Sunday, 29 January 2012

Quiet weekend

I know I can't do too many posts with "Quiet weekend"as the title before my readership drops to zero (hello, anyone out there?) but still - Schroeder and I should have gone sailing yesterday, because today was grey overcast crap. Anyway, here we are at a Sunday evening with rested bodies and very little done. Oh well, some weekends are like that.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Back to work - it's still pretty quiet, but day by day the calls and emails are building. They'll become an avalanche in about three weeks, as we approach the start of semester and teaching staff get their courses ready. Then the term starts, and we'll have students asking why they can't see their online courses; the answer is always the same, "Wait till tomorrow, enrolments are processed over night."

The University has a new timetabling system this year; the team working on it are flat out, and the first timetables were released yesterday, but as it's a new system it may not be finalised until close to the start of teaching on February 20th. Staff are not happy, as the timetable now tells them where and when to teach; in the past they chose their times, and students had to take what they were given. In many cases that meant no lectures before 10am (to get kids to school), no lectures on Fridays (especially after lunch), and so on. Now there are grumbles about having to teach at inconvenient times. At least the new system will improve room usage from the dismal 27% occupancy of previous years.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Sailing at last

Now that Impulsive is painted, I've had a sudden urge to get her in the water. Since it looks like I'm not destined to sell the boat at present, I may as well use it, after all. So hopefully I'll get out on Saturday with Chris Hutching and Mark Schroeder; Chris wants to go round to Sumner, so we'll start about 10am.

Impulsive's newly painted cabin top and decks are a shade lighter than the cockpit.
As well as the bare timber that needs oiling or varnishing, the cockpit needs another
painting (with non-skid grit on the floor for less dramatic tacks and gybes).

Anyway here I am, still a boat owner. It's obviously not a year for people to buy recreational toys in Christchurch, so I may as well hang on to it, and use it. As the other guys I've been crewing with are so busy with work that their boat isn't getting much use, using Impulsive is a pretty good Plan B. My plan to build a Jim Young 3.5m sailing dinghy can wait another year or two - I've had the plans for nearly 20 years now, after all, so it will keep.

UPDATE: We prepared to go, then it clouded over and became quite cold (well, 12degC) and Schroeder and I wimped out. He's working on his train layout and I'm going to do the grocery shopping then go for a bike ride.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

DIY Publicity

After two mornings of painting, Impulsive looks much smarter. (I didn't think to take a photo, though.) A bit of touch-up on the hull next calm day and it will be ready for action.

My brother Ross sent me a link to a DIY Dummies Cover Generator (just click OK for the expired SSL certificate, dunno why it was SSL in the first place); here's the topic du jour.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Holiday project

Our transplanted gates are now in place, running between the house and fence. Our engineer-fixit friend Dave Hurring  had it all planned and carried out with minimal fuss, and the gates look really good - like they've always been there. All that remains is to give the concrete a few more days to cure, then we'll remove the props and give the swinging gates a final adjustment. Two small pieces of pipe will go in the ground to take the drop-down pins, and we're in business.

I'm off to Lyttelton to paint the deck of my yacht this morning - hopefully before the easterly kicks in around mid-day. One coat of the sandy yellow-cream paint, with a dusting of grip particles, then a second coat to seal the grip in place. That will make the crew feel more secure when standing on the foredeck to rig the spinnaker pole, we've had a few "whoops" moments in recent years.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ship shape

I went to Lyttelton this morning and started tidying up the paint on the decks and cabin top of my yacht Impulsive, as it's not selling in its present state of presentation. Besides, regardless of its state, with a wooden boat maintenance is not optional, it had to be done anyway.

I attacked several small areas on the side decks with a battery drill and a 3M abrasive wheel to get rid of flaking paint, then feathered them out with hand sanding. I followed that by lightly hand sanding the whole topsides; foredeck, side decks, cabin top, walls, window recesses, and the sliding cabin hatch - it's not a big boat, I did the lot in half an hour. I also filled some cracks and gouges.

After lunch I returned to sand the filled areas, then I went around the sanded patches and gave them a liberal coat of primer. Next week I'll give the topsides a coat of paint with a good shaking of DeckTred, followed by a second coat of paint. The cockpit is a separate job, which I'll leave for a few weeks. The navy blue hull needs the usual annual touch up on the transom, and some touching-up on the starboard bow, which gets the sun when it's sitting in the yard; I've sanded those areas and primed a few bits, then I hope I can do all the final coats in one day, with an early start to do the first deck coat - before the wind makes the DeckTred hard to apply.

OK, buyers, another year's paint-maint is nearly done, even more reason to charge at me waving chequebooks! Otherwise I may as well start using the boat again, regardless of what happens with the boat my crew have bought. They don't seem to be getting out to use it very much, either; the main problem with sailing isn't weather, it's finding the time.

In the meantime, Friday is Heather's birthday, to be marked by a lunch at The Old Vicarage restaurant in Halswell with our friends Nicky and Merv Sarson, and on Saturday, weather permitting, we'll go for a night's camping at Okains Bay on Banks Peninsula. Just for one night - at our age that's enough of air beds and sleeping bags!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day by day

It doesn't look as if we'll be going anywhere away from Christchurch between now and returning to work on Monday 23rd; without meaning to, we have just nicely spaced various important dates, to make it hard to find 3 or 4 days with no commitments. Oh well, we're doing what people on holiday do - lying around reading, interspersed with occasional bursts of activity. And there's always Matinee Idle on the wireless.

Next week is gates - steel ones from the driveway at River Rd, which will run from the corner of the house to the west side fence. This means concrete and welding, all masterminded by Dave From The Pub. I'm sure it will turn out well. First is a visit from a man from Connectrix who will tell us where the underground power cable comes from the street.  He'll wave around some kind of field meter and take a cheque for $100 back to the office. It's essential, though, as the power meter box and main feed are on the wall right beside one end of the gates.

UPDATE: weather permitting, we're going to have a night at Okains Bay Camping Ground, just to have a night away. Some time in the next few days I hope, maybe in the weekend.
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Friday, 6 January 2012

Bumpsy daisy

I missed a 5.03 quake at 2.20pm; I was either tidying up the trailer and rakes etc after dumping garden rubbish at the Redwood tip, or waiting in the queue to be weighed and pay. Here's the map from Canterbury Quake Live - the centre was 10km from our house.

On a more positive note, yesterday I assembled two Cambridge Tall Bookshelves from The Warehouse, including fastening them to the wall as we do in Christchurch, and this morning I populated them with books.

I'm glad to say that we have space left for future growth, after my radical cull of our book collection. That's almost the end of unpacking.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Life in the Red Zone

This blog post from Christchurch writer/photographer Adrienne Rewi says it all. Life in the Red Zone is a bit like a zombie movie. We hardly go back to our old place now; the local kids have started breaking windows, soon it will be full of alcopop bottles, KFC boxes, and condoms. I admire our increasingly beleaguered neighbours still living there, especially the elderly ones. (Yes, one of our engineering reports described Heather and me as "elderly", but we'll ignore that. I mean really elderly.)

Bumpy ride

Hold on, here we go again! As a screenshot from the excellent Christchurch Quake Map site developed by my workmate Paul Nicholls, shows, all the recent activity is happening on some faults out in Pegasus Bay. (This shot is just today's quakes, it would be far too cluttered if I'd selected all the recent shocks.)

Our house is not far from the current quake zone, but apart from pictures constantly needing straightening, we're not experiencing any bad effects. We were woken a few times during the night, and had power off between 6 and 8am today. That didn't really matter though, we knew that it would be back on in an hour or two (thanks, Orion!) so we just went back to sleep till 8.30am. Quakes of magnitude 5 or so trip out the local sub-stations as a safety precaution, and it's just a matter of waiting for the crews to get there and reset the trip switches.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Where have I been?

We haven't gone far this week, but we've gone to Bunnings a lot. We're just doing small setup tasks each day, and the house is getting to look like we live here. I started sorting books yesterday, with a 75% chuck-out rate so far.

So - not much to report, just enjoying being in our new place.