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l'enfer du North Island

  week in auckland Sunday, 28 September 2008 link

Well, five days. Staying with/visiting relatives. Interesting time. Camera finally died. Hit the zoo. Bought a new camera. Decent weather. Kids happy, grandparents happy. All transport went well. Overall, good.

Aftereffects: knackered, drunk.

  trickleup economics Monday, 22 September 2008 link

The other day, a friend of mine said that they were thinking about giving up blogging, as they didn't think that anyone read their blog. "Christ," I replied, "no-one reads mine. Now we're back in NZ, even my mum doesn't bother, she just finds out what they kids are up to by asking them. I'm only writing it for myself."

And I'm serious about that. Yes, it's nice that other people read this and occasionally find it amusing, or annoying enough to send me email. But there's a reason why I've not turned on comments: I'm basically writing for myself. I go back and look at the stuff I wrote eight years ago, and I remember what it was like. When I first got the domain name and started writing stuff, my mate Cat said "hey, I really like your online journal." And that's pretty much what I think of it as. Mainly because we use the word journal to avoid sounding like a 14-year old girl, but you get the point: it's me writing about what's happening to me now, so that I can read it later. Or, you know, my kids can read it in 40 years time and realise what a good bloke I was before I went postal and killed all those people with the potato peeler. Or as evidence for the prosecution in some undetermined future court case ("Exhibit H shows how the defendant persisted in his support for so-called 'assertive cycling'"). Anyway. I can read back on the annoying shit our neighbours did when we lived next door to a crack whore and laugh, amused at the recollection - which beats the hell out of my reaction at the time, which was basically writing it up as a coping mechanism due to England's restrictive gun laws.

Which is a long way of saying that I'm not actually expecting anyone I'm not related to by blood to be reading this. So I was quite surprised when one of Wellington's city councillors emailed me out of the blue to say that she'd liked my post about the draft cycling plan, and did I want to come to a public meeting about the Great Harbour Way cyclepath around the entire Wellington harbour? Blimey. If anyone's interested, I'll post further details about the Great Harbour Way meeting when I get them, though I'll say for now that it's the sort of thing that I wholeheartedly support.

And speaking of people who I'm not expecting to read this: if you're the people who came here looking for "golden showers women with their dogs you tube", "farmers wifes boobs", or "i want someone to make me a shaun the sheep birthday cake" you are in the wrong fucking place, OK? Thanks.

Did 100k on Sunday. For which, read: did 97k on Sunday (down to Evans Bay, meet workmate, back up to Ngaio, through Tawa/Porirua, around Pauhatahanui Inlet, up Moonshine Hill Road, down the frankly scary-fast descent - met a Hummer coming up, which has to rate as this week's brown-shorts event, those things are fucking wide on a rural road coming around a hairpin when you're doing 60kph - and TT'ing it back along SH2 at 38kph the whole way, then cracked badly at the bottom of the hill to home and took 20 minutes to ride 3k up the gorge), then rode up the hill a bit further and ended up riding circles around a carpark to get the odo to click over to 100k. Not a bad morning. Just need to work on pace a bit for Taupo. And, of course, not feeling like death 20 minutes later. Or, indeed, during.

  pb isn't just with j Monday, 15 September 2008 link

Had a good moment on the way home tonight.

I overtook a bike courier.

And I blew the fucker away. I took him down at around Kaiwharawhara, and I didn't see him again until Ngauranga (when I was stopped at lights).

Yes, it's childish, and I'm sure he was at the end of a day where he rode 100k around the CBD, but still. I overtook him and stayed ahead. And given that bike couriers are usually like greased whippets hopped up on cheap speed, it's a victory in anyone's books.

The other day, we decided that it's time to upgrade our digital camera. Yup, it's been good to us, and we're certainly not big on the whole upgraditis. But facing facts, it's about five years old, it has a tendency to not quite work unless you administer several sharp lateral blows to the casing (I'm not joking - I think it's a loose wire), and in general it's getting on a bit. So a new camera goes on the Christmas card list, and we suddenly become a lot more relaxed about this one.

The main consequence of this is that we get very relaxed about letting Rebecca play with it. And so Rebecca has spent a lot of happy time over the past day or two taking photos around the house. It's great getting a view of the world from 4 feet above the ground. I'm going to load some of these up to our flickr pages in the next day or so. Bless her.

And yes, Rebecca has stopped vomiting everywhere. Thank god. Though last night she did lie down for five minutes before dinner, and instantly fall into a sleep so deep that we left her alone until this morning. At 5am. When she woke up and demanded the dinner we'd been cooking for her 12 hours previously. Which I had, with a good bit of presence of mind, been saving for her.

You know you've reached a point as a parent when you slice your finger in half and immediately shout "drat!" Or at least, I do. I'm sure some people reflexively say drat at points like this; I can say from empirical observation of my behaviour when I'm not around the kids that I tend to yell other things when I perceive hazards to my health (drivers along Thorndon Quay, I'm looking at you).

And if you are now honking, or have ever honked, your horn in the Mt Vic tunnel, you are a complete and utter fucktard and should cease metabolic function forthwith. That is all.

  a fervent wish Saturday, 13 September 2008 link

All I wish for tomorrow is, that it not start the same way as today.

Which is to say, that I'm not woken at 5:15am by the words "Daddy, I feel sick. I think I'm going to..." followed by a gush of hot vomit into my face.

  a good day Sunday, 7 September 2008 link

Hooked up with the work peloton this morning and did 50k along the bays and up around the Makara loop. Got home just in time to have family lunch of poached eggs and salmon on bagels. Spent the first part of the afternoon in the sunshine fettling Heather's bikes while Maggie napped and Rebecca banged nails into a spare 2x4 and occasionally helped squirt wax-based lubricant on things. Spent the second part of the afternoon chilling out with the kids on Lyall Bay beach, in the dog exercise section, helping make sandcastles, prevent Maggie in her newly discovered favourite pastime of waiting until I'm not looking and then sprinting full-tilt towards the sea, and meeting a variety of very friendly dogs, while Heather rode around the Miramar peninsula. Had a family dinner of prawns and garlic bread. Now getting outside of some Monteith's Doppelbock, a very nice wee winter ale.

Now that's my idea of how to spend a Sunday.

  back to the old obsessions Friday, 5 September 2008 link

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I'm very annoyed. Some enterprising spark is organising New Zealand's first gran fondo cycling event, with options of 60/130/190k, within a reasonable drive of home. Result! Except that we're going to be flying back from Auckland on the day it happens. Bollocks! It looks like a damn good ride, too. Interestingly, I'm not the only one who didn't know about it - it is, at present, not listed on Vorb, BikeNZ, or CyclingNZ. So basically it's not been publicised particularly much in the normal media, then. If I'd known we could have tweaked our holiday times. Ah well, better luck next year - I'll just have to see if I can bag a 120k morning one of these weekends instead.

And if you're interested in that, you might be interested in knowing that the Wellington City Council have released their draft documents on walking, cycling, and track usage (which impacts walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders). Draft policies are available here, and you've got until September 22nd to provide feedback.

Obviously, I'm interested in all three of these policies, but here's the things I like about the proposed cycling policy:

I actually thought it was pretty good. I quite liked the point in the cycle policy that there's a lot of different kinds of cyclists, with different needs - i.e. the whole point that the cycle facilities I need when riding to work are different from those that my mum would need when going for a leisure ride at the weekend. Since many of the current cycle facilities are designed for the leisure cyclists in mind, it's good to have them explicitly recognising that facilities designed for these users often fail to meet the needs of commuting cyclists, MTB'ers, etc.

I'm not so keen on the whole emphasis on combining cycle/bus lanes. Yeah, if they're really wide, sure (and politically, there's no way in hell that we're likely to get bike-only lanes that are wide enough to really use, certainly not through the CBD), but I'm sure I'm not the only one here who gets really nervous when playing near busses. Busses are big, have bad driver visibility, ends that swings out a hell of a lot, and weigh lots - not exactly what I want to be right next to. If the lanes are big enough, maybe, but that's a big if. Mind you, I'm speaking as someone who was forced off the road yesterday when a bus passed me too closely, so I may just be bitter. Or, y'know, scared.

Certainly, I think it shows that the council is taking cycling more seriously and seems willing to throw some money at it. Combine this with the news that the Auckland Regional Council looks likely to move ahead suppporting pedestrian/cycle lanes on the harbour bridge, and we're starting to get steps in the right direction.

Listening to: New Young Pony Club (catchy electropop stylings) and Kultur Shock (mad). Kultur Shock are good fun: they're to heavy metal as Gogol Bordello are to punk. Their most recent album, "We come to take your jobs", is well worth a listen. Particularly for the last couple of numbers, Sarajevo and Hashishi. Heavy metal meets Balkan Islamic chanting. Two great tastes that do, entirely genuinely, taste great together. And I bet New Young Pony Club could totally beat the shit out of the Ting Tings in a straight-up fight.

New project. Details later. Not work-related, though connection to loads of graphics people and 3D texture painting programs is turning out remarkably handy.

  lurching to ukuleles Monday, 1 September 2008 link

So yesterday we took the girls to Te Papa. Coincidentally, we turned up during some of the kids' activities to celebrate NZ Book Month. Rebecca got to hear various versions of the stories in Snake and Lizard, and then to play at being a snake. While this happened Maggie marauded around the place, with me following a couple of metres behind. It was pretty mint. At one point, Maggie staggered towards the kids' bookshop, and I followed. And noticed that they were selling copies of the Kiwi Ukulele Book. It's only $22 - how can you afford not to have one? And then we went up to buy it, and the lady at the counter said "Would you like a ukulele with that?" And, long story short, we now have a ukulele. Rebecca is stoked and a half. She grabbed it wrong-handed, started strumming, and singing Zvezda Rock-n-rolla - a ludicrously, ludicrously obscene song only saved by having lyrics in Russian. There you are - proof positive that klezmer is a gateway drug for harder music.

More seriously, Rebecca is ecstatic to have a ukulele. She's loving having an instrument that she can play. Not, mind you, that she can play it yet - but she knows how to strum it and she's pretty enthusiastic about that. Techique to come next.

The UPS went at work today. All the PCs died, but the lights stayed on. It was a surreal moment: everything went blank. There was a ten second pause. Then a rumbling, thundering sound started in the distance. It grew and grew, expanding to fill the corridors around us.

It was the sound of fifty people simultaneously grabbing their ping-pong bats and running to be first in the break room.

Excellent extract from Ben Goldberg's new book in today's Guardian, on the increasing medicalisation of everyday things.

How I know I've been reading too many lolcats: my default way of getting Maggie to try new food is to give her a little bit and say "Nomz!"

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