Monday, 27 April 2009

The last sail

We went sailing yesterday, but only stayed out for a couple of hours - the northerly wind was gusty and inconsistent, and we were several times knocked nearly flat by gusts from different directions. In the end we just used jib and motor to head back to the club.

We were finished early, so we took the opportunity to lower the mast and cover the boat for the winter. So that's our sailing season over - only a couple of races, but lots of fun sailing to different places, and sailing more in cruising mode rather than hard-out race trim.

The flukey conditions meant we didn't get a chance to try my latest interest, fitting sheet to tiller self steering. We definitely wanted a settled breeze for the experimenting it takes to get it working.

This clip shows a J80 steering itself - nice!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The week goes by

The week has shot past at high speed, with several Moodle workshops. It's a bit of a change, playing teacher again.
Jess ran a workshop for the Management Science dept staff yesterday. I did one for the Library this afternoon and will do another one tomorrow morning.

Today I was introduced to the wonders of monthly financial statements. It's only a week until I officially start as team leader, so the realities of life had to intrude at some stage.

Interesting things:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thought for today

How might WW3 begin? Let's see; Israel bombs Iran's nukes, and it all goes downhill from there. Pretty plausible, I think.

Flat out at work, with some big training courses later in the week, and the MUANZ web site to sort out today. Biking to work and back is a pleasure at this time of year, though, with autumn colours and pools of mist in Hagley Park, then sunshine for the afternoon ride home.

We had visitors at lunchtime; Jess's sister Nicola and nephew Fergus, who's coming up to 2. Fergus is pretty busy, but he had time to pose with his aunt.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Quiet weekend

No sailing this weekend, because of grey cloudy weather and drizzle. We went to the art gallery on Sunday afternoon, and really enjoyed both the exhibition on Miles Warren's career in architecture, and the Rita Angus retrospective.

The other big event is that I shaved my beard off on Saturday - I'd been getting annoyed by scratchy skin and its propensity for trapping food, so out came the clippers and it was gone in 5 minutes. I'm adjusting to daily shaving again now...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Short week

I like 3-day weeks, it's just the right amount of work for a week. Seriously, it made me realise I'll be spending 3 days each week on administrative stuff when I start relieving as FLG coordinator from the start of May; budgets, meetings, staff problems...

We need to find someone to back-fill for the 0.6 of my regular work, so we're searching hard for a suitable person (or several job-shares) to pick up the stuff I will have to drop. The big thing is to leave my colleague's workload alone, she's busy enough already. And for my first week of relieving I'll be away - at Educause in Perth, which is halfway to elsewhere! This could get complicated.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hanmer Springs for beginners

We're just back from a great 3 days in stunning sunshine in Hanmer Springs - which is chokka with Chch holidaymakers on a weekend like this. We realised that eating out could be a crowded exercise, so we took a couple of precooked dinners with us and ate in the motel, and went out for a pretty good pub meal on the last night. You could dine at the top of the market if you want, but I wonder how much trade those boutique restaurants get outside the brief tourist seasons. They're going broke genteelly, I suspect.

Speaking of genteel, there was a lot of "Fendalton goes country" going on - Rod & Gunn jackets, $400 Ballantynes jerseys, Rieker shoes, Porsche Cayennes & Volvo station wagons, all to cruise up the main street for a latte - and a chat with your neighbours from home. I had a chuckle at seeing all this knitwear being heroically paraded in 25 deg sunshine. I managed fine in shorts and a t-shirt most of the day, though the nights were frosty.

Hanmer gets few overseas visitors, so its attractions are aimed at the domestic market - there are four motor camps, all with lots of cabin/motel options like we used, and heaps of motels, plus a well organised holiday-house rental operation. Apart from a soak in the hot pools (we only went once, it was very crowded), recreation consists of walking or mountain biking in the miles of forest trails around the town - that was really nice, and the walk up Conical Hill is well worth the half hour uphill.

Fresh snow in the head of the Clarence River valley, Molesworth Station.

The big deal for us was the first day, with fresh snow on the tops as we drove over Jacks Pass - I biked down the other side while Heather drove, into the head of Molesworth Station. That is a magnificent high country valley, and we had a really nice time driving a bit, exploring by the river, looking at the old cob buildings from the horse carriage days. (No photos of those, my batteries let me down.) We returned over Jollies Pass, which is quite a rugged steep road - it's not essential, but we liked having diesel & 4wd as we chugged quietly over large corrugations and washout patches.

The snow melted rapidly as the day warmed up.

On the other days, we lay around reading, went for walks and bike rides, and generally relaxed.

So that's Hanmer - it's very pretty, but too close to Chch to be anything other than a combination fun park (2 mazes, 4 mini-golf, lots of bike rentals and takeaway food) and a second Merivale Mall. We've now seen it and had a nice time, but I doubt we'll go back soon, other than maybe for a day trip. More photos are on my Flickr site.

A 3-D view of Hanmer Springs and Molesworth beyond. Jacks Pass is at the head of the left hand valley, and Jollies Pass at the right.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Jim Kunstler says...

Every now and then James Howard Kunstler tells us how the world is ending. He may be right, he may be wrong, but his prose is always entertaining. Here is an excerpt from this week's rant, on how there is no actual capacity to service new debt, which is the "fix" most governments are pushing - get lending restarted.

Sooner or later the daisy chain of credibility in the fundamental transactions of business lose legitimacy and something's got to give. My guess is it will first take the form, sometime after Memorial Day* (but maybe sooner) of wholesale liquidations of everything under the North American sun: companies, households, chattels, US Treasury paper of all kinds, and, of course, the S & P 500. We'll soon find out whether an organism the size of the United States can run an economy based on one family selling the contents of its garage to the family next door. My guess is that this type of economy won't support the standards of living previously enjoyed in places like Dallas and Minneapolis.

Your neighbours won't have milk or meat for sale in their garage, that's for sure. And who'll sell you gasoline on credit? It wasn't like this before Obama got in.

* Memorial Day is Monday 25 May this year.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Affairs of state

Photos just in from the G20 grade of the European wife steering championships. Obamas lead Sarkozi-Bruni by a short fumble at this stage. We'll keep you updated as they go into the airport double-cheek-kissing round in a day or two.

A reverse right hurry-up from the Obamas earned bonus points.

Truth in politics?

A nice catch by Richard Wagstaff, head of the state employees' union the PSA: he's analysed the claims made by Justice Minister Judith Collins about privatising prisons.

"In her determination to privatise, the minister is making false claims about innovations introduced by the Australian company contracted by a National government to run the Auckland remand prison from 2000 to 2005.

Ms Collins claimed in The Dominion Post (March 26) that Australasian Correctional Management was so successful "that Corrections adopted many of the best ideas and practices of the private company". This is simply not true. Innovations the minister claims were introduced by ACM were actually established by the Corrections Department."

Wagstaff goes on to show that Collins has lied about many innovations in prisons - drug dog teams, crime prevention teams, high-risk assessment teams, Maori & Pacific liaison, and costs. I hope someone in the opposition runs with this at question time next week.

The Obamas go visiting

Here's a photo just begging for a caption:

Contributions via the Comments link will be welcome.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Happy sailors

Lovely sailing, enough frights and mixups for a pair of sixty-ish yachties, good fun had by all.

Changes at work

A couple of weeks ago, our Flexible Learning Group's Coordinator, Bill Rosenberg, announced that he was leaving for a policy position with the CTU in Wellington. After some days of indecision, I agreed that I would take the role in a relieving capacity for the next 3 months or so. I'm not a natural administrator, and I really dislike the bureaucratic bumf of budgets and endless meetings, but I guess I can cope for a limited period.

I don't plan to apply for the full time position, but maybe I'll rethink that stance after a month or two in the role. I've been intentionally stepping aside from a lot of front-line activities, in a slow progression toward retirement and to make room for others, so this is a bit of a reversal. Watch this space.