Friday, December 26, 2008

Visiting Gran

I spent the couple of days before Christmas visiting my New Zealand grandmother. I like visiting Gran, I really do, particularly now that she's on improved medication and is much chirpier and active than during my last visit. But there's this thing that really bugs me. It isn't that she forgets multiple times of day where you've come from and when you're going home - she usually has who I am nailed, which is actually an improvement over much of my extended family, or at least was in the past when I resembled my sister much more closely. It isn't that she's fussy over food, or from time to time will lock her houseguest into the granny flat at the bottom of the house during her just-before-bed shutdown procedures. Oh no no no.

It's sitting watching TV with her in the evenings. I kid you not, she changes channels every five minutes. Just long enough to be somewhat interested in the storyline, but never long enough to actually find out what's happening. Bah!

Christmas Bling

I don't often wear jewellery, but on some occasions it's almost mandatory, such as on Christmas Day having been presented with rose quartz earrings by one's sister:

They make me oddly nostalgic, actually. When we were very young our grandmother, who lived in South Africa, would most often send us presents of semi-precious stones set into bracelets that she'd made herself.

Regarding bling of a very different kind, my sister has also been producing her own limited edition Christmas Book. (Literally producing, as in selecting the material, editing it, and binding it herself.) It comprises a selection of roughly five years of both of our writing output, and she says that I can have a few author's copies to give away on my own account. Would anyone like a copy, of the 'would really be interested' variety, rather than the 'nod politely because they're friends but stash away somewhere and not look at' variety. We appreciate the latter sort, because they're polite, but more interested in providing Xmas goodies to the former. It has a range of material: short stories, poetry, fairy-tals, one short-film script and some essays. Much of it is very good indeed, and the rest of it is by me. :-)

Finally, a complimentary picture of Macca doing Macca type things:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Day Out

Repton has once again been hurling himself into the grass, this time at a tournament in Christchurch, and I spent my day pottering around having fun.
- going to dancing practice at the Medieval Guild and being a test audience for the play that they'll be performing at the Harcourt Park Joust in January;
- nice lunch at the Aro St cafe with a couple of members of the aforesaid Guild;
- biking around the bays as far as Cog Park - the eponymous giant cog wheel doesn't seem to be back yet, alas;
- wandering around Te Papa - I thought about looking at the colossal squid they have, but the queue was quite long, so I settled for peering at the display case from the partition;
- gelato on the waterfront.

There were many people out swimming, or paddling, or riding tandem bikes, and just generally enjoying the sun. It's been a nice day.

One of the interesting things - at Te Papa they had a 3d animation display of what they thought Big Squid's life was like, which was neat. Here's the thing, I'm quite amblyopic (posh word for saying my brain ignores the input feed from one eye because it has a very different focal depth) and under normal conditions I don't think about things like depth in what I'm seeing. But in some conditions, like in an Imac cinema, or looking at some pictures with technical tricks giving the illusion of perspective, or today at Te Papa, I get the feeling of knowing that things are nearer or farther just by looking at them, I don't have to work it out from size and movement. Is it like that for most people all the time? Gosh.

Move is just about complete bar hanging pictures and making myself laundry bag. Macca the Cat is now officially Allowed Out, although is having problems getting up the nerve to venture outside anytime she thinks that bouncing around staunchly insisting how brave she is might actually result in being exposed to Other Cats Looking At Her. Right now, she knows where the cat door is, and what it is, but is mostly using it as a toy to bang her paws against. No, wait, she's finally wormed through it now. It's unlikely that she'll be out long. Silly cat.

EDIT: And she just faced off one of the neighbour's cats trying to come in. Might have to think about undisabling the cat door magnet and making her wear a collar.

Total cycling distance: 18.8km, spread over about 6 hours with lots of distractions in between.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh for Heaven's sake.

"The Government is considering passing a law overriding Eden Park's consent process because of fears it will not be ready for the Rugby World Cup."

OK, so in the extremely short time that we've had the new government officially in power they have:
1. Overridden the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand's decision making by literally bypassing their provision of pharmaceuticals and making the Ministry of Health do it instead;
2. Shoved through an extremely serious 90 day probation bill under urgency without any select committee scrutiny;
3. Is now talking about passing a law to overrule the Environment Court and High Court, for a rugby game.

I don't care how big a deal the World Cup is, this just isn't on.

Dear John Key, for Christmas, what I'd really like is some due process and accountability in government - you can keep my two front teeth.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Mother's Cat

Went on a car ride from Hastings to Bridge Pa and back, with a complete stranger (about 9km).

Needless to say, she's at the vet being microchipped as I type.


Saturday, November 22, 2008


Repton and I are going to be moving into a new flat by ourselves soon, for which I got the keys yesterday, and as Repton's off heroically hurling himself into the sands of Nelson for the weekend (frisbee tournament), I spent the day doing a premove. Repton's parents came over to help, and we shifted a number of carloads including, but not limited to, a significant quantity of books, a sewing machine, pictures, Uni notes, a violin and a Lundia bookshelf. Also, we spent the afternoon out buying a new fridge and scouting for additional furniture. I don't spend large sums of money often, but occasionally it's nice to, and right now I can not only feel like I'm nobly doing my bit for the economy but whiteware is Really Cheap. Hanging out with Repton's parents has been pretty interesting - among other things they've been gossiping about him, including exactly which kind of household item he has a habit of breaking.

I have to pack some more books tonight, but can't yet face it, so I'm blobbing out watching Guys & Dolls and drinking tea.

Feline reactions to the disruption: Macca has been running around like a mad thing when she isn't being obsessively clingy and waking me up at 6 in the morning; Mort is swaggering around like the pirate cat he is; Prana doesn't appear to have moved all day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Feeling loved, but a bit squished.

I've been away from home for a week. I got back yesterday to find that Repton and Macca were extremely pleased to see me, but also that there was also a lot less room in the bed to sleep. Also, that Macca, who I had thought doesn't purr, actually does, but she needs to be sitting on your hands before it's noticeable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I've had better weeks.

I spent Labour Weekend visiting my sister in Palmerston North, which was neat, except that she and her flatmate had travails of their own, so I'm not sure if me being there helped out or made stuff that much harder for them. It's been pretty much downhill from there, though.

I haven't slept properly for several nights, which is making life some kind of zombie hell. This may be related to having lungs full of gunk which I can't quite cough up no matter how much I try.

Two people have tried to pick fights with me. [First person involved has asked me to take the details down and apologise. Bad days are continuing.] and I really DON'T LIKE BEING SHOUTED AT. Like, all kinds of fight/flight triggers and reverting to being a person I don't want to be anymore.

The second was from a former friend who made one too many snippy remarks when I was feeling down. And then I had this sudden realisation that I actually, really, thoroughly, never wanted to talk to him again, about anything. (Straw that broke the camel's back etc.) It's a strangely liberating feeling, actually.

Work is actually not bad, except I'm so tired I've had to periodically hide in the restroom and burst into tears for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, the stuff I'm doing right now doesn't need me to actually talk to people so I'm getting by.

Keeping track of the little things:
- cycling the waterfront on my way home was nice
- today I saw a man wearing a bowler hat and a really swirly black coat
- I'm signed up to do an Honours-level Chaucer course next year. Whee!
ETA: Also a long shower, a hot dinner, and a purring cat. Bliss.

To sleep and better days!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Commando Cookery

Tonight, I surveyed my food options. Some chicken mince, some filo pastry (spanakopita, mmm...), assorted vegetables and some bacon - this looks likes a good time to experiment with chicken filo thingies. My literature search found a whole bunch of recipes, none of which exactly suited the ingredients and patience I had to hand. (Seriously, refrigerating a food processor? I don't even have a food processor.) Sometimes, you just gotta experiment.

What I ended up doing was:
Fry a chopped up onion and the chicken mince.
Add some fresh thyme to the mixture and put aside. (1)
Fry some sliced leek for a bit, add sliced mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms have shrunk. Mix with the chicken.
Cut filo sheets in half, lay down a square and paint with melted butter. Lay down another square and repeat until the stack is five thick.
Pile some chicken stuff on the pastry and wrap it up. (Some of the recipes I used as references suggested sesame seeds, but such I have not in my house.)
Cook at 180 degrees Celcius for a while. (Yes, I know that's vague time. Reference recipes suggested 20 minutes, but in our toaster oven the pastry was definitely cooked at 10. Use your judgement, like.)

The quite tasty results:

(1) Yes, I, cooking noob have a herb garden, a very small one. It started out because I wanted to compost food waste, needed somewhere to bury said pickled remains, and felt guilty about the bare patch of dirt staring at me whenever I walked out the door. So far, all three plants are doing well (now I say "Not dead yet!" whenever I walk past, which is far more hopeful) and I have plans to put in some catnip when the next batch of compost does its thing. I always seem to do things in the wrong order - I suspect that most people would start out wanting a herb garden and going from there, rather than ending up with one and trying to think up things to do with it.

Naked Ninja Hugs

I got one. Oh boy!

Repton has been away doing heroic things hurling himself to the ground and trying to catch errant frisbees. He finally got home in the wee small hours of the morning, skinned into bed, and gave me a massive bear hug. It's nice to feel wanted, is all I can say.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Third person neuter

The English language is changing. Always has been, actually, but the bit I'm interested in right now is how we talk about some arbitrary hypothetical person. Time was, most people would default to say "he," until, quite rightly, it was impressed on people that there's an entirely different gender that would like to get a mention every now and then.

Since then, it's become quite common to use "they," "their" and "them" in a singular sense - while there are citations for that usage in the OED that go back hundreds of years, it wasn't at all common when I was a child and has become very common now. To us, personhood is tied up with gender and we don't like using "it" to describe a human being, that's reserved for animals and babies. All of which leads us to sentences like the following:

"Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 playing with a child that is not their own is a paedophile - some people are just nice." Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, "Thou shalt always kill"

What fascinates me about it is that the "their" isn't necessary - the gender of the hypothetical person has already been identified as male, but it's been used anyway, as far as I can tell as a marker of generality. I've seen this usage in other places as well, and I think it's fascinating.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I has new computer

It arrived today, and is very black and shiny, and I'm still getting used to the typing feel of the keyboard.

Also, I finally finished the pair of gloves I spent the winter making Repton. Crochet is not my strong point, nor is making the same thing twice.
Show the nice people your hands, Repton...

ETA: Transferring data has turned out to be far simpler than I expected - we connected it to the house network and asked it to copy the My Documents folder (which took about three hours). Also some of the applications that I use that have lots of personalised settings turned out to have Import/Export functions. The case is so black and so shiny that for the first time in my life I lust to decorate a computer with sticker art.
Also, big ups to Dell, who not only made it easy to customise what features I wanted, but delivered the computer a full week earlier than promised.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What has Steph been doing for the past three months...

I've been working on the council's latest annual report. It has the financial status of the Council from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, erudite and entertaining commentary about what we've been spending your money on, corporate stuff, environmental stuff, and a picture of a naked man on the cover.

You can see a copy on our website, by visiting your local library, or calling up the nice folks in the Planning, Performance & Research team at the council (ie me) and I'll send you a hard copy. Also, there'll be a Summary hitting your mailboxes (if you live in Wellington) Real Soon Now.

Just remember: artistic naked man on cover = council annual report.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sub Text

This morning, my beloved dressed head to toe in black and bounced off to Kiwi Con. Perhaps he's trying to tell me something...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gosh, it has been a while since I updated...

There is a cat who looks like a pirate sitting in front of the heater. His name is Mort and he had one of his front teeth removed so that now his top lip curls upward and makes him look sinister. He's come home after a long period of hanging out with people across the road, and also made Prana feel more comfortable about hanging out in the main rooms of the house, making our FTE cat total go up from about 1.95 to very nearly 3.

Work is going well, although a bit quiet this week. The unusual thing that's going on is being invited to paw through people's rubbish on Thursday. (There's a Waste Awareness officer who sits near me several days a week, and she's trying to work out what kinds of things are getting thrown out. She's lovely, just got engaged, and is pleasantly geeky.)

A few weeks ago I went to Chimera, a Larping convention, which was much fun, and got me inspired to run my own small experimental game at KapCon. If it works, it'll be interesting, if it doesn't work, my name might be mud, but oh well.

It is very windy outside.

Look! Fanfic!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

There is a cat in my house who is trying to convince me that he's moved in and it would be great if we could hang out together.

His name is Thurber, he (or she) is black and white and missing an eye, and is showing no inclination to go home. Strangely, he's even more needy and attention-junky than Macca, which I surely never thought I'd see. We rang his family but have only gotten the answering machine so far.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yesterday, someone nearly ran me over

I don't think they were trying to, just careless and not paying attention, which is perhaps more damning. Luckily for me, this was early on my ride home, so I had lots of time to compose a cutting letter to the newspaper in my head. Unluckily, it didn't make the cut, so here it is, reproduced for any self-serving sanctimonious drivers of gas-guzzling behemoths who want to know exactly what I think of them.

Dear Editor,

As I was cycling home along Customhouse Quay on Monday, a car overtook me and immediately turned left. Since I, at least, was paying attention, I was able to stop before colliding, yet I am uncomfortably aware that two seconds difference in timing would have made things very nasty indeed.

I cannot pin this on hooligan boy racers, nor the lapses of old age. No, to judge by the leviathan-like size of the vehicle and the faces of the passengers serenely watching as I narrowly avoided death or injury, the driver was in comfortable middle age - that class of people forever telling the rest of us how 'responsible' they are. Given my reflector vest and bike-lights, I'm unsure how I could make myself more visible short of a pipe band and a spotlight, and I have this comment for the drivers of Wellington: to those memorable individuals who cannot cope with people travelling in straight lines, God help us; for the rest of you, please have a care, I'm breakable.


Stephanie Pegg

(Yup, still mad.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

No wonder I'm a happy drunk

See, the thing is, I have a cold. I think I'm over the worst stages, so I'm left with the slightly spaced feeling you get. I also had a doctor's appointment lined up today for unrelated reasons, so I had someone to wail at and get some professional grade sympathy from, some steroids in my foot and a suggestion that I take Nurofen.

Whooeee! I took a pill with lunch and spent most of the trip home giggling. I got a lot of strange looks at the bus stop, and on the bus, and at the garden centre I stopped on the walk home. That's good stuff, man...

(I've never felt the urge to take illegal narcotics, I can get pretty high by legal and non-alcoholic methods just by myself.)

Also, regarding happy happy joy joy moments, I've been watching the early episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura, an anime series that my sister really likes. It's very bouncy stuff. Interestingly, the truly fine and quite tragic fan fiction Cat's been writing based on Cardcaptor Sakura isn't much interested in the characters but is in fact informed by a deep and abiding love for the back story such that it's almost but not quite entirely original fiction. I highly recommend it for all, whether you know the anime or not:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Checking In

I haven't updated here lately. On the other hand, Things have been Happening.

I have secured a new job with the Wellington City Council as an adviser in the Research, Performance and Planning team. The two people I talked with in the interview were very easy to talk to (interviews going over time is a good sign, I reckon) and my spy inside the council says that my new team is a good lot, so fingers crossed that things go well and all. I start tomorrow morning. I suspect that I'm going to need to upgrade my work wardrobe, mind. [The scruffy part of my soul makes a despairing wail...]

My Gran had her 90th birthday party yesterday, and it was notable by the enormous gathering of the Hay, West and Pegg clans. I met a number of relatives that I see in various orders of frequency: every couple of months, once a year-ish, intermittently every 3-5 years, have never met but know by repute, and never heard of but was hanging about the Vic English and Classics departments at the same time I was and has some of the same friends. That last was a bit of an interesting coincidence.

Gran was looking very chirpy and happy about it all, which is fantastic because she's been quite ill recently. Cat and I stayed over night in Waikanae to hang out with her and give my aunt Helen a bit of a break, which I really enjoyed.

In other news, my ex-defacto-step-father has just gotten married and his new wife (a lady called Cherry who lives in the Philipines) is expecting a baby. I'm feeling all clucky and hoping to be considered an honorary aunt.

Eavesdropping On My Flatmate's Roleplaying Game...

Currently my former flatmate and landlord is auditioning for a BollyPorn movie.
The other players are looking pretty boggled by it all.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Grey Mouser

Macca caught a mouse. She's been sitting out the back door with her face pressed up to the (locked) cat door saying: "Hey, look, I caught a Mouse. Can I come in? I can show off this Mouse I caught. I'm sorry, I can't talk so clearly right now, what with this Mouse in my mouth."

I think it was just a baby, and it looks suspiciously limp, so hopefully she killed it quickly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hanging with the Queens of New Zealand

So my job hunt is ... progressing and I'm getting bored hanging out at home. The obvious solution is to volunteer for something and so I signed up with the Cat Protection League. It's staffed by the kind of people my sister likes to call Queens of New Zealand: sensibly dressed women of indeterminate middle age quietly holding the world together. This morning was no exception - in between washing cat dishes, changing litter boxes, cuddling the residents and all the other things you need to do to keep 50 odd cats living together amicably, I was plied with much tea, fed biscuits and updated on gossip. Quite a lot of fun, actually.

EDIT: If anyone is looking for a large and active cat, they could try visiting the CPL and asking for Crookshanks. They say he's been there for two years and is driving himself crazy pacing around the run. Wanna go ooouuuuu-ouuuuuuut etc.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wot I Did This Weekend...

It was rather busy.

On Friday I graduated. My sister Cat says I looked super cute, although most of the photos didn't come out so well, so I can't prove it to the disinterested observer. It was pretty standard as graduations go, sore feet, marshalls who have the operation planned out like a war, getting to see professors in their extremely gaudy party clothes. Also, one of mine came up to me just as I was leaving the reception and said lots of nice things which is always good for my ego.

Some pictures that did come out well:

On Saturday morning we had a birthday breakfast with my John, Mum's John, Cat and Ed, which was a lot of fun. I got a good present haul, mostly involving books and homeware stuff (I asked for egg beaters, but also got a nice set of coasters and some kind of weird food processing implement called a Whiz Stick.) I think I've reached an age where I really want to nest, although it might also be the effects of moving house a month ago.

On Saturday afternoon and Sunday I was the assistant editor for a short film entered in the 48 Hours Furious Filmmaking competition. We made a superhero film about quarreling flatmates who haven't realised that they've been fighting the other one as a 4 colour hero/villain for some time now. This was my first go as an editor - on Thursday night I was given a hasty lesson on the editing software and the means to capture and log footage, and apparently exceeded expectations by working out how to insert title cards as placeholders while I was doing a rough cut. And I had the pleasure of seeing some of the shots I selected make it into the final work, although overall it was much changed by the work of the senior editor.

The screening is tonight. Yay!

Vivid Dreaming

One of the unusual things that's been happening this past few months is the strength and intensity of my dreams. Usually, when I'm aware of dreams I'm in what's called the lucid state, where you know that you're asleep and can choose to stay in the dream or wake up. Lately, though, I think the dream is real and sometimes after I've woken have to stop and work out what has really happened. Or, for instance, when my partner has woken me up because I'm snoring, I get surprised that I hadn't heard it, because the transition between the dream and awake was so smooth. Strange.

The One Man Star Wars Trilogy

It's quite fun. With added stormtroopers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Time Capsule

I've been sorting through old University notes, those dating from the period 1995-1998. I've never been able to bear throwing the physical reminder of all that work away, so they were packed into boxes and have been following me around for the last ten years. I still can't bear to throw them away, but I'd like to squeeze them down to one box so I've been flicking through the files pulling out ephemera - exam papers, assignments, scratch notes, that sort of thing and putting them aside to be recycled. In the process I'm not only glancing at old material and remembering (or not) studying it, but finding old pieces of music, stories I've written, stories other people have written (1), letters, cards and all the bits and pieces you collect.

It's interesting looking back at the person I was then. While there've been some big events between then and now, I think that most of the changes in me as a person were so gradual I didn't really notice them at the time, and I need to look back over a large space of time to see growing up in perspective.

(1) Cat, if by any chance you're missing the originals of your Etherfee Omn stories I have photocopies that you sent me an age ago.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I went down to the Cenotaph for the Dawn Service today. It was quite cold, with a raise of very cold on the bike ride there which is mostly downhill, and I'm glad I went. I was feeling sad for my Grandad and various Great-Uncles, although it's hard to be solemn and melancholy when the person in the crowd next to you is talking loudly about his landlord problems and high rent. [looks quizzical] Now, I'm in the hyper-awake state you get when you've gotten up rather earlier than you're used to, along with rebound warmth from being out in the cold and now inside with the blood rushing back into your hands.

A short piece from the Laurence Binyon poem "For the Fallen" that always gets quoted:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Cabbage

I'm moving on the weekend. (Into Repton's and HouseMonkey's house, for them that know where that is, and people that don't can leave a comment here if they'd like my new address.)

In the process I'm trying to do a sort out of all the gear I've accumulated and, out of both tidiness and necessity, getting rid of the things I don't need. Last night was working through my fabric bin taking out the pieces that are too small to work with, or uninteresting and unlikely to strike my fancy for, I dunno, doll-making or whatever. A friend of mine once referred to these kinds of scraps as 'cabbage,' and since that makes me think of the raggedy strips of sliced up cabbage prior to making coleslaw, I think that's a good term. Right now, my whole house is full of cabbage - left over bits and pieces that get left behind after the essential stuff has been packed, like the natural decomposition process of kipple. It's a bit disconcerting, although the cat is treating the whole affair as An Adventure. I'm not sure how she'll feel when the move hits and she's confined to a room to adjust in. Oh well.

But back to the cabbage. My current plan is to load the bag of scraps into one of those clothing bins that cuts old clothes up for rags. If anyone thinks they might use it, instead, like for patchworking, let me know and it's yours.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Looking for work again...

My employer has just announced some major rearrangements in their staffing, and I think that the end result will be me being shuffled out of the picture. Any leads greatly appreciated.

I think their timing could have been a lot better, but oh well.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dear Diary, This Morning My Cat Went Crazy.

Well, crazy is very likely too harsh a term - I'm pretty sure she was acting logically by her lights.

Sometime in the wee small hours a neighbouring cat tried to get in the cat door which at night is locked. I woke up to hear cats screaming and found Macca planted on the inside of the door staunchly protecting us against all comers, her tail doing an excellent imitation of a bottle brush. Then the outside cat went away and I thought I'd go back to sleep.

Not...really. Macca spent the rest of the morning wanting to go out, wanting to come in, dashing around the house, wanting me to go outside with her, using the litter box over and over again, not going through the cat door but batting at it very loudly, and in other fashions thoroughly marking her territory. So, logical in her way, but very tiring from my point of view.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

I have spent -

- the last three hours pinned on the couch by my cat. I made a brief escape half an hour ago to deal with some necessary functions (servicing my tea addiction and so forth), to be promptly pinned as soon as a I sat down again, ran out of ways to waste time on the internet, and have been left with resurrecting some half-finished stories that had gone the way of procrastination and adding bits. I had no idea you were so literarily inclined when I met you, Macca.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ending the Week on a Win

So, I've made it through the first three weeks at Firstlight.

Progress so far:
- I'm on to real work, albeit needing a fair amount of advice and checking, still.
- I finished the project I was working on for the week. Yay!
- I've been cycling in to work every day, and I've noticed this week that all the extra exercise is starting to pay off in hill-climbing ability. Also, alas, I'm now hungry All The Time. Even keeping a stash of fruit and hot cross buns on my desk is not keeping up. It's like being Repton, darn it.

And in frisbee:
- I got female MVP for our game tonight! Yippee! :-)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Work Update

Well, I survived my first week. I'm basically still in the training phase, but I've been working through the example exercises at a reasonable rate and will hopefully be let loose on real work next week. This afternoon involved shadowing members of my real actual honest-to-god team, rather than friendly members of other teams, which is a good sign for progressing through the system.

The work looks like it will be very interesting, and well suited to someone with an inveterate web browsing habit and good general knowledge. Only this week, I've been reading about conflict diamonds and efforts to stamp out the trade in same, wafer cleaning and handling issues in the semiconductor industry, a pharmacy company's recruiting efforts and NASA's magazine for publishing technical updates. And more semiconductors. There is an unexpectedly high number of semiconductor magazines out there, which is a shame for us, because the field is very very jargony.

For the first few days I was getting dreadfully tired by the end of the day and pretty much collapsing on getting home. My apologies to my nearest and dearest who bore the brunt of fatigue temper tantrums. :-( Anyway, that seems to be getting better as I adjust to office hours after a sustained period of holiday time - if nothing else, I've actually made it ten to twelve without conking out this evening. Also, I've been biking into town everyday apart from Monday and am finding it a useful burst of fresh air and exercise to counter a sedentary occupation. I've noticed that my cycling fitness has improved remarkably since last year - time was I couldn't cope with cycling in two days in a row because I got so tired, now it's just much needed exercise.

The people I'm working with are nice and talking to me, which is another good sign, although this week I've noticed the unavoidable drop in status you get in switching from being the technically knowledgeable old hand to the untrained newbie, despite everyone's efforts to get to know each other. One thing I really like about the place is it's location in Anvil House just across the road from the Michael Fowler Centre. A friend says there used to be bands operating out of the building when she was in her clubbing phase, and with names like "Sonic Machine" and "Squared One" on the directory I suspect this is still the case. It's also within cooee of the Civic Centre and associated buildings, Cuba St, Courtenay Place and the Waterfront, which is making my lunch hours varied and interesting affairs. I do like the architecture in downtown Wellington. It's not that I love each individual building, but they all work well together and the way they're arranged makes an inclusive space particularly friendly to pedestrians. It's just nice to hang out there, really. The closest my old haunts in Auckland got to that chilled out ambience was Aotea Square and the Town Hall, but even with the skateboarders adding some life to the area, it just can't compete - Auckland has a far more linear arrangement that makes me feel like it worships the motorcar. I like Wellington's more clustered arrangement far better.

EDIT: Actually, the names I misremembered are Sonic Mobile and OneSquared and they turn out to be companies selling mobile phone services.

My First Bike Fall.

With picture for the Suppurating Wounds Club (Nasty Bruise Subdivision):

and complimentary picture of Macca, because she's beautiful and happened to be around while I had the camera out:

As bike falls go, I guess it was pretty sedate, involving a nearly stationary bicycle and no other vehicles. Shoe laces are so darn threatening, doncherknow. My laces got caught on the pedal when I tried to dismount and the only way to go by then was down. It's so embarrassing. I'm fine, barring the bruises on leg and ego.

Cerise Magazine

Cerise is a web magazine devoted to woman gamers and is particularly favourable to feminist points of view. Their articles are predominately on video/PC gaming and roleplaying with occasional excursions onto Larping and Wargaming. Also, they now publish articles by me. :-)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Flat Out, Naked.

Actually, Flat Out, Nude (N.U.D.E is the Nelson Ultimate Frisbee club.) They run an annual tournament on Tahuna Beach, which I went to with Repton this weekend.

The short summary:
Saturday - rather soggy, and we staggered back to the motel feeling very staunch. The organisers skipped lunch and one of the rest breaks in order to get people out of the rain as soon as possible, so we played straight through from 9am to 2pm with 10 minute breaks in between each game. I had a lot of fun despite the wet, although I had a Lot of trouble running on the sand and didn't get my hands on the disc very often. There was a pirate party in the evening, which I thought about going to, but decided against because I didn't much feel like being rained on again. In our short dash to a closer restaurant, I did discover that the pirate coat Cat made for me several years ago has quite reasonable waterproofing properties (I'd left my regular coat at the beach by accident.) Our team ended the day fourth out of ten teams.

Sunday - rather nice weather, apparently all the other tournaments in this series have been just as lovely. Had a lot more fun in the warmer weather, and my playing Did Not Suck. Sometimes it was even Anti-Sucky and I did cool things like catching a really long throw and participating in really smooth throwing sequences. No layouts, but I'm finding the idea less daunting after a full on collision with a girl who was going for the disc at the same time as I was. I think she had only a marginal chance of catching it, but was OK for her to call it a foul because I felt guilty about knocking her to the ground. Repton of course played beautifully throughout. We ended the round robin fourth out of ten teams, which meant we had to play two more games, unlike the single placement games for the lazy bums (;-)) who were lower than us in the rankings. The Semis were a lot of fun and hard out, and our final game was scarily close and also very hard out. We ended, as you might have guessed, fourth. (There's something about that number...)

Sunday evening - Trip home sucked - our plane was delayed, and Repton and I spent close on an hour and a half cooling our heels in the airport before the airline staff cracked and shifted us to a different plane. Glad to be back, although my cat has been spending the weekend bonding with my flatmate and doesn't seem to think of me as the centre of her world anymore. (Sigh.) I'm rather stiff, but not as badly as expected and my ankle, which has been giving me problems lately, is a lot less sore than I was worried about, mostly due to mammoth taping efforts on Repton's part. Also, I found the tournament as a whole to be a lot less exhausting than the other ones I've been to, so I guess I must have gained some fitness over the last nine months or so since the last time I played in one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On the 26th Day of February

My true love sent to me..........

A Google Message with the following text:
"You can google for words like "embarbuttment" for other examples..
Or ho ho :-)"

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm feeling very transitional right now. Macca the cat is still in her settling in phase, I've just accepted a new job ... even the weather is beginning to turn.

Macca. She's the most assertively friendly cat I've ever met. She's toned it down a little from her first couple of days, when I expect she was partly smooching out of nerves and a desire to bond, but she's still very friendly, and the only cat I know who would plead to be allowed in to a room full of noisy visitors. She's had a cold this week and is still sneezing, but the frequency seems to be dropping off, and it hasn't stopped her eating or made her depressed her or anything. She's started going outside for short periods under supervision - she loses a lot of her street-wise cool when she goes out, being particularly wary of cars driving by, but also unsure of the strange spaces and the more random air movements. Her main exception was on Saturday, when she found a way into the reserve out the back that I didn't know about and we did some unplanned bush bashing. Macca thinks that Trees Are Cool, and will likely be going out that way a lot as soon as I trust her not to get lost. (We ended up going through one of the neighbour's gardens and coming back by the road because I'd had to cross some awfully steep ground while I was trying to catch up with her, which I wasn't going to attempt with a cat in my arms.)

The Job. It's at FirstLightERA and the position title is Information Taxonomist. (Because obscure job titles is where it's at. ;-)) As I understood things from the job interview, they provide an editorial related advertising service to specialist web magazines. This means that someone reading an article in, I dunno, Plumber's Weekly, would see ads on that page that are very specifically relevant to that article, much more relevant than an automated keyword matching service would provide. The team I'm being hired for goes through each publication and makes a taxonomy tree of what sorts of information are presented, so that each individual article can be tagged correctly. Theoretically, the readers win, because the ads can be less obtrusive and will be more relevant to them, and the advertisers and web magazines win, because their ads are more effective per pixel. Anyway, I get a call in about twenty minutes to discuss things like when I start. Fingers crossed etc.

What isn't transitional is my relationship with Repton, which is about to reach it's 2nd anniversary. This is very cool, except for the annoying part of my back brain which likes to poke me when it thinks I might be getting comfortable with something. Stupid back brain. (Sorry, Repton, I'm going through a neurotic phase.)

EDIT: Just had the phone call, I start next Monday.

EDIT2: And in news of the other person going through a big transition right now, I've heard from Fraser's new flatmate that he arrived safely in Auckland, unloaded his gear and is on his way back to return the van.

Sunday, February 17, 2008



Round the Bays

This morning I ran the Round the Bays fun run in ~49 minutes (yes, I managed to run the whole way, excepting about 10 metres when I was having my halfway drink.) I'm glad I did it, although unfortunately I've pulled some ligaments in one foot and am hobbling about putting ice on it and so forth. There was a physio at Kilbirnie Park who looked at it and said it would be fine in a couple of days, though. Also saw my aunt Barbara in the park, and she's looking well. She had news about one of my cousins who has just had a baby after 96 hours of labour. Just ... ow.

Macca is doing well, she's wandering around the main part of the house exploring, sneezing and saying "Myeh" a lot, with intermittent lounging on the couch being made much of.

EDIT: The times have now been published. I actually ran the course in 46.01 minutes, from start line to finish line, and was placed 2837th. (It was 6.6km, giving me an average running speed of 8.6 km/hr.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On Cats

I can remember reading a series of books by C. J. Cherryh about a family of sort of humanoid cats who travelled about their region of space trading. It became a running gag in the books that they'd be forced to deal with an incomprehensible alien (and once a male of their own species) and end up by locking them in the bathroom for want of anywhere else to put them. In a reversal of that running gag, I now have a prisoner of my own locked in the bathroom. Her name is Macca, and she is a 7 year old tabby.

We've only just got back from the SPCA and she's still upset, but coping a lot better than she could be. Photos to follow when she's more settled in.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wot I Did Today.

In fact, today, I went to Waikanae to visit my Gran, along with Mum who'd come from the other direction. It turned out really nice, although I confess to a certain amount of sleep-short grumpiness this morning when the bus was late and I missed the train connection. Hence, I have walked on the beach, eaten a hot cross bun, listened to some truly hair raising childhood anecdotes from my ancestresses and been plied with money and food.

In other news, I have a job interview on Wednesday for the position of Information Taxonomist, which definitely scores style points for unusual job title. Fingers crossed etc.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Larping, today.

Almost made my going to bed deadline of midnight, and will now try not to go too far over. All packed and ready for tomorrow. Phew. [crosses fingers]

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here's to Anonymous Gifts.

Gosh. Someone has sent me a copy of The Highwayman with the lovely (and spooky) Charles Keeping illustrations, and I have no idea who, because the package came straight from Amazon with no gift note. Thank you whoever you are!

In other news, I am busy with Larp stuff, mostly sending out character sheets and panicking slightly that a couple of characters haven't been cast yet. I'm sure it will turn out OK (fingers crossed).

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wandering Up To The Fish and Chip Shop in Pyjamas and Slippers.

I think this is a new low in casual attire.

Sometimes, y'see, you get home and shower and there doesn't seem much point in getting back into real clothes. I went to frisbee practice this morning, then cycled with Repton the long way home, from Northland to Karori and back, then down to the waterfront, around the coastline, and turning inland at Island Bay to stagger back home. My fatigue is punishment, I expect, for not getting enough exercise while travelling. Somewhere in the bike ride, I agreed to signing up to the Round the Bays fun run - people with advice on training programs are welcome to stick in their oar, because running is not something I'm particularly good at.

Sorry, burbling a bit, probably dehydrated, enjoyed the ride a lot.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Home, James, And Don't Spare The Horses.

Actually, we took our time.

I got back yesterday from Repton's and my womble up the North Island. Officially, we were off to have Christmas at my mother's house and attend Repton's cousins wedding in Auckland just before New Year's and we decided to be touristy and take our time getting there. Christmas was, well, anyone reading this will have read the earlier updates about Mum being in hospital, which rather damped any making merry activities. The last I talked to her, she was feeling a lot better, although not 100% well yet. We did do things like visiting her in hospital and singing her one carol very quietly, the one that starts "All praise to thee my God this night" which Mum says was always at Evensong when she was a wee young lass and meant a lot to her. Apart from that, Christmas Day was pretty quiet, with the big meal put off from luch to dinner but worked out OK for all of that.

The wedding itself was lovely. I've never been to a Catholic wedding before (excuse me, nuptial mass) so it was interesting seeing how things compare to the Anglican and secular affairs I've been to before. It was a lot more formal than the last wedding I attended (that was a Pirate Do, and at all the important moments everyone said "Arrgh!"), and while it was easy to work out when to stand and sit, there were an awful lot of responses that most of the attendees had pat that I was muttering along to and pretending that I knew what was going on. Also, meeting Repton's family turned out well - they're friendly and nice and easy to talk to, which is all good. I found it interesting, though. Repton is tall and a bloke, is very quiet in most conversations, and is the least visual person I know. Most of his siblings and cousins are tall, but conversely tend to be female, active conversationalists, and study art history and have hobbies like painting and photography. It's like someone set up the genes in the Fouhy family with a divider switch.

Touristy things we did in the meantime:
Shannon: Owlcatraz. If you can stand the awful puns (they just get worse when you go in) it's quite interesting. It started off as a privately owned reserve for studying morporks built by a farmer who had an interest. People started bouncing up asking for tours and it grew from there. Now, it has morporks, German owls (although our guide said that in Europe they're called Little Owls), weka, ostriches, and a selection of unusual livestock - small, large, interesting breeds, that kind of thing.
Taupo: The A. C. Baths. A. C. I found out, stands for Armed Constabulary, the military outpost that was the first Pakeha settlement in the area. There was no such thing as indoor plumbing or an electricity supply to heat bath water at the time, so the soldiers made alternative arrangements with a local hot spring.
Ernest Kemp. A replica of a steam ship that takes people out on the lake to see some interesting carvings in the stone. The carvings are the moko of one of (or the) earliest Maori chief in the region whose name I've forgotten. Alas, we didn't get to go on the Barbary, a sailing ship reportedly once owned by Errol Flynn.
Auckland: Takapuna Beach. A nice long, rather crowded beach where we went with ElvenAlchemist.
Castor Bay. A smaller beach with rocks, a climbing tree and a green sward where we caught up with Yvonne and family.
The Golden Compass. Well, I went to see it, anyway. Repton went for a walk up Mt Albert.
Starfire and Gryphon. Not touristy at all, but our very kind hosts. Although Gryphon started me watching the Sharpe series of movies, damn his eyes, and it's annoying because I've seen the first two and would like to see the rest, and can't, because his collection is still up in Auckland. Grr.
New Year's Eve. Again, not very touristy, we went along to a Hoarde party at which we played board games, chatted, and I was plyed with alcoholic beverages.
Waitomo: St Benedict's Cavern. We went caving of course. St Benedict's is one of the 'adventure' options available. The guides give you a quick lesson on abseiling, you lower yourself into a crevasse in the ground and go to. The worst part was the flies, which were attracted to the light in our helmets and liked to dive bomb our faces, the best bit was the flying fox near the end through St Benedict's Cathedral, the highest point in the cave and truly glorious. Also we stayed on a farm and I bought a very beautiful picture which is hanging on the wall as I speak.
Wanganui: I think Wanganui has to count as our 'nice place, we should spend more time here some other trip' stop. (We were getting tired.) We meant to go out on the river, but weren't very organised about arranging it, so after wandering around for a bit, we ended up in the centre of town where I went to the Sarjent Gallery and Repton explored the area. The exhibit I thought was coolest was an artist who'd decided to work in gorse wood. I expect it's a pig of a thing to work, but the result is a beautiful yellow colour with a dark grain running through it.

And then we came home.

Repton said something interesting on our second to last day: that we'd been travelling together for 10 days straight and hadn't had any arguments. When I think about it, actually there were rather a lot of stress attractors in the mix - driving, sitting in bad traffic, meeting each other's friends/family en masse, a Christmas Day full of worry and drama, and simply being in each other's company continuously for longer than we ever have before. I think we did pretty well, actually.

Happy New Year, all.