Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Harsh words about Cloverfield

Listening to: The rats munching on something

A potentially great movie spoiled by its cinematography. I watched less than half of it and was still nauseated, not from the content, but from the way it was constantly moving in random directions. Honestly, I took preventer medication before attempting to view, and it didn't do any good.

Note to budding directors. Filming your whole movie this way is damn annoying for anyone with the slightest susceptibility to motion sickness, and I'd go as far as saying it is more than a little pretentious.

I acknowledge it provides authenticity, but frankly what is the point of filming something that people can't watch? I feel like there is a joke and I'm missing the punchline.

Much more temperate comment on the film here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Listening to: An eclectic assortment from the computers media library, a legacy of all the comps I have made on this machine

Back in August I wrote this post about a quiz heading south. It has apparently recovered, but I think we are still in the off season.

Now the weekly staff social quiz is rapidly heading the same way. And I think it is my fault.

At work every Thursday lunch, as many staff as can gather in the lunch room for a quiz, department versus department. Department scores are accumulated on a table over a period of months. Now I am told before I started working there in August, my team did okay, with a high turnout maintaining a good average. And I am also told that after I turned up, we then started blitzing everybody fairly regularly.

We won last year fairly comfortably, and I hear not without some resentment directed my way (you know, the conversations about you you wish you could hear, but cannot for obvious reasons. Anyway, I have my sources).

So this year the organisation has been changed. Instead of averaging individual scores, now each department submits one answer sheet, and hence one score. I think I know exactly why this change was made and I don't appreciate it, as it smacks of sour grapes. Personal opinion aside, it is actually sensible, as it encourages the less trivially inclined to participate.

Except for one flaw.

When the week results are posted, next weeks topic is also posted. This ordinarily wouldn't be a problem, except that some departmental pride was damaged so much that extraordinary measures are now being taken to restore face.

Instead of crosswords and conversation, a look around the lunch room now reveals people and teams frantically swotting for the week, and the computer room also regularly features folk googling instead of actually doing their jobs. I even caught one guy taking a picture of a map with his cellphone.

Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?

We are talking about a social lunchtime quiz intended for the purposes of entertainment. You swot for tests.

Naturally the teams that are doing the swotting are now cleaning up. My team, which categorically refuse to swot (we are resolutely united on this) on principle, is not doing so well anymore. Meh. If I want to spend my breaks studying I'll go back to uni (which is ironic, given I never actually attended uni, but you get the idea).

Even if we were inclined to study, we don't have the time, being a small and busy crew. So the new arrangement, apart from favouring larger teams anyway, is favouring the less busy, allowing members to specialise (Actual quote from prior to todays geography quiz-"I'm specialising in Asia. The others have a continent each").


This is not a quiz anymore. It is a test. If it wasn't a team thing I wouldn't bother turning up. My involvement in social quizzes has never been about winning. I like winning sure, but finding out what I know and what I don't, and learning new stuff has always been the motivation. I didn't even study before my gameshow appearance.

Boning up on a topic beforehand for a social thing entirely defeats the purpose as far as I can see. It's about how much you know, not how much time you have to spare at work.

Other things pissing me off right now

Stupid pedestrians
Here in Lower Hutt we have a number of shared cycle/footways, particularly along the flood protection works either side of the river. They are great, mainly as there are no mechanised vehicles present of any kind to accidentally kill you. However, some of the foot folk are almost as bad. The ones who cross the path while not looking up or left and right at all. The ones who resent your very presence, and give you dirty looks as you ride by. The ones who have no understanding about the laws of momentum. The ones who think you somehow are placing them at risk by riding by on the verge (often on the edge of a precipitous slope) rather than brushing past them. The ones who refute common sense to assume pedestrian right of way at all times (like the ones who assume you are waiting at one end of the narrow Ava bridge to let them on, rather than because there is someone coming the other way and you won't fit. Happened yesterday, bunch of power walkers strode straight past me as I waited. What did they think I was enjoying the view? They soon figured out I wasn't).

I ride defensively, and now see pedestrians as potentially dangerous moving obstacles rather than people. I ride defensively anyway, I came off and hurt myself enough times when I rode as a teenager to figure out that 1) it is unpleasant, and 2) there are ways to avoid it.

Big ups to all the footfolk and other riders who say hello and offer friendly acknowledgement. I like you guys.

Willy wavers on my hill
To all the various hoons, boy racers and 'car enthusiasts' who race up and down my hill.
Your noisy exhaust and booming bass do not impress me. They just alienate someone who might have been sympathetic to your views. The police have been staking out our patch of street lately and I have welcomed them. Speeding up or down a hill at 70 or 80 KPH in a 50 zone is not rebellious, adventurous, alternative or impressive. It is dangerous, not really to you, but to anyone unfortunate enough to get in your way when your ego commands something your skill and experience cannot provide.
I know this sounds old codgerish, but I have my reasons.
I do not understand habitual speeding. Never have, and having narrowly survived a serious car accident caused by it, I don't think I ever will.

I hate 'reality based' detective show CSI for a bunch of reasons, but the biggest one right now is expectation.

CSI raises peoples expectation of lab capabilities vis a vis work speed and swiftness of obtaining results to a wholly unrealistic and professionally frustrating degree.
This is apparently becoming a real problem in the US. Real lab work is almost nothing like CSI.
Working in a testing lab, I think that some clients feel we just plug a sample into a machine, or put a few drops of magic substance onto something, and get instant results, or at least within the hour. How else to explain (actual work experience here) getting a 10g sample that will need to be split for or five ways, each split normally requiring 25g? Or clients calling wanting next day results for a test that lasts for five days?

And the science displayed on the show is pretty ordinary, the problem being that is is packaged to make it look like good science, which it is not. It is entertainment, which some people apparently lack the wit to understand.

Example of good scientific method on TV? Mythbusters.

Having to be switched on all the time
Feeling like I have to look for other motives and angles to every damn news story there is, in an endless quest for the 'truth', whatever that is.

Tragically hip people hyping tragically hip things
Like whoever thought that Little Bushman would be a great warm up act for Don Mcglashan at Civic Square the other week. Way to alienate a crowd. But then Little Bushman is apparently the act you must get into right now, as all the cool people who decide if you are cool or not are into them, in some circles anyway. I'm being honest, this is how the hype feels. I thought they were miscast, sod all stage presence, long slow meandering and at times self indulgent pieces. Right time and place and I'm into this sort of thing, but not then.

I hate being told what to like.

Having to constantly play down my interests and hobbies for risk of being mocked by people who apparently have none.
Getting a cheap thrill by calling me a nerd or geek gets old for the recipient of your 'humour'. It's not funny. It is insulting. I often say this for them, just to get it out of the way and make them feel better about themselves.

The 'Scientific research' argument for whaling
Does anyone believe this crap? Do the Japanese whalers believe it? Do they care? Really, if they came clean and admitted it was bullshit, I for one would respect them a little more, if not agreeing with them.

"The Skyhawks are going to be sold any day now, we are just waiting for state department approval" continuing debacle of farce and mirth. 6 years and counting.
Whatever. I have very good sources on this. Those jets are highly unlikely to fly again, for anybody. The government needs to man up and admit it, which would enable them to use the Macchi trainers, which have never stopped flying, to be re-instated and employed for something actually useful, like training pilots and units of the army and navy, rather than just wasting fuel and making holes in the sky around the Manawatu. The taxpayer is funding it either way. Would also save the groundies having to shove them all in a hangar on open days lest joe public see them and ask embarrassing questions.

Drivers who use the cycle lane as a slip road at the southbound Melling motorway exit
You are going to kill someone one day. I cannot use that cycle lane, as I don't want it to be me.

The continuing obsession with Britney Spears
Who cares? Let the poor girl live her life! I actually feel sorry for her.

Obsession with TV in general
There is more to life than a glowing box in the corner. It is possible to not arrange your life around it.

Never having enough time to do all the things I want to do.
Like Blog.

Exhale. I think I'm ready for hypnosis now.

Monday, January 21, 2008


27 Degrees in the shade.

Summer makes winter worthwhile.

Although I fear we will melt at netball tonight, where it will be considerably warmer.


It was considerably warmer at netball, conservatively I would estimate the on court temperature to be in the region of 25-30 degrees, and extremely humid, this at 9:40 at night. Technically you should be already sweating at the start of the game, and we were, but usually this requires a warm up first. Fitter than our opposition at any rate, we could still sprint at the end of the game and they couldn't, so we ran out comfortably winning after a very close first half.

There is absolutely no wind up here tonight. I have just checked the outside thermometer and it is still showing 21 degrees at 11:00pm, with light drizzle falling.

It feels like the calm before the storm, which given tomorrows weather forecast, it probably is. Something about a decaying tropical cyclone (now just a nasty depression) according to the weather boffins.

Should be fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Welcome to this one man show

Listening to: Greatest Hits-The Police

The Police concert was ppppprrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmooooooo.
Just awesome, Best stadium gig I have been to since the U2 ZooTV tour.

I didn't start listening to The Police until 1990 or so (although I have a clear memory of hearing 'Every little thing she does is magic' drifting across the water from a yacht moored in the northern Waitemata harbour in Auckland while we explored the old flying boat ramps at Hobsonville one still summer evening in 1985), and by that time they had ceased to be a recording and touring entity several years earlier, under such reportedly acrimonious circumstances that talk of a reunion fell into the 'never' category.

I never expected the opportunity to see them live, let alone in my home town, but here we are.

After my mandatory merch hunt on arrival, Rich, Anna and I settled in, only to be promptly given a free upgrade to stand seats closer to the stage.

Opening act Fictionplane were competent enough to warrant further investigation, but I can't say much more, other than the lead singer has very good teeth.

In a warm-up/main combination that has been defying my comprehension since it was announced, Fergie then arrived (yep, that Fergie). She bounced through a set that seemed to consist mainly of medleys of other peoples songs, although the cover of Heart's 'Barracuda' actually wasn't that bad.

Then the Police arrived, to the sounds of Bob Marley's 'Get up, stand up', which considering the crowd in the expensive seats at the front had been constantly reminded to remain seated, I thought was a pretty smooth move. The crowd thus got up and stood up, rendering the security guards powerless.

'Message in a bottle' opened the show, reminding me how much I like that particular riff (I forget these things periodically), but it wasn't until second song 'Synchronicity II' that the full stage and lighting rig was employed, and it was pretty damn cool.

Gordon Sumner looks pretty good with a beard, with a passing resemblance to Wofgang West from 'Outrageous Fortune'.

Observation 2:
Stuart Copeland, in addition to being heavily involved in composing music for the Spyro Playstation series, could be mistaken in a dark alley for one Andrew Loughnan, although I'm not sure how happy either would be with the comparison.

Observation 3:
I had never before realised just how important Andy Summers is to the overall distinctiveness of the bands sound.

All of the classics came out, as well as a few album tracks. Most were re-worked in some way, I really liked the amped up version of 'Invisible Sun', and the slightly pared version of 'Wrapped around your finger', which saw Copeland dashing between two drum kits, one conventional, and one semi orchestral (including timpanis and a very large gong). Perhaps mercifully, and certainly appropriately, Sting's solo work was ignored. When 'So Lonely' was played during the first encore my night was complete. The band seemed to be having a good time, unlike other gigs I could name (anyone else remember Soundgarden's last Welly gig?), and so did the crowd.
Rich made the astute observation that they sound like there are more than just three members.
It was an excellent way to relive times when everyone involved was a lot younger, although it was cool to see a lot of kids there as well (reminding me of New Order's set at the BDO a few years ago).

I just missed out on getting tickets for Billy Bragg at the San Fran last night, and it would have been a really cool contrast, an intimate pub gig one night, and a no limits stadium bash the next.

It was way cool.

Well worth missing the Big Day Out for at any rate. Although any radio station that even mentions the BDO tomorrow will be swiftly detuned. I hate hearing DJ's blather on about a gig you can't be at.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I was going to write this post about people I know that I would like to see naked, but rather than begin an intimate relationship with Pandora, I thought it would be safer to put up some more recent photos instead.

Wellington City and the Oriental Bay fountain on a still summer morning. Cool reflections.

Christmas at our place was very crowded.....
Ominous looking cumulonimbus cloud about to dump hail all over Upper Hutt on Boxing Day.
Trees in the cloud above the Botanical Gardens
Airborne bubbles are very hard to photograph......
Quite unlike mirror balls.
Avenue from the soundshell to the duck pond, Botanical Gardens lit up for summer festival.
Flower Bed, with decorative portaloos in the background.
Abandoned house, Hokio Beach.
Sky reflected on wet sand, Hokio beach.
Track left by turning trail bike, Hokio Beach
New Years fireworks

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Years proper

Listening to: Split Enz-Spellbound disc 2

I took heaps of photos over the Christmas and New year period. What else to do but put them on a blog? Or something. The better ones will be printed. More to come up here over the next few days.

Anyway, Fi and I got up to Hokio mid afternoon on the 30th. Too early as it turned out, as we preceded the hosts by a few hours. In the meantime, in the car outside the bach, a girl reads her book and waits.....
In the evening, the ancient and gentle martial art of dune running was practiced, with varying degrees of skill and success.
Those who chose to wear sneakers paid for it by having them filled with sand.
Come the 31st, and the place had filled somewhat. The afternoon was enjoyed sitting in the sun, drinking wine and beer, and enjoying good company.
With all due ritual and ceremony, as evening approached the draw was made to decide the matchups for the dune running competition.....
And then battle commenced.
Sometime later, after the victor was decided, and jolly good fun was had, folk headed to the shoreline for sunset and frisbees.
Last sunset of 2007, which Fi and I celebrated by going for a swim as the sun sank into the ocean.
Sunset done, it was time to head back to the bach and get the party underway properly. I was concerned that we might not have a stereo, so we brought one with us. You can see it below the mixing desk for the stereo that Damon brought.......
There was dancing......
Total fire ban notwithstanding, fireworks were enjoyed on the road at midnight.
The night went on until 4am or so, as gradually people retired to bed. By morning the lounge looked quite different

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Chinooks New Year experience

Listening to: The Stone Roses-The Stone Roses. The eponymous first album. Look it up if you don't know what that means.

To the previous post, to clear up any confusion caused by my last 'Listening to' selection, the wikipedia entry for Robbie Robertson's album (link). Hope that clears that up.

Anyway, onto Chinook.

He was gifted to us by Lauren, and I can't remember if he is a Wolf or a Husky, but definitely canine, and certainly Canadian.

Having travelled so far to get here, I thought a trip to the beach for New Years (Hokio Beach, west of Levin in the lower North Island to be precise) was warranted so that he might see some of his new homeland.

Like all dogs, he likes to see where the car is going. It's his favourite, along with about a thousand other things
On arrival, he did some touristing, and posed with the bewildering array of local signage (click pic to enlarge......)
However, like most of the other guests, he soon settled down with a book from the extensive bach library and some munchies to while away the afternoon before the party got started.
He tried his paws on the decks, but found not having opposable thumbs held him back a little, so handed the reins back to D3v0 and Malc.
Being from a place where winters get properly cold, he soon found a spot he was comfortable with.
Unfortunately however with not unpredictable results the next morning
To refresh for the drive home, some chillaxing on the beach in the morning sun was called for.
Happy New year peeps
More pics in the next few days........

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Listening to: Robbie Robertson-Robbie Robertson
Last achievement of last year:
Unexpectedly winning the downhill dune running competition at the New Years party.

First achievement of this year:
Riding my new bike to work today. And riding it all the way home. All the way, only stopping twice for air. If you know where I live you will understand what this means (for the rest of you I live on a big hill).

In tomorrows edition:
Chinook the Canadian Canines New Year experience, and other seasonal pics.