Saturday, June 30, 2007

Take it and run

Listening to: Mashups on Radio Active

I've decided to take the new job. I'm going to work out my 4 weeks notice, take a week off, and then start my new position in early August.

This feels right. I'm apprehensive about how competent I am going to be, and how we'll cope with less money coming in, but it still feels like the right thing to do.

One way to tell how much your work appreciates you is to tell your manager you are leaving. All the team leaders I have informed have been really cool about it and have told me stuff like I'll leave a big and not easily replaced gap in the team, which is nice to hear, but can't change my mind.

For a lot of reasons, it is time to move on.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wow that was fast

Yesterday I interviewed for a job I was interested in. The interview went well, and was not at all stressful or intimidating. I was told I would be notified by the end of the week if I was successful.

After freaking me out this afternoon by actually ringing the workmates I had nominated as referees, this evening I was offered the position.

I did not expect to be in this scenario so soon.

Pro's are better hours, less stress and less pressure, and more interest and more things to learn. The only con is somewhat less money.

If I don't take this opportunity, there may be some eternal 'what-if' style regret and or rueing the day.

Change feels good. Intimidating but good. Cool.

Also cool is this. Woo hoo!

Monday, June 25, 2007

How do you like this weather beeaatch?!

Clearly, I tempted fate when discussing the glorious non-suckage of Saturday's weather

Forecast for the Wellington area from the Metservice website:

Max: 8°C
Min: 3°C
Showers, possible sleet. Strong very cold southerlies.

Max: 9°C
Min: 6°C
Occasional showers. Strong very cold southerlies.

Observed Wind-Chill
Feels like -2 °C
4 layers of clothing are recommended to remain comfortable in these conditions

I am known for stoically accepting weather, but when it stops me from doing things I like and starts to affect my mood I have to draw the line. Still, we have had the shortest day of the year already. Summer here we come.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Weather confusion
The weather today was supposed to suck. As can be seen below, in Kelson at least, the weather clearly did not suck. There was a fairly cold wind in operation though.

However, looking south implied that some of the suckage operating down there at the moment was on its way. It didn't eventuate; tonight it is cold and clear. We in Wellington seem to be excempted from the usual pattern of cold fronts that come up the country at the moment. We have had one or two, but a few have been predicted to come storming up and then hit everywhere but Wellington.
How come big snowfalls in the South Island are such major news? The networks send people out to do live reports ("Whats it like out there?" "Its cold"), they find some cars sliding around to film, and some schoolkids who have a day off because the schools are closed. But guess what? They could recycle the reports from last year, and the year before that, and the year before that and no-one would notice, because this happens every year. In winter oddly enough.
I expect our Canadian to scoff at what passes for winter here when she arrives in a few weeks.

Sometimes the airshow comes to me

If NotKate insists on referring to me as a plane geek, then I have an expectation to live up to.

My normal morning on evening shift slumber on Tuesday was rudely interrupted by the echoing drone of an aircraft. A Wanganui Aero Work Ltd Cresco was topdressing (air dropping fertiliser) the farmland on the ridge across from us that forms part of Belmont Regional Park.
Naturally I got out of bed to watch. Topdressing is some of the most entertaining flying you are likely to see outside of an airshow. The requirements of the job mean that topdressers have to fly low, down valleys and over ridges, with tight turns to keep away from dangers and get back to the airstrip quickly to reload. The environment at low altitude is filled with hazards, like power lines and wires. In the picture below the Cresco is passing well behind the power pylon, but you get the idea.
Its not dangerous per se, but there is an elevated element of managed risk compared to other kinds of flying (there is a reason low flying is generally discouraged or avoided if not actually illegal in most places), and is highly unforgiving of mistakes. Its not like the aircraft is operating from a fully set up runway either. This one was heading back to a grass strip in the hills behind to reload after every pass.
In Rotorua we lived across the road from a farm, and one of my most vivid memories is of watching one of these (hows that for a fugly aeroplane! Also starred in "Mad Max 3 Beyond Thunderdome" if you've seen it) fly over my house so low after a topdressing run I thought it was going to take the roof off.

Being a nice sunny morning, I went into the park a little way for a closer look:

And returned to my car to find it covered in a very thin and even coat of super-phosphate fertiliser.

Topdressers are a routine sight in rural New Zealand, but aren't so common near the big cities.It was kinda fun to be able to watch one working on my doorstep.

By the way D3vo, the plane you jumped out of at Taupo is a descendant of the Cresco, hence the similar appearance if you noticed.

Being unusually out and about on a nice winters morning, I got a nice photo of mist filling the Hutt Valley below.
And a misty Wellington Harbour from the Maungaraki water tank.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back in a jiffy

Off-black will be off-air temporarily for a few days while we get some running repairs made to our computer thingy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Weird pizza

Listening to: Together in concert:live-Tim Finn, Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn.
Waitangi Day 2000, a group of cohorts and myself gathered into the mighty Triumph and headed up to Palmy to see this concert, supported ably by Betchadupa, Fur Patrol and Stellar. And lo, it was way cool, sitting in the sun on a hot summers day, and continuing on into the night enjoying good music.

From this mornings Dom Post, a flyer for new Domino's pizza flavours: Is it just me, or is Meat Pie (mince, gravy, onions, peas (!), tomato, topped with pastry and tomato sauce in case you were wondering), a really freaking weird pizza topping? Ewww. Not at all appetising. An Irish co-worker of mine commented that as a nation, NZ appears to be obsessed with the meat pie. I'm not sure what this implies.
Also, isn't "Fetta" supposed to be spelt "Feta"?
Still, the spicy chicken looks nice, even if it was generally agreed by my colleagues that Domino's is the least preferred pizza option available. 'Hell' appears most requested, with the late 'Eagle Boys' (formerly 'Stallones', bought out and replaced by Pizza Hut) coming a close second. The spicy chicken has black olives, which you generally can't go wrong with.
Wondering if comment like this is unwittingly part of Domino's marketing strategy.....


Went to our regular Wednesday night quiz fix at Murphy's Law tonight. It's a tough competition when you can score 92 out of 110 and still only come third. Still, there were only three of us in the team, so that makes us smarter on a per member average.


Seem to be having trouble controlling and editing font size. Reminds me of post defrost Austin Powers: I'm having trouble controlling the volume of my voice.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Corrupting Macy Gray

Listening to: Weezer-Weezer (the blue album)

In 1999 Macy Gray released "I Try", and it became a hit. You may know it.

The chorus goes something like this:

I try to say goodbye and I choke,
Try to walk away and I stumble,
Though I try to hide it, it's clear,
My world crumbles when you are not here.

However, if you are in Fish and Sam's presence, it tends to go something like this:

I try to say goodbye and I choke,
Try to walk away I blow bubbles,
Though I try to hide it, it's clear,
I blow bubbles when you are not here.

For full effect, sing it in a gravelly Yoda does karaoke after half a bottle of Jim Beam and a pack of cigarettes voice.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary

It's a dark and stormy night at Castle Kelson.

Well it is. It's night, and therefore dark, and there is a fair old northwesterly gale blowing about. Still, being a northerly, it is a warm wind, so it is not as cold as it should be.

I have the feeling winter is going to break any day now however.

Today is 6th of June. It is the 63rd anniversary of "Debarkation Day", more commonly referred to as "D-Day", or in more specific circles, "Operation Overlord". The largest seaborne invasion in history commenced as the Allies landed on French beaches to begin the liberation of Occupied Europe from Nazi rule.

As significant an event as that is, personally it pales in importance next to something that happened on the same day 26 years later.

In a church in Wellington, a wedding occured. Today is my parents 37th wedding anniversary. Having only been married myself 2 and a half years, that figure is both inspirational and almost unfathomable.

I don't even know if they read this blog but I would like to use this opportunity to say:
Cheers Mum and Dad! On ya!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Great Artist, Crap Song!

Listening to: Buffalo Tom-A-sides (the best of). Continuing my indy-ish alternative-ish lounging.

Just watched the top 10 of the above U-choose top 40, and once again find myself disagreeing with the picks, as is my wont.

That said, I can't really disagree with the Black Eyed Peas 'My Humps' being at number one, although for me you could put any Blacked Eyed Peas song at number one and I wouldn't care. I don't heart the Black Eyed Peas at all. Over-rated and over-hyped. Can't argue with 'St Anger' by Metallica placing highly either (number 3).

But Queen's 'Fat-Bottomed Girls' at number 2? Thats a frickin' great song! There are many way worse Queen songs than that (Like, I dunno, 'We are the Champions', 'Friends will be Friends', 'One Vision', actually pretty much half of the 'A kind of magic' album).

And 'Lemon' by U2 at number 9. I like 'Lemon'. Not the best U2 single ever ('The Fly' is a strong contender for that nomination), but not crap by any means. I would have nominated 'The Sweetest Thing'. Yerghh.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers creaked in to number 4 with 'Snow', which again isn't a terrible song, given that their last decent single was 'Can't Stop' (or what ever it is called). 'Aeroplane' or 'Rollercoaster' are better (worse) substitutes.

The Eminem song about arses featuring Triumph the Dog at number 5 was just plain weird.

As you do when watching this kind of thing, I started compiling my own least favourite songs by my favourite artists. I didn't get very far though. While my CD collection is large, I am choosy, so I tend to like almost everything I listen to. I also forget songs I don't like until I am listening to them, whereupon I immediately remember why I don't like them and skip to the next track.

'Daughter' by Pearl Jam. Average single off a great album, mediocrity enhanced by saturation radio play by conservative mainstream radio stations who wouldn't play any other Pearl Jam song ever (at a time when they could still be considered 'alternative'. Whatever that meant).

Tried to think of a bad Shihad song. Couldn't, even when including 'Pacifier'. A mediocre Shihad album is still a Shihad album.

Tried the Afghan Whigs. No luck there either.

'Take it Back' by Pink Floyd. Thats hardly sporting though, picking a crap song off 'The Division Bell' is like shooting fish in a barrel.

This could go on all night. But it won't. I may revisit it later.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Model silliness

Listening to: Better Than Ezra: Greatest Hits. Felt like listening to some alternative-ish indie-ish 90's rock tonight.

Making models of planes as I have done for umpteen years is a good way to learn almost completely irrelevant things about them. Below, left to right, is an A-4 Skyhawk, a MiG-25 Foxbat, and an Avro Vulcan, all in 1:72 scale.
One of the things noticed is that the Skyhawk is tiny for a combat plane, and the MiG is fairly huge. In fact, the planform of the Skyhawk will fit entirely inside that of the MiG. The Foxbat on the other hand, fits entirely within the Vulcan.
Ever wanted to see a Skyhawk stacked on a Foxbat stacked on a Vulcan? Now you have......
Sometimes I have too much time on my hands....

I quite like the Foxbat. It has an old school design brutality about it. Developed in the 60's by the Soviets to counter a high speed bomber the US tested but never put into service, it is a pure interceptor rather than a multirole fighter.

Everything about the way it looks shouts 'speed above everything else'. The wing is a simple thin slab (with no aerodynamic concessions to manouvreability), built for speed. The engines are huge and powerful, again for speed. Capable of flying at nearly 3 times the speed of sound it was the only thing that could come close to intercepting the near mythical SR-71 Blackbird reconnaisance aircraft. It was the inspiration for the 'Firefox' novel and movie.

I like it from a design point of view because it is completely uncompromised. It is designed to do one thing and one thing only.