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  • Thursday evening but with a regional 'quake remembrance' holiday tomorrow my brain has slipped into Friday mode. Still deciding how I feel about the idea of 'remembering' something that is still happening. Seems a bit odd but a holiday is much appreciated - assuming already struggling businesses can handle it.

    We're pretty lucky really with power and water back on despite being in Avonside surrounded by pretty hard hit areas. A block either way and things start to look really rough and people are having a tough time. I find that quite hard to deal with. On the bright side, Christchurch is no longer to host any of the rugby world cup games. That seemed a bit of a "Well, duh!' decision and quite frankly I don't want a bunch of rugby knobs pounding away in my city ... unless they are trades-people willing to help clean up in between games.

    Work has been weird. In our second temporary office in six months and slowly discovering all the things that have been lost in the quakes. It's the small things that get me. The personal items that were at work to keep me sane. I think of them as being trapped rather than lost. We have no idea if we'll be able to get them back and as always, NZ bureacracy is reigning supreme. Knobs in suits running around pretending to care and all singing from different hymn sheets. Can't believe them, can't kill them. I've learned two things from the recent disaster: 1) If nature wants me, it'll have me. I feel happy that this time I was kept in play despite being up six stories with flying filing cabinets, and 2) complex bureacracy has no place in my country. If you can't explain a situation or solution in 30 seconds it's probably unnecessarily complicated and I don't buy into that crap. Keep it simple or sod off.

    Now, I'm off to feel a bit sorry for my city, feel a bit lucky and generally carry on enjoying my life. Have fun.

  • Earthquake. I was on the 6th floor when things went silly. Having just looked at my sandwich with a certain level of disdain the shaking began and then got crazy. I don't remember much - I was under the desk holding on as large pieces of computer equipment flew around. I watched a filing cabinet flying around as well, something I hope never to see again. I also remember my sandwich hitting me in the face in a final insult.

    Lots of alarms and sirens, lots of dust and what felt like a long wait for aftershocks to settle down long enough for us to get down the stairs. Quite a long walk down Hereford Street. A long walk home followed that. My bike is still trapped in the basement of the building.

    We left the city for a bit to stay with our parents but are back now, tidying up. The power is back on but no water so far. Will never take water and electricity for granted again ... and I was already pretty appreciative of the benefits of both. Hot showers are quite frankly a luxury that keep us going.

    Working from home for now and taking the opportunity to clean up around the house. The few decent aftershocks have had us scampering for the table with slightly fuzzy nerves but all good so far. We're alive, safe, and not too smelly. Can't ask for much more than that at the moment.

  • I'm feeling a bit disconnected from the World at the moment. Working in I.T. tends to do that to me. Sometimes things all feel a bit artificial and forced and the issues of the modern World all become a bit pathetic. I need to stop looking out the window and realising I will never get this day back.

    Sometimes the big picture gets lost in the day-to-day. We planted two more fruit trees a few weekends ago. Both were double grafted so two more apple varieties and two pears. Our little orchard is looking quite respectable now so it's coming down to time, pruning, and probably a bit of luck and we should start to see a good range of fruit over the next few years.

    I have recently become quite interested in wood work. Despite the best efforts of the NZ education system I have actually decided I enjoy making things out of wood and have been teaching myself the basics. Turns out the "Designer eye" is suited to the work even if the body isn't particularly practiced yet. I have made some shelves and am about to have a go at some cupboard doors made of recycled rimu. The Triton Mk3 workbench I got a month ago has simply changed the game and made up for a distinct lack of skill on my end. Ripping even lengths and widths is now possible and backed up with my built in patience the end result is pretty good. I'll never be a joiner but I'm having fun and doing something in the real world which makes for a nice change. I am really liking the way our house is coming together. I can see myself living here for a very long time and enjoying it.

  • Sometimes the automated, randomised playlist just plain knows what is needed on Friday at the end of "one of those" weeks. Fast, angry, and super fast.

    After my Facebook thing got taken over by teenagers and people I don't know I've moved back to my own site to post rants, raves and the odd bit in between. Facebook is now relegated to telling me my emotional age and reminding me to keep in touch with FriendsTM. I like my site better anyway and I like writing what I want without the limit of the naff TwitterBooking and FaceBlogging thing.

    Three people tried to run me over on the way home. It's not really all that unusual for at least one person to have a go but three! Come on. I spent the rest of the ride home thinking about how you go about totally destroying someone's life without actually doing physical harm. It got quite imaginative there towards the end ... but I won't share.

    I was informed this afternoon it is not a criminal offence to kill your boss if he makes last minute changes on a Friday afternoon just before Beer o'clock. I like it. On a related note we have formed an informal union at work for employees with fortnightly meetings to discuss the state of the company. Also known as a great chance to head to the pub in the middle of the week, bitch and moan for a bit and then talk about what we could do to make things better. It's somewhere between negative and positive and it has beer (and sometime a bowl of chips).

    Have discovered my graphic design work improves the more shitty I am. Obviously those skills are linked to the dark side of my brain. I am particularly pleased with my move back to a grunge style and hiding it in pretty conservative-business-friendly layouts. When Punks rule the Earth indeed!

  • I always seem to start a post by apologising for not posting. It's weird and will now stop. It's my ranting, raving, whisky infused, anger-zone and apologies are not pending.

    Winter needs to settle down real soon or there'll be revolution. The flooding on the backyard is less noticeable this year which I am claiming as a personal victory. I leveled the ground, reduced the dips, fill, cut, thumped, reseeded and generally pretended to know what I was doing ... and there is less flooding. All me thank you very much.

    I have a new Triton Mach 3 workbench that I got cheap off TradeMe. As soon as it stops raining I will be out there setting it up and chancing personal injury as I set up the circular saw in it. Looking forward to it ... so settle down winter.

    The kitchen floor is done so presumably builders are turning up one day soon. Not holding my breath. Also assuming someone will drop a chisel or something on the floor and cover it up wih chewing gum. Special. (I might be getting cynical about this renovation crap).

    A new wash for whisky is on the go. Really looking forward to that. Haven't distilled anything in ages. Beer to follow.

     Nothing else to comment on (have given up on politics and general social bollocks).

  • Time flies when you're having fun.

    The kitchen is almost finished. A few custom units to fill the gaps, a final coat on the floor and the last appliances go back in. My weekends revolve around picking white crap out from between floor boards before the final coat. It is amazing how much warmer this whole area is now. The sun gets in all day, the walls are insulated and the few times we've put the fire on it's heated up the lounge/kitchen quickly. I like it when a plan comes together. Looking forward to it being finished.

    I've had the opportunity to present to teachers recently which has been great. I have to say I am enjoying working with the good ones without the pressure and frustration of having to live in the school system. There is something refreshing about being in that support role and interesting to be able to observe it all from a slightly outside position. I head down to Dunedin in a few weeks to do a workshop there which I am really looking forward to.

    Training at work has taken a step forward as well. More customers are taking us up on the training option so I am putting together training material around our Drupal install. A bit of a challenge to create resources without focusing on the parts that are prone to change. So far it's working out and it is nice that many of our customers are genuiinely interested in learning. A very enjoyable part of the job.

    I have no news on the garden. Apart from pulling the odd apple off the tree I have hardly been out there this year. The grape vine was perfect this year, we got an average amount of potatoes but a lot of tomatoes. Things are slowly winding down as we are getting our first frosts so hopefully things have calmed down by Spring so we can get some of the next steps set up out there. It feels like chooks are the next move so a chook house is in order and a clean up of the compost.

  • "It's always the good ones that go crazy the fastest".

    A recent Simpsons epsiode, Bart gets a Z, struck a chord with me, in particular the last part when the young teacher gets drunk, notifies the students that they are wasting their time at school, and rants about the school being a "glorified hamster wheel run by incompetent bureaucrats". I laughed, I cried. It was pointed out that the young teacher had spiky hair, a red tie and left under duress. I still found it funny ... 'cos I'm not a teacher at the moment and don't have to care about the sorry state of our education system. If I ever come back though, oh boy, there will be hell to pay ... in a good way.

    The kitchen renovation is imminent. We have a plan, we have the appliances, we have a BBQ. We are both looking forward to this particular project being over. Not long now until we have the house finished and we can sit back for a bit.

    This weekend the South Island Tattoo Expo is on. Some friends have offered to put my camo shorts on sale there. It's a bit nerve racking waiting to see if anyone wants them but hey, if they don't sell there I guess I'll try another approach ... or have 10 pairs of camo shorts in various sizes. Either way I guess I win, although I would like to get another style running and that is a bit reliant on clearing the cost with some sales.

    The web design job is still fun and a lot of challenges still to be had. The coffee is still better than in the staffroom, the pay is better and I am enjoying working with customers again. So far, so good.

     
  • It's early ... and very quiet. My brain is in that very gentle state between sleep and wakefulness and feels like it's wrapped in cotton wool. Spelling mistakes abound. It's 2010. How cool is that? I feel like I'm part of an Arthur C. Clarke sequel and for some reason looking forward to 10/10/10 which occurs to me is binary for '42'. A quick search reveals that Douglas Adams did not intend this but subsequently that date just got more interesting.

    We are starting to feel the benefits of all this house destruction/rebuilding/renovation. The lounge is now completely opened up and the living spaces make more sense. The kitchen is next and there is a lot of finishing work to do but it is feeling good. On mornings like this those new french doors are paying for themselves. The garden is looking very tidy this year and very green. Our compost 'system' sort of fell apart when the plastic compost bins ended up being overtaken by a large heap that became higher than our fence. I have a plan to deal with that which involves removing the plastic as well.

    The new year resolution is simple this year - "Carry on". No big plans beyond those already in place. Work on the house, garden, and web design. Keep it simple.

    Now, I feel the need for a morning coffee in the sun.

  • If it's got 'OI!' in the chorus it's probably okay by me.

    Looking around the web at punk bands last night I saw that jim Lindberg has left Pennywise. Now, I don't know the guy but this hit me a little, made me feel a bit empty and, well, old. Pennywise were one of the bands that saved me from being a complete knob at a pretty critical age and got me through some pretty rough space. They've always been there, helped me form my dress sense, fueled midnight (and arguably drunken) skate sessions and the number of times I struck a pose pointing at my head encouraging young folks to think just a little harder about society is innumerable (I know 'cos innumerable students have mentioned it). My first (and probably only) parenting book was Punk Rock Dad by Mr Lindberg. It's fair to say he and Pennywise had an influence on me. I liked the intelligent and educated punks who understand why they're busting out.

    Had a discussion today that turned my opinion of my teaching experience a 180. Talking with a colleague about our generation's approach to protest and associated sacrifice. We don't tend to do marches and get arrested like our parents and the idea put forward was that we tend to put ourselves on the line financially (spending otherwise chargeable time on active causes) and risk personal and professional reputations (which in many of the industries we operate in are critical). It got me thinking about my time in the secondary education system as a teacher. It is fair to say I pushed some boundaries by switching my class to Linux, using projects for everything, teaching skills outside my subject area, providing students with the real risk of not achieving without effort on their behalf and generally being pretty unapologetic about it all. Probably going head-to-head with senior managers could also fit into the category of making waves. I left feeling I had failed myself and the students by giving in to the senior managers and conservative "leaders". Now I'm looking at it as my part in a real battle to change the system. I protested heavily and actively made changes. I know many students benefited from it, I know I am still working with the education system (albeit in a different role) and the odds are good I will go back to the classroom one day. It's a different view of activism and one I quite like.

    Now I think I'll listen to some Pennywise. Later all.

  • I flicked on the TV for a few minutes last night, just long enough to watch an article on TV3's 60 Minutes about the "war" between cyclists and motorists. It was a surprisingly disgusting piece of journalism and seemed very narrow and one-sided. It is reassuring that a number of other people felt the same and the comments on the TV3 web site seem to demonstrate a lot more balance than the article did. It's a shame we feel the need to constantly polarise things like that in a nation this small. I am waiting for the day that they run an article like that, follow it with something about obesity and the drop in life expectancy and then look at how our elderly (presumably the baby boomers now) are expected to live a long happy life and be a drain on society. Is it possible the media do not read their own writings?

    It was a bit disturbing last night to discover the young folks screaming up and down the road at 2am in the morning were actually very young. One looked to be no older than about 14. Now I'm not one to judge people based on their circumstances but man, we get some plonkers in this area. Why are we letting our kids run riot at night? Because if we're like me, we're tired and simply don't care that much. Next time I'll call noise control and see if that gets them back home to bed.  I wonder if they made it to school this morning. I also have to wonder why they are always called things like "Janelle, Dwayne, Hayden" ... and whoever "Steve" was, apparently it was all his fault.

    Anywho ... buy my book. Make me rich so I can retire from this life of hardship and sit in my back yard.

  • This week is looking like a real positive one. My web design resource book has finally been published and is looking pretty good. I should get a chance over the next week to get some feedback on it. The first run of Trouser Project shorts are due from production around Thursday which is freaking exciting. I am looking forward to seeing if they have turned out well or not. The next step will be trying to sell a few to fund the next run. I need some new shorts so the timing is good and am keen to get some trousers produced. The current asset search is a new sewing machine with embroidery capabilities. Now that I have the time and energy to experiment again I am keen to play with computer controlled embroidery and see what falls out. We are also looking at a small electric kiln for glass work so it's all about craft these days.

    The garden is in full Spring swing and with the recent rain, followed by sun has resulted in a lot of growth. The early potatoes are coming up and the little nursery we have on the kitchen table is almost ready to go out in the real world. Should be a good year for produce and we are getting better at using it every year. It's all quietly coming together.

    We have just ordered some french doors so close to starting the next stage of renovations. This one includes getting the doors in and removing internal walls to open up the front of the house. Getting quite exciting and should be a a lot simpler than the bathroom/toilet was. A bit more room to move as well. We are planning a demolition party to remove the plaster from the walls.

  • I don't often drive around this city but when I do, damn ... people are freaking insane. I was not aware that Harper Avenue now has an 80km/h speed limit. No signs suggesting this of course but I was being passed while doing 50km/h so matched speed and hit 80km/h before deciding that was just plain stupid.

    I also really enjoyed the decidely middle aged woman who sat right on my ass up Fendalton road, despite there being two lanes and a posted speed limit of 50km/h. This was a fun one and stands out in my mind for a couple of reasons. She was in a big blue SUV. One of those urban penises that fall apart at the first sign of mud and are usually a sign of a seriously insecure man. I was just thinking to myself that this woman seriously needed to get laid when she passed me, at quite considerable speed, revealing a spare tire cover that identified her as a 'Desperate Housewife'. I got the giggles at this point and passed her about two minutes later as she pulled into the supermarket. That grocery shopping doesn't just happen man ... it's serious shit for a desperate housewife.

    Coming back I felt compelled to break the speed limit as people were starting to get dangerous and make really dumb passing choices. Interestingly age did not seem to be a big indicator of dangerous driving. I could be forgiven for thinking they had a personal grudge and were trying to have a go at me. Some got pretty close. Luckily I have been in Christchurch long enough to know this is one of the largest collections of repressed, middle-class, white people in New Zealand and we have known for a long time that they are the scariest sons-of-bitches there are.

    I was happy to get out of the car. I'm not sure where all those people were going so fast. We live on a freaking island, water on all sides. We can drive across the country in a few hours and across the city in minutes. Weird.

  • One month, one week into my redux of web design. Being me I have been thinking about the move and looking back at the education system. It is clear to me that I love classroom teaching. The kids were the reason I was there and I am definitely a secondary teacher. Teenagers suit me to a tee and provide enough messed up and brilliant experiences to make it worth my while. That said, looking back I am not interested in going back to a system that promotes mediocrity and sucks everything down to a very low base level. Education is not alone in this. Talking to a range of people who have worked in various govt systems ranging from health to community corrections it seems the negative impact comes from the way the NZ public service operates. I admire teachers and I think without them a lot of young people would never find the thing that makes them tick. In my new role I am trying to find ways to help classroom teachers in practical ways. I know it sucks to have the floaty ideas waft through the system toward the classroom when what you really need is practical stuff that can be used now, won't get you beaten at moderation time and will benefit students.

    I am loving being back in web design with people who can passionately talk about Emacs being cool in HiDef. It's good for a gentle giggle.

    Time for a weekend with a rather large task list thats only redeeming feature is getting more beer on the go.

    Have fun. 

  • I was thinking ...

    ... yup ... thinking ...

    On an unrelated note, I think it is slightly sad that I use my knee pads to protect my knees while crawling under the house to re-staple insulation. I hereby commit to using them to protect my knees when I fall off my skates ... which is likely to happen because I haven't been on them in years. I am also finding myself thinking about what others will think if I dye my hair red again. When did I get so old and boring? This must change ... right after I finish complaining about young people and lacquering the wicker furniture.

    Three days of secondary teaching left. Well, two actually. I called in sick for tomorrow ... and am actually sick - which sort of ruins the whole day really.

    ... thinking ...

  • Success came, this week in the form of a Wacom tablet working in Jaunty. My new Intuos 4 arrived more quickly than expected so I have had some time to get it working before I have to use it in anger. Luckily people much smarter than I have been figuring it out for the last few months and posting on UbuntuForums. My job was to read, understand, copy/paste and restart until the thing did what it was meant to. The first attempt resulted in a stylus that worked but jerked around the screen like a ninja LOL cat. The second attempt included another restart and everything worked fine. So far I have a working stylus and touch wheel that scrolls. I want to keep going to get the pad buttons working and get the scroll turned into a zoom function. Apparently it's all possible so just need to bash my head against it a little longer. I am also assuming that with the next release of Ubuntu around October sometime the new drivers will be stock standard.

    Two weeks to go at school. I am well and truly finished up there now. I have heard that the ICT room is to be converted back to WindowsXP, which was fairly inevitable I guess. The olds were proposing a rename of the course to "Computer Design Technology" but the Art department (and mine) went up in arms and it seems to have fallen over. I'm still not sure why ICT is so hard for them to understand. It's a fairly ubiquitous term these days, especially in education. It also turns out that despite pressure and advice from tertiary that our folks see Computer Science and ICT as being the same thing. In fact any subject that uses a computer is apparently the same thing. This is what I have turned away from completely. Two more weeks and I will physically follow my emotional self away from secondary education and into something with a lot more promise. All good really.

    The new Wacom tablet and the snazzy new monitor waiting for me at my new place of employ beckon. Two weeks to go.

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