Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wakeboard Wednesday #3

Just to prove that the pro's still mess up, here's a quick wee video of Chad Sharpe taking a big hit on a quarter pipe.


Chad Fail from Chad Sharpe on Vimeo.

For more videos showing how the quarter-pipe works normally go here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

C.S. Lewis on Joy

I'm currently reading John Piper's book, When I Don't Desire God; How to Fight for Joy.  It's proving to be good, solid and very typically Piper-like.  I'll have a review up here before too long hopefully.  The first few chapters have been awesome simply for the quotes by C.S. Lewis that Piper includes.  Here are some of my favourites...

You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment; for in hope we look to hope's object and we interrupt this by (so to speak) turning to look at the hope itself....The surest means of disarming an anger or a lust was to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and start examining the passion itself.  The surest way of spoiling a pleasure was to start examining your satisfaction.

I percieved (and this was the wonder of wonders) that...I had been equally wrong in supposing that I desired Joy itself.  Joy itself, considered simply as an event in my own mind, turned out to be of no value at all.  All the value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring.
and...

It was when I was happiest that I longed most....The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty came from.
finally...

Provided the thing is in itself right, the more one likes it and the less one has to "try to be good," the better.  A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he'd always want the right thing more than the wrong one.  Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wakeboard Wednesday #2

The other week I put up a video of the move that won the 2010 Move of the Year award, this week there's a video showing all the nominations for the award.  It makes for impressive viewing, so enjoy!  (I got it here)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Doing the Distance, Part 2

As promised, here is the second installment of the things I've learnt about how to not just endure long-distance relationshipping, but to use it as a way to grow and build the relationship.

Enjoy the positives. There's no denying it, it sucks to be apart from the one person you most enjoy being around in the world. That said, there's no point in spending weeks feeling sorry for yourself and not feeling you can still enjoy life. I've found that there's actually a number of positive results from doing the long distance thing:

Firstly, I've found that we often talk about deeper and more interesting things when we're apart. When you're not together, it's impossible to just hang out talking about mindless things like whats going on around you, the people you see and so on. Instead, whether it be through letters or phone calls, I've found that we talk a lot more about untangible things like concepts, ideas, dreams, passions and so on. I'd say this single element of doing long-distance has enormously helped our relationship.

Secondly, being in separate locations forces you to get more creative about ways to express your love. Whether it be in the words of a letter, gifts sent or even sneaky things you try and rig up in their location, it takes some lateral thinking to do cool stuff when you can't be there physically.  Of course, this all takes a lot of work and so ties in with my first point yesterday, where you need to recognise that it will be a lot of work.  Nonetheless, I've often found that the ideas sparked while we're apart pay off in boosting some romantic ideas for when we're back together.

Finally, and perhaps a bit selfishly, you get to taste the hospitality of everyone who feels sorry for you. I've already been offered a bed at the flat of some guys at church, and meals at a bunch of people's places. I'll be honest, I'm not complaining! On a more serious note, Paula has seen some incredibly inspiring and quite humbling hospitality from people she's stayed with. We've had a chance to see how incredible it is being part of the church community and quite truly being part of a worldwide family.

Use the time to develop yourself.  Obviously, when you're in separate parts of the country, you'll have a lot more time by yourself.  This can be an ideal time to kick-start or reinvigorate any habits, disciplines and patterns that you want to build and cultivate.  For example, I'm going to have the house to myself, making it easier to get back into pursuing God in the mornings, without worrying about interfering with what Paula's up to.  If you find yourself with extra nights or extra time as a result of being apart, then make the most of it by doing things that will make you a better person when you are reunited.  Read books, go for walks, catch up with inspiring people, do whatever but use the extra time to get closer with God and improve yourself.

So anyway, none of this stuff means I'm looking forward to Paula leaving, but at the same time I'm confident that we will come out the other side stronger and better for it.  And I hope that we'll be able to look back on this time and laugh about it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Doing the Distance, Part 1

In six days Paula will be heading up to Tauranga to start placement, leaving me facing a long seven weeks down here.  It's quite surreal thinking how after so long seeing each other every day, we're gonna go weeks without seeing each other at all (profound I know!).  We've done the long distance thing before when Paula has had other placements, and have learnt some stuff along the way.  Here are some things I've learnt, and that I plan to draw on over the next few weeks...

Recognise that what you do can make or break the relationship.  I guess this one applies whether you're doing long-distance or not.  Nonetheless, I reckon long-distance just steps things up a notch in this regard.  I've seen couples come through long distance and look back on it as a positive thing, and I've also seen relationships crumble over it.  Doing long distance is undeniably a testing time for relationships, and they can either come through refined and strengthened, or weakened and broken.  It's important to realise right from the outset that to foster a relationship that continues to thrive despite the distance requires considerable time and effort, but that if done well they can be fondly remembered as times where love actually deepened and grew.

Write letters.  In this age of emails, skype and call plans, its easy to forsake the age old thing of putting pen to paper and writing a good old-fashioned letter.  In my experience, this would be one of the worst things to do!  Paula and I have found that this is one of the key things that have helped to make long-distance not only bearable, but also a growing experience.  Making a habit of writing letters to each other has the obvious benefit that you get the pleasure of opening an envelope that isn't your latest bank statement.  There's just something cool about opening a letter that actually means something.  Sitting down to write a letter also forces you to think about new and interesting ways to articulate your feelings and thoughts, which leads to some of the benefits I'll describe tomorrow.  Finally, letters have the major benefit that you're much more likely to hold on to them and look back on them than emails.  I've talked to a married couple who look back on letters written in the early days as sources of inspiration and encouragement.  Already in our relationship we've found it cool reminiscing on the things we wrote and talked about in our letters.  It may take a bit of your time, but I'd say writing letters is one of the crucial bits of advice I'd give any couple facing the long distance challenge. 

As it turns out, I wrote quite a bit on these points and its turning into quite an essay, so I'll include the other points as a second installment tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wakeboard Wednesday, #1

Things have been pretty busy lately so I apologise for the lack of stuff going up!  I've realised that I quite enjoy putting the odd wakeboarding video up here, and because its easy to do I figured I could make it a bit of a regular feature.  When I realised that Wednesday and wakeboarding start with the same letter it sealed the deal, so here is your first weekly dose of wakeboarding.

In this first installment, here is the trick that won the Move of the Year award at the recent Wake Awards in slow-mo.   Sure, it just looks like more spinning, but its actually quite tricky doing the old toeside backside spinning.


Steel Lafferty - Toeside Backside 900 from WakeWorld on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Surveying the Shaking Lands

I don't envy anyone with a surveying job in Christchurch right now!  The magnitude 7.1 earthquake that rocked the city last weekend is probably big enough to have jiggled the survey marks all across the city by a few centimetres or more.  A preliminary estimate from a continuous GPS site out on the peninsula shows movement of 13cm or so, and they expect movements of 20cm+ in other areas.  That means that boundary pegs, survey marks, fences and buildings have all moved a bit, with some properties expanding and some contracting. 

The worst thing about all this movement is that there are no laws or legal precedent to guide surveyors in how to address these problems.  The situation in New Zealand is unclear as to whether surveyors should resurvey boundaries where they are now, or try and reposition them where they were before the earthquake.  In most cases, it won't really matter because, at the end of the day, what's a few centimetres?  But where it will be quite significant is in places like the CBD, where the high value of property means that if a boundary moves by 20 centimetres that can equate to tens of thousands of dollars gained or lost.  That's where it starts becoming the sort of thing that big legal disputes are made of!

This event will prove very interesting from here, because it will hopefully be the inspiration for parliament to finally make a call on whether property boundaries move with deformation events, or whether they stay fixed in the positions they were in before the quake.  A call on that will be invaluable to surveyors.

My honours project has been all about the effect of gradual land movement on property boundaries, but as part of it I've done a fair amount of looking into what happens in the case of earthquakes.  The earthquake last weekend has suddenly made my research a whole heap more relevant to the surveying profession at large, so its quite exciting really!

Some cool links to check out are are a video of pretty impressive aerial shots of the fault line here (which also has some comments about the surveying side of things), and my brother's analysis on the earthquake here and here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reflections on the Earthquake

The other morning I was slumbering away peacefully, but around 4:30 I was stirred by the house making some weird squeaking noises, and the bed rocking back and forth.  I realised it was an earthquake, but as I lay there pondering whether to jump out and get under a doorpost, or even whether to wake up Paula (who slept right through the whole thing) I realised it wasn't gonna be the sort of thing that could kill me, and just enjoyed the ride.

Well it turns out the earthquake was a pretty significant event in Christchurch, with widespread damage across the city, and especially in the CBD.  The earthquake, centred in Darfield, measured 7.1 on the richter scale.  Miraculously, there have been no fatalities as a result of the quake, and only two people sustained critical injuries.  It's pretty incredible when you read some people's stories of what happened.  An event of such magnitude obviously plays on everyone's mind for a while, so I thought I'd jot down some of my ponderings since hearing about what went down.

I'd guess the most influencial thing that this earthquake has done is remind us New Zealanders of our own mortality.  We're used to seeing images on the news of destructive events around the world, but somehow I think we subconciously forget that we are just as prone to those disasters as anyone else, which is silly in light of the fact that we actually sit right on top of the plate boundary.  But anyway, I think it can only be a good thing to be reminded of our mortality.  Hopefully plenty of people will be thinking about the bigger picture stuff as a result of this, realising that life has to be about more than the accumulation of wealth and 'stuff' and that the best thing you can do with your life is to be prepared for your death.  Some may call this morbid, I call it wise, especially when you realise that death doesn't need to be something to be feared.

My other thoughts are a bit trippy, so bear with me here for a moment.  I've been thinking about how God can be called good in a situation like this.  On the one hand, we can rejoice at how miraculous it is that no one died.  On the other hand, though, many people are now realising that they face a long and hard few months or years as they face the fact that heaps of their stuff has been destroyed, leaving them in the depths of financial hardship.  Was God good because he protected everyone's lives?  Or was God bad because he brought this calamity on the 'good' people of Christchurch at all?

I think God uses everything for ultimately good purposes, and I'm sure that out of this earthquake many people will be questioning the important things in their lives and hopefully realising that this life is about living for something bigger than yourself.  But thinking about this stuff is making me realise just how subjective our view of mercy is, and how it can so easily be distorted.  Is God's goodness a relative thing, dependent on our circumstances and outlook on life?  Or is there some outside, objective idea of what is good for people?  I'm realising that we humans, with our limited understanding and the biases of our upbringing and attitudes, really aren't in the best position to judge whether God is being good or not with whatever he does.

This is plunging into the deep end with some intense philosophical stuff, and I've written too much as it is so I'll call it quits there.  Tomorrow I hope to write some less deep, but still interesting thoughts on how the earthquake makes things interesting for my research here at survey school.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What He Reads

Michael Hyatt has posted what his reading list is these days.  I thought it was good because 1) it's interesting to see what highly successful people read (and how much time they spend reading), and 2) it got me onto a bunch of interesting sites that make for good reference.  Check it out if you're keen.

How to Remember People's Names

Being in the church scene, I'm meeting people all the time.  I know how daunting it can be to step into a church for the first time, and so I reckon learning people's names at the first meeting is absolutely crucial.  Nothing makes someone feel at home and included like being known by their name, so I aim to do my bit to make church a welcoming place by taking this pretty seriously.  On this note, I found this article over at Lifehacker to be absolute gold!  8 handy tips to learn people's names (even when they're unusual foreign ones) will never go amiss, whatever your situation!

The only tip I disagree with is no. 6: 'don't ever call people by the wrong name.'  He says "if you're not 100% certain that you've got someone's name correct, it's probably better not to address them by it, and instead immediately find some covert way of re-learning it."  In my experience, there's nothing like taking a punt on someone's name and getting it wrong to make you put more effort into learning it!  It's arguable, but I reckon saying "sorry was it John?" says "I care enough about learning your name that I'll go on a limb and potentially embarrass myself to get it eventually."

Anyway, take it or leave it, I found it pretty interesting and helpful.