Dunedin and Studies

Feb. 23rd, 2019 06:12 am
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[personal profile] tcpip
With an hour to go before being collected by shuttle to Dunedin airport and then en route to Wellington and Melbourne, it is opportune to review the past few days which have been dominated by the subject title. On the sightseeing side of the journey I took the opportunity to visit the Dunedin Chinese Garden which, despite several prior trips here, I had never been to. It was a pleasant environment and includes a good documentary of said people in the early days Dunedin (gold, market farms and laundries, and terrible discrimination) which match experiences elsewhere. I was very fortunate to have an impromptu musician playing a huqin which was a highlight. Afterwards made my way to the Art Gallery which has a small selection of early modern European and Australian material, some awful abstract expressionism, and a exhibitions on contemporary Chinese art which didn't interest me, but the Artificial Wonderland by Yang Yongliang (cyberpunk-industrial landscape in digital media with traditional style) left a strong impression.

On the study and university side of the equation, attended my first tutorial in-person for Critical Reflections on Higher Education, followed by a lunch with Jim C., and David E., at the rather nice Otago staff club. We chatted about the restructuring that the University IT services are experiencing and how this does leave open the opportunity for a good eResearch program. Jim C., also received a hand-delivered copy of Papers & Paychecks. A couple of evening's prior I dropped in to visit the local university RPG club, OURS and deliver a copy to those said folk as well and played a couple of rounds of Red Dragon Inn. Another related venture was a long meandering walk from the city to St Clair beach via South Dunedin and St Kilda, suburbs which I hadn't really explored before. I spend the better part of a day there, watching the surfers as the tide comes in, whilst at The Long Dog cafe. It was a curious observation I made of myself - whilst others had come here to surf, others to visit the seaside cafe and chat with friends, I had come here to study advanced macroeconomics, such is the madness of 'lifelong learning'. This said I have completed an extensive content review of all course material related to this postgraduate economics degree which now gives me two months to complete an intensive review, with a strict timetable in place.

Salon post: February 22

Feb. 22nd, 2019 10:09 am
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett
Good morning!

Topic of the week
Places you've enjoyed going (near where you live, longer travel, everything in between.)

What I've been up to
I am running around getting ready for a quick and weirdly timed work trip (flying very early Saturday morning, getting back very late Monday night, the actual work stuff is Saturday evening through noonish Monday).

So I'm posting this and then going to the laundromat, as one does.

Reminders and tips for making this post flow better )
House rules )

Peak New England

Feb. 21st, 2019 10:09 am
momijizukamori: Rufus Shinra from the Final Fantasy 7 doujinshi Home Sweet Home, looking incredibly smug (Rufus | Trolling)
[personal profile] momijizukamori
Me, in fleece pj pants, boots, an X-Men t-shirt and gloves, shoveling the plow pack at the end of my driveway.

(I had a coat, but I started sweating heavily enough that I took it off)

Wellington to Dunedin

Feb. 19th, 2019 10:17 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
My last days in Wellington included catching up for lunch with Art P., Kay J., and Tim J., to discuss various matters ranging from NZ politics to science fiction. Promotion of The Locksmith is appropriate in this context. After that went to Te Papa, NZ's national museum, a visit which was particularly notable for the Terracotta Warriors exhibition, and their quite literally larger than life Gallipoli exhibition. Appropriately, the following afternoon I went on the Weta Workshop combination tour which was worth a visit, but not something I would return to in a hurry. The morning after however was a regular event on my visits here, the Wellington Cable Car and Museum, along with the well-appointed botanical gardens. Inside there is the Carter Observatory and Space Place, which I hadn't been to for several years and is well worth regular visits.

That evening took a flight to Dunedin and paid the notoriously overpriced taxi fare and stepped in my home for a few days, Balllymena House. This is an increasingly dilapidated old Victorian era building which creaks and wobbles as you make your way around, but it's comfortable, inexpensive, and the family-staff are very helpful. Have carried out some of the more official purposes of my visit, firstly being to check on my Masonic Lodge; tenant Dominic S. (of the The 3Ds fame) loves the place and has made the main hall into a music studio. My other required activity here was complete enrolment matters with the University of Otago. A few thousand dollars later, I now have a student card for my Masters of Higher Education degree; the first tutorial is on Friday.

In less requisite activities, I have purchased a small mountain of shirts from the local SaveMart; run into a chap from Byron Bay who also considers it to the finest clothes store in the AU-NZ region. As for today, spent a good few hours making my way through the Otago Museum, which has excellent Pacific Island culture sections, a good maritime history collection, and an impressive nature section. Curiously, it also has a good Greco-Egyptian antiquities collection (including a mummy). As always, I find Dunedin to be one of the most delightful and charming little cities imaginable; any excuse to visit.

::contented purr::

Feb. 18th, 2019 10:44 pm
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[personal profile] ysobel
Monkey has just upped her cuteness level.

At some point in the last year or so she started sleeping on me sometimes at night -- sometimes I'd be in bed and she'd climb onto my stomach and snuggle down, warm and purring, and put her head tucked against or on top of my hand or wrist. Even when I was technically interrupted in the middle of doing something on my iPad, I wasn't upset at the blocking; I'd just lie there being a self-heating cat bed, like making her comfortable was the only priority I had.

(And sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night with her on top of me.)

Within the last week she's started using my hand as a chin rest, with my right thumb under her chin and her face kind of buried in my fingers. Which meant if she fell asleep I could feel every sleep-twitch of her whiskers, every eye flutter as she dreamed, every tiny little movement. It feels somehow special, almost sacred, having her trust me enough to fall asleep on me.

Tonight, after doing that for a while, she stretched, groomed her face a bit, and then settled down in a shifted position ... and curled her paw around my left thumb, clinging to it like a teddy bear.

February has mostly sucked, but tonight almost compensated...

it got better

Feb. 17th, 2019 08:33 pm
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[personal profile] kareila
Although the 'rents are still noping on babysitter availability, we managed to have Saturday lunch with the in-laws and Sunday dinner with my mom. Everyone is generally doing better, except for my dad's wife. I still haven't seen my dad in over a year now, but at least he remembered to call us on Will's birthday. My mom says that my sister is thinking of paying us a visit in late March or early April.

I called in a favor with the usual suspects to get non-familial child supervision so that Robby and I could go to the symphony on Saturday night. It was a really fantastic program, featuring a newly commissioned piano concerto by Martin Kennedy, a music professor who is my sister's age. I dearly hope to hear it again sometime.

Another busy week ahead, full of doctor appointments and music performances. Hopefully I can take the kids to go see the LEGO Movie 2 while they are out of school tomorrow.

bleh

Feb. 15th, 2019 11:15 pm
kareila: Terry Jones making a "yuck" face. (graygrouch)
[personal profile] kareila
I ended up getting almost nothing done this past week due to coming down with a severe head cold and staying in bed most of the past 4 days. I still feel stuffy but at least my brains are no longer leaking out of my nose and I can think again for more than ten minutes at a time.

Unfortunately that grayout period included Will's birthday. I gave him a small handful of presents I had bought beforehand and Robby took him out for frozen yogurt, but we didn't manage any sort of group celebration. I'm hoping I can make it up to him over the weekend.

We also skipped celebrating Valentine's Day, but we have symphony tickets for tomorrow night, which could be a date night if I can find a babysitter on short notice.
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[personal profile] tcpip
Earlier this week I found out via Facebook that two friends, Michael H., and Mark R., from different social circles, had died. It struck me, in part because I had been at the conference all day, and was suddenly confronted with this news with all its immediacy. I cannot say I was particularly close to either but both were the sort of people whose company I enjoyed; great minds, big hearts, and a well-tuned sense of the absurd. What struck me was the realisation that in pre-social media times, weeks if not months or even years could have passed before I would have received this news, and how it cuts in the other direction as well. Connectivity is often stronger, more organic (to use Durkheim's classic dichotomy), and especially lasting. Once upon a time you could meet someone, form a friendship, lose contact, and in ten years even their name would be forgotten. Now we have the extension of our mind, recorded in digital, replicated on servers worldwide, "Google never forgets", and our digital footprints in the sand are not washed away, but rather become a source for recollections by ourselves and others.

Meanwhile, I am still in Wellington. Multicore World has finished, with the last day of formal proceedings followed by a round-table workshop (I stayed for half of the latter, wanting to see a bit of the city during business hours). From the last day's talks I was particularly impressed with Jeffrey Vetter from Oakridge, talking about their future supercomputers and heterogeneous memory architectures, on which he has a very good paper. With retirement impending Mark Seager of Intel gave a heartfelt presentation on being part of a 34-year journey, which he points out included witnessing a 100Bx computational performance improvement in that time.

My journeys on the half-day I had free included a visit to the NZ Labour Party to rejoin (that makes four social-democratic and democratic socialist parties I am a member of in AU, NZ, DE, and FR), followed by a trip to the Wellington City Museum, which is a truly superb little institution. My favourite of the many stories the place tells is the short documentary of the Tragedy of the Wahine, overlayed with the hauntingly beautiful sounds of Adagio in G Minor. I have said in the past that this is possibly the most powerful short documentary I have ever seen, and I still hold to that - and that was before I found out that I had been on the said boat several weeks prior to its sinking, in utero.

Technically, I am officially on holiday from now until and the coming week. I do suspect that I am going to continue at least some work as that is my nature; I have software installations to complete and impending courses to teach. Nevertheless, I also have my own studies to pay attention to. This morning I handed in a massive mid-term assignment for my MSc, and next week I'm off to Dunedin to attend the opening classes for my MHed. Which means whatever spare time does fall my way I will be making the most of.

Salon post: February 15

Feb. 15th, 2019 11:16 am
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett
Good morning!

Topic of the week
Stuff you're enjoying right now, whatever that is.

What I've been up to
Doing all sorts of catchup stuff at home, whee! (And a few enjoyable social outings.)

Reminders and tips for making this post flow better )
House rules )

(no subject)

Feb. 14th, 2019 03:43 am
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[personal profile] ysobel
Pretty sure the universe hates me right now.

Point: my chair is semi broken. Last week I went to go somewhere and *couldn't get out of the van* because motor 2 was disconnected. It took 45 minutes and two (strong) people to get me out -- luckily once I got back inside, the chair started behaving again, but I am afraid to go anywhere in case I get stuck, either in the van again or outside someplace. The theory is that something in the right-side motor is loose/worn enough that the disengage lever slips out of fully locked. (Which also means it's totally unrelated to the joystick falling off earlier.) They've ordered new parts but this tends to be the sort of thing that, based on delivery times, is handmade by Tibetan unicorns in the light of a full moon and then shipped via narcoleptic yak.

It's been a week, and so far I've missed a book group discussion that only meets every other month, reiki, choir rehearsal, soul collage, and I forgot what else but fuck. Also all three pets had vet appointments, so my aide had to go be my proxy.

Point: my brain feels like it has somehow short-circuited because stress and because I don't know if the chair will die completely or when it will be fixed. i can't focus on anything or do anything or ... anything.

Point: the aide that was leaving at the end of the month? Apparently the other client needs her sooner so as of Monday she can't work for me in the afternoons. She's still doing her two morning shifts through the end of feb, but not the three afternoon ones. I found this out tonight.

Point: the power went out at around midnight and stayed out for two hours. Something was beeping. My bed (alternating air pressure mattress) requires power. My cpap requires power. My fan requires power. Too hot and uncomfortable to sleep. And I couldn't even distract myself with Netflix because internet requires power (and while I do have videos on my iPad, I didn't want to drain the battery down and have nothing, if the power stayed out). I got the cpap hoses disconnected so I could breathe (it is very awkward and stifling to try to breathe through the filters and stuff when it's unpowered) ... but then when the power came back on couldn't get it connected again (partly hecause the hose attached to my face mask isn't quite long enough for me to hold well, partly because I can't bring my hands together) so I had to wake my roommate up. Which is, granted, one of the reasons she's here, but I still hate doing it.

Point: it is ::squints at clock:: 3:30 and I am not asleep and my brain doesn't want to go to sleep (it's like a very small toddler, just less mobile). I'm also hungry and craving sugar, but I haven't figured out a way to eat stuff in bed, and anyway shouldn't be having a lot of sugar, though I'm thinking of saying fuck it and just gorging on chocolate tomorrow, because who fucking cares if it's healthy, give me all the sugars.

Wellington and Multicore World

Feb. 13th, 2019 02:29 pm
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The past few days I've been in New Zealand for Multicore World, a small but quality conferences which has a great schedule. I was been particularly impressed by James Ang's presentation on heterogenous hardware design for lead researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, taking a cue from Eric von Hippel's "Democratizing Innovation". Sean Blanchard from the Los Alamos Ultrascale Systems Research Centre gave a fascinating talk on the dangers of cosmic rays on memory (who knew?), whereas Ruud van der Pas gave a great presentation on NUMA and a satirical take on a new language, OpenWOUND. Finally, John Gustafson of National University of Singapore, gave an update on the UNUM/posit project, inconsistencies in math libraries, and especially how its cost-efficiency can seriously help the Square Kilometre Array.

The conference has been held in Shed 22 on the Wellington waterfront, which had just beautiful warm and clear summer days. Which is just as well, because I've had bugger-all opportunity to explore, with a conference timetable that runs from around 8:30 to 20:00, my day's journey has been from the "hotel" to the conference hall and back again. This said, I did get the opportunity to have dinner with Janet E., and Doug on the Monday night which was absolutely delightful. I do have Saturday off before heading to Dunedin and am hoping to catch up with the handful of Wellington people I know for lunch. The "hotel" I am staying at is actually Victoria University student accommodation before the new semester, which is clean, modern, with nice views and an absolute steal at a mere $30/night (no, that is not an error).

In between the conference and working through the enormous list of R extensions that I'm installing, I've also been finishing various assessment components for the MSc in Information Systems that I'm doing. This includes a video review of a webinar on social media strategy; the assignment required that it be a video, but apparently, assessment will be based on content, which is just as well with my non-existent video skills. In addition, I also finished a review of two White Papers on Enterprise Resource Planning software, which you would think would be a prime candidate for an information systems perspective. In both cases, I am somewhat surprised by the lack of quantitative evaluation and a systems perspective in subjects that are really screaming for it. Despite (or perhaps) my background in social inquiry and my existing degrees in business, the absence of objective facts and systemic logic in such areas is really quite ridiculous.
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This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

I’m not what one would call a monogamous knitter: that is, I don’t do one project at a time. But things have gotten a little out of hand because I start a new project with every trip, and I’ve had a lot of trips since the fall with not enough time in between to finish things. So my normal “one bigger/more challenging at home, one for in my purse” has ballooned to… I don’t know, maybe 7-9 projects?


It’s a bit silly of me to start a mystery knit a long, especially when I’m probably not even going to get to do the full yarn crawl this year (J is traveling, my friend who usually comes down to visit can’t make it this year, and I’m not up to toddler wrangling through 11 incredibly busy stores on my own. I’m planning maybe 2-3?). But I was watching from afar (literally: reading the Ravelry threads from New Zealand) and people were saying that this year’s knit was challenging and had unusual construction, and I was curious enough to try.


I managed to get my yarns out of my stash:



The gold colour is what I chose for colour 1. I love this yarn so much. This was an impulse buy at Knotty Lamb maybe during last year’s crawl, and it’s from Farmer’s Daughter yarns.


Colour 2 is Madeline Tosh and I might not have enough of it, but I liked the two together so much that if i have to bind off in colour 1 to make this work, so be it. I picked up that one at I think Knit Purl (now closed) a few years ago in the crawl.



As promised, some interesting construction. Can you see the yarn overs at the edges?


And here’s Clue 1 complete to those last two stitches:



I’d never done a “reverse” icord bind off!


And then on to picking back up for clue 2… Clue 3 is already out, so I’m quite behind! But, life, toddler, and if you look in the back of that photo, I’m learning pcb design too. Sometimes the must amazing thing about being an adult is that I hardly ever have to be bored!


Time is relative

Feb. 11th, 2019 12:00 am
momijizukamori: Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy 7 - hubric incarnate. (Rufus | hubris)
[personal profile] momijizukamori
Me, Friday afternoon: Okay, I want to get all the painting and engineering done on these wings this weekend, so I can do other final touch-ups next week.
Me, Saturday afternoon: Well, if I finish the painting today, I can at least start on the engineering tomorrow?
Me, Sunday afternoon: I can definitely get the painting done this weekend, right?
Me, now, staring at pile of 80% painted wing parts: ...I'm really bad at this time estimation thing, huh.

level clear

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:58 am
kareila: Sora outlined in silhouette against a heart shaped moon (kh2)
[personal profile] kareila
Will just took his last Tamiflu dose. He is still a bit phelgmy, but otherwise back to normal. He was able to compete in the Scholar's Bowl tournament yesterday. The competition was tougher than last year, and he didn't place in the top three either individually or as a team, but he did repeat as top scorer for his team, so he got that at least. Of course, I tried to emphasize to him early on that I was more proud of him for showing up for his team than for any trophies he might bring home. I could tell he was disappointed at the end of the day, but he took it well and congratulated the other teams.

The Video Games Live concert last night was fantastic. They did the really popular stuff you would expect (Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Final Fantasy 7, Kingdom Hearts), many that I've heard of but never played (Warcraft, Metroid, Castlevania, Okami, Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Skyrim, Overwatch), some games I've played that I didn't expect to see and was very excited about (Chrono Trigger/Cross, Shadow of the Colossus, Undertale) and one hilarious segment dedicated to Phoenix Wright that was Connor's favorite of the night. They even included some bizarre game called Earthworm Jim which is apparently the all time favorite game of the guy running the show. There was also a "love letter to my childhood" compilation video which included a brief shot of A Boy and His Blob, which made me very happy.

Today we are listening to various game soundtracks and generally unwinding. There is a puzzle in Talos Principle that I am currently stuck on, but I'm close to the end of the game and want to finish as much as I can before switching to Kingdom Hearts. Connor asked to play Zelda Spirit Tracks, which I found as a download for the Wii U.

I feel like I have too many game consoles, constantly running out of shelf space and electrical outlets, but I don't want to get rid of any of the ones I have. The one I use the least is the PS3, but that's the only console that Ni No Kuni will play on. The kids still use the original Wii more than the Wii U; the Wii U gamepad had been sitting unplugged since Christmas because I ran out of outlets. The PS2 got demoted to Connor's bedroom, but I still have it for my DDR games. I do occasionally sell games that we don't play any more, but there are some I just love that would make me sad if I couldn't play them again... I may be able to say goodbye to Ni No Kuni, but not yet, it's too soon. I only got maybe 40% of the way through it before getting bogged down and moving on to something else.

Speaking of which, I should go back to cleaning the house and/or cleaning out my inbox. Next week is a short week due to a teacher workday on Friday, and the boys' birthdays are coming up, so I have a lot to get done.

All Work and No Play

Feb. 9th, 2019 11:35 pm
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[personal profile] tcpip
It's been several days since my last 'blog entry and for good reason; I've buried myself very deeply in my various studies and work has been relatively tedious. Most of my readings this week have been in microeconomics, public economics, and information systems. The microeconomics studies, true to form, are typically "here's an idea under perfect competition which doesn't exist, and now for all the alternatives that make up for those assumptions". It would be interesting if economics could ever reconstruct itself to start with reality and then map a path on how to reach the ideal. As for the public economics material that is really a combination of micro and macroeconomic policy from a government perspective. On that topic, I have a fair bit to say about the franking credit issue which attracted some media attention this week, but that will have to wait a few days. Dawson and Lyons have provided a summary of history and effects stating "other taxpayers are funding cash payments from the ATO to shareholders living off investment income who do not pay any income tax", and therein is the problem. It is outrageously stupid policy and should have never been introduced in the first place.

As far as studies in information systems is concerned, that's resulted in a sizable essay on The Disciplinary Vagaries of Information Systems" where I explore why information systems cannot get out of being a multi-disciplinary subject and why there is no systemic generation of meaning. I have two more assignments to finish this course which will be done in the next week, namely a review of two white papers on ERP systems and a review of social media marketing which I have developed new levels of cynicism over, especially when the promoter spruiks the idea of "the buyer's journey" as similar to Joseph Campbell's monomyth in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Yes, the mythology of facing mortal danger in supernatural realms has been reduced to a shopping expedition.

As far as work is concerned, I've volunteered myself to update our R packages on the HPC system, which is the tedious job of checking the CRAN repository, downloading the new file, changing the checksum, modifying the build script, and rebuilding the application. It needs to be done (as does the extensions for Python and Perl), but one also has to somehow retain the power of concentration through what is a spectacularly dull sequence of events. At least it will keep me busy during next week's conference in New Zealand where I will be visiting Multicore World for several days (having picked up accommodation at Boulcott Hall at the ridiculously cheap price of $30/night), before heading to Dunedin to check on my secret South Pacific base and visit the University of Otago. The latter part of my journey is meant to be an actual holiday.
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