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.

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