30 January 2016

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During the week I came back from house-sitting for friends.  They were away for six days, up and down the island, showing it to visiting family.  I looked after their cats while they were away.

Part of the visit allowed me to raid their digital television cache for things I wanted to catch up on or see.  I don’t usually bother with downloading things at home so this is a treat.

What did I watch?

  • Doctor Who: I hadn’t caught up with all the episodes of Season 9.  I have been eratic about this.  I felt the Zygon episodes could have been better.  They kept a light hand on dealing with issues of terrorism and radicalisation of minorities which could have been more forward; and UNIT still are used as stooges.  I also hadn’t seen Heaven Sent and enjoyed this episode, placing Hell Bent in context.
  • The Expanse: Recommended.  I watched the first five episodes and loved it.  It’s Engineers in Spaaaaace! An empire-building space opera with hard science as humanity expands to colonise the solar system two hundred years in the future.  As they are based on a series of books I am now wanting to read the first title, Leviathan Wakes.  Apparently the series has been faithful to the books so far.
  • The Last Ship: season two of this post-apocalyptic series.  I liked the acting and writing in this series, and a second season did not disappoint me.  I am looking forward to a third season.
  • The Shanara Chronicles: Oh. Dear.

Promise? Yes, please, I’ll wait.  Make it good!

Second week after Epiphany

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Not much to report this week.  I have begun a couple of days house-sitting for friends down North East Valley again, looking after their extended family of cats.  Two cats that are part of the household, Baobao and Qinqin are old friends, and two that look in every morning, DJ, a black and white cat, and Huanghuang, a ginger, who appear to have joined the extended family.

I am surprised what people notice and what people don’t.  There are things of which I am unobservant, and I would have to admit I am insensitive to people, one of my vulnerabilities.  I am puzzled that people don’t live at a walking pace, especially in this neighbourhood.  In the staff room people had just noticed that the North East Valley Post Office, the tourist shop for Baldwin Street, of international fame, had opened again as a cafe.  I had noticed that it was renovating when I was here last, and opened a week after I left at the end of winter, The Grid Roastery, it is called now.

The Chinese takeaway in the shop beside Northumberland Street had closed about a year ago.  Today I notice that it looks like it might open again soon as a beer-garden.  I must mention that to the registrar when I see her again.

Perhaps I should end with some grace notes:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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I went and saw this at the weekend.  I was seeing too many spoilers.  I’ve had enough time to compile some thoughts.  Here’s some of them.

The Empire, or the First Order, marches; the Resistance runs.  This seems to be a significant difference.

If I watch this again it will be to make a list of health and safety violations.  I think I’ve spotted at least two in my first screening: Storm-troopers shuttling down to planetside without apparently being strapped in; later Rey trips some fuses without checking the safety protocols.  Once Health and Safety mobilises I don’t think either the First Order, or the Resistance, stand much chance coming off unscathed.

Rey is cool.  She is not just a Jedi, she is an Engineer.

What is the First Order’s economy?  Even after two Death Stars are destroyed and their dominance over the Star Wars galaxy has been shattered they still have fully functional funding to build a equator-girdling Starkiller Base that can be seen from orbit, a weapon that dwarves either of the earlier Death Stars.

What is the relationship between the Resistance and the New Republic?  Apparently the Resistance is embedded in the New Republic beyond the reach of the First Order.  Does General Leia Organa answer to a Comander-in-Chief in the Republic?  There are potentially disturbing implications if the Resistance is answerable only to itself.

Rule of thumb – if you end up in the Star Wars galaxy, move off the densely populated urban planets.  They get destroyed first.  Even low density settlements get bombed by the First Order, but the planet doesn’t get destroyed under your feet.  They have to find you first so you have a better chance.

Epiphany 1

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A friend, who I had not seen in a while, asked me how I had been.  I gave an answer that I had been involved in work, gym and church, and that kept me busy.  It would be good to do a summary of my progress.

Work has not been entirely satisfactory.  A conflict of personalities was resolved by the end of the year.  The leadership of the last year and more has been lost.  I feel disappointed over this waste of spirit.  New leadership will be appointed in early 2016.  I hope that this will prove to be a more stable relationship and a better workplace.

Gym and physical exercise is something that I do when I get time, usually any evening that I am free of appointments I fit it in.  Last year I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, 80/150 I think, and resolved to do something about it.  Diet made the biggest benefit, getting my weight down to 70 kilo.  I’m thinner, if not slimmer, through changing to low fat milk and edam cheese, as well as religiously reading the fat and suger content on everything I buy.  If it’s above 5 grammes per serving I look if there’s another option.  Exercising regularly helps.  I do a cardio programme of treadmill, stepping, and running at least a couple of times a week if I can.

I live across town to my preferred church, usually a forty minute walk.  Often I can get a ride.  I don’t depend on it.  I don’t get to many social events as available as when I live closer.  I’m an office-bearer and I’m over there for meetings regularly.  It acts as a social encounter for me.

There are projects on my computer that I continue with.  The imaginary language Brithenig continues to grow in lexicon.  I visit the university library to create new words from Welsh and Romance languages.  I continue other projects, an imaginary city which I add details to when I hear description, and a folder of imaginary characters I created years ago for writing fantasy.  The writing was never finished, the characters still remain.

My life continues, quietly, in one place.  There is always new books to read, new ideas to discover.

Christmas 1

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I’m back from holiday.  I spent two weeks in the merged household that makes up my family in Invercargill.  It was a household full of people.  The youngest two were leaving for studies in Auckland.  Their first big move out of the family.  A lot of energy was going into preparations into driving up the island.  Then a caravan of family friends and their children came and stayed.  Other family from Te Anau and Central Otago came and were welcome.

It was overwhelming.  I was promised a ride back to Dunedin.  It was getting further set back.  In the end I booked on the bus, a chance to claim a week by myself.

The eating was excellent, with big long feasts around the dinner table every night.  I was plied with beer without asking late into the evening.  A matins walk to the toilet in the early hours was necessary most nights.  There was little chance for walking, if I planned to walk anywhere a ride was quickly provided.  Since in Dunedin I walk daily to and from work in all weather I suspect that this was the cause of my leg cramping at the end of the holiday.  I am quickly back into my practice.

Simple gifts for me:

  • Forest & Bird ‘Natures voice’ New Zealand Conservation Diary 2016
  • Farmers Voucher, which I spent on a new pair of sleep pants.  I left a pair in Invercargill
  • Two jars of home-made gooseberry and orange jam from NannyJo
  • A jar of home-made mustard
  • A set of six carved elephants that belonged to Auntie Winnie.  When I got home I realised that they fit in perfectly with my little nativity under the Christmas tree, a choir of little elephants serenading the baby Jesus – why isn’t this in the gospels?

Let me put in a plug for the Argyle Cottage Garden.  It is worth a visit, a folly, a duckpond and St. Mary’s Anglican Church moved from Kaitangata to be a wedding chapel and a community church.  It felt like a little bit of Narnia translocated to Waianiwa.


 New Zealand Conservation Diary 2016 – available from Forest & Bird – Online Shop