Anybody wanna write my essay?

It seems that I’ll do anything to avoid writing my ethics essay for uni – watching TV, household chores, (thinking about) gardening, even adding another post to this widely-read blog! A looming deadline used to be motivation enough but it just doesn’t seem to make a difference when it comes to a subject which has nothing to do with “Web-Based Information Systems” (my B Info Tech major).

Well, I suppose applied ethics is relevant if you’re an academic cooped-up inside a faculty building somewhere but there’s no way I can summon 2,000 words worth of interest in this. It’s enough to make me wish I was taking statistics or accounting again (both not related to web programming and I hate mathematics in all its forms). I think I’ll go and watch Top Gear and ogle the Aston Martin DB9.

Check out my new cuckoo clock

I’ve always wanted a cuckoo clock and, although I didn’t buy it in Germany, my new timepiece is German made. On the main road in New Zealand between Hamilton and Rotorua is the small town of Tirau (meaning “place of many cabbage trees” in Maori; I don’t know what a cabbage tree looks like but I don’t remember seeing any of the vegetables) which is where I popped in to see The Clock Peddler.

This store is a clock enthusiast’s dream, and even though I’m not one myself, I didn’t hesitate to reach for the plastic once I saw the wall covered in what must have been almost fifty cuckoo clocks. It was love at first sight and I just had to have one (not having to pay the 12.5% GST if I got it delivered back to Australia also sweetened the deal and covered the postage with money to spare).

I chose a smaller clock with a manual mechanism inside, deciding that a battery-operated cuckoo clock simply would have no personality. I may have got more than I bargained for because I can’t quite get used to the noise the ticking makes at night, but thankfully I can shut off the cuckooing :-)

(Picture: Cuckoo clock hanging on my wall)

The two weighted pinecones slowly move down during the day and the leaf on the pendulum moves up or down to fine tune the clock’s accuracy. The diameter of the clock face is 6 cm.

(Movie: Cuckoo clock in action)

Movie showing the cuckoo clock in action. The file is a DivX 5.0 AVI with PCM audio. File size is 1,386 KB. Taken using a Kodak EasyShare C330 that I borrowed from work.

A new year, a new web host

Finally I have registered my own domain name so that I can have complete control over my web site, and for the princely sum of $9.95 Canadian a month, I get 1GB of space, 30GB monthly traffic, and a host of other goodies. Backing up and restoring the database was quite easy but getting my year-old stylesheet to work with the new WordPress was pretty time consuming (now I understand what Monkey was talking about).

Being a new year, I should measure my success, or lack thereof, as the case may be, with my new year’s resolutions for 2005:

  • I put in a resonable effort to continue learning German, with the help of Pimsleur’s German CDs which I converted to MP3 to listen to on my iPod at the gym. I’m now half-way through level two and, whilst not at all fluent, now I feel as though I’m getting somewhere.
  • I didn’t read a great many books in 2005, however, I did complete the 1,076-page Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Without a doubt, this novel is an outstanding work of fiction, and even though it seems to cheapen the whole experience, I would give it a five-star rating. I’m looking forward to the sequel, of sorts, called “World Without End”, set two centuries later in the town of Kingsbridge, which Mr. Follett hopes to finish by May 2007. The wait will be torture! I can’t recall reading anything else in the form of a novel, since my studies took up quite a bit of time, but having earned my first high distinction, sacrificing additional reading paid off. I am currently reading The Penguin History of New Zealand which I purchased at Queenstown Airport last Thursday morning. I found it so enthralling that I had read 100 pages by the time I landed in Sydney later that day (this much reading in one day is quite a feat for a literary bum like me).
  • The less said about dieting the better, but suffice it to say, I failed miserably on this point, though I haven’t gained any weight over last year, so I guess that’s something.
  • I read a little more of English Grammar for Dummies and now am very conscious of the split infinitive, and try not to end my sentences with prepositions, most notably when writing, but still I find it difficult during conversation. I also bought Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation at Sydney Airport last week, so that should provide some fascinating reading when I get time.
  • My garden is looking better, though not from any effort on my part, since my mother went through it like a dose of salts just before Christmas when she was in town. So far, desertification hasn’t reappeared :-)
  • I haven’t done a lick of Java programming, except for the obligatory uni assignments, but I did dabble in a little Perl recently to create an online-updatable calendar for the local gym. I decided to see how well the EPIC plugin for Eclipse worked and found it surprisingly stable. Now if only there became available a decent code manager for Eclipse (similar to the code snippets feature in Dreamweaver), I would have no excuse to put off flexing my programming skills.

After all that reflection I’m not sure I feel like committing myself to any resolutions for 2006. Perhaps I’ll just continue reading and programming, and with my degree due to finish at the end of the year, I think the acquisition of some certified post-nominal letters should be enough to keep me busy. Oh, and there’s dieting, too…

My new kitty, named Peanut

(Picture: Peanut sitting on the floor of the slate room extension at the back of the house)

Peanut sitting on the floor of the slate room extension at the back of the house

(Picture: Peanut getting ready to pounce on something in the lounge room)

Peanut getting ready to pounce on a small, windowed, box containing four suspended toy mice

(Picture: Peanut gets the object of her desire)

Peanut manages to obtain the poor mouse

(Picture: Peanut taking a low swipe at the camera)

Peanut taking a low swipe at the camera from the ground, and doing a good job of protecting my brand-new golf clubs at the same time

For years now, my brother has been pestering me about getting a cat, because I’ve not had one for about a decade now. Excuses for not getting one have included things like not tying myself down, the hassle of having to deal with one all the time, such as patting it when it demands it, even if I must concentrate on my studies or whatever, and the inevitable things that will get broken. Being able to play with my brother’s cats, then leave them in his charge each time I go home, is very convenient.

However, on Sunday, I received a phone call from Simon saying that he has something to show me, and could I come around. I was feeling lazy, so he declared that he would bring it around to my place instead. Well, here comes this little kitten, which had apparently been hanging around his brother-in-law’s workplace for a day or so, looking lost, and Simon took it saying that he would find a home for it. Well, a home he has found. A darn good one at that, too, I reckon: I’m no stranger to spoiling cats!

This little monster, which I’ve named “Peanut” (having suggested that name to Simon for several of his cats – not all of them extant), is named after the small dog belonging to the main character in the movie Jury Duty, that I haven’t seen since it was first released and which I thought was funny at the time :-)

Enterprise has been cancelled. Thank god!

My day has been brightened today with the news that Enterprise has been cancelled. The series that dared not call itself “Star Trek”, in a pathetic attempt to attract new viewers, not once inspired the slightest bit of enthusiasm for the next episode. The great Xindi story arc was probably where I yearned to strangle Captain Archer the most – in particular where he paced back and forth, anguishing as he contemplated torturing the Xindi captive in the brig. If that was me I would have brought out the shiny, sharp, tools in a flash!

This captain is the product of a dying duo, Berman and Braga, each seeking to further the cause of political correctness in its most boring form, and squeeze a few more years out of Trek in the process. An angry Vulcan leading the High Command, aliens dressed as Nazi SS officers, and more than their fair share of episodes involving time travel, showed Enterprise to be the most uninspired science fiction I have yet had the displeasure of viewing. Star Trek Nemesis hasn’t helped Trek’s reputation, either, with yet another bad guy trying to destroy earth as we watch an excellent group of characters trying to make the best of a poor script.

Yes, it is time to lay Star Trek to rest and give it a decade or more to allow new story writers to come up with something worthy of Paramount‘s money and my time. I am not encouraged, however, after reading that Berman is still trying to squeeze the life out of Star Trek, and a sad bunch of die-hards just won’t give up!