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.