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  • The holidays are very much happening.

    The peaches were split up, some made into wine and some preserved in bottles for the long hard winter that's a'comin...or something. We discovered the base of the distiller works well for preserving so it was all go. They look okay so will see how it goes when we try them in a few months.

    I am now trying to get the window in the bedroom stripped back to wood and varnished before things get too damp and the wood starts to get soggy. Stripping the window has been a bit of a mission but today I got the worst of the paint out leaving the touch up work. We should be able to get a coat of varnish on this week some time. It looks damn fine if I do say so myself. Lovely rimu underneath, all different shades and grainy. It scares me when I think of how much more there is to do ... so I don't think about it. Problem solved.

    After spazzing out a bit in town over the lack of decent men's clothing I have started another pair of trousers. They have flames. Yessir, flames. Actually it's cooler than that. They are a thick black drill with three panels making up the legs. The tops of the bottom two panels are cut into a flame pattern and sewn together. Took frickin ages but it is really looking good. Subversively innocuous enough to wear to school and cool enough to make me feel less of a muppet. I would also like to state that I nailed the fly ... totally. No inappropriate holes, gaps, stitching or general dodginess. I have pockets to do tomorrow and then sew 'em up to fit. I'm also finally getting some new shoes ... they have flames on them. Yessir, flames.

    I will not think about the marking I left at school or the fact that term two is a long one .. I won't think about it again at least.

  • This week was a bit short with two days at workshops and conferences and an onset of sickness today. It was nice to get a break from the classroom but workshops usually ramp me up with things to try out so I usually do too much at once and get burned out. I might actually learn that lesson one day.

    Over the last two days I have had the displeasure of driving a car more often than I have in the last six months. Things have changed a bit and too be honest with the speeding, swerving and general dangerous and angry driving I can't understand why we are so surprised that people are getting seriously hurt. It's kind of a no brainer I would've thought. I'd love to know why we feel the need to drive so dangerously because it's happening on all fronts and with all kinds of people. I frustrated someone yesterday by driving 50km/h in a 50km/h zone (which is most of
    the city actually). I could see them getting all wound up behind me before they roared passed at what I'd estimate was 70. What was odd is that a stream of traffic then went passed at the same speed. I felt the odd one out for driving at the speed limit. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, we have decided it is okay to be dangerous and as such we should accept that a certain number of people (and, yes that includes kids) will be killed. "My right to speed means you give up your right to live" seems perfectly okay these days. I guess the turning point will be when we start to decide that there is now intent and it becomes murder instead of manslaughter...and yes, to all those lovely, "law abiding" white middle class folks you are a major part of
    the problem. At least I can see (and hear) the boys coming. They tend to have a loud muffler and even louder sound system blaring out Britney Spears (way cool by the way boys...not at all weak or insecure). Those angry white suburbanites fire off repressed violence in their car without warning and are much harder to dodge. Freaks.

    That said, I now have a weekend to enjoy and an electric scooter and bike to use with no need to drive anywhere for a while yet. I've even managed to top up my metro card so will give the bus another go now that we're on a decent route.

    We have lots of peaches starting to ripen up. 'tis a marvelous thing.

  • Will it ever be Friday? Actually time is doing that weird thing where it speeds slowly by. The weeks are going by very fast but seem to take a long time to do so. Not the best way to implement the theory of relativity but there you go...physics at its most annoying.

    Despite being a rather silly busy day I tried something new and won. My combined graphics class needed to be split so I could take the year 11s up to the computer lab and as I can't be in two places at once (yet...come on physics) I decided to be clever and set up a video conference system...which actually worked. We just used Skype and when I was ready I called the Year 12s in the graphics room. We got the video going and I could keep an eye on them and have conversations. The kick in the guts was that I needed to set up two rooms a good distance apart within 10 minutes, make sure students could get into both and teach two separate lessons. It worked but I got a headache real quick. Technology at its best.

    Teaching is a lot more fun this year. I only feel like half a muppet.

    I have finally found some support for my electric scooter. The original company appears to have gone belly up leaving me without an obvious supply of parts and no real tech support. After chatting to some folks at the latest sustainability expo I now seem to have some support with batteries and general parts. They sell a different type of scooter but the basics are much the same. Makes life easier really.

    I need to lie down and get rid of this headache.

  • The last few days have seen the disappearance of intelligent people in my life and the arrival of the obtuse. Either people are getting tired or a hardcore hit of stupid just hit the water supplies. Maybe the stress of a new year has finally got to people. May the smarts return soon.

    I have a higher load of teaching this year which is starting to leave its mark on me. It's all good fun but I can see why good teachers stop and bad teachers
    get crabby. It's one of those systems that just barely works. I find myself fighting the same sorts of battles I did as a web designer as people try to astound me with their technical prowess through their newfound ability to email. Email you say....wow. Try introducing that to the concept of an intranet...or in fact any sort of decentralised content management. I can see why teachers go mad and kill all their students and colleagues...they do don't they?...it's not just me right?

    If you still drive a car to work every day you have your head wedged firmly up your ass. It has become the equivalent of blowing smoke into a baby's face.

    I'm sure something great happened today...

  • Today has been an odd day. Odd in that it has included an unusually extreme mixture of highs and lows resulting in a mixture of somewhat turbulent emotions. I imagine people who know me would say this is not unusual and that I am unusually turbulent most of the time...but today was odd.

    Somedays you get a curveball from someone you trust and it can get you thinking for the rest of the day. Mine came today from a friend who, comparing me to someone they knew, commented that I tend to look at people with a sort of "you are wrong, dipshit" expression. If you really know me you'll know this would hurt...quite a lot. I like people a lot, I like working with people and I have consistently and enduringly high hopes and expectations for people in my life...I am regularly disappointed by people. My natural thinking expression is to frown.

    I went in to school today to sort out the broken computers in my classroom. I have set up a dual boot of Windows XP and Linux (Ubuntu) and the imaging hadn't worked apparently. I spent time on each machine repairing the master boot record (as the partitions had copied over) and now have 24 working machines. Tall poppy syndrome be damned, that is bloody phenomenal considering I started using Linux seriously last July(ish) and had no support from the supposed IT people I know (and I
    know quite a few). I will never be thanked for my effort and in all likelihood my students will argue and fight the setup until they leave school.

    In the last few days I have watched "Who Killed the Electric Car" and "An Inconvenient Truth". The first was just plain sad for someone who rides an electric scooter in a city of SUVs and the second was...actually I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've heard all the info about climate change before, none of it is particular news to me and I live in New Zealand where 15 minutes in the sun can cause really nasty burns. I am making and have made major changes in my life to live more sustainably and I am educating others where I can and when it is acceptable for me to do so.

    I am often more certain than right...today I feel more right than certain.

  • A whole new year out there. Fantastic. Having just spent a week in Nelson wandering around craft places, relaxing, eating and reading a fantastic issue of Computer Arts Projects on Urban Art I am feeling remarkably recharged. It's nice when the cylinders start firing in unison again. I have started working on stencils for more t-shirt ideas and have been sewing up new shorts and trouser designs (the Trouser Project continues). Lovely start to the year.

    I have had a few panic moments lately where I felt I should be looking for ZYPE projects before remembering I have paid holidays now. It is a truly weird feeling and in the ultimate act of inappropriate guilt I feel like a bit of a leech...I am getting over it though. The last two years, on reflection have seen fairly large
    changes in my life and I've got that same feeling I get after doing something a little bit reckless and dangerous, namely tingly feet and a bit of adrenaline in the system. Looking back the move to teaching was relatively quick and took a lot of preparation time. I'd forgotten about the time I spent before the training working my tits off getting money together to cover as much of the training year as possible and this last year was a bit nuts with all the course creation that went
    on. I think it's all going to make the next few years that much sweeter.

    I had a small shock last night as I tried to use Windows XP and found the basics irritating. Another reflective moment as I realised I've been using Linux successfully for about a year and have started to see it as the norm. Interestingly the way I use and organise my desktop is now closer to that of a Mac which makes moving between my partner's computer and mine a lot smoother. I'm sure there is method to the madness.

    Today, I have a door to strip, a stencil to print and trousers to make. School can wait a bit longer...

  • It is holiday time. After a few abortive efforts to actually leave school behind for a few weeks I have made it out, cleaned up most of the pre-Christmas jobs that needed doing around the house and taken some time beating seven bells out of the garden. It's even a nice day today.

    My bike blew it's tire a week ago and pending a replacement I've been riding the scooter around. I have learned that a decent ride requiring a recharge every day is actually making the batteries work more effectively. A few days without riding or a long draining ride and they slow down again. My only slight concern now is that company I bought the thing off has gone very quiet and is not responding to any attempt to contact them. Usually not a good sign.

    I rebuilt my little server a few days back after realising that Fedora Core was not going to update. It is now an Ubuntu server with a little web server running a music playlist and file storage. I was pretty stoked when I figured out how to SSH into it though to be honest I am loving the cut and paste help forums out there for Linux. I'm not always interested in how something works but I'm glad someone is and that they are willing to write about it.

    Holiday time...

  • There's something about sitting in your own garden early on a Sunday morning when it's very quiet, the sun has come up and the norwester hasn't. I am thinking about beehives, the veges, what I'm going to do with all the peaches, apricots and plums that are growing and generally feeling content. It's quite nice really.

    We have started wine and spirits for Xmas so our kitchen is full of bubbling fermenters and all the containers and bottles that go with it. It looks, sounds and smells like a great science experiment. All we need now is a bunsen burner and some test tubes frothing away and we'd have a complete picture.

    School has started to go into a weird mode where the students have finished the assessment but haven't quite finished at school and the teachers all seem to have gone potty. It's really strange and I am looking forward to a holiday.

  • After a shit week I needed something to get me through the weekend...and found it. Generalisations aside, I thought this forum commenting on Baby Boomers was interesting. My interest is a long standing issue with dealing with greedy, cynical people who, for some reason can't understand opportunity and think of risk as leaping off a bridge with a rope around their ankles. Having just been on the end of what appears to be a gentle shafting by the old people we rented off before moving into our own house I am probably less sympathetic than usual. Watching old teachers act in nasty, selfish ways at the expense of colleagues and students has me slightly sickened and it seems to be for no better reason than that they feel insecure about something or simply have no understanding of "all these new things". I swear, if I hear one more old fart say that they are proud of their inability to use a computer I will smack them all the way back to the 60s. It's tiring, it's boring, it's not a productive attitude and it's time for a changing of the guard me thinks.

  • What a shocker of a day. I can only assume it was my day to deal with the World's negative bits and as I've had a good run over the last few weeks maybe that is a fair deal. Didn't reduce the impact of the day though. Lots of small things added up and people seemed to be niggly for some reason. It was weird and has reduced the value of some of my hard work at school. Sucks to the World, hopefully tomorrow is a touch better.

    I have made an upgrade at home to Ubuntu's Edgy Eft distribution. For a few days I was nervous as it blew away my monitor
    settings and I spent time learning all about xorg.conf through the commandline. It has all pretty much been sorted which is somewhat gratifying as I had only a vague idea what I was doing and have learned a lot throughout the process. I am also amazed at how confident I am that fixes will appear over time to continuously solve small issues. There's something about knowing you're not alone in the issues and that others are working on solutions. I have decided to include a distribution upgrade as part of next years Computing College course...in fact Linux has just stepped into a very central role in the course with a lot of learning revolving around it. I'm quite chuffed about that.

    My last comment for the day is on the increasing focus on useless, unproductive work. Surely, with the way things are headed and the progressively nearing changes (read downsizing) to our lifestyles we should be putting big emphasis on creative problem solving and technical production skills to support the creativity. Surely. Instead we propose closing down workshops in schools, move product development off shore, encourage young people to "get into game design 'cos it's a growing industry" and generally go down very dangerous paths. I hope we wake up before it gets too painful.

    Sucks to the World, hopefully tomorrow is a touch better.

  • We've been in our new house for a month now and so far so good. Starting to settle in nicely and I am stoked with the new found freedom to dig a hole anywhere I feel like and set up gardens the way I want them. It's the simple things that make life good. We have planted a few trees and the vege gardens are starting to
    grow...though the soil is going to take a while to build up. All good fun.

    We have had a few tags placed on our property, most of which were pretty average so I decided to start recording and evaluating them. The flip side of this is that my interest in graffiti has been renewed. I have discovered the Graphics department at school has a
    couple of unused airbrushes so I've hauled these out to have a go. If nothing else it gets me away from computers for a while.

    I have finally sorted out a decent system on my computer that involves a dual boot of Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) which has allowed me to play decent games while sticking with Linux for everything else. Hot on the heels of this set up I have been playing with Motion (a webcam motion detection tool) and getting it to record a video of the days proceedings down our driveway. This is always fascinating...today we watched a guy come and clean graffiti off the fence. I was pretty chuffed to get it working as it's a command line tool and I had to sort out a bash script for concatenating lots of small video files into one big one. Not bad for a designer/teacher/gardener.

  • One week into the holidays and one week into the new house. So far, so good. With some help from friends and family we managed to get everything across and have spent the last week making everything livable again. We've also started getting the garden installed and while I'm no master builder I have managed to whack
    together some raised garden beds for veges. I spent yesterday digging compost into them and today lying on the couch wishing I hadn't...it's also raining and I'll be buggered if I'm going out there. I'm on holiday.

    TelstraClear managed to screw up transferring the phone and internet to the new house so we've had two weeks without either. It's a bit of a reality check to find out how reliant we are on phones and the internet...and rather peaceful to not have either. The electricity company just sent through a huge marketing package that essentially said, "welcome to your new home" and "we have moved your account across". A letter probably would have sufficed but I guess
    these days if you don't say it with advertising you probably haven't said it. I am increasingly tired of glossy crap...under the gloss it's still crap.

    I am now looking forward to a slowing end to the year and more time in the garden getting things established. I am looking forward to enjoying some of my beer while sitting in my own garden. Interestingly I am also looking forward to getting back to school and getting my students through the end of the year...I take
    that as a good sign.

  • We move in to the new house this weekend. Our current place is packed with boxes and I have no idea where anything is...other than in the boxes somewhere. I am well and truly in freefall towards the holidays. The combination of packing up and the end of the term has taken it's toll.

  • We are moving to the new house in a few weeks. Initial packing has started and it feels a bit unreal at this stage. Our tenancy contract has been set up to end and we are starting to sort out all the things that need to be changed over to the new address. I have this little voice in the back of my head, way down deep that keeps asking silly things like "are you sure you bought a house?". I guess I'll find out soon.

    Today was a hard day back at school for some as yet unknown reason. I was pretty into life when I biked to school this morning and even felt unusually charitable
    as drivers ripped passed in their usual dangerous, 'who gives a crap about human life' sort of way. The classes went well and I got a lot done but I finished with a headache and really tired. With this behind me I was watching the news and essentially heard the following things: 1) Major gas disruptions in Wellington are causing massive problems for businesses there (restaurant and hotel businesses), 2) A supermarket supply strike is causing supermarket shelves to start looking a bit
    empty (we noticed this last night while sorting our groceries), and 3) a group of Christchurch suburbanites are fighting a bus route through their area because 'it brings crime'. #1 and #2 seem to me to be one hell of a warning shot over the bow about how fragile some of our systems really are and how dependent we have become on them. Something we should be thinking very hard about I would have said. #3 I had to sit up a bit for as I was sure I'd heard it incorrectly. Turns out the residents of a few of our wealthier gated communities think buses are basically prison transports shuttling criminals to their lovely, not at all small minded or snobby little areas. Considering what it looks like we're going to face with the end of cheap energy and personal transport I can't help but wonder how long it takes for them to beg for a bus system. Christchurch people seem intent on proving themselves as spoilt children but some things go a little too far to be taken seriously. Gated communities would be great if we could bolt the gates shut from the outside.

    Our new house has a backyard with some fruit trees and space for some of my other little dreams. I am looking forward to finally getting all the plants I have in pots established.

  • We have put our first offer in on a house that we quite like the look of and have found the whole experience to be a bit weird. We are low, being first time buyers so it'll be interesting to see what happens. I think I have managed to detach myself from the whole thing emotionally so there shouldn't be any freak out sessions. Luckily last weekend I made a load of whisky so I am prepared for any 'issues'. House hunting again this weekend pending a resolution to offer #1.

    We went and saw "A Scanner Darkly" last weekend after a friend organised it all. I have just finished "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep" so I was in the right mood for a it all. Loved the movie and the interesting cartoony style they'd used. I seriously need some sleep soon.

    House Update: we have agreed on a price for the house and doing the usual conditional bits for the contract. Very exciting.

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