Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hurricanes set the trends - All Blacks follow...

Tana heads for the line, handbag in handA few of the 'Canes got involved in a bit of a dust-up after Saturday's game:

"Chris Masoe was involved in an "altercation" in a bar after Saturday's Super 14 final and Tana Umaga intervened, hitting his teammate with a woman's handbag. Fellow Hurricane and All Black Ma'a Nonu was also involved in an incident on Sunday morning. He had a "verbal confrontation" with a Christchurch taxi driver." - Dominion Post

The All Blacks demonstrate this year's must-have haka fashion accessoryNot a good look, and not something that particularly impresses me. However, in typical Kiwi fashion, our dry and self-deprecating sense of humour has come to the fore, and these images are now doing the email rounds between ChCh and Welli. Heh. You gotta laugh.

This article gets my vote for funniest news report on the incident - it's from the South African newspaper, Business Day - Would a handbag sponsor please help us out here?

UPDATE 02/06/06: The handbag and phone are now up for sale on TradeMe. Of course they are! We put everything up on TradeMe! There have been over half a million page views today. At one point the highest bid was $100,004,599.00. No, that's not a typo. Hmmmm - methinks there are a few bidders there who aren't quite taking this seriously... :) Now it's back to a "sensible" level - $94,000.00. Good grief. Auction closes tomorrow.

Tana leads the haka

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Monday, May 29, 2006

A blog post about my blog posts

How's this for travelling in circles?

This post is about the subjects I'm thinking of posting about. It's mainly a reminder for myself - so I may add to it over the next few days - but if you like the look of anything, leave a comment and I'll move your favourite to the top of my "to do" list.

Here goes:

  • Songs my iPod played me today (I'm thinking I might put this in the right-hand column of my template and update it regularly) - DONE

  • A review of Webstock - Wellington's first Web Standards conference. It was brilliant! DONE - Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

  • The best words I know - DONE

  • Being an immigrant - the story of how and why I left the UK and how I ended up in NZ - and what it's like to be a new New Zealander

  • On being shy an introvert - and faking the extrovert - Part One: DONE. Part Two: DONE

  • Group dynamics within online communities

  • My first day/week in my new job
What do you reckon?

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why does the caring stop?

Villagers grieve in Bantul. Photograph: Adex Berry/GettyThere was a deadly earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java yesterday. The death toll currently stands at over 3,000 and rising, with many thousands injured and an estimated 200,000 homeless. Mt Merapi, a nearby volcano, has been spewing ash and lava for a week now, and is still threatening to blow.

Britain has pledged up to £3 million to meet Java's immediate and urgent needs. The European Commission has offered €3m, and the Irish government has donated €500,000. I am sure that many other countries have also already pledged funds, or will do within the next day or so. There'll be fundraisers, appeals on TV, and NGOs and relief agencies in the region will urge the public to give generously. And I'm sure they will. For a week or so. Then it will all go quiet, and the world's attention will move on to the next disaster, the next drama, the next government scandal or the next piece of gossip about their favourite celebrity. And the people of Yogyakarta and surrounding regions will be left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives - alone.

BAM, IRAN: A woman despairs sitting among the rubble in the earthquake stricken city of Bam, 04 January 2004. As many as 30,000 people are feared dead after the earthquake mostly levelled the town on 26 December 2003. Photo credit ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty ImagesDo you remember Bam? On Boxing Day 2003 this ancient Persian city was hit by a devastating earthquake which levelled it to the ground, killing an estimated 40,000 people and leaving thousands homeless. The world responded with aid, manpower, machinery, and pledges of immediate and ongoing financial and logistical help. Two years later this city has become a byword for drug abuse and an Aids problem that threatens to become an epidemic.

A year after the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Asian Development Bank reported that there was a shortfall of more than US$4bn promised for rebuilding India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Nearly 300,000 people died in the 26 December earthquake and sea surges. Many thousands more saw their homes and livelihoods destroyed.

Cleaning up - March 2005: Nusa village life during the first major clean-up. The white building with Polindes Desa Nusa written above the door is the village clinic set up by the health ministry. Photograph: ZakariahRemember the outpouring of grief and sympathy from around the world that led directly to a huge outpouring of aid money from people like me and you for the victims of the tsunami? Remember how some governments (George Bush and Tony Blair, I'm looking at you!) were shamed by their own people into increasing the amount of official aid pledged on behalf of their country? So why was it that in March 2006, while many people in affected areas were still living in rotting tents, unable to yet rebuild their homes and their lives, the British government was demanding the return of millions of pounds in unspent tsunami aid, which had become mired in bureaucracy and remained unallocated and unused?

Finding refuge - August 30: Leeland Martin (left) pulls his brother, Milton, to the shelter in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Photograph: John Rowland/APAnd how about New Orleans, eight months after Hurricane Katrina? On 22 May 2006, when Ray Nagin was re-elected mayor, more than half of the city's population of 462,000 were still evacuees living outside the city, including some 200,000 registered voters.

Why is it that, after an initial burst of enthusiasm/horror/outrage/sympathy amongst both governments and individuals, where money is pledged, promises are made, and help is offered; why is it that we allow our governments to so quickly renege on their pledges, break their promises, and forget that they offered help? Is it because we ourselves forget? Because we are too embroiled in the minutiae of our own lives to really have time to care about someone else for more than a moment or two of initial shock and empathy? Is it because governments the world over realise that they can initially offer money in order to look like they care and then quietly "forget" to pay up, knowing that we, their people, will have forgotten all about it in a week or two? Is it perhaps that we trust our politicians too much - that we assume they will keep the promises they make on our behalf?

Whatever the reason, I know we can (and should) do better. We are all citizens of the world, whatever our nationality. We should be able to trust that our politicians (who work for us, by the way!) will do the right thing, and keep the promises they make. It's a pathetically unlikely hope, I know, given the state of many governments today - but in that case, we the people need to stand up a bit more often and with a bit more vigour and demand that our leaders do the right thing - and keep at them until they do. Maybe it's up to us, as citizens of the world, to ensure that the caring continues, and that our leaders realise we won't allow it to simply stop before the work is done.

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When Clay Aiken's hair stole the show


You know, I had thought that the, er, intensity of my Clay Aiken obsession had subsided somewhat. Well 5 months with barely a sighting's a long time in the ClayNation! We're used to instant gratification - and lots of it! (although, living in NZ, I have to say I have learned to be more patient than some...).

Clay AikenBut nooooooo - all my Teevy Boyfriend has to do is show up on American Idol (which I haven't watched, btw, since The Anomaly), sing for 1 minute and 50 seconds with a fanboiest fanboi I have ever seen (Michael, you were so sweet!), and BLAM! It's all back on again. I love him!

Clay's hair (IMHO) was the best Clayhair I have ever seen in the whole history of the world. Evah. God that boy is HOTHOTHOT.

Clay AikenSo Clay (and his hair) stole the show, and caused the entire ClayNation to fall off their chairs, and the rest of the nation's jaws to hit the floor - and they're still talking about it round the water coolers 2+ days later. Kewl!

So come on, Clay - give us news on the new album, already! We really don't want to wait any more!

You can see more ClayHair reaction in the blogosphere at:

As I write this, Clay is #1 in Technorati searches, so you may well find one or two more blogs mentioning Clay if you search there. Or 27,531 to be precise. Heh.

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'Canes get lost in the fog

Hurricanes and Crusaders in the fog*sigh*

My lovely Hurricanes lost the final match of the Super 14 to the Crusaders in the most surreal game of rugby I've ever seen on TV.

It was so foggy down at Jade Stadium that when they kicked the ball high (which was often) it completely disappeared into the white murk. The SkySport team had to send one of their commentators across to the far side of the field, and then they split the commentating between them, because they literally couldn't see across the park. The spectators were reduced either to turning their backs on the field and watching the game on the big screen, or (if they were high up in the third tier of the stadium) going home to watch it on telly, because they were actually in the clouds. A great quote from some dude in the crowd: "It was the best game of rugby I've never seen".

My boys played manfully (when do they not?) but in the end it was all too much and they lost by a converted try. Bummer. I didn't think they'd beat the super-clinical Crusaders, although I reckon if they'd been able to play at the top of their game tonight they might have had a chance - but this was just too tough.

Ah well, there's always next year. Let's hope it doesn't take us another 11 years to get to the final again. Maybe they should play it in Wellington next time (whoever's in the final) - at least our famous windy conditions would pretty much guarantee NO FOG.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Welcome to my world...

Quite an appropriate title, really, seeing as it's also the title of a well-loved Kiwi song by country singer John Grenell.

So here we are. My first blog entry in my first blog. As my blog description says: this blog is about my passions, which are many and varied. I think I might use it a bit like an online diary, and as a space for my musings, as somewhere I can post stuff I think other people might be interested in, and as a place where I can go on about stuff that interests me. Whether or not it will actually interest anyone else remains to be seen... :)

I'm a very proud New Zealander and first came here from the UK as a traveller in October 1992. I completely fell in love with New Zealand, so after exploring the county for about 7 months I went back to the UK, packed up my stuff, said farewell to my friends and family - and came over here to live. It's been the best decision of my life, and one I have never regretted for a single second. Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) is the most beautiful country in the world (IMHO), and I feel privileged to live here.

I'm a web designer and developer - I've been doing it for over 9 years now - and it's my dream job. The perfect combination of creativity and logic, which provides a never-ending opportunity to push myself, stretch my mind, and learn new stuff on a daily basis. I've been a contractor for much of that 9 years, mainly designing and/or building websites for design companies, but on Monday I start a new job at my dream web design company - Shift. Woohoo!

There's lots of stuff I'm interested in, and which I imagine will be a rich source of material for my blog entries. Like the contents of my iPod, there's a rather eclectic mix in there:

  • Environmentalism and left wing/green politics - and a fascination with US politics especially - it's like watching a slow-motion trainwreck and

  • Web design, CSS, accessibility, usability and other geekery - I just spent 3 days at Webstock and it was bloody wonderful - I'll do a blog about that soon I think

  • Gardening - I had forgotten how much I loved gardening until I bought my house (with garden) about 5 years ago and moved out of the innner city warehouse apartment scene

  • Cats - because I have two cats and they totally rule!

  • Rugby - because New Zealand produces the best rugby players in the world - and the game thrills me

  • Literature - I am currently working my way through the great literature of the 20th century, plus more recent novels discovered via by my book club

  • Music - because it makes me happy (I love my iPod!) and because I used to be one of the organisers of New Zealand's biggest dance party - The Gathering

  • My Teevy boyfriendTM Clay Aiken, whose voice inspires me to such a degree that I have flown not once but three times to the US to see him in multiple concerts. I just love him!

OK - well I think I might just post this entry now, and go figure out what else I can do with this great blogging tool. Welcome to my world!

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