Wednesday, 28 November 2012

New surroundings

We are now settled in to our new location, on Level 5 of the James Hight building - the Central Library. It has pluses and minuses; we are in a cube farm that's OK but a bit restrictive, with quite high dividers. The tea/lunch room is very swish, with on-tap boiling and chilled water, but the toilets are very small. The old Library Training Room has been replaced with offices, and the atmosphere is pretty light and airy. The air conditioning is a tad on the cool side at times, though I won't be joining the female staff in their "Brrr, it's freezing!" mantra; I can remember July, after all.

View from my desk towards Jess, and the next bay where Paul sits. We've asked to have the black screen removed so we can talk more easily.

My desk

Thursday, 22 November 2012

New and improved

On December 3rd, a lot of Metro Bus services will change. Our 46 Marshland bus becomes  a 146 to the Palms, then we'll have to switch to cross-town routes, e.g. 44 North Shore-Shirley.

Let's say, just as an example, that someone wanted to travel from Schroeders Tavern on the corner of Warrington and Barbadoes Sts, to Marshlands, after enjoying an after work ale ale. At present that person catches a half-hourly 46 bus and gets taken directly home, for about $3. After Dec 23rd, there will be a 44 bus past the pub at 6.23pm. This will get to the Palms at 6.32pm. Then you just catch the 146 to Alpine View Lane, at - wait for it - 7.18pm! Oh joy, 3/4 of an hour in Marshlands Rd, with the Palms parking building and Burger King for company. That rules it out as a serious transport option.

I predict a bewildering lack of patronage, or as the Metro "planners" call it, ridership. Blah.

UPDATE: It turns out that combining the 7pm Metrostar and the 146 will work OK, though the bibulous bus rider will get home at 7.30, a bit later than optimal.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Please leave

The University of Canterbury is a very generous employer when it comes to annual leave. We get 5 weeks a year, plus the 3 days between Christmas and New Year. However, we're perennially short staffed and under-resourced so we can't find times when we can take this leave, and it piles up. I realised this week that I already have 20+ days owing, and as our UK/Europe trip is now set for 2014 (it's a long story) I decided we'll have to deal with the problem. The aim is to keep the running total below 20 days, but it's not easy. An added factor is that I have a major software upgrade going live in July 2013; we have to have 2000 courses on Moodle 2 by then. So a winter holiday can't happen until after July.
This graph of leave I'll accumulate (excuse Google Docs US date formats) shows 3 holidays next year.
1 - Late January, camping somewhere. Okains Bay. Hurunui River, Lake Heron... Somewhere in Canterbury.
2 - Easter, probably Wanaka and the West Coast.
3 - September (or earlier if possible) Mackay-Cairns-Whitsundays. Visit Heather's niece Trudy and family in Mackay, sail the Whitsundays for 4-5 days, then Cairns, Daintree rain forest, Barrier Reef - home. That will take three weeks.

Next problem - I'm also owed 10 days of Long Service leave! I have to use that before May 2016, but I  do need to have a plan. I thought holidays were supposed to decrease stress levels...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Last week in the village

This week is our last in building KB02 in the Kirkwood Village, the prefab complex built on the University's athletics field. On Friday we'll be moving to Level 5 of the central library, where we'll occupy a couple of rows in a cube farm of librarians and learning advisers. Working conditions will not be improved by this, I suspect.

These moves are inevitable, as the University moves staff out of buildings to carry out earthquake repairs, then juggles staff around to do the next building, and so on. We could be in for a few years of this!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Gadget fun

Got my new phone this week; a Samsung/Google Galaxy Nexus. It's running the very latest Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, and I've put it on a Vodafone Smart19 Data plan. That gives me 500MB of data per month, with 50 minutes of free talk, and 5000 free texts. All for $19 a month, prepaid!

I get my old number ported over when the TelstraClear contract runs out on the 9th of December, so until then I'm carrying two phones.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Busy busy busy

Heather and I spent Sunday going back & forth to Canterbury Landscape Supplies for trailer loads of soil, which we then spread over the areas of the yard that had no grass. Once that was raked out as level as we could manage, Heather sowed grass seed and watered it, and now we await the appearance of little blades of grass. We know from long experience that this can take many weeks, but we'll be watching nevertheless...

At work, I'm busy creating courses in our Moodle 2 system for the people participating in our trial. Progress isn't as fast as I hoped, because I encounter problems and then Paul and I have to work out what's going on. Still, that's why we call it a trial!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Week? What week?

This week started with a hospital check - all good - then four really busy days of project work for Moodle 2, with multiple meetings thrown in. Plus inter-departmental politics; I'll spare you the details.

We made good progress today on moving some heaps of dirt to cover the desert areas of the side yard. Tomorrow we hope to spread a trailer load (or two) of soil to even up the levels, then sow grass seed and hope. If this doesn't work as well as hoped, we'll patch it up in the autumn. I don't think I'll ever become a lawn fanatic, though I have some neighbours who seem to have those tendencies. We live on a sand dune, people - adjust your horizons!