Thoughts of a geek

1 November 2009

Walks, muesli and sheep

Filed under: Me, Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — qwandor @ 11:12 pm

Well I asked the Twittersphere for suggestions of what I should blog about, and sure enough the Twittersphere obliged. So here goes.

fibby17: some of your more interesting recent walks?

Well, let me see. The most recent walk to speak of was the Skyline walkway. This is a walk I had been meaning to do ever since a group of us walked up to Mount Kaukau early last year and some passer-by pointed out and recommended to us the Skyline Walkway. I finally organised it for Saturday 24th October 2009.

Charlotte, Frith, Chris Nimmo and Hannah came. I was hoping to have more people, but they were otherwise occupied or pulled out or did not turn up. We (except Chris) took the train out to Johnsonville to start the walk, except that the train was really a bus. We were amused when the driver offered a lady a free ride near the end of the route and she asked him how the buses were that day, to which he replied something along the lines of “Good, but I am a train today.” Chris was to meet us at the start of the track but after looking up his cellphone number on Facebook and a few SMSes and calls back and forth he said that he would meet us up Mount Kaukau instead. We made a start, with a little initial confusion about where the track actually went.

After a little while we made it up Mount Kaukau but found no sign of Chris, and he was not responding to SMSes or phone calls. We waited and ate a little, and finally made contact with Chris and he turned up about an hour after we got there, with wet hair and shoes and a number of scratches. Apparently he had somehow taken a wrong turn and decided that the best solution would be to bush-bash his way up another side, via much gorse and a stream. After a little while longer for him to recover we raced onwards down the other side, shortly to detour off the track to climb a little rocky knoll, admire the view and take photos. We came across a full possum trap beside the fence, into which Hannah insisted on looking, only to be predictably disgusted at the possum’s head inside. There was also another older dead possum to the left. The detour completed we continued on along the proper track, talking a little about possum shooting for fun and profit.

At around 1:00 pm we stopped for lunch (people’s own packed lunches plus the apple muffins I made, chips and scroggin brought by Charlotte and Frith respectively). Lunch was followed by a lovely lie down in the sun, enjoying the view and watching two people bike past in opposite directions. I did not envy them.

By and by we continued on, narrowly avoiding the wide road down to a certain suburb (Or was that before lunch? My memory fails.), and taking turns to flick the track markers as we passed them. We later stopped at the remains (just a chimney) of an old house, and discussed windfarms. After a while more walking we reached the end of the track at Makara Hill Road, and headed down to Karori Park to lie in the sun and rest for a little while. Our plans to play in the playground were thwarted by the large number of small children already doing so. Children really should be banned from playgrounds, it seems quite unfair to the rest of us. We wandered back along Karori Road, some buying icecreams and such, and people went their separate ways one by one.

All in all, good fun and good company. The weather turned out really well too, overcast to start with and sunny later, but a nice breeze so as not to be too hot. Photos can be found on Facebook.

There are more walks I could talk about, less recent. Walking around the outside of the Karori Sancuary in the rain comes to mind. Oh, I guess the Interface geocaching trip could count too. Those were both a while ago though. There have not been enough walks lately. Come walking with me!

Anyway, it is late and I should attempt to sleep, so I will not say more about these walks just now. If you want to hear, talk to me. Not that I expect to sleep much even when I do try; sleep has proven particularly hand to find lately. This is most unsatisfactory.

yomcat: Burnt Muesli.

Yesterday afternoon I baked a cake for my flatmate Stevie (who turns old today), and also some muesli for myself. As the cake was on the middle of the oven I put the muesli on a shelf below it, almost at the bottom of the oven. I normally cook the muesli on the middle shelf. I was surprised to find that the muesli seemed to get more burnt on the top than usual (not badly, but noticeably); I had expected that it might get burnt on the bottom, being closer to the bottom element and all. A little discussion on Facebook ensued:

Matthew Kiernan: is there an element near the bottom?
Andrew Walbran: Yes. But I would expect it to get burnt on the bottom if it is near the bottom, not on the top.
Matthew Kiernan: maybe the tray isn’t absorbing heat very well, and convection is carrying the hot air over the top of the tray.
Andrew Walbran: It still surprises me; I would expect the radiant heat to be more of a factor in burning the top, and that would surely be stronger when it is higher up in the oven.
Matthew Kiernan: sounds right, I suppose it would depend on the oven setting – grill vs bake, and I suppose fan forced air is always a factor
Andrew Walbran: Yeah, it was on fan bake. I should also note that it is an electric oven.

Clearly I have an exciting life.

simon_w: sheep.

Well, there were no sheep on the walk mentioned earlier in this post, but there were some cows. We walked right past a couple of them. Oh, my flatmates were watching TV a short time ago and there was an advertisement for sheep. For this place I think, a (live)stock market. Apparently wild venison mince is marginally cheaper (or was it marginally more expensive?) at Moore Wilsons than lamb. Richard is planning to make us some venison burgers sometime soon. I hope that it will be on a night when I am home for dinner (hint hint). Oh, and electric sheep is a very cool screensaver. If somewhat addictive. It is named after the Philip K. Dick novella, of course. I do not think I have read it, though I have seen Blade Runner. Perhaps I should get back into reading books. shoeshine was recommending a certain novel to me the other day (I do not have the name in front of me on this machine yet, and it escapes my mind; apparently character-driven sci-fi set in some sort of post-apocalyptic future from memory).

Tibi placet?

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14 August 2009

Things I should do

Filed under: Lists, Me — Tags: , , , , , , — qwandor @ 10:59 pm

I have been a bit slack lately about getting much done. I keep thinking of things which I should do, but mostly do not get around to doing them. In the hope of improving this I list here some things which I should do:

  • Implement mDNS abstraction layer for stereo using Avahi DBUS bindings, sort out ant script, and get stereo head to a usable state on Linux. (Or, bug Stephen to do it.)
  • Write various blog posts I have been thinking about (last.fm client, friends, childhood memories, more to life, questions).
  • Work on theQuotebook, maybe look into Facebook integration.
  • Do more baking.
  • Catch up with various people I have not seen for ages.
  • Work out what to do for a chassis for the robot I am building, add the remaining wires for the motor controller, and filter capacitors.
  • Talk more to people about conceptions of God (relationship, hearing from God, basis of faith…), and maybe blog some thoughts and questions.
  • Organise a group of people to do the Skyline Walkway some Saturday.
  • Work out what I am doing with my life, what I want to do and what God wants me to do, where I am going in the mid- to long-term, what to do next year…

Feel free to bug me about doing any of these things. Or maybe other things.

28 May 2009

Swing swing

Filed under: Me — Tags: , , , , , , , — qwandor @ 11:30 pm

Swing swing.
Swing, swing.
It is cloudy tonight, though there are some bare patches. Stars visible briefly. The clouds move quite rapidly. I can see the Southern Cross. Now I cannot. The breeze gets up a bit.
10:14 pm now. Early, comparatively. I wonder whether I will sleep tonight.
I can hear something breathing heavily. Irregularly. Some animal I guess, but I cannot see it. Looking around for it, listening carefully. Unnerving.
Back to the swing. Music back on.

Time to stop swinging. Need some certainty in life. On whom to rely, to depend?
Here I sit. Not in the hall of the mountain king. Ouch, too loud suddenly.

The breathing seems to have stopped. Odd.
Perhaps no human will keep eir word. God does, apparently. Not quite sure what to make of it though.
God should be all I need, apparently. But human relationships would be nice too. Should be nice. Some sort of connection? I am not sure how to find it, or make it. Things seem not to work out. What does that mean? Why?
Always why. And how.
Ha, and when.

Just walking now. Downhill. Perhaps I will run later.

I really must get some decent headphones.
What would it be like to be able to control my mind more? Less wandering?More productive? More focussed, less distractable, pointlessly and uselessly sidetracked? What is important in life? What can I do? What can I even hope to do, to achieve?
Keep walking.
Cannot stop, cannot stand still, going nowhere.

Ran. Just a little.

10 May 2009

Music and me

I often find that I associate things in my life — events, feelings, and so on — quite strongly with music. Some songs remind me of particular times, places, emotions, happenings.
Here are some songs that have been significant over the past year or so.

Bottom of Yourself by The Anywheres was a song that I listened to quite a bit at times last year. There were times last year when I felt completely exhausted, drained, unable to go any further, and this song seemed to fit.

So when you get there
Let me know you’re well
I’ll be waiting for your call
And when you get there
Tell me how it feels
To reach the bottom of yourself

Oh, and it quotes Amazing Grace, which makes it even better. Definitely something to listen to during long walks in the middle of the night.

Lights of Sunday by Emerald Park is another fairly acoustic, indie song, which I have been listening to a bit earlier this year. Again, something to listen to while walking slowly, at night, to no particular destination. And again, I identify with it as reflecting how I have felt at times.

He’s tired of himself
I don’t think sleep will help
You’re weary and you sleep
‘Cause you’re tired of yourself
When you’re sorry for yourself
You push your friends away
And when you push your friends away
You feel sorry for yourself

Real Synthetic Audio is not a song but a podcast, playing 40 minutes of industrial, EBM and futurepop each week. Driving beats and angry Germans. I got into RSA this last year through my Ukrainian friend Cat, who would often play it while we were working in the lab late at night, night after night. I found it to be good music for keeping oneself awake through the months of 14–16-hour days that is honours.
It is also good for walking fast, or running. It tends to be pretty hard stuff, and there are some songs or entire episodes that I dislike, but I currently have 23 episodes that I listen to on and off. I probably do not listen to it quite as much as I used to, though just a few days ago I was listening to quite a bit.

‘Leaves That Are Green’ by Simon and Garfunkel is a song that I identify with a bit at the moment, feeling that I am getting older without really getting anywhere. Missing people, feeling opportunities slip away.

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song.
I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long,
Time hurries on.
And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.

Hello, hello, hello, good-bye,
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye,
That’s all there is.
And the leaves that are green turned to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.

My only gripe, though, are the lines “I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song. / I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long”. This does not make sense: how old was Paul Simon when he wrote those lines? 21 or 22?
More Simon and Garfunkel songs that I have lately listened to and thought about are ‘Patterns’, ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’.

‘In Christ Alone’, by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, reminds me of TSCF conferences.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

The triumphant final verse is particularly good too:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

I bought Stuart Townend’s album ‘There is a Hope’ at the the TSCF mid-year conference last year, I think it was, and there are quite a few really good songs on there, I guess best described as modern hymns.
Some more great songs on the same album, which I think I also remember from TSCF conferences, are ‘There Is A Hope’ and ‘Salvation Song’.

‘Lead Me To The Cross’ by Graham Kendrick (not to be confused with the Hillsong song of the same name) is another excellent hymn, which I remember from the 2006 TSCF midyear conference:

How can I be free from sin?
Lead me to the cross of Jesus
From the guilt, the power, the pain?
Lead me to the cross of Jesus

There’s no other way
No price that I could pay
Simply to the cross I cling
This is all I need
This is all I plead
That his blood was shed for me

The Flaming Lips (or at least, their album ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’) remind me of working at Innaworks the summer before last, as I first heard them there (thanks to Darren I think). At first I was not too keen on their music, but it definitely grew on me and and I listened to it a fair bit in Memphis last year.

Another song that reminds me a lot of last year is ‘I Am A Rock’ by Simon and Garfunkel. I felt that I could relate to it:

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And the end, sad, defiant, but still not quite honest:

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

It was something that I listened to late at night, alone in Memphis, anyway.

There are of course many more songs: stuff by Breaking Benjamin, Live, Lagoona, Apocalyptica, Nightwish, Switchfoot, Adiemus and others, and I am really liking The Cranberries at the moment, especially ‘I Just Shot John Lennon’ and ‘I’m Still Remembering’. But I think that will do for now.

Oh, one more: ‘Videotape’ by Radiohead. Another melancholic one, bringing memories of walking home in the dark, tired but not sleepy, dissatisfied. Perhaps it is raining a little.
It is hard to pick just one part to quote here, so do listen to the whole thing, but here is the beginning and the end:

When I’m at the pearly gates
This’ll be on my videotape
My videotape
My videotape

No matter what happens now
I won’t be afraid
Because I know
Today has been the most perfect day I have ever seen.

As usual, Thom Yorke’s voice is amazing in his unique way, and this sparse song demonstrates it well.

What songs are particularly significant to you?

7 April 2009

Walking

Filed under: Me, music — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 12:57 am

Social interaction is frustrating. Well, attempts at such.
The moon is disappearing. Hidden behind the clouds. Appearing, still blurred. Soft, in a hard world. Nature. Still cold though. Bright and dim. Pink cloud blowing past, oddly dog-shaped. Unshapen now. Light pollution. Quite a breeze tonight, here in this dark playground. Swing, swing.
Too much. The moon fades again. A little dizzy, I walk.
I keep doing this. Over and over again. Still no clue really, how to relate to people. I tend to miss what few opportunities I might have, to … well, talk I guess. To have a real conversation, rather than just basic social niceties. I guess there are exceptions.
This makes me think of the song ‘Lights of Sunday‘ by Emerald Park. Back to the original problem really.
Time to run.
Attempting metaphor, against my better judgement.

3 February 2009

Mind. Mine. Also walking.

Filed under: Me — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 1:12 am

I went walking. And running. I wrote, oddly and surprisingly. I did not set out with this in mind.

What follows is what I wrote. Each break is a new page. The only editing I did was to correct a few typos and spelling mistakes, and to make the first two ‘pages’ (lines) make sense. Much of this is unlikely to make sense. Here it is anyway.


[I] probably just want attention. Selfish.

[I am] lonely in a crowd.

How can I rely on people?

Everybody is talking at once and I cannot hear you and it is so noisy and I cannot hear myself think and argh and I want to escape and hide inside myself and run away and run with you and listen to good music, brain clearing music, and just one person talk at a time, please?
(more…)

13 November 2008

Camping

Filed under: Me, Photos — Tags: , , — qwandor @ 12:19 pm

As some of you will have known, I had been planning for some time to take a few days off shortly after finishing my exams and so on to go camping by myself, to get away from people and spend some time relaxing, thinking, contemplating and so on. As you may have noticed from my Twitter statuses, I did so this week. I left on Monday morning and got back yesterday afternoon. I ended up just going to Rimutaka Forest Park, which is a nice DOC campground fairly close to here. It was nice and quiet.

(more…)

9 August 2008

Talking, walking

Filed under: Me — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 12:26 am

It seems that I tend to have more interesting conversations while walking than in other situations. A number of times in the last few months I have found that I have had really interesting conversations with somebody while walking to somewhere (with a group of other people), but once we arrive at the destination the conversation has stopped and I returned to my usual frustrated state.

I am not sure why.

Try walking with me somewhere sometime, perhaps.

Going through my head right now: ‘Hey You’ (Pink Floyd)

This is rather a disjointed post. Oh well.

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