Friday, 7 August 2009

Bike Accident

So it was 4:45 on a Thursday. I jumped on my bicycle with burley trailer to ride down Waialae avenue to pick up Luke from school before 5:00pm. We get fined $10 if late.

So I'm moving at reasonable speed, coming past CityMill when a black SUV passes me. There are two young women in the drivers and passenger seats. The driver yells something like:

"You should be on the sidewalk!"

I yell:

"@#$%$# YOU"

She replies:

"@#$%$# YOU"

The SUV speeds past me, but slows ahead of me as a stop light some distance ahead changes to red. The SUV kind of wiggles in the road. The other traffic slows, but as I am on a bike I catch up with the black SUV. Because of it's wiggling I can't pass on the inside, so I swerve around the left hand side and as I pass I say to the driver:

"What have you got against saving the planet?!"

She says:


And I repeat what I said as I swerve back towards the curb. As I focus on repeating that phrase I am shouting back over my shoulder and I mount the pavement at some speed. The burley trailer knifes and I lose control of the bike. I fall, with my left shoulder impacting the concrete sidewalk, and then I roll hitting my left elbow and hip. I stagger up. Other concerned looking drivers ask if I am okay, and I say I'm fine. Unfortunately the wheel on Luke's Burley trailer is now bent and I can't ride the bicycle. I curse and start trying to bend the wheel back into shape so I can be on my way. This turns out to be harder than I thought so I stop and turn. The black SUV is just passing me as the traffic moves on. I flip them the bird and the driver says:

"I was just trying to say the road is a dangerous place for bikes"

and I reply

"So is the sidewalk"

They drive on, and I am left trying to fix the wheel of the burley. I finally get it to spin by jumping up and down on the wheel. I phone Aya and the school to let them know what happened, and then ride on to pick Luke up. By the time I get to the school my shoulder is starting to freeze up. I ride with Luke back up Waialae avenue, and by the time I get home I am in some pain. I take some painkillers and although I am in less pain the following day (Friday) and I do have some motion in my left shoulder, I can't pick up the twins, or help much around the house which is not helpful.

Moral of the story - try not to get distracted by motorists having conversations with you. Keep your attention on the road at all times ....

Saturday, 6 June 2009


So I'm reading Dreamsongs, an anthology of short stories written by George R. R. Martin. This selection of stories consists of his earliest work, some of it written when he must have been in high school and college. It is a very interesting series of short stories showing his development as a writer; from initial experimentations to Hugo and Nebula award winning short stories.

One story I particularly enjoyed was called "The Stone City", and was one of a number of science fiction shorts that were set in the same "universe". A future universe where humans have spread from Earth to inhabit a number of worlds in a relatively small portion of the galaxy. One of the themes in this story is trying to search beyond the human realm further out towards the galactic edge and inwards towards the core, and the previously unknown alien races that are found there. However there is a little more than finding alien races, it is also about how information about nearby cultures and races is known with certainty, and that information about those further away is less clear, and the further you go the more that it is difficult to disentangle myth and legend from reality. This gave the story an ambiance that I liked.

It made me think about the different types of science fiction universe that different writers have explored.

1) Humans have developed Solar system but there are no aliens (Grant Naylor's Red Dwarf)
2) Humans exist in a different galaxy with lots of aliens so no contact with Earth or Earth culture (George Lucas' Star Wars)
3) Humans have developed a scientifically sophisticated galaxy wide civilization where aliens abound where Earth was possibly the origin (Iain M. Banks Culture novels, Vernor Vinge's Fire series)
4) Humans have a multi-star system reach but connection with Earth is only through religious myth - not many aliens around (Frank Herbert's Dune)
5) Humans have left a post-apocalyptic Earth to populate a different Solar System - not many aliens around (Joss Whedon's FireFly)
6) Humans have a multi-star system reach based around Earth side by side with lots of other multi-star system aliens (Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek)

I couldn't find another similar analysis in a quick search although Wikipedia does have a list of fictional Galactic Empires. I guess these different flavours of the space travel science fiction sub-genre are largely derived from imagining humankinds possible spread through the galaxy. The universe that George R.R. Martin creates reminds me a little of Terry Pratchett's early science fiction novels. I guess the dimensions along which all these flavours vary is the number and distribution of sentient life forms that humans encounter; the characteristics of the interstellar transport mechanisms available, the spread of humanity and the fate of Earth. I guess I have half a mind that by understanding the way in which these things vary that I might be able to come up with a novel flavour ...

Themes that I haven't read or heard about yet are science fiction stories that involve no humans whatsoever, or stories that are beyond the scope of a single galaxy.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Okay, so after seeing JJ Abrahm's work on Star Trek, I took a look at Fringe, which is pretty interesting, and I like alot of the characters. However it does feel a bit XFiles remake, and I some of the plot threads seemed a little thin, e.g. [spoiler alert] the older scientist saying that he invented a time machine to go back in time to find another scientist who had invented a cure for a disease his son had. I mean I have no problem with time machines in stories, but the idea that it would be easier to construct a time machine that to actually find a cure for a particular disease seems preposterous to me. I mean maybe if you have spent your life as a theoretical physicist and have no medical training, but even then, just to start down that path of trying to build a time machine to try and get round the problem of curing a disease.

Well, anyhow, I guess that is all debatable, but then at the end of another episode [spoiler alert] when a key witness asks to be moved and protected to avoid being killed, but then ends up being killed in apparently the same hospital bed just seems a kind of ridiculous. I mean I guess that's incompetence on the part of the homeland security officials the show is about, but it was just something that broke the suspension of disbelief that I think is critical to enjoy shows like these. I've talked about this before in my technical blog, and it is definitely something on my mind at the moment. Legend of the Seeker has certainly broken my suspension of disbelief recently, but that is a story for another blog post.

Yes Man

So I had put off watching this because I kind of felt like, well I have seen lots of Jim Carrey films, and although I thought them hysterically funny when I was in my 20s, it was a bit like, well been there, done that. However a week or so later when my wife said she'd be interested to see it, I grabbed it as movies we are both prepared to watch are relatively few and far between.

And I really enjoyed it. Carrey is starting to look a little older, which is kind of oddly noticeable given the younger actors and actresses he is appearing with, but he is still damned funny. Also, I really liked the premise of the movie about forcing yourself to try out lots of new things. Of course my wife and I both agreed that this becomes much more challenging when you have children, especially babies around. I gave us a positive spin on that by saying that she and I had done our new things in our twenties such as travelling to new countries, learning languages and marrying each other, so it wasn't like we are stuck somewhere watching DVDs every night - we watch about one a week, and now with three kids there is not a lot of space for radically new things.

That said I think I am gasping for new stuff. Or just anything to distract me from the grind of washing, feeding and caring for 3 boys under 5. We're blessed, but it is a grind. Anyhow, Yes Man was fun, and at heart quite a touching love story with lots of laughs, perfect for my wife and I once the kids had gone to bed :-)

The Deal

So inspired by watching Frost/Nixon I picked up a copy of The Deal, the "prequel" to The Queen as it is branded in the US. Not really in the league of "The Queen" or Frost/Nixon, but still interesting, particularly since as a UK citizen I was in the UK for the whole time of the events in the film. After Blair was elected I always remember reading in the Guardian that the interaction to watch in the coming years would be the Blair/Brown one rather than a Blair plus Conservative opposition leader. I always thought that a little odd. I think just that I didn't really get the idea of conflict over the leadership position within a party - I had just been very focused on the party vs party conflict of Labour vs. Conservatives during the years that I became aware of UK politics.

Anyway, the film was pretty good (especially the interspersed historical news footage) and really put me in touch with the concept of fighting over the leadership of a political party. How politicians will start off being small and unimportant and work their way up to positions of power. Of course many will not make it to the "top job", and so the superficial take that this ascent to power is the process that all politicians go through is just that. And of course it is all very interesting given Blair's abdication the other year, and the difficulties that Brown has had since becoming prime minister. Certainly a thought-provoking film and I will definitely watch the third part in the trilogy that is apparently being made about the Clinton-Blair relationship.

Its odd how mundane and boring low level political activity seems, to me at least, and how once it gets above a certain level appears to be of earth shaking importance; although I wonder to what extent governments really affect how the economy works. I guess they must have an influence due to the tax revenues they control, but I wonder if they ever achieve their intended effects, if organisations comprised of multiple individuals can actually have 'intentions'.

Saturday, 2 May 2009


So I watched the Frost/Nixon film last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recreation of the 70's locations and costumes was very convincing; and the whole interview as boxing match metaphor worked really well for me.  Partly as a result of watching this I've grabbed a copy of "The Deal", some of Michael Sheen's early work.  I was quite moved by Sheen's portrayal of David Frost, particularly in those moments when it seemed like the big undertaking of the Nixon interviews was all falling apart.  I was also startled to find that Michael Sheen played the lycanthrope Lucian in the Underworld series, as I totally hadn't recognized him.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Ono Pono blog started

I've started a blog for the Ono Pono Sustainability cafe - check it out:

Sustainability is all about loving the environment, and that's all part of MOre LOve.