Monday, 30 July 2012

Yard work

Progress on the landscaping last week; just as well, because there'll be eff-all this week, judging by the forecast. The raised planter beds are all stained now, Herb's Shed is half way, and the gravel parking area (held in place by cunning plastic hexagonal cells) is in place.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Onward and upward

The new team leader for Learning Technologies Support (the renamed Audio Visual Department) arrived yesterday, and is busy getting to grips with his new job. Jean-Luc Devis comes from Washington on the US west coast, and has a strong track record in management in the printing industry. Transferring his organisational skills to AV support shouldn't be a problem; what the people actually do may differ, but the mix of long term planning, and rapid reaction in emergencies, will be familiar to him.

I'll be spending a fair bit of time with him for the next 3 or 4 days, but by the middle of next week he'll be well organised and starting to make his mark. In the meantime, like all transplanted Americans, he has to get used to all the unspoken differences; weather that changes every day, light switches that work the wrong way, walking on the left, getting into the wrong side of a car - and the Kiwi accent.

I'll then return to my real job, after being half time, or less, since Easter. I've been keeping up with support work, but planning and projects have been on hold, and now need to be revived. And we'll take a short skiing holiday.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Counting down

The new Team Leader for the Learning Technologies Support unit arrives in a couple of days. He's a French born American, with a very impressive track record in the printing industry. I'm looking forward to handing the department back to him; I haven't been a particularly good manager, just a caretaker. But then, that's all that was required.

And I've never pretended to be management material, it's just not something I enjoy. I don't like having to make decisions that affect people's lives, I detest budgets, and I'd sooner be doing things with computers and educational technology. So I'm delighted to see the gentleman arrive, and I can get the Moodle 2 upgrade project back on the rails.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The olden days

In the mid 1970s, a year 9 (3rd form, for oldies)  student asked me "Were you alive in the olden days, when men went to the moon?" I discovered tonight proof that I was alive in the olden days when people contributed to online news and opinion by posting to mailing lists. Ah, Usenet!

Here's a post I made to comp.risks from June 1995; I had a dialup connection to the VAX network at Otago University, via Telecom's Starnet packet switching network. I may have been the only person in Wanaka who was on the internet, now I think about it. I remember rushing to send the email before going back to school - we used to go home for lunch, now that WAS the olden days!

Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 13:22:32 +1300
From: "Gregor Ronald, Wanaka, New Zealand"
Subject: Copyright infringed via WWW?

You can read the full post here; it's about an NZPA article saying that caching breaks copyright law - ideas have moved on somewhat. Although maybe not; in 2012 we're still trying to educate people about online copyright, even if we're more relaxed about caching.

UPDATE: I posted to the same news group this week. And the group still has the same moderator. How's that for a transient temporary virtual community?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What we've done this week

It's been a busy few days. First there was the trailer and the gravel. On Saturday I shovelled half of our surplus gravel (from the old back pathway) and took it to the tip. $17.50, done. On Sunday Schroeder came and helped me do the second lot, including quite a lot of sand. We dropped about 1/4 of the trailer load in his driveway, then I set off to the tip with load #2. I was on Cranford St at the Innes Rd lights when some pedestrians came over and banged on the car window, to tell me that I had a flat trailer tyre. Bugger.

I pulled up to a legal parking place, then inspected the left tyre - definitely flat. At that moment a chap walking by stopped and said "I live down the street. Help yourself to the jacks and blocks of wood in the garage." I detached the car from the trailer, then drove down to his house and collected the gear, and soon had the trailer chocked up with the wheel off. Then I extracted the jack so it couldn't be nicked, put it and the wheel into the boot, and drove off wondering where I could get a puncture fixed on a Sunday. The answer is - Nowhere.

On Monday morning I dropped the wheel at Tony's Tyres in Papanui and went to work. I called at 10am and they said it was done, so back I went; collected the tyre (free!), bolted it back on the trailer, returned the jack and blocks, then off to the Styx Mill tip. Twenty minutes later I'd ditched the gravel, followed by a trip back home to Waitikiri to drop the trailer, then return to UC just on 12. A tribute to work-life balance programmes.

Darren doing the "Shredder Spread", to air his vital parts
On Tuesday Darren Armstrong and I went skiing. I gave myself a small tear in a groin muscle (ow!) but had a good time. It may be a few days before I ride my bike, though.

Today was Heather's appointment at the cardiac outpatients clinic. They sedated her, then applied a defibrillator, and her heart smartly returned to a sensible rhythm. Until the next time. Anyway, she's feeling good but a bit washed out from the sedatives and the electric thump, so she's heading for an early night.

That's our week so far - trying to keep life to one drama per day.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The earth moves - again

A photo of 2/3 of Heather's labour force, aka The Miller Boys, who were our neighbours in the rented house at Waitikiri Drive, about 200 metres from our new house. The boys come racing along on their skateboards, dig and lift and heave, then go home for food. They're great young guys, and they have the strength that we seem to have lost over recent years.

The photos also show the raised planter beds that Dave and Alan Global Enterprises Inc, aka "those two blokes from the pub", have built. We may have over-estimated the size, but we will soon have 17 sq.m of arable soil. I think we might erect a tunnel house roof over one of the 3 long beds, for peppers and herbs etc. Alan is also going to fit a built-in irrigation system in each bed, with a hose socket on the end; plug in a hose and little sprinklers will do their thing.

The vegetable garden takes shape.
What's next? Bark chips on the ground around the planter beds, tiles between the side deck and our bedroom, trellis, eventually a lawn... And the shed. That reminds me, buy a big drum of wood stain!