Sunday, 31 August 2008

Skiing on Sunday

Mount Hutt looked superb as we drove up today, but when we got near to the carpark we could see that it had been rained on, up to about 1500m - the bottom of the Towers, or thereabouts. That meant that the snow was frozen solid, apart from some attempts at grooming. The Austrian and Swiss teams loved it, running a full speed super-g until 11am, but for mere mortals it was a bit too bulletproof.

I responded by putting more exaggerated up-down movement into my skiing (especially down), which worked OK but it's tiring to those outside the World Cup circuit. I was getting a bit error-prone by 3pm, and decided to stop - then Heather and Alice promptly decided that they'd had enough too. So we were back in Christchurch at 5pm in a lengthening spring twilight.

Heather had a fall in the morning and scraped her nose and cheek on the ice, so she is sporting some rather tender looking flesh wounds tonight - let's hope they heal quickly! No photos, the skiing wasn't worth the bother of photography.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

To the mountain

We are off to Mt Hutt early in the morning, after dinner at Chris and Frances's place tonight. Heather has rented the Volkl skis again, and the conditions seem to be becoming spring-like, according to Grant Bush, a friend from the UC IT Dept, who went skiing on Thursday. He said it started out very firm then softened. This shot from Mt Hutt's web site today, of an Austrian team member in a high speed bank, certainly looks like spring snow.
The Austrian men's team and the Swiss women's team are both training at Hutt at present, so that should make for some interesting sights.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Springing ahead

Spring is definitely on the way, with trees along the river sprouting leaves, crocuses and daffodils appearing, and lambs in the countryside. I've even left my polypro t-shirt in the drawer...

The endless northwest weather waves keep on coming, making it hard to pick a skiing day. I was hoping for a two-for-one Monday at Porters with Alice, but it looks like another norwester will beat us to it.

Update; we'll try for Sunday. Alice can afford to pay now, she heard today that she has a data analyst's job at the CDHB - she'll start in about a month. Good news!

Monday, 25 August 2008

The working week begins

Today we started resetting courses from Semester 1 - we don't touch the content of the course, but we clear out the records of student participation, ready for the next time they are used. It's a tedious business, but it's got to be done. We always discover a few anomalies or little details we've missed, too, so it's a chance to double-check things and keep our system clean and tidy.
The next step is to reset the cross-coded course groups. They have to be backed up, split apart, renamed, reset, and re-combined, a process that takes about 5 minutes at the least, and 15 or 20 minutes for the tricky ones. We'll earn our breaks this week!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Skiing again

Off to Mt Hutt today, with perfect conditions predicted. More later.

Evening - Pictures are worth 1000 words, so here's a few from my Flickr set.

Heather loved her rental skis - Volkl Attiva, if that means anything. I don't think we'll see her on the old 185s any more...

We had to stop along the summit ridge to get photos - it's a great backdrop with the Rakaia River and the hills behind.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Winter weather (again)

This winter just goes on giving! We awoke to a couple of cm of snow this morning, and the southerly fronts keep on sweeping through. I'm still hoping for a fine Thursday to go skiing, but we'll be making the call late on Wednesday I suspect.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Press - lost in the hills again!

On today is a story about the missing Aussie climbers being found and brought down to the Hermitage. The article is accurate enough, saying they were on the Mueller Glacier, but then some sub editor wrote this intro; "A helicopter team has now rescued the six Australian climbers stranded on Mt Cook."

Here we go again; I've also seen "on Mt Cook" applied to people who were 40km away in the head of the Godley, and in the Murchison - why do people who have no clue about the geography think they can write this stuff without needing to get a map out and check? It happens elsewhere too; I've seen tramping parties rescued from the Dart Valley described as "climbers on Mount Aspiring".

Later: the NZ Herald's web site got seriously carried away, describing the group "...battling neck-high snowdrifts and avalanches while they were trapped on Mt Cook."

To illustrate the error, imagine how this would be received. "Christchurch car crash kills two - A couple died when their car slid off the road between Kaiapoi and Rangiora in Canterbury last night." Imagine the letters to the editor if they printed that!

I suppose in some ways the Press's assumption is a further illustration of the Christchurch-centric attitude that is so common here. The world is divided into "Christchurch" (which is important) and "not Christchurch" (which nobody cares about). At Richard Stallman's talk yesterday, the person introducing him said "We hope to get Richard south to see Milford Sound", and all around the room people stared at each other in baffled incomprehension - "But that's not in Christchurch, why would anyone go there?"

It is very difficult for outsiders to break into any profession in Christchurch; I've seen CVs read then put in the reject pile because "He may have 10 years' server management experience, but it wasn't in Christchurch." And don't even start on which schools people attended...

Right, enough grumping - how about the overnight Olympic medal tally, then? Golds for Valerie Vili in shot put, and the Evers-Swindell twins in the double sculls, silver for Hayden Roulston in the cycling pursuit, bronze for Mahe Drysdale in the single sculls, and George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle in the pairs. Not bad for a country with the same population as Melbourne or central LA.

And to cap it off, the All Blacks beat South Africa 19-0. Maybe that will shut up the armchair experts who were ready to lynch Graham Henry a few weeks ago.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Lots happening

At work I have been putting in some time with a VMWare setup, running Kubuntu Linux. I've also installed Apache, PHP, and MySQL. I'll now try to get Moodle working.

All this open source software fits well with a talk today by Richard Stallman, the man behind the GNU software licence, copyleft, and the free software movement; he's at the University today at 2pm. A shame to be indoors on a lovely day, but we don't get to see people like this very often.

Stallman can be a bit extreme in his views, but a movement needs people to lead from the front. His efforts span a lot more than just software; he's equally strong on human rights and liberties, individual responsibility, and the evils of "intellectual property".

He is famous for the definition of "free software" - Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to his talk. He spoke with Kim Hill on National Radio last week; you can find the podcast here for another week or two.

Back to local politics with more on the Hendo fiasco: Sue Wells abandons democracy, business interests rally against the CCC, and blogger Steven Cowan continues his excellent dissection of the whole smelly buyout mess.

A totally unrelated photo to finish: this shot of Dubya at the Olympics deserves a caption, suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

More crook(s)

The Press is buzzing with the Hendo bailout today; the editorial is dubious about the motives, columnist David Round and dozens of readers are opposed, and the paper ran an op-ed piece by councillor Chrissie Williams, one of the three opponents. There's even a video tour of the properties the CCC is looking after for the developer until he gets enough liquidity to buy them back.
Our buddy the Mayor, aka Sideshow Bob, is off at the Olympics, hoping that it will have died down by the time he returns. What a bunch of creeps these councillors are - I bet Hendo will reward them well when the market picks up and he gets his properties back.

Tuesday night - I edited the Hendo Wikipedia page and added a paragraph about the current ruckus.


I came home by bus yesterday morning, leaving my bike at work (with the removable valuables stashed under my desk). Over the weekend I'd developed a cough, with a small but painful stab in the middle of my chest. That expanded to a real thumper of a headache and a lack of energy, and I slept for 3 hours in the afternoon. I felt better over dinner time, then faded again in the evening.

Today it's become a nasty taste in the back of my throat and sinuses, and I'm even more listless, so it's home again for me. Now I'm hoping for it to develop rapidly into a full-blown cold, so I can have a yucky week then get over it.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

More about Mount Hutt

I finally sorted out a few shots from Wednesday - all taken before I started skiing. Once we got going I forgot about the camera.
Earlier this winter I did a Google Page about the coming ski season; it all came true!

Looking up from the car park at the Towers face.

At the summit ridge, with the trail to the Towers cutting across the face.

Looking down the main basin, out across the plains and the Rakaia River.

Courtesy of Google Earth, a summer view of the Mount Hutt basin.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Good isn't the word...

More like great, terrific, brilliant - to describe skiing at Mt Hutt yesterday. The sun shone, the wind died away, and the groomed runs were immaculate packed snow. The ungroomed areas had about 20-30cm of chopped up powder, which was best skied at speed to break up the chunks. It was a bit stop-go for the first couple of runs, so I soon took my hot little GS skis back to the car and got out my 185cm cruisers, and had a great time carving big arcs through the chop. No photos, I was too busy skiing. This shot from Mt Hutt's website says it all though.
Mount Hutt in perfect condition, not a rock in sight.
The spring skiing in September is going to be spectacular - it will be a velvet carpet from top to bottom!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Gone skiing

Mount Hutt is open and sunny, SW winds dying away - here we come! More later.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Powerful magic

I have installed VMWare Server on my work PC, and then installed the newest Kubuntu Linux as a "guest" machine within that. This is indeed powerful magic - now my Windows computer runs an application that pretends to be a computer, which runs Linux. Oooohhh...

Grumpy old man

Grumpy? Who, me? Maybe that's why I reported this moron to the Police Roadwatch web site.
This person blocked the cycle lane on Clyde Rd for a full block or more, from the University to Creyke Rd - somehow these drivers think that their left turn will go better if they sit on the left gutter for 200m before turning the wheel. Of course, the hundreds of cyclists leaving the University at this time had to dodge the car by riding on the footpath or swerving out into the car lanes.

I'm going to do more reporting, as a response to the bad driving I'm subjected to on most bike trips, especially after the episode of road rage (well, rude rage anyway) a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Winter wetness

The wet weather has started again, after an almost-dry weekend. We seem to have identified the source of our leak in the kitchen skylight, so hopefully the builder will do a permanent fix on Thursday.

We were going to ski today, but have postponed to Wednesday - tentatively. Mount Hutt has a 2m base, but we just can't get at it!