threemonkeys: (tick)
The GUFF ballot form is now available. Alternatively, and possibly more conveniently, there is an online form here.

Under normal circumstances I would just be encouraging you to vote. But if you look closely you will see that I actually nominated one of the candidates. So please vote for Gillian as she would be a great ambassador for down under fandom. Alternatively, just vote for whoever you want to - the important thing is to vote (and pay).
threemonkeys: (boxes)
I'm not going to be at Conclave2*, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. Has anybody heard anything at all from them - any emails or news updates? I say this as somebody who is on many email lists and actually runs a news service for the national SF association. I haven't heard a peep. I'd ask directly but since I'm not attending I thought I'd ask around first to see if I'm missing something?.

The web site is scarcely any better. It has no progress news posted - there aren't even any forums created in the forum area. There isn't even a draft programme - just a rough sketch of a few major items.

Did I mention that it starts Thursday of next week.

ETA: Oh, it appears there is a facebook page and there is some activity there. Who uses facebook anymore?

(*Conclave 2 = New Zealand Natcon for 2014. If you don't know what a natcon is then there is every chance you have stumbled across the wrong blog.)
threemonkeys: (tick)
Are you a New Zealand based fan who wants to attend Aussie Natcon Continuum X in June. The have a look at FFANZ - go on, you know you want to. Added fundraising jolliness thrown in free.
Announement is here.

Actually, I'm tempted to run myself, just to keep it going. Except that I don't realistically think I'll be able to make it to Continuum this year. I've already flagged away going to the NZ Natcon. No single problem - just too hard generally.
threemonkeys: (cat)
I can't let this pass unremarked. Geoff Robinson is retiring from National Radio. I have been waking up to his voice on week-day morning for at least the last 30 years. All I can really say to him is thank you - it just won't be the same without you.

At least Simon Mercep has proven a good co-host. But the last thing we need now is for RNZ to try to find one of those rabid attack dog interviewers. We don't ever need another Mike Hosking in the mornings. Morning report should be about information not confrontation - Robinson understood that better than anybody and did it superbly.
threemonkeys: (boxes)
It appears that GUFF nominations for 2014 are open and have been for some time. They close on Friday. I only found out when I got an email offering to organise nominators for me. Oops.

Not that it matters. Sadly I find myself in the position where I cannot stand in good conscience. I can't guarantee that I'd be able to make the trip or be able to do all the activity required of a delegate. Oh but I'd so much like to.

By way of a proxy, I'd be prepared to nominate anybody interested.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Here is what you don't want to hear when you are on a ship - a loud bang, a shudder and a grinding sound. Another thing you don't want to have is silence over the intercom - it must have taken 15 minutes before the captain came on to say there has been an incident. I can't say I liked the sensation of drifting without power in the middle of Cook Strait either.

Anyway, no great harm done for me and the other passengers. The crew did get into communication mode and we got going, albeit at a reduced speed. We ended up being a bit over an hour late. News item if you are interested in details.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I'm heading south for a trip for a family reunion. There have been a bunch of (four) provincial rugby finals this weekend. The connection?

There are 26 rugby provincial unions in NZ, 6 of which make up the Crusaders provincial catchment area. I'm traveling through 4 of those Crusaders union areas this week. They are:

Marlborough - part of Tasman - Championship winners

Canterbury - Premiership winners (for the the 6th time in a row)

Mid Canterbury - Meads cup winners

South Canterbury - Lachore cup winners.

Do you think rugby will be a safe topic on my trip?


Notes
1 - One of the losing finalists was a Crusader catchment union as well.
2 - Lets not mention the Womens NPC final shall we ;)
threemonkeys: (books)
I recently read a book that many times made me look at my watch and then grumble. The book in question was The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. The basic premise of the book is that it suddenly became easy to transport yourself between parallel Earths. The one key caveat to this transfer was that metallic Iron would not transfer over with you. Obviously organically bound Iron would transfer over or you wouldn’t live but the hard shiny stuff just got dropped behind. A big chunk of the world building of this book was based on that. The implication being that technology levels for people transferring over to a parallel earth would be very low. There is a scene where somebody is trying to bury bodies with a wooden shovel. The crippling effect of not having iron was mentioned in many places and in a variety of explicit and implied ways. It is fundamental to the book.

So why did looking at my watch make me grumble? Because the case and strap of my watch are made of Titanium. It isn’t even a particularly expensive watch. Iron may be very common to the point of ubiquity in our technology, but there are plenty of alternatives – Aluminium. Carbon fibre, ceramics, Titanium, Magnesium* and so forth. Generally speaking there are actually superior alternatives to Iron/Steel for pretty much any role you care to mention. Sure they are more expensive, but they do exist. What is more, given a few years of development after the discovery of parallel Earths (as the book suggests), you can expect industry to have come up with a whole range of non-iron tools – particularly firearms - the lack of which was particularly noted in the book.

So what bugged me was that alternatives to Iron were not addressed by the book. Not even a line to discount the impact of other materials as being too expensive. That wouldn’t necessarily be valid but at least it would show the authors recognised the situation and were trying to address it. Instead it looked as if they had found their macguffin to create low technology and were sticking with it. It just seemed sloppy and every time I struck it, it pulled me out of the story.

I think it bugged me more because the book is clearly Science Fiction. I may not have held a fantasy world building up to quite the same standards - or perhaps not. Whatever, I’m sure the readers here who run world building courses will be saying "see – I told you so".


*Magnesium alloy as used in car wheels actually has a standard that says no more than .005% of the alloy can be Iron or it affects the corrosion resistance. In the scenario of the Long Earth I can see an industry of carrying rims across to a parallel Earth and back again to remove all the unwanted Iron from the alloy wheels.
threemonkeys: (cat)
I thought I'd try to watch some coverage of the Aussie elections last night - in between rugby coverage...as you do.

But the only coverage locally was from Sky News. I didn't watch for long. What a nasty, biased, gloating piece of work. Actually considerably worse than checking out Fox news during the last US presidential election. Over here we did hear accusations of the media bias, but they were just that - accusations. The Sky coverage served proof.

On a brighter note, I have been remiss in not noting another "Australian system" vote last weekend - the Hugos. Tansy won for best fan writing! Such brilliant news and so completely deserved.

Oh yes and the Wallabies lost. I have no reaction to that.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
I don't think many people watched the series Mr Sunshine starring Matthew Perry as the manager of a sport stadium. I did though - it had some genuinely funny moments along with a fair wallop of lameness.

There was one episode where Perry's character is trying to hook up with a "lingerie football" player playing at the stadium. Not having ever heard of this variation of football before I assumed it was probably invented purely for the show. Even if it did exist, surely it would be on a par with jello wrestling or foxy boxing - i.e tasteless, demeaning (and many other bad things) and not a real sport at all.

So last night I was scrolling through the program guide and there on ESPN was a listing for "Lingerie Football". For real. They certainly don't put jello wrestling on ESPN, so I thought I'd take a look.

So, as you might expect, the players were attired in what looked like bikinis. But they were also wearing serious heavy duty shoulder pads - just like the men playing Arena Football wear. The reason became clear in a few seconds. The women were playing this game just like the men play Arena football. Full contact, full pace and hard hits. In other words, players were playing for keeps - serious sport. And no, before you suggest it, I do know full well that women can and do play serious full contact sports - this is all about the context y'know.

So great, a serious sport - and yet they are still playing in underwear. Clearly there is still a big old chunk of exploitation there. It is a contradiction and I find myself torn. Although not that torn - I don't watch Arena football, so I am not going to watch another version of it despite the amount of skin on show - so I'll just stop watching and stop being conflicted. BTW I don't watch volleyball either so the parallel with the women's beach version is in there too

The above is all background really. One thing did impress me in the time I watched. The commentators were two men. The covered the game exactly as they were covering a men's Arena game. They described the play and the game situation. They evaluated how well the players were playing. And they did it in a fully engaged but professional manner. At no point could I discern even the tiniest amount of condescension or titillation. I really didn't think they could do such a thing. Small steps eh?
threemonkeys: (cat)
A little virtual aftershock from the July quake. We had a bunch of windows cracked on our floor from the first quake and the work to repair them has been going on for the last few days. It is very very noisy. The window frames are pretty old and metal the guys replacing them have to hammer & chisel out the now very hard putty/glue used to put them in place. The frames reverberate and cause a lot of noise.

I should mention at this point that they are doing this work from outside - we are on the 5th floor.

We have a few spare desks and the people closest to the work can relocate. I did that when they were fixing the window right beside me. But now I'm struggling with the noise as they move further along.

I've got ear plugs in - they are pretty good ones and are absolutely essential for the levels of noise being generated. But that's the thing - I really don't like the isolation of ear plugs. I can't listen to music through earphones either. I just don't like the way that they cut me off from the world. Some folk seem happy to isolate themselves away like this all the time. I'm sure some of you even prefer it. I just can't do it.

Time for another break.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Another decent sized quake this afternoon. No problems - its all fine (this side of the Strait anyway). But it does answer one question. Just how long does it take to empty the city when everybody decides to go at once? Turns out not long at all.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Got up early to try to avoid the expected extra heavy traffic on the roads this morning. Then got a call from the boss to say that we weren't to come in until our building has been inspected and given the all clear. That won't be until mid-morning or later. Silver linings eh?

6.5

Jul. 21st, 2013 05:40 pm
threemonkeys: (boxes)
Hmmm, that was the biggest quake I've experienced in a long while. Did not like it at all.

Originally rated at 6.8 or 6.9 (now reviewed down to 6.5), Stuff have a short article up. But as at the time I'm posting this (it may change), it starts with the sentence "A large 6.8 earthquake has hit Wellington, sending office workers diving under their desks.". I don't know about your town, but there aren't many people working in their offices at 5.09 on a Sunday afternoon. I'm beginning to wonder if Fairfax have an automatic headling/story generator. It might explain a lot about the standards of some of the writing I see on Stuff.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I just noticed, the loo rolls at work are described as "mini jumbo". I suppose it isn't all that hard to come up with a scenario or two to explain it. Nevertheless... I'm amused.
threemonkeys: (cat)
Oh dear, Mick Aston has died. It is only a few months since the Time team show folded.

He wasn't in every show and not in the last season at all. That was telling for me because the shows where he wasn't present were just not as good as the ones where he was there. His genial nature and his obvious passion to share and educate people about his passion were obvious. I admire his decision to walk away rather than participate in the "dumbing down" of the show. Other dig chiefs had their agendas or just didn't have the personality for the TV side of the job. Mick was always smiling and always prepared to explain and share.

Sad.
threemonkeys: (Default)
The power just came back on after 18 hours. So so cold. This is the problem with neglecting other heating options. When I finally got out of bed, the temperature inside the house had got up to 8 degrees. It was 4 degrees outside.

In case you are wondering - have a look at this. People probably think that it is like this in Wellington all the time - I assure y'all that "winds gusting up to 200km" are not normal even here in wind central.

Didn't go to work. Debris on the road. Talked to my boss who had gone in - there wasn't any networking out of our premises anyway as our local hub site was out of action.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Iain Banks has died. Given his prognosis, nobody is surprised I guess. Nevertheless, it is still very sad when an author of his importance and skill goes. The obituaries were all written in advance and are appearing everywhere. I just want to add my thanks to him for producing some of the very best stories anywhere. He was something special.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
I find myself mildly curious about compact cameras. There used to be lots of them on the market. But today in Dick Smith I noticed that the formerly large display now only has a handful of models on it. Now that is hardly surprising with the ever increasing quality of cameras in phones. On the other extreme, serious photographers don't seem to use compact cameras - they use DSLRs or some other "full size" items*.

But there still appears to be a gap there for the compact cameras. They still have better lenses and better sensors than even the best phones (not forgetting optical zoom) and they fit in a pocket. But I don't know when I last saw anybody using one. Is the gap more illusion than actual? Are they an obsolete technology?

The reason I'm curious is because I have just finished watching a documentary series about a properly obsolete technology - bulletin board systems. They were a technology that went from peak usage to being properly obsolete in about 6 months. I couldn't help wondering if these small cameras are in the same category. And yet, there was a tiny Panasonic Lumix with 10x optical zoom and 16Mpixel and I couldn't help thinking what a nice thing that would be to own.

Anybody out there still using a compact camera?


*Really I have no idea what those full size cameras entail - I an not a serious user of camera technology. Not ones that don't fit in my pocket anyway.
threemonkeys: (books)
So I wasn't feeling to good today - you might even say I was feeling "a trifle dead". So when my eyes stopped hurting I decided to read A Trifle Dead by Livia Day. No, that line isn't exactly high wit - indicative of my state of mind. The book did however raise my state of mind and state of humour. But then it was always going to. When an author with a fine humourous touch turns her hand to a novel of food and murder it was always going to turn out well when the folk at Twelfth Planet got their hands on it.

So it was a good book and it got me through the day, but it does pose a slight problem. See, where do I shelve it? It is a problem I strike from time to time when authors stray outside their genre boundaries (think Michael Marshall Smith). Not that I object to authors crossing boundaries - I positively encourage it.

But that still leaves the shelves. All the crime/mystery stuff is on different shelves in a different room. So should this book go in the SF/F section specially set aside for Australasian authors. In particular, in the part set aside for TPP titles. Or should it go on the crime shelves between Chandler and Evanovich.

At this point a few of you are thinking that the placement is because D comes between C and E. Hah! That would be too easy.
threemonkeys: (tick)
It is one of those things isn't it? You never go see the cool stuff in your local area. Unless you are showing it to an out of town visitor that is. Which is my way of getting around to saying that I took GUFF delegate Mihaela over to Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife sanctuary yesterday. It must be 15 years since I was last there - it was cool then and it is even better now.

They have a Kiwi house there these days. They have an albino one and it was very active and easy to see in the darkened environment (nocturnal y'know). The Kiwi is our national bird, yet we only see them in this captive state. But what prompted me to those initial comments was that last time I saw a Kiwi was in a Zoo in California many years ago. Crazy.


Oh yes, they also have Tuatara at Mount Bruce. An ancient reptile that spends most of its time motionless. So awesome that they named a supercar after it.
threemonkeys: (Default)
...and in other news, the GUFF delegate is in wellington. Come socialise on Thursday - http://sffanz.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/guff-delegate-in-wellington-social-gathering/


...and in other other news, the DUFF race is on. I have printed forms if you need them and I can also to the paypal thing if you so desire. http://sffanz.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/duff-race-voting-is-now-open/
threemonkeys: (mars)
So as is my way I’ll do the bullet point thing for Conflux 9. Not in any particular order nor complete nor necessarily about what was most important.

Nine book launch events for the launching of twelve books in total. Too many? I never thought I’d say it, but yes, a few too many. There was a fair bit of launch fatigue going on. The space allocated for it may have contributed. On the other hand the books launched at Conflux were certainly a promising lot. I look forward to reading them.

Lots of sitting around talking for me at this con. That is what I always hope for, so big plus there. A good number of those discussions were over meals. Even bigger plus there. Which isn’t to say the programme was weak – far from it. A good convention caters to all sorts of con goers. Of course this con had a big writers focus – duh – it was a Conflux after all.

On the subject of meals, I don’t remember a con where I ate both so regularly and so well. All with a minimum of junk food. Oh and let’s not forget a historically accurate Regency feast.

I do have to say, my pain threshold for Regency dancing is very low. It isn’t an issue that has ever came up before. You live and learn – on the other hand my pain threshold for watching any form of dancing is very low so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Good venue. There was lots of lounging around space which was good. Even more use could have been made of that space. Nice also that when the con information says that the local shopping area is only 10 minutes walk away that it really only takes that long.

I may well have got the best room location I have ever had at a con. Close to the action, but a short stair journey separate so with a little barrier for quietness when needed.

Sydney airport is the hellmouth. I have said this many times. It isn’t just the size and complexity and the failing machines and the crowds – other airports have them too. There are other intangibles that just seem to make it a place of gloom. But this time, I flew Air NZ/Virgin for the first time since they started their partnership. Virgin has new international/domestic transfer areas. When I stepped into these (both journey directions), suddenly the gloom lifted. It was brighter and the staff actually smiled and were actually helpful. What a revelation. It also helps that this is the first time I have travelled to Canberra when at least one leg hasn’t been cancelled or redirected.

I attended the natcon business session for a while. There is an amount of amusement that can be gained from attending such a meeting when you are not invested in it. But I did hit my limit after a while.

17 books. That is all I bought. Slightly below average for me at an Aussie con, but not by much. Sixteen of those books by Aussie authors – the seventeenth by the same author as the book I was reading on the plane on the way across (which I bought at the previous Continuum natcon) Coincidence – not even a bit.

Did you know Croatia has a population of about 4 million (i.e. the same as NZ) and gets 1300 people to their national convention? Locals need to know this stuff.

Did you know that Eurocon next year is right after Worldcon – I’d forgotten that. I find it very interesting from a GUFF point of view.

More to come - maybe. Got to work out where to show a GUFF delegate around.
threemonkeys: (tick)
The Hugo ballot is out. Just saying an extra congratulations to the Fishlifters and Galactic Suburbians for getting there again and for Tansy doing extra duty by getting on the fan writing list as well.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
The Time team 20th anniversary special has just been broadcast. It is a best-of type episode celebrating the last 20 years of the show. It is also the last Time Team. Assuming no other channel picks it up than that is it. No more. It has ceased to be (blah blah python blah parrot blah...)

The last couple of series were well below par and I always wished they would do more Roman & Tudor shows. Nevertheless, it was a great show and I always looked forward to it.

It will be missed. Although with at least two old episodes a day on History Channel just as I get home, it may not be missed as much as all that.
threemonkeys: (books)
Nominations for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2013 will close on March 31st. Usually I'm pretty organised. I know what Kiwi SF I have read and which of those works are actually worthy of being nominated.

But this year I have no idea. Any pointers? Any hints as to what I may have bought and read - I know some of you sold me stuff last year. It is possible I even have works on my to-read shelf. If so, I will read them over the weekend.

Of course, you could nominate works yourself. Just sayin'.

Pádraig

Mar. 17th, 2013 11:16 am
threemonkeys: (tick)
It is St Paddy's day today. Probably a good day to have on a sunday as it cuts down on the green themed idiocy. However I was a little surprised to go into a Countdown supermarket this morning to ss that all the staff were wearing orange t-shirts. It is some sort of product promotion, but the timing is interesting to say the least. I chatted to a couple of the staff at checkout about it. One didn't get the significance, but the other was quite miffed. I think more than any other reason because she didn't get the opportunity to dress up in green.

I was reminded of university days. The dining room for halls of residence had big milk dispensers for breakfast time. It was always a race between certain factions to see who could get the food colouring into them first. At the time orange coloured milk seemed a lot more palatable than green milk. Interesting then that the makers of flavoured milk here offer green lime flavoured milk (as well as the usual chocolate, banana etc) but don't offer orange.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
ACC have recently opened an office in the building next door to where I work. They have occupied a space formerly occupied by a Japanese restaurant. Not a good swap in my opinion.

Wednesday last week, I spotted somebody lying in one of the sheltered nooks near the main entrance to this ACC branch. According to his sign, he was staging a hunger strike in protest against ACC. I passed him again later in the day and he was sitting rubbing his belly looking very pained. The next day he was gone. I don't know whether he gave up or was moved on.

One day without food probably won't have affected the chap's health, but it did get me wondering. Would you be eligible for ACC coverage if you injured yourself staging a protest? Does the self inflicted nature of a hunger strike problem count as an injury by ACCs definition? Even if it would count as an injury (and I suspect it would), what would be the chances of actually making a successful claim?

Today, for the first time, there was a security guard standing outside the ACC branch. When I passed him initially, he was standing and looking staunch. When I passed him on the way back from lunch (mmmm curry) he was sitting in another of the sheltered nooks rubbing his leg and grimacing in pain (well, discomfort anyway). I wonder what his chances of a successful workplace injury claim would be?
threemonkeys: (tick)
Work has had one of those baby photo competitions. You know the sort of thing - display a bunch of baby photos and you have to identify who they are. I'm pleased to admit that I came dead last in the competition. Shows how much empathy I have with babies.

Of course it could be something to do with my strategy of just writing down the names in the order they appear on our (non-alphabetical) phone list.

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