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!”