Archive for April, 2006

Easter heralds autumn

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

As Easter approached, the sprogs were all busy with rehearsals for a dance display at one of the local village halls. For the first time in a good few years, all four are taking classes again and it was good to see all of them in a show together. With hair scraped back and makeup liberally applied, they all looked marvelous and danced their pieces beautifully.

The fifth birthday of No.4 was celebrated in style on a bright sunny day with fun & games on the tramp and an outdoor birthday tea. The guest list included just one brave lad who, undaunted by the 7 to 1 girl/boy ratio, held his own against the pink masses all afternoon.

It’s pink, was made with heaps of chocolate and things, has heaps of chocolate buttons on top and had five candles on it. The look says it all – why on Earth would anyone in their right mind want to share this heavenly cake with their family, let alone friends.

Though the natives say that this year’s Easter Show at Auckland Show Grounds was not as good as in previous years, we still had a fun day out. No.3 was adamant that, despite having eaten a large cone of chips just minutes before, the mini-bungee was a great idea.

SWMBO is a great lover of horses and has spoken of happy childhood evenings spent watching the Horse Of The Year Show on television, so she was keen to take in the eliminator final of 1.40 metre showjumping, which proved to be an exciting jump-off.

Sadly, the same couldn’t be said of the Madagascar stage show we queued up to watch. With the usual tacky merchandising and actors in suits miming to a soundtrack of B-side pop songs, it didn’t take long for the children in the audience to tire and vote with their feet.

The week after Easter, I took my first few day’s leave from work. We loaded up the trailer and headed North to Waipu Cove where we camped for the first time as a family, just a few metres from the Pacific. It was a great place and we plan to return there next summer.

While friends in England are enjoying the flowers and warming weather, here we are slowly moving into autumn, leaving for work in darkness and arriving home at dusk. Our evenings are now spent in front of fires made with tea tree and pine, which we chopped and stacked in our garage before the autumn rains began.

More than seven months have passed since we flew into Auckland from the Cook Islands. With the routines of work and schools, our lives are moving from those of unsettled people in transit to people who live in and are part of a community. Our days are gradually taking on a comforting semblance of normality. We rarely stop to convert everyday prices, our accents are taking on the trademark Kiwi upward inflection and our terms of reference are slowly changing with the help of new friends and acquaintances. There are a good many things that we miss and friends we’d love to see but these feelings are balanced by the sense that the lives that we are building for ourselves are good and worth the efforts we’re taking.

Parallel bookmarking

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Late last night, I made one of those ‘why didn’t I look for this months ago?’ finds on the web. I have flip-flopped between and Furl for ages, liking both’ simplicity and Furl’s ability to cache a page. As a merge of these two tools is unlikely, I have found that Alan’s Marklet Maker site submission multi tool provides me with the next best thing: one toolbar button for the creation of two parallel submissions – I just add tags and save. The tools offers the user the choice to combine up to 20 popular social bookmarking/tagging tools in one bookmarklet, though I’d imagine generating more than three or four entry forms would be a little unwieldly and self-defeating.

Back to front Brompton bag

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

In days gone by, bicycle saddle bags rested neatly on the rear stays which were, by and large, less acutely angled than they are today and provided stable storage for waterproofs and lunch. Likewise, conventional handlebars provided an ideal location for a handlebar bag into which small loads can be stuffed and on which maps can be stashed for easy reference.

However, on unconventional bikes like my Brompton, the handle bars are of an unusual design and there are no rear stays as such. This means standard handlebar bag fixings don’t fit and saddle bags either swing wildly from the strap loops on the saddle or need to be supported by an expensive saddle bag support mechanism. Although Bromptons have a range of panniers, the phrase ‘Brompton pannier’ is perhaps a little misleading in that they actually attach at right angles to a bracket on the head tube, rather than the rear rack (which not all models have). My large Brompton touring pannier is really too large and wind-resistant for simple day/club day rides and my Carradice saddle bag swings into my thighs when I’m riding.

Pondering on these annoyances last night, I hit upon the idea of removing the frame from the large touring pannier (designed to do so for cleaning etc), mounting it on the front of the B and attaching the saddlebag to it. In this way, I get the stable carrying capacity I want on day rides in an accessible position. A brief Good Friday test ride through the deserted local township early was enough to prove the hack was worthwhile and worked as hoped for. The only improvement/tweak I want to try is to fashion a lightweight interior frame from a discarded realtor’s sign (the corrugated plastic type) to provided a tad more shape and rigidity to the bag.

It was only a matter of time

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Welcome to Google Calendar

The wonder of wheels

Friday, April 7th, 2006

It is an oft quoted factoid that humankind has yet to devise a more efficient machine for turning human effort into motion than the bicycle. Saying this to non-cycling folk is all well and good but does little to place the information in context. This simple but enlightening set of images from World Bicycle Relief makes a similar point in a more accessible manner and neatly makes the case for how the simple technology of the bicycle can dramatically transform lives and livelihoods across the globe.

I only mention this because I’m off to ride my Brompton to the local bike shop and I want to appear virtuous and enlightened this bright and sunny Saturday morning [removes tongue from cheek]. I’m going to measure up the knackered forks on my Dawes Discovery (which was mangled by the movers when we emigrated) for replacement. Once I have sourced the forks from the UK, via Gary, friend and Tower Hamlets Wheeler and Bicycle Magic, former local bike shop, I should have the Dawes looking more like it did on a Docklands ride last year.

Animation Interlude

Friday, April 7th, 2006

With the price of Broadband here in NZ, I don’t watch a lot of animation online but I have just spent a minute watching the superb Shoo Fly, animated by the obviously talented John Su. Apparently, he created so many Flash frames for the main character, Nelly, the colour of his mouse button has changed through overuse!

Discovered via Dave Seah.

For productivity geeks only

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

If you have never heard of David Allen, never argued over Hipster PDAs with folks at 43Folders, have no firm opinions on stationery and don’t give a stuff about personal productivity and organisation, The GTD Prayer will mean absolutely nothing. Those who identify with the clauses above will get it.

via Alexia at the GTD Yahoo group.

Excel calendar hack

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Amongst the other smart productivity stuff bursting from David Seah’s Better Living Through New Media I found a great year at a glance Excel calendar that’ll suit the ever-evolving paper system inside my conference file/folder. Following the example of others, I have worked up a localised New Zealand version for myself and others in Aotearoa.