Last night I finally managed to finish making release notes and/or journal entries on all the books I released in Dunedin. It’s taken me a while, but given that I wild released 79 books on the trip, plus controlled released (i.e. gave directly to another bookcrosser) about another 30, and most of them had photos to be uploaded with them, and I haven’t had a lot of time this week anyway, what with work, and study (my Spanish course started again on Monday, and already I feel like I’m struggling to keep up), and going out to see a movie on Tuesday night with Mrs Gwilk and the other Chick Flicks women (Memoirs of a Geisha – very beautiful film, stunning cinematography), and somewhere in amongst all that trying to catch up on some of the sleep I didn’t get over the weekend, I don’t think I did *too* badly!

Now all I’ve got to do is write up the trip in my diary. Maybe this weekend…

I’ve had five catches from the Dunedin trip so far:
An Indecent Obsession by Colleen McCullough
Secret Songs by Jane Stemp
The House at Sunset by Norah Lofts
100 People Who Changed America by Russell Freedman
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! by M.E. Kerr
(Plus, of course, a whole load more from controlled releases, but they aren’t so exciting)

Currently reading:
Running with the Demon (Book One of The Word and the Void) by Terry Brooks; Palm Prints by Fiona Kidman; and Cuentos en español (only three more stories to go!)

Books, books, and more books

I still haven’t had time to make all the release notes on the books I released in Dunedin, but at least I’ve managed to journal the ones I caught:

The Years with Laura Díaz by Carlos Fuentes
Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Cat by Linda Konner and Antonia van der Meer
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train its Humans by Celia Haddon
Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
Cat Portraits by Jill and Martin Leman
Somebodies and Nobodies by Robert W Fuller
The Cat Who Robbed a Bank by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lilian Jackson Braun
Obabakoak by Bernardo Atxaga
Els arbres amics by Pep Coll
La ciudad de los prodigios by Eduardo Mendoza
The Cat Who Came for Christmas 2: The Cat and the Curmudgeon by Cleveland Amory
Seashells by Barbara Jane Zitwer
The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
McNally’s Trial by Lawrence Sanders
Flowers, Birds and Unicorns: Medieval Needlepoint by Candace Bahouth

I think I’ve got enough reading material there to last me quite a while!

I’m back!

Back from the convention, and totally exhausted, but had the most wonderful time. I *really* wish I didn’t have to go to work today! I still haven’t managed to make release notes on all the books I released on the trip, or even to make journal entries on the ones I was given, but once I get that done (maybe tonight), I’ll attempt to get it all written up here (hopefully a bit faster thanI did for the last convention!)

Countdown to Convention

The convention is getting excitingly close now. Bookcrossers are arriving in the country in droves (well, small droves), and everywhere there are signs that Bookcrossing is about to hit Dunedin in a big way. The ODT had a teaser today for a big spread on How to Bookcross that they’re running tomorrow, and I spotted the fact that Skyring had arrived in Dunedin by the fact he caught two of the books I labelled in the backpackers: The Colour of Fear and A Many-Splendoured Thing. There’s excitement in the forums, too, where rarsberry has opened the official convention thread and convention catches thread. All Bookcrossing eyes are focussed on Dunedin.

Sherlockfan arrived in Christchurch today (she’s staying with lytteltonwitch tonight, and travelling down to Dunedin with us tomorrow), so we had a meetup tonight to welcome her to the South Island (and just because we didn’t have our regular second Tuesday of the month meetup this week, due to Valentine’s Day being not a great day to try and get a group booking in a restaurant). We had a great meetup – Alithia and natecull were there too, and we were a much livelier bunch than we have been at the last few meetups – probably because we were all getting a bit excited about tomorrow.

Most of my books are packed ready to be taken to Dunedin (or released along the way), but I did take a couple along tonight: Green Hand by Lillian Beckwith (which I knew lytteltonwitch was looking for), and The Future Trap by Catherine Jinks (which I thought meerkitten might like, but she and awhina weren’t there (we got a text message from awhina to say they were busy packing), so natecull took it instead). I picked up Vast by Linda Nagata, and took The Black Corridor by Michael Moorcock and Sun’s End by Richard Lupoff (a book that’s been through my hands before) to release for natecull in Dunedin.

As I write this, wombles’s plane is probably landing just up the road at the airport, so she should be turning up on our doorstep in half an hour or so – yet another member of the Bookcrossing Convoy that will be travelling to Dunedin tomorrow (two cars driven by lytteltonwitch and Alithia and carrying me, Sherlockfan and wombles, are leaving early in the morning and picking up otakuu from Waimate on the way past, then later in the day the convoy continues (who said a convoy can’t be spread out?) with Cathytay and daveytay, and finally after school finishes in the afternoon awhina and meerkitten will follow us). The convention is nearly upon us!

For allimom

A possible solution to allimom’s maths problem:

It’s a while since I’ve done matrices, so I may have forgotten some of the symbolic conventions, but I think what you’re being asked to prove is that
is true for all values of n.

n=0 and n=1 are trivial, of course.

For n=2,

Proof by induction involves showing that an inital case is true (in this case n=2), and then saying if we assume that the equation is true for n, does it follow that it’s true for n+1. If so, then, as we know it’s true for n=2, then it must be true for n+1=3, and that means if it’s true for n=3, it must be true for n+1=4, and so on.

So, assuming the equation is true for n:

i.e. if it’s true for n, then it’s true for n+1, so if it’s true for n=2, then it’s true for all n.

As one of my maths lecturers used to say, W5! (“Which Was What Was Wanted”)

I’ve only put in the minimum of working for the matrices – probably you should expand that a bit, depending on what your instructor normally expects.

Of course, I may have totally misinterpreted the question, but at least I had fun stretching my brain this morning trying to dredge matrices and proof by induction out of the depths where they’ve been hiding all these years.

Hope this helps, allimom, and everyone else can now start reading again, the scary maths stuff is over 🙂

I’m famous!

Well, I got my picture in the newspaper, anyway. We had a protest yesterday about the redundancies in the College of Arts, and I somehow ended up in the photo that got in the paper (I was trying my best to hide whenever I saw the photographer, but he was popping up all over the place).

There’s a small version of the photo (and the story, which gives our cause really good coverage) here. I’m in a white shirt and black trousers, holding a placard, on the right of the photo. Not that you can make out much in such a small picture anyway…

You’re not going to believe this

When we got up this morning and looked across the street, we saw another crashed car, sitting in the remains of a tree!

I’d been woken up several times in the night by squealing brakes, but squealing brakes aren’t an unusual sound in our street (there’s a few boy racer types who live in the area, and seem to enjoy driving around at high speeds in the middle of the night, making a point of squealing their way around corners), so I just thought I was suffering from natural paranoia at every loud noise I heard outside. But it seems that some of the bumps and crashes I’d heard in my sleep were more than my imagination – according to one of the other neighbours, who stopped to share the gossip (it’s funny -we’ve talked to our neighbours more in the last few days than in all the time we’ve lived here – all these accidents seem to be doing a better job of turning our suburb into a community than any number of city council sponsored ‘community days’!), a couple of teenagers, drunk and driving without a license, in an uninsured vehicle, had crashed during the night, not once, but twice! The first time they had missed the turn and driven up into the garden of the house of the corner, knocking over some large bushes. They’d managed to reverse out (leaving destruction in their wake), and carried on hooning round the streets, only to miss the corner again not long afterwards, this time ending up wrapping their car around a more substantial tree. Amazingly (though I’m tempted this time to say “unfortunately”), yet again nobody was hurt.

We’ve lived in this house nearly six years, and in all that time although we’ve seen and heard a lot of near misses there’s only been three major accidents on that intersection – two of them in the space of one day!

Anyway, back to “our” accident: the insurance assessor came and had a look at the damage this morning, and was totally amazed, both at how far the car that hit our house had managed to travel, and at the fact the wrecked car across the road was from a totally independent incident (he was a bit puzzled at first, trying to figure out how one car could have done so much damage on two sides of the street, until we explained), but more importantly said that our claim should be pretty straightforward. The only thing that will slow it down is the boundary fence with our neighbours, because our insurance company and their insurance company will have to negotiate the repairs on that, which he said sometimes can drag out a bit because each company will want to get their own quotes etc, but the repairs on the house and on the other fence (which borders on to the alleyway, so doesn’t have to be negotiated with anyone) should be started within a week or two once the paperwork goes through. He said they’ll try and source old bricks to match the colour of our house as closely as possible (shouldn’t be a problem, given that every second state house in New Zealand used the same red bricks), so by the time they’ve finished it’ll look just like it was before. He didn’t think there was any structural damage, but did say he wouldn’t know for sure until the builders removed the bricks so he could see the framework inside (although he seemed pretty confident he wouldn’t find any more damage – apparently you can tell by the noise it makes when you tap the wall or something). He asked if we wanted to claim for landscaping, but given that the car somehow missed most of the garden (except for two old and very ugly shrubs that we’d been meaning to rip out anyway), and the lawn was never bowling-green material in the first place so the not-very-deep tyre marks don’t exactly stand out, we decided it wouldn’t be all that honest to try and claim anything for them (yeah, I know nobody else is honest when they deal with insurance companies, but I was obviously brought up badly or something!)

I’m still stunned by the fact that nobody was hurt in the crash, especially when you think that it was just after 8 am, so the middle of the school rush, just at the time when the street (and the alleyway!) is normally full of kids walking and biking to school. It was sheer luck that none of them got in the way.

Not *quite* what I had planned for today

Well that was an interesting day. Perhaps I should let the pictures speak for themselves:

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And that’s what happens when a car plows through three gardens, bouncing off the side of our house in the process!

I suppose I’d better elaborate a bit. I got to work this morning, and as I walked in the door got a phonecall from MrPloppy, “You’d better come home, there’s been a bit of an accident.” Only a few minutes after I’d caught the bus, a car had come out of the intersection opposite our house, hit another car, gone through the neighbour’s front fence (just missing their car which was parked out on the street), then through the side fence into our garden, sideswiped the front of our house, carried on through the fence on the other side (the one Dad did all those repairs to at Waitangi weekend – that was a waste of time!), across the alleyway, and through the other neighbour’s fence before coming to rest in their driveway. The car must have been going at a fair speed, because it went through a total of four fences (including knocking out at least two concrete posts) as well as hitting our house.

As soon as I got off the phone with MrPloppy I found someone to give me a lift home, and by the time I got here the place was swarming with police and firemen (and nosy neighbours!). It looks a terrible mess out there (the car ripped through quite a swathe of our and the neighbour’s gardens, too, so there’s bits of fence and bushes everywhere), but amazingly, neither driver was hurt, and our house didn’t come off too badly either – there’s a lot of damage to the brickwork, but from what we can tell there’s no real structural damage (the insurance assessor’s coming tomorrow morning to check it out, so we’ll know better then).

The cats were not impressed by all the excitement, needless to say. In fact, they disappeared for most of the day (until hunger got the better of them, of course). I don’t blame them – I wasn’t all that impressed either!

Oh, and in case you’re interested, according to MrPloppy, the sound of a car hitting a house is “Bang! Crash! Crash! Thud! Crash! Crash!”

Tiny green aliens

I had a very constructive day yesterday. After finishing as much of my patchwork project as I was able to, I took advantage of the fact that the sewing machine was out to patch a couple of favourite pairs of jeans. One pair had just a small hole, so I was able to patch it almost invisibly with a patch on the inside, but the other pair had a large tear that I wasn’t able to hide. So I decided to go to the other extreme, and cut up a few old pairs that were of different coloured denim (and were totally beyond repair so had migrated to the rag bag), and in addition to sewing one patch over the rip, I added multi-coloured patches all over the place. So I’ve now got a very colourful pair of jeans that will hopefully be servicable for another year or two.

Then once that job was done I packed my books for Dunedin. All I can say is I’m glad there’s two cars travelling down together, because I don’t think all my books will fit in one car… Actually, it’s not that bad – I packed 100 books (!!!), but most of them are thin ones, so I’ve only filled my Bookcrossing tote bag plus two supermarket bags (and one of those bags is books I want to release on the way down). Now I just need to squeeze a change of clothes and my toothbrush in somewhere, and I’m all set! 🙂

And in the evening I actually got some study done! I’ve suddenly realised that I’ve only got a week left until my Spanish course starts again, and last year’s tutor warned us that the second year course throws you straight in at the deep end, so she reccommended that we do some study before term started again. Of course, I have been keeping up a bit with my Spanish over the summer, watching DVDs with Spanish soundtracks and attempting to read a book of short stories (I’m still struggling through it – only three more stories to go!), but I haven’t really done any grammar or anything. And although I’ve technically got a week to go, in reality it’s only a few evenings – I’ll be much too busy at work this week to sneak in any study time, I’ll probably be working late on Wednesday night, there’s a Bookcrossing meetup on Thursday night, and of course the NZBC Convention at the weekend. In fact, why am I writing this – I should be studying! Oh well, I got a good start on it last night, and was pleased to see that it all came back to me pretty quickly, so a couple more evening’s work should be enough to get me back up to speed for next Monday.

It was a very hot and muggy day yesterday, so we had all the doors and windows open until we went to bed, which brought all sorts of interesting insect visitors into the house. One was something I’ve never seen before: what looked like a tiny green weta. We get little bush wetas in the house quite often (not the huge cave wetas though!), but they’re normally brown – I’ve never seen a green one before. Of course, it’s probably an incredibly common insect that I’ve just never noticed (or maybe all wetas start off green and go brown when they get bigger), but I still thought it was interesting enough to try taking some pictures:

Its body was only about 5 mm long, so it’s pretty tiny.

There was an exciting parcel waiting for me when I got home tonight: a copy of Milk Treading by Nick Smith which DianaCoats had sent me as a RABK, plus three little furry mice toys for the cats (which the accompanying note said her cat had insisted she send :-)). Surprisingly, Ming, who normally ignores toys, has totally taken to them and was last seen batting them behind the sofa with a mad look in his eyes.

Even more pretty colours

Progress report on the patchwork, which I spent today working on instead of all the other things I could/should be doing.

The point of no return – starting to sew the first seam (actually, the point of no return was really when I ironed the patches onto the backing stuff, but somehow starting sewing seems more final).
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(Oh, if you’re wondering why there’s sheets all over the table, that’s because our ironing board wasn’t big enough to iron the squares onto the backing. So I padded the dining room table with several layers of sheets so I could iron them there without damaging the table.)

The first couple of seams are sewn, and already you can see how much smaller the finished quilt is going to end up – those little seam allowances really eat into the squares!
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Halfway through the horizontal seams, and it’s shrinking fast!
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Finished sewing the horizontal seams.
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The seams have all been pressed flat, ready to sew the vertical seams.
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Well, as finished as I’m going to be for a while, anyway. There’s still quite a bit to do, but as I said above, I need to go shopping first. But I’m quite impressed with how it’s looking so far – this watercolour quilting system is a whole lot easier (and quicker!) than traditional patchwork. I think though that if I was going to do any more, I wouldn’t get a kit, I’d just buy some fabric scraps and cut out my own squares. For one thing, it’d be a lot cheaper, and for another, I could position the squares better on the fabric. The squares in the kit had all sorts of lovely little features (like butterflies sitting on flowers) that ended up sewn inside seams because they were too close to the edge of the fabric. If you were cutting out your own you could make sure things like that ended up right in the middle where you could see them – it would waste a lot more fabric, of course, but it would end up looking nicer.

In other news, I had a nice surprise today. I’d ordered some Bookcrossing supplies from the Supply Store a few weeks ago, but as it normally takes months for stuff to get here, I wasn’t expecting it to arrive in time for the convention, so was resigned to just making do with what I had. But it seems that the Supply Store changing their courier company has had the desired effect of improving delivery times, because in the mailbox this morning were my bookcrossing supplies! New labels, bookmarks, post-its, and release bags (none of which are absolutely necessary for releasing books, but which make the process a lot easier and more fun), plus their latest product, a big Ballycumber stamp. I might have to race down to a stationery shop in my lunch hour on Monday and buy myself a stamp pad so I can try it out…
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And another nice surprise, I got a catch this afternoon on a book that I released in August 2004. It’s still in Lumsden where I released it, but it sounds like it might have passed through a few hands in the intervening years.

And I released a book today too. I’m trying to get back in the habit of carrying a ready to be released book with me whereever I go, so that I can do spontaneous releases. So when I went up to the supermarket this morning to get some bits and pieces, I released The Enemy You Killed by Peter McFarlane on a bench outside. I’ve released a few books on that bench in the past, and not had a great catch rate, but it’s always worth another try.