Thursday, February 22, 2007

More excitement

Today was a big day for me at work. A guest post that I'd written for Russell Brown's Public Address blog got published. To my knowledge, this is the first time a public service agency has ever posted on a blog in this way on a public policy issue still in development, especially under the name of a fairly junior joker like myself.

For those who are interested in stuff like this (and obviouosly to bask in my own glory and self-congratulation for a second), this would be like Paul Wells or Warren Kinsella (both big deal bloggers in Canada) having a policy analyst explain how the federal government is thinking about the future of democracy in Canada. I just happen to be the policy analyst. How sweet is that!?

More importantly, Karla and I are off to French Polynesia tomorrow night. We'll be there for a week.

How sweet is that? Life is good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dave the G-Man

So an amazing and unnerving thing happened to me last week: I unexpectedly had to speak on behalf of the gang at the State Services Commission (the place that I work) on a panel about "Digital Democracy" hosted by Russell Brown, one of New Zealand's leading bloggers and journalists (that's him in the brown shirt).

This panel was pretty heavy duty too: it included Chris DiBona (far left), Google's lead guy on open-source software as well as a former editor at Slashdot, one of the techy community's key newsources; Alaister Thompson (next to Chris), who founded, a website that revolutionized how news was distributed in New Zealand (every press release that comes out goes up on their site); and Rob McKinnon (between me and Russell), the guy who created a website called, which helps you learn about what your MP says in Parliament, how they voted, and generally what they're up to.

In short, these guys are digital heroes. And me, well, I work for the government.

This all happened because we found out about the session through a colleague in another department, but unfortunately found that all the places were taken at the session. So I wrote Russell, telling him that our team's job at SSC was all about digital democracy, and could we please have a few places cuz we're so cool?

He wrote back really quickly: no problem about the places...but how about being on the panel?

Anyway, after some to and fro I was nominated by the team to go out to the panel. This was pretty serious for me, since I'd never, ever represented an organization of the magnitude of the State Services Commission, let alone being the ONLY government person on a panel about digital democracy.

The night itself was really fun, though incredibly hot. The venue was absolutely baking. This was good though, because I could blame the sweat pouring down my brow on the heat instead of the nerves. And there were a lot of nerves, believe me.

In the end, I think things went well. But judge for yourself! You can listen to the whole panel chat on Scoop here:

Tick tick...

Today I got a price adjustment on a pair of shorts I bought last week. (For those readers who are not necessarily retail-inclined, a "price adjustment" is what you get when you buy something, it goes on sale afterwards, and you then take it back to get the difference in store credit.) I was curious how long I had on my store credit, when I saw something utterly shocking.

It's valid for 6 months. It expires on August 14, 2007.

Hold the phone -- my birthday is exactly 6 months from now?!!? This in itself is no big deal, but I am planning to be back in Canada before then. Meaning, New Zealand and I have less than six months left. Very scary. Sad too. It's going by so fast.

Scarier still is the readout on my wedding countdown... it's less than 200 days before the big one. It still feels like so much needs to be organized. Part of that feeling is that a lot of things still DO need to be organized, but it's made a lot worse by the fact that I can't actually SEE the things I already have organized. Meaning, the church may be booked, but I have no idea what it looks like, so it's hard to feel like it's really booked. The priest has been arranged, but I've never met him. The dress is ordered, and has arrived, but I've never touched it. All these contribute to a quiet but persistent paranoia that they're not real. Because from where I'm standing right now, none of it is. (It's a very weird feeling.)

Then again, the things that ARE real are the RSVPs I've gotten so far. They reassure me inasmuch as knowing that even if the church, the priest, or the dress aren't real, SOMEONE is showing up to the thing. Having these people together in one place will constitute a positively wicked party -- and as more people RSVP, the party will get better still. And at the end of the day, that's the most important thing! :-D

Lastly, some RSVPs have come in with questions regarding travel, hotels, registries, etc... so I decided a website with all this info might be a good idea. Granted, I don't actually HAVE this info yet, but when I do, it will be on this site. In the meantime, feel free to have a look; and remember, it is far, far from complete at this point. :-)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sevens Weekend

Any description of this event would pale in comparison to the experience itself, but nonetheless, I'll give it a shot.

Imagine a rugby tournament between a myriad of countries worldwide. Imagine that it tours the world over, each time with a new struggle, and a new champion. Imagine it coming to Wellington, New Zealand, selling out a 34, 000-seat stadium in twenty minutes flat.

Needless to say, it's a big event. Not only does it consume a whole weekend, it consumes the whole town. The normally-quiet, normally-sane Wellington becomes filled past the bursting point with visitors. They come from all over the country, and all over the world, all sharing one common goal -- to have a wildly fun time.

While this wildly fun time does involve the serious enjoyment of a lot of rugby, the rugby takes a backseat to the main attraction -- the costumes. The costumes themselves are incredible. Groups going together co-ordinate creative costume themes, usually planned well in advance. The result is giant groups of Smurfs, toga-ites, Marilyns, Martians, anthropomorphized yogurt containers, Borats, Oompa-Loompas and Hooter girls (of both genders). Some groups get even crazier, and I've seen everything from mail-order brides, to naked chefs, to guys in large cardboard boxes with two circular cutouts calling themselves mammogram machines... the list goes on and on.

The sheer scale is more impressive still. Thirty-four thousand people attend the Sevens, and at LEAST 85% of them dress up. It's actually regarded as weird when people AREN'T in costume.

Naturally, I fully embraced the spirit of such an event and took the opportunity to dress up. The stadium happens to be right next to my work, so it made the most sense for me to get into costume there. I got a couple of weird looks, to be sure, but at least it cleared up all doubt of what team I was backing! ;-) Dave was in theme too, and I painted his face accordingly.

Our Canadian attire did get us a fair bit of attention, particularly from other Canadian ex-pats. I was even run down by a pair of young ladies who urgently asked, `Have you ever heard of Boissevain?!` I replied that I had, it`s in Manitoba! They were so happy to have met someone in the southern hemisphere who knew of their hometown that they bought me a beer. Woohoo!

Another neat Canada moment was our match against Australia. New Zealanders, particularly with respect to rugby, have a rabid blood-oath hell-bent destruction-fixation against their western neighbour. No matter who Oz plays, they are met in Wellington with boos, heckles, and unwavering support of the opposing team, regardless of who they are. It could be a team composed entirely of clones of George W Bush, and they would still be cheered for in favour of Oz. Canada was the recipient of such crowd favour during this match, and the result was our team`s solid victory. Perhaps also their only victory, but as long as we beat Oz, we were celebrities to the Kiwis. There`s nothing like sitting amid 34, 000 people in a distant, foreign country, and having every single voice there cheering wildly and chanting, `CA-NA-DA!! CA-NA-DA!!!` It was magical.

So, hopefully the above description has prepared you for the pictures... be warned, some (particularly the Borat) are not for the faint of heart!

I also took some video of walking around, which is a positively surreal experience. I`ll update this page once I figure out how to upload it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ebbing Willpower

Before going into the weekend's madness, otherwise known as the Sevens, allow me first to declare that work bulletin boards can be terrible for one's willpower.

02/02/2007 by Indigo Freya
Statistics New Zealand Bulletin

Rabbit and all accessories for sale $95.00

Dwarf rabbit, chocolate brown and only about 3 months old. No idea what sex, haven't looked! - plus you usually can't tell until they're about 4 months old.
Beautiful hutch that cost over $150 about a year ago and was hardly used until a month ago! Food, drink bottle, bag of straw all included.
We just got it, but can't keep it when we move so better for the rabbit to find a new loving home soon!
email or call Indigo 4858

Must...resist... cute baby bunny!!! Waaah.....