 years has developed it into a busy shopping street that now contains high-end clothes shops, jewellers, cafe and bars, hotels and the central police station. It was when passing the Wellington Central Police Station that a printed A3 sign sellotaped to the window caught my eye. The sign read;
“Should you be in self-isolation? If so, please do not come in.” It then directed readers to call a healthline for information on Coronavirus and provided very helpful advice to visit a website or call 105 for police matters. 

What a truly uniquely (yet typical) kiwi response I thought chuckling to myself while taking in the details of the guidance provided. Before entering do you call the healthline to see if you should indeed be in self-isolation before proceeding with your decision to refrain or enter? Do they assume people automatically know this information? What happens if after arriving at the doors and deciding that yes you should be in isolation, do you self-isolate before calling 105 or call 105 right there and then. Further to this dilemma, what happens if your battery is flat, the internet goes down or you run out of credit? When do you risk entering and do you have to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer? 

As I continued on my way, the sign stayed in my thoughts. Is this the moment when New Zealand’s laid-back, pragmatic and she’ll be right outlook and attitude could be New Zealand’s downfall? Clearly this world wide pandemic is a major problem and it’s spreading. 

I’m not suggesting for one moment that the New Zealand Police or Government aren’t doing enough to stop the spread of this pandemic, far from it but well placed signage is obviously a key strategy we are using to keep people informed so they can make enlightened decisions. 

Based on what we know so far, we are clearly going to need more advisory signage displayed, particularly at our custom checkpoints. I would like to suggest they read: “It would be better for all concerned if you stayed at home. But the choice is yours.”

Continue reading COVID-19
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Te Aho a Māui

Let The Beginning Connect Us

Mist can be such a cool effect, especially if you’re lucky enough to find it hanging around in a city. This is the Wellington waterfront one morning as low thick mist covered almost everything until the day warmed up. I found this sculpture by Rewi Thompson  that was partially covered in the mist and it had this cool stone, tile effect surrounding it.

Let the beginning connect us – Buy

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Truly Unique Wellington

Solace of the Wind

I love this sculpture by artist Max Patte. I visit it every time I go to Wellington but I always seem to catch it in the morning. I’ll have to make a return trip one day to catch it with the evening light behind it. I did a bit of research about it the first time I saw it and it turns out that it was originally loaned to the city for a year in the hopes of finding a patron but has been there ever since (that’s ten years now!).

Solace of the Wind – Buy


Competition – Give Away

I decided it’s time to give away some art. I’ve got this lovely 18 x 12 inch print of Dunedin’s historical home, Olveston to give away.  It’s mounted, framed, finished with glass  and has a value of $400. The great thing is that it’s all ready to be hung and an enjoyed in your home, office, flat, or wherever you desire.
Printing by the The Photo Gallery in Dunedin.
Mounting and framing by Gallery De Novo in Dunedin. Continue reading Truly Unique Wellington

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In Love With Colin McCahon

Am I Scared Boy (eh).

There’s a reason Colin McCahon is widely regarded as New Zealand’s most important modern artist and if you get a chance to view his work, it doesn’t take long to understand why. I had the chance to see an exhibition of his work in Wellington which had me (and many others) spellbound. I only hope I get to see another exhibition of his.Am I Scared Boy (eh) – Buy


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Blue Rain by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

Blue Rain

A bit of poetry from Alistair Te Ariki Campbell for Friday.

Blue Rain
Blue rain from a clear sky.
Our world a cube of sunlight —
but to the south
the violet admonition
of thunder.

Innocent as flowers
your eyes with their thick lashes
open in green surprise.

What have we to fear?
Frost and a sharp wind
reproach us,
and a tall sky pelts the roof
with blue flowers.

You and I in bed, my love,
heads leaning together,
merry as thieves
eating stolen honey —
what have we to fear
but a borrowed world
collapsing all about us
in blue ruins?

By Alistair Te Ariki Campbell


Blue sky – Buy


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