Alicia is ...

... jealous of her friends who have older kids and living husbands.

Hooplah

I must be missing the hooplah gene, the one that allows people to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the moment. I've never followed fashion fads; I practically refuse to see movies that get a lot of advance build-up in the press; and I absolutely do not understand the celebrity culture that seems to permeate our society.

Jon & Kate? Brad & Jen? Brad & Angie? Lindsay & Paris? Madonna & herself? Puhlease. I don't have any brain cells programmed to care. My reactions to the well-publicized deaths this past week were pretty low key: The deaths of Ed McMahon (was he still alive?), Farrah Fawcett (I'm so sorry for Ryan O'Neal, but at least she's okay now), and Michael Jackson (shocked, but not surprised) are not momentous events of my life, just blips on my radar screen.

I knew there would be threads about Fawcett's and Jackson's deaths on the message boards; I knew there would be press coverage; I knew there would be lots of nostalgia. But I was unprepared for the extreme responses from those who adore Michael Jackson and his music and those who despise the other aspect of his very public life. And I was shocked when all the newscasts were all about him, when even the cable news shows dedicated to politics were all about his death -- even though there was NO NEWS, just footage of people gathering outside the hospital.

I just don't get it. And I never have.
  • I remember where I was when Elvis died: scooping cones at an ice cream parlor in Dallas. People heard the news on the radio and started crying; customers could barely choke out their orders. I didn't get it. I was 16 and had not yet developed an appreciation for his music, and he'd become something of a overweight, oversequined joke -- besides he was OLD (you know -- he was 42, the same age as my mother).
  • I remember where I was when John Lennon was killed: studying for midterms my junior year at Northwestern. I can see one of my housemates coming down the stairs to tell us the news; I can hear another groan and say, Ugh, now the radio stations are going to play nothing but Beatles for a week. I was upset; I loved the Beatles; but I felt no compulsion to grab a candle and join the throngs on the campus green for an impromptu memorial.
  • I remember picking up the Sunday newspaper and seeing the headline that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash: Oh, my! I was thoroughly surprised and puzzled when I got to church and saw people in tears. Why are these people crying? What happened? Who died? Diana? They're reacting like this to her death? I was amazed by the public response to her death, by the mountains of flowers, notes, gifts left outside Buckingham Palace, by people (Americans!) driving several hundred miles to leave tokens outside the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. I was riveted to the news reports of the huge public outpouring of emotion, because it was all so foreign to me; I couldn't understand it.
And here I am again, puzzled by the reaction to the death of a public figure. I just don't get it. And now I'm simply annoyed by the nonstop media coverage.

I remember being amazed by Michael Jackson when I was a girl -- he was just 2 years older than I and there he was on TV! Wow! I liked his music, but I never bought any of his albums, never watched the videos, never memorized the choreography to Thriller. As his off-stage persona started to ... ummm ... change, I simply turned away in disgust.

And now he's dead. Okay. So what?

I understand that public figures represent something important in our lives. They become symbols for something much greater than ourselves, personifications of our private yearnings. I've read a few people's explanations that Michael Jackson's music was a significant part of their youth: His death underscores the loss of that part of their lives, or the death of their spouse with whom they shared his music. I understand that.

But the rest of it -- the 24/7 obsession, the fervent postings, the nonstop coverage, the intensity of emotion -- I just don't get it.

Blame it on the Badugi

It's been a strange week. I spent a large chunk of my work day yesterday on websites from the BBC, CNN, Reuters, you name it, trying to determine whether Michael Jackson really was dead. He was only fifty, but boy did he pack a lot into those fifty years. He polarised people; I always had a lot of sympathy for him. So much of what happened (as is the case for us all) was a result of his upbringing, and largely out of his control. He'd always been a very unusual bloke, but in about '95 (when he did Earth Song which I thought was amazing) he fell out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. So sad. (By the way I didn't invent that phrase; I heard it on TV and thought it would come in handy here.)

Today I got two new tyres for my car and ordered a case of wine for Mum and Dad for when they get back from Vietnam. They've both just had their birthdays. Mum's was one of those special landmark birthdays so she also got a box of expensive but very good chocolates. I got home just in time for the badugi tournament, and I qualified for the second time, finishing 54th after a head-spinning 6¼ hours. I came back from the brink on several occasions and was extremely fortunate to survive. One time I think I went all in with a queen badugi; another time I clung on by the barest of margins, making the worst possible six while my adversary had the best possible seven. At one stage I was down to less than a tenth of the mean stack size.

On Tuesday I had that presentation for real. It could have been a lot worse. As expected I got asked lots of questions I didn't know the answers to, but at least people could tell I'd put some work into it. The presentations overran so my boss, who was to go last, didn't have time to give her talk on the subject of "philosophy". A shame, because I'd really like to learn about Jung and Freud and all that stuff, but as it turns out it was actually going to be about the philosophical basis for pricing our products. That reminds me of the men's group which I'll be attending next week; the subject of Freud comes up a lot there.
That afternoon our team went go-karting as a team building event. It was the first time I'd done it apart from one very brief go when I was eleven or so. You think you're going at breakneck speed, and it would have been a lot of fun if I was with a different group of people. Unfortunately my colleagues are all quite competitive, and I lack the aggressive type-A personality needed to be good at that kind of thing. So most of the time I was at the back of the field, which normally wouldn't matter, but my workmates liked comparing grid positions, lap times and all that malarkey.

I'd been dreading Tuesday for a while so I'd almost forgotten about Wednesday which was exam results day. It was no surprise to me that I didn't pass. The pass rate, at nearly 50%, was a surprise, but my heart wasn't really in it and my head was often all over the place. So I now have until next Friday to decide what to do next, though I've already decided. I won't be doing another exam this year. At work on Wednesday I had a panic attack, my first for some time. Thankfully it only lasted a minute or two and nobody noticed anything untoward.

It's been very foggy here the last 24 hours, so the ships' foghorns have been going full blast. For some reason I don't mind that, just like I don't think I'd mind living near a railway line. Wimbledon will be on telly shortly, but as I've got the French club in the morning I don't think I can stay up all night and watch it, as much as I'd like to.

Call me lazy

... but here's another meme.

1. Someone knocks at your door. You answer it. It's a kid from the local school selling candy bars for a fundraiser. Do you buy one? Nope. Because my kid is probably selling them too.

2. The end of the world is tomorrow and you are out of milk. Do you go buy some? Milk? No. Wine? Absolutely.

3. Have you ever picked up the phone and called someone that you hadn't talked to in years? Yes. A few times. I have a hard time letting go of deep friendships, I find it hard to believe that people who were once so close to each other could just drift apart. Those phone calls have always been good; but the relationships really do just fade away.

4. What's on your computer desktop background? A fractal graphic in pleasing blues and golds

5. What was the very first movie you saw in a movie theater? Fantasia, with my mom when I was in 2nd grade. The next movie in a theater was The Other Side of the Mountain, on my first date when I was 14.

Fourteen?!? I had to look up the release date of the movie ... I had no idea that I was only 14 on my first date. But I wasn't precocious, really. I didn't have another real date for 2 years.

6. If you had to take a 10th-grade science test, do you think you would pass? Probably not. I would do fine on the principles and ideas, but the specific details would escape me.

7. Describe heaven. Tee-hee. This reminds me of my favorite joke.

An interdenominational Bible Study is talking about heaven. Of course they all have different ideas of how you get there, but they do agree that you get to do the things you couldn't do here on earth. The Baptist wants to go dancing; the Methodist plans to get drunk; the Catholic is looking forward to enjoying sex. The Episcopalian scratches his head and says, "Damn! I guess I'm going to be really bored!"

8. Have you ever lived in a place that was infested with some sort of insect or rodent? Ugh. Yes. Cockroaches. Texas-size cockroaches. That push off the wall and fly at you. They still give me the heebie-jeebies.

9. When you were little, did you hide in the clothes racks at department stores? I did. But my more distinct memories are of sitting on the lower shelves of the displays at Hancock Fabrics. For hours. And hours. And hours.

10. Is there anything in your vehicle that is broken? Lots of broken pencils; a broken rear view mirror; a broken mug holder; a broken flashlight; the radio's seek function doesn't work; the right rear speaker is broken ... shall I keep going?

11. What is something in your house that people would be surprised to find? Hmmmm... I'm not sure that people who know me would be surprised by ANYthing they might find in my house. Booze, books, beautiful art, Legos (lots of Legos), keepsakes from the boys' baby years, memories of Nick. Ooooooh! I just thought of something: In my house in Maryland is a box of LPs from my teenage years. There is some terribly bad music in that box.

12. Do you agree with the death penalty? In theory, yes: Some people commit horrific crimes for which they deserve to die. (On the other hand, death is too good for the rapists and child killers.) In practice, especially the way it's handled in this country, no.

In faith, no. I always remember Gandalf's words to Frodo about Gollum: I daresay he deserves death; and many who die deserve life.

13. What's your favorite type of bear? Teddy bears, of course! Both the human and the toy sort.

14. Where was the last place you went? To my friend Beth's house, so our kids could play together.

15. What if that person knocking at your door earlier was an adult selling candy bars? Would you buy one? Ewwwww... no way.

resolution, n.

  1. a resolve or determination
  2. a solution, accommodation, or settling of a problem
  3. Music. the progression of a voice part or of the harmony as a whole from a dissonance to a consonance
  4. reduction to a simpler form; conversion.
  5. Medicine/Medical. the reduction or disappearance of a swelling or inflammation without suppuration
  6. the degree of sharpness of a computer-generated image
I was chatting with a friend Saturday night, and as so often happens in conversations between widoweds, the perennial question arose: WHY? I've said before that I've never asked that question. Oh, sure ... sometimes in the wee hours, a quiet why sobs from my throat. But I've never expended much energy on the question, because I've always known that there is no answer. I've known that if I pursued the question, I would either drive myself crazy looking for the answer or I would go through such mind-logic-faith bending calisthenics to create an answer that I would lose respect for my mind, logic, and faith.

No, I typed. I don't need the answer. What I want is .... long pause .... resolution. I want resolution.

I looked up from my keyboard after typing that, gasped, and laughed. You know what? I already have it. What I saw when I looked up was this painting.

When I brought it home from the gallery three years ago, my exact words were that this painting represented "resolution of the chaos."

My chat on Saturday night brought an epiphany: I needed to name what it is I wanted. And in naming it, I was able to look up and SEE it, to see that I already have it, and not just in a painting over my fireplace.

Resolution: determination, solution, harmony, conversion, well-being, clarity. It's all right there, in that glowing center of the painting. It's all right here, in that glowing center of myself.

A to Z meme

First, I'm working on a post that's taking an uncommonly long time to write.  That's partly because the kids are in my hair 24/7 and partly because ... well how do you explain intuition without sounding shallow? "I just knew it" is pretty unsatisfying.

Second, Annie has borrowed a few blogging ideas from me lately, so I thought I'd better find another one for her! ::grin::

Without further adieu, an alphabet meme:

A - Age: 48
B - Band listening to right now:
No music, just the normal morning household sounds
C - Career future:
Career... what an interesting concept. I'll go back to being a paid writer/editor someday. But I still have my dream of running a retreat center...
D - Dad's name:
Lawrence
E - Easiest person to talk to:
That's hard. I turn to different folks for different things or when in different states of mind. My mom. Taina. Beata. Abbe. Nancy.
F - Favorite song:
Of what genre? "Unforgettable," "Simply the Best," "Freude, schöner Götterfunken"
G - Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms:
Bears
H - Hometown:
I can never answer this one. Born in LA, grew up in Dallas, adore Chicago, lived in the DC area for 25 years, am currently in Tucson. Hometown? I have no idea.
I - Instruments:
I play the alto and tenor recorders and plink the piano. My favorite instrument is the human voice.
J - Job:
was a poor sucker abused by Satan and used by God.
K - Kids:
gotta love 'em.
L - Longest car ride ever:
from the cemetery back home, to a house without Nick
M - Mom's name:
Miriam
N - Number of people you slept with:
last night? I woke up next to two boys and a cat
P - Phobia[s]:
I hate small places and big crowds
Q - Quote:
Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are. -- St. John Chrysostom
R - Reason to smile:
Because life is good
S - Song you sang last:
"Freude, schöner Götterfunken," while linking YouTube to this post
T - Time you wake up:
with the sun, about 5:30 these days
U - Unknown fact about me:
If I tell you, you'll know!
V - Vegetable you hate:
Beets, thanks to my Dad's having force-fed them when I was 4 years old
W - Worst habit:
Throwing my clothes on the bedroom chair until the chair has disappeared.
X - X-rays you've had:
knees, ankles, elbow, dental. Also abdominal CT scans
Y - Yummy food:
Food is yummy! Cheesecake. Steak. Bread. Cucumbers.
Z - Zodiac sign:
Capricorn

Bah humbug!

I almost managed to skip Father's Day this year. Almost.

I wasn't angst-ridden about it; I wasn't ducking it determinedly; I was just ignoring it.

But I called the boys to me this morning and told them that today was Father's Day. Yayyy! That surprised me. Rock immediately got some construction paper and cut out and decorated a heart for Nick. HardPlace asked for the book where we write letters to Dad.

No fanfare. No special memorial. No tears. No emotional memory-fest.

Just a nod to the man none of us will ever forget.

The C-word

On Tuesday I felt my grip on my job become more and more tenuous, and frankly I just didn't want to be there any more. I was hoping that someone from work could get swine flu - just a mild case of it - so that we could all be sent home for a few days. I calculated that if H1N1 continues to spread throughout the country at the same rate, then by July 2nd it would be more likely than not that someone at work has it, which would be great because I'd be able to stay up all night and watch the business end of Wimbledon. Nadal has pulled out - probably a sensible decision - opening the door for Fed to break Sampras's record, though in my mind he's already surpassed Sampras. The career grand slam, five straight Wimbledons, five straight US Opens, twenty consecutive grand slam semi-finals, what can you say?

So I felt utterly hopeless on Tuesday. Work was crap and I couldn't summon up the energy to do anything about it. That situation has changed somewhat, and I'm now seriously looking at vacancies. I found two promising jobs on the internet, but anything advertised online is likely to get so many applications that I've got more chance of winning one of my badugi tournaments. Still, no harm in trying.

Today I had a longish session on the cardio-glide machine Bazza gave me. Then I took the ferry into town on what was a sunny if slightly chilly day. When I got back I spoke to my aunt and uncle on the phone, sidestepping any questions about my exams. They were in Auckland, about to board a plane to South America, which if I had the time and money would be near the top of my places-to-go list. Later I gave Brendan from the men's group a call - we talked (or rather he talked mostly) at length about the vagaries of real estate.

The C-word by the way is cholesterol. Every two years at work we're given a health check - a great idea I think - and yesterday I found out I've got cholesterol up the wazoo. I received a magnitude 6.4 shock on seeing those results: how on earth have I ended up there? I do consume my fair share of fish and chips, red meat and cheese, but I don't think I'm any worse than the average Kiwi bloke, and I eat plenty of fruit and vege. I will try to change my diet over the next few months (I've just bought a whole load of salmon and cashew nuts - foods I really like anyway but are just a tad on the expensive side). If I stay somewhere in the sixes despite my best efforts then I'm afraid it might mean more pills.
Cholesterol isn't the only aspect of my health I'd like to change. I've also been missing out on a whole load of vitamin D. I used to live in a sunny flat in Milford and took a two-mile walk to work, which was by the beach, so I got out at lunchtime and soaked up the sunshine if there was any. Fast forward three years and I'm living in a dark basement flat (with great views but I don't get the sun) and I drive to work, which has since relocated to a faceless business park where there's nothing to do, so people just stay inside.

I'm now getting into another new poker game - deuce-to-seven single draw. It works just like five-card draw, you know, the one you learn as kids, but the object is to make as bad a hand as possible. In other words the hand rankings are the same as for regular poker but in reverse. The only exception to this is A2345 which doesn't count as a straight, because for some unknown reason aces always play high in deuce-to-seven. The nuts in this game is a non-flush 75432. On Thursday night I had my first turn at a single draw freeroll. Out of 3600 entrants and after 4¼ hours I came 86th, thirty places outside the cut-off for the next round. I ran hot for the first couple of hours but then the hands dried up. It was the first time I'd played a tournament with antes - I didn't feel I adjusted enough for the extra pressure these put on my stack.

When I first arrived in Auckland I often used to hop in the car and get the hell out of the city, usually somewhere up north. I haven't done that in ages, so that's my plan for tomorrow.

Book review in haiku

 
Insane with delight --
Familiar scenes are made new:
A wonderful read.

Pics of blink (robot build blog)

Building the frame.

Parts we got from 2 cheap cordless drills

Old laptop for higher control

Some components we used
Frame more complete
Attaching motors
Getting the electronics right

New wheels for blink

blink taking shape

Components moved to perf board
Taking more shape
After the fire...

At a loss

The brother of a dear friend died yesterday.

Doug married a lovely woman when they were both 28. Less than 6 months later, he was diagnosed with an insidious cancer of the lymphatic system (is any cancer NOT insidious). The doctors said they had no idea how long Doug had. Doug enrolled in one experimental treatment after another. He got a bone marrow transplant from another sister. He was sick. Always. He didn't die -- the treatments lengthened his life, but he was never "well." He had to quit his job. Children were out of the question. He and Kim never took a vacation together. Never had any chance to imagine a future together.

Whenever I asked Cathy how Doug was doing, she would sigh and say, "Things don't look good." When I asked how Kim was doing, she would roll her eyes and say, "You know how she is." Cathy complained that Kim was never there, never did anything, that she would go shopping while Doug was having treatments.

Doug and Kim never had a normal marriage: Six months of honeymoon and then a death sentence.I simply can't imagine what it would be like for virtually an entire marriage to be focused on cancer, illness -- illness with no hope of recovery, drugs, death.

Doug was already sick when I first met Cathy 12 years ago. Twelve years. Ten years ago he was saying he didn't know how much more he could take. Ten years. He "took" a lot more than I ever thought he would. Kim endured more than I can fathom. What kind of marriage could it have been? What is her grief now? Did she shut herself down 12 years ago? 10? 7? 5? Does she have any feeling left? anything other than relief? I simply can't begin to imagine.

Raglan

Went to Raglan on Tuesday after stopping off in Hamilton to let the ladies go shopping for the day. We travelled around the Whanga Coast road to a windswept site overlooking the sea. Ralph just had to try it out and here's a pic of him getting airbourne with the MH64 plank.



He certainly cuts a lonely picture in such bleak terrain.



Later, we went round further to another spot on the coast. To get to the hill we had to cross a stream with only a couple of dodgy logs to walk across - and yes, I slipped off and collapsed into the water. Ferkin cold it was too, but worse, it drowned my camera, so no photos from this spot :-(

But what a great flying site : I had the JW racing around the sky revelling in the strong lift, even pulling up inverted after an aileron roll - yeehaaa! Must go back there again, but we need to find a better way across that stream!

Its been a while...

Ok.. Im back..

Well its been a while since I last posted and loads has happened since then. Almost 6 months worth of catching up to do, so you know what? Im not going to. Insted im going to tell you whats going on in my life at this moment in time.

Dating this girl Nicol at the moment, very different to other girls I have dated in the past, so will see where it takes us. oh and its the first blond girl I have dated.

We have now been living in our new house for about 6 months and let me tell you, It just gets more and more AWESOME, thus it has been dubed "Awesome Pad"

Work is chilled at the moment as we have pushed back a big role out of our new software, but will get back to being busy soon.

Will be working on hectic GPS stuff soon for fleet managment, sshhhh thats all I can tell you for now, as its top secret :)

And now to get to what you have ALL been waiting for..... Our new Project...
You all remember the BazCam, the camera I had setup in my house that you could control.... WELL.. Wecome to our new BazCam on steroids, we call him "blink"

blink is a robot that we are building with a built in camera, that YOU can control and drive around our house, all done over the internet, and the great news is that he is almost done. We wanted to have him finnished by today but we have had a few setbacks, things like that happen when 1 day you wake up and say "lets build a robot that drives around the house that people can control over the internet"

A few of the setbacks have been things like one of the motors being damaged and our main controler board catching on fire... but im sure we will have him up and running by friday. Maybe not for public control as yet but at least for some sort of viewing.

So thats whats been keeping me busy for the past few weeks... keep checking here for some pictures and keep a lookout for the launch of blink's website http://blink.awesomepad.co.za

My unsorted life

It wasn’t a bad weekend really, even if most of it was a distraction from what I’m supposed to be doing, which is sorting my life out. After a few of the comments I’ve made about my job, Andy said I had to see Office Space, a movie set in a software company during the late-90s IT boom. So I bought a copy of the DVD off TradeMe. It could have been better, and was very much of its time I thought – back when shares in NoAssets.com traded at stratospheric levels – but it still made me laugh, and that makes a comedy a success, doesn’t it? At times things got a little too close to some of my experiences in my own job.

On Saturday night I went with Julie to see an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors. I loved it. The only musical I’d previously seen was Cats, several years ago in Australia. Cats did absolutely nothing for me, but I really enjoyed this one – it’s funny, it’s dark, and unlike Cats it actually has a plot. I’d never appreciated how much work goes into this sort of production, especially a musical where there are so many extra lines to learn. And I’d never realised how much skill is involved in writing a musical in the first place – getting all those rhymes to work is very clever stuff when you think about it. I reckon I’d actually prefer this type of production in an intimate setting to a professional performance in a big theatre. It’s cheaper for a start, the performers are very passionate about what they do, and if you do get the odd fluffed line occasionally (on Saturday that happened maybe once), is it really that big a deal? Perhaps they could have made the surroundings even more intimate by allowing the Audrey II plant to spread its “tentacles” over the front few rows of the audience.

I had another go at that badugi tournament yesterday. This time I came 215th out of the 6590 who entered. I probably should have been knocked out at the half-hour mark – I was down to a few hundred in chips, went all in, and hit a six badugi on the last draw. I survived another two hours, my luck finally running out when I got involved in a three-way pot with my pat 8432. One of my opponents, the one I wasn’t worried about, made a six to eliminate me. These freerolls are a bit of a time-waster, but considering I’ve made the top 5% three times in five attempts, including one top-64 finish, I’ll carry on with them for the time being.

Yesterday was my mum’s 60th birthday. My parents are currently on holiday in Vietnam. There’s plenty to do and see there (it's a world away from Geraldine) so they should be having an exciting time. I just hope they’re not finding the June heat too oppressive and that they aren’t spending too many dong. Yes, the dong is Vietnam’s currency, and you get rather a lot of dong for your dollar. There are 11,000 dong to one New Zealand dollar, or 30,000 to the pound. On the subject of low-valued currencies, I recently bought this note on TradeMe:











It’s a Zimbabwean 50 trillion dollar note. That’s a five followed by thirteen zeros. All those noughts are a bit of a joke on the face of it, and certainly make for an interesting collector’s item, but really they’re just a measure of how a once-prosperous country has totally gone to the dogs.

All this talk of dong also reminds me of Friday’s meeting at work, when I had to describe to the whole marketing department what a dongle was. Not a dong, but a dongle. As you can imagine, it isn’t easy to even mention the word dongle (which is in fact a mundane piece of computer equipment) without sending people into fits of hysterics.

Work is still driving me barmy. Tomorrow I’ll be going to see my psychologist – I still have to prepare for our session – followed by the men’s group. Maybe after that I’ll be one step closer to sorting my life out.

Kaimai Fly

On Sunday, Ralph and I went to Matamata for a fly off the Kaimai Range. Weather was very cold but with a perky 12 - 15kts SW we were assured of some flying after too long beside the fireplace.

We only managed a short fly before a shower came over and forced us back into the Safari for a hot drink. Mmmmmm.




After the rain Ralph spent some time thrashing around the sky with his MH64 plank, before switching to his Patriot plank for some more testing and tuning. This is the fastest, heaviest plank he has built and it certainly retains momentum.



Meanwhile, I was struggling, first with the JART and then my Karwai, both being too light for the conditions and not getting any penetration. A shortage of lead ballast was finally solved when Ralph suggested we tape a pair of pliers (!!!) to the top of the Karwai. That certainly helped, and only a small adjustment of trim enabled me to whiz around at a faster clip.

Here's a closeup of the pliers attached to the fuselage - not pretty but it worked!

Saturday sillies

The boys make me absofrigginlutely crazy.

Their best friends are gone for the summer; we live far away from the other friends; it's too hot to play outside; they won't go into the pool without me; they run around the house screaming like the hellions they are; they annoy each other; they pound on each other; they give me a headache and drive me to drink.

And then there's the stuff that just makes me giggle.






Have I told you lately how much I love those little bozos?

Head Gear


Nice headgear, but you couldn't wear a hat with it.

Sixty-six grand

I attended the house auction on Saturday, and once more I found myself priced out of the market. The bidding skyrocketed, finishing a whopping $66,000 above my limit. There was predictably a lot of patter from the auctioneer - "you won't want to come second" - but it seemed to me precisely the kind of auction you would want to come second in. To my mind the eventual buyers paid too much. I had an agent on my shoulder during the auction - I found that intimidating and it's something I'll have to avoid if I ever try and buy a property that way again. The highlight for me was a ginger-haired boy of around seven who defused the tension in the auction room by shouting out a rather high bid. The auctioneer didn't accept his bid, but I found it amusing that the final sale price was $1000 above that kid's figure.

I got caught up in a marathon badugi tournament on Sunday - after almost six and a half hours I finally bowed out in 39th place out of 6700 competitors, enough to qualify me for a real-money
tournament which I can play at any time. It was a steady but unspectactular accumulation of chips for me until the fifth hour, when three hands in quick succession defined my tournament. When my seven-high badugi was cracked by a five I was in dire chip trouble, so when I was dealt a jack badugi soon after, I had no real choice but to go all in. My hand was only a 57% favourite against my sole opponent who drew one, but thankfully it held up. A few hands later I caught a six-high to take out a sizeable pot, and figured I'd have just enough chips to make the crucial top 64 if I played conservatively enough. With steadily increasing blinds, "just enough" is more than you think. I was moved to another table and from then on the game became farcical. The biggest stack in the whole tournament was at my table - he/she would raise every hand so I had no option but to fold, as did pretty much the whole table, every hand. Hands were going by so quickly that there was a real danger I'd be blinded out, so I slowed the game down. When the field was whittled down to 64 I was relieved, though I did wonder if it was all worth it.

I got to work early this morning in readiness for my 8:30 presentation, only to find out I'd got the date wrong by two weeks. That just goes to show how disorganised and "out of the loop" I am in my workplace. Though it would have been nice to get it out of the way, on balance I'm relieved because I'd have had no choice but to use decidedly dodgy data. I doubt by the 23rd I'll have any more idea of what I'm talking about, but at least by then I might be talking bollocks about real data.

I've had some interesting conversations at work in recent days. Firstly there's Pam, the cleaner, who's obsessed with her kids' tennis. Telling her that I play tennis was a big mistake - she never stops talking about the latest trophies her three boys have won. Then yesterday I spoke, for the first time, to this woman who's writing a sci-fi trilogy. I have a lot of admiration for anyone able to write a book, but when she said she'd written the first book of the series in just six weeks - whilst holding down a nine-to-five job - I was blown away. And today I met someone who'd bought some shares in an Australian oil and gas company for five cents apiece a few weeks ago; they're now worth seven times that.

I'm still seeing the psychologist. I'm now getting on pretty well with her and we're even starting to develop plans and goals. Long may that continue.

Moody

Blues

I've been indulging a sporadic tear-fest lately. PBS aired a Moody Blues concert last Sunday evening, and again this past Sunday night. This isn't much of a post, just sharing the lyrics that have been getting to me.


"Haunted"

I really miss you when the nights are long
And only silence is heard in this world of song
But life goes on
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

I see you walking through the gates of home
And then I wake up to find I'm still all alone
I should have known
But forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

Lonely is the river as it tumbles to the ocean
Searching for our future
We can't find our way back home

My only comfort is the love we shared
And as I walk through this world
With sadness everywhere
I've had my share
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

Standing in the doorway
As the sunrise greets the morning
Searching for our future
We can't find our way back home

I really miss you when the nights are long
And only silence is heard in this world of song
But life goes on
And forever more
I'll be haunted by your love

Haunted by your love


"I Know You're Out There Somewhere"

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know I'll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you

The mist is lifting slowly
I can see the way ahead
And I've left behind the empty streets
That once inspired my life
And the strength of the emotion
Is like thunder in the air
cos the promise that we made each other
Haunts me to the end

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I'll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I'll find you somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you

The secret of your beauty
And the mystery of your soul
I've been searching for in everyone I meet
And the times I've been mistaken
It's impossible to say
And the grass is growing
Underneath our feet

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I'll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I'll find you somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you

From the words that I remember
From my childhood still are true
That there's none so blind
As those who will not see
And to those who lack the courage
And say its dangerous to try
Well they just don't know
That love eternal will not be denied

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know Ill find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I'll find you somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you

Yes I know it's going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we'll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I'll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I'll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I'll find you somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you


"Your Wildest Dreams"

Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

Once the world was new
Our bodies felt the morning dew
That greets the brand new day
We couldn't tear ourselves away
I wonder if you care
I wonder if you still remember
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time
Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
And when the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Mirrored in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams
In your wildest dreams
In your wildest dreams


Anybody detect a theme running through these lyrics?

Hide & Seek


Katie & Harry found this tree at Forbidden Corner

The tide is going out

I haven't posted here for a little while. My parents were up here over the long weekend (these cheap flights mean I'll see a lot more of them now!) It was good having them up here, though the Antarctic blast that swept its way up the country did make my flat unbearably cold at times. We ate out twice, spent the best part of a day at the Auckland museum (which was very good I thought), went to Takapuna market, played Scrabble (more on that in a later post) and looked at a house I was interested in (it received their approval and has an auction on Saturday).

Then Mum and Dad flew back, and it was back to work for me. Tuesday was one of my better work days; I get on pretty well with my two younger colleagues but they'd both caught a bout of (swine?) flu over the weekend which meant I picked up their quoting work. That was great, because I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it. I felt better about myself because I knew I was helping people. I used to do quotes all the time, and would have been quite happy to have carried on doing them, but alas I was in a career, rather than just a job, so that was never an option. It was back to normal yesterday, which means feeling hopelessly inadequate. Today was even worse and I just wanted to go home. I've got to do a bloody presentation on Tuesday and I'm still nowhere near even getting the data I need for it. I don't even know what the presentation is for. The tide is rapidly going out on my job, so doing something about that has suddenly become Priority A.

On Tuesday I saw the psychologist who basically said I need to find ways to make my remaining months (weeks?) at my current workplace as tolerable as possible; one of those tactics was to ask more questions. That evening I went to the men's group; Andy, talented bloke that he is, wasn't there because he was playing live music on the radio. I met up with Andy during my lunch hour today though.

I hope to be starting Italian classes some time in July. I did study the language a bit in '01 and '02, just using books and tapes, but I'll start at the lowest rung of the ladder and hopefully I'll work my way up.

Fifteen books

I got this one from Annie ...

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends -- or not because I am all about free will, but link back to me (unless you list them in the comments) because I’m interested in seeing what books you choose.

Make your list BEFORE you read mine! My books appear in the order they occurred to me.
  1. Powers of the Weak, by Elizabeth Janeway
  2. Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
  3. Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis
  4. Brief Flower, by Dorothy Evelyn Smith
  5. Golden Treasury of Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund
  6. Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare
  7. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, by Orson Scott Card
  8. The Tombs of Atuan (part of the Earthsea triology), by Ursula LeGuin
  9. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
  10. Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies
  11. The Seven-Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton
  12. Myths of the World, edited by Padraic Colum
  13. Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
  14. Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster
  15. Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Like Annie, I note that I had read most of these books by the time I was 21, and all except one by the time I was 30. Nick introduced me to the writings of Orson Scott Card and I read Pastwatch about 10 years ago. It's the only book I can remember finishing and immediately returning to page 1 and re-reading from start to finish.

This obviously does not mean that I haven't read any good books since then. Obviously I have, but if other people's lists are like Annie's and mine, the ones that leave an imprint seem to be the ones we read early in life.

Road trip!

Yippee! The boys and I will make our first getaway of the summer tomorrow.

We're just going up to Phoenix for the night, but a change of pace is always good. Actually, we'll be staying in the town of Carefree, a bit north of Phoenix, at what looks like a splendiferous resort! We'll leave early in the morning and hit one of the regional parks for some hiking, then head to the resort.

One of my friends will join us poolside for margaritas. Actually, I hardly know Judi at all, but she is a dear friend of one my dearest friends; we met at N's wedding in October and really hit it off. Judi and her husband will be vacationing in Arizona for a week and she wanted to get together. Such fun. Then I'll have dinner with my widoweds, which is always a good time with much laughter and loving.

The boys and I will have a lovely morning featuring a leisurely breakfast and more time at the fancy schmancy resort pool; then we'll head home.

It's not much; it's just one night. But it's someplace else, and someone else will be cooking and cleaning. I like that.

Paper Darts

On Sunday, I hooked up with Ralph and Cliff in a cold southerly at the top of the Bowl on the Mount. I was flying the JW plank and enjoying some high speed for a welcome change.



Later on Ralph pulled out his paper dart release contraption and taped it to the underside of Cliff's Fusion. This simple mechanism allows the dart to be carried under the wing and released by simply flying upside down.





After many attempts we ended with a tally of 3 darts making it back over the top of the Mount summit - last seen heading off to Karewa Island. Three more (mostly my designs) plummeted into spiral dives immediately after release :-(

Obviously they weren't in proper trim!