Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday:almost Friday

Listening to: Glee - Bran Van 3000. Continuing a theme of listening to albums I haven't listened to for a while while blogging. This one totally reminds me of the summer of 1999-2000, and helping house sit with F+K. This and 'Dig your own hole' by the Chemical Brothers were on high rotate that summer, since I got them both for Christmas that year. Glee is an odd album, with lots of ideas (not all of them good) competing for space and your attention. 'Drinking in L.A. and 'Rainshine' are the standout songs (with 'L.A' being the most well known), but I had forgotten about the acoustic female vocal version of 'Cum on feel the noize' which works better than you might think.
Since this has taken a while to put together, also listening to Roofers - Breaks co-op from 1997 or so. A bit trip hoppy and break beaty, and utterly different from more recent and well known album 'The sound inside'.

Dark and Stormy day

Good weather is fine, but bad weather is much more interesting. We ventured out into the storm on Saturday to have a look around and hopefully get some good storm pics. You can be the judge of the latter. Safety was definitely first and caution was exercised. We missed the portion of high tide where waves were breaking on to the road, but there was still plenty of kelp to drive around.

Island Bay. There were some biiiig waves out there, big enough to stop the ferries sailing. Peak swell height recorded out in Cook Strait was somewhere around 14m / 45ft apparently.

South end of the runway at Wellington Airport. Click to enlarge and spot the two crazy people on the breakwater by the windsock.
People still there, now a bit wetter. I know the area where they are standing pretty well and they aren't in any particular danger, but not fancying a salt water bath I was quite happy to stay in the car.
I eat therefore I am
Charlotte has had her first attempt at self feeding. She knows what she wants to do, and has an idea of how, but the co-ordination isn't quite up to snuff yet......
it turned out to be easier to just smear the food onto the platter than rely on the bowl
...with perhaps inevtiable results (note abundance and surrounding-ness of towels)


Webcomic linky

Since I have been promising at least one of you readers for some time, here is the five part Firefly race from XKCD:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

If you haven't been exposed to this before, I thoroughly recommend exploring via the 'Prev' and 'Next' links. Hovering over the images will produce a caption of sorts.

Share and enjoy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Enjoying The Da Vinci Code

Listening to: Our time in Eden - 10,000 Maniacs.

Apologies to any fans of the book, but firstly I'll admit that the title of this post is something of a misnomer. I didn't enjoy reading the book, and only went to see the movie because Fi wanted to and I had nothing else to do. The book I found to be all action and no substance, with lots of exclamation points and things I was suposed to be amazed (or at least surprised) by, and frankly felt a little Scooby Doo (for lack of a better description and not in a good way). I am still not quite sure what all the fuss was about.

Being of the type to attend bookfairs, and browse the fiction category for my own finds, I have noticed 'The Da Vinci Code' is readily available second hand. So that got me thinking:

Ways to enjoy 'The Da Vinci Code' without having to read or buy it

You will need: A bookfair, and 2 or more players

Option 1 - Its all in the numbers
Players peruse the bookfair as normal, and count the number of copies of 'The Da Vinci Code' they come across. One point for each, with one extra point for each different edition sighted. Two extra points if it is in hardback, three extra if it is an audio book edition, 10 extra if it is an audio edition read by Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones.

Option 2 - The evidence is right in front of you
Players disperse to random points of the fiction section. Winner is the player who can see the most copies of 'The Da Vinci Code' from their location (can also be applied to sighting Starmarts on Queen Street in Auckland).

Option 3 - Collect the evidence.
Players gather as many copies of 'The Da Vinci Code' as they can find. Whoever can carry the most without being mistaken for a second-hand bookshop owner wins.

Option 4 - Scatter the evidence
Reposition any copies found so that they appear at regular intervals throughout the stock. At least one per row or box of books. This game is deemed won if a non player notes the distribution and suspects some sort of conspiracy. Expert players can determine the placement according to the fibonacci sequence.

Option 5 - The Gathering
This is more of a long term game that can be played over the course of several bookfairs. After a suitable central point is determined, players must return any copies of 'The Da Vinci Code' to that point. The aim is to find all copies and assemble them in one place, thus acheiving market saturation at the point of sale, or a critical mass, whichever comes first. Once a record is set, try and beat it at the next bookfair.

If for some reason (likely to be conspiratorial in nature), 'The Da Vinci Code' isn't present at a bookfair in signifcant numbers, substitute authors such as Wilbur Smith or Patricia Cornwell can be used.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

not quite friday

Listening to: Songs 1993-1998 - Moby. Another CD I haven't listened to in a while. 'God moving over the face of the water's is in my top five favourite instrumental tracks, and has been ever since it was used in the final scene and credits of 'Heat'

This post was intended to be a bit longer (and ironically about injuries), but typing with a couple of fingers taped together after spraining a finger last night (not actually realised at the time, although admittedly it was a little sore) is just too damned annoying.

I took a day off today to rest and immobilise it, since while 'QA Officer' is a grand title, it is essentially a secretarial position, with lots of writing and typing, which is a bit tricky with two fingers taped together, not to mention painful when you forget you have a finger you are not supposed to be using.

So I hung out with Charlotte all day, which was much more fun. I met her Linmark contact, went to Chirping Cherubs with her, and took her to school to watch mum run the school cross country, which is all weekday stuff I don't normally get to do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rescue service

Listening to: 40 Licks Disc 2 - The Rolling Stones. Drinking some kind of white wine.

Been playing with cropping and colour. Compressing for the blog trashes the resolution on these images; the originals are much finer:

Angle is nice and dramatic, but not exactly filling the frame (anyone got a spare $2500 I can drop on a decent longer lens?), and a little dark due to me not quite having got the hang of exposure settings yet.
Cropped to emphasise the angle, kept a bit of ground for an attitude reference and lightened a little
Not a terrible original, little dark again, and shutter slightly too fast meaning prop blur is minimal, although the airframe is nice and sharp.
Cropped and lightened, moves the cockpit right into the frame centre and pops out the markings a bit.
Plain off centre, although I was performing a nice pirouette as I panned the camera. This is almost looking over my left shoulder.
Fixed.

Aside from not needing to buy, cart around, look after, and develop film, being able to edit and manipulate on your own is the most useful aspect of the digital SLR. Haven't got it fully sussed yet. This is the second airshow season I have shot with the digital camera, but it was only in the latter part of this season I started to figure out how to use the thing really effectively. There are noticeable improvements in this years shots compared to last years, and I cringe a little when I look at some of my older stuff. No doubt I will look at these sometime later in the same light.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book season

Listening to: Boys for Pele - Tori Amos. Haven't listened to this in a long long time. A bit of rediscovery is in order.

As the Airshow season ends, so the bookfair begins. I like reading, always have, and bookfairs are an excellent place to score fresh material. Apart from the library sale, the first big fair of the season is the Bookfest in Upper Hutt, with smaller fairs dotted around the winter, culminating in the season finale second hand orgy that is the Downtown Community Ministry fair on the waterfront in September. Sometimes the fairs can be spectacles in themselves, as summarised in this post by the able judge, but the best thing is browsing without knowing quite what you will find, even if you can't find the particular book you were looking for (yes, I hunt for specifics as well as gather).

Biggest score from the Upper Hutt fair two weeks ago was this, for the princely sum of $4:
The day in question was in 1987, when the Cold War was still very much a going concern, and mystery about life on the other side was still rife. No-one at the time had any idea that the whole enterprise would come tumbling down four years later, but the new policies of Glasnost and Perestroika put in place by a certain Mr Gorbachev were hinting that things might be changing. Given that the Cold War was prominent in my childhood, I find this sort of stuff immensely interesting.

Occasionally due to the nature of the books, some unexpected items are found within:
I think this book was bought in Australia as a gift for a girlfriend. The card and paper are by a then prominent Australian artist, and the beautiful (seriously) inscription in the card mentions a trip to the country. What happened to you 'Princess' and 'Froggy'? How did your life together work out I wonder?
There are some great and revealing pictures in the book, but this from a Soviet maternity ward is my fave:

Also interesting in my childhood (and now) were volcanoes, and scored for the sum of $1 was this little book:
Despite the somewhat strange title, this is a really neat little guide to the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes.
Its 25 years old, so doesn't include the most recent eruptions, but has a ton of interesting information about the geology involved. And lots of pretty picures of past events:
It will make the Tongariro crossing even more interesting when I do it eventually (next summer hopefully. At the third attempt. Stupid mountain weather).

Getting an honourable mention is the Usborne Mysteries of the Unknown omnibus. Originally published as three volumes (two of which found their way to my sisters), I devoured these as a child, fuelling a continuing fascination with the unexplained:
I mean, how can you go past gatefolds like these?
A lot of effort went into making these things look good (without a hint of sarcasm). These are quality publications, even at 30 years old.
They were originally published in 1977, which I remember thinking was a long time ago when I first encountered these books in 1983 or so. Endearingly, the UFO volume makes no mention of Roswell, or any hint of cover up or conspiracy, bless its sweet little heart. I'll have to find modern day equivalents for Charlotte when she is old enough to read them. Or she can just read these.

Also they make a great companion for this from the same era and publisher, which I picked up at a fair last year:
I love how colour pictures are advertised as a selling point. Does it have experiments? Yes, lots. Did I try them all as a child? You bet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top of the table

Netball was more interesting than usual last night. Ever since the centres started posting their points ladders and draws on line, the statisticians in the team have had a field day, as well as drawing useful information about the nights opposition.

Mostly useful anyway. Last night my current Monday night team 'Artless Zen' (occasionally known as 'The mighty Zen' encountered the top of the table 'Silver Perms' (the randomness of social Indoor Netball team names hasn't really gotten old yet, even after 13 years (Crikey!) in the game).

I often partake in a little on line research before the game to get an idea of form, and figure out what sort of game we might expect, which is probably counter productive when an 'easy' team turns out to be 'hard' due to false expectations, but satisfies idle curiosity anyway. Also I tend to remember what the other teams in our grade were like the last time we played them without recourse to the internet.

The Perms though were a mystery in the latter regard, since we hadn't played them yet this season. They had however beaten every other team in the grade, and averaged a respectable 40ish points per game in the process. Zen on the other hand had only lost one game so far, but had lots of narrow (by less than 6 point) wins. Knowing that this was a top of the table game added a certain frisson to things. I don't take the game as seriously as I used to, but I still like to win. On paper our opposition looked intimidating

Further frissonage was added courtside when they turned up for the game. You can get a rough idea about how clued up and good a team is by checking them out before the game. They looked good, and I wasn't too confident about our chances of victory. My normal underrating of myself added to the feeling - "they look like better players than me" etc etc.

So we get the game started, and it was a bit messy. Both teams defended well, but their offenses took a little time to get organised. Meanwhile I realised early on that while the guy I was marking looked capable (and was) I could mark him out of the game most of the time. The first chink in the armour of formidability was noted. They were also going for 2 shots and missing, and fouling a lot in the circle.

A little later on I noticed we were going point for point and I thought "hey these guys aren't as good as I expected". The chink was turning into a crack. Far from adding to the oppositions list of victories, we were competing, and leading a lot of the time.

That changed in the third quarter though when they started landing some 2's and lifted their game a little, and opened up a 5 point lead and I thought "this is why they are top of the table". We weren't landing our 2's, and the game was slowly being taken away from us. We were staying in touch though by ticking over the 1's nearly everytime we got the ball to the circle.

Still, at the start of the last quarter we were still four points down and I thought "We can make that up but its an ask the way they are scoring at the other end" and resolved to lift my game a bit and play as hard as I could to the end of the game. Turns out the rest of my team had the same idea, and basically shut the opposition 2 point shooters down. With them missing, the game was anyone's. We took the lead with about a minute to go, and looked good to extend it only to lose the ball and go level with about 30 seconds to go. The last thirty seconds passed with a wild combination of dropped passes, fumbled ball, missed shots, everybody yelling advice and encouragement (including other teams in our grade on adjacent courts who had finished before us and were watching) before the game ended.

In a draw. We could have won, we didn't win, but we didn't lose either, and I am happy enough with being in the only team the Perms haven't beaten this season, holding them to one of their lowest scores of the season in the process. Plus I know that they are very beatable now, which is good since I think we will be rematching in a final not too long from now. Looking forward to it.

****

Exemplifying the randomness, here are some of the Indoor Netball team names I have played for over the years. I can't begin to remember them all:

Fully Flavoured (named after something read on a beer label), The Ramons, Artless Zen, Random, The Screaming Orgasms, Suspect, Spahtanz, Teachers Pet, I Pity The Fool, Sparkle Motion, Tigers go Grrr, Guns go Bang, Cows go Moo, Balls on Top.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lazy

Listening to: Twilight - The Twilight Singers. The first solo project / offshoot album by Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli. Its a few years old now, but I haven't listened to it for a while. I started randomly humming a melody from the album at netball tonight, so put it on when I got home. Still a good listen, recommended to Whigs fans.

Bit of a lazy post this one. I have more extensive and expansive posts planned, but they require some research and preparation, and time, which I haven't been able to apply in the past couple of weeks.

So this will just be some disjointed ramblings instead.

-Cutesy baby pic!
I mean, how lazy is that? Instead of mentally exerting to come up with something coherent, elegant and profound, I almost cynically exploit my daughters cuteness instead. Cute babies are surefire crowd pleasers though.

This was taken last week when we were both home sick with colds. Charlotte is at the stage where she has reasoned that her feet are attached to her body along with her hands, and that the latter can be used to grasp the former, something which I have always unaccountably found adorable. She is only grasping one at a time at the moment; the super cuteness knockout blow of grasping both and then rolling around the floor remains on her 'to do' list. Along with crawling, although the concept that legs are load bearing structures, and can be used for motivation is clearly taking root, even if the skill hasn't been perfected yet.

-I was going to say quite unmoderated and intemperate things about New Zealand Music Month earlier in the week, but thought it through and got a bit more reasonable. I suppose it has its place, but after 9 years I am not sure it is relevant anymore. It certainly didn't get me thinking about listening to or buying more New Zealand music. I have always chosen based on what I liked rather than when it was made, and have always listened to a reasonable proportion of local product. NZ Music month feels to me at the moment like an officially mandated expression of massive insecurity as a people, somewhat inelegantly touched upon in this blog post here. I mean, do record stores in other countries have sections purely devoted to local product like they do here? If you can't find an artist in the general section, you can look again in the NZ section. It feels a bit sheltered.

-This Blog here (yes I am still reading stuff, in spite of the massively ill thought out and unpopular site redesign) reminded that while I am thrilled at the success of Flight of The Conchords (and can in fact namedrop by saying that Bret Mckenzie occasionally spectates at my indoor netball centre. In person even), and enjoy them very much, I am glad that they are ending the TV show after two series. Its a smart and positive thing to do, preventing sameness and stalety (is that even a word?) stifling the talent. I'm also feeling a bit saturated, especially since I have been hearing about them for years now, ever since Channel Z started playing some of their early material, almost to the point of being a bit over the whole thing. I look forward to whatever the Conchords do next.
Also providing entertainment is the comments thread on the post as it steadily unravels.

-I was trying to get this done by midnight so it would appear under Wednesdays header than Thursdays, thus making it just under a week between posts rather than an actual week. Obviously, fail.

-The lightshow this morning was fun, even if a little too early. Why can't thunderstorms be limited to reasonable hours, say between 8 am and midnight, never when I am working and always when I can get out too watch? I am still keen to try and photograph lightning. Unfortunately, due to the local geography, lightning isn't all that common in Wellington, which explains why a mere thunderstorm can make national headlines.

Only five ramblings then, not even half a dozen. Still, it does qualify as 'some'