Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hate letters from children

I've had a few hate letters from the kids. But this is my favourite.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14

It's been a week. Interesting how easy tis, on the one hand, to rabbit on about trivia (and occasionally attempt to insert some gravity, some windy generalisation) and also how the impetus dies and builds, and dies away.
Woke fairly late, in O's bed. Got up slowly- a good sleep, despite the irregular barrage of aftershocks: a little rumble in the distance; the small thump or click or jerk following faithfully. Made coffee- Poppy and Toby interrupted this, with plans for a big egg/bacon/beans breakfast. P and I took coffee back to bed- chatted. Got up and checked over camera gear, packed and headed off, late. Pen wanted me to get diesel, so I had to fill the truck from the tin; took the charger off, checked the oil.
Drove in, listening to the radio. Quake quake quake.
The Emergency Operations Centre was low-key. Lynn asked me to get set up. Found a space and got camera, mic, tripod set up; found ear-phones, checked sound, white-balanced, waited.
Rod came and talked to camera. Good in that broken into sections. but hard: too much isn't know, and decisions still to be made this afternoon. Digitise, then convert the footage- then realise that isn't right (didn't downconvert to 720p), and it needs to be exported as canopus hq. Still seems remarkable what can be done with the HV20, mics, tripod and old laptop- and thence to youtube in HD.
Lengthy waiting: had some lunch; talked to people. I get a strong sense of underlying weariness, accompanied by a feeling that we know what to do, but wish we didn't have to do it again. Cut the talk into sections, add graphics, keys, trim.
John McDonald takes a look and wants the assessment segment up asap. Fairly quick to export and put up on youtube- and I know the process well enough now.
Jacqui talking to him on the lawn; gives me a big hug. Very hard being away from young kids. A little later she takes a look, and we cobble together another clip, and I get it up. Everything a little flat. While it's exporting, try to record some of the ops meeting, but it's very low-key. Chris Hawker is away in the US talking to other universities about emergency planning. Heh.
Get away around 4:40 as the comms team begin to craft the afternoon's key announcements. It looks like the university won't be fully open til Monday 20th. Exams will be able- all going well- to be squeezed in (there were a few on the Saturday.)
Buy some fruit and veg; then the supermarket. You can smell spilt beer in the alcohol corner. The diet coke bottles are sticky with a dried on spray of softdrink. The checkout woman is working flat-out, a little feverishly. Friendly, though. Riccarton Countdown is one of the few supermarkets to re-open quickly after each of the quakes.
Dark as I leave. Get diesel and petrol at the Curletts Rd Shell- they are out of 91. Stop to pick up naan bread at the Indian dairy on Hoon Hay Rd. Everyone cheery, but weary. Little shocks and rumbles don't help.
After some confusion, wrong number, I pick up the joddies and whip Pen bought on trademe, and drive home. A little grumpy dinner isn't started, and there's a lot to unpack and put away. But it all gets done, and Poppy and Toby make butter chicken, and we eat up.
School tomorrow, but probably no work. We'll still have to do the driving.
Play last card with Biddy, who is apparently nit-free, while Julia gets the comb. Hotties, tea, ice-creams, another hand or two of cards. Oscar is reluctant to go to bed- and denies there is school tomorrow. I sit and type most of this, as he eats a last plate of crackers (he had to tidy up the down-stairs pillows to get this) and then a drink, toothbrush, and nods off.
It's 10:58. Pen calls for me to come up to bed. I wonder what I'll think of this in a year; ten years. Probably just forget it. But diarising a week every year or so isn't too daunting. Pen calls again. And so to bed.

13 June

Hard to remember back to the morning.
It was hard getting away. Couldn't find stuff- searched for Oscar's notebook, for example, which it turned out had gone home with another kid. Pen said at one stage I 'wasn't coping' and I gave her a short rant.
We got off. Biddy home sick. Julia, I think, in the front seat. No heater in the car. The worst thing about this is the way the windows mist and drip and befog. Nice day, though. A hint of frost, thin rime on the grass.
Running about 10 minutes late by Avonhead School. Pen called to say the truck wouldn't start. Bugger.
Started to work- getting purchase orders, a few calls; looked over the mudfish script. Walked over the UC to a meeting with Jen Hay and Matthew. Jogged- running late.
Went to the wrong 104. Then again- then found it. The 'seismic archive' could be an interesting project. (Rumble, then the little 'crunch' of another after shock as I write).
we'd almost finished talking when the building began to shake. We looked at each other, I guess looking for someone to take the lead in responding. The shaking lasted for a while. There was a nasty sound of concrete pillars grinding. Nobody really moved, and then, as far as I recall, Jen Hay more or less continued what she'd been saying.
We were finished, really- we trooped outside. Buildings were evacuating, fairly casually, in the sun. Matt rode off to check out the kids. I headed back to College, to ring and see what the schools were doing. Poppy texted on someone elses' phone to say she was ok. I replied, and asked if school was shutting. She said she'd find out.
Back in the office, I rang Pen. We dithered about what to do. A 5.5 on geonet.
Poppy was ok and school re-opened. I thought the others would be too, but calls to both schools did not get through. Pen said she had the truck going, and would need to leave to pick up Oscar soon anyway. So I started work again, in a fitful way.
A security guard came past some time after 2 and told me I have to get out. I grumbled a bit. Poppy was not due to finish til 6- a drama practice- so I wasn't sure what I'd do with myself. Gathered up bag, laptop and camera bag, and headed to the car. Then realised I didn't have the battery charger (I'd brought it in to charge the work van battery- we needed it at home for the truck) and my cellphone.
Went back in, and got my cellphone. Must've been locking the door when the next big quake hit. The building groaned; the ground swayed. I came out the door at great pace.
John the security guard was there, half-laughing. "I thought that building was clear!" he said. Pen called. She'd been stuck in traffic, near the Victoria St clock tower. I told her I'd get Julia, and head for Poppy.
Avonhead school was busy, but it almost seemed a familiar bustle. Had to sign to pick Julia up. We drove past the University, heading for Rangi, listening to national radio. Traffic really clogged on Straven Rd, though people let us in. We inched down and onto Fendalton, then Holmwood Rd. Parked and walked to get Pop. Julia was chirpy and chatty. Peered about at the great mass of students on the field- Poppy saw us first. Hugs from teachers, talked to Isabel, and back to the car. Julia is not at all frightened of earthquakes, but terrified of crossing the road.
Very slow down Wairekei; turned onto Greers, then Waimari- and decided to head via backstreets for Hornby.
This worked out ok- especially as we went past Avonhead where Julia got her glasses, Poppy used the loo, and we stocked up on lollies at the dairy. Poppy and Julia listening to Harry Potter on P's macbook, we drove around town, then back over the hill. The radio full of more stories of terror, damage, and that sense of 'oh, puh-leese- not AGAIN!'
Home, all together. Drove around and fed the horses, hooked the truck up to the charger, started the generator, checked email, facebook, mercproductions; made dinner... Poppy reading Alana to the twins. Fire blazing. Oscar likes to listen as well.
No school tomorrow, but I am going in to shoot something. P and I watched an episode of Treme. Love way great music twines into everything. I find it inspiring. Jumped up and started reading about Louis Armstrong, growing up poor in Orleans, befriended by the jewish family (he wore a Star of David the rest of his life) his politics, oddities, musical genius- the playful, mournful-happy jumpiness of his cornet playing- and that voice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 12

Pen, Pop and twins off to Pony Club. I grumped about. Listened to the radio. Fed the hens and Lucinda (Paddy being weened, she'd been neighing in the night. Now very swollen udders). Cleaned some chicken-shit out of the chicken house. Ate some fejoas.
Cold, the sun obscured by thin smoggy layer of clouds. On the news, it seems this is ash coming from the volcano in Chile.
Tidied up a bit. Put through a load of washing. Attacked gorse by clothes-line. Folded clothes. Checked email and facebook. Made lunch for Pony Clubbers, and abandoned any thought of sailing. Fed other horses.
Drove to Pony Club. Oscar roamed freely, delighted to find Amanda. After lunch there was polo training. I took some photos and video. Finnegan behaving well, and off to (maybe) a new home.
Came home, nit-combed Oscar, and put on chicken to roast. Toby a little hung-over after a night on the town. Pen picked Marg up. Big roast chicken dinner, tarte tartin. Biddy not well. Drove Marg home. Settled all into bed and half-browsed, half-watched netball with Pen.
Silver Ferns held on to win 45-42.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11

Managed to get a good night's sleep. Woke slowly, Pen making coffee. Tidied up a bit, then had to get the ute started- low on diesel, and the battery down. Luckily we had diesel.
Did some chores round the place- twins went riding. They found Riley out, came back very excited (they'd shut the gates.) Truck started, so I went and found Pen, and she brought Riley and Tully down to the three-bay, while I moved some hay, and tried to help out.
Back at home, Pop and the twins agreed to ride the newbies: Biddy on Chelsea, Julia on Finnegan, Poppy on Tully. Oscar and I went to town, and bought: a new petrol container, voltmeter, ax and rechargable torch-radio 9and a sausage for Oscar); diesel, petrol, gas; and groceries (including, of course, salt and vinegar chips).
Arrived back to find the twins had had a good ride, but Tully had been a disaster. Thrown Poppy twice, badly scraped, and also rope-burns, from when he'd thrown Penny. He'd just gone silly, wild, hitting the wall, falling over, trying to get the saddle and person off.
Nachos and wound-tending; then I dug up some ngaios, and went to plant them in the gully in block 1. Sheep and ponies grazing together, scattered into their two groups when I arrived- the sheep, led by Dot, walked up, and she sniffed the ngaios very interestedly,until she was sure they were not edible.
Getting dark by the time I was heading back. Not convinced we'll have much success with these... we've tried a few times in this spot. Too loved by stock.
Fed horses on the way back: William and Marley and Finnegan up top; Tully, Riley and Salty around the 3-bay, and Finneen above the house. Made cheese- toasties. Equalising the batteries, and still pondering wind generators.
Watched some more Nurse Jackie with Pen, and then stayed up late reading about John Ross, Pancho Villa, 1910 and the Mexican Revolution.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10

Damp day, woke in the dark, and didn't get up til after the phone had finished it's snippet of "Of Montreal".
Toby's 21st: he came in and opened presents as we got ready to leave. Again a leisurely run, Biddy on time to get ready for orchestra before the assembly began.
ELMS meeting. Alan is leaving, which seems a shame. But he's been unhappy for a while here. It IS dreary at the moment.
Spend much of the morning researching prices, and trying to 'make a case' for buying stuff. Some of it stuff I've been talking about for years. Frustrating. When I had the power to make decisions, I did stuff. Now I don't. I talk about it. I write it down. I write it down a gain. I change my mind, give up, try again, throw it in the bin. It does not feel good.
Off to another ECHO360 meeting at 2. Walk out into the rain, carrying laptop, bag, camera, notepad.... and try to find the van. Feel a bit dizzy. Rain on my glasses. It's not there. Look around a bit. So stupid me, where did I park it? After a moment or two, while half my brain is trying to work out where I DID park it, the other half is saying, slightly incredulously: someone's nicked it.
Back to the office, unlock, turn off the alarms. Security: no vans have been towed. Ring police to report stolen. Talk to security again. Ring Pen- she has to come in and pick me up, as well as Oscar, the twins, Poppy. Mope, search, call AMI, mechanic (to cancel the car booking for Monday: we'll need it.)
Pen comes, Oscar tries to run away (Poppy chases him) we talk with Lucy and Tim, gather up the twins, head home. Turn on the generator, nip down to feed Tully and Salty, the last hints of light tinting low clouds under Mt Bradley. Pen makes pizzas.
Finished Archer's Goon.
Watched Episode 1 of Adam Curtis' latest series. Not sure what his point is about computers, but it was fascinating seeing Ayn Rand, and some of the financial history was good. Half-way through, Pen got interested, so we watched it again from the beginning, together. He is a compelling film-maker, but I didn't quite get the 'network' connection.
Then an episode of Nurse Jackie, and cuddling up, and slumber.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

June 9

Oscar staying home today, so a much more leisurely morning. Chatted to Poppy on the way in. Dropped the girls off near the College of Ed to walk.
Pfaffed about far too much at work. Delivered DVD, talked raptors with Gil, tried not to work on the Elspeth talk, went to the Edius forum to find out why Edius crashes on export, did some organising, phone-calls, etc. Wrote diary.
Tired. Talked over TECP361 dvds with Nicki Dabner and Pat Shepherd. I'd like the College of Ed story to properly figure in Herbert's report on e-learning post quake, but I'm not sure how to manage this. There is a lot of scorn, bitterness and erosion of goodwill out there.
At lunchtime, drove out to Hornby (Klondyke Place) to alu-fix, and lo! the broken hinges for the front door (Poppy sez HI!) are replaced! The woman apologised for the price, but at $27 each they are cheaper than the $45 we paid for the last two. Bought three... hope a/ I can install them without having to remove the door, and b/ they will make the front door work properly again.
Found it hard to concentrate after lunch. So I abandoned Elspeth and went to work on the Mudfish. Oh dear: I did stuff things up a little. Not just the wide shots at the beginning with the macro bumped, but also a big patch with no audio... shame, cos what I've got will work quite well, but more of Jon talking on-site would be good.
Still: there's a reasonable 5-8 minute piece lurking in in the rubble.
Almost 5 when I got a call from poppy- at the Ricc Mall shopping for Toby. Ah yes: Toby's 21st tomorrow. So I head down in the fast darkening, and find there are no chargers at Dick Smiths. Downcast for about 5 mins- but Noel Leeming have them in stock, and $2 less. Yay!
Meet Poppy, who gives me her rice-ball. We pick the twins up from Emma's. Sarah and Seamus are nice, and the boys engaging. But my, it's soooo clean!
Emma's new puppy has to go: Flynn is allergic to him. Sad.
Drive home in the dark, stew for dinner. Pen is waiting for the netball (I hope never to pay Sky a cent). I am waiting to read the final chapter of Archer's Goon.
But alas, the twins, having been read Alana in the bath with Pop, fell asleep. So the Goon must wait. Found and squashed the louse that had been making my head crazy-itchy.
Aussies won a sharp game of netball.
And so.

Dear Dairy: June 8

Penny has started writing a diary. How 19th century, I thought. And then I thought some more.
And decided it was an interesting idea, and maybe I would try it for a week, and I would use blogger, cos it's here, and because I've always seen it as my diary, rather than anything anyone else will read.
Though I've come to realise it's not the place to fully, crudely, express how I feel about work.
So- June 8.
Mild head-cold.
Rushed over the hill and through town because we left late, and the twins had to be at school before 9 to catch a bus to the northwest festival practice day. We made it... which meant the studio lights were on, camera fired up, and I was emailing an audio file to a lecturer when Herbert and then Antoine turned up for interviews about flexible learning in the aftermath of the quake. Alan followed, and then I hastily sent some files to Scratch for Janelle and walked over to a meeting with marketing.
Once again rubbing up against other people's frustration with the University. and once again we re-invent stuff. Dave, the new head of marketing, is keen on a sort of marketing UCTV. He sees the content as student generated (with prizes- I'd make something myself for a Fiji holiday :))
Interesting, but...
Greg showed me some nice implementation of video galleries of short student 'testimonials'. I didn't know they were there. I think they were shot, in fact, by Eve, the photographer. Clips not streamed, simply hosted .flvs on the servers.
Yet again: another individual initiative heading off on its own to- who knows where. It drives me a little crazy, even when I like what people are doing.
I'm coming to the realisation: my job is changing, as is the University. University life won't ever be the same. This is down to a combination of current management, long-term erosion of funding levels, and new ways of thinking about the value of Universities- factors that are worldwide.
Ditto Christchurch. Never the same again. Mostly down to the earthquake.
Ditto New Zealand: now 7th worst in the OECD in income inequality, 2nd only to the US I think in imprisoning our own, and heading in the wrong direction.
And maybe the world, too: food shortage, global warming, economic system teetering.
This avalanche of change is unsettling for an old guy, but I have to accept it or go crazy. Each step into the unknown. We shuffle forward, carefully extending each foot, feeling for firm ground, as I do when walking down to the generator without a light on a dark night- or we just stride on, out the opened window, not knowing what floor we're on. Expect the unexpected. Worry for the kids. Keep an open mind...
Ate lunch while burning CDs, the computer/edius/disc burner crashing when I try to encode dvds. Something has crept in: "corrupted mpgs in the temp folder" is a clue, not an answer.
The afternoon kicked off with a discussion with AV of integrating services. It all seemed to flow around format shifting. Gil was bitter and unhappy. Wayne was more-or-less only interested in metrics; systems for measuring how long we spent on each task.
I find this mind-numbing.
We cheered up towards the end, agreeing to share space, set up some AV gear here; that tasks/requests will come to me via Julie (she will get the metrics rolling!); that Andrew and Matt will happily share some of the work if possible. It's a mess, and we skirted some things. clearly there is a 'no money, no chance' attitude from SMT and we will continue to work bitsily in the absence of any vision from above. But we can get on with each other, at least.
Managed to burn the DVD, and picked up the twins in the dark. Arrived home and Poppy and Toby were just agreeing what to cook for dinner. Combed Oscars hair for lice. Gina grumbled about sick kids at school, and he may not go tomorrow. He's very clingy, seems insecure, and hard to get to sleep.
Second to last chapter of Archer's Goon (the twins are now finding it very exciting) and finally, after Oscar dozed off, P and I watched the second episode of series two of Treme. Great characters and dialogue, moderately engaging plot lines (they have to keep a host of characters alive each episode) but it's the music- the spirit of the music that really gets me.
Especially one short sequence of a kid, maybe 10, playing brilliant experimental blues on a keyboard in a music shop. Almost all the characters are on a downward spiral at the moment: Davis lost his job, the bar isn't working out, the chief's insurance company won't pay out for his wrecked house; the Dutch busker, who's just been robbed of his cash-jar by kids on the street, looks in at this kid in the music store and smiles grimly.
You can't tell if he's pissed off at being out-played by a 10-year-old or affirmed in his love for NO where this musical brilliance just seems to rise up out of the busted sidewalks.
Oscar came up a couple times, but on the third return to bed, about 12:20, he slept through the night.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I was talking to the piano

and the piano started talking back.
"Shut up!" I said.
"No, you shut up" said the piano.
I don't like being talked back to by any of the furniture.
"You're out of line" I said. "And you're out of tune. You're a dust-magnet and you don't pull your weight."
The piano got huffy.
"I'm an instrument. I'm not a bloody lump of furniture like that lazy, useless sofa. If you could play me, you'd know. I'm a sensitive-"
"I'll play you" I said. So I did-