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Strong Impressions

Updated: Jun 8

New Zealand is an amazing, unforgettable place. It is peculiarly habitable in many respects; unlike its larger and hotter neighbor down under, there are no native creatures that will kill you, or even make you particularly miserable. There are no apex predators to drag you out of your tent and eat you, no deadly snakes or spiders to inject you with neurotoxins. So long as you stay out of the water and away from the stinging nettles you’ll probably be ok.



One thing New Zealand does have is Wetas, very large insects that look a like a grasshopper crossed with Jabba the Hutt. There are a number of different species, the largest being the Giant Weta, which is the world’s heaviest insect — heavier than a mouse. Remarkable creatures. Some Wetas, especially the Giant Weta, are now endangered, thanks to the rats that accompanied European settlers. Captive breeding is underway to save them (the Wetas) from extinction. Wetas are, fortunately, herbivorous and completely harmless.


Unless you count the psychological damage that results when you get up in the middle of the night to pee and step on one barefoot in the dark. Evidently my roommate's cat had brought it in to play with; they are not house-dwellers. The combination of crunch and squish is as indescribable as it is indelible.


My clarinet students often struggle to remember stuff. Like an A flat major scale, or to get the right hand fingers down early when going from the throat register to the second register. We’ll get it down in one lesson, but by the next lesson the skill will have evaporated. There may be multiple reasons, but it is possible that they practice with insufficient intensity. A bland, beige event or piece of information doesn’t make much of an impression, even with many repetitions. An intense event, however, whether it’s intense pain or surprise or pleasure or emotion, sticks with you and you’ll remember it in detail even if it only happens once.


Like stepping barefoot on an insect the size of a gerbil.

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