• I really like this point in the holiday when my brain and body have relaxed to a point I can speak, think and feel the need to beat seven bells out of the garden again. Coupled with sunny days and a pumpkin patch that gives me something to do on a daily basis things are feeling somewhat refreshed. Which I needed...in big doses. I think I underestimated how much I had been affected by that week last year that included C's accident and a burglary. Followed by a Christmas that was pleasant but fraught with family members who didn't really want to be together and being bounced between two families for the days following didn't help much. A season of joy it was not but now, back in my own home, beating up my own garden, riding my bike, cooking food I want to eat and idly sanding a window frame when the
    fancy takes me things are falling back into balance.

    Following the burglary I decided to purchase a radio controlled helicopter to replace the car that was stolen. I have always wanted one and have always held a certain fascination with helicopters. Sort of the same way I'm fascinated with bumblebees and seedlings, they just sort of defy physics and follow their own path. I got a mini co-axial helicopter as I'm not a complete masochist and they are, apparently, more stable and easier to fly. Four sets of rotorblades and a landing
    gear later I can takeoff, hover, land and the stupid grin has been combined with an intense look of concentration which, based on feedback, makes me looked slightly more stupid than usual. Crashing has been reduced to about 40% of the time and of those the pilot should be able to walk away. The first crash would have killed them ... twice. Wasn't pretty. All good fun although I have restricted myself to practicing with it only a few times a week as my current budget doesn't extend to replacing rotor blades quite that quickly. It has also made me feel a lot better about having one of my few toys stolen.

    I friend recently provided me with a pile of cherries which were promptly preserved and made into a must for wine. I thought the must had gone wrong as when I put in yeast the airlock just looked at me for a few weeks with a gentle, "what are you looking at" appearance. With my oh-so-scientific mind and odd lack of hydrometer readings I admitted defeat and went to throw it away. When I took the lid off the fumes just about knocked me backwards. Definitely alcohol in there so I
    racked it and declared myself wine champion of the day. I really have no idea what I'm doing here so I will let my friend try it first. He dropped off a bag of plums yesterday...

    Now, those pumpkins are looking a bit pleased with themselves and some plums are in desperate need of squishing. I call it theraputic relaxation.

  • I have had to spend a few days processing this week and to be honest I'm stil not sure I'm there. On Monday C called to say she'd been knocked off her bike by a motorist and needed to be picked up. A few big bruised areas and anger at motorists who forget they have a large lump of metal around them although I must admit I enjoyed her telling of her somewhat aggressive reaction to the person who hit her. Truly holding her own on that one. With that passing behind us I was woken up Wednesday morning about 1:30am to the sound of smashing glass as some nong tried to get into our house. I had heard weird noises and woken up somewhat dazed. We always have weird noises in our neighbourhood, mainly as the people in our neighbourhood are weird. When the glass broke I figured the wind had blown something through he window (I know...) and as I wandered down the hall to check heard scrabbling noises. I started to think we'd somehow trapped a cat in the kitchen and it was freaking out, turned on the light and realised nothing had blown through the window, there was no cat and certain items had been moved around on the table. If it hadn't been 1:30am I would have freaked out. It was only after wandering outside that I realised the gate was off it's hinges and the garage door was wide open. This is when the processing began...
    Two things immediately: 1) The car culture in this country needs to change, 2) Stop breaking into my house, we don't have cool shit...it's all crap.
    That said, the positives of all this. I took Wednesday off work...I was bloody tired after two nights of almost no sleep and school was not going to happen. I had a good chat to our nice neighbour and set about securing doors, windows etc. A timely reminder going into Christmas. We are now paid up members of the Cycling Advocacy Network and are looking to help promote utility cycling in a friendly way. I got to know our local police a little better. I got to know our local insurance company again...after spending an hour on the phone with them I'd almost expect flowers. The burglar had to be a teenager...teachers know dickhead kids a mile away...this one broke the one window with no latch on it and after cleaning up the garage we realised they got away with very little of value. They also had no appreciation of the punk CDs as none were taken. It's nice to know your local burglar is an incompetent, Britney Spears listening dumbass who really should have stayed at school. We have big fuckoff punk padlocks on our garage doors which just look cool...and presumably create some sort of barrier.
    Still processing...

  • The local news has finally made the connection between our high petrol prices, global oil prices and the subsequent social changes. They keep trying I guess. I notice the petrol stations are now not advertising the price of high octane petrol. It must be too scary for people. I'm also starting to look at schools and think they're not really ready for the day when people simply can't afford to drive in. Our school at least relies on students coming in from outlying areas.

    We're both biking at the moment and despite seeing some good increases in fitness and energy levels we're also finding the savings from petrol each month is pretty good. The electric scooter is on the backburner at the moment as I continue to look for suitable batteries. I may yet sell it as an exercise in unsustainability, especially if battery prices keep going up as fast as petrol prices. Apparently lead is getting expensive as well.

    The local news has also got all excited about a discovery of an 8ft long sea scorpion...or at least the fossil remains of one from around 400 million years ago. We're a strange species.

  • Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
    The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why Gunpowder Treason
    Should ever be forgot.

    For some reason tonight was all about looking up the history of nursery rhymes. It all started with a discussion about copyright and ended in discovering just how old a lot of the common nursery rhymes are, not to mention how political many are. Kinda cool actually. There's something appealing about subversion in the nursery.

    It's Guy Fawkes night. We have explosions going off all around us. Is tonight meant to be a warning to politicians or a chance for consumers to burn money and
    get off on "all the pretty lights"? Cynicism aside, it seems that as our government looks to pass very American anti-terrorism laws maybe we should stop "behaving badly" with our fireworks and start behaving much more seriously.

    ...or maybe I'm just tired and blowing stuff up sounds like fun...

  • All machines have been upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10, the garden is still looking great despite being hammered by wind one day and frost the next and I have found Oolite, a remake of Elite a game I played years ago on the Commodore 64. It's the little things that keep me going.

    Apparently we have a problem with violence in this country...in short people keep hitting each other. Now, I might be off the mark here but I have also noticed that as a nation we are very good at making verbal attacks, in particular those niggly, non-confrontational, personal attacks that crawl right up people's noses and make them want to smack the crap out of something. When did we lose our perspective on the fact that if you push someone too far they will eventually push back and most likely in a violent, or at least aggressive way. Most guys know that if you stand next to a large bloke in the urinals, look across and say something like "Jeez mate, for a big lad you've got a small dick" you can expect one event to follow. You will be punched in the head. If the comment was worth it, cool, if it wasn't don't complain to the media and our justice system that life is unfair and this big guy just attacked you for no reason. We never seem to look at the whole picture around an event, just the results which limits our ability to actually do anything. As for our media's almost perverse excitement for moral outrage and those patronising ads with otherwise intelligent people telling me it's "not alright ..." we need to seriously get real. Spend that money on people who are actually dealing with this stuff day-to-day and quit wasting it on guilt making propaganda.

    I play computer games, I'm not addicted. I drink alcohol, I'm not addicted. I play poker, I'm not addicted. I can bake a cake and eat it too. See, life isn't so bad.

  • Into the second week of holidays and I am starting to relax again and foster some of that creativity. It has come, these holidays in the form of web design. I've been having a great time working with Drupal and flexing my theming skills on any web site that comes my way. I'm really liking the the freedom to add
    functionality and mess with templates without the need for a programmer. It's not the XML/XSl combo that I really like but the PHP templates approach is okay. Equally reassuring is the fact I can still put together a reasonably decent XHTML/CSS layout with a decent visual style. A few terms of teaching and it's easy to feel a bit of a munter. Always describing and demonstrating without actually doing can lead to some insecurity, especially when students ask questions you know inside
    out but can't remember. My apologies to Scott at PunkRockAcademy for hijacking his web site and experimenting with it. Luckily an ocean and a few timezones separate us so he can't easily beat me.

    A few days ago I was biking into town and passed a police cordon on Stanmore road. A guy had been shot by a police officer the night before. This is very much in my neighbourhood and it had its impact on me. Like any story there are two sides but both sides of this story are sad. A guy, who had pretty much lost it for the night and sounded like he'd been through a bit in the previous days, and a police officer who arrived on a pretty messed up scene and made a decision to shoot someone. I've noted before that things seem to be getting tighter and tighter in our society with very few ways out for anyone. It's scary how fast someone
    can fall away with little support, probably because everyone else is hanging on for dear life as well. What are we going to do when things really get tough? We're staring down the barrel of our key resource becoming really expensive and quite large changes to the way we live. If we are all racing along at such speed that we have no way of stopping at all how do we support each other when things get rough? If our economy starts to droop which, in a country that seems to be dropping productivity in favour of...well nothing really, it likely will and opportunities to earn money change are we, as a nation, ready for that? I imagine that when something as simple as the cost of petrol doubles we will see anger and finger-pointing. Will we also see people supporting others and finding new opportunities? I certainly hope we don't see more people losing it and certainly no more shootings.

    On a brighter note, the garden is looking really healthy and our fruit trees are all starting to leaf out and put on blossom.

  • Well, alrighty. I am now officially 33 (and a couple of days). All good and it gave us an excuse to try out the new restaurant on the corner which is actually quite something for this little part of town. They had customised the menu with my name which was actually pretty cool. Among other things, C got a me a book, Punk Rock Dad by Pennywise's lead singer, Jim Lindberg. Read into that what you will but the book is actually pretty good so far and I've been chuckling my way through it.

    Today we had a clean out of the office area, rearranging and getting rid of the big desk which has outlived its use here. We ended up by taking down a wall as well, though to be honest the wall was pretty makeshift and came down without much impact on the surrounding area. Whoever built it did a really crap job and for that
    we are thankful. The lounge now looks huge and gets a lot more sun. It is also nice to be able to work on the computer and still be able to talk to people. I can also admit it was good fun destroying something for a change.

    With the weather getting nicer we have been able to get out into the garden and clean things up a bit. We need to get in a little more dirt this year as the composts haven't quite produced enough for the vege gardens, partly because in the recent move all the raised beds lost a bit of dirt. Once that's in we'll be getting into planting. We have a good plan for producing a decent amount of potatoes this year as we didn't quite last through winter. We're getting there.

    Two weeks left in the term and quite frankly I need a break. My brain has given up on creativity for now and seems to be sheltering in the back of my head somewhere being a bit of a wuss.

  • It's been a while since I last wrote anything down so here I am, having a day off sick, not feeling particularly creative and with very little to say actually. The end of the year is rolling around really quickly and everything seems to be revolving around work. Actually looking back on this diary thing I see that about this time very year I get sick and seem to be tired. Interesting.

    I have rearranged the raised garden beds to allow us room to put in lower beds for potatoes and other main crops this year. Looks nicer as well. We have put in more fruit trees and I noticed they have started to put on buds so I'll take that as a sign they are relatively happy. Starting to look quite good out there.
    Inside I have started stripping another door but came to a halt when I discovered it had been 'repaired' near the bottom with some sort of MDF board. Ugly as sin and needs a bit of thinking. At this stage it's looking like we'll swap it out for one of the doors we were planning on removing. We have also just put in a dishwasher which is already starting to pay off. Just have to get into a routine with it so we don't have it on all the time or run out of things to eat off/with.

    I have a new load of wine on. A green apple reisling. It has started fermenting, something I always get antsy about with wine for some reason, so look forward to tasting it sometime in the future. Also have a new wash for distilling in progress. We have taken to somewhat social poker nights on Fridays at C's new work. The spirits are welcome there and we're all equally crap at poker so it works.

    Back to school tomorrow...

  • Holidays are gone and back into school. I feel completely fucked. Man, this job is hard work. If you're not being hammered by students, it's colleagues. If it's not colleages it's marking, planning, thinking and trying to remember all the shit that is expected of a teacher. If it's not that...well, shit....you're asleep. I love this job....but shit it's hard work. It's hard to switch off to the students' lives sometimes. Most are great people but have some shit World's to live in and it's hard to hear some if it, work with it and not burst into tears. If I have a whisky after work you can damn well bet I've heard at least one thing that has rocked my world...beatings, drugs, alcohol, frustration, pain, anger, violence, aggression. I hate watching kids deal with this stuff and am only able to help in small ways. I'm not their friend but I always feel like I have to be stable at school. Sounds pretty twee and all Florence Nightingale but if you worked with some of these kids you'd feel it too.

    It's been a tough few weeks and I have fallen back on punk music. I was thinking about my second year at university this week. It was a truly unpleasant time of my life and things were pretty bleak. I still remember the day that I popped a tape that my brother had left into a car stereo and heard... "aaaaah fuck, fuck , fuck, fuck" followed by Session. I worked my way from there. Punk music still seems to make things work for me. New Zealand is a great place to live but it's a frustrated and insecure place which tends to wind up the locals. I hope we figure it out sometime soon.

    I have started doing cross stitch again. Inspired by the Transformers movie I have started sorting out an image of the original Bumblebee for a cross stitch. It'll be about 200mm x 200mm and 8 colours. It's the pose off the original box and makes him look tough but still ... Bumblebee. Hopefully it takes ages and looks as good as I think it will. Beats thinking.

  • Into the second week of holidays and all is well. I went down in a shower of shit and small stones last week and felt pretty crap for no real reason that I could ascertain but presumably, being the complex critter that I am, there was a good reason. Feeling better now and a bit more fit to face the World.

    Following a few weeks of screwing up I have managed to install my first door handle. A spent days measuring the position and making sure I understood what I was doing (the instructions being written in what I can only assume was martian). I then spent 20 minutes drilling irrepairily into the door. I then spend 30 minutes throwing a wobbly as I realised I had it in the wrong place by 5mm. I then spend 10 minutes calming myself and discovering that the door knob allowed for noobs like me and had about 10mm of forgiveness. These martians are clever folks. After some filling and positioning and chiseling we now have a door handle and no casualties...actually not true. I managed to slice my finger with a craft knife while gently carving out a space for the wee knobby bit that actually catches the door. That hurt but it turns out my blood clots well so all positive. I am teaching Materials Tech to juniors next term...if I was a parent with a young person at Hagley I'd be freaking out.

    I also had to make a foray onto the roof to repair a broken tile. I discovered it while opening a cupboard and being drenched by a bucketful of water that had been collecting. I spent a fun Saturday evening in the ceiling space setting up a bucket system and then a hysterical Sunday summoning the courage to get on the roof with one of those spunky little filler gun things to seal the crack. Like a ski field it's much steeper up there than it looks but I manned through it and got back to terra firma without issue.

    I have been working on a redesign for The Managers' web site these holidays. It's my first big foray into Drupal and so far so good. I'm liking the ability to create views of different content very quickly and then being able to style them fairly seamlessly. Certainly the ability to add modules quickly has been great and makes experimenting with different approaches nice and easy. Hopefully we get it live soon as I'm pretty stoked with the visual style of it. Might have to cut back on the freebie work soon and start getting in some paid stuff.

    Turns out my somewhat snide comment about no tornados was a little prophetic with Taranaki being hit by a bunch of them. I will try and keep my comments to myself in future...though damn, warning signs anyone.

    This weekend we are having our exorcism to rid the house of unwanted spirits...the downside of distilling stuff that I'll never drink...I mean, Candy
    Shots, who the hell will drink that. Begone evil spirit - Lorem ipsum etc etc.

  • One more week of this term left and then two weeks holiday. The last few weeks have gone by very quickly which is a little disturbing but it's all good. We've moved back into the bedroom now. It's a lot more comfortable and looking good.

    I'm enjoying school at the moment. I get to give students a hard time and pass on my thoughts and opinions to what is effectively a captive audience. Sucks to be a student in my class I tells ya. Hell, being a co-worker probably isn't all that good. I think it's time to tone back on the extra bits I do at school and get back into the teaching side more heavily. I am keen to start tidying up some of the projects just completed for next year. It's an ongoing thing I guess.

    I see the cost of a season pass on our ski fields has gone up somewhat amazingly since I last went up. Luckily for me I stopped being able to afford skiing in NZ quite a few years ago. It's cheaper and more fun to go to Norway. Better skiing as well. Actually as a country we'd better be a little careful about our pricing. We are starting to alienate the locals in favour of tourists which seems like a slippery slope to me. Piss of the locals at your peril. We might just decide to mess with your kids or loosen that nut on the ski lift. Lovely stuff.

    Winter in NZ...but it seems much the same in the UK. Global warming is a bitch eh? At least it's just cold here at the moment. We haven't had a tornado or tsunami or anything....yet.

  • Long weekends are just made for wallpapering...so that's what we're doing. I have decided that wallpapering is one step better than stripping paint which puts it one step lower than eating poo. Anywho, the room is looking pretty good despite the lack of fun and we'll be ready for painting soon. Good times.

    ESPN is not covering the Stanley Cup this year which nails my last reason for having the TelstraClear TV on. The interesting channels repeat too often to be useful and I don't watch enough to TV normally to make it worth while. Reduced to watching the game highlights via the web which is proving better than nothing. Shorter as well.

    I think one of the batteries in my scooter has gone bung so I'm back on my bike. My fitness is back but I can see why people drive cars. She's a bit tiring biking every day, especially if the day has juniors in it.

    I really have nothing to say at the moment...must work on that.

  • I have the doors back on the closets in our bedroom. All the wood has now been stripped back to the rimu and varnished. The window looks excellent and the doors have come up really well. The skirting really sucked to do but it looks pretty good as well. It all has a restored look, not new but not shoddy either. I like it. We are now on to cleaning the walls, getting up wallpaper and painting. Then I'm having a little drink and a lie down for a few months. It looks good though.

    I am beginning to think some of the folks at work aren't coping particularly well. There seems to be a lot of snappy behaviour in the oldies which is starting to get tiring. Certainly won't be asking any of them for help on anything, they seem to have enough troubles already.

    My scooter's batteries seem to be on their last legs. I did some quick acceleration this morning and it felt like one of the batteries dropped dead. Luckily I was almost at school and with the help of friendly grounds staff I plugged in and had enough juice to get home. It did the same thing when I was almost home so I'm thinking I need to get under the hood and see what's going on ... I'll look at least.

    Ubuntu Feisty rocks.

  • I have a new laptop at home now, allowing me to sit in my warm lounge and talk to C instead of being tucked away in the somewhat cold computer cupboard. It didn't take me long to remove Vista and put Ubuntu on it and to my great pleasure it is working really well. Feisty is proving to make life nice and easy. It just
    installed the Flash plugin without any problems (so I could watch Mark Shuttleworth talk about the new Dell agreement to build with Ubuntu) and then it happily played wmv files so I could watch the latest NHL "On The Fly" episode. Can't ask for much more than that really.

    After a full on week at school I am starting to feel quite jaded. The admin work seems to be piling up behind me as the school systems seem to be crumbling. It doesn't seem like a good thing but hopefully it balances out soon. Great projects and some really interesting work coming from students of all ages is making it worthwhile. Today a year 9 student asked me what year I was. I answered that I was a teacher and smiled happily but it occured to me later that for a 13 year old to ask that meant they thought I was of secondary school age (or close to it). Usually 13 year olds assume anyone older than them is at least 80. I was stoked. Having bright red hair is probably helping.

  • Here endeth the holidays. Back to school on Monday, for two days and then we have another holiday. Life is tough.

    We have had success with the window and it is now stripped and in the process of being varnished. It looks good and the hard work of stripping every little bit of crappy white paint has been worth it. We managed to do it on a pretty good budget as well which is great as we have a few more to do. The next steps are: varnishing the other wooden bits, getting the cupboard doors back in and then getting on to wallpaper and paint. Actually a lot of fun and nice knowing it's all going into our own place.

    I managed to upgrade Ubuntu to version 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) last night. Actually it happened this morning but took most of the night to download. I guess the servers
    were fairly packed for a while there. Compared to the last upgrade this was phenomenal. Even a dufus like me can click an upgrade button and then sit back. It is really impressive how simple it has become and considering all my past Windows upgrades have required a complete rebuild it was simply wonderful to not have to set everything back up once it was ready to go. The desktop didn't even really blink actually though looks a little slicker in places. New tools and lots of cleaning
    up and my web cam works again. I knew if I waited someone clever would fix the problem. There's something just right about open source.

    Tomorrow I put the finishing touches on my new trousers and get another coat of varnish on the window. I think I'm ready for another term of school.