Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sailing again

Sailing again today, this time in a lovely 10-15 knot easterly with temperatures above 20o C and lots of sunshine. We sailed for an hour or so, then picked up Jill Schroeder and grand-daughter Morgan at Diamond Harbour. We motored about then put the sails back up and had a good sail up to Parson's Rock beacon (which is now unused, and rapidly falling to bits). Then we set off down wind to Cass Bay, where we downed sails and motored back to the club ramp.

It was marvellous, just what sailing should be. I had the camera, but we didn't take a single photo.

“There is nothing half so much worth doing as mucking about in boats. In them or out of them, it doesn't much matter."
— The Water Rat, Wind in the Willows

Monday, 28 December 2009

On the water

Schroeder and I rigged up the boat and started sailing about 11.30am, but the grey cloud and cool breeze didn't improve, and we got quite cold. At 2pm we pulled the boat out and came home. It was a good breeze, and the boat went well, but we didn't take enough warm clothing, expecting the cloud to burn away. We'll go again tomorrow, as the overnight rain and cloud should be gone by lunchtime - we're optimists!

I can't resist linking to The Onion's "Top 10 Stories Of The Last 4.5 Billion Years". It starts with "Evolution going great, reports trilobyte", moves through "Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World" and finishes with "Four Or Five Guys Pretty Much Carry Whole Renaissance". The Sumerians are probably the best - a tip of the hat to Logan Moss for that one.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Gregor's birthday barbecue

Some photos of the birthday barbecue are on Flickr. It turned into rather a long evening. Julian and Alma stayed here rather than pay for a taxi to South Shore, so we gave them tea and toast this morning and sent them home for another lie down.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Birthdays of note

The usual excitement for my birthday; I'm up and about, while Heather and Elaine lie in bed reading. We had a good Christmas Day with the Crowther family; Heather's sister Pam's son Myles & wife Nicky hosted about 20 or so for dinner, then games on the lawn while adults snoozed in deck chairs.

Other birthdays today, beside me and Ruby Crowther (Myles & Nicky's 3rd daughter), are Thomas (Elegy) Gray, Charles Babbage, Mao Zedong, and Henry Miller. And the Internet turned 40 earlier this month.

Today is also Saint Stephen's Day; he was Christianity's first martyr. "Stephen was tried by the Sanhedrin (high priests) for blasphemy against Moses and God (Acts 6:11) and speaking against the Temple and the Law (Acts 6:13-14) (see also Antinomianism). He was stoned to death (c. A.D. 34–35) by an infuriated mob encouraged by Saul of Tarsus, the future Saint Paul." (Wikipedia entry.)

I don't think I'll attempt a re-enactment of being stoned to death; a barbecue with some friends is more my style. I might haul out my Grateful Dead collection, though...

This clip is from the truly horrible "Playboy After Dark" from 1969, with cool urban sophisticates and their beehived girlfriends taking a glimpse of these "hippies" that the news was always talking about. Something of a culture clash!

It was an interesting sky at 7am - sheets of mammatus clouds filled the sky. By 8am they had moved off, leaving high stratus.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The end

I'm on holiday, as of 2pm today. We were really quiet, with only 10 people at work this morning. By lunchtime there were 8 of us, having lunch in the tea room adjoining our offices. Derek brought bread, cold meat, and cheese with pickles, so we made sandwiches. I provided fruit and some wine and beer, then a box of chocolates for dessert. A jolly time was had by all, then we tidied up our offices and sloped off.

It's been a huge year for the Flexible Learning Group. The Moodle transition project alone was going to make it one to remember, then Bill Rosenberg left in April, I took over as team leader, and we moved into The Restructuring. Now our department is being split up and scattered, and next year looks like it will be equally stressful.

So we're all well and truly ready for a holiday. I'm going back to work for the 11th - 15th January, then we're taking the following week off to go camping in the Molesworth Valley. After that, it's into 2010, hoping for a chance to settle down and get some kind of team together.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Yesterday I did something I've been planning for a while. I installed a custom version of Ubuntu Linux, named EasyPeasy, on the little Asus Eee 901 netbook. It is working really well, but I need to organise the file system so that all my data is stored on the second solid state drive; at present the 8GB of disk space is visible, and I've mounted it in the file system, but my home directory (what Windows calls "My Documents") should now live on that drive. I'll get that sorted, but usermod is not being friendly at present.
The EasyPeasy user interface is a structured menu page.

The little machine is miles faster running Linux, and it's been given a new lease of life. Running Windows XP was too much overhead for the 1GB RAM and Intel Atom CPU, and the endless updates and system restores ate up all the available disk space; in recent months it was stuttering when playing audio, and that also meant it was running short of resources. Last night I peeled the "Made for Windows XP" sticker off the case and threw it away; a symbolic act, but quite satisfying.

Now I have a decision to make whenever I want to use a computer; Windows, Linux, or Mac? I don't really mind, they all get the job done - and these days I spend 90% of my time in a web browser, "in the cloud", so the OS is less important than having Firefox set up with my shared bookmarks and other goodies.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

UCTL Christmas lunch

rachel jess john
Originally uploaded by gregor_ronald
Some people snaps from our last Christmas lunch as a department. Where will we all be this time next year?

See more photos at my Flickr page.

Giving Lhaws the nhews

An excellent piece from Russell Brown; the annual Public Address "word of the year" contest has produced many variations on the Wanganui/Whanganui row, with most of them somehow taking the piss out of Mayor Michael (the H is silent...) Lhaws. Most entries are based on the idea that Lhaws is a whanker, but I think we already knew that.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Soldiering on

Since I've been sacked and resurrected, weird stuff is happening all over the campus. We had our Christmas lunch today, which was really nice - then I went back slightly squiffy to the Teaching and Learning Committee final meeting, just in time for their drinks and nibbles. A lift right to my door from my imminently-unemployed workmate John finished a really nice day.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Speed wobbles and Project STAR

Just as the whizzy Project STAR (Supporting Teaching And Research) changes were announced, the wheels fell off the bits in our vicinity. We were called in to individual meetings and told that our jobs were "disestablished", which is Newspeak for "You're sacked".

In my case, the blow was softened with "...the responsibilities should be assumed by the proposed new position of Electronic Learning Media Team Leader." However, I'm not convinced; the role includes some people we've had nothing to do with, and assumes that what we do is to "produce media" - in spite of six weeks of haranguing various managers telling them that we advise teachers, and we don't produce any media of note in our own name.

The real fun came late in the day, as I was about to leave; I was suddenly summoned to the TEU union office, where an HR official informed me that they'd made a dreadful mistake and I wasn't sacked after all; only my Team Leader job was gone, my basic Educational Technology Consultant role was going to carry over to the new structure. That changed the game entirely; I can ignore the new Team Leader role if I wish, I still have my day job. (Though with the change to Moodle there is less to do at the GUI-admin level, and we'll need to fill that gap with innovative projects - hardly a strain, it's what we love in our game.)

Some questions spring to mind at times like this;
1 How come you didn't notice my job status in the first place?
2 How many other mistakes have you made, due to the huge rush of this "project"?
3 Why can't people understand what our group DOES? Teachers understand it just fine, it's people with MBAs who struggle.

Anyway, I'm a lot less inclined towards applying for the Team Leader role, now I don't have to. It seems that they need me more than I need the job, so I can think about some conditions on this role. If I don't get the job, I still have the best job in the world, playing with new educational gadgets and software, so why would I want the hassles of people management, performance reviews, and budgets?

Monday, 14 December 2009

Getting nearer

The Academic Development Group of UCTL was dismembered today, and tomorrow the Flexible Learning Group (my lot) learn their fate. We have 1-1 meetings with HR early in the day, then a group meeting at 10am and a full all-staff briefing at 12. That will be a nice way to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. "Happy anniversary Heather, I've been fired."

As a pathetic demonstration of my ability to actually control something, I've changed the template for this blog. Take that!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Mental diversions

Trying not to dwell on the possibilities for the Machiavellian set of meetings over Monday and Tuesday - is the timing close to Christmas a superbly crafted conspiracy, or just a bunch of overworked people running late? And have they got it right? These are nervous times around our office.

If I was looking to foster the standard of teaching, I think I might have approached it a bit differently, but we don't have the details yet. Just the suspense.

It's been a nice weekend; Schroeder and I did a good amount of boat maintenance on Saturday, but we didn't sail because of the gusty northwester. Today I had a major tidy up in the vege garden, and bought my Christmas/birthday present - a Uniden Atlantis VHF handheld radio, to replace the previous one which died. Then we had the first barbecue of the summer - though we ate inside.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Back to earth

Lots happening back at UCTL in my absence, including a scary request from high up in the Registry for figures on our operations. We're frantically trying to prove that we've been doing lots of things - and shelving real work to do so...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Conferencing on

At about the half way point, it's easy to suffer from conference fatigue. You get so many interesting ideas in a short time frame, and the brain starts going "la la la, I can't hear you". I've started getting picky about the sessions I attend; about 3 years ago Ascilite started grouping presentations together with 3 or 4 on related topics in the same 1.5hr session, which makes it hard to be selective. I've been sneaking out between presentations and sneaking back - or into another room - for a later session.
Monday evening, dinner hosted by Blackboard at the Harbourside seafood restaurant on the Auckland waterfront. L-R; Tom Bowring (University of Western Sydney - UWS), Ben Carmichael (Blackboard), Colin Lowe (University of Sydney), Rhondda (???), Lynnae Rankine & Kathie Goldsworthy (UWS)

It's been a good conference so far, on the whole. There are lots of presentations on Web 2.0 applications in education, with course design a close second in numbers. I have to do a short presentation tomorrow as part of a 4-way "How we went to Moodle" session with Waikato, Massey, and Canberra, then I'm going to miss the final lunch and plenary session in favour of meeting up with an old friend who works in the central city, for a late lunch. My flight doesn't leave till 6.30 so I have the rest of the afternoon to get myself to the airport.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ascilite under way

The first morning of Ascilite is under way, after a couple of interesting keynote addresses. I suspect that the true benefit will come from the personal networking, but the occasional presentation will no doubt be helpful and interesting. I've been invited to dinner tonight by Blackboard, which is jolly decent of them, considering that we switch off our Bb server in two weeks!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Powerful magic

I've been experimenting with remote control software, to control my Mac from my PC or vice versa. The first I tried was VNC, which is a tried and well known application. As expected, it works fine to control my Mac - I had trouble connecting from Mac to PC, but in the middle of the night I woke up saying to myself "Windows firewall". I bet that's the key, though I haven't tried it yet. (Update - yep, that was it - now I can control in either direction.)

In the meantime, I have come across LogMeIn, which also allows remote control between machines. The neat trick is that it's web based, and the remote window opens in your browser. I had to install a Firefox plugin, but apart from that and a quick user account setup, it worked first try.
Screen shot shows my PC running Firefox. In a Firefox tab is the screen of my Mac. I have full control, once I've passed two levels of authentication. (Logmein.com and the Mac account.) I guess Logmein do some clever protocol translations on the way through, but surely the traffic doesn't go via a server in the US - it has to be RDP direct between machines. More investigation required...

If you have a home PC and a work machine, it's worth setting up some way of connecting the two, and Logmein is easy to set up. I frequently get to work and remember a file I want from my home PC - now it's easy to connect and email the file to myself at work.

I suppose that soon we'll be storing data in the cloud, but somehow I think that will be an extra, not our primary data store. I could be wrong, though, habits are changing rapidly at present.

UPDATE - It turns out that LogMeIn's free version is a 30 day trial. An ongoing registration will cost you over $US60 per machine - per year. It's a nifty trick, but I think I'll stick with VNC, thanks.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas goodies

I wonder if you can buy buckyballs in Christchurch?

They are neodymium magnets, apparently.


Here comes the US winter, and as a confidence booster, Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the US banking bailouts, tells it as she sees it.
"Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street."
The price of natural gas is going up, so the thermostats will be going down. Or off. How would you fancy being unemployed in Bismarck, North Dakota, in January, when the sub zero prairie winds howl across the stubble?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Fun in the sand

Decay in Dubai

The truth about Dubai, in photos. (Choose Full Screen)
Very illuminating. I wonder how many people will be living there in 50 years.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The simple life

I'm a man of modest desires, most of the time, and I can get by with just the bare necessities; a decent laptop, good wifi, and fast broadband. I don't ask for much.

Isn't it funny how our horizons shift as we grow used to technology? In the 1930s you'd have been happy to have any vehicle, as long as it moved; now we want electric windows and an iPod connection. And a GPS with 48 voices.

So here I am with a new MacBook Pro, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings on the headphones, surfing the intertubes, and not even noticing how absolutely incredible this feat of technology is. It just happens.

The other nice development in recent years is that I don't care if I'm using Windows, Mac, or Linux - the interface has settled down in recent years, and we all know what the various interface widgets do, so we just get on with it.

Quiet time

I had a quiet weekend, still catching up from the tramping last weekend and a busy week at work.

Next Sunday I fly to Auckland for 4 days, for the annual Ascilite conference; there are 4 of us from the Flexible Learning Group attending, and several staff from the College of Education will be there as well. Ascilite is a good conference, with a fairly practical emphasis on the use of IT in tertiary teaching. I will be taking part in a symposium on Wednesday, with e-learning people from Massey, Waikato, and Canberra, talking about how we implemented Moodle at our universities.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy camper

I'm using Google Chrome for the Mac. Nice! Apart from the ever present Mac bar at the top of the screen, you'd never know. Will it build the home page of recent favourites, though?

Answer - Yes.

I'm also a happy camper because I've just erected the tent I bought for $70, and it's all there. It's an Aussie designed, made in China (of course) dome tent with an insect proof but very breathable inner tent, inside a waterproof fly laid over the diagonal poles. It's exactly me-square when I lie down, so I guess I'll sleep with my head by one of the doors. It fits on a bike carrier; that's a clue.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Funny how fast work becomes your world view. Students have gone, the campus is empty apart from a few summer school students, but we are flat out doing last touches to projects, talking to the many reviews going on, and planning to shut down the old servers. Never a dull moment!
An email from DoC today; "We are pleased to advise that the Kepler and Routeburn tracks are now Open."
That means no more $55 helicopter rides, and a huge easing in the workloads of the Mackenzie and Falls hut wardens.

Monday, 23 November 2009

There and back

I'll post a fuller account of our Routeburn adventure, but the photos are up on Flickr. A brief summary; misty drizzle and light rain from the Milford Road to Lake Mackenzie, heavy driving wind and rain from Mackenzie to Routeburn Falls (with a helicopter ride past Lake Harris, as the bluffs above the lake are still avalanche prone), and a lovely sunny final day down to the Routeburn Shelter. More later.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Up up and away

We're off to the airport in a few minutes, for a 2pm flight to Queenstown for Mark Schroeder and me, and to Auckland for Jill Schroeder. Heather is the chauffeuse.

I hopped on the bathroom scales with my pack on - 15kg, which is about as good as I'd expected to do. Even so, it feels darned heavy! The good things are that it contains clothing that I'll be wearing tomorrow, and food which we will consume. Not to mention the small plastic bottle of Famous Grouse, for use as a liniment of course.

Off we go, into a Fiordland downpour for the first half of the walk by the looks of things. I'll report on Sunday night or Monday.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Getting closer

We fly to Queenstown tomorrow, and walk the Routeburn on Friday-Saturday-Sunday. At the moment the spare room is filling up with gear - how am I going to get all that in my pack?

This pile of gear will all fit in my pack - I hope!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Advice to cyclists

There's a lot of sense to this advice, found at Paul Dorn's bike commuter blog. (I've switched left & right to make sense to Kiwis.)
"...be assertive. Take the lane! Traffic law doesn't require a cyclist to pull over every time a car approaches from the rear. You only have to be as far to the left as you consider necessary to safely operate your bike. If there's road debris, broken pavement, another cyclist or anything in the extreme left that makes you uncomfortable, move to the right. You have the right to the entire lane! Take it. You're far safer having the cars behind you than crowding you while they pass. Give yourself a cushion. Define your space. Don't be timid. Assert your rights."
This sure makes sense at roundabouts, when a bike is going as fast as everyone else, but in other circumstances I'm not sure I'd be that brave. I prefer parks and quiet streets, whenever I get a choice. Being hit by a car can really ruin your day.

Oh no, it's Nibiru!

An amazing shot, linked from the wonderful MetVUW site. This is a sunset over Los Angeles;
This image was one of a series of images taken 6 November 2009 from the roof top adjacent to Television Studios behind Santa Monica (Los Angeles) overlooking the Pacific end of Sunset Blvd. There was a sequence of images taken showing the sun descending below a curtain of low altitude cirrus type cloud. It was taken with a Canon G9 at 6x zoom.

I shall doubtless never again capture a sunset moment quite like this effect of a suspended globe....', Blair Anderson.'

Saturday, 14 November 2009

It is forbidden to throw rocks at this sign

The above sentence, according to the Frost Report in the 1960s, was the sole text on a sign in an English park.

It popped into my memory today when I had the following experience: I was exploring around the file system of MacGregor and wanted to see the contents of a file.
$ cat fstab.hd
This file does nothing, contains no useful data, and might go away in future releases. Do not depend on this file or its contents.
Pardon? The only purpose of your 150 bytes of disk space is to tell users that you're useless, and can't be trusted? Who wrote this file, Salvador Dali?

On a totally unrelated topic, Owen Cambridge and I rigged my yacht and went for the first sail of the summer, in a grey 12-15 knot easterly. We sailed up to Purau, then back out for a run down to Naval Point. I have lots of maintenance to do, but at least the boat is operational.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I'm not usually in the habit of naming computers, but I can't resist thinking of Gregor's Mac as MacGregor.

With some help from an IT Mac technician, we seem to have disposed of the problems - the Firefox install was made from a disk image that included proxy settings, so he reinstalled a non-proxy version over the top, and that was fixed. Then he deleted a bunch of preferences files, and the System Preferences now seem to be behaving themselves - nice!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

New arrival

A new arrival today - a Macbook Pro 13" laptop. It's slick and sleek, as expected, though there are a few minor glitches; system preferences seem a bit buggy, and Firefox won't remember its proxy settings. They're fixable, I'm sure. Here's a very ordinary photo.
Little Mac
I've elected not to have Windows installed on it - I'm quite happy to let a Mac be a Mac, and I switch between the two OS's without any fuss, so why add complications?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

As you sow so shall you reap

A cautionary story by Alexander Cockburn in The First Post; "How Americans grew too fat to serve their country".

It begins, "Kids want to enlist because the Army has jobs – but they can’t do push-ups and can’t run".

Cockburn outlines the scale of the obesity problem ("Every truck stop, every diner, every mall offered its tumid diorama of human hippos"), then moves on to the Army's problem with recruits: The Army Times ran an article this week by William McMichael citing the latest government stats on America’s fat crisis. One-third of the 31m Americans between 17 and 24 are unqualified for military service because of "physical and medical issues". Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of accessions, told the Army Times that "the major component of this is obesity. We have an obesity crisis in the country. There's no question about it."

This guy seems happy enough with his Denny's Jumbo Burger. That's the "Burger Eating Hall of Fame" behind him.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Nature reclaims its space

DSCF0033 (Large)
Originally uploaded by gregor_ronald
Spotted in an old building at Godley Head.

We had a good fast walk down the track and back, preparing for the Routeburn (2 weeks from now).

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Reviews again

Today we get the results of yet another services review; the provision of Information Technology services across the campus. It covers not just the ICTS Department, this includes department support and systems like Moodle. We live in interesting times.

Will senior management be the next area for cost cutting and "efficiencies"? According to stories in The Press, there's certainly room for cuts. Mind you, the Vice Chancellor, Rod Carr, seems to have taken a large pay cut when he left Jade software to run the University.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Detente in Japan

Here's a picture for the record books. According to Ars Technica, "Microsoft apparently set up a big Windows 7 promotion booth across the street from the conference center of the Japan Linux Symposium. During a break, an attendee dragged Torvalds over to the Microsoft booth for kicks, a photo that will go down in history was taken. The Linux guru did not buy a copy."

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Bike fun

Schroeder and I agreed that we couldn't fit a walk into our day, so I took my newly serviced bike, with a new chain and rear cluster (don't ask the price), for a proper ride. That means lycra, I'm sad to say.

I rode through town to the corner where Hagley Park meets Addington, then wended my way through to Cashmere. I then turned into Centaurus Rd, which runs around the base of the Port Hills, past Huntsbury and Murray Ansley, then Hillsborough. That involved a good little hill up past Rapaki and Glenelg Spur, a fast descent, then into the grimmer part of industrial Woolston. That led me to Linwood Ave, and a fast trip back home with a tail wind. 22.7km in an hour and 10 minutes, not a bad time with half the trip being into a head wind.

That was followed by preparing dinner, cleaning rain gutters, then off to the pub for an hour before biking home and cooking red cod with a vegetable salsa, plus boiled potatoes and green beans. Nice. And healthy.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A day in the big smoke

Climbing out from Christchurch in heavy rain.

I was on a 7am flight to Auckland this morning, when a woman in the seat in front mentioned Turnitin. It turned out that she was from CPIT, where she lectures computing students on ethics - and that she's married to a lecturer I knew well when I worked there in 1997-99. She was also going to the Turnitin seminar. Small world.

We got on a bus to town and there was the Turnitin admin from Lincoln, who'd been on the same flight as well. Smaller world. The bus got us to town in about an hour, giving us time for a coffee and a chat before entering the seminar. Meeting Dr John Barrie, the initial developer and current CEO, was interesting, and he certainly listened to feedback from the audience through the day. It was well worth being there, I must say.

After the seminar ended, I met up with my old friend Logan Moss, who'd been visiting Waikato students teaching in schools in Auckland. He drove me to the airport, where we had a glass of wine and a chat before I caught the return flight. Back home I reheated a frozen dinner and now I'm watching Media 7. Not a bad day.

Logan Moss, dressed as a professional person.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Big city

I'm flying to Auckland and back tomorrow, to attend a Turnitin NZ Users meeting. We'll be addressed by one of the founders of Turnitin, and have a chance to talk directly with the developers.

I have a 6:55am flight, so I need to be checked in by 6:40 or so, in the carpark at 6:30, so I have to leave home at 6:00. (At that time of day, Christchurch is a village, I can easily get to the airport in 25 minutes, with a 5 minute safety margin.)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Camera fun

Yesterday I did some camera purchasing, replacing the stolen Canon Powershot A620, which was a fine camera. I saw that Dick Smiths had a deal on a Fuji Finepix S2000HD, bundled with a handbag-size Fuji A170, for $600, so I shot in there at lunchtime. I emerged having spent $730, after adding a camera bag, batteries, plus 4GB and a 2GB SD cards. So here are some photos.

This is a Fuji S2000HD - 10MP, and a 15x zoom lens, which is extreme enough to require a tripod in most circumstances.

The first real shot I took - Grant Bush getting ready to leave the IT Department and ride his 900cc Ducati to Dunedin for Labour Weekend.

Heather practising her hobby of world domination by telephone.

The University Staff Club in spring sunshine.

Heather's new toy, a Finepix A170. It seems to be a lovely little camera so far.

Mark Schroeder on the day before he turns 60, walking up the Bridle Path and back as training for the Routeburn in 4 weeks' time.
A demonstration of the power - and limitations - of the 15x zoom lens. The close-up is rather wobbly, even with image stabilisation turned on.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Heather had a call from the police yesterday, asking if a name meant anything to her. She didn't know the name, which confirms that a fingerprint found on our bathroom window was from our burglar. Maybe they'll find some of our stuff when they pay him a visit.

In the meantime, we're finalising our insurance claim. We'll get some items replaced, but you can't replace Heather's jewellery, especially the family heirloom pieces.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Woyalty, Wodney

What a right little royal young Edward has turned out to be. Why does this remind me of Monty Python?

Ah yes, I knew there'd be a reason according to Monty. Anyway, Edward is dropping by to recharge our flabby royalty muscles, and jolly inspiring I expect he will be.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

An active day

Schroeder and I started up the Rapaki Track at 9.30am, and reached the top an hour and ten minutes later. We were pretty pleased with that, as we sat in the cloud eating apples and drinking water. The trip back down took an hour. It was a great walk, and we seem to be keeping up a good standard of fitness. The Routeburn is five weeks away.

After a shower and some lunch I went to the supermarket, then to Bunnings for garden stuff, and I dropped in to the library on the way back. At home I planted some courgette plants and some silver beet. Then I sowed seed for rows of radishes and spinach. The rows of butter beans and peas that I sowed on Thursday now have stakes and netting for the climbing vines. Next task is the plants I'm going to put in pots; a Moneymaker tomato and two basil plants. I'll do them in the morning, then they'll share the garage wall with the grapevine.

Cycling on

The antipathy towards cyclists from some people is quite amazing. In the paper this week, we had a letter from a woman who opened her car door in front of a cyclist, who swore at her - now she feels that she has every right to open doors in front of cyclists because they are so rude. She'd be rude too, if someone suddenly threatened her life.

Another writer wants to know why cyclists don't pay ACC levies. I can answer that - it's because cyclists are put in hospital by motorists, so the motorists should be paying the levies. If cyclists could cripple motorists, maybe cyclists should pay, but while the laws of physics are against them it's fair that those doing the damage should pay the cost.

I agree with the cycling lobby group Spokes, which says that city traffic speeds should be lower, and that more cyclists on the roads would create a more cycle-friendly city in general. I would also like to force motorists to cycle through the city for a day - impossible, I know, but I bet their views would change as a result. A cyclist-driver role swap in the UK also convinced cyclists that truck drivers really cannot see them in some traffic situations, so a swap could work both ways. Mind you, most NZ cyclists are motorists too, so they already know the driver's viewpoint.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Another one

Just after my near thing yesterday, comes this shocker of a hit and run cyclist killing near Helensville.

I hope they nail the prick who did this and drove on - his vehicle was certainly distinctive. This deserves a ghost bicycle.

Near Miss

I encountered a very near Miss yesterday. It was a beautiful day, so I went out on my bike at lunchtime to do a message and get some fresh air.

On my way back to the University, I was biking along the cycle lane on Clyde Rd, periodically glancing in my handlebar-mounted mirror to see what the cars behind me were doing, when I saw a grey-blue hatchback with its left wheels in the cycle lane. A few seconds later, half the car was in the cycle lane, and the car was showing no signs of correcting its course, so I decided I'd better take evasive action.

I found a gap between some parked cars and got off the road into a driveway, in time to watch the car drive by, taking up the whole cycle lane by now - while the young female driver carried on typing her text message. I wish I'd got her number, but I didn't manage - I was still thanking my lucky stars for my mirror and realising what a lucky escape I'd had. A cyclist without a mirror would have died.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Some good, some bad

The UC Service Units master plan was released around 4pm yesterday. The Flexible Learning Group will now be in the resources group with ICTS & the Library. We will be called Teaching Technologies Support, split from the Surveys and Institutional Research people who go to Research, and the Academic Development staff who go to HR. (On the assumption that they provide professional development, I suppose.) Now we await the next stage, which is the structure of the units within each group.

Heather arrived home to find that we'd had a break-in; kids had forced a bathroom window and stolen some odd things. They took Heather's jewellery, an old Mac laptop, all her pills (I hope they take all the Warfarin at once, that will do them good) and her good rain jacket. They missed my supply of pills, and in both bathrooms they ignored supplies of codeine - though they did take panadeine. The police have been informed, but I doubt we'll see them on site, even though we have a beautiful hand print on the window.

UPDATE - Wednesday morning:
Police took fingerprints yesterday but they're not confident. We suspect it was a big kid - little kid combo (or parent-kid) as a small person came in the window. A local primary school known for gang problems had a teacher-only day on Monday, and these guys stole some Mongrel-Mob-red neckerchiefs - though they dropped them on the way out.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Down and up

We were in Dunedin for the weekend, visiting Heather's sister Elaine, who is about the weight of a budgie but insists she's on the mend after a horror winter of surgery and lung infections, and our friend Jim Guthrie, who's soldiering on in spite of his Parkinsons. He's become a grandfather, but the baby is seriously premature and still in hospital, though expected to come right. It was passing showers and a cold SW wind on Friday and Saturday - we drove out of the cold front around Oamaru at lunchtime on Sunday.

We're all sitting here staring at our email waiting for the restructuring announcement from our Vice Chancellor - it looks like our department is going to be broken into separate units and sent to new homes, among various other changes to service (non-teaching) departments. That will make us the only university in Australasia without a dedicated teaching support operation - apparently all the others have got it wrong. The irony is that this upheaval, named Project STAR, is supposed to "Support Teaching and Research". My guess is that our group will end up in the library somewhere, but I wish they'd just send out the email - they made their minds up weeks ago, after all.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Getting complicated

We walked around the section at Allard St today, and we weren't impressed. It has scruffy decaying houses on two sides, crappy fences, a large uncontrolled tree right on the north boundary (on the neighbour's side), and generally looks like trouble. Now what?

We'll think about it over the weekend, I guess. We're off to Dunedin in the morning.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Land wars

Heather has gone a bit cold - well, cooled off a bit - on the Harvey Terrace section. Although it's a good section, she's worried about the possibility of large blocks of flats on the surrounding L3 (high density) zones making the neighbourhood scruffy in years to come, a bit like inner St Albans.

It's a fair point, so we're off to look at a section for sale in St Albans (the L2 medium density part, though) on Thursday. The more we look at our house situation, the more obvious it is that we can build a brand new house, to our own design, for about the same price as a 10 year old place with single glazed windows and worn carpets.

There won't be any sudden decisions - we're off to Dunedin on Friday to visit Heather's sister Elaine, who's had a rough time since bowel surgery in early winter but is now on the mend, and Jim Guthrie, our old friend who has Parkinsons Disease and doesn't get many visitors these days.

We'll have had time to think and have a decent discussion about it while we drive. That's the theory, anyway.

Right: The Allard St section is 480m from Schroeder's Tavern as the Google flies.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Plans and land

Here we go again - we've spotted a section in a prime location. It's 25a Harvey Tce for those who want to play with Google Maps.

We're off to talk to the bank today - more later.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A fresh start

A fresh look at our start - the human race's beginnings, that is. Say Hi to Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus), 4.4 million years young. Ardi is 1.2 million years earlier than the famed Lucy, the archetypical Australopithecus, previously thought to be the nearest "missing link".

Although this species is close to the point where humans diverged from the chimpanzees, Ardi bears little resemblance to chimps. In fact, it seems that chimps themselves have evolved a lot since then, anyway, so this whole notion is a bit academic.

Lots more interesting detail here.

Speaking of primitive females, it seems that Sarah Palin is not selling on the lecture circuit. Well, golly gee...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The wave

Apparently the Samoans who had everything wiped out by yesterday's earthquake and tsunami are simply referring to "the wave". There's not much else you can say, really.

With so many Kiwis living and working alongside Samoans, this is going to be an ongoing concern here as well. And the Samoan people themselves; how do you adjust to the loss of 11 family members? Things like that have happened to many of the survivors. Personal loss on this scale happens far away as the result of genocide, not to happy little villages by the sea.

I just hope that the government gets over its cost-cutting spree and gets stuck in with aid money and manpower. I bet a lot of laid off workers would go there for a couple of months to live in tent camps and help to string power lines, or build roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools. And we've got lots of telecommunications maintenance and repair staff at a loose end just now.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A night out

The night before we fly to Queenstown for our Routeburn walk, I've booked a ticket to see Ry Cooder, who's performing one concert in Christchurch. Concert tickets are becoming super expensive ($129 for this one) as artists return to touring to make their money. They're not selling CDs any more, in the face of internet downloading. I recently met a chap who'd returned from San Francisco and said that he couldn't find a mainstream CD shop in the entire CBD!

From "Ry Cooder & The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces: Let's Have A Ball", a film by Les Blank taped at The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA on March 25, 1987.
Band: Ry Cooder: guitar, Jim Keltner: drums, Van Dyke Parks: keyboards, Jorge Calderon: bass, Flaco Jimenez: accordion, Miguel Cruiz: percussion, Steve Douglas: sax, George Bohannon: trombone
Singers: Bobby King: tenor, Terry Evans: baritone, Arnold McCuller: tenor, Willie Green Jr: bass

Monday, 28 September 2009

Another week

The weekend was quiet, though we did a little shopping; 4 outdoor chairs (alloy frames, teak slats) for $200, then a basket for the handlebars of Heather's runabout bike. The basket was $60, but it's really good quality. All the fittings are solid and well thought out, and it has nice touches like a handle that clips into place so it doesn't rattle about. Even the installation instructions were clear and well produced. We're so used to lightweight inferior crap from China that encountering a well made product comes as a surprise.

Heather has tried driving, with some success - as long as she gets things set up well, she can manage. She went to the pool and did some aqua-jogging yesterday too, so she's starting to rejoin the human race.

It will be quiet around work this week, with half our group away on holidays or doing training courses.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Up and about

Heather is waxing lyrical about the local physio, Lindsay Jago. He has demonstrated to her today that her shoulder has full mobility after doing his pain reduction magic. She can't achieve that mobility on her own yet, but she now knows that it's possible.

Work is becoming complex, mostly people problems - which is why we have weekends.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Free at last

Heather is a non-sling-wearing person today, after having an x-ray and seeing an orthopedic registrar. She has only about 30o of movement in each direction in her shoulder at present, but I'm sure that will improve pretty quickly with physio help. The free taxis have stopped, though - one day you're a helpless invalid, the next day you don't need any help at all. That's how ACC see it, but at least they'll continue to pay for the physiotherapy.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The March of Civilisation

This is a panel from R. Crumb's "A Short History of America". (Colour version here.)

It's depressingly familiar, and not exclusively American - as anyone who's
been to Riccarton Road in Christchurch can testify. You can watch the trees and birds disappear as the asphalt and ticky-tacky signage increase. Isn't progress wonderful?

This is how you can tell when something has been touched by"developers" - when it's fully "developed", it looks nothing like it used to.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Boxing on

Most of my time at work this week has been devoted to preparing a submission about the university's plans for our unit, UCTL. In short, the plan is to move us under the umbrella of the College of Education, because we "teach teachers". We've been very busy marshalling our responses to this, pointing out that we are really engaged in university-wide support for teaching, not in "training teachers", and that we belong in the academic policy and support area. It's certainly a wonderful way to take people's attention away from their real jobs.

Heather is getting close to being two-armed again. She gets x-rayed then sees the surgeon next Monday, and hopefully he'll tell her to go forth and exercise. She's really keen to get back in the pool again, even if she will have limited mobility in the injured shoulder for a while.

The first challenge is for her to practise getting undressed and into her swimsuit - and then dressed again. She's had Alice or me, or her ACC-funded helper, to get clothes off and on for the last six weeks. We've coped pretty well, but it will be nice to cook only 4 or 5 nights a week, rather than 7.

Schroeder and I plan to walk from North Beach to Spencerville and back on Saturday, about 5km each way, to vary our preparations. It will be an interesting change, from walking up big hills to covering longer distances.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Out and about

Schroeder and I continued our Routeburn campaign with a bigger hill walk today. We left the Bridle Path 2/3 of the way up, and went up the Kahukura Track around Castle Rock.
Schroeds surveys the scene. Leaving the Bridle Path.
The Horotane Valley, Christchurch's main source of glasshouse produce.
It was quite alpine in feel, with tussocks and big rock bluffs - and great views of the city. We joined the Summit Road and walked back down for a km or so to the Bridle Path and another thigh-burning descent to the car. I had a snooze in the afternoon.
The (rather tired) old man of the mountains

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Politics does GPL

An encouraging sign on the home page of the NZ Parliamentary Labour Party;

When mainstream political parties get it (Hello, Steven Joyce, what does the GPL mean to you, in 100 words?) there's hope that they might understand some of the really tricky stuff about the death of copyright in a digital age.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Busy week

The week is off to a flying start, with the restructuring proposal occupying our minds and taking up time we would normally use for real work. We will try to formulate a response for the VC this week, so there are lots of worried expressions around the 4th floor.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Bridle Path morning

Schroeder and I walked up the Bridle Path from the Lyttelton side this morning. We'd been to check my boat (needs a new tarp cover, but that happens every year) then drove up to the start of the path. Most people walked up from the town, and I can understand why - the parking is almost non-existent up that part of the town.

Anyway, we reached the top in 30 minutes, wandered about the tops for a while, then returned to the car. My new walking poles are proving their ability to share the load on hips and knees, so our preparations are going well. Next week we want to go round Castle Rock via a side path off the Bridle Track, and then I think we should do some longer flat walks, maybe Bottle Lake to Spencerville up the back side of the dunes, or maybe up a river somewhere.

Springing forth

The flowering cherry trees outside the IT building on campus are at their best this week. In Hagley Park, on the north side of Harper Ave, and near the hospital, fields of daffodils are emerging.
It's blossom time on University Drive.
As pretty as it may look, though, the university is yet again turning itself inside out with a restructuring exercise. At UCTL we've admitted that we won't win a fight to stay in our present structure, so we're working on a proposal that will put our Academic Development and Flexible Learning groups into an area that has a focus on teaching quality, without being submerged in a college away from the rest of the campus. We have two weeks to put this all together - no pressure!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Home again

The flight back from Coolangatta was tedious but uneventful, and we arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule because of strong tail winds. Crossing the Southern Alps on a moonlit night was quite special, and I was through duty free and customs in 30 minutes. Even the ride home from the airport was quick, helped by an older Samoan taxi driver with a fairly casual attitude to traffic lights.

Heather's knee is rapidly improving, thanks to Lindsay "Magic Hands" Jago, our local physiotherapist. She should be able to walk without the single crutch in another day or two, and her broken arm is healing really well. It's been a rough few weeks, though.

I'll start work a bit later than usual this morning, with the main business of the day being the massive restructuring of the university's service (non-teaching) departments, including our teaching support group. We have a department meeting this afternoon, to start framing our response to the plan, which will split us into separate groups. We've worked hard for three years to form collaborative working arrangements between academic staff developers and flexible learning advisers, and now we're being scattered to the winds to suit someone's organisational chart.

I've been repeating the famous quotation seen on office walls when restructuring is in the air, purporting to come from a Roman general: "We trained very hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress, while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation" - Caius Petronius Arbiter (AD 66)

Unfortunately, it's not genuine. It's still a good quote, though, like the opening motto for "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" - "It's all true, even if it never happened."

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

You know you're in Aussie when...

  • Total strangers call you "mate".
  • The hand dryers in the toilets blow cold air.
  • When the air conditioning is below sweat-level, people complain about being cold.
  • The $2 coins are smaller than the $1 coins.
  • People expect you to get excited about Moreton Bay Bugs.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Goodbye to August

Broken arm, cracked pelvis, cancelled house sale due to foundations, and now Heather's put her knee out and can't walk! Not our best month...

More after I get back from Oz on Thursday night.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Up and away

I'm in the departure lounge at 5.30am waiting for a flight to the Gold Coast; I'm attending a training workshop for e-learning team leaders Mon-Thu, then home on Thursday night. The airport was packed, at 4.30am! I was going to buy a coffee and something to eat, but the quick cuppa and piece of toast I had at home will have to do, as there's a long queue for the coffee counter. I'm on Air New Zealand, so they'll be feeding us once we get airborne.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


We have trouble with our piles, and it's a pain in the arse. Right, toilet humour off - the sale fell through because the buyers found that we have several problems with our foundations. So now we have to fix them, before we can put the house back on the market. Looks like we're here for another year or two...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Saga continues

There may be problems with the foundations, so we're on tenterhooks waiting for the signed offer (or lack of) tomorrow. More later.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

House angst

Have we sold? Friday is the expiry date for our buyer's conditional offer. He's still doing inspections, so maybe he's discovered that 95 year old houses on boggy land by the river aren't level. If the sale falls through, I don't mind; it gives us time for a re-think.

Heather is still strapped up, but getting better by the day. She's been going back to work for a few hours each day, and is able to do a lot of self-help stuff she couldn't do a week ago. Alice is coming on Saturday to stay with Heather, because I leave at 4am Sunday for 5 days on the Gold Coast, at a training workshop for e-learning team leaders. Busy busy busy...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The dogs of hell

The latest billboard for Hell Pizza. Tongans probably won't be amused.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Hunting season

Hunting for houses is serious work. Here's our equipment.
Clockwise from the left; Asus Eee laptop, for Google Maps, real estate web sites, and looking up valuations. Harcourts Blue Book, The Realtor, city maps, Property Press, and lots of lists. We're making up a programme of open homes for both days in the weekend.

At present, we have two favourites. This one is perfect, in our neighbourhood just behind Avonside Girls' High near the river, with lots of features that we like. It may be too expensive though, we'll find out on auction day, September 4th.

This next house is also a strong contender; it's in St Martins, though, which would mean daily commutes for both of us.
We will have a signed contract and a deposit in the next few days, and then we can start seriously investigating these and other possibilities. In the meantime, it's lots of open homes and lists.

Monday, 17 August 2009

On our way

As if Heather's broken arm hasn't been a big enough disruption, now we've sold our house! For the asking price, too - we ended up with competitive bids so that worked really well. However, we have to be out by Friday 25th of September, and with only one able bodied person that could be a challenge. Of course, we need to find a house in that time - or a flat to rent temporarily. Watch this space!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Back to (nearly) normal

We've got our routines sorted out now, and getting Heather started on her day was a lot simpler than it was yesterday. And that's my last word on that subject.

We're off to the hospital again today, for Heather's noon injection - I hope they get her blood sorted quickly, this is getting to be a pain. While we're out doing that and having some lunch at the Mediterranean Food store (Later - darn, they're shut on Sundays), the agent has three viewers coming to look at the house, so we've been tidying quite diligently. (Update - one of the three wants to make an offer! We're awaiting a call back from the agent.)

Grump of the day; the IOC has allowed the ISAF's blatantly political decision to drop the Tornado from the next Olympics. I suppose the IOC were obliged to back up the controlling body, but still, what crap - the most exciting event in Olympic sailing has been canned!

If you wanted to shoot your sport in the foot, this is the way to do it.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

There and back

Heather was sent home from hospital yesterday, and is settling in to some routines around the house. I've been pretty much constantly on my feet; breakfast, shower and dressing (not me, Heather) , supermarket, take Heather back to hospital for an injection, lunch, vacuum the house, visitors, prepare dinner. That's so far, I'm sure there will be more.

I was going to say I'll go back to work for a rest, but in fact I'll have to leave work and come to collect her to go for her Monday injection (they're trying to get her INR blood-clotting factor back to its usual levels), drop her home, then go back to work. Hopefully Monday will be the last day that injection is needed.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Daily darg

Heather will come home after lunch tomorrow. Apparently her palpitations last night are just side effects of the anaesthetic - probably. The delay is mostly to get her INR levels back up to acceptable values, so she can continue with a sensible Warfarin dose once she's home.

On a new topic: for years I've been saying, "When I become Emperor I'll ban cell phones in cars" and now I don't even have to stand for the local council. The Nats have shown solid Nanny State credentials, and banned hand held phones while driving. About time.

I've been driving instead of biking the last few days, and I reckon that 75% of drivers under 30 are texting. About 40-50% of older drivers are talking on mobile phones - I guess they have more money. If this stops them all tail-ending other drivers and driving over traffic islands, I'll be a less nervous cyclist; though maybe confiscating their phones would be a better deterrent than an $80 fine and 20 demerits.

A linguistic note - Transport Minister Stephen Joyce says he's banning mobile phones in order to "send drivers a strong signal". I enjoyed that.

Still there

They didn't send Heather home yesterday, and she had a bad night so hopefully she'll see a doctor today, and some decisions will be made. She's going to need some help around home once she's out, too - mainly showering and dressing. That will need to be sorted out before she leaves.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Under the knife

Having lulled us into complacency with her "3 to 4 days" message, Heather has been taken in to the operating theatre today. She should be back out by about 4 or 5 o'clock this afternoon, so I'll be waiting for news.

Heather is out from surgery, with screws (we hope, screws are better than sutures, apparently) in place. Her arm looks like it lost a fight, but she's cheerful. She might come home tomorrow.

Monday, 10 August 2009


Heather had a CAT scan (or was it an MRI?) today , to help the surgeons decide whether to go in through the front of the shoulder (which involves plates) or the side (screws). Anyway, it may be a long wait; looks like the doctors weren't kidding when they said "queue".

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Heather's adventure continues

Heather had a call from the hospital this morning - the surgeon wants to take another look, and she should bring an overnight bag. After two hours of sitting around (though that included 15 mins for a new x-ray) we were informed that they think they should operate, to re-attach the piece of bone that has broken off. It's called a fracture of the neck of the humerus, for the technically minded.

So she's in Ward 19, and I'm here with the cats and the washing. I don't think she'll have the operation tomorrow, though, they said the word "queue" several times. To be continued...

On another topic entirely; Schroeder and I walked the Bridle Path again today, and cut the time down to 31 minutes, from the 35 or more we took next week. We think we'll do it once more then branch out a bit, to tracks like Rapaki. The sore muscles from the downhill faded fast today, compared to last week when they took three days to loosen up.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Heather's big adventure

To begin at the beginning:
Mount Hutt was nice enough yesterday, but there were a lot of wind damaged areas with mixed icy and crusty snow. Heather managed to encounter one of these and had a big slide, during which she hit her left shoulder and ended up down at a beginner trail, leaving a "yard sale" of skis and poles back up the hill.

We skied down to her and she was not keen to move - a patroller showed up quickly, then a couple more arrived with a sled and a back board. They rolled her onto the board, strapped her in to the sled, and she had her first toboggan ride to the medical room.
Heather takes a sled ride. The red is blood from a minor scrape to her forehead and nose.
A smile for the camera, before the toboggan ride.
At the med room they checked her out thoroughly, then when the painkillers started working we got her into the car and returned to town, and on to the hospital emergency room for an x-ray. That was at 5pm; at 6pm I went home and unloaded the car, started a meal, and awaited the call to come and collect her. At 7pm I went back to the hospital, where she was still lying on a bed waiting for the x-ray, then I came home after another half hour. She was finally x-rayed at 8.30, and told she had cracked some bones in her upper arm, and they wanted a "bone man" to take a look. At 9.30pm she phoned to say they were keeping her in for the night.

This morning she is waiting for the bone people, and I'll collect her when they've decided what to do. I suspect that she'll have the arm in a sling for several weeks, which means she won't be able to go to work and I'll be the chief cook and bottlewasher. This has probably ended the 2009 ski season for both of us...

Heather is home, with a broken arm and a cracked pelvis. The pelvis is not as painful as the arm, and she can walk slowly with a stick - but that means that she can't carry anything. More later.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Not the All Blacks

Hands up those who have heard of Adam Minoprio. A few more will know of Alexandra Maloney and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher, as they were on the TV news tonight, but in general our world-beating yachtspersons sailors go unacknowledged back home. Yet if an All Black switches hair gel suppliers, it's all over the news. Go figure.

But wait, there's more: Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk are leading the Star Class world champs!

We're off to Mt Hutt tomorrow, armed with bacon & egg pie. More later.