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.