Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I want to make it a bit more detailed now, so as well as the top 5 I’ll break my 20 resolutions into at least 2 each from a list of topics.  I got this list from my Public Health Leadership Programme as an exercise to check I’m keeping things balanced.

Physical environment
1.      Finish backyard project (retaining wall, level earth, lay grass).
2.     Do at least one major thing to help improve/preserve Gittos Domain.

1.      Finish Call of Mataaho, send to publisher.
2.     Attend NZMAT course, ace Uni of Otago presentation, plus one more equivalent thing.

1.      Earn at least one payment from alternative source other than work.
2.     Make a big dent.

1.      Time trial in January for 1 mile and 2.4km pace.  Beat 1 mile pace by one minute by end of 2014 and meet NZ Army entry level criteria for 2.4km (10min 30sec, i.e. 4:22 pace).
2.     Do two marathons (or two equivalent challenging events) in 2014, including at least one sub-4hr result.
3.     Start sea kayaking or challenging cross-training other than running.
4.     Set and achieve a bodyweight workout goal

Friends and Family
1.      Use house to host more things.
2.     Make a bigger than usual deal out of at least one 2014 milestone.

Significant Other
1.      Surprise.
2.     Plan one major thing to do together.

Personal Growth
1.      Scan in my grandfather’s WWII letters again.
2.     Join and participate in 2 clubs.
3.     Get to intermediate level in a software program I’m not familiar with.
4.     Start a regular process to reduce stress.

Fun and Recreation 
1.      Cook 50 new recipes or one entire cookbook (whichever).
2.     Take 100 quality photos in 24 hours.
3.     Write 10 quality blog entries (prep for promo for novel).

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 - Judgement Day

So, here we go.  This year flew by, I can’t believe it’s a week to 2014 already.

I am starting a tradition here, for the second time running I’ll check my score for the past year.

3.1 out of 5 for top 5 resolutions!  Not bad at all, considering they were all pretty challenging resolutions.  No point setting something to achieve if you’re not pushed.

Saying that, I didn’t hit the mark out of almost all of the others.  2.3 out of 15!  Wow.  I guess the ones I did achieve made a big impact on me but for this particular roundup it’s all about quantity not quality.

Overall, 5.4 out of 20.  Surprisingly I’m not too put out by that result.  The year went by in a flash and I am really proud of what S and I have achieved this year.  Although I didn’t tick off all the boxes, if next year is like 2013 I won’t be disappointed.

1.      Go to Australia to see A, M and the boys, and S, K and the boys
70% - didn’t get over there myself but S was able to go to Sydney for S’s birthday.

2.      Beat my 2011 marathon time of 4:16:49 by finishing Auckland Marathon 2013 in under four hours
      100% - epic lot of training and although I didn’t crack four hours I beat my 2011 time by 11mins with 4:05 despite working through painful physio problems in October.  Well proud of that effort.

3.      (Write/) Finish & send a completed novel to >1 agent
      40% - Shelved Sideswipe but got a great idea for Call of Mataaho and made a huge dent in it from October pre-Nanowrimo including piles of research.

4.      Scan in my grandfather’s WWII letters (again)
0% - didn’t even start

5.      Achieve something else major that I didn’t expect/plan
      100% - Helped people out during tough times, a few different times.

Other resolutions:

6.      Achieve Associate Emergency Manager certification through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
N/A – probably wouldn’t have been necessary

7.      Do a post-graduate level paper/course
100% - completed the Public Health Leadership Programme

8.      Complete the November 2013 ‘Nanowrimo’
0% - this resolution is win or lose in the spirit of Nanowrimo, and I didn’t quite get over the line.  Ended up starting before January so put a self-imposed penalty of 10,000 words on the 50,000 target.  Ended up getting around 47,000 in total.

9.      Get another tattoo (been an annual resolution but really have to figure out what the hell I'd want)
0% - nope

10.  Take 100 quality photos in a 24 hour period
      0% - took some good photos but didn’t set the time aside for this 24hr challenge.

11.  Cook my way through one cookbook
      30% - still being really adventurous with Asian veges from the market but didn’t get through a cookbook.

12.  Write >10 quality blog entries (aim for monthly)
      0% - wow, looking back I can only say I did one this year so I’m not going to take credit for 10%

13.  Measure my baseline track mile time in January and improve this by 1 minute by end of December
      I haven’t checked this yet, I would say I’m a little faster but I’m treating this as a 0% fail since I haven’t made it to the track again since January.  I had earlier divided that into two resolutions – still have to check:
1.   One mile in under 6:55 by December
2.   1.5 mile (2.4km) in under 10min 30sec (4:22 pace) by December (NZ Army entry level fitness criteria)

14.  Paint the bathroom, washhouse, dining room and beams in lounge & master bedroom
      0% - not an option any more as we’ll get someone to do it properly, but I still didn’t do anything equivalent around the house (backyard is a separate score).

15.  Take a sea kayaking course and go out in the kayak >5 times
      0% - nope

16.  Do the Auckland Ironman 70.3 half-IM in January 2014 (yeah 2014 I know.. but it’s still a 2013 resolution)
      0% - nope, this one is not an option considering my lack of swim/bike training

17.  Build a shed
      100% - yes I bought the shed and got it made, but I spent ages levelling the ground, putting pavers in, laying concrete, building retaining wall.  I’m stoked at this one.

18.  Write and send a paper to a professional journal
      0% - did not

19.  Learn to juggle 4 balls
      0% - um, no.  Why the hell do I keep on putting that one in?

20.  Join >2 clubs (doesn’t matter what the club is)
0% - didn't do that one.  Joined a club in Mt Albert but didn't do anything with the membership so far so I'm not counting that.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mt Eden Burning Man - "ze Germans" (or bored kids) invade Auckland

In May 1919, the Peace Celebrations Committee built a huge wooden tower at the top of Mt Eden, one of a series of huge bonfires that were set up in towns and cities around the country.  The plan was to set the tower alight to celebrate the German signing of the peace treaty at Versailles.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-1515C

The 100ft high tower was built of eight pine saplings, within which was tightly stacked pine, gorse, fern and wood along with twenty barrels of tar and large quantities of kauri gum.  The plan was to hang effigies "of the Kaiser and others" at the top.

Unfortunately the lighting didn't go as planned.  On the evening of 22nd June, a bunch of "larrikins" snuck to the top of Mt Eden and lit the tower on fire, which quickly burned the whole structure down after the wind changed.  Crowds rushed up to the site to see the blaze, yelling and cheering as each support fell to the ground.

The peace treaty with Germany wasn't signed till the 28th June.

C Hudson, The Mayor of Mt Eden, claimed the burning was "pro-German" elements in Auckland looking to destroy the celebrations on the basis that the average "larrikin" wouldn't be out when it was raining, but others just claimed it was kids.  "Mr H D Heather 'The question is are we going to let the pro-German beat us?' (laughter)".

Anyway, the organisers weren't taking any chances.  The tower was built again, accompanied by day and night patrols, of returned soldiers, a barbed-wire entanglement and even a temporary guard-house (which you can see in the picture above).  They topped this all off with a searchlight that they could use to target anyone planning to sneak up at night-time with a flame.  Over the next few weeks the defences were breached and a few people caught, but as the guards found they didn't have any legal authority they had to let the suspects go.  This upped the stakes.  The guards were sworn in as special constables, given rifles and ammunition and given the power to arrest on sight.

The gossip and letters to the editor ran hot with comments for the next few weeks, with many people suggesting the money should probably be given to war orphans or returned services causes.

The "official" bonfire itself happened at the official Victory Day celebrations on the 19th of July (official programme) - going without a hitch in front of a crowd of thousands...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Published story - Centre of Attention

My first "official" published story!!

So I didn't post this before, but I got a story published through an Australian (/NZ) short story competition. .  Some of the other stories are pretty good but I wouldn't blame you if you turned straight to page 72.

Buy a hardcopy or download the free (!!) pdf via

I spent a solid few days on this one.  It was fairly easy to write plot-wise as a lot of this is linked to public health emergency planning, which I am well up to speed on.

The hard part was thinking about how to present it.  Writing it as a feature magazine article was a bit of a cop-out in that it removes the emotional impact, which is why I lean heavily on the "mad mullah" topic and also try to get the reader to feel some of the vicarious emotion via the wife.

It would have worked easier as a straight third-person story but I wanted to show the passage of time which is difficult in third-person in a short story, and I think by hinting at things that - in the future after the events of the story - the reader "should" know, it's a shorthand trick to make the world in the story a lot larger.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Idealism is for hippies

Good quote I heard yesterday, related to Buddhist thought.  "The definition of happiness is not having what you want.  It is wanting what you have."

Yes, very Christmas card or fortune cookie type statement, but there is a lot of truth to it.  Good old Tony Robbins recommends a daily walk matched with some time spent thinking of what you're thankful for.  That's a bit too woo for me but I have to admit that at least once every day at the moment I stop in my tracks and laugh at how charmed everything seems to be at the moment.

Time to get back on the horse for the novel writing.  I have outlined Book 1 and figured out the chapters that need adding before I get to Draft 2.  I have also outlined Book 2 and will pound out a first draft of most of this for the July Camp NaNoWriMo.

Camp NaNoWriMo handle - "Perpetual idealist clawing back an essential thirst for life after a long period of self-serving introspection and apprehensive equivocation thinly masked as cynicism."  A pretty wanky I know, but things are looking pretty on track right now.  Now I just have to start chipping away at those new years resolutions...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Farenheit 451

"We'll go on the river.  He looked at the old railroad tracks.  Or we'll go that way.  Or we'll walk on the highways now, and we'll have time to put things into ourselves.  And some day, after it sets in us a long time, it'll come out our hands and our mouths.  And a lot of it will be wrong, but just enough of it will be right.  We'll just start walking today and see the world and the way the world walks around and talks, the way it really looks.  I want to see everything now.  And while none of it will be me when it goes in, after awhile it'll all gather together inside and it'll be me.  Look at the world out there, my god, my god, look at it out there, outside me, out there beyond my face and the only way to really touch it is to put it where it's finally me, where it's in the blood, where it pumps around a thousand times ten thousand a day.  I'll get hold of it so it'll never run off.  I'll hold onto the world tight some day.  I've got one finger on it now; that's a beginning."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Running test

One of my resolutions has been to measure my 1 mile pace and try to beat it by 1 minute by the end of the year.  I have been doing a lot of long distance runs lately so my legs are a bit tired, but have been feeling more or less ok.  I just did a 1 mile (4 laps of a 400m track, plus 10 metres) time trial and got...


Not about to break any records anytime soon, but I figure even if I had had a good rest my peak at the moment will be around mid seven minutes.  I live for the slow twitch, not these sprint distances!

Resolution A: Run one mile in under 6:55 (4:17 pace) by December

Resolution B: Run 1.5 mile (2.4 km) in under 10 minutes 30 seconds (4:22 pace) by December (NZ Army entry level fitness criteria