Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fighting the Winter Blahs

I can't remember a winter when we've had so much rain going on for so long. Christchurch, after all, is on the supposedly drier east side of the island. I really felt in need of a pick me up. The first step was to ask myself on Friday night, what do I need to get done so that I'll feel as if I have time to go out at the weekend? (And of course, to do it. Little tasks that have been hanging round for a while. It takes more time, I discover when I actually do them, to avoid them than to get them done).

But Saturday dawned grey, drizzly and gloomy. Yet again. Not a day for photographing open air markets or walking in parks. So, I set out to the pharmacy to pick up some repeat prescriptions, then followed my whims:

I've been wanting to photograph the interior of the Cupcake Collection for some time. I'm not normally a pretty pink and blue person, but for some reason this china appeals to me. I think it reminds me of my grandma.

Of course, I had to buy something to justify being in there taking photos. (Such hardship!)

And then I browsed in a fabric shop, and looked at patterns, but without finding what I wanted - and in a yarn shop with the same result. I remembered I had been meaning to visit Penny Lane records for quite a while.

I've bought some really cheap second hand CDs. I haven't tried them yet, I wonder what the quality will be like?

This part of Colombo St in Sydenham is interesting, there are quite a few run down, boarded up shops, but the shops that are still there are varied bunch - not the endless "same again" repetition of shops found in malls. Some are of the cheap second hand variety, and some are specialist shops, surprisingly smart and up market looking - like Dance Pacific, which always draws my eye with its collection of ballet costumes, mostly in little girl sizes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Process of Change

OK, I haven't been posting much lately. But I was a little surprised to receive my traffic report last week and find my visitor numbers had gone way, way down. And then this week, my report told me I had none. All week. Which was very strange since I had at least one comment.

Then I twigged. It all happened after I upgraded my blog to the "new" (probably a couple of years old by now) functionality. In the process, my site meter had disappeared from the blog. I guess it can't count my visitors if the code isn't there. So I retrieved the "template" I had saved as suggested by blogger, only to find that it didn't seem to include the bits and pieces I had added in, and it was in xml instead of html. Fortunately it turned out I had copied and saved the old html code as well - in other words, don't rely on blogger to save your blog, do it manually. I have retrieved the bit of code and pasted it back. Although blogger insists I have a title to this bit of html. I'm not sure why. I don't really think the little icon needs to be headed "site meter".

And at the same time, at work, we are trying to get to grips with a new computer system which is, as yet, half baked. I can't help thinking that if architects built houses the same way as computer systems are designed we would have some pretty terrible houses.

It's as if someone went out and found a house that was fairly close to what was needed. It just needs a few add ons which the builder will fix. Except that those two or three extra rooms we need? Well, there's no room for them where it would be logical to put them. So they will have to be at the bottom of the garden, over a gully, with a strange maze of overhead walkways to connect them to the main house. Oh, and once you use one of those walkways, suddenly it will reconfigure itself, so you can't use the same doorways again, you will have to do something different. At least, I think that's what's going on.

We are expected to go live with this system in a few days, but it's just not going to happen. It doesn't help that the software designers are in another town, and the head office system that we are supposed to be integrating with is in a third town.

No doubt we will get there in the end.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Always Start with a Photo

I have been reading Blogging for Bliss after finding it in our library's monthly list of new books (and going on a fairly long waiting list to borrow a copy). One of the bits of advice that I came across was to start every post with a photo, even if it didn't relate to the content of the post. Hmmmm. I have to say that many of the blogs I read and enjoy don't have photos at all. And others have brilliant photos (for instance the wonderful Di Mackey, who is, after all, a photographer by trade.)

The book has an excuse, I suppose, for offering this piece of advice (I think it came from one of the interviewees rather than the author herself). It's aimed at crafters and visual artists, so the readership for their blogs is probably rather visually oriented. Anyway, I do have a photo to offer today. It's that time of year when I don't get too many opportunities to take photos, as I leave for work in the morning just as it gets light and arrive home just after dark. Thankfully, we are nearly at the solstice, and then the days will gradually get longer. The photo above is my offering for Carmi's Thematic Photographic. His theme this week, appropriately, is lit-up night scenes. This one was taken at about this time last year, on an evening when I was heading for Joanna Preston's book launch. I didn't have enough time to go home after work, but did have some free time before the event, so I was dawdling and taking photos as I went.

My family history (see previous post) has reached 5,500 words. I don't think it is going to get beyond ten thousand at the very most. It will still be a full length book by the time I've padded it out with photos and appendices full of genealogical charts. And as I write it, I realise that I need to do a lot of fact-checking. Which is good, because the research is the part that I love the most.

Tomorrow at 6 a.m. England play their first match in the FIFA World Cup. I may get up early - not to watch, but because one of the big genealogy websites is making access to their records free every time England has a game. It's just a pity that most of them are in the middle of the night, New Zealand time. Or 6 a.m on Saturday or Sunday which is definitely sleep-in territory for me, in the usual order of things.

Oh and you may notice I have upgraded my blog at last. Now I can see who my followers are. And some of the things I had in my sidebar have vanished, though I've saved a copy. I fiddled with the old template the hard way, with html. I'm not sure how to put things back the new, "easy" way. But I have corrected some links, and added some more. If you have disappeared, sorry. I'll make further adjustments bit by bit.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Local Genealogy Writing Month

It's been longer than I intended since I last posted here, partly because I have been immersed in writing up the history of my mother's family. I decided that the format of NaPoWriMo worked well for me. And it was a bit of a shock to realise that the year was almost half over, and I hadn't really done anything about any of the projects on my list for the year. So I decided to tackle them in the same way - make a concentrated effort, every day for a month.

I have a very large unwieldy file on my father's ancestors. It's a bit overwhelming, so it was easier to tackle my mother's first. A couple of them were in the Navy (that's how my great grandfather got to New Zealand). I'm discovering small tit bits such as the fact that the ship my great great grandfather served on in the Russian War was commanded by one Edward Tennyson d'Eyncourt, the first cousin of Alfred Lord Tennyson. (The war is now known as the Crimean War, though he served in the Baltic, not the Crimea which is in the Black Sea).
I have new respect for those who tackle National Novel Writing Month. Fifty thousand words in a day is a big ask - there was only one day when I managed even 1000, but then, there are lots of pauses for finding notes, fact checking etc.

I'm thinking of using alternate months to tackle a project in a concentrated way, and use the in between months for more varied bits and pieces. It's not that the writing fills my day exactly, but it fills my head and doesn't leave a lot of room for anything more complicated than laundry, after my day job.

In other news, our small poetry group's book looks as if it may be finally on the way towards layout for publication.