I grew up on my father's farm called "The Tui" Station, near the head of the Rangitata River in New Zealand. I lived there from age zero until I left school and joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2001. The station was sold about the middle of 2009. Check out the sales pitch and amazing Youtube video here.
It would be approprite, I think, that for Number XI the picture should be from my recent cricket tour.
But which one? I have no action shots from the games because no one took them of me. More correctly, no one took many of me while I was playing and the ones which were taken didn't come out well.
So instead here's a picture of me and the wonderful Hayley (Kia Ora Hails, snaps!!) in our No 1's after a crushing defeat of the Royal Air Force.
First of all, call it an Ipod, for fucks sake that's just basic spelling rules.
When they first came out, I hated them.
When they'd been around for a while I hated them.
When they were so damn common you were actually a bit weird if you didn't have one and insisted on purchasing and using a real mp3 player, I hated them.
Then came the Touch.
Damn you Ipod Touch. I still hate you.
... but I am listening to you right now, as I have been for the last few days and will continue to do so for many many more.
When I first looked at buying an expensive, quality mp3 player I did a little bit of Internet research. I used websites like CNET and their reviews (both user and professional) to establish which mp3 player provided the best quality music, the easiest interface and the most effective battery life. Guess which one of the three the Dreaded Apple has? In most - but not all - it's the second. (The other cases it had 0/3 qualities).
I decided the best choice for me was the Creative Zen.
This little beauty carried 16GB of songs, could hold photos and videos too, record voice, was solid state, had exceptional battery life and took SD cards for expanded memory. And the sound quality was brilliant. By the time I had bought a pair of Bose In-Ear buds, I wasn't going to settle for anything less.
I was shocked - shocked! - that most of the user forums compared the Zen to the Ipod and nothing else (obviously there is no other mp3 player except the ones from Apple), and that the reviews were all about the interface, menus and portability. I mean, sure, these things are all important - cos if they're crap you're going to hate using your player. But in about 70-80 comments, all of which I read, one mentioned sound quality. Surely if you're planning on spending a lot of money on a sound machine that would be important... wouldn't it? Obviously not.
Anyway, when my trusty Zen finally died on me after years of faithful service, I bought the next model.
Same quality music, a slightly more stylish case and wi-fi capable. Still a little beauty and it has served me well. I have never had a problem with it, and like its predecessor I could selected the 'hold' button to turn off the screen, and the battery lasted. It lasted! It played music for me for more than 14 hours flying across the world. Beat that!
Cut to dreams of PDA meets PSP meets Cell Phone all in a sexy touch screen bundle, and I thought I might like an iPhone. Or an Iphone, as I like to write it. Looking for both sense and encouragement I sent out a plea for help from my friends asking if I should or shouldn't. Thankfully I listened to the voices of reason and didn't waste my money.
Only to waste my money a couple of months later in the Boxing Day sales with a The Warehouse staff discount generously offered me by my cousin. I bought the Touch. "Not for music." I vowed. "Just for all the.. other stuff."
What other stuff? I find myself asking. Stupid little fill-in-time-games which cost me at least $1.29 ea (or the free version for no money and only 30 seconds). Applications which are about as useless and gimmicky as the Touch is in the first place. "But it has wi-fi!" I told myself. "That'll come in so handy on your travels!" Only if you actually have the passwords to all those wireless networks floating in the air all over the world trying to piss you off. Oh, and it died before I made it to the UK even though I wasn't really using it.
So I tossed my Touch in my bag and forgot about it.
Yeah that's right baby. The touch-screen version of my favourite high-class mp3 experience.
Sadly, although it cost less, it was in fact much more a waste of money than the abomination in the title of this post. It just doesn't get the touch-screen thing down-pat and still suffers from the same lag you'd find in a fitted touch-screen accessory placed over your computer monitor. Also, the hold function and screen unlocking mean it takes me more time to get into the music menus to change the song or the volume or simply turn off the player. The music quality is its usual crystal self, but the battery life is disappointing.
I hated to admit it, but I like the functionality of the Touch. I like the touch screen and the music menu system. I like using Dice Shaker when playing RPGs with my friends. I like being in the kitchen and looking up BigOven to find a good recipe for dinner. I like playing Dungeon Hunter and Monster Trucks Nitro 2.
I bit the bullet. Creative blew it, and I started up Itunes. It's not the most comprehensive media player in the world, but it's not the worst either. I enjoyed making up a few playlists, getting the album art and syncing them up. Okay I didn't enjoy the process but the results were cool. I admit to also liking all the album art stuff all to prettily displayed on the touch screen. Even as the wallpaper on the unlock screen. I listened to it a while as I was helping weed a friend's garden all day on Saturday and with the Bose earphones it came out okay.
I have since plugged it into my McLaren stereo and I have to say I was sorely gutted with the outcome. The music is clouded and lacks depth. When it is playing super quiet so as not to wake Ginge in the bedroom next door at six o'clock in the morning it is okay. But at times like tonight when I have it playing at a reasonable volume while bitching about it on the Internet it makes me cringe. I have tried playing with the equaliser which seems to have sharpened the sound, but it is still very two dimensional. Teddy Thompson sounded too poppy and not folky enough (the acoustics couldn't compete with the synthetics), and Chely Wright sings out on the same plane as her music and backing vocals.
As for myself, well I've never paid a huge amount of attention to flowers. Maybe it is the tussock-land I grew up with, or my father's love of grasses and NZ native shrubs & hebes. I don't really know. I like the look of a pretty garden, but I don't go to gaga over one. For a gift of flowers I suppose I like bold colours, and budding roses are certainly very lovely.
But when it comes to pansies... well I just love them. They have such a remarkable range of colours and beautiful faces in every flower.
Sometimes it looks like there's an old man with a massive beard in the flower, and sometimes it looks like the silhouette of an angel. Sometimes the petals have one pattern on the inside, and a ring of colour around the outside too, and sometimes they seem to be all one colour until you look closer. I love all pansies, but my favourites are the darker-than-dark shades. The blood red's and deep purples.
My absolute favourite is the pansy of a purple so dark it is like black velvet.
The table-top role playing game system GURPS (General Universal Role Playing System) is a system which provides rules for any conceivable action, possession or ability a player can think of.
Tonight Blair thought of ramming his virtual boot into the head of the NPC (non-player character) which was lying on the floor at his feet. He rolled his dice and succeeded so well that our Game Master had to refer to the Critical Head Blow table.
Sometimes a vivid imagination is lots of fun. Sometimes it's best not to share. No matter which it is, GURPS has an answer.
Lets just say the sound of the cracking skull was featured in the Game Master's cinematic desription of the poor man's death.
This is a hard one because I actually don't watch a lot of TV.
When I was staying with my sister in the UK she got me hooked a little on two shows - Outnumbered and Ashes to Ashes, but the appeal of neither of these shows followed me home.
I like Comedy, so my favourite shows number from that selection. Family Guy, Black Books, Black Adder etc.
Outside of comedy a friend has gotten me into Dr Who which is great stuff, but at the moment I'm still reliant on his generosity in order to see any of it. I should really ask for some for my birthday or something.
I think my favourite TV Show is probably Green Wing.