Sunday, August 19, 2007

Outaa here!

I'm just about packed. Costumes, tents and other fun things (including the MoaBike) have either been built or passed the event horizon of not-happening-this-year. My flat contains less strewn around bits of wire, fur and disassembled electrics and instead has three large bags.

So for the next three weeks I shall be variously in California, Nevada and at the location shown above partaking of the Burning Man. I'll write something about it when I get back, probably!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shiny stuff

I should maybe have gone to Siggraph '07 in San Diego - despite my general conference aversion. They were covering wearable technology - like a bikini1 that charges a mobile music player. Actually, a bikini that charges a phone would be more useful. If the phone was in the top, then it would add a whole new aspect to the phrase "why are you talking to my tits".

1. Just as a bonus, some of you might not know the etymology of the word "bikini". Two piece swimsuits were invented at about the same time as H-Bombs. The first such device, when tested, blew the middle out of Bikini Atoll. Hence the name bikini was used for a swimsuit with no middle bit.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Email advice

Apparently the following advice has been circulated in a major NZ university on the phrasing of emails to students:

You want a days extension! Ha ha ha!

I'm sorry to hear of the death of your father/auntie/cat/pet gerbil. Especially since I'm fully convinced you never had one. Even if you presented me with the body laid out in an open casket, I'd still suspect you'd got one of those goff Engineering students to dig it up out of Grafton cemetery.

Whatever grade I gave you, you still wouldn't pass this course. I suspect you'd have problems passing water without drinking five pints of Lion Red first. Oh sorry, you don't drink Lion - should have guessed that from the headtowel you wore in the one lecture you came to this term. Cristal then.

Call me old fashioned, but to get a degree in an English speaking country you actually have to speak English. Which you have about as much skill at as George Bush.

I'm sorry to hear that you are going to report this to Sheik Yerbouti - if he's related to you, he must be a thickshake!

I will not be giving you the assignment extension. You are not only thick as pigshit, but a hideously ugly freak to boot.

Dr Insensitive Bastard


Thank you for asking for an extension for your May class assignment.

I'm very sorry to hear about the death of your family member. Please accept my condolences. This year has certainly been a tragic one for you - it is some time since a student had more than two bereavements in a semester, let alone twelve.

I hope this sadness will not affect your success as a postgraduate student here at the University. Should you find the need to take some differently challenging units next term, I would commend our business school to you. They offer a range of internationally appropriate studies leading to recognised qualifications. Understanding that all languages are valid and vibrant forms of communication in international business, they avoid judging students on their (perhaps imperfect) command of just one of the planets tongues.

Your extension has been approved. Are you happy with a B+ grade?

I look forward to seeing you on your next visit to the university. If as mentioned you require an aegrotat for next term's classes then please let us know.

Kia Kaha,
Dr Sensitive Financially-Friendly

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shade Structure

My shade structure for Burning Man is nearly done. Because BM is held in the desert, it gets damn hot in the daytime, so trying to sleep in, as might be required after hard-core partying, needs a bit of planning.

North Americans who drive to BM have the option of lugging large amounts of heavy stuff to solve this (e.g. a refrigerated shipping container with rooftop jacuzzi).
I'm limited to three bags of no more than 22kg each, so I've had to try and keep things small and light.

What I've tried to do is build a braced frame out of UPVC pipe and then put an Alishade cloth over it. Like this:

The actual frame is below. The joints between the pipe are reinforced with dowel to give them some rigidity and strength (in tension/compression). The idea is that the base will be firmly nailed to the playa surface with rebar hoops. The yellow rope bits you see are internal guys - I guess I could also string external guy ropes but shouldn't really be needed.

I've just got to fix eyelets to the shadecloth and it'll all be ready to go. Weight about 7kg and fits in a ski bag.