Take the Scenic Route

Monday, May 30, 2005

Where can I get one?

OK, so some old internet jokes just never grow old. Kind of related to my prior CSI-bitching, those shows are so guilty of a lot of this stuff.

  • You never have to use the space-bar when typing long sentences.

  • Movie characters never make typing mistakes, even though what they type often doesn't show up on the monitor.

  • Advanced computers have easy-to-understand graphical interfaces.

  • Error messages make sense.

  • Computers beep randomly between keystrokes, when Enter is pressed, or when the screen changes.

  • Some computers slow down the output on the screen, so it doesn't go faster than can be read.

  • Really advanced computers produce the sound of a dot-matrix printer as characters scroll horizontally across the display.

And then the CSI-specific ones.
  • No matter how esoteric their requirements are, somebody has always designed a program to complete the task.

  • Further, unlike in science where the utility is a small buggy program[1] built in some obscure language, on CSI, they're bug-free, fast, and have imaculate user interfaces.

  • You can zoom in or out of a graphic image with no loss or change of resolution and detail (or in the case of CSI, the computer has an "enhance" function).

[1] I have nothing but the utmost respect for all the helpful people who have written such programs that have helped me with my work. However, very frequently it takes a good long time to re-format my data, and get the hang of the obscure switches for little things which invariably run in DOS, if at all.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I feel like I've been watching a bit much suboptimal tv lately. And especially with repeat watchings of shows that don't work so cohesively, but have at least one great feature.

And yes, that means I watch House almost exclusively to see Hugh Laurie being sarcastic. It still doesn't seem old. It's a funny juxtaposition, however, hearing him on some nappy ad, being effusive and anything but sarcastic. Speaking of voiceovers, Stephen Fry (The Voice of The Book) is also currently on some inane ad doing a voiceover, but does make great fun for parodying it, HHGTG styles.

The thing which irritates me about House, the CSI menagerie, and a few others, is the apparently lack of specialisation, and their conductance of tasks outside of their brief (like forensic experts conducting interviews). Last night on House, there was a neurologist, and two other specialists (but no radiologist, or even a radiation tech) personally conducting a CAT scan, just to check for metal implants before an MRI (so it's not even like they were watching a diagnostic test). The marvellous, recently departed Green Wing had an excellent and novel solution to such issues. It dispensed entirely with the need to incorporate patients, or really any medical subplots, into a hospital drama. No doubt aided by a couple of cast members of Black Books, and presumably the same muso behind the theme & incidental music.

The one crime show that doesn't bore me is Criminal Intent, perhaps partly because while the lead characters are not persona-less, they're for the most part subservient to the plot, not litte sub-plots in and of themselves. It's also possible that the psychological aspect appeals to me...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cooperative Gardening

I've been pretty sick of late, and to boost my Vitamin C intake, I've started eating the grapefruit off the tree in the bottom of the garden. Later, I realised that seeing as I was making Lemon & Honey drinks with lemon from a squirty bottle, that it might pay to inspect my lemon tree. So, in due course, I'm now having Lemon & Honey with home-grown lemons.
Recently, a person of my acquaintance was commenting on their unwillingness to buy feijoas, on the basis that, at home, they had an unlimited free supply from a neighbour's tree. This rings true with me. I've never yet stumped up money for rhubarb. $2 for a piddly little bunch doesn't seem worth the hassle.
So today I was down the bottom of the garden, and I've known for a little while that I have two feijoa trees (after I learnt to distinguish them from pohutukawa). So, as I was looking at them, I noticed that it was actually bearing fruit. Not dead ripe, but pretty close. At this point, I decided it was probably about time I gave all my random fruiting plants a good inspection. The one I suspect is a mandarin is bare (although it does appear to have some possibles for next autumn), the grape-vine is bare. The olives, having done pretty well last year, have shed all their immature fruit. But the other bloody feijoa, the bigger one, is also bearing fruit. This somewhat surprised me, as I'd always figured the reason for having two was that one was male and one was female. However, it seems there's some cooperative gardening going down. As I can see a big feijoa two properties over, the male is elsewhere*.

* However, there is some small chance that both my trees are self fertile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Year, eh?

I'd kind of figured that it must be coming up soon, but it turns out that it's a year and two days since I last graduated, today. This might not seem to significant, except that graduations are on Saturday, so Grad+2=Monday, and strange things sometimes happen on the Monday's after graduation. In 2000, I lost the shoulder length hair I'd been sporting since '92 or '93. Last year, on that fateful Monday, I started a job, this job, an actual job. Or at least, as much of an actual job as I've ever had. Some of you may claim that this job doesn't count, or might make humourous comments and aspersions between the perceived relationship between 'me' and 'job' and 'work' and 'working', but I choose to ignore you. A year, eh?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Garden(s) Implementation

OK, so maybe I'm being a bit old fashioned, but whatever happened to leaf-rakes? Everywhere these days they seem to be swinging little petrol powered blowers. I can kind of see how they're probably quicker on dry hard surfaces like concrete, but I just witnessed someone using on on grass. And I swear it would have been quicker and more environmentally friendly to use a plain old leaf-rake.

Which brings me to the first Garden Implement Olympiad some many summers ago now. Among the glorious events, such as the Lawn-Mowing Marathon and Baby Poo Pool[1], was Leaf-Rake Javelin. Initially it was all about distance, but after a while an accuracy component was added, whereby you were supposed to try to hit a duck. Much hysteria ensued the day someone almost did. I'm not sure who was more surprised: us, or the duck. If you're concerned about the welfare of said Leaf-Rakes, I'm sure that raking gravel paths (surely not their intended purpose) was worse. Either way, I think the were purchased in gross (that's a dozen dozen) cartons, at under a dollar a piece.

[1] Actually, it was more like, Retrieve the Baby Poo/Dead Hedgehog etc. from the Paddling Pool, but that was never my job. Although on very hot days, I almost wished that it was.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

It Didn't Rain on My Parade...

I don't know how many graduation parades I've been to, but it must be well over 20 I think. They still choke me up. And I'm sure it's not just the bagpipes that pull the heartstrings.

Pity about the raining (or light drizzle) on the parade, but Matt, along with Rhi (an old officemate, and the person who patiently checked all my pages were in order one fateful Monday afternoon) both looked happy, and as good as you can under the maroon circumstance.

And now Straitjacket Fits tonight. *sigh*
By various accounts, it should be one of the top aural events of the year.

Maroon Five/Two/Too

Matt's back in town for the ritual humiliation, brought to the world by the colour maroon and the hat John Knox. So we went out for a spendiferous dinner last at the French cafe. Well, mostly splendiferous. The venison was svensational[1]. A marked improvement on their old venison dish, which involved some french word which basically meant paper thin slices of venison, which weren't too satisfying. However, the coffee was the single worst I think I've had in Dunedin, and wouldn't have been too out of place in a small town tearooms advertising "cappacino". Even after about 30minutes, it was still bordering on too hot. I did eventually try some, and it had all the kind of delicious rotten wood flavours that were mercifully absent in the Coleraine[2].

All in all a great night. Unfortunately, there was a rather gloomy incident on the way home. I was waiting for a taxi at a certain taxi stand outside a certain bar that used to be a different bar that was a lot better than the bar that it currently is. It also happens to be the taxi stand where there was a fight a few weeks ago, allegedly over a taxi. One of those involved died a few days later, from head injuries sustained in the fight.

So you'd think people might be a little bit more circumspect, especially on that stretch of footpath. So I was rather depressed to see a guy who was visibly identifiable as being of a different ethnicity being approached, abused, and shoved about said ethnicity. Perhaps something about "What are you doing in my country". Really touching stuff tough guy.

Luckily the other guy was under no misapprehensions about what to do in the situation, and found the bowed head/walk away response eventually worked.

Apart from that it was a good night.

[1] Svensational. n. Having the property of being reminiscent of Sven (or the blonde pigtailed female equivalent), and that time in the Sauna with the vodka and birch branches...
[2] I might be slightly off on the vintage. I didn't see the bottles before they were decanted, but the age of 11 was being bandied around...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Touch of Pink Frost...

Another sunny day, another frost in the valley.

And not so much Pink Frost, as Pink Warmth ...

Over the weekend, I started insulating the ceiling. I'd been getting frustrated that after a crisp sunny day, and arriving home to warm house, the heat would dissipate over the evening. Similarly, on wet or cloudy days, it seemed that the fire had to be set to at least "mild inferno" to maintain a reasonable sort of living temperature, and "high inferno" to get it up to temperature in the first place. Plus, being a greenie sort of scotsman type person, there's a part of me that dislikes spending too much money on electricity, or burning too much wood.

So anyway, installing Pink Batts is one of the single most unpleasant things I've ever done. Roof cavities generally suck, because they're cramped, dusty, and either too hot or too cold. In this case, too hot, especially when you're wearing a dust mask, long sleeves, and long pants, to keep the miserable little bits of fiberglass out of your person. I have bruised on my knees, hips, hip-joint, and on my bottom rib from sliding round enclosed spaces on hard pieces of wood, and aching muscles from being contorted into odd positions. It's probably also not an advisable past time if you're claustrophobic. At one point, I'd squeezed into a particularly tight space, and basically couldn't move most of my body in any direction, when I came face to face with a Rat. Fortunately, it was dead and dessicated, but still a little traumatizing. The other annoying thing, as you crawl in and out of funny spaces is the number of times that you hit your head/elbow/knee on something. Or, also pretty fun, when you have lots of bits of broken fibreglass inside your clothes, and you're then sliding round, rubbing it into your skin. Kind of like (surf)board rash, but glass is sharper than sand, and tends to get into your skin.

However, apart from being fabulously unpleasant, the living area seems to hold its heat a lot better. Now I just have to get psyched up to do the rest of the house.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Touch of Frost...

Another merit of living up a hill that I somehow missed, is the ability of cold air to congregate at the bottom of the hill. This is beautifully illustrated by the fact that I've seen two frosts so far this year, but didn't get to experience my first until I was walking through the botanic gardens on my way to work. And from the deck, I can see the frost line running across the hill on the other side. Unfortunately, there was also the reverse merit two Sundays ago, when the hail that had fallen over night was still lying on the ground up the hill but not down...

It's also a little illustrative, in that the bottom of the valley is a bit like a scale model of Christchurch, except with less gang members and more culture. Oh no wait, in that the cold air moves to the bottom of the valley (or in the case of The Garden Cityit slides down the planes and off the Port Hills, people light there fires, and then some warm air puts a lid on it, and the community is left to stew in its own smog.

This weird property of cold air, also explains why viticulturalists like to grow their grapes on at least a slight incline, as the cold air will just slide away, hopefully avoiding frosts...