Saturday, 28 February 2009

Key's job summit

We had John Key's big show of concern yesterday - with no representatives from the left, or Pacific people who will be first to lose jobs. There were lots of men in suits, though.

They had a few ideas about riding out the impending economic storm;
  • A nine day fortnight with subsidised training on the tenth day. (If the training institutions are still there...)
  • Keeping kids in school longer.
  • Building a walking/cycle track the length of NZ for tourism.
  • An equity fund to provide working capital for small businesses.
And so on...

I'd ride the bike trail, and I suppose the e-learning field could benefit from wider training opportunities. Most of it just seems to be pious hopes and hot air, though.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A glimmer of sense

The government has finally realised that the unworkable Section 92A of the Copyright Act was going to be a problem, and has delayed its passing while ISPs and others work out a strategy. I still think that copyright will eventually die out, as modern media make the notion of "ownership" pointless.

I wonder if medieval rulers were lobbied by the Union of Monastic Scribes? "Gutenberg's new printed book should be banned as it's taking work away from the monks in the scriptorium."

The Nats think that owning stuff is what life's all about, so it won't be an easy transition to a new way of thinking about "ownership" of digital media.

How do you own a song? Or a poem? Why do so many artists talk about "giving" their art to their audience? And as for philosophy - "Existentialism, mate - priceless".

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Under way

Lectures begin tomorrow, Monday 23rd, and that meant a busy week for us, as we got courses set up and ready for teaching. The campus suddenly filled up with students during the week, and all sorts of changes happened - cafes re-opened after summer break, parking areas filled to overflowing, and so on.

We also had a couple of days of soft rain, which will have farmers and gardeners smiling. Today is Alice's birthday, and we've invited various friends around to watch the Twin Rivers Classic Car parade this afternoon. Hundreds of cars will drive along our street as they finish a loop along the Heathcote and Avon rivers, and it's become a regular excuse for a bit of a party. We put folding chairs on the front lawn, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy reminiscing about the old cars as they trundle by.

Two years ago; somehow we missed last year's parade.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

There and back

A characteristic Kingston scene - Impulsive anchored just off the beach on Friday night, along with many other boats. The majority of these had sailed down from Queenstown that day, into a stiff southerly.

I got back from the Kingston to Queenstown yacht race late Sunday afternoon. I took Friday off to tow the boat to Frankton and meet my crew, then on to Kingston at the south end of Lake Wakatipu. An 8 hour drive, what fun! We rigged and launched the boat in Kingston and tied it to a tree on the beach. Then we pitched tents on the grass between the beach and the pub/station, drank beer, and went to bed. It dropped to 1deg over night, making my choice of a light dacron sleeping bag rather unwise.

Owen Cambridge in the light breeze soon after the start.

Saturday was calm and blue, but a little breeze got the 55 strong fleet away - then we alternated wind with flat calm all day till 6.30pm, when we gave up, still about 3-4km from the Frankton Arm entrance. Most of the 55 boats did the same; then we found out they hadn't taken the boats' times at Halfway Bay as they'd promised, so they had no results. The timers had seen the boats sailing well in decent wind at that point, and said "She'll be right, no need for us to keep taking times" and gone back to Queenstown. Never mind, we had a great day and did pretty well - in our own minds, anyway.

Owen Cambridge and Mark Schroeder discuss tactics - or something.

At several points, we were right up with the leading bunch, but it was very flukey.

A pizza at The Cow, followed by a vain attempt to buy draught beer in Queenstown (we made do with Steinlager...) saw us crashed at a backpackers about 11, and then I drove back today in picture perfect conditions. I was back in Chch and unloaded by 5pm, and Heather helped me take the boat back to Lyttelton after tea. Schroeder and Owen had their own cars, and went their separate ways from Queenstown, so I've had two long solo drives in the new(ish) car - it's superb for towing with its diesel engine and 4wd. The trip could have been a lot worse in another vehicle.

Friday, 13 February 2009

On the road

All packed and ready to go - I'll be driving by 8am and hope to be in Frankton around 4pm, to meet Mark Schroeder and Owen Cambridge. Mark is following me in his own car because he'll go on to do some business visits around Otago next week, and Owen will drive from Milton after teaching - he has a free period on Friday afternoons, so he can get away an hour early.

We'll buy Saturday's lunch at the Frankton supermarket and stock the chilly bins, and leave their two cars at the Frankton Marina. We'll throw all our camping gear etc into the car and the boat and drive on to Kingston, where we'll rig the boat. We may not actually launch it until early on Saturday, as there's not much point in leaving it on the beach over night.

The race start will be around 9.30 or 10am, and we expect light winds and lots of sunshine. A southerly front went through last night, and Saturday could be a perfect windless summer day; nice for waterskiers, but it may be a bit challenging for yachties. We'll need hats, sunscreen, and beer...

On Saturday night we'll stay at a Queenstown backpackers and attend the race prizegiving at Frankton. Then on Sunday we all go our separate ways.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Well, good for you, Michelle

Michelle Obama makes friends;

"I have in some way been where you are," she told the 13 teenagers who sat with her in chairs arranged in a circle. She said she thinks it's important for young kids "to see me, not the first lady, to see that there is no magic to me sitting here."

After public school in Chicago, Mrs. Obama graduated from Princeton and Harvard universities, became a corporate lawyer and most recently was an executive vice president at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

Tuis billboard time, I'm afraid. Yeah, right, Michelle, you've been there - but in a limo.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Busy week

After a very relaxing weekend, the university is definitely building up towards enrolment week and the start of teaching.

Add to that bringing the yacht home and preparing it for a trip to Kingston on Friday, and it's a full-on week. The boat trailer now has a spare wheel, which is a weight off my mind, though I hope it won't need to be used.

There probably won't be many posts to this blog this week - that's life.

Postscript - the boat was packed up and towed home after work on Tuesday. It travelled perfectly at 90-100kph, and the diesel 4WD Camry towed it as if it wasn't there. I'm almost looking forward to Friday's 530km drive to Kingston.


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Long weekend

We had a great sail yesterday, and it was a bonus to have Owen Cambridge join us - he'll be with us for the Kingston to Queenstown race next week and now he's familiar with the boat's controls.

Today we went back to Lyttelton and removed a trailer wheel to try to find a match at a wreckers yard - I really want to organise a spare wheel before doing the long drive to Kingston. On Friday the 13th too! But the biggest wrecker yard was closed today, so I'll need to get back there during the week.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Building up

It happens every year - in the first week of February the emails multiply and the phone picks up. Then we had a full day running a department planning meeting. It was good, actually, with lots of synergies between our three divisions.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Dunedin and back

We really enjoyed our trip down to Dunedin on Friday night. The Camry was superb on the open road, cruising effortlessly at 109kph (honest), and with good pickup for overtaking. The stereo was good, but the CD player seems to skip a bit. We stopped for an OK but not great meal in Timaru, and were in Dunedin soon after 9pm.

On Saturday we visited Jim in the morning, then we drove out to Outram for lunch, then back to town so he could rest. That evening we met Jim and Barbara at a new(ish) restaurant at St Clair for a really nice meal, and we visited again on Sunday morning before driving back to Christchurch.
Barbara and Jim at Swell restaurant, St Clair

The drive back was less fun than Friday night. SH1 was really busy, and the weather was patchy, so we were happy to be home.

The good story is the fuel performance. We're getting around 8.5 litres per 100km, or 33mpg in the old money. Cost per km, including road charges, is 12.6 cents, compared to a 28mpg petrol car at 15 or 16 cents depending on prices.