Thursday, August 31, 2006

An interesting true story.

Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms!

Note: This article was severely edited from Wikipedia. The original information is here.

I always liked this story when I heard it in Good Will Hunting because;
1) The language of mathematics broke culteral and class barriers in the early 1900's between a poor Indian student, and a learned Cambridge mathematician, and
2) True talent comes not from training, but from our truest desires.

Srinivāsa Aiyangār Rāmānujan was an Indian mathematician and one of the greatest mathematical geniuses of the twentieth century. He is widely considered the greatest mathematical prodigy that the world has ever seen.

A child prodigy, he was largely self-taught in mathematics and had compiled over 3,000 theorems between 1914 and 1918 at the University of Cambridge. Often, his formulas were merely stated, without proof, and were only later proven to be true. His results were highly original and unconventional, and have inspired a large amount of research and many mathematical papers; however, some of his discoveries have been slow to enter the mathematical mainstream.

In 1898, at age 10, he entered the Town High School in Kumbakonam, where he may have encountered formal mathematics for the first time. At 11 he had mastered the mathematical knowledge of two lodgers at his home, both students at the Government College, and was lent books on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney, which he mastered by age 13. His peers at the time commented later, "We, including teachers, rarely understood him" and "stood in respectful awe" of him.At this time in his life, he was quite poor and was often near the point of starvation.

In late 1912 and early 1913 Ramanujan sent letters and examples of his theorems to three Cambridge academics: H. F. Baker, E. W. Hobson, and G. H. Hardy. Only Hardy, a Fellow of Trinity College to whom Ramanujan wrote in January 1913, recognized the genius demonstrated by the theorems.

Although Hardy was one of the pre-eminent mathematicians of his day and an expert in several of the fields Ramanujan was writing about, he commented, "many of them defeated me completely; I had never seen anything in the least like them before."

After some initial skepticism, Hardy replied with comments, requesting proofs for some of the discoveries, and began to make plans to bring Ramanujan to England.

Plagued by health problems all of his life, living in a country far from home, and obsessively involved with his studies, Ramanujan's health worsened in England, perhaps exacerbated by stress, and by the scarcity of vegetarian food during the First World War.
He returned to India in 1919 and died soon after in Kumbakonam, his final gift to the world being the discovery of 'mock theta functions'.

G. H. Hardy wrote of Ramanujan:

* "I still say to myself when I am depressed, and find myself forced to listen to pompous and tiresome people, 'Well, I have done one thing you could never have done, and that is to have collaborated with both Littlewood and Ramanujan on something like equal terms.'"

* "I remember once going to see Ramanujan when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. 'No,' he replied, 'it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.'"

* "...[T]he greatest mathematicians made their most significant discoveries when they were very young. Galois who died at 20, Abel at 26, and Riemann at 39, had actually made their mark in history. So the real tragedy of Ramanujan was not his early death at the age of 32, but that in his most formative years, he did not receive proper training, and so a significant part of his work was rediscovery..."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Me and me mates are islands

I lived here!

In my opinion, all men are islands.
And what's more, now's the time to be one.
This is an island age.

Every man is an island. And I stand by that.
But clearly, some men are part of island chains.
Below the surface of the ocean they're actually connected.

These words of wisdom from Nick Hornby

Did I mention that we are basically misunderstood? Oh and deep as well!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Car Guys

Not the authors first choice

I must admit I've taken a few knocks lately. A couple of weeks after being told I wasn't good enough to be introduced as a possible date to a girl, my friends now say I should buy a Toyota Corolla.
It is a well known fact that you are not what you eat, but what you drive. Suggesting I am a potential Toyota Corolla driver cuts to the core essence of who I am. And I'm damn sure I'm not ready to drive into a life of four door domesticality - well at least not yet.
When I suggested a hot hatch, say in the theme of a VW Golf or 206 GTI, IG said, "But it's French - are you sure it's you?". He then went on to further insult me by suggesting an Australian Holden or Ford might be more my cup of tea...Ouch.
I think it's important to take time to explain just how shallow we car guys can be. For car guys a car is an extension of oneself. Like a favourite t shirt or clothes that sum up how we see ourselves, a car is an integral part of how we want others to see us. You may think that a Toyota Corolla is a good practical car; and you'd be right. A Toyota Corolla is also a sensible car choice - they run and run, are cheap to fix if they break, and the resale value is often good. But although these are all perfectly good reasons to buy a Corolla, they are also the exact same reasons that send the car guys running and screaming for the hills at the thought of owning said car. Does a car guy want to drive what is effectively the plaid suit of the car world? I think not! Buying the Corolla says you either dont care what people think about you, or worse, you really think its a good car. Either way the car guy laughs at the Corolla driver, and would rather spend time on the side of the road fixing his Italian 70's sportcar with crap electrics (BUT with lots of street cred), simply because he can talk at length about the whole thing with his car buddies later. The more exotic the fault the more worthwhile the car.
To the car guy it's an accepted fact that the more exclusive or stupid your car choice, the more you'll be happy with the choice. Take a V8, or something exceedingly small - either is fine. Pick a standout colour and make it as impractical as possible. Or better yet, choose not to own a car - because for the car guy it's not what car you drive today, but the potential car you could drive tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


You know - the muse just isnt there.
I could go on about about how I find it odd than men with moustaches get
I could discuss my fruitless search for a new movie that invokes an emotional response...but...nah
I could take a general rant and wax lyrical - but you know - It's just not happening.
IG probably hit it on the head when he said ( and I'm paraphrasing here) "we dont have to endure sad fucking storys about your return to Auckland do we ?"
No you dont - and when the muse takes me: I'll be back. It may even be tomorrow - but it isnt today.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Technical Difficulties

If for some reason the previous video clip doesnt show in Firefox, just "right click" on the video's player control panel (next to the the play button) and select Options. Change the video acceleration pointer to the middle position as in this screen shot.

Then click OK.
Some Firefox users commented you could only see the clip when scrolling. This should sort that problem. Internet Explorer users should have no issues. Except for still using Internet Explorer that is :)
It took me over an hour working on this to realise it wasnt an html coding issue - and it was just a Firefox glitch in the end. Yes I have no life.
BTW:I also stopped the video from auto playing - so you have to press the play button to start the clip - just wait a few seconds for it to buffer first ok?
But all that said, it is worth it in the end I assure you. Bears rock!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Holiday music.

This song was going on and on inside my head while skiing. People on the slopes must have been wondering why I kept saying "hip hip" for no apparent reason :)

The lyrics are below the clip, should you be interested. Enjoy!

weezer - island in the sun (ver 1)

Hip hip
Hip hip
Hip hip
Hip hip

When you're on a holiday
You can't find the words to say
All the things that come to you
And I wanna feel it too

On an island in the sun
We'll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain

Hip hip
Hip hip

When you're on a golden sea
You don't need no memory
Just a place to call your own
As we drift into the zone

On an island in the sun
We'll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain

We'll run away together
We'll spend some time forever
We'll never feel that anymore

Hip hip
Hip hip
Hip hip

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meet Frank

Ok - so I have a problem. Apparently last year I discovered a nasty thing - I am a perfectionist. For some strange reason this "perfection angle" doesnt apply to my bedroom - which is currently a bomb site. It also (apparently) doent apply to my kitchen, where I have yet to clean tonights dishes. My perfection is, for some reason, the way I approach "projects".
I've always liked certain things "just so". When I decide to so things like restore a car, or even a Raleigh Chopper bicycle, half arsed is just not good enough. Although I cant paint or draw I love to create something beautiful every now and again, and in a funny kind of way skiing is about the only sport I take seriously enough to be a project.
A while back now, when I decided I was going to give this skiing thing a real go, I decided I wasnt just going to snow plow down a slope - I was going to master the damn thing, and ski with style and grace. I now realise that this will probably be a lifelong exercise. This is because I only ski for two weeks a year, and even then not every day I'm on holiday. So if I want to achieve this goal I need an edge. Meet Frank.
Use the force Mark!

Frank is an excellent ski instructor who drew the short straw many years ago, and has so far managed to mould, what was initially a wad of cookie dough, into a carving fool. If you are ever in Queenstown in the winter, and feel the need to take the plunge into what I promise you is an excellent way to spend the day, grab Frank for a lesson - he's the real deal. Say you know Mark from Auckland and he may share some insite into my compulsive need to ski :)
I hasten to add It's also a unique experience to have an instructor from New Zealand, while you're in New Zealand.
This year was a landmark one in my ski development. I now have turned the corner, and actually find it hard to "skid- ski" in a more traditional style - now I'm pretty much carving all the time. This in a way mean's I have (momentarily) stepped back a little to concentrate on control - something I had mastered before I moved on to the new style of skiing. It's just that I'm skiing with so much more speed now - it's amazing.
Sorry for the rant on skiiing - beware it's seductive nature. I fell and so can you.
Thanks for another great year Frank!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Everything old is new again

Today was the first week day I've had in Dunedin since April so I was busy catching up on all the stuff I couldn't do in the weekend. After a bit of a lie-in I headed off to see my Capri which is in storage. It was just as I left it; I connected the battery and started her up to make sure everything was going as it should - it was great seeing the old girl running again.
After that I visited my ex work-mates at Downer Engineering. It was really great to see all the people I used to work with. Nig's was in top form, and looked really great after what must have been a pretty shitty year for her. It's hard to believe it's nearly been four years since I've left, but in so many ways I'm a completely different person to the one who left all those years ago. Everything was still as I remember it, like I'd just been on a couple of weeks leave, due to start back there today. Obviously my Downers life is over, however the best part (i.e. the friendships), remain strong.
After lunch with Murray and Robbie I headed off to see Sandra and Keri. These two girls I've known for the longest time. I've blogged on Sandra here, and have yet to write about Keri - dont worry, I will when I get up the courage. Needless to say I really miss their company when I'm in Auckland - Keri for her no bull attitude and wicked sense of humour, and Sands because we have so much history together. Tim tams and afternoon tea behind me I headed off to see Craig (Keri's husband) to talk some bull (as guys do). I then rushed off to pick up my ski's (now prepared for next season), before racing off to Fairfield to help Mum and Dad move furniture around so they could get their new carpet put down tomorrow.
All in all a busy day, but the weird thing is this; it's like all the "old" experiences I had today have somehow been made new again. Perhaps the connections we make in this life renew with every revisit? Maybe each friend we cross paths with restores some bond, maybe in some way made stronger. It seems that even though I no longer live here, my friendships are as strong as ever.
Dunnoz rocks!

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's all over

I faced today with a certain trepidation. It's my last day in Queenstown - tomorrow I head back to Dunnoz until Tuesday, when I fly back to Auckland.
As always there have been a few upsets during my time away, mostly involving work. It's amazing how a change in working conditions can upset people, especially when communication from management is poor. I've gotten used to change over the last few years, but I've never brought into the "Who moved my Cheese" arguement, which basically states everything changes and adapting to change is the best thing you can do - not, "they" hasten to add, look for cheese outside your current job. Like most people I look at the whole package - if "they" keep reducing my package I may choose to leave - and honestly - if you're not prepared to do that, you might as well ask your boss to treat you like shit. Believe me - they tend to in those situations anyway.
New Zealander's as a whole work too damn hard these days - dont get me wrong, that's not always a bad thing; there just has to be a balance between your work and home life. New Zealander's have to strive to find that balance, perhaps in the process we may manage to reduce those horrific suicide numbers we hear about all the time.
On a lighter note I'm trying to think of what to countdown to on my countdown timer now skiing is over - If you have any suggestions drop me an email. In the meantime I'll play with a few ideas. Oh - and if the tone of my posts are a little "blue" over the next couple of weeks - I'll get over it. It's just the South Island is a completely different place to visit than the North, and it takes a bit of time to aclimatise once you get back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The fine art of falling over

So - I'm trying this the old fashioned way. I'm writing this post on paper, then later I plan to type this all down.
IG arrived sans Tyler last night - so we are now three in Q'town. Fat Trevor, IG and I dropped into the Cow tonight for fun and games around a couple of large pizzas. If you are EVER in Queenstown you must visit the Cow. The Cow offers a rustic dining experience, not to mention lovely pasta and pizza. If you prefer a combination perhaps a bolognese pizza - its a favourite staple of visitors to this fine town.
So - full of pizza we rented Serenity and series one of Scrubs, and settled down with a bottle of 42 Below. I have discovered similar traits to my friends and scrubs characters. IG is Turk, while Trevor is Todd. I continue to be JD - much to my regret, and I'm starting to think Doctor Cox is Kibbles.
Needless to say - the vodka bottle was dealt to and we all sloped off to bed giggling like schoolgirls. It was a good day :)
Tomorrow, Frank, my patient ski instructor will attempt once again to take me to the next level of ski godliness - he is perhaps an eternal optimist. I will blog on Frank in an upcoming post.
As the day comes to and end, I must reluctantly count down another day of my leave. Reality beckons, and I dont like the tune it's humming. Holidays are a brilliant opportunity to put your life on hold - avoiding decisions for another day. Long may holidays rein, still nothing lasts forever.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Damn spelling mistakes

Shoot this man!

At the moment I'm writing from an Internet Cafe, getting charged 10 cents a minute, and though I have all the time in the world I still tend to rush.
Normally I take my time online and although some of my blogs dont seem it - I actually make an effort to try and make some sense in my posts. Nothing pisses me off more than checking my blog remotely via my mobile and finding a spelling mistake - knowing full well I can't change it until the next day. God - it's like wearing a red and green sock at the same time, and being told you cant change them (even though there's an identical pair in your sock drawer)- anarchy!!!!
On the plus side; I'm definately getting used to the snow conditions here - and am fast becoming a confident skier on ice. The break from home is working well and although I'm missing Cheezel's hugs, I'm already losing track of world events. I hear there have been major hassles at work, but I'm managing to skirt a fine line between gossip and getting involved. Juicy stuff all the same...

My biggest worry at the moment is why they havent voted off Santino in Project Runway. [Beware: Possible Spoilers in link]. The man is horrid!!!!!!!

So, apart from Project Runway, life is good, though I can't help but think peace in the Middle East will ever happen, if I can't even begin to forgive Telecom. So I must work on that... oh and my spelling... maybe just the spelling then?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Skiing but not as we know it.

Night Skiing on Friday nights!
It seems that the snow conditions were stellar "last week", but upon my arrival it has rained on the ski field, turning beautiful snow into sheet ice with delicate sugar type snow frosting.

While a new dumping a snow will always be appreciated, one can get by in the meantime with a pair of ice-skates. I refuse to let the conditions get me down - I can yet attain a new level of ski-godliness, which I hasten to add, has nothing to do with being clean.

So to those planing on staying next week - get all your bitching over before you arrive, as I wont have a bar of it while you're here. Speaking of bar's, you'll be pleased to know the beer, wine and food remain top notch, as always.

And to anyone contemplating visiting New Zealand, a winter stay in Queenstown is a must.

Anyhoo - gotta rush. To the pub!!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The beautiful people

Years ago, in Dunedin, someone had gone to the lengths of painting grafitti on a piece of fencing. Every day as I drove to work it would shout its message as I went by. The message, by the way, was "Absolute beauty rules"; and Queenstown proves its point.

It can be a daunting prospect - surrounded by the young, attractive, and wealthy. I can't work out why it never bothered me in the past - perhaps because I never noticed it to the same degree, or perhaps now I realise that I have none of the prerequisites to be here?

Although, buried beneath the layers of ski clothing, the distinctions can blur, and perhaps for a while we can be one. This I can only hope.