Spooky noises

Halloween isn’t really a thing here.  It keeps trying to be a thing (largely led by the retail industry, I suspect), but it never quite makes it.  For a start, it’s the wrong time of year – the days are getting longer, and warmer, so there’s nothing at all spooky about the evenings (especially as it’s still daylight at the time most kids of trick or treating age are allowed to be out at night).  And because we don’t have a tradition of trick or treating as a family event (Halloween definitely wasn’t a thing when most parents were growing up – it was just something that you saw in American TV programmes), all you get is a few random groups of kids in half-hearted costumes (or more likely than not, not dressed up at all) going door-knocking in the hopes of free lollies.

Which makes for an annoying conundrum every year.  If I lived in somewhere like America that does Halloween properly, then I’d put a big effort into it – wear a costume and decorate the front door and have appropriately themed lollies to hand out.  Or if (as it was 20 years ago) I knew that nobody bothers with Halloween, I would just ignore it completely.  But as it is, I don’t know whether to stop off at the supermarket on the way home to buy some lollies to have on hand just in case (going on past years, it’s about a 50% chance whether I’ll get any trick or treaters), and risk ending up stuck with them all at the end of the night (and it’s not even like I really like the kind of lollies that I’d buy for kids anyway, so I can’t even think of the leftovers as a bonus treat for myself).  But if I don’t buy any, and kids do knock on my door, then I’ll feel bad about sending them away empty handed.

Of course, if I’d been organised, I could have solved this problem by handing out books instead, but I still haven’t found a reliable source of cheap books for bookcrossing purposes (and I forgot Halloween was coming up anyway), so my supply of children’s books has dwindled to almost nothing, and none of what I’ve got left is Halloween themed.

Maybe I’ll just go to a movie tonight instead.  If I’m not at home when the trick or treaters call, then problem solved! :-)

I can has sleep nao?

Very tiring day today. It got off to a bad start when I was woken up at 3.30 am – I’m not sure what by, but I suspect boy racers.  And of course, having been woken up at that horrible hour, it took me forever to get back to sleep again, so I felt like I’d only just got back to sleep when my alarm went off and I had to get up.  And then I spent most of the day writing up sections of a proposal we’re working on.  Which, although the proposal is for something that will be very exciting if it comes to fruition, was a particularly tedious job to do (writing reports and proposal documents is definitely the part of my increased responsibility I least enjoy – it has all the pain of writing essays but without any of the fun research stuff to brighten it up), and not at all suited for keeping myself awake (and unfortunately we’re working to a very tight deadline, so I couldn’t even put it aside for tomorrow and work on something more stimulating instead today).  So I was seriously fading by the end of the day.

Think I might try for an early night tonight…

Double blogging

After my triumphant post of yesterday, I very nearly forgot to write a blog post today!  I blame the fact that I have actually written a blog post today, it just wasn’t for this blog.  My Toastmasters club has a website where a recap of each week’s meeting gets posted.  Up until recently, there’s been just one person writing all the recaps, but the committee thought it would be fairer on him if the job was shared around the whole club, with each of us taking turns to write up a meeting.  Most of the other members were looking pretty intimidated by the idea (many are of an age where “post something to our website” sounds like a highly complex and technical task, despite the step by step instructions that Tim (the previous site maintainer) provided), so I volunteered to take the first turn.  Playing with websites is not exactly intimidating to me, considering it’s a big part of my job (and even if it wasn’t, the club’s site uses WordPress, just like DD, so it was all very familiar territory).

So here’s the post I wrote.  Hopefully now that I’ve shown how easy it is, and that you don’t need Tim’s magical IT skills to post a recap, some of the other members will be brave enough to give it a go too.

Blogging 101

As of yesterday, I’ve managed to write a blog post on 101 consecutive days (which of course makes today number 102, but I liked 101 better for the title…).  Not bad going, really (even if sometimes the content has been a little thin).  There’s been a couple of late nights in there when I suddenly remembered just as I was about to go to bed that I hadn’t posted anything yet, and more than a few sneaky posts written in a break at work (like this one…) when I realised I wouldn’t have time to write in the evening (or it was going to be a cold and miserable night so I wouldn’t want to be sitting at the computer in the cold study, or I was just in the middle of a long and boring task and wanted an excuse to do something else for a few minutes).  Which accounts for the brevity of many of the posts – long thoughtful posts take a long time to compose, strangely enough, and I don’t often manage to find long chunks of the day to write more than a few words.  Photos aren’t always the quick and easy space-filler they seem either, when each needs to be reduced to a web-friendly size, and Flickr convinced to play nice with them.

And, oddly enough, even blogging every day I end up not writing about some stuff just because I’m too busy doing the stuff to write about it.  I usually try and write it up a day or two later, but sometimes I get distracted by shiny things, and what I’d meant to write about drops to the bottom of the list and gets forgotten.

The big problem with writing every day, however, is when do I stop this little exercise?  My original plan was to try it for a month, but having succeeded at that I was kind of in the habit so kept going.  Then I thought 100 days sounded like a nice goal, but I’m already past that.  And it’s kind of annoying sometimes, having to find time to write on days when I’m really busy.  But I know if I let a day or two slide here and there, I’ll all too soon be back to letting whole months go by.  So maybe I should keep going for a little bit longer.  The next obvious goal is a year…

On the wall

I don’t think I’ve shown you the latest additions to my wall(s) of art.

This guy Mum found for me on Trademe:

(Despite appearances, it really is hanging straight – it’s just that I had to stand at a bit of an odd angle to get the photo without too many reflections in the glass (and I see now I still managed to get some…))

And these little visual puns I bought from Etsy a while back, but only just got round to framing:

They’re only tiny, but they amuse my not-so-inner geek :-)

A few of my favourite photos from last night


Nobody seemed particularly worried that we appeared to be in the middle of a scene from The Prisoner.


This may have had some influence on our decision to start dinner with cake :-)

After the belly dancers, an aerobics session (complete with Jane Fonda workout tape), and the crowd starts to join in:

Not long after this I gave up trying to take photos and just joined in myself – everyone was having too much fun to just stand and watch!


Yep, those road cones get everywhere – apparently they even fly.


Street volleyball and extreme hopscotch

Lights, colours, and …aerobics?

Caught the bus over to Lytteltonwitch’s place tonight (conveniently, the bus that stops across the street from my house goes past the end of her street), and we walked into town from there to see the FESTA (Festival of Transitional Architecture) light displays.  It was a very cold night, but there were loads of people in town, and a great atmosphere.  They’d closed off a few roads, and as well as the artworks there were food stalls and games and music and just a lot of people having fun.  We watched bellydancers, joined in a mass aerobics class (well, attempted to, anyway – I’d like to blame the fact that I was carrying my camera and tripod for the fact that I couldn’t keep up with all the moves, but the truth is I’m just utterly uncoordinated!), played extreme hopscotch, ate dinner in reverse (it started with cake and ended with bacon butties), stalked a steampunk spaceman, and took a LOT of photos.  Which I’m too tired to sort through now, so they’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

A seriously fun night!

Stuffed seagulls and discrete geometry

Quite apart from the whole winning an award thing, yesterday was really interesting.  For a start, I got to go and visit (and even better, take some photographs of) the Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre.  The CCCRC is an amazing place – it’s a giant climate-controlled hangar that stores all the material from the various museums and other collections around Canterbury whose buildings were damaged in the earthquakes.  Everything that could be rescued from the damaged buildings was collected up and taken to the hangar for safe storage until new homes can be found for the collections.  There are side rooms where staff and volunteers from the various organisations can come and do cataloguing and restoration work, but mostly it’s just a huge room full of stuff.  There’s everything from paintings to mannequins to furniture to stuffed seagulls to a ship’s cannon.  And it doesn’t just come from public collections like the Lyttelton Museum but also from the private collections of organisations like St Johns Ambulance and various sports clubs.  The CCCRC provides space for them all.  Everything is of course organised and labelled, but because it’s all gathered into close proximity there’s all sorts of stuff mixed seemingly randomly together on the shelves – it feels a bit like one of those old Victorian museums where the only curating guideline was ‘things the collector found interesting’.

An incredible place, and one that most people don’t know exists, and that probably most people never even realised needed to exist – after all, you hear about these earthquake-damaged museums being demolished, and that they managed to recover x number of artefacts before demolition, but did you ever wonder where they took everything once they did recover it? (I know I never thought about it!)  It’s great to know that all those treasures are being kept safe, so that one day they can be returned to their respective museums and enjoyed again.

(The photos are all on my computer at work, so I can’t post any now, but I’ll try and remember to upload a few tomorrow).


Then last night I went to a Royal Society lecture being given by a mathematician from VUW.  It was a really interesting lecture – he was talking about the way geometry changes when it is based on a finite discrete mathematical system like modulo numbers (the “clock arithmetic” you might remember from primary school) rather than the “natural” real number system we are used to.  I loved his explanation of why this kind of mathematics is important to study: he said it is quite useful for various computing applications, but what’s really important, and the real reason why mathematicians study it, is that it’s really cool and beautiful :-)

And really, what better reason than that is there to study anything?

Winning all the things

Last night my Toastmasters group had a quiz night.  My team maintained a respectable second place up until the second last round.  When the quiz leader announced that the theme of the round was flags, there was a loud exclamation of glee from the teenage member of our team, the child of one of the club members.  It turned out he was fascinated by flags, to the extent that he’d memorised the flags of every country in the world.  So thanks to him we got a perfect score of 10 for that round, while our nearest competitor only managed 4 points, which shot us very convincingly into the lead.  The final round was pretty much a formality after that point.

Which just goes to show you that every obsession, no matter how seemingly weird, will come in handy one day.  Even if the prize on offer is just chocolates :-)


And then this morning I got an email from the National Secretary of my union, letting me know I’d been awarded a Meritorious Service Award!  I’d had a whisper ages ago that the local branch were nominating Harvestbird and I for the award, but I never really expected it to come to anything (because I’ve never really thought of my work for the union as being anything spectacular, more just a case of someone has to do it, so it might as well be me).  So it was very exciting to hear that we’re being recognised (I saw Harvestbird briefly tonight, and she’s also getting the same award) – so maybe the work we did was important after all :-)