Archive for December, 2006

How would you distill your knowledge?

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

One of the benefits/drawbacks of moving my ever-growing OPML file from Bloglines to the more me-friendly Google Reader is that I’m reading more and reading more widely.

One of the things that I found my way to today was Paul Kedrosky’s One-Sentence Challenge. This offers each of us the chance to try and distill our own personal IP into one sentence; one sentence that would tell the future where to begin looking, should all knowledge about our chosen field disappear up its own fundament.

“Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area?”

As I work in the water industry, I offered the following:

Of all the water on earth, only one percent is drinkable, so it is a resource to be cherished not squandered.

What would you tell the future? Leave a comment with your advice.

[via Russell Davies and Rebecca Blood]

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Town twinning on the internet

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

photo: LinBow

If you haven’t seen it already, is a great ‘one use only’ web site that uses the Google Earth API to answer an age old question:

If you were to dig a hole from where you are standing all the way through the center of the Earth, where would you end up?

Like folks do, I located my small rural township in New Zealand, Huapai and clicked through to find out where I’d end up.  The answer is that, after an awful lot of digging I’d pop out in a small rural township in Spain called Benamahoma.

This set me thinking about how could be used for virtual town-twinning or sister city linking as I believe it’s known in North America. Given that 70% of the earth’s surface is water, this idea won’t work for everyone unless they’re strong swimmers or strike it lucky and pop up next to a supertanker.

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Saturday, December 16th, 2006

The wonderful illustrator and writer Debbie Ohi, whose myriad projects I enjoy immensely via the wonders of RSS, has discovered a taste combination I have been enjoying for forty years or so.  I have only met one other who liked this combination and we both thought we were alone in that regard. Now, in the space of one post to Flickr, I have discovered at least another two aficionados of the peanut butter and Marmite sandwich.

An early Christmas present

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

One of the unexpected aspects of buying books from second hand booksellers on the web is that they often take ages to arrive.  This was the case with the book above which appeared in our mailbox this week, all the way from somewhere in the USA. 

I bought this as it was recommended by someone who mailed me about a picture of my pagnotta on Flickr.  I was bemoaning the fact that the local flour and unpredictable weather were not conducive to consistent bread making results and my correspondent advised that a no-knead wet dough method, honed by the author, might help.  So, armed with the book and some imported doppio zero flour from a friend, I hope to find out.

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Role plays and road works

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

In the last two days, I have done around 200kms of very boring commuting in order to attend a training course; the view above shows the lightest traffic I experienced as a drove home just ahead of the afternoon rush hour through Auckland’s newly completed central junction.  To numb the boredom, I often listen to podcast and one of my favourites is Jack Thurston’s The Bike Show.  This is always a superb blend of bikes, artistic musings, philosophy and news from the cycling scene.  The down side is that I am all too rudely reminded that my commutes used to be oh-so-different.

Luckily, the training was interesting and offered an opportunity to learn and get qualified in a new area.  The course was a two-day workshop around NZ’s Co-ordinated Incident Management Systems, training folks from the emergency services, health sector, utilities and other key agencies to manage natural disasters, industrial accidents, large scale events and environmental incidents in a cohesive, collaborative and co-ordinated fashion under one encompassing system.  By means of classroom instruction and multiple role-played real-time scenarios, we were trained to manage the ‘big picture’ of such incidents and co-ordinate the disparate agencies involved.

All the scenarios were based of real incidents and the directing staff included civil defense staff, fire fighters, police officers and a bomb disposal expert.  Over the two days, we dealt with bomb hoaxes, oil refinery explosions,
rail crashes in remote mountain passes and catering fires at crowded
festivals.  I left the course this afternoon having learned a great deal, no only from the course but from my fellow students.  Although I sincerely hope that I will not need to use these newly-acquired skills, a small part of me is intrigued to know how I would perform if I did.

Nail Parlour Games

Monday, December 11th, 2006

In the course of my job, I recently had cause to visit a nail parlour. I only mention this because Dave blogged a similar establishment in the UK on funkypancake. As I have related in a comment on Dave’s site, I was co-ordinating an investigation of the unexplained increase in water usage. The engineers and I checked the exterior connection and then headed inside the building. We discovered that the nail parlour was staffed by a number of very pretty Chinese ladies in velour jogging suits and slippers, which seemed strange attire for nail technicians, as I believe they are called. Further discrete inquiries revealed that nails were not the only things getting buffed by the ladies, if you get my drift. And people told me the water industry would be boring.

Christmas in summertime…

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

…will take some getting used to.

Lost your keys, guys?

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

As a former bit part actor, I have the utmost sympathy for those for whom an on-the-job mistake mean public humiliation, albeit temporary. However, I’ll not deny that I enjoy the guilty delights that Schadenfreude offers. Russell Davies recently pointed out an excellent post on the blog of Alex Ross, the music critic of the New York Times. It highlights a great page full of trumpet fluffs, the Infamous Portsmouth Symphonia and an organist playing Handel’s Messiah who just has to be heard to be believed. Enjoy, guiltily or otherwise.


Saturday, December 9th, 2006
Geo. Washington saluting the bravery of Sean Bonner

An American acquaintance of mine, Sean Bonner, appears to be taking a great deal for taking a brave stand. Sean, a media commentator and art wrangler of no small regard, has been trying to bring the long-raging ‘The Long Horse Debate‘ and subsequent concerns around equine provenance to the attention of the wider public. Castigated by some, dismissed by others, there can be no doubt as to the robust nature of his constitution and the strength of his conviction. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Snow Patrol to play our backyard

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

In what will be their debut New Zealand gig, indie-darlings turned mainstream stadium-fillers Snow Patrol, surfing the success of their Eyes Open album down under, will play Auckland in February next year. Tickets went on sale here in NZ earlier today and, given their rapid sell outs in Oz, I scooped a pair up before they disappeared. The gig is good news on several levels in this house.Firstly, the concert is a few weeks after my birthday so it’ll a nice treat to banish the post-birthday blues. This inevitable melancholia will undoubtedly be further compounded by the fact that, between now and then, we will have hosted by two lots of relatives and a friend and her daughter and I’ll be ready for a rare night out.Secondly, the venue is the Trust Stadium, which is just a 15 minute drive from our house. This will mean a quick drive to the neighbouring shopping area to park up, and grab a bite to eat before a leisurely walk to the stadium. After the gig, a leisurely walk back passed the post-gig jams to the car and a 15 minute drive home.

However, the last reason is the best. Over the last year or so, the younger of my teenagers has moved from the mainstream poppy preoccupations of the average pre-teen towards more rock and indie, fuelled by the more edgy, bleep-worthy of Auckland’s FM stations. On the quiet, and while her mother rails against the DJ’s language and the playlists’ lyrics, this has pleased me no end for it is nice to have at least one musical ally in the house. As Snow Patrol’s output to date resides not only on my iPod but now on hers too, it is fitting that it was she who told me about the gig. It only seems right
that she is the one who gets the other ticket and goes to her first ever gig.

I can’t remember who I saw at my first gig but I can recall the anticipation, buzz and excitement that preceded going to a concert as a teenager and I saw it all in her face when I called her over to look at the email confirmation on my iBook. More than that, I am shamelessly flattered that she’d even be seen at a gig with her Dad. I suspect that the thought hasn’t crossed her mind yet and I’ll be having to swear that I won’t dance or sing along when the time arrives.

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