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Archive for March, 2008

Mar30

The week before the move

Posted by Leith in News,Play,Work
the-week-before-the-move

This week was, as expected, rather absurdly busy. The week started off a bit oddly – Monday was a mixed bag. I got to see Rach (chit-chat), Ian (fish and chips with Pretender) and Dace (help with CV) for varying amounts of time and generally enjoyed their company, but at the end of the day I just felt really lonely and low… didn’t manage to get to sleep until around 4am, either. This made for a fun next day, when I was up before 9am in order to head in to the Japanese Consulate with my brand-spanking-new passport for them to approve of.

I got to play a bunch of games with Dace this week, which was a lot of fun. I actually managed to spend a bunch of time with Dace this week, which was cool. He came over and watched movies a couple of times (with pizza, of course), we went out with Laura and Chris to see 3:10 to Yuma together (which I thoroughly enjoyed… am continually impressed with Christian Bale), then yesterday he came over and we finished sorting out computer stuff so that now he has the old family PC set up (on my old desk) at his flat. I’m pretty sure that’ll be a boon for him both for work and for fun.

I also saw a fair bit of Ian this week as well, which was good. It’s really a pity I didn’t run into Ian earlier on in life, I think we’d have had a lot more fun times. Still, when we’re in the same country it looks like we’re trying to make up for lost time on that front! I don’t know how well (if at all) our little pet game idea is going to survive my going to Japan, but hopefully things will stabilise out for the both of us and we’ll be able to continue to make something together. I’d like that.

This week I also re-set up Mum’s new computer that I got her… sheesh computers can be such troublesome things. Parts not working, software not working, things to be installed, configured… actually my new laptop threw a blue screen on my for a device driver conflict this week as well. At the very least I can see the benefits as well, which is a good thing. Otherwise I would have thrown a whole lot of computers into walls by now. ^^;

Speaking of computer issues, apparently my old laptop will be ready to pick up on Monday. The day before I leave the country. No doubt they will only have fixed some of the problems as well. Figures.

Wednesday’s golf and coffee with Grandma and Grandad also had Great Uncle Bill along as well. It was good to see him again, although since he hasn’t exactly been a regular family fixture for me, I wasn’t quite sure what to talk about sometimes. In another surprising people-I-haven’t-talked-to-in-ages moment, one of Dad’s former engineers, Anoop, rang up at Dad’s place from Canada to have a chat for a while. I was sorry that Dad or any of the other Solution Architects crew weren’t there to talk to him as well, actually.

Other things that happened this week… I did a bunch of cleaning around the house, did various small pieces of work, went into Cathedral Square for a concert of Hera’s (including grabbing some lunch from Ginza, a great little Japanese place in town), getting a bunch of money changed into yen for my trip, closed my completely unused BNZ account and sorted out what the heck I need to do for the IRD for this trip (no small task, sadly). Hm, what else… I put in an appearance at a party around at Ruby’s place, had my final Polytech Japanese class, saw Jem for a little while (right before she was due to go out for her hens’ night, actually), dropped in on Andrea and David to wish David a Happy Birthday… oh, I finally got around to uploading the new LeithCorp site onto my US server, wohoo! Still needs a lot of work I think (particularly updating my portfolio and the general body copy), but it’s better than what it looked like before, so I’m happy with it for now. Mostly that site is just a playground for me to test things out anyway, I don’t really think anyone actually bothers to look at it… certainly I don’t get any business out of it! Anyway, in addition to all the busy-ness, there were also a bunch of times where my brain “just said no” and I was a zombie for a while. Mandatory shut-down periods, seemed like.

Anyway, it was a monster of a week, felt like I was running the whole time. A lot of late nights with my sleep a little more broken than usual. I get closer and closer to leaving for Japan and I’m still part extremely excited and part terrified of how it’s all going to play out. At least when I moved to America I could speak the language (well, more or less…. American English is its own thing, after all). It’s going to be very, very different.

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Mar23

The whirlwind subsides

Posted by Leith in News,Play,Work
the-whirlwind-subsides

Well, this was the last week that Nik was in Christchurch. I didn’t actually see as much of him during the evenings as I had been, since he finally started to go catch up with all the other people that wanted to see him when he was in town as well. As usual though, the three of us (Nik, Ian and I) spent a whole lot of time together gaming, talking and just generally hanging out doing stuff, which has been great. ^^ I also took Nik over to my grandparents for dinner this week, which was moderately hilarious as we all ended up sitting around doing sudoku and kakuro. The visit semi-culminated in the three of us heading out to Lonestar for a farewell dinner. My brother happened to also be having dinner there that night and made a few stops at our table.

On the gaming front I discovered that my new laptop doesn’t have a 256 colours mode, which means that I can no longer play StarCraft, or Total Annihilation, which have been staples of our gaming endeavours so far. I opened my Heroes Collection box this week as well to uncover all of the delights within. I immediately wore the t-shirt (awesome) and tried not to drool on the art-book. After this I installed Heroes V on my laptop and then proceeded to have a game with all present (Dace, Ian, Nik and I). I discovered that Nik is, in fact, all talk when it comes to playing Heroes V, despite owning a copy of the game. As I understand it, he’ll be playing a lot more of it now that he’s back in Aussie. ^^ Since my brother was the only one that had really played the game, not a whole lot happened. Still, good fun. ^^

On Tuesday I went into the Japanese Consulate in order to sort out the remainder of my application materials, which included taking in my passport. I had shaved and dressed nicely and gotten some new passport-sized pictures taken as a part of the application. When I arrived they informed me that my passport was looking a little ratty along the edge and very likely wouldn’t be accepted by Japanese immigration and that if I wanted to have them put my Japanese visa in it, they weren’t going to accept any responsibility for my being denied entry to the country when I got to Narita. I then went to the Department of Internal Affairs, they agreed with the assessment of my passport and gave me the paperwork to get a new one. So, back to Dad’s I go and fill out all the forms, then in to Maureen at the Consulate again, as she was willing to act as my witness. Unfortunately she didn’t know her passport number so I ended up having to abandon that plan. I quickly got a hold of Rach and met up with her at her flat, where she filled out all the necessary bits and pieces (thanks, Rach!). After briefly seeing Cam at the flat as well, I motored off to the post office. Given the processing time on passports, there was just not enough time for regular processing, which meant time to courier it up to Wellington with express processing… there goes $300. Yeesh. I’m thinking it’s a conspiracy to get me to convert to the new kinds of passports with the chips in them. What do you think?

Another rather amusing turn of events happened on Friday after and during the Lone Star dinner. During the dinner I received a phone call from Robbie up in Auckland, however before we could get to much specific talking, my phone died. I later received text messages (when I got back to Dad’s and plugged my phone in) from a friend of Robbie’s that was in town and was told to look me up. No problem, I think. I call Robbie and get the details (this was what he was calling about before) and I then start to try to arrange to go and meet Beth. This turns out to be problematic for a couple of reasons – I mishear the address (which didn’t have a number, just a description of the house) and my phone still has zip battery. I ended up on the wrong street in the wrong part of town, knocking on all the doors of the red houses I could find and asking if Beth was there. Yeah. Well, after trial and tribulation I manage to pick her up and save her from the doldrums of her relations for a few hours, where we sat and chatted and got to know each other a little. Very cool chick with a bright head on her shoulders, I think. I hope that she decides to keep in touch with me once she’s back up in Auckland, which is as of tomorrow I believe.

Other than that this week, I had my usual golf practice on Monday and then lesson and coffee with my grandparents on Wednesday morning. I got to learn a bit more about Office 2007, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I saw some of my friends for various things, I checked on flights for travelling up to Wellington and Hamilton (which didn’t pan out in the end because of the passport saga above) and I helped Dace go get his new roadbike yesterday, which is a pretty slick machine – he’s quite into it now, with all the little tools, bits and pieces to go along with it. Naturally this means that it’s not until right before I leave that I’ll be getting my bike back – I don’t begrudge Dace the use of it, particularly since his was stolen, but it has certainly changed how I thought I’d be operating while I was here! Actually after getting the bike the day ended up being pizza around at Dad’s and then just chilling out and having people stay and chat for ages, with people floating in and out for the day, that was really cool.
Today was Easter Sunday… an event that I always need to be reminded of each year because I never remember on my own. I’m not Christian, so Easter doesn’t really hold any significance for me in that regard. Nor am I a huge chocolate eater, so the inundation of chocolate that everyone seems to look forward to doesn’t really do anything for me, either. Anyway, after out playing some golf with my grandparents I went around to their place to pick up some eggs to take around to dinner at Mum’s (only to discover later that my grandparents were in attendance anyway… go figure), then played LeithTaxi for a little while for my friends at the park who I met up with. After that it was dinner at Mum’s, where we had a good dinner and generally a good time. After that Dace came back with me to Dad’s and we sat around playing Heroes V for ages, since we hadn’t really had as much chance to game together this week as we’ve been trying to. Great fun!

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Mar16

A busy week

Posted by Leith in News,Play,Work
a-busy-week

Well, the week started off as I said in my last post with the arrival of my new computer. I really didn’t want to get another computer, but with things as ridiculous as they have been, there wasn’t really much choice in the matter. I called up again this week and found out that the replacement power board didn’t work, replacing the motherboard didn’t work, so now they’re thinking that the replacement power board was faulty (which is the same thing that happened last time) and are looking to get another one in somehow so it can be fixed. Mental. Anyhow, I started setting things up on the new machine, filing away the emails and such that I had been replying to via webmail, installing software, that kind of thing. It took me just about all day (and I mean all day) on Tuesday before I was nominally set up with things, and gradually adding smaller utilities as I’ve needed them since. This allowed me to go into the software house on Friday and do some setup for the new machine there as well. Given how long it took to set up my Ferrari and get her running with the software, I’m finding it a bit unlikely that I’ll even get to the work for them before I leave for Japan. We’ll see, I guess.

Socially it’s been a fairly busy week. I saw Dace for a little while here and there, Rach was over earlier in the week for a little while, I saw her and her family later in the week for coffee and a chat, I had my (usually) weekly coffee and chat with Andrea, my weekly golf and coffee with my grandparents, I finally managed to catch up with Emma over coffee, family dinner tonight at Mum’s place and of course on Wednesday was Pizza Night around at Dad’s place. This involved a bit of running around on my part and I had a fairly full house (probably the most in attendance so far with this little event I’ve got going) and also rather hilariously involved my leaving in the middle for a little while (luckily I was pimping Kyle XY to all my friends, so I knew what happened). I went into town to go to a gig that Hera had going on in Sol Square. Hilariously it turns out that David Grieg, an old schoolmate of mine, is the manager of the bar where she was playing (Yellow Cross) and we had a bit of a catch up while I was there. Oh, I also picked up a CD for Katie, since she asked me to next time I was at one of Hera’s gigs. So, busy busy on the social front, which has been nice. A lot of coffees, it seems like. Speaking of coffees, I also met up with a potential new resource for outsourcing web-work that Ian put me on to. I’m not sure how much work I’m going to be passing along to him, or even if it’s his cup of tea, but certainly a very interesting guy to talk with.

Various other bits and pieces have been happening as well. With Nik around (and usually Ian as well for most of the time), I’ve been doing a whole lot more gaming than I usually do. It’s been nice to take some time out to do so, just kick back and LAN with my mates (who are practically living with me). We’ve also watched a bit more Pretender (I still love that show) and Run Fatboy Run, which I liked but was a little disappointed that it didn’t quite have the same feel as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. Another interesting thing that happened this week is I got interviewed (very briefly) for the UC Chronicle with the other two Monbusho scholarship candidates from Canterbury. We all caught up a bit afterwards and got to know one another a little so that by the time the travel rolls around, we’ll hopefully be making inroads on being friends and can have some friendly faces for while we’re living in the dorm together. Not sure which issue of the Chronicle the article will be in, but I’ll try and post a link to it if I can when I do. Yesterday I also went to the international cultural festival at the recommendation of my Japanese language course’s teacher. I had a lot of fun wandering around the various stalls and seeing different things from different countries, but mostly I was there to see what bits and pieces of Japanese culture I could experience before heading over there and experiencing them first hand. I had a bunch of different kinds of food, tried origami and talked to a bunch of different organisations that, if I was staying in New Zealand, I would probably be interested in keeping in touch with. Oh, as a nod to Nik I also tried some Serbian food while I was there. All in all, good fun!

Right, despite staying up until 6am gaming last night, I’m going to stay up again and game some more tonight… hopefully not too much, though. I want some sleep!

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Mar10

Mondays aren’t all bad

Posted by Leith in News,Play,Work
mondays-arent-all-bad

About the only bad news today was (surprise, surprise) technological in nature. My new laptop was delayed until tomorrow and it turns out that Mum’s new PC was just completely screwed and a replacement is due to arrive sometime this week.

On to the good parts! I actually managed to feel productive doing work today, even though it was mostly emails and phone calls. This is somewhat novel, I feel. Probably one of the coolest things to happen today is that my Heroes of Might and Magic Collection arrived in the mail. Now, a while ago I had tried to get this particular product only to find that I was unable to, as it had been sold out. When I inquired as to when they would be getting any more in, the response was not particularly good. So, after a while and some internal debate, I ended up buying Heroes of Might and Magic V: Gold Edition (HoMM V + 2 expansions) instead. Now, it didn’t have any of the cool stuff that the Collection did (art book, t-shirt, all 5 games plus expansions, tarot deck, soundtracks and bonus DVD) but it would at least let me play the latest. Naturally after I had ordered and paid for this, I received a note in my email saying that the collection was back in stock. I hate it when that happens. However, after contacting Gameplanet, they said it wouldn’t be a problem and they would just credit it once I returned it, and that they’d send out a return package for me (which they did, with the Collection, and I sent Gold back today). Turns out this meant I had to pay for the full price of the Collection anyway and ended up with store credit to the value of the Gold game, rather than crediting it towards the Collection purchase. Ah well, more games and so on for me, I guess! Anyway, after all was said and done, I ended up with the Heroes Collection in my hot little hands today, which pleased me greatly. I haven’t opened it yet, as I know I’m going to want to spend a very long time poring over all the artwork and so on, so I’m going to wait a little while and then open it. In the mean time I’m going to just have it sitting next to me and admire it in its box. ^^

Other good things! This afternoon I had golf practice with Grandad, which felt a whole lot better than the rubbish golf I was playing on Thursday. I have found it interesting how quickly I have become critical of myself over very small details in playing… I know I’ve made great strides with the basics, at least. I am very happy about that. ^^

On my way to go to golf I dropped Nik and Ian off at Ian’s place (after having a good chat with Ian about various things this morning), then after golf I went and picked up Ruby, got gas, groceries then back to Ian’s to pick up Ian and Nik, then back to Dad’s. As it is Monday, it was time to have Martini Monday, however I was out of Plymouth gin, which was more than a little bit of a problem. Turns out all the places I stopped at didn’t stock it, so after I dropped Nik and Ian off at Dad’s so they could get started on dinner, Ruby and I continued on our mission to find some gin. Luckily we managed to find some at a place in town, then returned triumphant.

Turns out that when Nik said he was going to cook, he really didn’t have any idea about how to cook what he wanted to cook (nachos and burritos), so I ended up making a big batch of Nachos for everyone. Meat nachos mind you, which I don’t usually prefer to have, but they were still pretty tasty. Later on in the evening Nik did make the burritos (Mexican food kits are pretty awesome, huh?), and hopefully next time he wants to make nachos he was paying attention. ^^

All of mucked about while the kitchen became a culinary warzone (us vs. food), then we sat around and ate while watching the first part of Tin Man, SciFi’s re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz. I really enjoyed the mini-series while I was in the US and hopefully when it comes out on DVD I’ll get a copy. We all sat around talking about all kinds of things for quite a while, drinking and laughing and generally having a great time. I ended up having three martinis over the course of the evening, which is more than I was planning on having, but I had a blast so that was ok. The evening also included all of us singing songs from Aladdin and The Lion King at the top of our lungs… I blame Nik.

I have a sneaking suspicion there may be some highly embarrassing video footage thanks to Ian. I’m just hoping it doesn’t end up on YouTube or I am never going to hear the end of it. Then again, if I get my hands on the video I might just post it up there anyway, just for the hell of it.

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Mar9

Full house again: Nik arrives

Posted by Leith in News,Play,Work
full-house-again-nik-arrives

Well, late on Friday night I went and picked up Nik from the airport. He’s over from Melbourne for a couple of weeks or so since he has a bunch of time off. This means I’m going to spend a lot more time gaming and screwing around, if this weekend is any indication. After picking Nik up from the airport I took him around to Ian’s where Ian finally got to meet Nik in person and realised that yes, he does talk as much as he IMs! ^^ Anyway, we talked crap for a while, did a pie run since we were a bit hungry, then I left Nik with Ian for the night, as I had Japanese class in the morning and I figured Nik and Ian would want to have a bit of a catch-up anyway. Turns out they were up until 5am making music and talking crap. Yesterday afternoon they both came over to Dad’s and we sorted some stuff out before going and picking up some computers from Ian’s, then coming back to Dad’s to play a whole lot of StarCraft (are you psyched about StarCraft II? I am!) for the rest of the evening, barring a break to watch Office Space (has anyone seen my Swingline stapler?) and eat some pizza. Today I dropped them back to Ian’s so I could go and see Hera play in the Arts Centre again (yay!), then picked them both up afterwards to go do some grocery shopping, then back to Dad’s again. I managed to actually do some emails and stuff for a bit while Nik and Ian were gaming (there was a very long list of things that needed to be done), then dropped Ian back at his place while Nik and I went to Mum’s for tea. Mum hadn’t actually remembered who Nik was in context until he stepped out of the car… I think she’s like me (or I’m like her?) in that we remember faces pretty well, but not so much with the names. It’s a problem sometimes. Anyway, after that we picked up Ian again, mucked about playing games again, then watched The Princess Bride, as Ian said he hadn’t seen it before. I ended up crashing on the couch while Nik and Ian took the beds.

In other news these past few days, I still have no laptop – they projected Monday for when the part was due to arrive for my old laptop, and I had a phone call to confirm the order of my new one, which means it isn’t going to arrive until next week either. I also went over a lot of documents from the mail on going to Japan (that took a while) and made a tentative budget for living in Japan in yen, based on what little figures I have. I’m sure I’ll be updating that quite a bit as I go along.

I went and had a drink with Michael and some people from Dad’s office on Friday, which was nice. Just sit around and talk crap for a while. I also got to have a bit of a work catch-up with Michael afterwards, which I’ve been needing to do for a little while.

I’ve been able to see a bit of Dace as well. I spent quite a bit of time with him on Friday, we played some games in the afternoon and then had tea together later and talked crap until he went to bed and I went to the airport to pick up Nik. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s been great being able to see him as much as I have been, he’s someone I miss a lot when I’m overseas.

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