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Saturday, August 8th, 2015
5:45 pm - Just checking...
Hmm... still people here.

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Thursday, January 16th, 2014
6:25 pm - When did I become a Russian?
I just logged in to LJ, and got a Russian-language form to fill in. Still, here I am.

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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
4:06 pm
Regent Book Sale on Friday.

I have stuff on LiveJournal I don't want to lose, and they're now erasing accounts that have been inactive for two years. So...

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Monday, March 15th, 2010
4:29 pm - Would a true geek freak?

I think I should feel concerned. My avast! antivirus program has, up until very recently finished each run by telling me that it has tested somewhere between 305,000 and 310,000 files in however many folders and found 0 infected files. I have run it three times today, because it is now telling me that has tested 78010 files in 6256 folders, and found 0 infected files. Everything seems to be working fine, and none of my documents seem to have disappeared.

I notice that when I run avast!, there is a thing that says Archive scan disabled, but I have no idea whether it said that on previous scans. I don't know if the answer lies in there, and I can't see how to enable the archive scan. If that's not it, then what's happened to the missing 230,000 files?

Any ideas, words of comfort/reassurance, red alerts out there?

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009
2:12 pm - The Last Post?

I've reached the point of pointlessness where LiveJournal is concerned. Everyone's gone to FaceBook. My sister Cathrine rang me yesterday morning, to see how JB was—Anna is one of her FB friends. I told her that she (and others on FaceBook) are probably more up to date with Anna's news than I am, even though I see her every day. I have a superstitious dread of FaceBook, as I understand it is a favourite target of spammers and virus merchants.

I'm not going to close my LJ, as it is my main point of contact with some people, but lack of (pertinent) response to some of my recent items makes it an exercise in futility—not even the Celtophile (Galatophile?) contingent took note of the last one, which I thought was exciting—and I don't think I'll do any more posts. I will still comment on others.

Nō reira, ka kite anō, e hoa mā!

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Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
1:53 am - Who knew...

...that there is a primary school where students are taught solely in Manx?

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Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
2:20 am - Rotating Tesseract

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Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
11:26 pm - ...again, or, instead

Okay, I invented enenēkosioienenēkontaenneamania on the analogy of hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. But of course the hex word refers to the number 666, six hundred and sixty-six, and the mild hysteria that surrounded June 6, 2006, which was probably largely media-inflated ("Okay, guys, there's got to be a few looneys out there making a stir about this; let's go find 'em!"), is about the digits as digits. Whereas the 9/9/9 thing is just about the date, with no reference to the digits of the number. So instead, I give you—



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Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
3:17 am - Enenēkosioienenēkontaenneamania

Tomorrow is 9/9/9. Last chance of writing a three-digit (truncated) date in the lifetimes of most of us. Next one is 1/1/0. (Don't think I ever did write 0 for 2000.)

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Thursday, August 27th, 2009
2:05 pm - Depending on which Wikipedia article you read...

I just found out that we're in the same taxonomic suborder (Eupelycosauria) as Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus. Apparently we're closer to the Dimetrodon, which means that Dimetrodon is more closely related to our Permian ancestors than it is to the Edaphosaurus.

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
6:52 pm - Kua mau te wehi!

TV3 Sports News tonight carried a report on an ice hockey game between New Zealand and Australia. Guess what the Ice Blacks, standing on the ice in their uniforms and skates, did at the beginning of the game?

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009
1:14 am

I've spent a little time this week sorting out some of the 2000 or so books in my study. I find I have read quite a lot of them, and referred to quite a lot more. I was astonished to find an Oxford text of Demosthenes' Orations. I definitely haven't read that. Must have got it at a Regent Book Sale.

Away to Waipara for a songwriter's retreat on Friday. The program looks scaryish. I'm mainly going because there's such a huge stretch otherwise between the Whitestone Folk Festival at Queen's Birthday (early June) and the Cardrona Folk Festival at Labour Weekend (late October). From the program, it looks as if they're going to make us write songs for groups to sing. Up early Saturday morning it says. It's not strictly a festival, so early may not mean 10.45 am.

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Monday, August 3rd, 2009
12:54 pm

I pānuitia katoatia e au te Rongopai a Matiu i tērā wiki.

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Monday, July 27th, 2009
10:46 pm - Māori Language Week

Ko tēnei rā te tīmatanga o te Wiki o te Reo Māori. I pānuitia e au e rima ngā ūpoko o te Rongopai a Matiu. Ka pīrangi au ki te pānui i te pukapuka katoa i te wiki nei.

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
12:49 am - Things I noticed about Australia on my first trip there

Yachts. Looking down on the harbour as the plane flew into Sydney—huge numbers of yachts crowding every little indentation of coast for miles and miles round the harbour.

Trees. On the trip to Katoomba—trees, trees, trees. So much of the landscape in and around Sydney is trees, mostly eucalyptus. They have trees there like we have grass here. West of the Blue Mountains, you see farmland like that in New Zealand, as far along the line as Dubbo anyway. We didn't travel through Dubbo going west on the train; from Orange we took the line through Parkes for Broken Hill. We got on the train at Parramatta at about 10 to 7 on Monday morning (July 13) and arrived at Broken Hill at about 8 pm. Along most of the line there were trees for mile upon hundreds of miles of flat land—many of them eucalyptus, but not all of them. Occasionally we came to comparatively treeless sections, where we could see to the horizon in all directions with not a hill in sight. We found out the next morning that the landscape had actually changed shortly after nightfall to something more pastoral as you get up around Menindee. The area around Wilcannia and White Cliffs, and along much of the route we travelled by car and bus to Dubbo on Friday (July 17), is desert.

Birds. Down near Sydney Harbour, ibises wandering around among the crowds, picking up food scraps. On the trip west and back again, flocks of startled galahs flying out of the trees as our train went past; occasional emus moving around singly or in twos or threes. At Broken Hill and in the desert area around Wilcannia and White Cliffs, crows, lots of them (and plenty of stones handy!) At The Entrance, a popular beach town near Gosford, north of Sydney, pelicans wandering along the waterfront, accepting food thrown to them—one sitting in the water was tightly hedged in by several dozen seagulls, who had worked out that this was the place for a hungry bird to be.

Lambs and calves. In mid July! In New Zealand there is a definite lambing and calving season. Northern New South Wales presumably doesn't get the frosts or (in some upland and southern areas) snow that we do. I am guessing that Victoria and Tasmania are more seasonal in their farming practices.

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Bricks. There is a far higher proportion of brick houses in Australia than in New Zealand.

Corrugated iron. In Broken Hill and the surrounding area, many houses have their outer walls as well as their roofs made of corrugated iron. In New Zealand only sheds are built that way.

Troglodytes. I went to Australia to visit my 86-year-old birth mother in her own home and found her living in a hole in the ground—not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was an old opal-miner's dugout, and that means comfort. The living room was partly dug out and partly built out at the front; the two bedrooms were dug out. The dugout parts had smooth, white-painted walls. We actually stayed with my sister Cree and her partner Lindsay in their much more elaborate dugout, with walls rough and nobbly, and coated with a thick whitewash-like substance. The rooms (unlike those in Althea's house) are more nearly circular than rectangular. I counted five bedrooms, one off the back of the living room, the others off a longish curving passage that ran from the kitchen to the bathroom. Cree has about as many books as I have, but most of hers were bought new. In both houses, skylights with corrugated perspex at the top provide some or all of the daylight in some rooms. Lindsay is working on a much bigger dugout for him and Cree. This has a very large built-out living room, and an absolute labyrinth of passages behind it, in two stories, with rooms off them. There is an octagonal viewing room at the top.

Lindsay mines Opal, both in White Cliffs and in Queensland. Cree cuts and polishes the stones. When their friend Brian, another miner, came around and sat chatting with Lindsay about work, they sounded like a couple of farmers talking about winter feed and lambing.

The people of White Cliffs are amused by the misconception of some outsiders that they have to go down into their houses by ladder. Dugouts are caves rather than pits, and have doors like other people's houses. But it is an amazing place. How many adoptees have found their birth mother living in a cave?

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Friday, June 26th, 2009
8:22 pm - Uruwhenua

My passport arrived by courier this morning!!

How to insult your grandfather: If he shows you his passport photo and asks, "Do you think it's a good photo?" say, "Yes."

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009
11:58 pm - The good, the really good, and one bit of the other stuff

Waiting, waiting...

Last week was a mixed one for me. On Wednesday 17th I went to Polly's graduation from her five-month DOC (Department of Conservation) course. A senior DOC man opened proceedings, speaking in Māori first, before switching to English, and introducing himself as David Mules. I went up to him later and said, "I am certain that you are the David Mules who was at New Plymouth Boys' High in 1964." And he was. He was a boarder; I was a day boy. We were in the third form together until he left the school – I think at the end of the second term. If he had stayed, he would have seriously challenged my position as top student in Latin, French and maths in the top-stream third and fourth form. He did in fact beat me in the mid-year French exam, because, like a good number of my other classmates, I lost ten points on one exercise because I translated the French sentences instead of putting them into the plural. Otherwise (if my memory serves me right), we would have been first equal. I remember feeling regret that he'd gone, though we had not been friends (or enemies – there just wasn't a lot of socialising between boarders and day boys). Even at that age I liked the idea of having a really good rival, and I think we could have been good friends in our senior years. David moved south about seven years ago, and lives out at Karitane (40 km, 25 miles, north of Dunedin, on the coast).

Later that day, I picked Isaac up from school and walked him home. Anna told me the book she had ordered for me from Amazon (I think) had arrived. This was Mathematics and the Imagination, by Edward Kasner and James R. Newman. It was in the NPBHS library when I was there, and I loved it. It was a major influence on my becoming a Christian. I hadn't seen it in over 40 years. The copy Anna got me is a 1989 paperback reprint in stunningly good condition. Two old school acquaintances renewed in one day!

Thursday morning. I went with Isaac's class to Te Araiteuru Marae in Kaikorai Valley. His first visit to a marae. I gave him the taonga to wear that I bought for him when he was three months old – the first time he has worn it. It was great to be back at the marae; it's been too long since I was last there.

Thursday 18, in the evening: Sandra handed me a letter from Internal Affairs. I opened it in some excitement, expecting it to contain my passport. Instead, it contained the last pair of photos I sent them, and saying it wasn't suitable for passport purposes. This is the second lot they've rejected, and the third lot I had done. I lost the first lot (as I have mentioned here previously), the second pair was rejected because of light reflecting off my glasses. The third lot have been rejected because of too much light on the face. I sent another lot off on Friday, and am still waiting. I'm more than half expecting these to be rejected as well. We are supposed to leave for Australia on July 10. If the new photo fails, I've got one more chance, and then I'll have to cancel my ticket. This exercise has cost me more than $50 so far, not to mention angina brought on by stress.

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
4:17 pm - What makes a song a good song?

Barry (surname Clubb, I think, or possibly Chubb) and Marguerite are organising some sort of songwriters' school in Christchurch for one weekend in August. They were among those who had lunch at Oamaru's Criterion Hotel on Monday, and they both seem quite keen that I should come up. I'm not convinced that my songwriting would benefit from such a school. I think I already know, or can extrapolate from what I do know, all the good advice on the topic that's going.
On the other hand, it's in August—two and a bit months after Whitestone, and two and a bit months before Cardrona—and would be a welcome break in the bleak four-and-a-half-month stretch that this time of the year normally is.
And I'd quite like to get to know Barry better.
[Don't answer yet—I have to go and cook tea]

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1:00 am

Whitestone was great. Excellent concerts from Anna Heinz, Native (versatile Dunedin acoustic band with Hamish Mepham doing vocal leads, and featuring some weird and definitely wonderful instrumentation) and Little Green Men (Brad and Chrissie). I sang my new song—first in the Friday night session (with Sue Harkness sitting right in front of me) and then in the Saturday afternoon invitation concert, where I got a gratifyingly enthusiastic call for an encore (I couldn't oblige because of time pressure). Paddy and I did They're coming to take me away, ha! ha! in the Sunday night concert, accompanied by young Chris the fiddler on bongo (played at heart-beat rhythm) and with Paddy doing tambourine on the on-beat.
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Personal down-side for me was that I didn't get round to requesting a cabin next to a bathroom in the days leading up to the festival, and by Friday I figured that it probably wouldn't matter anyway, since most of the cabins were in blocks with bathrooms in them, so it would be a matter or only a half-dozen extra steps. The theory was sound, but Murphy never sleeps, and didn't see why I should either. I got the cabin without a bathroom attached, which meant a mad sprint (after disentangling my self from my sleeping-bag liner, pulling on trousers and unco-operative boots and wrapping a blanket round myself) several times a night. On the last night I went to bed at 4 am, and had to get up at 5, 6 and 7, before getting up for the day shortly before 9. All my trials, Lord, soon be over (till the next time).

Kept falling asleep during Dr Who on Monday night (dammit!)

Sorry jexia, I didn't read your comment on my previous blog before I left.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2009
9:43 pm

33 radiotherapy sessions down, 4 to go. Checkups later in June, heart checkups in July, then I'm ready to face the next health crisis, whatever it may be.

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