Nice Day To Be At the Beach, Except

cloudy-beachTomorrow is going to be one of the hottest days here in Wellington, in about a year, and Kristie and I were going to go to the Kapiti coast to go to the beach.  Unfortunealy, the Kapiti coast will be cloudy and drizzly for most of the day.  So instead, we are staying in town, and will either go for a bike ride, or go Kayaking.

Lovin' My New Slippers

Friday, January 30, 2009 18:02 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

slippersKristie and I bought a couple pair of slippers from Eddie Bauer online a couple weeks ago.  They arrived this week, and I really like them.  I won’t have to worry about cold feet this winter!
These are EB700 down filled slippers.  They keep my feet super warm, and they are quite comfy too.

Maori Blessing


Pic to followThis weekend, Interpreting Wellington shifted offices, or moved office locations in Canadian terms.  We only moved about 4 blocks further west, but we just couldn’t afford a rent increase that was being imposed on us.  In addition to us, there were also three other organizations that we’re affiliated with that had moved as well.  The move itself was handled by professional movers; we just had to pack and label everything, and the pros would move it all for us.
There were a few logistical elements that I was in charge of, such as ensuring the phone system was up and running on the Monday that everyone arrived at work.  I was also in charge of ensuring the computers, broadband, routers, etc. were up and running too.  For the most part things went according to plan.  There were a few hiccups along the way such as all DDI numbers were routed through the main switchboard, and one old computer bit the dust along the way.  By the way, if anyone knows how to remove an IBM Netvista computer hard drive, without physically destroying the case, please let me know…not that it matters now, because I physically destroyed the case.
So now, with the moving details behind us, we had the Maori Blessing Ceremony today.  The Maori believe that when you move premises, the old spirits should be asked to leave.  They are not driven out, but are instead asked to leave.  Those spirits that do not wish to leave are free to stay on the premises, as protectors.  The ceremony begins with a short prayer outside the building, led by the Maori person performing the ceremony.  Then the group follows the Holy man inside the building as he chants, and sings, asking the spirits to leave.  He would walk through each and every room of the building with the entire group in tow, and everyone would be encouraged to touch the walls, furnishings, etc., leaving a little of our own warmth behind.  In essence, claiming the building for our use.
After each room had been blessed, we follow them to a meeting room, where he would say a short prayer, and then everyone would join in a Maori song.  To end off the ceremony, each and every person would be asked to say a few words, and then the food would be blessed.
All in all, I found the ceremony to be quite enlightening.

50/50 on New Year’s Resolution


new-yearThis year as a resolution, I made two promises that I wanted to keep.  The first was to walk over 10,000 steps a day, and the second was to try to write one blog entry every day.  So how’d I do?  Well, the month of January is almost over, and I have walked over 10,000 steps, each and every day.  Unfortunately, my blogging hasn’t fared as well.
While I have blogged well over 30 times, multiple entries were completed on one day, and thus I don’t feel that I have been sticking to my resolution.  So, I quit.  Ok, I don’t quit, but I will have to get better at becoming a regular blogger.
Not that I’m making excuses, but allow me to make some excuses.  This has been a really hectic couple of weeks for me.  I have been working tonnes of overtime at work, and have been getting to bed fairly late due to busy home life as well.  So rather than make excuses (too late), I will simply say that when times become hectic like they are now, I will simply post abbreviated entries.  At least then, I can try to meet my goal.

I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out


HockeyFightOk, I’m paraphrasing here, but Garry Bettmen says that fighting sells tickets.  It is, and has always been, a part of the game of hockey, and will therefore not ban fighting in the NHL.  Well to Mr. Bettmen I say, Pfffftttttt!
Fighting does not have to be part of hockey.  While the NHL rule book, does have many pages dedicated to fighting, it doesn’t have to be part of the game.  Lets think about when kids first start learning how to play hockey; they learn how to skate, shoot the puck, and how to give/take a check.  They don’t learn how to throw a punch.  Show me one hockey camp that a kid goes to with a clinic titled “Advanced Goon Theory 101.”
As for the argument that fighting sells tickets, well I don’t doubt that it is true in some cases.  There are many people out there who would  love to see someone get the living crap beaten out of them.  Just look at those who attend ultimate fighting matches.  But I argue that if you were to remove fighting from the NHL, you may actually get a better product as a result.  Case in point, I hate regular season hockey.  You get cheap hits, massive brawls, but generally you get a boring game.  However, when watching hockey during the playoffs, ESPECIALLY during overtime, that is when hockey becomes a sport worth watching.  During these situations, players skate harder and faster than they ever did in the regular season.  Body checks against the the opposing team is to get them off the puck, not to drill them into the sideboards.  Not only are the players more engaged in the fundamentals of the game, but the crowds seem to be more engaged as well.  Each spectator is on the edge of his/her seat, each shot that is saved, is greeted with a massive, simultaneous roar from the crowd.  To me, playoff hockey is one of the best sports I can think to watch, and if there are any real hockey fans reading this, I think they may have to concede that fighting would take a distant second place when compared to this type of hockey.
To help eliminate fighting from hockey, you don’t have to ban it outright; you don’t even have to make any massive changes to the rules governing fighting.  Instead, simply impose a large fine on the instigator and an even larger fine on the team itself.  Hockey players make a lot of money, Goons on the other hand probably make a pretty good salary (not tonnes, but a pretty good living).  I think a $10,000 dollar fine for a first offence would be a strong deterrent.  Add to that an additional $50,000 dollar fine against the team, and you might actually show a huge reduction in the amount of fighting you would see in the NHL.  The Coaches, GMs, and and owners say they care about there players, yet have no balls to ban fighting, which would easily help reduce player injuries, but if they were forced to pay large fines due to a player’s fighting, I have a feeling that they would start taking a greater interest in their player’s health and well being.
One last point I would like to bring to mind is: If fighting is part of hockey, and is such an integral part of the game, how come Gretzky never fought?

Focus Group

Friday, January 23, 2009 19:49 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

ForumYesterday I participated in a focus group comprised of a group of Canadians that was related to Te Papa Museum.  The group’s purpose was to discuss the mission statement of Te Papa.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is a forum for the nation to present,
explore and preserve the heritage of its cultures and knowledge of the natural
environment in order to better understand and treasure the past, enrich the present and meet the challenges of the future.
The primary aspect of the discussion focused on the word Forum.  We were all asked our first impressions of the word forum and what it might denote within the mission statement.  One person stated that he thought of the Roman forum, from ancient times, one suggested a social gathering, and so on.  I said that the first thought that came into my head regarding the word forum was a discussion forum on a web site.
When I told Kristie of the group, she said the first thing that came to mind was the Montreal Forum.  Being Canadian, you’d wonder why no one else there thought of that.

Inauguration Day

11:46 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

ObamaYesterday I woke up early to watch the American Inauguration.  I was quite impressed with President Obama’s speech.  I don’t know if it is all rhetoric, but it will be quite interesting to see if he can deliver on everything that he wants to complete.  Step one seems to be underway, which is closing down Guantanamo Bay.  Today I read a news story in the CBC that Obama will close Guantanamo within a year.
I’m wondering what will happen to all of the prisoners.  Also, I am wondering if those who tortured the prisoners will be held accountable.  In my opinion, those that were tortured, are in title for some justice; perhaps trials of human rights violations.

Comfort Food


Pepperoni_pizzaKristie and I didn’t become vegetarians, because we disliked the taste of meat, we became vegetarians because of the sustainability issues, and the ethical treatment of the animals.  To tell the truth, I love the taste of a good rare filet mignon.  So today, we were talking today about foods that we’ve missed since becoming vegetarians; technically pescitarian (people who eat fish).  Actually if you want to get totally nit-picky, I prefer the term polite-a-tarian.  Basically, if invited to a friend’s/family member’s house for a meal, we wouldn’t refuse to eat what they have served.  Personally I think that would be rude.
Anyway, like I said, we were talking about what we miss from the meat group, and surprisingly it isn’t that much, but there are some things that come to mind.  For instance, I really miss pepperoni pizza.  I miss the oven baked chicken that my mom use to make, and also a hamburger dish that she use to serve as well.  Finally, every now and then, when I smell a barbeque, I really miss the taste of a big thick hamburger.
I’m not saying that I want to go back to being a carnivore, but I’d kill for a pepperoni pizza right now.

Lyall Bay Walk

Monday, January 19, 2009 13:46 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

P1000473We discovered a new exercise area for the dogs a few weeks back at Lyle Bay.  We’ve only gone about three times, including today, and we generally go after we’ve already done the Wadestown walk.  But each time we’ve gone there, the dogs just seem to come alive; even if they are tired.
Neither one of them are water dogs, but they don’t seem to mind getting their feet wet.  Other than that, they are pretty content just running up and down the beach.
P1000471In the first photo,, I got a good picture of Walnut just before getting T-boned by Angus.  Whereas in  the second shot, after getting T-boned, Angus’ thoughts must have been, to quote Monty Python: “Run Away!”

da Vinci Machines

Sunday, January 18, 2009 15:24 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

P1000445Last week I went to see an exhibit of working models designed by Leonardo da Vinci.  Many of the models, such as the fixed wing on the left, were for display only.  They were all generally fabricated using natural materials that would have been available in da Vinci's time; items such as wood, iron, canvas, hemp rope, etc.
Some of the models were scaled, working versions of his many inventions.  For instance there were many models of machines used for making work easier such as pulley systems, machines using bearings, cogs, cams and gears, etc.  There were scaled models of a rapidly constructed bridge, da Vinci’s version of a bicycle, a leaf spring propelled car (which I thought was pretty cool), a double hulled boat, a paddle wheel driven boat, his siege machine, and of course his infamous air screw (the prelude to the helicopter).
P1000453On top of all of the models, they had an hour long video (which I watched with great inte rest) that would chronicle his life’s history.  The also displayed much of his art, and many of the pages from his Codex.
It was a really interesting exhibit, and if it ever makes it to Canada, I would highly recommend going.

Robots Biding Their Time

09:35 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

P1000461As everyone knows, the days when the robots will rise up and become our masters, is only a few days/weeks away.  When this uprising happens, I have no doubts that the one pictured on the left will be one of our overseers.  Oh sure, they say it is a piece of art, but when it starts walking around killing people, who’ll be laughing then…
Not that I usually laugh at robots that are killing people.  I do like to laugh at robots being hit in the crotch with a ball or something; now that’s funny.

Traffic Snarls


P1000436Like any large city, Wellington is not immune to traffic snarls.  In the picture to the left, you’ll see some of the mass transit riders stuck in a log jam of sorts.
As per usual in New Zealand, you should always give way to the vehicle on the right.

Naked Statue Bingo

Friday, January 16, 2009 07:47 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

P1000425Like most cities, Wellington is required by law to have at least five public statues of naked people.  This is to ensure that the people who are employed taking telephone calls from morally outraged individuals, have a continuous stream of callers.  Its kind of a make work project.
So far I have only found three of them.
The one on the left is called Solace in the Wind.  I could make a few jokes about breaking wind, but how juvenile do you think I am?
This statue interests me because every now and then, it disappears from its perch.  I have twice noticed that it had been removed from where it stands and then reappears a few days later.  I assume that either it was being cleaned, or he went out to get a burger or something.
P1000433The second statue, I don’t know the name of, but it is quite impressive in that I can see a girls boobs without getting in trouble from my wife, and without paying a cover charge.


P1000437The final statue is more surreal than an actual depiction of the naked body.
As you can see there are obvious references to Eve, what with the apple, but I like the fact that they took a Kiwi slant to it, with the fern leaves, rather than the fig leaf.
So all in all, I’m not doing bad on my Naked Statue bingo card.  I’ve only got a couple to go!

Some people don’t deserve to be on our planet


bobbythedog_329I came across this news story today about animal abuse.  As a dog lover, any case of animal abuse that I see in the news generally gets me incensed.  Dogs are one of the greatest creatures on earth.  They are animals that live to please their owners.  Each and every moment that they simply get to hang out with us is heaven for them.  Even when they are “bad” they don’t do so out of malice, they do so out of mischievousness, or curiosity.  They don’t deserve the treatment that Bobby got from the abusive, sub-humans that were his owners.
Bobby’s owners said that they taped his mouth shut, and tied his legs together to keep him out of the rubbish.  Here’s a thought: Eliminate his access to rubbish!  Put a lid on the can, or just get it out of his reach.  What the hell is wrong with you people?  You could have killed him.  Its bad enough that you have scared him for life (literally).  Take a look at the video, and you will get a good idea how sweet Bobby is.
Some people should be evicted from our planet.

Stop for Coffee

CoffeeHouse
This is one of my favourite cafes in Wellington.  It is tucked away on a service road just off Cuba street.  It is about a five minute walk from work, so I go their often.
What it lacks in ambiance and space, it more than makes up for with its coffee.  Whether you are getting a flat white, or a bag of their fare trade coffee, I have yet to have a better cup here in Wellington.

Bio-fuel cars tested in Wellington

12:38 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

BioFuel
As seen in this photo, Wellingtonians, got their first peak at a new bio-fuelled car.  This amazing device takes raw chemical energy, usually in the form of burgers and fries, directly from the driver of the vehicle, and then through a complex reaction of levers, pulleys, gears and chains, converts the chemical energy into kinetic energy, thus providing the rotational momentum that propels the drivers of the vehicle.
While still in the testing faze of production, New Zealand has already taken pre-emptive measures to improve its infrastructure to accommodate these non-petroleum burning vehicles.  There have been several enhancements in their cities and towns by widening the sidewalks, and many businesses have started to incorporate smaller parking spaces in their lots.
BurgerFuelOne of the biggest hurdles is ensuring that there are sufficient fuelling stations available to keep these vehicles running smoothly.  As you can see by the picture on the right, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. 
While New Zealand is clearly ahead of Canada in terms of providing cheap, efficient and clean burning fuel, they are sadly lacking in terms of ergonomics and safety regulations.  As you can see by this photo, there are two separate steering wheels on the same vehicle, which would allow untold confusion when two occupants of the vehicle wish to choose two different directions.  Added to this the fact that in the inevitable crash that would ensue from two confused drivers, you may notice that there are no safety restraints, no mechanism for directional indicators, no anti-lock brakes, and to top it all off, the child isn’t even in an approved safety seat.
Kudos for creating this mechanized marvel, but for shame in undervaluing your citizen’s health and safety.

Who likes Rams? Ewe do.


Dodge13I have commented before about the different types of cars that are here in NZ.  Virtually every car here is an import, in one way or another.  Virtually the only vehicle that might be classified as domestic (Australian), are Holden, which are a subsidiary of GM.  Lately however, I have been noticing quite a variety in the cars I am seeing.  I have seen two Corvettes, one classic and one brand new model.  I have seen one of the new Mustangs, but what I am really starting to notice is an abundance of Chryslers.
A neighbour of ours, who is a builder, has a brand new Ram 1500 diesel, the neighbour across the street from us has a new PT Cruiser, of which I am seeing quite a few lately.  To my dismay, I have seen a few Dodge Nitro's, quite a few Dodge Calibres, tonnes of Jeep Cherokees and have even seen what appears to be a brand new 2009 Dodge Neon!  Do they even make the Neon in North America any more.  I thought the dropped the Neon for the Dodge 2.0, which this new car looks very much like.
I think they must have just opened a Chrysler retailer here in Wellington.

Windows 7…I want it so bad!

07:04 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

Windows 7At CES (Consumer’s Electronic Show), this year Microsoft had announced that it would be making the beta version of Windows 7 available for download to the first 2.5 million people.  Being a Microsoft Fanboy, I visited the site early on to become one of the few who get to download it.  Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t expect the volume of people trying to download Windows 7, and it brought their server down.  A day later it was up and running, and had my copy downloaded onto my computer.
The download comes as an ISO file, which you have to burn to a DVD using an ISO burning program, which I didn’t have.  So I downloaded a freeware version, read up on how to burn an ISO file, and burned a copy to DVD.  I then did a backup of all my files, as it is always prudent to guard your data, and then started the process of partitioning my hard drive in order to use Windows 7 as a dual boot.  That is where I started running into problems.
I have a Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop.  Virtually all Dell computers come with a hard drive that is partitioned into a couple of different drives: The main partition, a recovery partition (a lifesaver), one for utilities, and another one which is unknown to me.  Unbeknownst to me, Vista has a limit of four partitions per disk, so when I allocated the space on the main partition for Windows 7, I would get an error message every time I tried to create the new partition.  Only after reading in the forums, did I learn about this limitation.  So I had to reallocate the space back to my primary partition.
Ok, I thought, I will just do a new install of Windows 7, and then revert back to Vista after the beta expires.  But then I remembered that I had heard a podcast on Windows Weekly, that Skype does not work properly using the beat of Windows 7.  Normally, I wouldn’t think that it would be a big deal, but Kristie has been utilizing my machine to conduct interviews for her PHD program.  So much for that idea.
Then another thought popped into my head; I have a WD external hard drive, and I could adjust the system BIOS to boot from a USB device.  So, I repeated the steps in partitioning the external hard drive, as I did for the main drive.  At this point, my system had a serious problem when restarting, and it all fell apart from there.  I had to restore my computer back to its factory settings (ok, I didn’t have to, but I thought it would be prudent).  After hours of reinstalling programs, updates, security, restoring data files (see, backups are a good idea), I finally was ready to install Windows 7 on my external hard drive.
Fail.
When trying to do the install, Windows 7 advised me that it can not be installed onto an external hard drive (Sigh).  So after about a full day, not counting the previous day’s server problems, I basically just cleaned up my system.  But as soon as Kristie is finished with her interviews, I’m at it again!

Freaked out puppy

Sunday, January 11, 2009 19:58 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

shihtzuKristie and I rented a suspense/horror film today called The Strangers.  It is the story of this couple, in a cabin in the woods, that gets attacked by three sadistic murderers.  Generally I don’t like horrors; not because I find them frightening, but because they are usually nothing more than a slasher film.  This one, on the other hand was virtually all suspense and shock.
Anyway the reason that I am blogging about it in the first place, is that half way through the movie, while all of our lights are out, and the television is casting an eerie shadow, and during a very suspenseful part of the film, Angus, who was asleep, startles up, and starts a low menacing growling towards the kitchen.  He starts stalking slowly towards the kitchen and then starts a shrill, intense barking session towards the kitchen.  I got up to see if there was anything to make him so upset, but couldn’t find anything.
Both Kristie and I thought that the timing of the whole thing was quite coincidental.  Angus, on the other hand was kind of freaked out.

Cloud or onsite outage – what’s the difference

Friday, January 02, 2009 04:09 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

Flight93MushroomCloudIn a recent article on vnunet.com, I read that Salesforce.com had a system outage for approximately forty minutes.  Within the same article, the author made it sound like Saas (software as a service) was not a viable option for business use, rather than onsite computing; quoting a Salesforce.com users:
Salesforce. Don't fail me when I need you the most!
while another user said:
Salesforce crashes, Twitter/Google get hacked, what's next? I am going to switch to landlines and snail mail?
All of this was basically saying to me that it is not possible to trust our data to an outside company, which I think is ridiculous.  How many companies, using traditional computing, have lost days, or weeks of productivity due to system outages?  The company my wife works for, lost an entire day’s worth of external email use and internet coverage, just yesterday due to a virus.  I should point out, that the article doesn’t state if anyone lost data, and as I understand it, data loss wasn’t the issue, it was simply the fact that people couldn’t access the website for a short time.
The fact of the matter is, that computer systems are not perfect, and they can fail, however I would much rather have someone else, someone with much more experience and competence than me, to deal with the problems.  To be honest, I would have been miffed about the service outage if it happened to me, but at least this way, I can join the chorus of cursing their IT guys, rather than having people curse me.

New Year’s Resolution


CatsNew Years Eve is here, so it is time to start making up my New Year’s Resolution(s).  This year, I resolve to quit drinking, smoking, and beating up cats.  This shouldn’t be too difficult, as I don’t really do any of those things.  Don’t get me wrong though, Andrew Lloyd Webber could use a good punch!
Seriously folks, I’ll be here all week… Anyway, there are two things that I want to accomplish this year:
  1. Blog at least once a day, even if it is only a few sentences.
  2. Walk at least 10,000 steps, each and every day.
Kristie and I were doing this over the winter as part of a program she had going on at work, and I remember that I felt quite fit, and healthy during that time.  Lately, I have been so busy with work and such, that I have been neglecting my walking.  So come rain or shine, I want to get out and walk every day this year.

Planning Maui Vacation

07:47 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

Kristie and I spent this morning planning where we want to go in Maui.  For the most part, we just sought out good places to eat, but we did mark a few places for shopping as well as a few tourist destinations.  We thought this would be a good starting point for planning our trip with Shauna, Jason, Kristen and Doug.
We’d be very interested in seeing the options that they choose as well.