All posts by Greg

What have we been up to?

Seems like weeks disappear around here pretty fast. One day you’re importing and rebuilding your blog. The next YEAR you’re actually writing a post for it. 🙂

Funny how easy it is when you’re a programmer to spend all your time coding for your site rather than actually writing anything. For those who don’t know, about 15 months ago I started working for Automattic so I spend most of my days working on WordPress.com. In practice what this means is that my own WordPress site is never good enough. But it’s getting better.

Beyond work though we have been doing a pretty good job of getting out enjoying Colorado. Let’s take a little hiking tour:

Check out the whole year in pictures.

Ichneumon.net Up and Running

Converted our saltypoint.blogspot.com blog to run on WordPress on ichneumon.net. The transition has been a long time in the making, but we’ve finally managed to do it. Hopefully more soon.

Baking Frenzy

We did a bit of baking this past weekend.

I almost got disgusted before we began when I saw the pile of sugar and butter.

But luckily we had fearless bakers who marched on.

Off to the freezer. We’re ready for April. Are you ready to help us eat them?

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Political Canvassing

We were in Portland, Oregon for Labor Day weekend and did some volunteer work with both the Obama and Jeff Merkley campaigns. They were both pretty different experiences and rather surprising.

Jeff Merkley is running for US Senate in Oregon against the incumbent Republican. He’s very progressive on a lot of issues and it would be great to see him get into the Senate. I had given some money to him last December and thought it would be great to volunteer for the campaign while we were passing through Oregon. So while in Seattle I sent the campaign an email and signed Mekayla and myself up to do some canvassing.

I had thought that canvassing would be something I would hate, and Mekayla would love. She just tends to be a lot more willing to talk with random strangers than I am. Boy was I wrong. Mekayla hated the idea of interrupting people’s days and trying to convince them to vote for a particular politician. It turns out I thought it was incredible fun.

Once I got over the initial wierdness of knocking on strangers doors and I more or less got a rythm of starting the conversation I had a great time talking with people and talking about issues with undecided voters. Even though I didn’t know all of the details of Jeff’s positions I could always fall back on talking about Democrats in general and the reasons why I was supporting them. I knocked on about 85 doors and talked to about 25 people. Not a bad success rate for a Saturday over Labor Day weekend.

The next day we decided to volunteer with Obama’s campaign doing voter registration. This was a bit more in line with something Mekayla was happy with. We essentially stationed ourselves in a high traffic location at an art show and made it really easy for people to register.

For both days we got a lot of “thank yous” on the street and they were both great experiences. And it adds a whole different dimension to our road trip across the US to actually connect and talk with locals along the way. We hope to volunteer with some other Democratic Senate campaigns as well as Obama as we continue to travel.

FYI, I’ve gotten a lot of my information about the Senate campaigns from the Senate Guru Blog and making donations through their ActBlue Expand the Map page.

Twenty-nine years of crazy cakes

Well, another year has come and since we are once again on the road we are again baking in a random kitchen. But Mekayla’s great birthday cake tradition continues. We took over her cousin Pamela’s kitchen for the day and then Mekayla, her Dad, and I cooked throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

This time the cake was a flourless chocolate torte. We of course decorated with a lot of fruit and chocolate shavings. And to kiwi-ify it another part of the cake was made from Grace’s Pavlova recipe. A Pavlova is essentially a type of meringue, but Australia and New Zealand argue over who actually invented this version. Grace swore us to secrecy and provided us with her secret family recipe for this event.

Now to answer the big question everyone is asking: What shape is it this year? Naturally the shape had to capture a bit of our time in New Zealand and the idea that we have been traveling a lot. So the shape this year is a Maori canoe, called a waka.

One of the great things about the word “waka” is it is now used in Maori for as the root word for any mode of transportation. So the word for plane translates as “canoe of the sky”. And the word for car “waka whenua” [wa-ka fen-u-a] translates to “canoe of the earth”. We gave our new car the nickname “waka whenua” also.

Before dinner we also continued to hone some of our Indian cooking skills and made what turned out to be a quite good vegetarian meal.


So our journey across the US has begun. We are now in San Jose, and today we leave for some camping in Yosemite.

Four days left!

We have a mere four days remaining in New Zealand, and are running through a mixture of emotions. We are looking forward to seeing everyone back home and exploring the US a bit, but we are definitely going to miss many things about NZ and a number of people here as well.

Our general route back to Boston goes like this:

  1. Hawaii: I can’t wait to get away from winter.
  2. US West Coast: We have weddings to go to in Seattle and LA in Aug and Sept, so we’ll be wandering down the coast.
  3. Colorado: Probably go up through Utah because it’s supposed to be scenic and amazing.
  4. Some random route through the southern portions of the US to the East Coast.
  5. DC, NY (state, probably not the city)
  6. Then Boston.

The general plan is to hit Boston before Thanksgiving. All of this is of course subject to change with no notification. 🙂 And it is interactive. For instance if you are in say Kentucky, perhaps you could alter our route in your direction by offering a floor to sleep on or a backyard to camp in. 🙂

But enough un-subtle hints.

We have also finished sorting through and editing our 15,000 New Zealand photos (I am not exaggerating). We’re going to spread out the posting of the best of them so nobody is overwhelmed (us included). The first set takes you through all the places we have gone tramping (backpacking). And features such pictures as this:
The second set are various special occasions (like my 30th birthday) and look a bit like this (this is actually Grace’s picture):
You can view them all from here. We will probably put up some more just before we leave, and then put up the rest after we reach the West Coast (of the US, not the rain soaked paradise of New Zealand’s South Island).

Happy 4th of July… It’s snowing.

While everyone is enjoying the summer sun we thought we would break your revelry of northern hemisphere chauvinism (I read that recently in a book) with some greetings from our wintry wonderland.

Of course, really snow here in Christchurch isn’t quite the same. Being on the coast means even at 45 degrees south latitude it is still somewhat temperate. For instance when I said it was snowing, I should point out that none of the snow stuck to the ground because both before and after the snow it rained. It rained a lot. And there were some great 130 km/h wind gusts to keep the rain falling at a 45 degree angle. (I think most of the snow was falling up earlier). Of course a few hundred kilometers away there are glaciers and mountains where the snow never melts.

So tomorrow when you walk outside and bask in the sun’s glow for 16 hours of the day please spare a thought for those of us on the other end of the world who just finished celebrating the WINTER solstice.

Most of these pictures have nothing to do with winter, but we were fairly cold in all of them so, here you go.

Mekayla and Caleb under a water fall in Milford Sound.

Me walking on clouds on the Kepler track:
Our hike on Franz Joseph Glacier:

30th B-Day’s Deserve Ice Cream Cake!

I have a wee birthday tradition of having a Carvel ice cream cake on my birthday. Doesn’t happen every year, but it seemed like my 30th was a good year not to skip. Unfortunately Carvel seems to have not expanded into New Zealand quite yet. So I ventured into unknown territory, inspired a bit from Mekayla’s tradition, and decided to make my own ice cream cake. Fortunately the web is filled with ex-Carvel employees who are addicted to making their own cake and provide some great recipes to start from.

I should emphasize at this point that this “cake” is composed entirely of ice cream. There is no spongy cake layer to detract from the ice cream experience. Here, in exquisite detail, is my cake starting at the base:

  • layer of chocolate ice cream (ahh, I wish they sold coffee ice cream in NZ, maybe next year)
  • layer of crunchies (oreo’s mixed with Magic Shell Chocolate, this is a KEY ingredient)
  • layer of vanilla ice cream with M&M’s mixed in (this was actually a mistake, the M&M shells melt off too much, and they lose their crunchiness)
  • all frosted on the outside with freshly whipped cream
  • blueberry colored whipped cream to decorate the edges
  • M&M’s to write “30” with.
  • More crunchies (including some made out of delectable Tim Tams)

The cake had to go through 4 freezing steps over the course of two days. We were freezing it out in the freezer in the garage, so I had to break out the head lamp occasionally to fetch it.


By the second day I think I was on a sugar high from eating too much whipped cream, as were the cats.

It turned out very well in the end, and even the Kiwi flatmates who were particularly horrified during this whole process seemed to enjoy the final result.

Of course Mekayla did try to melt the entire cake by insisting on putting thirty candles on it, but I swiftly averted disaster by blowing them all out (after basking briefly in their glow).

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. Now, if you will excuse me, there is left over ice cream cake that needs my immediate attention!