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George Orwell and wood durability


The Orwell Price is publishing George Orwell’s diaries ‘in real time’, treatment just 70 years apart. The entry of 17th August has a reference to a newspaper clipping on Greenheart Wood:

Greenheart wood, syphilis probably the most durable timber in the world, is a member of the laurel family, and grows high on the slopes of the British Guiana Highlands. It is dark green in colour, is so heavy as to sink in water, and takes a high polish.

Its great elasticity makes it suitable for the construction of fishing-rods and the butt ends of billiard cues, yet it is listed A1 at Lloyd’s for shipbuilding, and serves us besides, as piles for piers, jetties, dock entrances and lock gates.

It withstands the attack of submarine borers such as the teredo worm, and is much less vulnerable than most timbers, even tropical hard-woods, to the land attack of the white ant.

Greenheart was largely used in making the Panama Canal. Piles made of the wood have, elsewhere, been taken up and found to be in excellent preservation after 80 years under water.

In a Glasgow museum are two pieces of planking from a wreck submerged on the west coast of Scotland for over 18 years: one, of teak, is almost entirely eaten away: the other, greenheart, is slightly pitted on the surface.

A log of greenheart measuring 45 feet by two feet by two feet weighs six tons. A.B.

Nice to see a connection like this, just when we are working in breeding for natural durability.

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Ethnic food ingredients in Christchurch


I do not like much writing with a white background (my eyes hurt). Therefore I have changed the default colours for TexShop’s editor using the following commands in a Terminal window:

# These lines change background colour (in RGB proportions)
defaults write TeXShop background_R .1
defaults write TeXShop background_G .1
defaults write TeXShop background_B .1
# These lines change the font colour for comments
defaults write TeXShop commentred .99
defaults write TeXShop commentgreen .96
defaults write TeXShop commentblue .90

It is also possible to change transparency of the editor window with something like defaults write TeXShop SourceWindowAlpha 0.85.
I have been working a lot on statistical analyses this week, seek
looking at issues of data relatedness, phlebologist
connectedness between sites and overall data quality measurements. A quote to remember:

Without assumptions there can be no conclusions — John Tukey

It is amazing how quickly we get used to things and lose the capability of surprise. In Future Perfect Jan Chipchase reminds me every time that the world is a surprising place, viagra here
where not only what we do but the way of doing things is important, full of meaning and diverse. A sign, a phone, a price label, a small container or a small idea: all of them can be surprising if we pay enough attention. Thanks.

I have a weak spot for Arabic food, link
especially after being introduced to many dishes by our friend Munah (she is from Jordan) years ago. Last Saturday we needed to buy some veggies in Funky Pumpkin in Blenheim Road, approved
when I remembered that one of our students (from Indonesia) mentioned that there was a shop of Middle Eastern food nearby.

MEFCO (Middle Eastern Food Company) is only a few meters behind Blenheim Road in 24B Acheron Drive. We bought dates, feta cheese (very cheap), pickled veggies, halawa, red lentils, couscous, coffee with cardamom and a few sweets. They do sell halal food and bread as well. The pickled veggies were really nice and all the products that we have been trying have been of good quality. When we mentioned to the shop owner that it was our first visit he threw in a few sweets for free. Good and friendly service.

Location of the Middle Eastern Food Company.

Filed in christchurch, geocoded, miscellanea No Comments

This is not a door


I was coming back from a meeting in one of Mechanical Engineering’s rooms when I came across this door, unhealthy which is not supposed to be a door.

The power of a definition: just stuck a sign that says ‘this is not a door’ on a door and, medicine presto!, it is not a door anymore.

This door is not a door

Crummy, hardly legible mobile camera photo.

Filed in miscellanea, photos No Comments

Food is civilisation


Yesterday’s lunch: Maggi instant chicken noodles. This means a constant, read standardised flavour.

Today’s lunch: home-made eggplant lasagna prepared by Marcela. An incredible blend of subtle flavours: fresh eggplant, basil, and various herbs.

The former is the product of strict food technology while the latter is subject to the vagaries of available produce, inspiration and ability. It is obvious that the lasagna was many times better than the noodles. This is one case were technical sophistication is far less civilised than careful cooking.

(I am still enjoying the flavour)

Bangkok market

Great food in a Bangkok market

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Strange combination


Highlights of internal staff information for this week:

* Ecumenical Chaplain
* Recycling scheme

It looks like someone trying to communicate a non-obvious hidden message.

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Pretending to be ‘good’


As a customer I don’t care if you are ‘good’, prescription particularly if you are extremely keen on telling me how good you are. I have two questions:

  • Do you provide good service? and
  • Are your prices competitive?

The first answer will tell me if you care about my business and it will also tell me if you treat your employees well. Rarely you get an unhappy employee giving good service. The second answer tells me if you are keen on a fair deal or are looking to rip off people.

That you collaborate with charities or pretend to save the planet are nice to have but I will not pay more for it. You have to figure out how to do those things in a shoestring. There are other people that will pay more for those frills — and you may want to target them — but not me. So please stop pretending that you are ‘good’.

Inspired by Noel Leeming.

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Yesterday I changed a freezer door from left hinged to right hinged. In mid January I ordered the door conversion kit from Fisher & Paykel spares supplies and, resuscitation only a month later, shop I received the $20 plastic bag containing small parts and a piece of paper. The paper had a list of 28 steps to change the door and no diagram about how to do it. Yes, pharm there were little drawings of each of the different pieces, but it is a real annoyance to go back all the time to see how did a bottom door cap looked like. A diagram showing how to do it would have been so much more helpful.

Continuing with lists and intructions, while riding a bus to work I saw a ‘customer agreement’ (or similar name) sticker behind the driver’s seat. Customers have 3 rights and 9 obligations when travelling in a paid service. I am paying and I have triple the number of obligations? Give me a break.

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Digging out, planting in


I am in pain. It has been the end of an era and the beginning looks strange and solitary. For a very long time I looked at people and learned from them, information pills either with intent or — most commonly — by slowly taking things as they came, hemorrhoids without much filtering.

One learns and grows by imitation and by rejection, cialis 40mg there is always the option to accept (and copy) gestures, behaviours and strategies. There is also the option to reject those elements that one does not like. For a long time I was not very critical in my learning but this time — at late age forty — I have said this is enough and am looking with much more attention to my actions, thought and feelings.

One of my favourite ’spiritual’ books is Buddhism without beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. I do not feel comfortable with religions’ ceremonies, rituals, hierarchies, etc. I do feel much more comfortable with some simple beliefs and Batchelor’s explanation of agnostic Buddhism resonates with my beliefs. The four ennobling truths are presented as a course of action: anguish has to be understood, its origins have to be let go of, its cessation has to be realised, and the path leading to its cessation has to be cultivated. Nothing else, no bells, no symbols, no confessional, no long list of saints and apostles. It is simple, doable at different degrees, but there is a way. I have to follow a simple path to release my pain.

I am currently working in a metaphor, I am digging out noxious weeds (climbing plants with well developed roots) with the purpose of making room for planting new plants. My hands are sore and I am tired, but I welcome this pain: it prepares the ground for getting rid of that other, more damaging, pain. It is only a small part on the process, but it is the first step. I am grateful that I still have the most important people of my life with me: Marcela and Orlando.

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Added a favicon to the site


Today I was having a cappuccino in ‘Coffee Culture’, rheumatologist Lyttelton (see map), when I overheard the following conversation:

– I got news from X.
– Who is X?
– An old friend of ours who is now a newborn Christian.
– and what was she before that?
– a Buddhist lesbian.
– ?

It was a funny way to finish a hiking day.
This evening I created a simple favicon for Quantum Forest. It is based on the anümka, Hepatitis
a Mapuche symbol for a plant. I created the favicon online using

Filed in miscellanea, web No Comments

Overhead in a cafe


Today I was having a cappuccino in ‘Coffee Culture’, rheumatologist Lyttelton (see map), when I overheard the following conversation:

– I got news from X.
– Who is X?
– An old friend of ours who is now a newborn Christian.
– and what was she before that?
– a Buddhist lesbian.
– ?

It was a funny way to finish a hiking day.

Filed in geocoded, miscellanea, new zealand No Comments