Monday, 26 December 2011

Round 2

A good evening materialised out of nowhere, my new barbecue did its thing, and we all had a good time. Nice to have friends in our new place, and to be able to say "This is our house, we're glad you could come." Photos are on Flickr.

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Too much food, about the right amount of wine, kids and presents, another Christmas Day has happened. An early night beckons, as tomorrow we'll be having a birthday barbecue for me, again with too much food. I might need a bit more endurance for that one.

Ready for the crowd

Yesterday was a rush of activity. It started with doing the shopping that got postponed because of Friday's quakes; the fruit and vege market was packed out, with the carpark overflowing onto Marshland Rd and long checkout queues clogging the aisles, but all good humoured. Then to Stanmore New World to find that they were still cleaning up and restocking, opening at noon. Off to Northwood New World, where I joined a 10-15 minute queue - just to get in the door! Once inside it wasn't too bad, though areas of the shop were cordoned off because of breakages - mostly the wine aisle.

That took till lunch time, then we started on the rest of the pictures and mirrors to go up. That took a couple of hours, leaving us with only a group of photos for the entry hall that we're not 100% sure about - so we've put those on hold.

In the evening I roasted a couple of chickens, watched a bit of TV, and faded off to bed to read the obligatory three pages and fall asleep. Now it's Christmas morning, and I'm having another coffee while I await orders. Heather's out of the shower and practising her cat-feeding rituals, so action stations will soon be called.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


I'm at work this morning, with two small course-maintenance jobs to do; we'll disappear about lunchtime, then I start a full month of holiday. I don't start back until Monday 23rd January, so I have lots of time to get the house sorted out, sell my yacht, and generally laze about.

We've just booked tickets to go and see Crosby, Stills, and Nash in Auckland late March, with 6 days in the Coromandel first. I'm glad I paid for that the day before our whiteware self-destructed; we probably would have had second thoughts if we'd known that the dishwasher was likely to be unfixable, and that the washing machine was about to emit clouds of smoke. So Heather had the pleasure of buying new appliances, which we installed last night. This spending spree had better finish, though, we can't go on spending at this rate!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

We did the final clean-up at Leanne's place today, including two trailer loads of garden cleanup debris, and a separate trip of cardboard and the broken dresser from the shift. We took a hard rational decision and decided it really wasn't worth repairing, so out it went. Three trips to the dump took care of $30, then we'll buy back some of today's garden waste as compost later in the summer. Not a bad business for the CCC; people pay to give you the raw materials for your product!

Progress continues in the house. We had our first barbecue today, on our new 4-burner hooded barbecue, $200 from the Warehouse with a special deal on the cover, $40. Pictures are going up, the garage is almost usable, and we've removed the pantry doors so working in the kitchen is a lot easier - though less pretty. Sgtill, function beats appearance every time when it comes to kitchens, and the doors when open blocked the microwave and oven, and the fridge on the other side. I find that access to these is critical when I cook, so off came the annoying doors.

Now we have a week to prepare for the Bridgman/Crowther Christmas. Luckily we're providing the meat, so the cooked ham on the bone that I won at the pub last week is going to be very handy. I'm also planning to barbecue/roast two rump steak roasts, and two chickens will be roasted in the oven. That will be more than enough, but any leftovers can supplement my birthday BBQ we're doing the next day, for 10-20 people. The two days will become an extended housewarming, really.

Those two events should settle the house in to its entertainment function, I reckon. Then we'll blob out for a week. [UPDATE: Monday 19th, turns out the fancy Whirlpool dishwasher is broken, parts will take ages, we'll be hand washing dishes for Xmas Day and the BBQ. Bugger!]

Some photos; a better album will happen in a few more days, when we have pictures and mirrors up.

The kitchen viewed from the dining table 
Dining/family room
Living room, with pictures and other stuff awaiting a home
Heather and Vida have the study under control

Saturday, 10 December 2011

We're in!

At long last, we're actually living in 30 Alpine View Lane. Well, we're finding bed and toothbrushes, while surrounded by boxes of really essential stuff - but we have nowhere to put it. We'll be buying a bit more furniture in coming weeks, I suspect. Dinner tonight was KFC, for the first (and last) time in a year or so, but by tomorrow night we should have the kitchen more or less sorted out.

It's been very nice to sit here with the lights off, watching the summer twilight. But after a busy day, I think we have a good excuse to try out our brand new bed. And the ensuite bathroom, that's a novelty for us. Most of all, we're happy to have a place to call our own.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Three more sleeps

From 54 Waitikiri Drive (top) to 30 Alpine View Lane; a short shift.
I'm taking a day's leave on Friday to pack up and prepare things for a 300 metre shift on Saturday. Our aim is to sleep in the Alpine View Lane house on Saturday night, and that should be manageable; we need to move our clothing and bedroom dressers etc, then it's just a matter of going through the rental house identifying our stuff and putting that into boxes. And the potted plants - a couple of trailer loads. I hope that Snap move our phone (number remains unchanged) and internet on Friday afternoon, as they've promised.

It's not quite as funky as a shift our family did about 1962, when we moved between two big old houses in Don St, Invercargill, where the Police Station is now. For reasons too complicated to explain, we moved from our original house to the identical house next door, so it was a matter of going from one house to the identical room in the new house. We did it with wheelbarrows; full ones out the front door and empty ones through a gap in the fence near the back yard. The whole neighbourhood came out to watch!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sailing fun

A brilliant day for sailing on Saturday had Lyttelton Harbour dotted with sails wherever you looked. We didn't race, but went just sailing for fun. We had intended to finish early, but the conditions were so nice that we carried on till about 3.30. We met up with Chris Hutching in Purau, then we tied up at the Ripapa Island wharf for a chat, before a final long surfing run back down the harbour to the club.
The GPS track shows our meanderings around Lyttelton Harbour
Sunshine, a 15 knot breeze, dolphins - what else would you want for a sailing day?
Sunshine and sparkling sea.
Darren in charge.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Carrying on

Heather ended up having a second night in hospital; she carried on fibrillating on Wednesday so in the end they decided to use the electric defibrillator, with instant results. However, the hospital staff then went home, leaving her for another night. It looks like their medical expertise is not backed up by good communications; nobody knew what the previous people had done or said, the ward staff didn't know what the doctors had done, and so on.

She was told she could go this morning, so I picked her up and took her home at lunch time. I'm back at work, and hopefully she is lying in the sun reading, surrounded by cats.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bit of a glitch

Heather was feeling a bit dizzy with heart fibrillations this morning, and went to the doctor, who promptly sent her to hospital. She's spending tonight in hospital, having medication changed and awaiting a visit from The Specialist. She should be home around mid-day tomorrow (Wednesday).

Moving plans suddenly aren't moving so fast, though Heather seems fine - but a bit less activity would be a good idea.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Getting closer

We are finally within sight of the Big Shift, two weeks away. Actually it won't be too huge, as we came here with just essentials. Three or four trailer loads of essentials, in fact - still, it won't be a major exercise. Then we'll settle in to Alpine View Lane by making it up as we go along.

Today I had my first full 25 km bike ride to university and back. The GPS track of my homeward journey is below. (The diversion in the middle is to go via the pub.)
(Click to embiggen.)
When you see a 12km track laid out like this, it's quite impressive, most of the way across town. I'm rather chuffed. I'll rest tomorrow, then bike again on Wednesday.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Insurance gridlock

From this week's earthquake update by the local Labour MPs;

A local hotel owner in Kaiapoi is just one of countless local businesses unable to get on with the rebuild due to the insurance gridlock. In this instance, the owner is unable to continue building work, which was due to be completed before Christmas because he is unable to get insurance cover on a $200,000 to $300,000 bank loan. This is despite the fact that he has put $900,000 of his own funds into rebuilding the hotel and that the hotel is being built to the highest building code standards.
 When such projects have to be put on hold indefinitely it really has got to crisis point. But, it’s not just the hotel owner who is being affected by the insurance gridlock. The local builder also had work up until Christmas. That’s now been put on hold and staff at the hotel won’t get work until it re-opens. As the hotel owner said “these insurance companies are holding everyone to ransom.”
 The Government can no longer do nothing; it can’t allow this sort of thing to continue. The gridlock is costing jobs; it’s slowing down growth and it is hurting local businesses that simply want to get on with the rebuild. It really is time for the Government to take some serious action.
Time to re-invent State Insurance? Sorry, we sold it.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Are we there yet?

News from the World's Slowest House Move:

We are finding stuff at times, and still not finding other stuff. We thought we'd lost our pots, but they showed up today in a box labelled "Misc". But we still don't have the big-huge-enormous stainless steel bowl, or the Le Creuset cast iron casserole. I wonder if they're in the box labelled "Bathroom - heavy" but we don't want to open that till the bathroom cabinets and fittings arrive. Maybe the packers thought the casserole was a commode.

However, we have progress in other areas. The curtain rails are now all where they should be, and the small surround sound speakers are wall-mounted in the corners of the living room. I may sneak back one night this week and hook up the rest of the home theatre, but I don't want to make the place a burglar magnet, especially as we have to start a new contents policy with State on the 1st of December.

I guess it can wait another three weeks; we will do The Real Move on the weekend of 10-11 December, as we had to give the telco time to switch us. We're leaving TelstraClear for Snap, a locally based firm with a really good deal - and a helpdesk staffed by English speaking Kiwis. Phone numbers and email addresses will continue unchanged. I know that's a brave statement, but I'm starting this process in a mood of optimism.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One day in the Gobi Desert

Just what are the Chinese doing out in the Gobi Desert? Weird rectangular blocks of land criss-crossed with tracks, a circular area with old planes and trucks, and large bunkers a mile away, a massive grid of rectangular structures - very odd!

Monday, 14 November 2011


Take a look at this GPS track of my drive to work today. I stopped in for an appointment with Lindsay the magic physio, and this track shows that I pulled off North Avon Rd into his car park, and out again.
But that's not Lindsay's surgery - his is two houses east, the one with the light grey roof. Hmmm. That's a 40 metre error. It became more obvious as I moved west, completely missing Macleod St and Hills Road.
The error continued all the way across town.
I think some calibration is called for! Anyway, take care to sanity check your GPS's location information.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

World's slowest house shift continues

The furniture (well, 2/3 of it) arrived on Thursday afternoon, and immediately the house appeared more real. On Friday we got serious about unpacking the mountain of stuff in the garage. A lot of it appears depressingly old and tired, I must say - we're making some pretty ruthless decisions about what we will keep.
Our new sofa in our glass-surround living room corner.

Some odd things have cropped up, or rather they haven't cropped up. We are missing a box that contains a le Creuset 20cm red casserole, our set of cooking pots, and another small casserole - about the most essential kitchen equipment you could need. The weird thing is that the casserole lids were in another box, which we have got. Anyway, it's only stuff - if we really need it again, we'll buy it; the EQC payment hasn't all been spent yet. Oh, and a soup ladle.

The other down side of having stuff in storage is that it comes with thousands of sheets of newsprint paper used for wrapping. Finally today I was forced to do a trip to the dump with a trailer, full of just cardboard and paper. Then I did another trip with old furniture; 3 or 4 chairs, 2 lazyboys in tasteful 70s brown tweed, and a single mattress, all destined for the Eco Shed, or whatever they call it nowadays. I'm hoping to be named Recycler of the Day, but I haven't had a phone call. (Though Heather's been talking to Elaine for 40 minutes, maybe that's why.)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A tour of the Christchurch CBD

Bus tours of the CBD red zone began this weekend. Here's a video of the bus tour route with a commentary from Warwick Isaacs, the Demolitions Manager for CERA.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Still waiting

We're still waiting for State Insurance's response to our request for a review of their rebuild costings. The assessors visited the River Road house several weeks ago, and apparently the review is now with their quantity surveyors. When their reply eventually arrives, we'll be able to proceed with the sale of our land to the Government and the payout by State. Then we can pay off the bridging loan from the bank, and free up several hundred dollars each week in interest.

Next week our furniture should be ready to collect and move into the Alpine View Lane house, and the wiring changes should be finished. There are fittings to attach in the bathrooms (probably by a tradesman, I don't want to carry the blame for any mistakes there), carpet in our bedroom, and we're in business.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The week begins

A slow start to the week; physio for my leg at 8.30am, followed by a dental checkup at 9.00am. I have to take a big dose of antibiotics before I go to the dentist, to reduce the risk of infections in my "recent" hip operation site. It's a year since the operation, but apparently such sites can remain susceptible to infection for several years.

As my friend Julian Hawes is back in hospital with a shoulder operation that became infected, and the operation has been reversed entirely, I've had a timely reminder of the consequences of infected surgery sites. I visited Julian on Saturday and he's happy enough, but unable to use his right arm for quite some time. He may be in hospital for a week or two yet, and then he'll have an antibiotic pump on his belt, feeding into a permanently attached line. And of course infections like this can become full blown septicemia, which can be fatal. So I'll take the pills and won't grumble.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Occupy somewhere

Occupy Wall Street has spun off into a lot of other events - all of which have the economic establishment dismissing the protestors as naive hippies. There's more to it, though, as Michael Moore explains.

It can't be that simple - can it?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Rolling on

The shifting operation is gathering momentum. Tomorrow I meet some cabling guys at Alpine View Lane so they can run network, TV, and speaker cables. There will be Cat 6 network from the study to the TV & home theatre, and to the dining room below the small TV. (That connection is for my laptop, but could go to a TV later.) Then coax will run to both TVs from the UHF antenna on the roof, so we'll have Freeview all round. Four speaker cables will give us full surround sound from the Samsung BluRay home theatre unit.

As I write this, Heather is going around a diagram of the house ("No, it's not remotely to scale, it's just a bunch of boxes") and marking power outlets. In honour of future boat building, I've requested a few more points above the work bench down the left side of the garage; the others will double the power outlets in the bedrooms, and the kitchen. In a modern sustainable environment, all this power use is a bit embarrassing, really.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Inspected, neglected

You wouldn't believe it -  it seems to be our season for assessors. We had State Insurance inspectors at 393 River Rd on Saturday to re-check their Red Zone offer. Our Quantity Surveyor thought that State had undervalued the property, so we asked for a review. The assessors were very non-committal, as I expected them to be. Hopefully this review will produce a price we can agree is fair, and we can set a date for the hand-over.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sense prevails

An EQC assessment team visited the Alpine View Lane house on Thursday afternoon. We were worried that by having the painting done without their authorisation, we'd have to pay; in fact, we were resigned to the inevitability of this. But the assessors said that as it was meant to be done anyway, the painter was registered with Fletchers, and it made sense to paint the house while it was empty, then EQC will pay! That's a nice little present. Now that we don't have to face a painting bill, we're revising our ideas about whether to replace some tired looking carpet instead.

Heather went furniture shopping with her sisters Elaine and Pam yesterday, and put reserves on several items, so we're off this morning to give me a look and then confirm the purchases. So far she's selected a dining table (and possibly a set of red-leather upholstered dining chairs), a 3 seater sofa, an armchair for her and a leather recliner for me, some side tables, and an entertainment cabinet for the TV and home theatre gadgets. The leather recliner is a ridiculous price, but she says it's miles better than any others she saw; anyway, my bum will have the final say.

Then we have to buy a bed and some single bed mattresses, more bookshelves and drawer units, assorted whiteware, and power tools. We'll be busy little consumers for a few more weeks yet!

UPDATE: All bought, but the TV cabinet was modified a tad - at D A Lewis they have their own factory for a lot of stuff, so they build to order. And we bought a bed, a real Sealy Posturepedic. Retailers are doing crazy reductions at present; if you have cash, now's a great time to buy stuff. We started running into our daily limits on Eftpos and Visa, so I have to do a couple of online transfers to pay the last two retailers we visited. It was a lot to spend at one hit, but it had to be done, and could have taken weeks if we hadn't been organised.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Back to ground level

We arrived back in Auckland at 10.30am yesterday, then spent 30 minutes decoding Auckland's weird, contradictory, and badly signposted transit bus arrangements. Once we'd been bussed to the domestic terminal, we had the other Auckland airport fun experience - the overpriced cafe. We should have had Subway or McDonalds, it would have been cheaper, nicer, and probably better for us.

Arrival in Christchurch at 2pm was via stairs to the runway and a quick dash to to the terminal building, in horizontal rain. From 27 to 7 in 6 hours!

Today I went to work but by lunchtime I just had to put my leg up, so I printed a bunch of grant applications and came home to make lunch, then read the applications and made notes. It's what I'd have been doing if I'd stayed at my desk, so I don't feel too guilty. If I hadn't fallen asleep on the sofa, I'd feel even less guilty!

I visited the doctor at 4pm and got a locum I've met before - a very nice guy, with good advice. He thinks I may have a partial tear to the top of my Achilles tendon. I go for ultrasound and x-rays at 8am tomorrow. It's obviously not a full Achilles tear, or I wouldn't be walking at all, so I'm in for rest and a 2 month wait while it all heals up. I guess our Nelson bike ride is relegated to the autumn.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Counting down

Two more sleeps then we're on a 7.15am flight on Tuesday morning Rarotonga time, arriving in Auckland about 11am Wednesday thanks to date line magic. We'll be back in Christchurch about 2pm, ready to dash round to Alpine View Lane and check the painting job.

Irony of ironies - EQC want to inspect Alpine View Lane, now that we've had the painting done! So much for their bland assurance that it could be 2 or 3 years. Now we'll probably have a fight about who pays the painters. At least the payment for our damaged household stuff has arrived, according to Alice.

My leg and ankle are slowly healing, but I'm spending a lot of each day on the sofa with the leg elevated, in a compression bandage - quite hot in this climate.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Good news from home

Alice reports that painters seem to be busy in our new house at Alpine View Lane, and EQC have yet again promised that they're sending a cheque for our contents claim. So when we get home from holiday I suppose we'll be going furniture shopping, then we can start moving things into the house. We plan to start living there in about the first or second week of December.

We will probably accept the second of the Government red zone offers, where the Government buys the land and our insurance pays the rebuild price for the house. We're asking for a review of the pricing on the house, though, after we took our lawyer's advice and got a quantity surveyor to review the insurance offer. I suspect several more weeks will pass before we agree on all the details. It's certainly not a process that can be rushed, I will say that.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The first dozen are the hardest

I was swapping opinions about operating systems with a colleague the other day, and I flippantly said "They're all pretty similar, your first dozen OS's are the hardest." Then out of curiosity I started to make a list of OS's I've used since 1982, when our school got an Apple 2, through to an Android tablet in 2011.

A lot of these are upgrades, so they have a similar theme and the learning curve isn't steep (e.g. Windows 95 to Windows 98), but I was amazed to see that the list ran to 34 operating systems! All of these I have actually used for at least several days, e.g. UCSD p-system for a Pascal programming summer school, or VMS for my first internet account through Otago University and again when working for Compaq/HP. Some, like CP/M 2.2 or Windows NT, I used for several years.

I'm sure that there will be people in the IT business who can double this list, but I was amazed. It must mean that I'm old, I suppose. Anyway, here's the list.

Apple DOS 3.3
UCSD p-System (Apple //e & 8080)
Apple ProDos
CP/M 2.2
PC-DOS 2.0
MS-DOS 3.3
MS-DOS 4.0
MS-DOS 5.0
MS-DOS 6.0
MS-DOS 6.2
Windows 2.11
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1
Windows for Workgroups (3.11)
Windows CE 3.0
Windows NT 4.0
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98SE
Windows Me
Windows 2000
Windows XP Professional
MacOS 7
MacOS 9
MacOS X 10.2
MacOS X 10.4
MacOS X 10.5
Red Hat Linux 4.1
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Ubuntu Linux 7
Ubuntu EasyPeasy Linux
Android 2.2
Oops, I forgot iOS! I had an iPad for a couple of months for testing. That's 35.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A small adventure

The Needle, the high point of the Cross Island walk
A sudden halt to the active side of this holiday - David Russell and I set off early yesterday to do the Cross Island Walk, and after a solid uphill hour we reached The Needle then set off down the south side to the Papua Waterfall. About 1/4 of the way down the steep track, my left shoe slipped on some dry dirt, and I caught my right foot under my thigh as I slid down a metre or so. The result was a well sprained ankle and a torn muscle on the outside of my right calf.

Dave on the uphill section
After a rest I was able to carry on, but very slowly, with the aid of a stick. After another hour or so, we were stopped for a rest and a drink when a tour group caught up with us. Their guide, Pa, has done this trip over 4000 times, and best of all he had a first aid kit. He taped up my ankle and I felt a lot better after that. He also provided a lot of support - literally, grabbing me firmly on the gnarly tree root sections and propping me up through the rocky stream crossings. When we made it to the waterfall Heather and Brenda had arrived to meet us, and we were soon back at the house where I had a shower and lay on the sofa with an ice pack on the ankle.

After resting for the afternoon it was still swollen and tender, but I was able to walk on it carefully. Just as well, because we were booked for the Sunday barbecue at the Yellow Hibiscus restaurant on the south coast - it was really great, with friendly staff (I was called "Pops" by one waitress!), and a superb buffet of salads and other dishes.

So it looks like I'm in for several days of lying around reading (Rumpole Omnibus), watching videos (a huge collection of UK dramas and TV series), and taking Panadols. Ho hum. I think after another day or two I should be OK to return to the daily snorkelling expedition, though.

David and Brenda return to NZ tomorrow, then Phil and Wendy return home in the weekend. We have a few more days with them before leaving on Tuesday 18th, arriving on Wednesday 19th after crossing the Date Line. Hopefully I'll be walking well enough by then to get through the airport hassles.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Back in time

Thanks to the wonders of the International Date Line, we're going to watch the Sunday night RWC quarter final on Saturday night. Kick-off is at 9.30pm Raro time, so we'll go into town about 8.30-9.00 to find a pub with a big screen, and hopefully a place to sit.

We went to the Avarua Market this morning. It's a bit of a tourist trap, but we had a good time watching all the activity. The amount of fast food available was quite amazing, though how the stalls all make money I can't work out. The middle of the day was really hot, so we lounged about indoors with fans creating a cool breeze. In later afternoon we went round to the south coast and tried another snorkelling spot, but it wasn't as good as the place we discovered last year, near the Little Polynesian Hotel. We went there yesterday, and it was really great, so we'll stick to our favourite spot from now on. We did see a moray eel lurking under a coral formation though, waiting for a meal to swim by, so we gave that a wide berth.

Now it's time to prepare dinner, then go out to watch the rugby. It's a tough life...

Tomorrow David and I are going to do the cross-island walk, which takes about 4 hours. We're planning to start really early, as close to 6am as our post-rugby bodies can get started, to try to beat the heat. We should finish about lunch time, when Heather and Brenda will arrive to collect us.
(Left - a young girl dancing for coins at the market.)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

I'm not here

Not here, but there - Rarotonga, that is. Been swimming and snorkelling, taken a few photos, doing a lot of lying around reading and snoozing. That's what holidays are for, especially after a year like we've had.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Packed and loaded

Bags are packed, everything except my laptop is ready to go. Shuttle bus at 2.30, flight to Auckland 4.30, flight to Rarotonga 7.30. My Android tablet has episodes of the BBC radio show The Unbelievable Truth to listen to on the 5 hour flight through the night. With Christchurch having a run of cool grey days, it will be great to go to warmth and sunshine. That reminds me, where are my sunglasses?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ready, set...

My Rarotonga packing has got as far as putting a suitcase on a bed. I think I'll pack in the morning, after giving a quantity surveyor (who we actually know, as her daughter and Alice are best mates) access to the River Rd house, to double check State's figures. We catch a shuttle to the airport, to meet David and Brenda Russell from Invercargill, then we fly to Auckland about 5pm. The Raro flight leaves early evening, and we arrive a bit after midnight.

Right, time to sort out today's crop of bills, EQC correspondence, insurance offers, painters quotes; no wonder we're going on holiday!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fast neutrino jokes

The barman says : "We don't serve Neutrinos in here!!"
A Neutrino walks in to a bar.

I lost an electron
Are you sure?
I'm positive

The neutrino says, “Don't worry, I'm just passing through!”

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Time machine

 A strange experience: use Google Earth to look at the Christchurch CBD. Make sure "3D Buildings" is set On. Suddenly you're looking at the city as it was before the earthquakes. The excellent 3D modelling done by enthusiasts is spookily realistic.
Looking south-east. From the right foreground are Copthorne, Crowne Plaza, and Town Hall. Pyne Gould building is left centre, by the river. Catholic Cathedral and AMI Stadium left rear.

Looking north-west. The building at centre right with patches of red is the CTV building. Grand Chancellor Hotel upper centre.

Let's hear it from the governor

Doonesbury is having fun this week, portraying an interview with Texas Governor Rick Perry. The wacko Christian creationist is a pretty easy target, but even so, Gary Trudeau does it very well.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Words of wisdom

James Howard Kunstler this week, on oil and human stupidity:
This much can be stated categorically about the USA these days: the more distressed our economy gets, the more delusional thinking you will encounter. People want to assign the cause of their misery to this or that (socialism, abortion, Jews, the New World Order). People want to believe that their world is a safe place with bright prospects (climate change is a myth, we have a hundred years of shale oil).*

Hands up those who've heard similar arguments in NZ. Yep, thought so.

* Or lignite, in the NZ situation

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Moving in, slowly

We've started shopping for things we need for the new house; beds, fridge/freezer, washing machine, stereo, duvet covers, lounge suite, possibly a dining suite, the list goes on.

The bad news from EQC is that minor claims like ours may take 3 years or more, so we'll probably try to take over the claim and manage it ourselves. That way we can get the work done in the month or two before we move in permanently.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Skiing again

A great day at Mt Hutt today, for Heather and me, Alice, and my work colleague Grant Bush. The snow was the best I'd encountered in my 5 days this season; better coverage after recent top-ups, and still soft after 3 days. It did get wet and then a bit chunky/frozen later in the day, but we had a ball, skiing groomed and ungroomed, 5-10cm of soft snow over hardpack.

Heather was wearing her new ski boots for the first time, and after a few initial adjustments she was amazed at the difference they made. Alice was trying some rental gear, and had problems with the boots - she got a pair that fitted, same brand interestingly enough, from the on-mountain hire shop, and then her day improved.

We skied the big face below The Towers a couple of times, down the Log Chute gully once (but it was a bit like hard work) and Exhibition Bowl 4 or 5 times. Traffic in Exhibition could be a bit busy at times, with lots of teenage kids going flat out, but we found room for some good turns. If this has to be the last day of the season, I don't mind - though that's not certain, by any means.

Your lift pass records every lift ride.
(No photos, by the way - too busy having fun.)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Out and about

Start and end at Waitikiri Drive. We did the Spencerville circuit anticlockwise.

Today began with a lovely crisp spring morning, so we roused Alice out of her Sunday morning slumber to come over and join us for a bike ride. We rode along Prestons Rd and up Marshland Rd to the Styx intersection, and followed Styx Mill to Spencerville. We did a side visit to the beach, then back to Spencerville Rd, back out to Marshlands and home. It was only 21km, but it was a very enjoyable way to spend an hour on a Sunday morning.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Home and housed

30 Alpine View Lane
We won't be moving in for a while for various reasons - EQC tidy-up, looking after the rented house, buying replacement furniture - but we now have a house, only 300m from where we are renting. It's a very suburban, very standard design, but we feel really at home with the place. It has a nice scale, and it's laid out well for the sun. The garden is rougher than I thought at first look, but that will provide Heather with a challenge that I'm sure she'll enjoy.

UPDATE: Thursday 15th. Mana Transport are bringing our household effects this morning. Some items (mainly beds and clothing) were damaged by liquefaction when their building opened up in the Feb 22 quake, so that has to stay in bins at Mana till EQC pay the contents claim. The stuff that arrives this morning will be stacked in the garage while we wait for minor gib-stopping and painting to be done - assuming EQC give approval. One step forward, one step back.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Is this Christchurch's future?

What were they thinking in Augusta, Georgia, when they allowed renowned architect I M Pei to bolt this Darth Vader "penthouse" on a 1913 building?

This and other architectural offences are preserved in New Urbanist Jim Kunstler's Eyesore of the Month site.

What really frightens me is that post-earthquake Christchurch will have a toxic combination of vacant land, owners desperate for a quick build to get rentals flowing, and insurance payouts too low to build something good. This combination will put pressure on developers and owners to go for a quick fix, probably using tilt-slab construction.

They may try to make the frontage pretty, as with this big-box mall below. It's in Aurora, Illinois - but as Kunstler says, it's not really Main Street; it's a cartoon of Main Street. The store fronts aren't real; they're paintings concealing a Wal-Mart.

What's the chance that we'll see this sort of dreck on the Turners and Growers site, or somewhere in Tuam Street? Pretty high, I reckon.

Finally, I couldn't resist this classic clip of Jim Kunstler dissecting the suburban dream. I nearly said "American suburban dream", but sadly our New Zealand cities are well down this track as well. Just look at Blenheim Road or Northwood in Christchurch, or the North Shore suburbs of Auckland.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Getting nearer

A week from tomorrow, we take over ownership of 30 Alpine View Lane. It will be a nice prize for the anniversary of the September quake that started a year of chaos, grumbles, and good old Kiwi bureaucratic ballsups.

This weekend I cleaned the inside of my trailer yacht, as part of the preparation for putting it on Trademe. Darren and Mark have bought a bigger boat, with room for 4 to sleep aboard, so my day sailer is superfluous, and I can do without the expense and responsibility. We've had 10 years of sailing from Impulsive, now someone else can take her over, and have a great time for very little outlay.

Photo: Impulsive charging across Lyttelton Harbour in a good breeze.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hot on the trail

I've been having fun with my Viewpad's GPS running Google's My Tracks application. Today I started tracking my bike ride to work, as I've done several times. When I arrived I saved the track as a KML file which can be imported into Google Earth for detailed viewing.
My 12km ride from Bottle Lake to University
It is surprisingly accurate; this morning as I crossed the railway line in Glandovey Rd I noticed a bike tail-light lying at the side of the road, so I turned back and picked it up. (It was broken, I later discovered.) Here's the evidence; the GPS logs my position every 2secs or so, which is why my path seems to be a series of straight lines at this level of detail.
Cyclist turns round to pick up something from the roadside.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Up and at it

I went skiing today, with my yachting accomplice Darren Armstrong, and Grant Bush, senior server/network consultant at UC. Heather should have come too, because yesterday she bought new ski boots (the first in 20+ years) but she's feeling the pressure at work, with term reports due and SBHS's impending move back to the North Parade site.

Yet again I took no photos, but it was a pretty featureless day; high overcast, flat light at times (thankfully not too many), and firm but crunchy snow. Mount Hutt hasn't had a great season, and there are large patches of gravel and rock showing, and a surprising amount of pebbles on the snow surface, possibly a grooming boo-boo. The skifield has a real "end of season" look, with dust and dirt from the carpark making the slopes below the road brown and dismal. So it was again reduced skiing, on main groomed runs only. At least we could ski a groomed run down to the triple chair, which provided some variety.

The three of us - Darren on snowboard, Grant and me skiing - were all about the same pace, and we stayed as a trio for the day. Now I'm tired but happy, rubbing Voltaren gel into a sore left knee and administering medicinal alcohol.

NZ Ski have electronic tickets - a credit card that you keep in your pocket, to count your rides and vertical skied. My 3 days are fairly consistent, really, considering that 22 Aug stopped an hour early because of Juddy's crash.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Feeling it deeply

With the good weather, we've started exercising - skiing on Monday (Juddy is good, but full healing will take time), then I biked to work at lunchtime, as the power was being reorganised to the Kirkwood Village from 8am-1pm. I worked from home 8-11.30am, biked to university, ate a quick lunch, then went into a presentation from a helpdesk software company. A couple of hours on support jobs, then home at 6.30, via the pub for a quick pint.
My 12.5km ride to work, tracked by My Tracks on the Viewpad.
Heather went for her first swim in ages today, and felt well below peak performance, and I found my ride a bit hard. Now I'm sitting here with sore calf muscles and a tender bum. Serves us right for letting exercise drop over the last month - maybe the two snowstorms, buying a house, and dealing with ruined household effects got in the way. And Heather running the reporting system at SBHS on her own while the person in charge went tripping round Europe. And our group shifting our office twice in 4 months. And a trip to Sydney for a week. Et cetera.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Big day out for the old folks

We went to Mt Hutt yesterday, with Darren Armstrong in his Toyota Surf, with old mate Robin Judkins along for the day. We hadn't skied with RJ since - um- 1985 (ish). Anyway, we had a hoot of a time, skiing at a seriously brisk pace, picking out interesting lines, and behaving like a bunch of 40 year olds.

Sadly, about 2pm Juddy hit some ruts while doing high speed turns in Exhibition Bowl, and came unstuck, dislocating his right shoulder - for the third time. Ouch. He was taken down by the patrol, and in the medical room they gave him a big whiff of nitrous, and manipulated his shoulder back into place. He was a lot better after a cup of tea, and reckons he can use his arm, but he's going to be a while getting full mobility back. He's determined, though, and he can cope with a few Ouch moments, silly old bugger. (Make that "buggers", it could have easily been me.)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Are you sure?

A small stuff-up from Stuff; "Mountain biker Jonathan Kennett" rides a new leg of John Key's job-creation scheme.

I know Kennett wrote the definitive NZ mountain-bike trail guide, but even a casual commuter can see that this is no MTB that he's riding - it's a drop-bar touring bike, as far from a mountain bike as you can get.

Apart from reporters who don't know one kind of bike from another, the story had no map, so we don't really know where the trail goes, and the piece was noticeably quiet on the subject of economic benefits from building bike trails. It did have a link to, though, and that site is quite informative. (But don't get me started on NZ sites, especially government sponsored ones, using ".com" URLs!)

Cera has spoken

When people speak of CERA, I either hear Doris Day's "Que sera sera", or Bob Dylan's lament for lost love. It was a bit of each yesterday, as we opened the package containing our offer to purchase our River Road house at the 2007 valuation.

The money is as we were promised when the deal was announced (in spite of my suspicions), and is exactly what we offered for the house at Alpine View Lane. However it's still sad to say goodbye to the house at River Road, and a great group of neighbours. Sad though the loss is, que sera sera - you can't argue with earthquakes, and we've come through this with a good final result.

We'll be getting the documents to our lawyers as soon as possible, and hope to have the sale all organised in a month or so. The government is expecting to process around 200 offers a day, and we'd like to be early in the queue, so we don't have to pay interest on our bridging finance for too long.

But first, we've organised a day skiing on Monday with friends. Got to get the priorities right!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Check the letterbox

I hope that the CERA offer letter isn't sent to our River Road house, but given the inability of authorities to manage details like addresses, who knows? The letters are in the mail apparently, though our insurance company could take another month to get their offer to us, so we can decide whether to take the full purchase offer, or the combination land and replacement offer.

We've already made the decision, of course, with possession of our newly purchased house at Alpine View Lane only three weeks away. Still, it will be interesting to see what creative sums are produced by the insurers and their armies of lawyers and actuaries, all toiling to ensure that customers get as little as possible.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Post snow post

The snow is mostly gone. In our case, it's thanks to Heather who removed most of the snow from the sloping driveway to the garage. It was melting into the sump by the garage door, but that is clogged and can't cope. I'd cleared the flat area in front of the garage on Tuesday night, and done several rounds of bucketing out the sump, but Heather's efforts made sure we didn't have too big a flood the next day.

A ray of sunshine - we're going to ski at Mt Hutt on Monday with Darren. More later.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Snow everywhere, again. Shovel shovel, inside to warm up, slippers off and gumboots on, shovel some more. It's interfered with our plans to drive to Wanaka tomorrow night, too.

We'll postpone the trip by a week if I can organise my work around this; I'm on my own next week so I'll need to cover any emergencies on Thursday and Friday. If that can't be organised, we'll re-jig the plan, I suppose.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

It's happened!

30 Alpine View Lane, Burwood

We've gone unconditional, as they say in real estate land - in other words, we've bought a house! Just like that! Actually, it's been days of emails and phone calls, tying the three strands of insurance, bank, and lawyers together. Well, the lawyers didn't really take much tying, to be true, but it's been a case of making sure everyone knew what everyone else knew. One last missing report was found this morning, and everything suddenly clicked, and by late morning we knew the sale would happen.

We take possession on the 12th of September, but we'll take our time before we move in. We have to look after Leanne's house and feed Tom the resident cat, until December. The new house is a block away, so we can get our stuff put in the garage then move in when we are ready. Heather would like to get the minor cosmetic EQC repairs done before we move in, as decorating is much easier in an empty house, so that's another factor.

Anyway, we're really happy - and we'll take possession a year after leaving 393 River Rd, almost to the day. Cosmic.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

All go

A quick update to say that the house purchase looks to be happening, once the bank agreed to accept our inherited insurance. The engineers and builders reports are good, so insurance, bank, and lawyers, will all join in a merry dance on Friday - or possibly next week.

We went skiing today, first time this season. it was great to be on skis, and to see that Hip 2.0 worked flawlessly, but the skiing is rather limited until more snow arrives. I think we'll wait for an improvement before we go again.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Slight hassle

An interesting conflict will need to be sorted out this morning, if we are to proceed with our house purchase. First we need to have insurance, but insurers cannot get reinsurance cover for new contracts (which they call "risks") so policies are being transferred with a house purchase. That's OK, we'll take on the policy that the sellers had.

Now for the bank, to arrange bridging finance; their admirably clear plain-English requirements include "must have a full replacement insurance cover". But here's the problem - the policy is for a fixed amount, not "total replacement", and it's the only policy we can get. I'll call the bank as soon as they open this morning and hope that they'll agree to an alteration, otherwise we'll have to shop around for alternative bridging finance. I'll be pointing out that we'll shift our other accounts as well, if we have to do this.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

House happenings

We had a surprise call a few nights ago, from the agent who had been handling our unsuccessful bid for a house just around the corner from our Waitikiri Drive rented house. It's at 30 Alpine View Lane, and the owners had decided to accept our bid after all. A quick look to ensure we really meant it, several rounds of signatures, and we're ready to move in on September 12th.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

There and back

Sydney was nice for the first day, then the weather turned to a wet southerly that is keeping the city in gumboot mode. (Very trendy pattern-print gumboots, of course.) The homeless guys still camp out in their furnished niches on street corners, the business guys race about in Italian suits with no coats or umbrellas, and the traffic becomes even worse.

We did very little on our final day, because we couldn't go anywhere. We landed up riding the free city shuttle bus, up Elizabeth St and back down George St, to do some sight seeing and to stay dry.

Anyway, the Moodle Moot was very valuable, with quite a few helpful ideas, and we had a nice time being out of Christchurch. The trans-Tasman flight is really just a bus ride these days, with no real feeling of travel apart from the grumpy processes of immigration and customs. We might as well have gone to Hokitika, in terms of a Travel Experience.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A big week

The school term has ended, with Heather absolutely shattered. She's been doing her own job and that of her boss for this term, while her boss is off travelling. There was a staff member supposedly trained to fill in for the boss, but he spent his time (a) running down the present system, (b) saying that a new unproved and untested system would be better, and (c) wrecking the server and its client connections by tinkering without backups. I call down the mighty powers of ITIL upon such people! Anyway, she survived the term and got all the reports out, and now she's ready for a holiday - and as luck would have it, we're off to Sydney in the morning.

I'm attending the 2011 Australian Moodle Moot from Monday to Wednesday, and I get a hotel room of course, so Heather just has to pay for a return trip. The trouble is, on university budgets we're encouraged to take the cheapest flights (and as we're paying for one fare we agree), so we're on a 6am Pacific Blue flight. That means being at the airport by 4.30am, which means leaving here at 4am, which means that Paul Nicholls (one of our developers who's also attending) gets picked up at 3.45am then carries on to collect us. That's almost the day before we leave!

We'll arrive in Sydney at 8.30am, through immigration and customs by 9.30, and in town by 10am to drop our bags at the hotel and go off for some sight seeing. We don't have any commitments until we go to the opening drinks and registration at 5pm, then we'll collect Heather and have a meal somewhere. I suspect we'll be asleep by 9pm after such a long day.

We have most of Thursday to look around Sydney, then we arrive back in Christchurch at midnight on Thursday, ready to show up at work on Friday. I doubt I'll do much more than clear my emails, but it will get me ready for the following Monday when I'll really be on the job.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Houses continued

We made an offer after all, and now the vendors have counter-offered; we'll hear the score when the agent calls by at 5.30.

UPDATE, Wednesday morning:
The owners want far more than we can afford. Apparently they are sure that there's an army of red-zoners with full wallets out there. We made a modest increase up to our RV limit, and that's our lot. We'll hear the outcome this morning; we'll be disappointed if we don't get it, but not heartbroken. There are plenty more places, many of them closer to central services than Bottle Lake.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Yes, no, maybe

House hunting means that we've been driving back and forth across town this afternoon going to open homes. We looked at a couple of places on Avonhead, and were surprised to find that there's about a $50,000 premium for that suburb. Houses that had non-sliding Ranchsliders, peeling paint, and scruffy 70s medallion wallpaper were over $400,000 - they'd be pushing it to get $300-350,000 in other suburbs.

So we're back to our main choice - the lovely house just round the corner, but we really can't make an offer until we've talked to the bank - and by then we'll be getting ready to go to Sydney for 5 days, so we'll have trouble organising anything.

I just hope that it's still available in two weeks when we get back - but if not, c'est la vie.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Houses and lawyers

We're talking with a lawyer this afternoon, hoping to establish whether we can start getting serious about looking at houses. We looked at a fairly new town house yesterday, but it had a weird layout and wasn't in a very nice neighbourhood - the house in front was a bit scruffy, garden was untidy, hall was too narrow for two people to pass, etc. I know these things can be changed, but if we're going to buy with our RV we can afford to get something ready to walk in and go. Like this 4 bedroom family home just round the corner from where we are currently renting.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Car costs and future thoughts

A routine service and WOF check for our Camry today. Nothing to worry about, except for a power steering drive belt that's getting cracked, and should be replaced at next service. With oils and fluids, it cost $180, including the WOF.

I guess I'd get it cheaper at the quickie places, but my garage and I know each other, they know our cars, and we like to keep using local businesses in Richmond. We still use the dentist who's over the back fence from the garage, and the local New World supermarket, where our daughter worked after school, at the end of the block. I wonder if this loyalty will survive in the next year or two?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Look what I found

I'm not sure that this is a good thing: should a user with minimal Linux experience be able to elect themselves as god? One more line of typing and there goes your hard drive.

The other explanation is that the IT guys who set up this machine gave me super dooper access rights, on the assumption that I could look after myself Linux-wise. If that's true, it's a clear case of Chuck Him In The Deep End, I can assure you.

It is great to have a real OS underneath, and the Mac's FreeBSD spinoff is still really close to mainstream Linux. Or at least that's the way it seems to a nervous dabbler.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Back in the world

We lost our home internet connection on Thursday night; it's happened 3 or 4 times recently, and I just thought it was middle of the night work at the local phone exchange. It's always come back after some hours, but this time it didn't. So we've been using my Viewpad 7" tablet as a 3G network access point - 500GB in 3 days, because I foolishly downloaded some course backup files that I'll be using on Monday.

Anyhoo - I called TelstraClear's helpdesk this morning, and got straight through to a very capable Indian-accented guy, who verified that the line's ADSL connection wasn't working. The trouble is that he didn't know which end of the line had the problem. And if I call out a technician and he finds it's our problem, it will cost us a $200 fee. That acted as a pretty good incentive to test my end first.

He gave me the steps for testing the components in the chain, so armed with modem/router and power supply plus a phone cable, I tested each outlet, filter, and cable - still no ADSL light. Then we found our landlady Leanne's router and plugged it in - the ADSL light came on right away - bingo! It was our faulty modem-router, so we'll need a replacement. I've never liked D-Link gear anyway, their 56K modems used to be cranky too.

Off to Dick Smiths, where all the routers are now N-band Wifi and ADSL2/2+ compatible, costing around $170. Then I spotted one at $114, a unit that was intact and working fine, but the packaging had been opened then returned. Fair enough, I don't mind saving $50! So now we have a budget-priced Linksys (Cisco) router, looking like a black ashtray. We also have a new network SSID and password, and we have to re-authenticate phones, laptops (Mac and Linux), Android tablet, etc. How do non-IT people manage all this?

So we're back in the world - but is it the real world, or just cyberspace? Wherever we are, it was a pain being off the air. Let's hope this new unit lasts longer than the 6 months we got from the D-Link.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Good news?

Last Thursday's announcement confirmed that our block in River Road is classified Red, which was more or less expected. Now we're trying to make decisions about taking the RV and buying a place, or taking the land value from the Government and then a replacement house from our insurer, State-IAG. The second option would give us more equity, but could take two or three years at least.

The added complication is that some insurance companies are saying that they were going to rebuild houses, so they don't have to pay for total loss, even when the neighbourhood is going to be bulldozed. They can't say that to us; we have their written statements that our house is unable to be repaired. In fact, they advised that they weren't going to keep pricing repairs because there was no point. These emails were from before the February and June quakes, so the situation with our house has only got worse, of course. But many of our neighbours do have damaged but repairable houses, and must be freaking out at this development.

On Thursday afternoon I emailed our friendly (really, she's very pleasant and helpful) customer representative at State, asking for a meeting. There was no answer after two days, so yesterday I called her phone; I was taken to her voicemail, which said that State were very busy and I should call the Government Helpline.

This doesn't sit very well with the Friday 24th statement from their chief executive, that “We’ll also be looking to ensure all our impacted State, NZI, and Lantern customers, as well as those with policies through IAG’s business partners, understand their options and know that we will be there to work with them to receive the entitlements due under their policies." (My emphasis)

It looks like insurers are helping their clients by pulling up the drawbridge and heating up the vats of oil to repel invaders. They can't hide forever - it will be interesting to see what they have to say when they eventually talk to us. We want to make a move as soon as we can, and before house sellers add 25% to their asking prices, so when our formal offer arrives we'll be camping on State's doorstep if necessary until we get answers.

I may be suspicious (all right, I'm very suspicious) but this seems to be a move by the insurers to be so nasty to their customers that they all decide to take Option 1, the full payout from the Government. That would allow insurers to keep up their primary activity; hanging on to our money and paying out as little as possible.

Mark Twain's definition of a banker seems to fit this situation well. He described a banker as "a man who lends you his umbrella, then asks for it back when it rains". I'd add insurers to that description.

UPDATE: Our State rep did reply, with a bland assurance that "State are currently in the process of scoping all properties that we insure within the red zone to be able to provide residents with the information they need to fully consider their options." I wonder what "scoping" means?

I doubt that they can suddenly "discover" that our house can be repaired; we have an email dated 4th February that says "Due to the fact that we now know the house is unable to be repaired an engineer's report has not been requested." So they have no information on which to base repair estimates, as far as I can tell.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

All class

The things you find while surfing the web in your lunch hour; a row has erupted in the US over the standard of dress required on airlines. First a footballer named DeShon Marman (right) was arrested for refusing to pull up his pants. I'd have arrested him for not wearing more stylish shorts, but that's not really the point.

But the real fuss began when people pointed out that six days earlier, a man in women's underwear was allowed on a flight. They even have a rather fetching photograph to illustrate this novelty.

I think I'd sooner have DeShon with his droopy drawers; Lingerie Man has dreadful taste in tops.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Impending doom?

The government has been pressured into telling Christchurch which suburbs will be abandoned (sorry, "retired"). They have a 1.30pm press conference arranged for tomorrow, but 3 News's political correspondent Duncan Garner announced the list on this evening's news. According to this "exclusive" the suburbs are Bexley, Avondale, Horseshoe Lake, Burwood, Dallington, and Avonside. As our block of Richmond is 200m from Dallington, and across the river from Avonside, I think that includes us. We'll know tomorrow, once they release the maps.

The plan is that they'll pay us our valuation at September 2010, before the quakes started. Our valuation is dated 1 August 2007, though, at the start of the property boom; others will have 2008 valuations that are greatly inflated. One step forward, one step back. And since 2007 prices have risen 15% or more. It's the Christchurch Two-step.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The week begins

An obvious thing to say on a Monday morning, but today is more significant because we will re-occupy our office in the CEPS (Canterbury Educational Printing Services) building. I don't think there was much mess, but I didn't see what happened with the second big shock last Monday; we left after the first one caused a campus wide lockdown.

Five of us occupy the pre-press office, with a window through to the administration/reception area. Nikki Saunders in the foreground prepares the Course Readers, while Jess and I occupied the two corner desks doing LMS administration and other projects.

Since these photos were taken, we've switched ends. Richard Holliday and Aimee Leaning do pre-press and external ordering for the printery and they now sit at the other end, by the window to reception so they can help visitors if the administrator isn't around. Jess now has Richard's desk, and I've taken Aimee's place. Nikki stayed in the same spot.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Back to normal?

Building inspections took a few days longer than expected, but we'll be back in our office on Monday, after several days of working from home, answering emails and clearing helpdesk calls. The University's exam arrangements have been disrupted, with many subjects switching to a take-home assessment or awarding aegrotat marks. It hasn't been an easy semester.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Maybe tomorrow

I think we'll be back at work tomorrow. Buildings will be progressively cleared for access, and our new home in the printery is a solid modern single storey building, so I expect it will be in the first group. It will be good to get some work done; I had a bunch of course copies and restores to do this week, and I'm due to reset Bridging Programme courses next week, so I can't afford to get too far behind.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The new unreality

What, again? I couldn't take photos of people shovelling silt in St Albans today; apart from heavier clothing it would have looked just like February and September. UC is shut for another day. Yet another layer of Blah descends on us.

Tomorrow is enlivened by a visit to the dentist at 8.30am. I thought only cockroaches survived disasters, but apparently not.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Here we go again

Another lunchtime, another quake. This time several of us were next door having our first lunch in the Warehouse lunch room; they've offered to share it with the wider group that now inhabits our corner of the campus. So we dived under tables with people we'd met 10 minutes before, then we all scooted outside. Then I realised I was naked; communications-wise, that is. Back at my desk were my cellphone, tablet, and laptop - and my bag, wallet, and jacket. All I had was a used soup bowl and an apple. Bugger.

After a visit to Ilam Fields, where we were told to go home, I went back to the office and did a quick raid on my desk, and got my stuff. I was running a backup of a large complex course when I went to lunch; I hope it finished OK, but I didn't look at the screen.

Then it was a bike ride home at 1.45pm, punctuated 5 minutes from home at 2.20pm, by the biggest wobble of the lot. I had just biked through the Prestons-Marshland roundabout, when I thought my bike had developed serious stability problems. I braked and stopped, wondering if my back wheel had turned to a wet noodle, then felt the ground waving up and down under my feet - and then I looked up.

Above the bike lane on Preston's Road there are major high tension lines, feeding Parklands, North Beach, and Burwood Hospital. These were waving from side to side like a really big Newton's Cradle. I took a quick look in my mirror; the road was chokka with confused motorists slowing down and working out what had made their car seem funny, so there was no way I could move to the right. The cables slowed their swinging, the ground settled, and I biked off towards our rented house in Bottle Lake.

All was OK there, apart from a few items that had fallen over. Water was off, though, so I set off back through lots of liquefaction damage on Hills Rd, to our old neighbourhood at River Rd, to get some bore water from my neighbour Andy Corbin. Then to the pub to check on the regulars, and back home to cook sausages for dinner. By this time, the water was back on, so we now have a superfluous 3/4 chilly bin of fresh water. Andy had it tested, and it's got lower e.coli than the CCC supply! I might have some with a wee Famous Grouse, to help me sleep...

University is closed tomorrow so teams can do building checks. We think schools are closed too, but we'll check that in the morning.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Is this winter?

A break in the weather today has brought quite heavy rain, though it's warm, almost 9 degrees. Maybe there's a southerly front coming, to turn that moisture to big soggy snowflakes. The 3-day forecast shows a cold SW change tomorrow, but that will blow the wet stuff away towards the Chathams. This ski season is a late developer, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I will if you will

Gosh, we've never seen this happen before. Except with the web. And file formats. And XML. And HTML (twice). This time, even Google joins the Big Boys Club, to push for changes that haven't had community input.

From Slashdot;
"Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have decided to propose a common markup vocabulary,, based on the Microdata format, simplifying the job of webmasters who want to give meaning to their web pages' content."
Manu Sporny, chair of the W3C group that created RDFa, added his (personal) dissenting opinion about Schema, calling it a 'false choice,' and saying, "The entire Web community should decide which features should be supported – not just Microsoft or Google or Yahoo."

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fancy flights

I've long known that Google Earth has a flight simulator built in, but until today I hadn't bothered with it. Now, after half an hour's practice, I'm addicted! Just choose a location, set the view to oblique, and start up the simulator, and you're flying. The MacBook doesn't have PgUp and PgDn buttons, so I don't have any throttle control, which led to a nasty crash at the top of Cardrona, but it's great fun.

Banking in towards Treble Cone, then up left over the Saddle, down the South Branch of the Motatapu, and on towards Cardrona.

About to buzz the main slope at Cardrona Ski Resort on a busy day; lots of skiers down the main run on Whitestar.

Wireless but happy

The 3G data link for my Viewpad turned out to just be a non-existent 3G access point name in the configuration; Paul created one called Internet, and all is happy. Now the tablet has 3G connectivity, or wireless if there's an accessible network within range. I get some funny looks when I pull out the tablet and check something that someone just said, though - I don't think that's appropriate etiquette for Friday night at the pub.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Interesting weekend

A minor drama on Saturday; Heather's heart started fibrillating about 4pm, up to approx 160 beats per minute, so I got her down to A&E. They did an ECG, put her on a drip and gave her some beta blockers, but after an hour the rate was only slowly settling down. Then they put in a different blocker, and the effect was dramatic, returning her to normal heart rate in 5 minutes.

The ongoing prediction is that she's likely to have more incidents like this as she ages; isn't it fun being in your 60s? Anyway, she was bright and cheerful on Sunday, and went for a swim with no bad effects, which is a relief.

My Android 3G experiment has hit a small snag; it works fine for phone and text, but I can't get the data connection working. I'll get our developers onto it, they have a huge in-depth knowledge of Android and networks. It's very handy having a pair of resident geeks!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

New toy

For a week now I have been getting to know my way around an Android tablet device; I'm not sure whether to call it a computer, a phone, or what. Gizmo will do for now. It's a Viewsonic Viewpad 7" with a 16GB SD card for storage.

It is good on wifi networks, though sometimes it's a bit cranky connecting to the UC wireless systems. I'm going to put a 2Degrees SIM card in it today and see how it goes on 3G.

I've added a bunch of news apps, and I really like the ebook reader; I suspect that will be a favourite feature.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Did you miss Judgment Day?

The web site says The Rapture did happen, but nobody noticed:
Jesus has come, few were saved, even less noticed his presence, but May 21st was still Judgement Day. If you are reading this blog, then you were not saved by Jesus in the Second Coming, and have been left behind during the End of Days. There are just five months remaining until the End of The World on October 21 2011. Prepare yourself for the End Times now by stocking up on water, canned goods, and appropriate clothing before the End of The World.
If bottled water and baked beans will be useful, how is the end of the world going to differ from any other earthquake or tornado? Will canned food and a heavy parka really help against the Wrath of the Lord?

Oh, I just noticed - the final irony - buy the T-shirt!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Report from TED

The TEDxEQChCh event today was well worth attending. We saw a dozen presenters, several relevant clips from older TED footage (including my favourite savant, Jim Kunstler), and came away feeling there really are ways to fix the city. Whether these ideas got through to the Council and EQC is anyone's guess, but they tried. Even Gerry Brownlee waddled up to do a brief speech and introduce ex San Francisco mayor Art Agnos, one of the day's highlights.

My favourites were the practically oriented talks, particularly Hugh Morrison of Arrow International project managers, who delivered a well documented and achievable timetable to get the rebuilding under way. Soon after came James Lunday of Common Ground; he's a Scotsman with a genuine plan for urban design based on neighbourhoods and a people-friendly central core - both things I have been thinking, but he said them 100 times better than I could. (It's his field, of course.) Paul Downton also put a high premium on neighbourhoods.

The over all emphasis was on bottom-up people-centred planning. It's over to CERA now, I guess.

There's an excellent summary and comments at Nathanael Boehm's blog, Pure Caffeine. I'll post a link to the videos when they become available.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Ted who?

Alice and I are going to TEDxEQChCh tomorrow. It is "...a one-day event to re-imagine Christchurch as a world-leading city, and to provide inspiration that will directly impact the future of Christchurch."

It could be a day-long media wank, or genuinely inspirational. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Prepare ye

US religious sects have somehow concluded that the Rapture will happen this Saturday, 21st May 2011. This will be followed by the end of the Earth 6 months later, on 21st October. There are heaps of web sites about this, such as, all based in America.

I was worried that these believers might get their timing wrong, because they probably think that the 21st May is timed for the USA. After all, most Americans are baffled to find that NZ dollars don't have George Washington on them, so they are bound to be US-focussed with the date of their raising to Heaven. I'd hate them to be late for lift-off, so I thought I'd email the web site asking for advice.

Here's my email: I'll post any follow-up here. Watch this space.
Can you please tell me when the Judgement Day will begin? As New Zealand is 18-20 hours ahead of the US, I guess it will strike here first - but that will still be the 20th May in other places. How should I set my clock for the Judgement Day?

Thanks in advance for any help you can share,


Christchurch, New Zealand

Monday, 16 May 2011

Winter's on the way

Serious isobar maps at; the first big southerly blast of the 2011 winter is headed our way.

This morning on Morning Report, weather reports were saying that the Te Anau to Milford Sound road was chains-only, and another 10-20cm of snow is forecast for Tuesday morning.

This is all leading nicely towards a late June start to the ski season at Mt Hutt and other higher-altitude fields like Dobson. I'm ready, my skis are waxed (a year ago), the car is good, I have 15 days of leave to use up - go!