A Week in New Zealand’s South

Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

At the beginning of 2003 we wanted an overseas holiday. The main problem was that most other places in the world are far away for Australians and quite expensive. One place is not so distant, not so expensive to travel to and somewhere that is truly worth a visit. And after watching the first two parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy at the cinema, it’s somewhere we were keen to see. I am, of course, talking about New Zealand. And so it was that my wife and I spent a week at the end of January of 2003 driving around the South Island of New Zealand.

We flew across from Sydney to Christchurch with Qantas and had organised the hire of a Toyota Corolla with Hertz, mainly because they were recommended by STA Travel and the prices were much of a muchness. For accommodation, we purchased Golden Chain vouchers – we still had to book a room prior to arrival at each location, but at least we had a listing of motels and some certainty of prices.

So read on to hear about our wonderful week in New Zealand’s South Island, or take a look at the photos (1, 2).

    Watch out Kung Fu master, here come the dancing girls!

    Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

    Celebrities have been wearing chong-sams for a while now, Jackie Chan has broken into Hollywood, kung-fu and wire harness fights are all the rage on the big screen and the homeware stores are full of items decorated with Chinese inscriptions. It must be time for a new fashion trend!

    After hearing a couple of remixes of Indian music feature in the Australian Top 40 I think B’s might be on to something predicting Indian as the next fashion trend. Could this be a model for Superman 5? And will the Matrix 4 feature dancing rather then martial arts? Will the Oscars feature white women in saris? Our beef producers must be getting worried.

    Terminator 3 review

    Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

    You can tell that James Cameron was trained as a physicist. His movies have an attention to scientific and technical detail that is sadly lacking from most Hollywood movies, movies like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. They are replaced by more car chases, explosions and pretty girls. Some of the big concepts in Cameron’s movies may be flawed (time travel paradoxes, the water technology of the aliens in The Abyss), but it’s the attention to realistic detail that mean you don’t end up saying “yeah, right!” throughout the film Sadly, the is not true of T3 (guns and buckles are attracted to magnets too!).

    That is not to say that T3 is a bad movie. I was quite tense throughout, even if it is predictable at times. On its own, it is an above average action flick, but it does not, and should not inhabit the same universe as the previous movies.

    What impressed me so much about Terminator 2 (I saw it 3 times on the big screen) was not just the amazing special effects, but also the feeling that the characters’ actions mattered. They weren’t just standing by, they were out there trying to save humanity’s future. Fate is what we make it, was the message, and it is a good message. Sadly, it’s a message rejected in the sequel.

    Also missing is the wonderful humanisation of Arnie’s robot self that was a major theme in T2. Now he just a two dimensional character spewing out one-liners. His female opponent lacks Robert Patrick’s natural menace, but does a fair job. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Marco Beltrami’s entirely unmemorable score.

    T2’s finale was emotional, triumphant and final. T3 is a movie that should never have been made.

    At last, Internet from bed!

    Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

    It’s not the first time that I’ve connected to the Internet while lying in bed, but it is the first time from the main bedroom. And from the loo. And anywhere else in the house.

    You see, I setup a wireless network in the house last night. Now I can surf the net on my Zaurus PDA (I bought a wireless card for it too), lying in the comfort of my own bed. It works pretty well.

    It was cool being able to ssh from the Zaurus into work to read my email while manning the ATNF stand at AstroExpo, where they also have wireless. Pity Sydney city doesn’t have many free wireless access points.

    Second thoughts

    Array of radiotelescopes in front of a mountain

    After investing so much time writing the ViPeR content management system for the Australian Astronomy Festival and IAU 25th General Assembly Virtual Press Room websites I’m now reconsidering whether to implement it here as well. I have it running already on an Ilisys PHP/MySQL system – I would just need to migrate the existing content or change the table names for it to work.

    It isn’t a blogging system, however. And it still could do with more work for general acceptance. What would I do with the Drupal content? It might mean some lost entries.

    Maybe I can think about it when things calm down over the next few weeks.