Thursday, November 30, 2006

"The face of The Gathering"

G97/98 poster. I got "recognised" the other day, the first time it's happened in at least a couple of years. It used to be a fairly regular occurrence, being accosted in the street by total strangers who would throw their arms around me with a "thank you, thank you, you changed my life!"


It was a lovely feeling, and a huge honour to be thanked personally like that. I was only one out of over a thousand people who deserved thanks each year, many of whom deserved it far more than I did, but I was fortunate in that I was arguably the most easily recognised member of the team. I accepted the thanks on behalf of all of us - and I just wish that everyone on the crew had been able get their own special hugs like I did.

And what was it we were doing that changed so many lives, hopefully for the better? We organised a dance party called The Gathering.

I was one of the main organisers of The Gathering from 1997 until 2000, and it was an amazing time. We made magic and did the impossible because no-one told us it couldn't be done. It became New Zealand's biggest and best dance event, attracting Gatherers from all four corners of Aotearoa - and eventually from across the globe.

Our philosophy was simple, and it worked:

The Gathering is a festival of freedom, dance, music, and participation. Your presence creates The Gathering. Take care, we are all responsible for the environment. Be nice humans.

G98/99 booklet. The Gathering took place over 2 or 3 days each New Year's, and for the first four years it was held at Canaan Downs, 2,500ft up on top of Takaka Hill near Nelson. What a magical place! Grassy pastures rolling over limestone sinkholes and hillocks, surrounded by acres of native beech, and watched over by some pretty powerful spirits I reckon.

When you're organising an outdoor dance party on an isolated mountain-top, open to the weather and accessible only by a single-lane dirt track with a massive drop off one side, you're taking a few risks before you even begin. The first Gathering attracted 4,000 Gatherers, and the last one I worked on, which was G2000 - the Millennium party - there were 15,000 on-site.

We had a few close shaves during the four years I worked on the party - a van fire caused by an unattended candle one year, a bus hanging half off the road another, and a number of Gatherers with mild hypothermia (caused by days of torrential rain - the first the party had ever had) in 2000, but really, when you think about the number of people there, the terrible access road, the craziness of the party, and the dramatic temperature swings from day to night, I think we did pretty well. That's why I think the spirits up there were pretty powerful - and, I'm glad to say, on our side!

For the 97/98 party I was Wellington regional organiser, Gathering website designer, and stage-manager of the Trace Zone. I was in hippy heaven. I think that year (which was The Gathering's second and my first) was my favourite year. It was all so new and fresh, I was in my favourite place making sure everyone in my zone was happy, well-hydrated and dancing up a storm, and it was simply the most amazing, perfect, beautiful place in the world.

Gathering documentary montage. I also produced the first (and in my opinion still the best) Gathering documentary that year, together with Kylie, Zef, Sarah and Weston. I still get requests for copies, even today, and the Film Archive takes care of the master tapes, as it's now a piece of New Zealand history.

For The Gathering 98/99 I became one of the three main organisers, and I also took on the role of publicist, which I kept until I left the organisation in September 2001. It was as the publicist that I became the "face of The Gathering" (or one of the faces, anyway) - simply because I was the go-to girl for interviews, press releases and suchlike, and I was the one most often on the telly, the radio and in the press - talking about The Gathering.

I think the most-watched TV interview I did was the one on Havoc! where Newsboy pushed me round the Domain in a shopping trolley (!) while Mikey did the interviewing. The location and mode of transport were something of a compromise between us - I wanted trees, grass and nature, and Newsboy wanted the shopping trolley (don't ask me why!) so we combined the two. It wasn't that easy, actually. The ground was so bumpy that my voice came out all wobbly when I was tryimg to speak, but nevertheless it got noticed, and people still remember it.

The radio interview which affected most parents in a positive way (and, I think, was the reason why more than one teenager was allowed by his or her folks to come to our party) was my Kim Hill interview just before G2000. For some reason which I can't quite fathom now (did I not listen to Radio New Zealand back then?) I didn't quite know who Kim Hill was. I knew she was a famous radio interviewer, yes, but what I (very fortuitously) did not realise was that she is more than capable of chewing up her interviewees and spitting them out if she doesn't like what they have to say. Or, more accurately, if she doesn't think they're being honest in what they are saying.

G2000 booklet. Luckily for me, I've always been a very honest person, and I can't bear politicians or publicists who sidestep the question or who don't answer questions truthfully. I'd had lots of practice with the most "difficult" question by that time - the one about dance parties and drug use - and I was very comfortable explaining about our harm reduction philosophies which involved a combination of providing a safe environment for everyone, and a broad-based programme of drug use risk education.

It was a good interview (not least because I didn't realise I was supposed to be scared of her), and at some point I made Kim laugh, which apparently was a fairly unusual occurrence. For weeks (and even months) afterwards I'd get feedback from people along the lines of "ooh my mum heard you on Kim Hill and she thought you sounded like such a nice woman, and she thinks The Gathering sounds like a very safe event for young people to go to!"

My last Gathering as organiser and publicist was really the 2000 event. I carried on into 2001, but by September of that year it was clear that things were no longer as happy as they had been. There were two main reasons why I left. I had a major falling-out with Murray, who was by that time the only one of the original organisers left, and who now called himself "The Gathering CEO". It was fairly public falling-out, and was primarily over how much we were going to pay the DJs and Live Acts that year. As their fee had by that point dropped below the cost of a single ticket, I felt very strongly that we should be paying them quite a bit more than we were. Murray disagreed.

The other reason was, I suppose, philosophical. I felt as though over the years, for many reasons, the party had begun to stray from its original idealistic motivations, we were forgetting what was important, and the party was becoming too commercial. I didn't feel I could "sell" it any more, because I felt that we had lost our way.

Gathering montage. In retrospect I think we would have been best to stop after G2000 (which was what we had always intended to do). I have come to understand that you can't make magic and money, and once money and power became the driving force for some people, the magic simply disappeared. We reached our "sell-by" date on 3 January 2000, and it's a shame we didn't realise that at the time. However, we were all still having such fun, and we didn't want to stop.

Despite my less than perfect goodbye, my overriding memories of The Gathering are and always will be joy, complete ecstasy, total exhaustion - and love. You see that picture of me in my profile? That's me on-stage at the end of G98/99, applauding the Gatherers after Murray's Final Trance set for being such amazing, wonderful, beautiful, inspiring people. I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been a part of such an amazing, powerful event, and I feel especially lucky to have become the crew member Most Likely to be Thanked.

So to the guy at the Southern Cross last Friday (at whom I was giggling helplessly) - thank you for the recognition and the thanks - which I accept on behalf of us all - it's truly an honour to have been a part of the magic that was The Gathering.

Interesting links (all from my website)
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I HATE the wind!!!

A very windy day in my garden. You know sometimes I think I must be completely crazy to live in Wellington. It's known as New Zealand's Windy City, and it can really blow sometimes! Thing is, I can't move away to somewhere calmer, because (apart from the wind) I absolutely adore Wellington, and I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. Except on nights like tonight, when I would like to be anywhere else but here.

It's blowing a gale out there - again - and the whole house is shaking and creaking with every 130km gust. I hatesssss it!

The worst winds here are the northwesterlies. My house faces north-west (oh goody!), and sometimes I wish I had paid closer attention to the dramatically wind-blown shape of the trees at the top of my garden when I was first thinking of buying this place. It's too late now of course - I love my house even more than I love Wellington (which is a lot!), and I really can't imagine living anywhere else. Plus it would take me absolutely for ever to pack my stuff up and move, so I really can't see it happening.

Iain and Alice live in a lovely place at the head of a valley that faces east, so they hardly ever get hammered by the northwesterlies. I'm quite jealous of that sometimes! I feel better when I remind myself that facing northwest also means I get all-afternoon sun, but sometimes, like on nights like tonight, I do find it a bit hard to convince myself.

Many parts of the world have their "ill winds". There's the föhn (Alps), Mistral (southern France), Chinooks (western Canada and the USA) and the Sharav (Middle East). Scientific research has linked them to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights. I can certainly relate to that! Both Christchurch and Wellington suffer particularly from the nor'westers, which can blow for days on end, and just about drive everyone crazy. They're usually hotter in ChCh than they are here, but the ones we've been having recently have been very humid as well as very bloody blow-y, and I think the humidity just makes it feel even worse.

Suicides, traffic accidents and crime levels increase in windy weather, and I know from my time as a teacher that a windy day can really make the kids crazy. A windy day around the time of the full moon is even worse... Animals don't seem to like the wind much, either. My cats definitely don't like it. It appears to be due to the positive electrical charge in the air when it's windy - and especially when it's humid as well. Humans and animals are much happier and feel much more positive when the air is negatively-charged.

I think for me it's the noise as much as anything else. I thrive on peace and quiet, and it's hardly peaceful or quiet in a howling gale! A particularly strong gust approaches with such an enormouse "whooshing" noise, and as it hits, the whole house shakes, and things bang around on the roof, and each time I wonder if this is the Big One. I guess it's the anxiety that either one of my windows is going to get blown in, or a tree's gonna fall down, or that my roof's gonna come off. What do you do if your roof blows off? Call the fire brigade? I really have no idea. It makes me grumpy, and up-tight, and stressed out.

I have the obligatory plastic sheeting and gaffa tape easily accessible in case I lose a window (in the vain hope that I will actually be able to fix it securely in place should that happen!), but somehow I don't think it would be anything like sufficient to cover the hole if my roof should take flight...

My poor old cabbage tree outside the front door has taken a hell of a battering this spring. It seems like it's been blowing non-stop for at least a month now, and I'm pretty sure there are fewer bunches of leaves at the ends of the top-most branches than there were 4 weeks ago. I'll have to get some old photos out and compare.

My back yard on a not-so-windy day. The beautiful maple tree which grows in my back yard had just put out its delicate bright green spring leaves when the gales began, and now the few leaves that are still clinging to the top third of the tree are brown and scabby-looking and not at all beautiful. *sigh*

Plus when it's windy you can't really do anything outside. Gardening's pretty much out of the question - it's no fun in a howling gale plus all the weeds you've just pulled up are likely to blow away in an instant, and you can't see what you're doing anyway 'cos your hair's constantly being blown into your eyes... bleagh. You can tell that this kind of weather really gets me down, eh?

At least my shed's fixed. That used to be my biggest worry, that one day it would simply blow away, but Kurt and Briget helped me fix it one weekend last summer, and now it's pretty sturdy. Thank goodness. This blog post from last May has a pretty full-on video I took of the biggest gale we've ever had. It was very scary. In the end I had to call my friend Bruce and get him to come over cos I was so frightened.

A big old pohutukawa tree in the park near my house came down that day. Fortunately we haven't had anything quite that bad since, but sometimes I just wish I lived somewhere where the wind didn't blow with quite so much enthusiasm. Mind you, it's certainly lovely when it stops...

Maybe I should just take up wind surfing or kite flying or something. Then I might really look forward to a windy day, instead of dreading it.

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The 8 types of bad creative critics

I've been a web designer and developer for over 10 years now, and during that time I've come across many awesome clients. They are generally the ones who have a good idea about what they want and are able to express that clearly. I particularly value the ones who are also open-minded about alternative ideas, willing to listen to what others have to say, and who are willing to incorporate at least some suggestions for improvement into their website.

Once in a (long) while, though, you get a not-so-great client. I think the most challenging are the ones who change their minds 57 million times during the design and development process, and then expect to not have to pay you any extra for all the extra time you've spent on their website. I've only met a couple of these in 10 years, which shows that they are pretty unusual, but perhaps you'll understand why I found this cartoon so funny:

The 8 types of bad creative critics.
Click on the pic to see a bigger version.

I should add that whether a client turns out to be great or not-so-great is very much up to me. It's important, for example, that I explain the process as fully as I can before we begin, so that they know what to expect, and understand what I will need from them in order to do the best job possible. It's unlikely that my client will have the range of web experience that I have - over the past 10 years I've been responsible for the design and development of more than 100 websites - and in fact quite often their website will be the first one they've ever dealt with.

It's obvious that I should explain clearly at the start of the job where the milestones are, how many changes are budgeted for, and what the consequences are (in terms of time and budget) for mind-changes after milestones have been signed off. If I do that, I'm much less likely to have a client who changes their mind 57 million times. And if I do, at least they will be forewarned that this will constitute a change request and therefore an adjustment of the timeline and costings.

It's a great thing, experience. Because, thinking about it, I haven't had a not-so-great client in a very long while. I must be doing something right!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

On guinea pigs and the sowing of wild oats

I had a guinea pig when I was a kid. Her name was Ginny and she lived to be nine years old, which is really impressive for a guinea pig. She was orange with a big white stripe right round her middle, and a white blaze down her nose.

Dad built her this amazing run in the garden, so she could play outside on nice days. It was basically a wide, shallow "box" with an open top, made from angle-iron and chicken wire. We'd place the run upside-down over a fresh patch of grass, clover and dandelions, pop Ginny inside, and she'd run around making tunnels through the greenery all day long.

When she was indoors she spent a lot of time running around in the laundry, which was where her cage was. We thought it was a bit mean leaving her cooped up for too long, so we'd regularly take her out of the cage and let her have a bit of an explore. There was usually a pile of straw out in case she needed a refuge, but she was such a confident little thing, she'd happily trot around the laundry for hours, squeaking happily to herself and talking to my mum or anyone else who happened to be in there.

Long before I learned about Pavlovian conditioning in my biology class I taught Ginny to respond to the clicking sound of the garden shears - because this sound meant fresh dandelion leaves and clover! Yummy! She would run around squeaking like crazy until I returned from the garden with her green salad. I can still do a very passable imitation of a hungry guinea pig!

I used to take her with me into the playroom to watch telly, and she'd sit on my shoulder and nibble gently on my ear. If she was especially happy (like when she was being stroked) she'd "purr" with pleasure - which I used to call "bubbling" because that's how it sounded. She was quite amazingly well house-trained. If she was sitting with me, rather than in her cage or somewhere she could go to the loo, she'd give a little wriggle to let me know it was time to "go". She knew that I knew that this was a signal to take her home, which I always did, so there were never any little accidents on the sofa (or my shoulder!). Very impressive!

I loved Ginny. She was my mate and she was well cool. I still have a great fondness for guinea pigs, so you can imagine how much I loved this little news article that one of my colleagues sent round the office today. Classic!

Sooty article.
Click on the pic to see a larger version. Just as well the chicken-wire in Ginny's cage was a little bit more robust than in Sooty's!

I love the final paragraph - "He was absolutely shattered. We put him back in his cage and he slept for two days." Heh. Heh hehe hehehehehehe!

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Cut and Run, the Only Brave Thing to Do

For my hundredth post, I'm bringing you a message from Michael Moore:

Sunday, November 26th, 2006


Tomorrow marks the day that we will have been in Iraq longer than we were in all of World War II.

That's right. We were able to defeat all of Nazi Germany, Mussolini, and the entire Japanese empire in LESS time than it's taken the world's only superpower to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.

And we haven't even done THAT. After 1,347 days, in the same time it took us to took us to sweep across North Africa, storm the beaches of Italy, conquer the South Pacific, and liberate all of Western Europe, we cannot, after over 3 and 1/2 years, even take over a single highway and protect ourselves from a homemade device of two tin cans placed in a pothole. No wonder the cab fare from the airport into Baghdad is now running around $35,000 for the 25-minute ride. And that doesn't even include a friggin' helmet.

Is this utter failure the fault of our troops? Hardly. That's because no amount of troops or choppers or democracy shot out of the barrel of a gun is ever going to "win" the war in Iraq. It is a lost war, lost because it never had a right to be won, lost because it was started by men who have never been to war, men who hide behind others sent to fight and die.

Let's listen to what the Iraqi people are saying, according to a recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland:

** 71% of all Iraqis now want the U.S. out of Iraq.

** 61% of all Iraqis SUPPORT insurgent attacks on U.S. troops.

Yes, the vast majority of Iraqi citizens believe that our soldiers should be killed and maimed! So what the hell are we still doing there? Talk about not getting the hint.

There are many ways to liberate a country. Usually the residents of that country rise up and liberate themselves. That's how we did it. You can also do it through nonviolent, mass civil disobedience. That's how India did it. You can get the world to boycott a regime until they are so ostracized they capitulate. That's how South Africa did it. Or you can just wait them out and, sooner or later, the king's legions simply leave (sometimes just because they're too cold). That's how Canada did it.

The one way that DOESN'T work is to invade a country and tell the people, "We are here to liberate you!" -- when they have done NOTHING to liberate themselves. Where were all the suicide bombers when Saddam was oppressing them? Where were the insurgents planting bombs along the roadside as the evildoer Saddam's convoy passed them by? I guess ol' Saddam was a cruel despot -- but not cruel enough for thousands to risk their necks. "Oh no, Mike, they couldn't do that! Saddam would have had them killed!" Really? You don't think King George had any of the colonial insurgents killed? You don't think Patrick Henry or Tom Paine were afraid? That didn't stop them. When tens of thousands aren't willing to shed their own blood to remove a dictator, that should be the first clue that they aren't going to be willing participants when you decide you're going to do the liberating for them.

A country can HELP another people overthrow a tyrant (that's what the French did for us in our revolution), but after you help them, you leave. Immediately. The French didn't stay and tell us how to set up our government. They didn't say, "we're not leaving because we want your natural resources." They left us to our own devices and it took us six years before we had an election. And then we had a bloody civil war. That's what happens, and history is full of these examples. The French didn't say, "Oh, we better stay in America, otherwise they're going to kill each other over that slavery issue!"

The only way a war of liberation has a chance of succeeding is if the oppressed people being liberated have their own citizens behind them -- and a group of Washingtons, Jeffersons, Franklins, Ghandis and Mandellas leading them. Where are these beacons of liberty in Iraq? This is a joke and it's been a joke since the beginning. Yes, the joke's been on us, but with 655,000 Iraqis now dead as a result of our invasion (source: Johns Hopkins University), I guess the cruel joke is on them. At least they've been liberated, permanently.

So I don't want to hear another word about sending more troops (wake up, America, John McCain is bonkers), or "redeploying" them, or waiting four months to begin the "phase-out." There is only one solution and it is this: Leave. Now. Start tonight. Get out of there as fast as we can. As much as people of good heart and conscience don't want to believe this, as much as it kills us to accept defeat, there is nothing we can do to undo the damage we have done. What's happened has happened. If you were to drive drunk down the road and you killed a child, there would be nothing you could do to bring that child back to life. If you invade and destroy a country, plunging it into a civil war, there isn't much you can do 'til the smoke settles and blood is mopped up. Then maybe you can atone for the atrocity you have committed and help the living come back to a better life.

The Soviet Union got out of Afghanistan in 36 weeks. They did so and suffered hardly any losses as they left. They realized the mistake they had made and removed their troops. A civil war ensued. The bad guys won. Later, we overthrew the bad guys and everybody lived happily ever after. See! It all works out in the end!

The responsibility to end this war now falls upon the Democrats. Congress controls the purse strings and the Constitution says only Congress can declare war. Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi now hold the power to put an end to this madness. Failure to do so will bring the wrath of the voters. We aren't kidding around, Democrats, and if you don't believe us, just go ahead and continue this war another month. We will fight you harder than we did the Republicans. The opening page of my website has a photo of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, each made up by a collage of photos of the American soldiers who have died in Bush's War. But it is now about to become the Bush/Democratic Party War unless swift action is taken.

This is what we demand:

  1. Bring the troops home now. Not six months from now. NOW. Quit looking for a way to win. We can't win. We've lost. Sometimes you lose. This is one of those times. Be brave and admit it.

  2. Apologize to our soldiers and make amends. Tell them we are sorry they were used to fight a war that had NOTHING to do with our national security. We must commit to taking care of them so that they suffer as little as possible. The mentally and physically maimed must get the best care and significant financial compensation. The families of the deceased deserve the biggest apology and they must be taken care of for the rest of their lives.

  3. We must atone for the atrocity we have perpetuated on the people of Iraq. There are few evils worse than waging a war based on a lie, invading another country because you want what they have buried under the ground. Now many more will die. Their blood is on our hands, regardless for whom we voted. If you pay taxes, you have contributed to the three billion dollars a week now being spent to drive Iraq into the hellhole it's become. When the civil war is over, we will have to help rebuild Iraq. We can receive no redemption until we have atoned.
In closing, there is one final thing I know. We Americans are better than what has been done in our name. A majority of us were upset and angry after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never looked at a map. Because we are kept stupid through our pathetic education system and our lazy media, we knew nothing of history. We didn't know that WE were the ones funding and arming Saddam for many years, including those when he massacred the Kurds. He was our guy. We didn't know what a Sunni or a Shiite was, never even heard the words. Eighty percent of our young adults (according to National Geographic) were not able to find Iraq on the map. Our leaders played off our stupidity, manipulated us with lies, and scared us to death.

But at our core we are a good people. We may be slow learners, but that "Mission Accomplished" banner struck us as odd, and soon we began to ask some questions. Then we began to get smart. By this past November 7th, we got mad and tried to right our wrongs. The majority now know the truth. The majority now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that somehow we can make make it all right again.

Unfortunately, we can't. So we will accept the consequences of our actions and do our best to be there should the Iraqi people ever dare to seek our help in the future. We ask for their forgiveness.

We demand the Democrats listen to us and get out of Iraq now.


Michael Moore

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Memo to the Welsh - don't mess with the haka!

I believe in a black jersey. So the All Black season is over for another year, and it's been a pretty good year, all told.

Thirteen tests - the first six against our old foes Australia and South Africa in the Tri-Nations, then tests against Ireland, Argentina, England, France and Wales. We won 12 games, and lost one - to South Africa by a single point. Last year was a similar story - twelve tests, and we lost only one - again to South Africa.

Not bad.

The final game of the season was played early this morning (our time) at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, against that equally fanatical rugby nation, Wales. It was a pretty convincing win - 45-10 to the All Blacks.

Memo to the Welsh: don't mess with the haka, boys, it just makes us mad. And you know where that will lead...

Here's the story:

Last year when we played Wales it was for the celebration of a hundred years of games between us, and they asked if we would mind changing the order of the pre-match programme, so that instead of the haka being performed after both national anthems, and directly before kick-off, it would be performed between the anthems, giving the Welsh a chance of reply with their own national anthem. That's how it was done when the teams first met 100 years ago, and they thought it would be nice to replicate it, for old time's sake. "Just this once" they promised, so we agreed.

At the time the All Blacks management was a bit concerned about the precedent it might set, but they agreed as a favour to the Welsh, on their special day.

About six weeks ago, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) notified the All Blacks that they were planning to do it that way again, and no amount of negotiation (right up until just before the game) could get them to change their minds. Bad idea, boys! You don't mess with the haka!

From the International Herald Tribune:

"It's a 100-year-old tradition that the haka is done before kickoff," New Zealand coach Graham Henry said. "We agreed to the change last year but we had a guarantee it wouldn't happen again. But they (the WRU) asked us to do the same this year and we said no."

The All Blacks opted to perform the haka in the changing-rooms before the game instead, to the intense disappointment of the crowd. I think it's very sad that the WRU did not have the decency to explain to the crowd why they were being denied that most exciting and spine-chilling ritual which (until today) has always accompanied an appearance by the All Blacks.

From Planet Rugby:
Not happy with accusing New Zealand of being "honest cheats" in the week Wales opted to antagonise their formidable opponents further with a tradition changing request over the Haka. The result being that the Haka was performed in private in front of a solitary television camera, a travesty for the paying public and a grave error from the Welsh management and committee.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said the team acted to protect the tradition of Haka that is integral to New Zealand culture and the All Blacks' heritage.

"The tradition needs to be honoured properly if we're going to do it," said McCaw.

"If the other team wants to mess around, we'll just do the Haka in the shed. At the end of the day, Haka is about spiritual preparation and we do it for ourselves. Traditionally fans can share the experience too and it's sad that they couldn't see it today," he said.

I'm not sure exactly what the WRU was trying to achieve here. Put us off our game by having 74,500 Welshmen sing their national anthem at us after the haka was over? (Minus the very large contingent of black-clad Kiwi fans, of course). It didn't work last year - we beat the Welsh by 41:3 - so I don't know why they thought it would make a difference this year.

Perhaps they wanted to push the fact that they got us to agree to a change last year - and they wanted to see if they could make that a permanent arrangement. What's the matter, boys? Can't handle the haka just before kick-off?

Or maybe it was to thumb their noses at our traditions and show disrespect (although the WRU claims to have consulted with Maori kaumatua before making the suggestion). The Poms are good at that - they sang all the the way through the haka before we thrashed them 41:20 at Twickenham a few weeks ago. The French show the most respect - awesome silence through the haka and thundering cheers and applause afterwards.

Although I don't know why the WRU tried it on, I'm very clear about the result of their messings about.

They denied almost 75,000 fans the opportunity to experience the haka up close and personal, which I think every rugby fan would agree is an experience NOT to be missed. The All Blacks did the haka anyway, in the privacy of the dressing-room, and gained the spiritual preparation that it provides.

And they also got a little bit angrier, and a little bit more fired up than usual, and that can only mean one thing. You're gonna lose, Wales! Which they did. And Jerry Collins is gonna crunch your ass! Which he did.

I'll give the last word to Planet Rugby:
Villain of the Match: There may have been two yellow cards, albeit for technical infringements, and a few rowdy arguments but without doubt this award goes to the WRU Officials who deprived the crowd of the Haka. The Haka is a tradition the Kiwi's are proud of and crowds the world over yearn to see live. So for the WRU to try and change this tradition was ludicrous and unjustified. Take note WRU, nobody benefited from your actions but instead were deprived of one of rugby's greatest sights.

Interesting links

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lies and the lying liars - Don Brash and the Exclusive Brethren

Front of one of the anti-Green Brethren pamphlets. I am a fully paid-up member of the Green Party - and as the Greens both in New Zealand and in Australia were directly targeted by the lies and misinformation in the Exclusive Brethren pamphlets (why do they hate us? I really don't understand why they hate us so much), I'm definitely not a fan of the EBs. I believe that the pamphlets did us considerable harm in the run-up to the last election, and probably cost us votes.

Politically I'm a lefty, and Don Brash is pretty far to the right, so I wouldn't be a fan of his anyway. I believe that appealing to the lowest common denominator by pulling out the race card in the Orewa Speech (aided and abetted by "independent" Dominion Post columnist Michael Bassett) was reprehensible and unforgivable. Stirring up the dark side of (some people's) psyche and playing on their secret fears and deepest prejudices in order to win an election is shameful, underhanded and potentially damaging to our bicultural/multicultural society. It demeans and diminishes us all.

I have less than no respect for a person or political party who believes that it's OK to try and stir up negativity in order to win. How dare they! And how dare they claim that by voting for them, we will end up with a better society! The ends do not justify the means, however it's spun.

I tell the truth and I expect others to do the same, and it saddens (and angers) me more than I can say when people (especially people in positions of power) lie and cheat in order to get what they want. I find it really telling that, both here in NZ and in the US, the latest scandal involving politicians being - shall we say - economical with the truth is greeted largely with a sigh and a "yes well, we all know that politicans lie, don't we? It's par for the course!"

That makes me mad because in my humble opinion it bloody well shouldn't be!

In a democracy, politicians are servants of the people. They are there to represent all of us, to the best of their ability. We can't fit all 4 million of us into The Beehive, so we vote for 120 representatives to make decisions on our behalf. That means they have to vote the way we want them to vote - because that's why we voted for them in the first place.

What they are not allowed to do (in my ideal world) is to say they'll do one thing (so that people will vote for them) and then do something completely different once they are in power. It also means they can't claim to believe this, while at the same time knowing that in actual fact they believe that. In other words (and I'll say this in words of one syllable) it', it' - and it's especially wrong if you are in a position of power or influence.

The full sordid story's been a long time coming, as you'll see by the range of dates on the links at the end of this piece.

Don Brash is a liar. First of all he said he'd never met the Exclusive Brethren. Then he said he'd met them a couple of times, but only in the same way as he would meet any consituents. He said he knew nothing about their million-dollar pamphlet campaign against the Greens and Labour until August. However, the "smoking gun" email featured in Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men shows that the Brethren sent an email asking for a meeting to Brash and Key in May, and Hager claims that Brash forwarded it to his campaign manager Steve Joyce (whom the email shows had already met with the Brethren).

The Exclusive Brethren are liars who have no right to try and influence the outcome of a democratic election in my country by sneaky, secretive, illegal and underhanded means. If they want to be open and honest about it, that's fine. I may not agree with what they have to say, but I respect their right to say it. Something along the lines of "hey, we're the Exclusive Brethren, we're not going to vote, but we want to influence the voting".

How ironic that they take such an interest in national politics when their religion doesn't even allow them to vote! They believe that through the power of their prayers, God will provide the right government for the people! Giving God a helping hand are you, guys? Don't believe "your" God can deliver without a bit of help beyond prayer, eh? Hypocrites. And liars. And sneaks. And a scary dominionist cult that breaks up families. Niiiice!

John Key Tui ad. John Key is a liar. "Oh yes OK so I did receive the email but I didn't open it!" Yeah right. What bullshit. As someone said on Public Address yesterday - I can see the Tui ad already! Does this liar really deserve to lead National? Okay, maybe he does. They're all a bunch of liars anyway...

Any National MP who saw the pamphlets and didn't speak up when Brash was denying he had even met the Brethren is a liar.

Any National MP who knew about the illegalities going on behind the scenes and didn't report it is a liar - and should be held accountable.

The wealthy businesspeople who donated $4 million to the National Party - but did it through secret trusts so that a) they wouldn't be identified and b) National could raise far more money than it was allowed to - are liars and cheats, and so is the National party for colluding with them. Detailed internal notes and correspondence in The Hollow Men directly contradict statements by Dr Brash that he did not have "the faintest idea" who the party's donors were.

My God. We avoided complete disaster by a hair's breadth at the last election. If National had won and "Honest Don" had become Prime Minister, not only would our anti-nuclear stance have been "gone by lunchtime", but we'd probably have been in Iraq by the end of afternoon tea! Did I mention the close relationship he had with Dick Allen and a whole bunch of other American neo-cons? Which of course he denied at the time (and still continues to deny today). Liar.

Bunch of scumbags, the lot of 'em.

I'm so proud to be a greenie. The Greens are Good People. And we don't lie.

Brilliant cartoon by Slane. Click to see larger version. And visit Slane at the New Zealand Cartoon Gallery while you're at it. Genius.

Interesting links

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Don is gone (a haiku)

So "Honest Don" Brash is gone. Good. I have not a shred of respect for that man. Anyone who plays the race card in order to try and win an election is a scumbag loser in my book.

In order to mark his political demise, let's have a haiku:

Don - gone by lunchtime.
You lied about the Brethren.
Emails tell the truth.

I'll be buying The Hollow Men as soon as it's published. Talk about the best possible publicity for Nicky Hager! Silly old Don.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

TUANZ 2006 Business Internet Awards

TUANZ logoI've just got home from the TUANZ 2006 Business Internet Awards. Well actually I've just got home after walking from the TUANZ 2006 Business Internet Awards to the supermarket to buy catfood, milk and ice cream - but you didn't really need to know that, did you? No. Alrighty then.

The awards ceremony itself lasted less than an hour, which doesn't seem that long to me, not when I've sat through endless 3-hour Oscar broadcasts on telly waiting for Peter Jackson et al to bring home the bacon for NZ. The speeches before and after the actual awards lasted at least half that time, so in fact the real reason we were there - to honour the nominees and award-winners (and cross our fingers for our own nomination) - lasted barely 30 minutes.

Not long enough, I feel!

There was lots of talk during the speeches about inspiration, and ingenuity, and new ideas, and web 2.0 (whatever-the-hell-that-is), and very very little about each of the nominees in each category - who were all there because of the inspiration, and ingenuity, and new ideas, and web 2.0 (whatever-the-hell-that-is) that they each demonstrated.

All we got in each category was a quick read-through of each nominee's single-sentence summary, accompanied by (I'm not kidding) just two or maybe three screenshots on the big screen, which went by so fast that if you blinked, you missed them.

Not good enough, TUANZ! Could do better!

How about asking each of the nominees to produce a two-minute overview/summary/visual display of their nominated website/application, which can be shown up on the big screen as their name is read out?

They could produce this as part of the 10-minute submission which they were all required to give yesterday as part of the judging process. It could be video or flash or - hell, even a PowerPoint presentation (!) - whatever the nominee preferred, with a voice-over, or a two-minute script for the compere to read aloud, or whatever - just something that would show the rest of us why this particular website or application was nominated, and why their creators think they deserve to win.

It would give us a bit of inspiration throughout the evening, and give us all an opportunity to share with the rest of the industry - our peers - what we've been up to over the past year.

Of course, I suppose we could all go off after the event and look up the nominated websites onli... oh, wait, there's barely a URL listed in the official programme. Duh!

Apart from that... nice food, great puddings, very generous supply of libations, cracking sound system, nice visuals, a comfortable environment in which to mingle afterwards... so thanks to everyone who organised and took part in the proceedings, and to the judges who gave up many hours to do the judging - it's just that I think you could make it even better with a bit more focus on why we were all there.

Te Ara montageThanks for listening, and congratulations to 3months and Flightless who took the Information Award 2006, which we were also nominated for. Drat! I still think Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand rocks, though. Go Shift!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogger beta label cloud

My new label cloud. D'ya like my new label cloud in the sidebar? Pretty, pretty! I love it!

Having labels in Blogger beta appealed to me, because I blog on a whole range of subjects. I thought it might be useful for my visitors to be able to select the subject they were most interested in, and read all the posts on that subject, instead of having to wade through my entire blog to find them.

The default beta style for the Labels widget is as a list, laid out like an ordinary BlogRoll or Links list. Nice, but a bit boring and it takes up a whole lot of vertical space if you have a bunch of labels like I do.

I quite like Technorati's Tag Cloud which shows their top tags, with the most popular tags displaying larger than the less popular ones. As you can see, my label cloud not only shows size variation, it also does colour too. How cool is that? And it takes up a whole lot less space than the default label list.

When I say my label cloud, I don't mean I invented it. Goodness me no. But here's how it's done:

I was checking out Hackosphere where I found the expandable post summaries javascript hack, and saw a link to phydeaux3's blog, with this most excellent entry: Code for Beta Blogger Label Cloud.

It's very clearly and beautifully explained, so all you need is to pay phydeaux3 a visit and follow the instructions. You can change the font family, colours and font sizes once you've entered the basic code in the right places.

It's made up of 3 parts - a section for the stylesheet, a configurations section, and then the actual widget itself. You put each bit in its proper place in your template, alter the colours, font sizes and font families to suit the style of your blog, and that's it! Easy peasy. Like the expandable posts hack it's controlled by javascript, so it won't work for people with javascript turned off. For those users, the layout reverts back to the default list-style layout.

Awesome! Go get it!

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Blogger beta - fixing your header banner in rounders4

Yesterday I switched over to Blogger beta, and spent a while putting all my template customisations back. I had made my own header banner in the old Blogger, which you can see at the top of the page. It's a closeup picture of the cabbage tree that sits outside my front door.

I wanted the banner to be able to "grow" if visitors were displaying larger text than normal, which means that the image itself is quite a bit higher than you can see here, but you only see the amount that's needed to fit the text. Try making your text larger and you'll see what I mean.

The design for this template (rounders4) in the old Blogger was done by Doug Bowman and was quite cunning. The curved corners at the top of the banner are made by laying another graphic over the top of the main banner image, in another div. This graphic is transparent except for the top right and left corners, which have "negative" curves coloured light green (the same colour as the page background).

So when they are positioned over the top of the main graphic, these green "negative" curves cover the square corners of the main graphic, and because they are the same colour as the background, it looks as though the top of the main graphic has curved corners. The important thing is that you can increase your text size, show more of your main graphic, and still have those curved corners in place. Nice!

For whatever reason, they've made the Blogger beta version of this template in a different way, and this technique no longer works. Instead, you get a dark green band with curved corners across the top of your main image, which is not what you want at all. Here's how to fix it...

You'll be editing the template, so go to Template/Edit HTML.

Note that this technique only works with the template rounders4. I don't know if it works with the other rounders templates, but you could try it and see. Let me know if it works! It doesn't apply to any of the other Blogger templates because they are laid out differently to this one.

Step 1:
Make a backup copy of your template before you start, so you can get back to it if anything goes wrong. There's a header called Backup / Restore Template at the top of the
Template/Edit HTML page, and just below it is a link to Download Full Template.

Step 2:
Find the following code in your template. It's near the top:

/* Blog Header
----------------------------------------------- */
#header-wrapper {
background: #476 url("") no-repeat left top;
margin:22px 0 0 0;
padding:8px 0 0 0;
#header {
background:url("") no-repeat left bottom;
padding:0 15px 8px;

The graphic called bg_hdr_bot.jpg is the large green banner that comes with this design. It has curved bottom corners and square top corners. corners_cap_top.gif provides the top curved corners of the design.

I'm assuming that you have already made a replacement graphic for your banner - same size (or taller) than the original, same curved corners at the bottom. I'm also assuming you have somewhere online to store it. Mine lives on my own website in my img folder.

Step 3:
Replace the code in step 2 with the following code:

/* Blog Header
----------------------------------------------- */
#header-wrapper {
background:#476 url("") no-repeat left bottom;
margin:22px 0 0 0;
padding:0 0 10px 0;
#header {
background: url("") no-repeat left top;
padding:16px 15px 0 15px;

Where I've got you will need to enter the URL of your own graphic - otherwise your banner will look exactly like mine, and that would never do!

So basically what I've done is swapped the images around. The large banner now sits inside the #header-wrapper div, and the top corners graphic is in the #header div. You'll also notice that the background of #header-wrapper still has the colour #476, even though the background image and its position (was left top, is now left bottom) has changed. You'll also see that the padding values for each of the two divs have changed.

Step 4:
You will need to fiddle around with the padding values on both divs, in order to get the header and description text in the right place for your particular banner. If you check with a preview each time you change anything, you can see what's happening without the rest of the world seeing your changes.

In CSS, values for padding and margin are listed in a particular order: Top, Right, Bottom, Left (ie clockwise round a circle). When there are only three values (like for the padding in the original code), it's Top, Right/Left (which have to be the same value), Bottom.

I removed the top padding of 8px from the #header-wrapper div, because that's what was providing space for the top corner graphic corners_cap_top.gif, and which was giving me the unwanted band of green along the top of my banner. I added bottom padding of 10px to give me extra space beneath my description text.

In the #header div I added 16px of padding at the top, and removed 8px of padding at the bottom. I also changed the original three values to four because I find it less confusing.

I can't give you exact values for this bit, because everyone's banner will be slightly diferent. You could start by removing the 8px top padding on #header-wrapper, see how that looks, and experiment from there.

Step 5:
Once you're happy with the position of your header and decription, save your template, and you're done.

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Expandable post summaries in Blogger beta

I thought I might take the opportunity, now I'm using Blogger beta, to write a few bits about hacking beta to make it do what you want it to do - as I discover how to do it myself...

I spent time today putting things back the way they were before I moved to Blogger beta. I'm not good with change! I liked it the way it was thankyouverymuch - but some of the new functionality in beta really appealed to me - so here I am.

The most important things I figured out today were how to re-customise my header (which I'll talk about tomorrow) and how to do expandable post summaries on beta. Those of you who figured out how to hack Blogger by using span class="fullpost" will know what I'm talking about. It's when you decide your blog posts are too long and the scrolling's too much and you'd like to show just a bit of each post on the main page (an intro or summary). The user then clicks on some kind of "See more", or "Read the rest"-type link to view the full post in a new browser window. Rather like this....

The old Blogger had it all sussed. There's a help page here that tells you all about how to do it. But that was the old Blogger. No solutions in the help pages for Blogger beta yet. So I surfed on over to the Blogger Help Group on The Google to see if I could find anything. I certainly wasn't the only person asking, and I found a few Q&As which sorta helped, but the ones I looked at didn't really have a complete solution.

I surfed over to a blog which was using one of the techniques and found a link in the comments to the very wonderful Hackosphere where I discovered a javascript solution which gives you Expandable posts with Peekaboo view. w00t! Totally brilliant.

You click on the "Read more..." (or in my case "Read the full post") link and the rest of the post appears on the main page, leaving everything around it still in place. Very ajax-y! Then when you've finished you can close it up again by clicking on the "Read the summary only" link which has appeared at the end of your blog post. Lovely!

Ramani has wonderfully clear instructions, and lots of other beta hacks to play with as well (it's his hobby), so I will simply send you over there because his hard work (and that of the rest of his team) certainly deserves a visit. Make sure that when you are following his instructions you have the "Expand Widget Templates" tickbox ticked, otherwise you won't be able to see the code he's referring to.

I've tested it in IE7, IE6, and IE5.5 on a PC and in Firefox, Safari, Opera and Netscape on my Mac. It works in everything. Awesome! Great work, guys!

Now... how about a calendar widget for the sidebar that identifies the days that you've blogged each month (and is clickable to load that day's postings)? I know you can do it...

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Changing my template

I've finally gotten around to updating my template to the new Blogger beta. Yaaay! Go me!

I didn't do it earlier because Peti told me she lost all her customisations when she switched a few weeks ago, and I didn't want to lose mine. Today, however I finally bit the bullet because I really really wanted to have labels on my blog posts, so that you can sort my blog by subject (because I write on such a wide range of different topics).

This of course means that I lose all my hacks and customisations, so I'm spending this afternoon fixing it all up again, back the way it was before.

While I'm working on it you will probably find some rather strange things happening to the layout, and (certainly right now) you will find some of the links a little hard to read fixed. There's also a bunch of stuff in the sidebar that's missing at the moment now in place. Please bear with me! It'll all be back to normal very soon (like later on today now!).

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Iceberg for sale!

Kiwi iceberg. We've been having the worst weather recently. It's been a seemingly endless winter, cold and rainy and pretty unpleasant, but I think this spring is even worse. Torrential rain, howling gales, very little sun. Seems like it's never going to end.

In the midst of all this we're now apparently being invaded by a whole herd of icebergs.

A few weeks ago we heard that about 100 icebergs were heading this way from Antarctica, believed to have either broken off the Ronne ice shelf, or possibly from Ross Sea (on Antarctic's north coast). Most of them have now melted and broken up, but there are still a couple of huge ones sailing merrily towards Dunedin.

On Wednesday two icebergs - one about 500m long, 50m wide and 60m high, the other with a 100m-high peak and about 300m long - were reported only 43 nautical miles off the Otago Peninsula and heading towards the coast. By Thursday at least one was was visible from Dunedin.

Helicopter landing on our iceberg. Local kiwis - being natural entrepreneurs (and naturally curious) - have set up helicopter flights and sightseeing boat trips to take people to the icebergs for a closer look. The last time an iceberg was visible off the coast of NZ was in 1931.

A helicopter actually landed on one of the bergs, dropped off a few reporters and took samples for scientific analysis (see pic), but as the ice is melting and the icebergs are pretty unstable it's been decided that this stunt is now too dangerous to be repeated. Look, but don't touch!

The thing I like most about this interesting phenomenon is that another enterprising Kiwi by the name of mikeloder has jokingly put one of the icebergs up for sale on TradeMe. The current highest bid is $99,999,999.00 and there have been over 72,000 page views so far. It's listed under Antiques & Collectables/New Zealand & Maori (where else) and has attracted a huge number of hilarious questions to the seller, which Mike has been cheerfully answering with an equal level of hilarity.

Mike's initial description of the iceberg is brilliant:

In good condition. Some small stains - should come out.

About 100 by 300 metres. Could be bigger underneath. Most are.

Got from Ronne Ice shelf about six years ago.

Girlfriend doesn't like it and says it needs to go.

Buyer must collect.

These are some of my favourite questions and answers so far:

Q. If i purchased now, would you be able to hold it til next weekend? i have to borrow my brother in law's ute. posted by: mrchampionsound
A. Thats fine mate. I may not be home but I will leave it out for you.

Q. You said there may be more of it underneath. If it comes closer to shore and touches the sea bed will I still own it, or will the maori own it? posted by: ramsett_nz
A. Any shellfish on it are theirs, berg yours.

Q. Hi. do you have these in any other colours? Thanks. posted by: tash311
A. No sorry. Besides, you dont want the yellow icebergs.

Q. Hey there, from what i understand, the mileage on this thing is crazy... anything on the plus side for me to consider in light of that fact? posted by: akage
A. True - but not for its age. Had regular servicing.

Q. is it house trained my last iceberg left stains all over the floor and does it get on well with kids posted by: feelthelove
A. Yeah - burgs can be a handfull. We would leave kids with this one all the time. They slide for hours. Most come back.

Q. I was wondering if the iceberg qualifies in size to be considered sovereign soil, ie was I successful in winning this auction could I move onto it, declare my own republic and proceed to marry several wives, some of them my sisters? posted by: cavematty
A. Sorry mate. Key word here is 'Soil'.


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Friday, November 17, 2006

A meeting of the minds

Shift website homepage. It's not often I experience a meeting of the minds with a new person. Mine is the classic story - I'm single with a circle of close friends who are all long-term couples/married/with kids. We have very few new people entering our little group. But today after work I met a very interesting new person and spent a lovely few hours discussing Life, the Universe and American Politics... here's the story...

Yesterday we finished the new Shift website. A-woo-hoo!!!!! It's gorgeous! It's been a bit of a mission, and I'm so proud of it. It's been in the making for three years (much longer than I've been at Shift) but because it's an internal project, it's regularly been set aside when our customers needed work doing (which is pretty much always).

A whole bunch of Shifties past and present have worked on it over the past three years - and I'm so happy that we were able to bring all that work together, finish it off and get it out there and online. The team for this stage has been me, Thomas, Brian, Tom and April, with a whole lot of bits and pieces from a whole bunch of other Shifties - it's been a huge team effort.

We've fought like family and grumped at each other on a fairly regular basis - but mostly it's been a totally fun experience, with Brian coming up with heaps of new ideas - me, Thomas and Tom making it happen - and April trying her hardest to break it!

It's been a real meeting of the minds and personalities in the office, and it's so great working in such a close-knit team.

Shift website - Beechnest project page. Thomas is lovely - he's our German intern, here for 6 months and working at Shift to get experience and learn heaps of new techniques - and he's doing such a great job. He's incredibly polite and helpful, and always willing to try figuring out new things. He's also a perfectionist, which in my book is a Very Good Thing. He's very kind and very sweet and I'm very glad his desk is next to mine.

It's always awesome working with Brian - he's incredibly talented, and hugely inspiring. He's a big reason why I wanted to work at Shift (in addition to it being the best web design company in the country!). I find I always want to do my absolute best work for Brian, and for the last week or so he's been sitting with me at my desk, "tweaking" the site and refining the design as we go. We've had so much fun together.

Tom can be very focused on other stuff at times, and a lovely smiley friend at others, and he's super-bright, which I love. He's been programming like a demon, and I think it's been quite stressful for him because we've demanded so much of his time when he's supposed to be doing other things. Together with Thomas he's solved many of our trickiest technical issues, and he's made the site work incredibly well inside our CMS, Expression Engine. He was off work today and missed the celebration, so I hope he's really proud of what we've all created together.

April is our genius website tester. There's never been a website she can't break, and she's an integral part of the team, showing us where we can improve and spotting impossible bugs for us to fix. She's also added most of the content to the site, and she's been brilliant at keeping up with our endless demands for yet another round of browser testing, and our constant requests for more bits of missing content to be added. She's also the happiest, smiliest, most cheerful person I know, which is always a good thing, especially when the going gets tough and the team gets stressed out.

Shift website - Travel Planner project page. We put the new Shift site online yesterday afternoon, and tweaked it for the last time (I hope) today - and so we had an extra special Friday drinks after work to celebrate.

Jon invited an American friend (I have no idea how he knows him) and this friend brought another American friend along too.

At some point during the evening I asked friend of friend where he was from - and when he told me "Montana", we were off and running! Because if you've read my blog recently you'll know I know a little bit about Jon Tester, Conrad Burns and Montana politics, and that I have been somewhat obsessed with US politics and the mid-term elections in general. Brilliant!

We talked about the Democrats, the political awareness of The People, life in Montana, and the "tipping point" that was Mark Foley. We discussed the irony of an illegal war which has so far killed 600,000 Iraquis and nearly 3,000 Americans vs a politician with a predeliction for younger boys (and an administration that knew about it and covered it up) - and which one had the most effect on which voters.

We talked about science and drug legislation and Big Pharma, health care and health insurance, biology and birds, mountains and flat landscapes, dance parties and House music. It was so great! You know what it's like when you meet someone with whom you have heaps in common - and you're all like "Yeah yeah me too!" to all sorts of things? Well it was just like that.

Jon's friend was reeeally hungry and wanted to disappear to Calzone, but friend of friend stayed and stayed and we talked and talked. It was brilliant! We had a Pink Floyd soundtrack courtesy of my iPod (in honour of our upcoming Roger Waters concert), pink champagne, chocolate and strawberries (in honour of the new Shift website), and I had the nicest evening I've had in ages.

It's funny, I don't even know his name, but I do know that he's off to Christchurch tomorrow and that he voted Democrat. So thank you friend of Jon's friend for a BRILLIANT conversation, and a most unexpected meeting of the minds. A great end to a great week, for sure.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A bunch of funky websites

Here's the latest bunch of websites I've bookmarked. Enjoy!

Legend by Jason O'Harastudio j - this site belongs to my lovely friend Jason O'Hara, who used to be my boss at Origin Design. The site is a gallery of his artworks, many of which are done on reclaimed materials from the beach. I love them! One day I'm going to buy one...

Uniqlo - I love the interactivity of this clothing site - it's such a great idea! Click on "Experience Uniqlo Explorer"on the right-hand side of the screen and see what happens.... Make sure you click on the teeny little pics once it's loaded... and then click on the big pic to see what happens next. Make sure you have the sound on - it includes very cute little noises.

There's more...

phatterism - created by luis santi jnr- I just love this blog! This is probably the most personalised blog I've ever seen - luis wanders into view as you arrive, and offers you handwritten posts which he "writes" as you pick them and then hands to you. There's lots of other cool stuff too - check it out! He's also rather cute, very talented and super-bright (and single!!!) but alas about a million years younger than me. It's the super-bright that always does it for me. Ah well, at least I can enjoy his blog occasionally. :) Make sure you have the sound on for this one too - it has a neat soundtrack.

Pophouse - pop-culture artifacts - real retro kitch collectibles - salvaged from all kinds of run-down tatty old warehouses and goodness knows where else. How about a Jesus Action Figure, a Muttley Bobble Head, Velvet Elvis Postcards or a Laverne and Shirley Coloring Book? Kewl!

Mercedes A-S - I found myself visiting every letter in the alphabet on this site - just to see what new Flash game or effect they had come up with on each page. It's quite gorgeous. "O for Ostrich" is one of my favourites. Nice ambient soundtrack, too.

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud - this is a fascinating page. Chirag Mehta has analysed a whole lot of American Presidential speeches, and displayed them as a Technorati-type "tag cloud" where the most commonly used "meaningful" words show up as the largest and lightest-coloured in the cloud. Give you three guesses what Dubya's favourite word has been for quite a while now...

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