Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mei guan xi

The last few days have reinforced my belief that I'll need to work for myself eventually. Anything that has brought me even a modicum of success has been something I've done by myself, and now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I can't see that pattern suddenly changing. Plus if I'm semi-serious about ever living with other people for any length of time, I don't think I'll be able to work with other people too.

My percussion course unfortunately got cancelled due to low numbers, so I decided to so something different. I enrolled for a course in Mandarin. I had my first lesson last night. My first impression: it's hard. You've got those all-important tones to negotiate, but the minute you try and form a basic sentence, all those tones go out the window. It's nothing like anything I've attempted before. The words don't feel like words at all, but just sounds, which means there's little to get a handle on. Compare Chinese to Indonesian, where the words for "open" and "closed" are "buka" and "tutup" respectively. Now I look at "buka" and think of "bocca" which is Italian for mouth, and imagine a wide-open mouth. As for "tutup", that reminds me of "shut up", hence closed. When you're trying to learn Chinese, those kinds of memory aids are far harder to come up with. And let's face it, Mandarin is not the prettiest of languages. With all its monosyllables, it hardly flows like, say, French or Italian. The Italian word for beetroot is "barbabietola", which with those three B's surrounding a rolled R, is a pleasure to say. The same goes for "pomodoro" (tomato), and you can see all those four O's lined up like four big juicy Italian tomatoes. In Mandarin, nothing on the same planet as those two words exists. But in case you think I'm bagging Chinese, it does have some really nice features. Word order seems extremely sensible to me. The word for "understand" is "ming bai" (I can't get the tone markings easily) which literally means "bright white". How great is that? A relationship is "guan xi" (Chinese life is all about your guan xi), and to say something doesn't matter, you say "mei guan xi", which means "no relationship". Makes sense, doesn't it? It's also a reminder, in case I needed it, that if you're not in a relationship, you don't really matter. I'm already looking forward to lesson two. (I'll try and get on the Batucada drumming course.)

I spoke to Mum, Dad and my brother on Monday night. Mum and Dad had just got back from their amazing Nordic cruise. While they were away they had an offer on their third UK property accepted. They're turning into tycoons. My brother passed his SAS course, but frankly (after what happened last year) I was just glad he got back in one piece, with only a few bruises and cuts to his hands. I still have no real idea of what he went through. How my little brother does it I don't know.

It's almost two weeks since I went to Auckland on a shiny new plane. On Saturday I went to the autism group, where the turnout was relatively low. It was great to see the facilitators and some of the old faces, as well as new ones. The topic, which people talk about in turn at the start of the session, was the pros and cons of 21st-century life. Gosh, where do you start with that one? Firing up the Auckland Transport app on your smart phone at 11pm and getting on the right bus with 30 seconds to spare, through to people not talking to each other because they're glued to their smart phones. The worst part of living the 21st century, in my opinion, is that the amount of hatred and cruelty in the world is the same as it was in the 20th, if the events of the last few weeks are anything to go by. On Sunday I saw Bazza in Papakura, and couldn't wait to leave his house with the unshuttable loo door and a combination of two strong smells: disinfectant and Bazza. He bought me a kebab meal which didn't quite do it for me, to put it mildly. (Bazza still plays tennis. He recently chipped in $1000 to help buy a defibrillator, after someone from an opposing team collapsed and died during an interclub match.) On Monday I met Richard at the very pleasant Pukeko café in Parnell. Richard had been sick with flu and it was good of him to catch up with me at all. I saw three movies: What We Do in the Shadows (a Wellington-based comedy vampire movie that wouldn't have worked at all if it was Auckland-based), The Lady From Shanghai (a slightly weird film noir from 1947 with a dramatic ending; it was part of the film festival) and The Armstrong Lie (also part of the festival, this was a fantastic documentary I thought). I didn't see everyone I'd hope to. I couldn't contact Mandy at all. Brendan lives near Albany and meeting up just got too hard; I had to make do with a 70-minute phone conversation which he dominated with his conspiracy theories on both Malaysia Airlines disasters. On Tuesday I caught up with the former facilitator of the Wellington autism group. We met at Zarbo in Newmarket. I had a great meal there, including a small piece of a gigantic salmon. She then took me to visit her house in Titirangi. They've done a lot of work on the property, especially the garden which, with its stream running through it, really makes the place. The Auckland property market has gone crazy in the 2½ years since they bought the house and its value has increased accordingly. She then drove me to the airport - nobody had ever done that for me in Auckland before, so I felt quite privileged.

The Glasgow Commonwealth games is in full swing. I'm not watching any of it. I was here for the Auckland games in 1990; it was all very exciting and a very big deal. I still remember the "This Is the Moment" official song. Some people have asked what the point of the Commonwealth Games is any more - "you might as well have a games for countries that begin with P" - and I kind of see that point. The argument I don't get though, is "the standard isn't as high as the Olympics, so it's crap and not worth watching." I've seen tennis matches between players ranked well into three figures and been totally captivated. The corollary of that argument is that if the best players are there, it must be worth watching. The Indian Premier League has many of the world's best cricketers, but to my mind it's manufactured crap and I can't see why you'd want to watch it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I need some elixir

On Friday we had a surprise announcement at work. It's highly likely that we'll be moving to Petone, probably in October, to a central 'hub' that deals with all the water management in the region. If and when this happens, I won't be a Council employee anymore (which means that my orientation came a bit late). My biggest issue with the move is that, as I'm currently paying zero dollars to get to and from work, I'm effectively getting a pay cut unless I can negotiate something. I have no idea at this stage how the change will affect my day-to-day work. I hope it means I actually get to do more real work. I spent a decent chunk of Friday on the internet, mostly looking at plane-crash-related articles like this one. Yes that's a really interesting subject, but it's not remotely what I'm being paid to look at.

It hasn't been a bad weekend. Yesterday I went swimming at Tawa. I got instruction from Isabel, one of the volunteers at the autism group. It's not like I can't swim - I've swum miles in the past - but I've got virtually no technique. Then later I went to my cousin's place. She, her husband and the two eldest boys were playing Clash of Clans on their iPads. They were fairly serious about it all. I couldn't quite figure out what was happening amidst all the colourful (and stunning) graphics, but it seemed that your clan's success or otherwise depended heavily on how much elixir you had. It's quite educational for the kids. They get to learn words like 'elixir' (which is useful for word games). But only if their parents are rich enough to afford iPads. Last night I went to Countdown for a change. I learnt that Maori for beef is 'meaty cow'. Well it's actually 'miti kau' with a macron (or bar) on the first i, which makes the vowel longer.

Today I saw The Epic of Everest, part of the film festival, at the Paramount. Anything Everest-related pulls in the crowds in New Zealand, and this film certainly did. It told the story of the British attempt to scale the world's tallest mountain in 1924, and it was fascinating viewing. The Tibetans are an amazing people (my dad was lucky enough to visit, and paint, Tibet in the mid-nineties), even if one of the captions (basically "look how dirty this Tibetan village is, and compare it to the beauty of Everest") suggested otherwise. I was amazed that they got that close - only 600 feet from the summit - only using oxygen above 27,000 feet or so. And I was even more amazed that someone was on hand with a camera powerful enough to film the ascent from up to two miles away.

What a week for air travel. Three crashes, 460 lives lost, beginning with the Malaysian aircraft that was shot down in an utterly appalling act. And to think that it was another Malaysian 777. It's all so incredibly sad.
FiveThirtyEight did an interesting (as always) article analysing the likelihood of plane crashes on different airlines. Its main conclusion was that, for any one airline, you can't expect a crash to affect (positively or negatively) the chances of another crash. It also concluded that crash rates are strongly correlated with per-capita GDP of the airline's home country, which is hardly surprising. Interestingly it rated Garuda as the fifth most crash-prone global airline out of 56. I flew with them a few times as a kid.

I will get around to writing about Auckland eventually. On Tuesday I'll be starting my percussion course.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting oriented

My new(ish) job, in theory, is fascinating: the drainage networks represent a whole new underground world. In practice though, I wondered why the hell I bothered turning up today.

Yesterday was interesting. I had my "orientation" at work. You'd think I might have had it sooner - I've been there three months, although some people had been there a lot longer. In the morning we had our introductions, with a distinct Maori theme. Being Maori Language Week might have had something to do with that. To my shame I know very few Maori words. I can count up to twenty in (let me think) eight languages, but Maori isn't one of them. We played a sort of game where each of us, in turn, had to say something we hadn't done. Everyone in the group who had done that thing then gave that person a lolly from a pile. I said that I'd never been to America and got ten lollies - a little over half the group. A few eminent people in the Council, including the CEO, then spoke. The CEO wasn't exactly over the moon with Tuesday's decision to decline the Basin Reserve flyover. I was hoping to see the Mayor but I think she was away. We got to look at some old pictures of the city and play "guess where this is". I could have looked at those photos for hours, and wouldn't mind having a couple on my walls at home.

After lunch (and the food was good) we went on an excursion, taking in WREMO (the emergency management office), the Botanic Gardens (what a peaceful place to work), the Archives (I'd be close to my element working there) and the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie (where I found out that I'm really bad at basketball shooting). Our guide was great - he's been with the Council for many years, having started at Archives, and knew everything that was worth knowing about Wellington. I asked him the origin of a street name and he quickly gave me the answer. So all in all, it was a good day.

I haven't got the time or energy to write about my Auckland trip. Perhaps I'll manage that at the weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Man and beast

The temperature in the Brecon Beacons is forecast to be 26 degrees on Thursday. I hope my brother is OK. In contrast, in Wellington, it's been the first day of what I'd call proper winter.

One of the facilitators from the autism group – I’ll call her Isabel – volunteers at the Wellington SPCA. On Sunday she gave us a tour of the premises. This was quite popular – many people on the spectrum have a strong connection with animals. The SPCA recently moved to the old Fever Hospital, which opened just after World War I as (mostly) a final destination for TB sufferers. Unsurprisingly the building is supposed to be haunted, but it now works very well for the SPCA. It was upsetting to see animals that had been neglected. At one point I had a dog on my lap who was shaking like crazy; apparently she was just very shy, and had actually improved in that regard since arriving there. I hope she goes to a good home. The cat section was the best – I could have taken any of a number of them home with me, but alas the body corp rules prohibit pets. Tom was fascinated by the microchip reader. He thought that humans should have chips implanted too, so we wouldn’t have the hassle of carrying around bunches of keys everywhere. I’m happy with things as they are, although come to think of it there have been occasions when a microchip might have saved me some embarrassment. Some of the group went to lunch at the Hong Kong BBQ on Kent Terrace – I’ve eaten there before – but I already had food and drink on me and I just walked to my car and drove aimlessly for a couple of hours. I needed some time and space to myself – the car was the only real answer.

On Friday night I’m flying up to Auckland. I’ll be staying four nights at that motel in Epsom I was hoping to avoid this time, but it was the place that made the most financial sense. My room will have a TV with a few Sky channels, one of which will be showing a sport I neither care about nor properly understand. I might even notice a slightly unpleasant smell when I walk into my room for the first time, but the niff won’t be attributable to anyone in particular, and anyway I’ll soon get used to it. I’m looking forward to it all. I hope to see Richard, Bazza and the woman who used to facilitate the autism group in Wellington. Seeing people is the main reason I’m going. The other reason is not seeing people.

Kevin is pleasant to talk to. We do have a lot of conversation, even when, or especially when, I’m not in the mood for it (and he does like to talk about god quite a lot). It’s his complete domination of everything inside my home that’s the problem, rather than him per se. It’s a shame because with the change of job, life could actually be quite good for me right now, instead of just about tolerable. Granted, things could have been even better if that app had taken off and I’d made lots of money and I could have travelled and not had to answer to anybody, but that app was doomed from the start. It was like buying a lotto ticket with only three numbers on it. Dealing with maps of drainage networks is nowhere near what being my own boss would have meant, but it’s miles better than insurance.

So the World Cup is over. Germany were deserving winners of a very good tournament that will live long in the memory. The final could have gone either way and I'm glad it wasn't settled by penalties but instead by Götze's excellent goal. I only managed to watch the first half before going to work. I noticed that several of the German players had umlauts in their name; surely (Schürrle?) one of them would score. Germany's consistency in major tournaments has finally been rewarded. They've reached the semi-finals of every World Cup this century. England haven't got that far since I was ten. Making Messi the player of the tournament was a little odd, but what do I know? On the evidence of the few games I saw, it would have been a toss-up between Rodriguez and Robben.

Oh, and I've just noticed this is my 500th post.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My brother's ordeal, and one eternity to go

Today I sold Julie's Nissan Micra that she bought new in early 2009. It's a classic grannymobile. I don't know what colour you'd call it. Peach? Shocking pink? I felt ever so slightly silly as I drove it to the car yard. At first they would only offer $6000 - it needs some work on two panels and the colour could be a turn-off - but when they came up a thousand Julie eventually accepted on the phone. It'll be interesting to see what price they put on it at the yard. I wouldn't be surprised if it's ten or eleven grand. Julie's just found out that she might be moving from her Newtown rest home to a retirement village up in Napier next weekend. She doesn't think she can drive anymore, with her arthritis and neuropathy, so she was desperate to offload the car. This whole Napier thing has come out of the blue after a conversation Julie had with her niece. If it does happen, I won't be too disappointed that she's moved away, but I probably will go and see her. Any excuse to get in the car and well away from here.

I phoned my parents last night. They'd just got back from three days in London. They saw two shows and visited the Maritime Museum (which has changed a lot since I went there when I was 16) and a lot else besides. Today they depart from Newcastle on a two-week Nordic cruise. Where all this appetite for cruising has come from I have no idea. Maybe appetite is the word: you can stuff yourself silly if you want to.

This weekend my brother - a reservist in the British army - is embarking on a two-week SAS selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons. I have a hard time even thinking about what he'll be going through in the coming fortnight. Three people died from dehydration in last year's exercise - it was all over the news in the UK. With just a map and compass, you really are on your own there. I guess that's the whole point. But some of the soldiers involved, like my brother, have survived combat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. That they should put their lives at serious jeopardy in a training exercise just seems so wrong. I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast.

Kevin knows the date I want him out by (well actually he doesn't, because that date has long gone). But he knows the date I told him, and assuming he's gone by then, I'm now half-way to having this place to myself again. It already feels like an eternity, so I've just got one eternity to go. At work yesterday I was doing a fairly menial task, but it was strangely therapeutic too, and the last thing I wanted was to come home to 24/7 Kevin and nonstop TV.

On FiveThirtyEight they were trying to get a measure of the off-the-mapness of Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil, largely by comparing it with famous blowouts in American football. But they missed one crucial fact: gridiron isn't on the global sporting map to begin with. No result in that sport, however shocking, can reasonably compare. You can say the same about rugby, although the All Blacks are a global icon, and if they were beaten 70-10 by Australia in a World Cup semi-final (heaven forbid), that would send out some pretty big shock waves. Only two sporting events in my memory come anywhere near Germany–Brazil. The first was Michael Johnson's 19.32 in Atlanta, when he obliterated his own world record and the rest of the field. That second 100 metres was stupidly fast. The other one that sticks out is Isner–Mahut. Not the same sort of achievement of course, but tennis is a global sport, and that match even overshadowed the last football World Cup, as well as the Queen's visit to Wimbledon, while it was happening.

Had Holland won that shoot-out against Argentina, their passage to the final would have been unsatisfactory (a dodgy late penalty to beat Mexico, followed by two consecutive wins on penalties). With Argentina getting through, I know the result I want on Monday morning: a convincing win for Germany, or failing that, any win for Germany. Before the final we've got the third-place game, which has a bit more meaning (and intrigue) this time than it normally does.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We've got brackets!

I've just been speaking to Bazza on the phone. He hasn't changed. We hadn't spoken in almost a frigging year, and he just launches straight into the men's Wimbledon final. Heck, I like tennis and have blogged about it here a lot, but a how-are-you or a fancy-you-ringing-me-it's-been-ages would have been nice, if a huge surprise. I plan to see him on Sunday week when I'm up in Auckland.

When I was a kid, at about quarter to five on a Saturday, you'd see the football results trickling through on the TV, one letter or number at a time, via something called the vidiprinter. If there was a big score, they'd also put it in words in brackets, just so you'd know it wasn't a typo, as in "Oxford 1 Birmingham 7 (seven)". I'd get a bit excited whenever I saw brackets. Well this morning we had brackets all right.

Seriously, who’d have thought it? I actually wanted the Germans to win (yes, I know, English and all that) but with two-thirds of the game still to play, Germany had a scarcely believable five-goal lead! Someone at work managed to get a live stream, and at half-time I saw a replay of the goals. They were a result of abject defending more than attacking brilliance, and it seemed that for all the talk about Neymar, Brazil missed Silva (their best defender) even more. But 7-1! And it really should have been 8-0. The look on the Germans' faces when they gave up that last-minute goal showed what a determined bunch they are.

I wondered last night what the legacy of this World Cup would be, and barring something truly ridiculous in the other semi or the final, we’ve got our answer. Even if Germany lose in the final. As shock results in football go, this one is a magnitude 9.5. Kids with parents wealthy enough to get them tickets to the game, will relive it 60 or 70 years from now. In some ways I’m glad Brazil were beaten. If they’d lifted the trophy, it would have glossed over the obscene amounts of public money spent on the tournament.

Nate Silver and his mates at have come in for some criticism for their World Cup prediction model following this crazy result. Some of it is deserved. If you’re going to give Brazil nearly a 50% chance in a four-horse race, in a sport as unpredictable as football, they need to be pretty damn good. Better than they’d been in their previous five games, which I don’t think were weighted heavily enough in the model. But all this talk about all statistics in football being meaningless is pure guff. Of course you can model football results, just like you can model election results. You just need to get your inputs right.
Edit: I now see that the FiveThirtyEight model gave a Brazil a 45% chance of lifting the trophy before the tournament started. Yikes. That was way off base, surely. This isn't rugby where one side (like the All Blacks) can dominate. That they even came up with a probability that high and didn't seriously question it makes me wonder.

Here’s Joe Bennett’s take on World Cups (he wrote it before today’s match). Very accurate I think.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Odds and ends

On Saturday I spent a really nice evening at my cousin's place. I hadn't been there for nearly two months - among other things, my cousin had been in America on business. My aunt and uncle were staying, so there were eight of us for dinner. I did some baking - it was nice to produce something that doesn't feature on Mohs hardness scale. I saw the photos from my uncle's funeral - it was a DIY funeral with no undertaker, and the grey (but thankfully dry) day somehow added to the atmosphere.

I played two board games at Tracy's place last night. The first game was based on the popular French story Le Petit Prince. Four of us played: Tracy's mum joined in. It was simple to play but there was more going on than initially met the eye. You had to build a planet and make sure it didn't have too many volcanoes or baobab trees. It was a high-volatility game, or that's my excuse for coming last anyway. We then played 7 Wonders, again. That game has less volatility, making it more likely that Tracy, who must have something close to an eidetic memory, will win. She did, with an enormous score. My second place, and reasonable score, almost felt like a win.

Rolf Harris got nearly six years. Had he been younger, and had his terrible acts taken place more recently, he probably would have got (and deserved) longer. Actuarially, the chances that he'll die in prison are very close to 50:50. That's assuming he'll serve his full sentence, and I'm not sure that actuarial "rules" fully apply in prison.

The Wimbledon finals almost passed me by this year. Kvitova’s win over Bouchard, to claim her second Wimbledon final, clearly wasn’t much of a contest, but I would have been worth watching just to see someone play that well. The men’s final, which took four times as long, was a completely different story. They’re two absolute giants of the game; it’s hard not to be a bit envious of them. Look how many languages they can speak. Federer has two sets of twins, dammit. Djokovic's first child is on the way. It's easy to say so now, but when my aunt asked me to give a prediction, I picked Djokovic's five-set win, and even correctly predicted which sets he'd win. Of course it very nearly didn't turn out that way.

As I watched the Netherlands–Costa Rica quarter-final go to penalties, I was in two minds over who I wanted to win. On balance I probably wanted the Dutch to go through. Costa Rica looked like they were playing for penalties from the start, judging by all that fist-pumping from their bench after a goalless 120 minutes. Holland, on the other hand, were desperate to avoid that outcome, but when it eventuated they didn’t just think “oh shit”, they actually made something happen by changing their goalkeeper. In the end it was good to see Holland – possibly the stand-out team of the tournament so far – make the last four, but this World Cup would have been far less enjoyable without the plucky Costa Ricans, and it’s sad to see them go.

The group stage provided one goal for every 32 minutes of play. In the first knockout round, we saw one goal every 48 minutes. In the quarter-finals, it took an average of 78 minutes per goal. Goals aren’t everything of course, but those figures are some indication that this World Cup, which began with a hiss and a roar, is in danger of petering out. Another factor is the (disappointing?) lack of upsets in the knockout stages – on several occasions the favourite was in jeopardy, but each time they just about squeaked through. That of course means we’ve got a heavyweight semi-final line-up, even without Neymar, and the legacy of this tournament will largely depend on what sort of show the remaining four teams put on. More 0-0 draws and penalty shoot-outs won’t help. Even if Holland win it, which I hope they do.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rolf Harris and cracking stats

Rolf Harris. He was on telly all the time when I was a kid. I remember him most from Cartoon Time when he did all those drawings in between clips. In 1993 he did his cover of Stairway to Heaven, complete with wobble board, which was rather good (and at the time I didn't even realise it was a cover!). All in all, I thought he was a jolly good Aussie bloke. Now, at age 84, he's been convicted of indecent assault on girls as young as seven, and he's likely to die in prison. You do that sort of crime, you do the time, even if you're 84. But it's worth remembering that it was a different world in the sixties and seventies. Since the scandal surrounding Jimmy Savile (he was also on TV all the time when I was small, and he seemed like a very dodgy bugger to me even then), several of these celebrity sex abuse cases have come to light, and we need to be a bit careful before imposing today's standards on events that happened decades ago.

Kevin likes to talk about his past. He recently talked about a time his girlfriend was stoned and almost burnt the house down by leaving a pan on the stove in the middle of the night, with two kids under two asleep. They didn't have smoke alarms. Apparently he wasn't stoned on that particular occasion, and he rescued his girlfriend and kids from the smoke and flames. He thinks he's a hero - "no-one gives me credit for saving those kids' lives" - and I tried to play down his hero status. At 22, and mentally a lot less, he was nowhere near ready to bring up a family, and neither was she. Sadly, he hardly sees his son and daughter from one year to the next.

I've started reading Quicksilver, the Neal Stephenson book that I borrowed from Tracy. She might be waiting a while for it. I have a feeling it'll be too clever for me. I finished Angela's Ashes which had the effect of making me realise I'm alive, and living with Kevin isn't all that bad. It really was miserable stuff. It also made me think what an amazing thing (from a food point of view) an egg is. You hear about super foods quite a lot; an egg is pretty much the ultimate super food. So many ways to cook them, and they're good for you (if you happen to ignore the dirty C-word). I ate two eggs a day during my one-month paleo experiment last October, and it hasn't done me any harm yet.

We're down to the last eight in the World Cup, and the classic matches keep coming. All eight group winners made it to the quarter-finals - I guess not many of the fancied teams finished second in their groups: they either went through as group winners or, in the case of Spain, Portugal and Italy, went home altogether. Five of the quarter-finalists required extra time, and two also needed penalties. The last three matches all went to an extra half-hour; those games were all goalless in normal time, but featured a whopping seven goals between them in extra time. All eight teams who played in Manaus, and therefore clocked up the air miles, have been knocked out. One of those was the USA, who were glorious in their extra-time loss to Belgium. Or at least I hope that the concept of a glorious defeat exists in American society.

What I hope the semi-final line-up will be: Colombia v Germany, Holland v Belgium.

Diving - probably my biggest hate in World Cup football - was the hot topic this week as Robben "won" that last-minute penalty against Mexico. A part of me thinks, wow, hats off to him for getting away with it, especially when it's someone that fun to watch, a bit like my admiration for an loose-aggressive poker player pulling off a crazy bluff. But there's one key difference - bluffing is a perfectly legitimate play in poker (indeed it's part of the essence of the game); diving to win a free kick or penalty is cheating.

I've been reading a few articles on It's an American site, most famous for Nate Silver's very accurate US election predictions. But it also covers sport, economics, social policy, whether we'll soon be paying to use the loo on flights... Most impressive is their analysis of footballer Lionel Messi - with all those charts and graphs, you get to see how, um, off-the-charts, this little man is. It's good to see some proper football stats for a change. People have this idea that stats don't "work" in football. Bollocks to that, basically, even if it's harder to quantitatively analyse football than cricket or tennis. Which brings me to Wimbledon. A lot has happened. Nick Kyrgios saved all those match points against Gasquet, then caused a huge shock in beating Nadal. Then Andy Murray got beaten today. Serena Williams hasn't been far from the headlines in the women's. But I haven't watched any of it and have only taken a passing interest really. With the World Cup and having a flatmate, something has to give.

Today was a crisp, sunny, South Island kind of day.