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Purfect…

August 18, 2011
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You’ll understand the title of the post when you look at the latest Mars Rocks!

 

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Snow Joke

August 17, 2011
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Wellington does not have a very broad temperature range. Just one look at the flora and an expert (not me) will tell you that it’s not a town where frosts are a problem. At the other end of the scale the heat is never crazy – although the sun will burn unprotected skin as if you were a vampire. Rain falls in fairly plentiful dollops, sun shines brightly at random times of the year, wind is plentiful and thunder storms are rare. Even rarer is snow, and even when it does flutter down, it doesn’t settle, such is the ground temperature. But on Sunday it did, and even more surprisingly it came again on Monday and Tuesday.

Snowellington...

Living where I do I should be thankful that snow isn’t very common because, to get to my house, you have to take a road that can be fairly described as a little bit precipitous. Although, if you did drive off the edge, chances are that your potentially terminal rolling and bouncing would be broken by an unsuspecting house. Although, should the occupants of the house survive your intrusion, they might beat you up for wrecking their home.

On Monday night, the narrow, long and winding road that leads to my door was coated with a thick slush. I was nearly at the top, when… a RAV4 was parked across the road, squarely across the road, like something out of an Austin Powers movie. Someone approached my car and I ventured into the blizzard to find out what was going on.

As far as I can recall, one car coming up the road had met one going down the road, parked cars making the road a single track. These cars had hit each other but the RAV4, behind the car coming down, had braked and swerved right, towards the edge of the road, towards the void. The front right wheel had left the road, and dropped into the well caused by steps down to someone’s house; pitching the back left wheel into the air. This being a toy 4×4, not a proper off-road vehicle, I doubt it had the necessary diff-lock options that would have made it possible to reverse it out of this dog-cocking-a-leg-for-a-piss position.

The occupants were safe, although they may die of the irony of being in an SUV and ending up like that. One should also pity the poor owner of the scooter that was parked at the top of the steps that the RAV4 encroached upon, and was hit squarely by it – seriously, what are the chances?

There was no chance of moving the RAV 4 in those conditions, especially considering there was no way to get a tow truck above the vehicle. So I parked up as best I could (traction was not in my favour) and trudged the short distance home.

Knowing the conditions, the width of the road and how much trouble I’d had getting the car into that parking space, I had a feeling my car wouldn’t be safe. And guess what, I was right. But was it just a scratch? No. It was a scratch down both the front and rear door and a gouging into the back left wing. The gouge, which is above the wheel arch, is so deep and open that you could use it to store things in. The cars around mine showed the same damage.

If you're going to add a pocket to a car, then do it to your own bloody car!

Whoever did it, knows they did it, and knows they did it to several vehicles.

Wish me luck in finding the bastards.

 


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Dinner Party

August 13, 2011
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Anyone who has ever had a dinner party will be able to relate to the latest Mars Rocks!

Mars Rocks! - Keeping it real...


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Social Space Gaming

August 13, 2011
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Over on my professional(ish) blog, an idea for a game you can play in cafes

 


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For Fiscals Sake!

August 10, 2011
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I know just enough about economics to feel comfortable ranting about just about any move that any country takes on economic or fiscal policy.

However, it doesn’t matter what I say, because the Mars Rocks! can do it much, much better.

 


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Cash From Catastrophe

August 9, 2011
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When you’re trying to be an eco friendly company the last thing you want to see is a scrap heap of rejected product, much less your product. But that’s what Wishbone Design faced, when they found out that 1-in-4 of their bike frames that were being stamped out at the factory were on the seam of the plywood sheets.

Wishbone Design's amazing transforming bike...

Structurally and finish-wise there was nothing wrong with these pieces, but they didn’t have the perfect appearance that was desired, so the factory was stacking them up, ready for burning.

To find a solution Wishbone set themselves a challenge to find a way to make more money from these rejects than from their regular stock. With the correct challenge in place they found a solution in minutes: Each year they commission an artist to design a paint job for the rejects. They then sell these redecorated bikes as limited editions.

Victory, from the jaws of defeat. Brilliant.

Money, from the clutches of waste. Even better.

 


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Sparkling Audio!

August 8, 2011
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Ages ago I my brother asked me if I’d ever thought about doing a podcast. I had, and I’d rejected it, because I thought it would be too much work. First you have to figure out what you’re going to say, which involves writing it down, then you have to actually say it, which involves cocking up a million times. Better to write it and then post it, cutting out the audio middle man.

But then, last week, I was at Wellington’s Social Media Club (being spectacularly unsocial, as it happens) and Jayson Bryant was talking about his own first faltering steps in the podcast game, and I felt strangely inspired.

His honesty made it sound like an adventure, almost a challenge. So I forgot all my sensible objections to doing a podcast and began pondering the subject. Fate helped me along with this time wasting by dumping a decent topic in my lap in the form of a news item on Gamasutra, about a wildly expensive item you can buy in a game called Gun Bros.

Everything I expected about the process turned out to be true. First I wrote down what I was going to say, in the detail that I would if I was going to publish the text. Then I arsed around with microphones and cocked about with recording software. I still don’t think it sounds as good as it should but I got it recorded, in the end, after several hours.

Then I realised I had no idea where to actually plonk the MP3 (it’s audio only at the moment, although I might add some images for fun). Finally I found a host and uploaded the thing with much relief, and after ignoring my girlfriend for several precious weekend hours.

As far as I know, only two people have listened to it – me, and I’m sick of hearing my own voice now, and my girlfriend, who thinks I sound like I need a poo.

Anyway, it’s only 3 minutes of your life, so have a listen and see what you think!

 

 

 

 


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Shootin’

August 4, 2011
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I’ve fired tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousand, maybe even millions of rounds of ammunition. Many times I have wielded a shotgun, at every range, in all conditions. But none of these events were real, they all took place in made-up videogame land.

Last Sunday I actually unloaded a twelve gauge for real, and it was fantastic.

Me and the Benelli - I didn't once notice the shell ejecting at the time...

Like many boys I was born with a fascination with guns. Once on a visit to the seaside I was allowed to get a toy from one of the many shops selling a wide variety of plastic toys, the inventiveness of which only exists in seaside towns. I chose a gun, a gun with a magazine that took a vast number of little grey plastic bullets.

Within hours it had been confiscated by my father. While my older brother lay prone on the floor I aimed the weapon at his groin and pulled the trigger. It was in the years when Fame was on TV, and even though it’s probably not true I like to imagine that the scream of his dismay was in time with the title line of the Fame theme song, and at the same pitch. I was six, my brother was 16; it must have been a lucky shot to have had such an impact through his trousers.

My untrustworthiness with anything firing projectiles was backed up by another incident, this time the gun in question fired spinning propellers. Fired vertically into the air they would gaily whirr skywards, before their rate of spin slowed to the point where gravity would pull them down again. Not much of a weapon, some would call it a launcher rather than a gun.

But what if…

Sat in the living room, playing next to my friend, I attached a propeller to the gun and wound it as tight as it would go. I turned, pointed and fired it into my friend’s face. He exploded into a wail. My mom scooped him up and consoled him. I got the usual “what did you do that for?” I guess I did it to see if it would hurt, and how much – I didn’t tell my mom that. I’m not proud of this action, I feel guilty about it on a frighteningly regular basis, but I am glad that I wasn’t daft enough to test it on my own face.

None of my fellow clay pigeon shooters were aware of these incidents on Sunday. They may not have come if they had been; people are very judgemental.

It took some time to reach Hotshots Clay Target Shooting, in theory about an hour out of Wellington, and we were late. The large lateness was a compound of various smaller latenesses, only some of which were my fault. Upon arrival I apologised profusely to Julia, our host and teacher. She was very nice about it all.

Once there we took a thrilling off road ride further into the hills, along a track of wild ruts that threw us around inside the Toyota as it teetered on the edge of a precipitous drop. I was nervous, but not about the drop. What if I cocked up, what if I spun round and pointed the gun at my companions, what if I was Dick Cheney. Although, if I was dick Cheney, I think my gun skills would be the least of my problems.

The ride ended in a beautiful spot overlooking a conifer carpeted valley, with the view expertly framed by nature itself. We were talked through the two weapons on offer, a sturdy looking Winchester over/under and a high tech Benelli something or other. I paid careful attention to the bits about safety mechanisms and not pointing the gun at people or my own foot, especially the bit about my own foot – the pain would only last for awhile, but the shame would be eternal.

Fearful that my rampant nerves would consume me if I didn’t have a go quickly, I threw myself forward to go second, it was a birthday outing and it wasn’t my birthday, so I couldn’t justifiably go first. I chose the Winchester for no good reason. Julia made sure I had my ear defenders on properly, was holding the gun well and got my stance sorted out. Then it was up to me.

“Pull” I said as confidently as I could manage and stared intently down the sight. The clay pigeon was flung out over the trees ahead of me. I lined it up as I saw fit and squeezed the trigger. They always say to squeeze the trigger on TV shows. I might have snatched at the bugger like a kid being offered cake, but I don’t really recall, so I’m going to say I did it correctly. I expected the thing to kick hard into my shoulder, but it was more of a really forceful shove, like a drunk mate making a point. It was the mad rearing of the business end (I learned that from TV too) that disconcerted me.

After two shots I got to break the gun and take out the still smoking shells, I enjoyed that immensely, once I realised they weren’t hot. After five clays it was time to pass on the boom stick. I hit some of the targets, which was good enough for me.

On my second set I switched to the Benelli, which was incredibly light compared to the Winchester but seemed ridiculously long. I got lucky with this high tech weapon and hit all five targets. Amazement consumed me, but I knew it was a fluke and my skills went downhill from thereon in.

For the next five I switched back to the Winchester and my sighting was still okay but the high of the adrenaline was affecting my stability. I couldn’t stop the gun from quivering, I must have been shaking all over, and the firmer I tried to hold it the more it jittered about. I still took down three of the clays but the strain was immense.

Fifteen shots is what you get for your $50 dollars but me and Adrian, whose birthday we were there to celebrate, went for another five. This may have been five shots too far. That would be a great name for a western, although it wouldn’t be a very compelling story if is based on what was to come.

I couldn’t get the gun comfortable and those shakes were now crazy. I was looking down the barrel and it was shuddering wildly. I could have made a sweet martini for Mr Bond.

How many clays did I hit with those final five rounds? Let’s put it this way, I might as well have just picked up the cartridges and chucked them into the void.

It was time to get a pint. What a buzz. You should try it.

 


Posted in Diary