31 August 2011

40 days 'till the big one ... maybe.

I just had to type one more time to get my August quantity up. I don’t actually know what I’ll type but as it is the last day of August quantity matters more than quality, doesn’t it? I realise I have not talked about earthquakes for a while. I guess everyone thinks that it is a non event now and life is getting back to normal. Alas no, on one hand I feel that the reduced amount and strength of earthquakes in the Canterbury region is a sign that things are finally settling down. On the other I have the gut feeling that the faults are just absorbing the great stresses that are being piled upon them and will once again let go in an almighty earth shattering (literally) event.

Today is a great example of the latter. After the North Island pinching earthquake news with a 4.4 quake yesterday at only 3Km deep (most are > 50km deep) and various aftershocks, the Canterbury fault lines must have felt amiss and answered back with a 4.7 at 5Km depth. I now feel a big shakeup is going to occur in the latter end of the first week of October. Solely on the experience that around 40 days after that exact location (North-East of Rolleston) had a 5.0 quake Christchurch central suffered its third major earthquake causing even more damage. I will post that and see if I become the next big earthquake seer.

There are several reasons you should not let this disrupt any travel plans to Christchurch

1.       As far as I know, even with the tens of large shakes (and one huge) since the February shake no one has lost their life.

2.       My predictions always fail – Even if I have had evidence of an exact sequence, once I place a prediction to this sequence it will suddenly alter dramatically (This is why I have never won a major prize in Lotto).

3.       I have as much knowledge of earthquake science as I do about the interior design of a remote hut in the Southern Alps (I can guess but likely to be absolutely wrong).

4.       Christchurch is a wonderful place to visit and is worth putting up with the occasional shaky sensation

Oh by the way I did not feel today’s shake either, I think I am truly immune to earthquakes. On the mountain side of things, the mountains managed to grab some snow last night and are once again covered from Peak to Foothills in snow. I am now tending towards preferring fully snow covered majestic views than partly, but the jury is still out somewhat. Still waiting on your views. Especially when the sun reflects of the shiny snow presenting a glowing mountain range in front of  me while travelling down the main highway.

Cheers and blessings


30 August 2011

Mountains are full of it!

While driving to work this morning I looked at the mountains in the distance (while motionless at an intersection of course, my eyes are always on the road ahead etc.) The huge blanket of snow had finally succumbed to the weeks sunshine and the rocks were showing through. I am unable at present to make up my mind whether they look grander fully snow covered or semi covered. I would love to read other’s views on this. When fully covered the mountains seem to radiate outwards overpowering all other scenery and looking clean and crisp. Yet semi covered allows the viewer to see the valleys and make out the intricacies  of the complex design which give more depth to the view, even though not as grand. According to the weather experts I will have another chance to view a total covered version once more after the weekend so I may yet be able to make up my mind.

It is drizzling outside at present, if the temperature dropped considerably I could see it turning into snow over night. However the snow is not meant to arrive until Thursday night and even then very unlikely to settle this close to the coast (Most of Thursday and Friday higher than 200m).

I am not holding my breath, one I can only do around 70 seconds no where near the three days required, and two, Timaru does not get snow. Well, only very rarely. When I was growing up here, for the eighteen years I spent living full time in Timaru consecutively I can only remember three snowfalls that settled into anything barely decent. After returning from university my five year stint here enable me to see one more snowfall, settling to a massive 1cm (under half an inch) thick, meanwhile in Christchurch that same night they received their largest recorded snowfall of  1 metre (just over 3 feet).

While I was in Auckland, just prior to my return, South Canterbury got a once in fifty year dumping (A whole foot of snow!) including Timaru. Power failed, no one ventured outside (except of course the children who are impervious to such fears) and the place stood still for five days. Once the shock of that white stuff did actually exist thicker than a camping mattress subsided, South Canterbury finally got back to business. Now of course any forecast of snow is taken in fear and the supermarkets are inundated with people bulk buying cans of baked beans, water and various survival kit items.

We have had two such forecasts previously this month and a third this week. Both previous times there was going to be snow down to sea level. The first time we got literally five seconds of snow and then it came out sunny again. In fact the entire eastern South Island was under major snow and we had sun beating down upon us instead. The second time we did manage to get settling and my work went into disaster mode, just in case. Four wheel drives at the ready, but once every emergency routine was in place (and all the schools had closed) the sun came out and remained out, while, once again, the rest of the eastern South Island (and this time the  North Island almost up to Auckland) got more snow than anyone wanted. My mother was even stuck on the West Coast for four extra days due to road closures from snow. So you can understand my scepticism about this new forecast, my catch phrase now is “If you want snow, don’t move to Timaru.”  


Cheers and Blessings



26 August 2011

An explanation of the mundane.

I alluded to some super-sensitive activity in my last post. I have now been discharged from duty and was not required to perform any further action so I can now come clean to what I was doing. This week I was called up for jury service, (I said it was mundane). It was an interesting experience, one I could not relate on Tuesday night as I was on call still and may have ended up on a jury deciding some poor person’s fate. In fear I would make myself a target for their friends etc. I was not willing to admit that I was doing this until I was sure I was not required.

I have been selected as one of the twelve twice in my life, the details I cannot go into due to an agreement made in court but both times it was an experience. The last time was so complex I almost had accommodation paid for by the courts, alas due to a slight misunderstanding we were not given this opportunity. Now the New Zealand law has changed and this is no longer a possibility as even in deliberation jurors can go home at night. Previously during the trial jurors could go home, not discussing any details with their family of course, but once the defence and prosecution rested they were not allowed to see another living soul until the verdict was decided. That last time we did have a two course meal provided at a very nice restaurant across the road from the courts during deliberation so I did get something for my time. Not being able to talk to the waiter posed a problem, nah, just joking, we were able to discuss non-court related things with others, under court supervision of course. And we even were allowed one glass of wine (paid for by ourselves) if we so wished. For some reason one was the limit, I suppose an inebriated jury might not go down well with the accused. “Yes your honour, hic, we have come to an agreevment, hic. We find the accussed, sorry, accuzed guilfry of drank droving.”

This week we had to turn up to the courthouse at 9:15, by the time we got passed the security check we were standing around waiting at 9:30. I suppose to most other nations security checks are standard in courthouses but here it is a novelty and they really need to do what the airlines do on the tickets. “Jury service is scheduled for 9:15, please turn up 30 minutes before departure to make sure you are through security before takeoff.”

This particular morning they had an unprecedented turn out and there were over a hundred potential jurors for one court case. Out of those they chose only 30, by random ballot, to enter the hollowed courtroom. They need thirty as each lawyer has around eight (I lost count) opportunities to “challenge” a juror, once challenged that juror has to return to the back of the courtroom, plus a juror themselves can challenge on grounds they know the accused or witnesses or is physically/emotionally unable to perform the task required. So they could even require more than the thirty originally chosen, which is why the poor people not in the thirty had to wait in the foyer until all was completed.

The order of the final twelve is also done by random ballot. My name was called out both times, unfortunately (or fortunately) one of the lawyers (I will not say which due to confidentiality) decided I would not be suitable for their chances of winning and I was challenged. Unlike what I saw on US television, in New Zealand the lawyers  are not able to ask questions of a potential juror before challenging, they only have the barest of information (employment, age etc.) to go on, so it is probably done mainly on looks (or perhaps the lawyer in question has read my blogs). They also have only the time it takes the juror to walk from the public gallery to the next vacant seat and sit down to state their challenge. They do not have to give any reason, but once seated they can no longer challenge. I usually speed up near the end, but in this case I was in two minds whether I wanted to be there or not.

I love being on jury, you get to meet eleven new people in an arena that you really do get to know them, you are stuck with them for at least three days. Plus you get to sit and watch a good whodunit show. In fact it was thought of as enough entertainment to make a television series in the UK about it. Does anyone of my readers remember Crown Court? That was when the television viewer was treated as one of the jury and all the story was just witness recounts of the crime. But there are times when the assumed crime is not really one you want to delve into that deeply and this was one of those times for me. So I was in two minds, did I want to meet these eleven people and have a break from my usual work or not have to listen to recounts of activities I would rather not know about? I would love to go into more detail to alleviate your curiosity but I think there is a law against that and I do not want to put forward my opinions on a subject I did not get all the facts about.

It was probably my last chance as once IVRRAC gets to be more well known around Timaru, every lawyer will know my thoughts on criminal rehabilitation and automatically challenge me. I guess if I ever want to be on a jury ever again I need to start training for a very fast 50 metre sprint and wear good quality running shoes to court.


24 August 2011

A cup of tea and time for bed.

It is indeed 11:18 pm Tuesday Evening and I am up at my computer with a nice hot mug of tea. I have been very busy lately as the second semester has started and I am busy studying who God is. I have also had an interesting week, but I dare not say more until the week is over in case I think it is best not to mention my activity after the week unfolds and I fear for my life if I admit to doing what I am doing. Now doesn’t that sound interesting? Believe me it is not as it is just a mundane issue that until it is over I need to be watchful of what I say. As the chances of me needing to be quiet are quite slim once it is over I’ll post another posting on this next week, if I can…. (the problems of living in a smaller centre).

I was however out earlier this evening at a “Home Group” – home based Christian discussion group. There we are currently doing a bible study on “The Shack” by  William P. Young. This has a very interesting look at the Trinity and why God lets bad things happen. I must admit we are only on Chapter 2 and thus not anywhere close to discussing those particular topics but the discussions are still very intriguing and enlightening. Tonight we were looking at God’s creation, how we see God in nature and also the symbolism of the fable that the hero of the story tells his daughter in reference to the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us. In fact I and another member of the group delved a bit too deep into the creation side, discussing Quantum Physics, Tectonic Plate movement, Evolution and my favourite soap box topic – how science is now more religion rather than the open discussion of possibilities and theories that it used to be. (To challenge any popular theory is to be labelled a heretic and chastised from the scientific community). In fact we got so enthused in our discussion that I had to really apologise to our baby sitter since she would not get home until well past her normal bedtime.

Personally I love “The Shack” and although I query some theological statements within the book I feel it does Christianity more good than harm. In fact it does answer the really difficult questions about our lives in the present day. So I was very chuffed when in an Amazon discussion a reader said they disliked IVRRAC as much as they disliked “The Shack”. To have my book mentioned in the same paragraph as a book as well researched and written as “The Shack” is a huge compliment for me. Oh and by the way, there is another Amazon post that mentions both books within a list of a person’s top 10 ranking books so not all comparisons are so negative – sorry just had to add that bit.

Well it is now almost midnight and I have work tomorrow so I guess this is where I’ll sign off.

Cheers and Blessings to all