2012 in words and pictures

Last day of the year, so it’s time for the traditional summaries and round-ups.  It’s certainly been a busy year – some good stuff (Ireland, graduation, starting Honours), and some not so good (the general feeling of malaise across the city as the adrenaline of 2010 and 11 wore off, and the long slog to recovery began), and some just really hard work (Honours, new responsibilities at work).  We lost George, but we gained Parsnips and Pushkin.  Definitely a lot of ups and downs, and some of it was a real struggle to get through.  I’ve had to make a lot of compromises (like prioritising study over keeping in touch with friends) and rethink a lot of things.  But I think the main thing I can say about 2012 is that I survived it.  And in doing so I’ve learnt a bit more about what I’m capable of, so I know I can keep going and get through this degree no matter what obstacles are thrown in my path by the next few years.

Anyway, enough deep thought, on with the trivial.

2012 in first lines*

*actually, most of the first lines were along the line of “sorry I haven’t updated in so long”, so these are instead the first contentful lines of each month**

**yes, amazingly I did manage at least one entry in every month of this year. It surprised me too!

January: “It seems the earth wants to remind us that just because it’s a new year, that doesn’t mean the end of the aftershocks.  We were rudely awakened twice during the night by big ones, a 5.1 at about half past one, and then a 5.5 at quarter to six.”

February: “We haven’t quite settled on their names yet, so I can’t introduce you, but I can show you photos of the two little additions to our family.”

March: “I knew the Honours year is a hard one, but I didn’t know it would be HARD.  We’re only three weeks into term, and I’m already finding it a struggle to keep up with all the reading that’s needed… not to mention the thinking.”

April: “Got back from Ireland a week ago, but between jet-lag, the inevitable cold I caught on the plane, visitors, catching up with work and study, and of course graduation (I’ve got my BA!!!) I’ve only just managed to finish the release notes from the trip, let alone transcribing my travel journal.”

May: “Work is hotting up as we get closer to our big launch, and study takes up most of my free time. And this week I seem to suddenly have a social life – as well as last night’s meetup, I’ve been invited to Jenny’s book launch tonight and another colleague’s birthday party tomorrow night.”

June: “I keep telling people it hardly ever snows in Christchurch, but I may have to revise that.”

July: “I’ve taken the day off work to attempt to get an essay written, and that’s [photo] the reading pile I’ve accumulated for it (the books, though they look impressive, are not the biggest bit – most of them I’m only using one chapter from – it’s the pile of journal articles stacked beside them that have taken me weeks to read through!).”

August: “Finally I’ve got my new computer!”

September: “That was cool.  We just had the edge of a huge thunderstorm pass over (from the look of things, the main part went right over the city centre) – loads of thunder and lightning, which lasted about half an hour, and then, just as the lightning was dying down, we heard a strange roaring in the distance which seemed to be getting closer.”

October: “The end (for this year anyway) is in sight – I’ve written an almost just about semi final draft of my paper, and if I can catch up with my lecturer on Tuesday to clarify a few last points I should be able to get it finished in the next week or so… and then I can relax a bit and enjoy the summer.”

November: “One of the nicer side-effects of the earthquakes is that because we lost almost all of the city’s arthouse cinemas, the mainstream cinemas have started showing a broader range of films to cater to some of that market.”

December: “December is suddenly upon us, and the round of Christmas/end of year functions has started – I’ve already been to three, and it’s only the 9th.”

Yep, as I suspected, study was the dominant theme for the year!

2012 in photos













I hope that whatever 2012 was for you, 2013 is better!

This could be dangerous

Jenny is a serious knitter.  She knits vastly complicated patterns that actually turn into wearable clothing, using the sorts of fancy expensive wool that you have to be pretty confident about your ability to spend that much money on.  And she’s been trying to tempt me for ages to pick up some needles – a temptation I’ve been personfully resisting, because I really really don’t need another hobby, especially one that has potential for buying All The Things (witness my very expensive return to photography…).  Also, there’s the not insignificant factor that it’s been about 20 years since I last knitted, and I wasn’t all that good at it back then either.

Yeah, you can see where this is going, can’t you?  She finally broke through my defences by offering me a huge bag of left-over wool she was clearing out.  And I’m not very good at turning down craft supplies….


So after a quick refresher lesson in casting on, and how purl works (amazingly, my fingers could still remember knit, even if my brain couldn’t, but they were a bit wobbly on the other stuff), I have made a thing:


Not sure what the thing is going to be yet. I have visions of a patchworky sort of lap blanket thingy, but if I get bored or frustrated, it may be a patchworky sort of small cushion cover thingy instead 😉

In other news, there isn’t much other news.  Not even any more pretty pictures to show you, because the last few days have been drizzly and dreary and not at all conducive to wandering around with a camera.  So they’ve been spent mostly in a curled up lazily indoors sort of way, with either book, movies or computer games.  Very nice to be properly lazy for a change, really.

I did venture into Riccarton briefly on Boxing Day, in case the sales held anything interesting.  But the crowds and noise were so horrible that apart from grabbing a few clothes for work I just gave up and went home again.

Yesterday was a bit more social – as well as the knitting lesson, I went out for lunch with Jenny and MrJenny, and then Harvestbird and Harvestbaby came round in the afternoon (I think we’d all reached hermit saturation point at the same time :-)) – a very pleasant day all round.

Cats and chocolate – what more do you need?

Don’t get used to me posting this much – it’s just because for a change having time to post and something to post about (or at least, pretty pictures to fill the page :-)) have coincided.  I’m sure to drop off again come February.

But in the meantime, pictures of cats “helping” us unwrap presents:


Parsnips’s preferred approach to wrapping paper is to shred it into tiny pieces.


Pushkin just finds it a comfy place to sleep.


And another picture of Parsnips, just because she’s cute.

And to make those of you suffering through a northern-hemisphere winter jealous, here’s what we had for dessert tonight:251212christmas

Merry Christmas


We went into Latimer Square last night, to the YMCA’s Carols by Candlelight. Bit of a chilly night, with enough of a wind that the candles kept blowing out even with the little protective wind shieldy things they were selling, but it’s always a fun night – I may not appreciate the religious side of a carol service, but I love the music, and especially the feeling of singing as part of such a huge crowd. There was quite an emotional moment when they had a minute’s silence for the earthquake victims (very appropriate, seeing as we were right next to the CTV site), followed by Silent Night – really beautiful, as everyone was singing very quietly, caught up in their own thoughts and memories.

Needless to say, I took my camera, to experiment with what I could do with long exposure times. I learnt a lot from the process (mostly that I’ve got a lot more to learn!), but I got a few decent shots of the people around us (the one at the top of this entry is my favourite):




Anyway, hope you’re all having (or will have) a great Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it (or even if you don’t – I still hope you have a great day).

Pallets and pop-up tearooms

The “Pallet Pavillion” on the site of the old Park Royal was opened today.  It’s another Gap Filler project, a venue for music or community events, or pretty much anything really.  It’s an amazing space, made almost entirely out of old packing pallets, complete with tables and chairs (made out of vege bins) and a pallet stage. It’s open-air, but the walls are high, and curve in interesting ways, so it kind of feels like being inside – quite a cosy space, really.

Pallet Pavillion

Pallet Pavillion

Pallet Pavillion

The main reason I was there, though, was because it was my friend Jan’s first outing in her new guise of a pop-up tearoom (she’s the blonde one on the right).

Popup Tearoom

I didn’t stay very long (just long enough to be Jan’s first paying customer, and to wish her well in her new venture) because I needed to get home by 1 pm, but first I wanted to have a wee walk through the CBD on my way to the bus exchange, because they’ve opened a few more areas up since I was last in town. I took hundreds of photos, of course, but I won’t bore you with them all, just a few points of interest.

Victoria Square is open now, and looks almost back to normal – if you ignore the cordon fencing in the background, that is:23 12 12 CBD

The view across the river to the Town Hall isn’t so pretty:23 12 12 CBD

For those of you who were at the Christchurch convention, you might remember our hangers-on dinner at the Oxford on Avon (that weird buffet place that turned off the lights before we’d finished eating). A parking place for demolition equipment is all that remains:23 12 12 CBD

Decorations from two Christmases ago on Colombo Street (plus a truck for carting demolition rubble):.

There’s so many buildings gone now you keep coming across unexpected views. This one is from the Gloucester Street bridge, from where you can now see the Cathedral:.

Talking of the Cathedral, they’ve opened up a walkway into the Square again, so I got to see it from a different angle:.

One for Lytteltonwitch – they’ve started demolishing the ANZ building:.

Kate Shepherd is still behind bars:23 12 12 CBD

but Punting on the Avon is back in business:23 12 12 CBD

Christmas decorations in the container mall:23 12 12 CBD

There was also a market on there, and this guy was doing a roaring trade in bagels and breadsticks:
23 12 12 CBD

I made it home in time to meet Jenny and Christian, who we’d arranged to go and see The Hobbit with.  I wasn’t all that sure about seeing it, after reading so many reviews, but it wasn’t as bad as I was dreading.  The first half drags on a bit, and the whole 3D 48 fps thing was horrible (3D gives me a headache anyway, and the 48 fps made everything way too real for a fantasy movie – very jarring.  Plus it made the fight scenes look totally chaotic – I had no idea what was going on for most of them.), but once the story got going it was quite fun.  Of course, it might help that it’s been quite a few years since I last read the book, so the departures from it weren’t as obvious as they could have been.

Pretty pictures

I am totally in love with my new camera.  Even just pointing it randomly at stuff round the room while I tried to get my head around some of its many many many buttons, with no thought at all to composition, produced things of beauty:

22 12 12 practice shots

22 12 12 practice shots

(Of course, Parsnips would tell you she’s always a thing of beauty – she doesn’t need a new camera to prove that :-))

22 12 12 practice shots

This is so magic – I stumbled across the panorama setting, which does in about 10 seconds what normally takes me half an hour in the GIMP.

22 12 12 practice shots

22 12 12 practice shots

22 12 12 practice shots

Those last three were taken after dark, with no flash, in a not particularly brightly lit room.  Of course, at full size (I resized them way down for posting, but that’s the only editing I did) you can see the graininess produced by the ridiculously high ISO, but I’m just amazed I could take photos in those conditions at all!

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m very very happy with my new purchase 🙂


I just spent mumble mumble mumble dollars on a shiny new toy:


Those of you who know how much my little point & click camera has annoyed me over the years may be surprised to see the Sony label on the front of that beast, and indeed, that’s not the camera I went into the shop intending to buy.  But after talking to the very helpful and knowledgeable assistant for about an hour (!!!! on a busy shopping day a couple of days before Christmas – that’s what I call customer service! (it was in Paul’s Camera Shop, for Christchurch people – I’m happy to give them free advertising after today)) about different models and options, he sold me on the Sony.  Which I’m calling a Minolta, because Sony bought them out a few years back, so their DSLRs are basically just rebranded Minoltas, and to my old pre-digital photography geek brain Minolta is a proper camera brand 😉

For those who want to know such things, it’s a Sony Minolta α77, and the lenses are both Tamrons, a 17-50 mm (having to get used to the much shorter lenses of digital – my go-to lens on my old pre-D SLR was 35-70) and a 60 mm macro.  I may get a longer lens at some point, but I don’t know how much I’d use it (the long lens on my old camera hardly ever left my camera bag, except in Africa for wildlife stuff), and I was already splurging by adding the macro lens.

I ended up going a bit over my intended budget – not on the camera body, which was actually a bit cheaper than the one I had in mind, but because I added the extra lens, plus a few other accessories.  But I’ve now got a camera that will actually do what I want it to, and hopefully, with a bit of practice (it’s been a few years!) I’ll be able to start taking the kind of photos I want to again.  I used to be a not bad photographer with my old SLR – nowhere near professional level, but good enough that I was pleased with my photographs.  So ever since my old SLR was rendered obsolete by the disappearance of film I’ve been dreaming of owning one again.  And now I finally do.

Merry Christmas me!

(PS. No photos from the new camera yet sorry – its battery is still charging.)

I’m on holiday!

Well, it’s the 22nd, and we’re still here.  And more importantly, I’m on holiday for the next 4 weeks! (Yes, I know I already took a 4-week holiday in April, but due to the weird way HR calculated my leave over the two jobs I’ve been doing, I’m still owed a tonne of leave).  We’re not planning on doing anything or going anywhere, just relaxing and making the most of a much-needed break.

Started the break on a high note last night with a bookcrossing Christmas party that turned into a not-bookcrossing Christmas party.  Bruce & co had told me they were already juggling two events so wouldn’t be able to make it, and I hadn’t heard from any of the other regulars (I’m not even sure if the Gwilks are still in Christchurch – Gwilk used to pass me as I was walking to work in the mornings, but I haven’t seen him for months), but I thought Rarsberry and Otakuu were coming, but mysteriously neither showed up (Rars had mentioned she was trying to figure out transport, so I assume that’s why she didn’t make it).  However, the non-bookcrossing part of the party (Harvestbird, Jenny, and their respective partners) did turn up, so it was still a most enjoyable evening – in fact, probably better than if everyone else had been there, because it was a small enough group that conversation flowed easily.

I don’t know if I’ll bother trying to organise a bookcrossing party next year, though.  I’m getting a bit tired of the paucity of RSVPs from the local group – it’s bad enough trying to organise meetups when I never know how many people to book a table for, much worse trying to organise parties.

Still, a great evening, the experimental vegetarian pizza worked (at least, it disappeared very fast, so I assume everyone enjoyed it), the house looked pretty, and the company was good.  And that’s all that matters really.

And now, I’m off to curl up in a corner with a book.

The end is nigh… or not

Well, so far the world hasn’t ended.  Although I’ve had various people tell me it’s actually going to end at 11.11 pm, or 12.11 pm, or when it’s midnight on the 21st in America (though they were a bit vague on exactly which time zone), or….

Actually, what I reckon happened is that the Mayan artist who was drawing the calendar got as far as 2012 and said “Right, I’ve done 4 cycles and if I have to draw one more weird animal in a box I’m going to scream.  2012 is centuries away, I’m sure they’ll find some other mug to add a few more cycles before then.  I’m off to paint a sunset.”

20 12 2012

Forget the world ending tomorrow, it’s 20.12.2012 today! (at least for those of us in the part of the world that writes dates the sensible way round…)  And in a couple of hours it’ll be 20.12.2012 20:12, which is seriously cool.

I love those sorts of mathematical oddities with dates.  Palindromes (like the 21.02.2012 we had in February) always make me smile, as do days like last month’s 10.11.12 13:14, or this month’s 12.12.12 12:12 (which even the Americans could appreciate).  They mean absolutely nothing, but they’re a cool coincidence.

And we’re rapidly running out of them, for this decade at least.  There’s no 13th month, so we won’t get another repeating date like today’s until next century, on 21.01.2101 21:01. There is a 11.12.13 14:15 next year, but then we hit the 13th month thing again, and have to wait until 2103 for 01.02.03 04:05 (and who wants to get up that early anyway).

There’s no 31st of February, so we won’t get another full palindrome again this decade – the next one is in 2020, on 02.02.2020 (look forward to that one, Americans, because you can celebrate it too!).  Of course, if you ignore the century, and write the single-digit months without a leading 0, there’s a few more palindromic dates to come: 31.1.13, 31.3.13, 31.5.13, 31.7.13, and 31.8.13.  But that feels a bit cheaty, and anyway, because there’s no 41st of any month, they run out again after next year too.