Lights, camera, action... 
Someone stole Bronwyn's camera yesterday. Rachael and Bronwyn were at the zoo, and Rachael had put it down to help some other people. When she went back, it had gone. She's been really upset and didn't sleep last night. But they met some people from Christchurch, and had a good time otherwise wandering round the zoo, and they came here for lunch and an afternoon at the beach.

Sigrid's been out with another family to their holiday house up north. I've been out with the brass band for a concert on the park courtesy of the Council. And I got the table (well, phase 2) finished yesterday.

It's got 32 lights on top, hidden around the circuit board, and controlled from underneath. It's also got three super-bright green lights underneath. We wanted blue, but they were out of stock. But green looks fine. It gives it a nice sci-fi look. And it's very impressive in the dark. Might try making them pulsate ominously if I can.

I've also been busy doing funding applications for the youth work again. The applications have been sent; now I've got two of them asking for further information. You wouldn't believe how much stuff some of them ask for. I've given one lot three different references (and they want a fourth) bank balances, deposit slip, timelines and milestones, job descriptions, budgets, financial statements and probably several other things. Strangely, another lot just wanted a couple of paragraphs. Didn't feel right, somehow!

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Drugs 
Had a full weekend. We went to the Pasifika festival on Saturday. It's supposed to be the largest cultural festival in the southern hemisphere. Not sure how much culture there is in the southern hemisphere, but it certainly was quite big. There were about ten "villages", for each country represented. We started at Tonga, and worked our way round. Stopped at a couple of shows, including a rather impressive one from Tahiti. There were also hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of things. Sigrid came home with a collection of clothes, a necklace and an anklet with little bells. She also bought the girls a toffee apple each, which we managed to consume between us somehow. And I bought some drugs.

I assume kava must be a legal import, because one stall in Tonga was selling it in some quantity. It's a mild anaesthetic, and sends you to sleep eventually, although it tastes like dishwater. I guess that's not a problem once you can't feel your tongue any more. We had some in Fiji, so I thought I'd give Sigrid a cultural experience. She's already sick of coconut juice.

On Saturday night, Sigrid had been invited to a party down at the beach. Venla's hosts took them down. About 90 minutes later they rang for a lift. They hadn't found the party, and had walked for ages along the beach. So I drove along a side road to see if we could find it. Except that the side road happened to be a camp site, and got locked at 9pm. They wouldn't let me out. Bronwyn's dad had to pick me up, and then Bronwyn took me down the next morning to get the car. I picked up a young guy on the way back, who'd been to the party. Apparently the party had already finished by the time Sigrid and Venla arrived, because ... well ... maybe it wasn't perhaps the sort of party they might have wanted to be at!

Kumeu show on Sunday. I did four sessions on the trombone, and managed to keep going somehow, but was pretty shattered by the end. It was worth it. Bronwyn took everyone else down. Rachael and Sarah got in free because they were helping at the Girl Guides.

Bronwyn had her wisdom tooth out last week, and it got infected, so she had to go to the emergency doctors on Sunday. She's a lot better now, apart from nearly throwing up when all the pus came out!

I once made some lights for the trombone, with a pattern generated by a control box and 16KB of memory chips. Except that it's no use at Christmas here because it's always blazing sun. So now I've been putting lights in the table I made (with the computer in it). 24 lights in. 6 to go, plus a few extra bright blue ones underneath.

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Camp 
Rachael's off at Girl Guide camp. Sigrid's off at a delayed induction camp. Sarah spent Friday night at Nanna's. So Bronwyn decided to take me out to a restaurant for the evening. Nice pizza. Quite cheap, and friendly service, although the waitress was dressed a little odd. Top half - dapper 1920's, complete with feathers. Bottom half - rugby shorts and socks.

Sigrid's hoping to go to Easter camp with the church, but it clashes with the South Island trip, so she's doing that later in the year.

We had a lot of rain, so I've filled up the paddling pool and Sarah's had a great time out there with an umbrella. Bronwyn's made a canopy with scraps of material, tent poles, guy ropes and yards of duct tape.

Last night was a charity concert for the Christchurch earthquake appeal. Next week is the Kumeu Show. Then it's another concert for the council. Unusually busy for this time of year. Meanwhile we're moving into the new band room (which is absolutely huge compared to the old one) apart from some final carpentry and finishing off.

My proudest moment was fixing Sigrid's clock. The hour hand wasn't moving. I took it all to pieces, and right at the back the hour cog has one missing tooth and two bent ones. I unbent them, and it seems to have worked. Meanwhile, the cat has bitten through Bronwyn's power cord for her laptop. Fortunately it was only the 19V end. Looks like it's time for a new one because the plug is falling apart. And the boss has let me buy some LEDs to put into the table I made at work. I've ordered some coloured ones to put around the inside, and three super bright ones for underneath. Six hundred candle power each. Blue. Should look cool, if the carpet doesn't catch fire.



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Differentiation. 
The news has had little else apart from the Christchurch earthquake. It looks like it could end up worse than the Hastings-Napier quake where 256 people died. Bronwyn's brother might end up going down to help. We've had to get a Girl Guide uniform for Rachael second hand, since most of the new stock is buried in the headquarters. Just heard today that the family of the soldier recently killed in Afghanistan have cancelled the military funeral so that the regiment can return to New Zealand and help out.

Otherwise, it's been a quiet week. Sigrid has had plenty of homework, much of which involves endless equations and calculus. Bronwyn has finally sent off the forms to renew her teaching certificate. Rachael has been out at a Girl Guide camp for the weekend. Last night, one of the neighbours had a party, and we were all invited. Sigrid and her two friends were helping in the kitchen, and didn't get to bed until at least 2am. They're looking a little tired today.

I gave Sigrid a driving lesson. Her first. She's not allowed to drive on the road, so we went round the paddock. She got the hang of it quite quickly, and managed to avoid hitting the cows. She was really pleased afterwards! When they've mowed the big paddock, we might try second gear.

It was the 65th anniversary at the church today. We had several visiting speakers, and a big photo call out the front. We're still in the old building, although it's been some time since we bought a new plot of land. Trying to pay off the mortgage first...



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Action packed 
Sigrid is settling in really well. Sarah loves her, and falls asleep on her in the car. Rachael is really pleased to have a big sister with her on the school bus. She's getting on OK at school, and I've been teaching her music and (briefly) calculus. She's also been to the youth group, met lots of people she knew from school and won the limbo dancing. She's also joked about taking her swimming togs with her everywhere, because Aucklanders don't seem to be able to survive long out of water.

We took her to the Chinese Lantern festival, where there were a number of sculpted lanterns, various performances and martial arts, and thousands of people. It wasn't easy moving around. But it's all about cultural understanding. I hear China is pretty crowded too.

The brass band is nearing completion on the new hall, and we've had several weekends to clean and decorate it before we move in. We've been rehearsing in an old packing shed, which is also being used by the petanque club. We blast them out, and they entertain us with their drunken laughter at the after match drinks. It'll be great to have a hall to ourselves!

My boss wants me to pimp my table. The one I built from an old computer server. He wants blue strobe lights and compressors to bounce the legs. I might manage the strobe lights. We've taken on a couple of new people, and things have been gearing up over the last year, although still far too much work to do.

Haymaking is still underway. Sigrid wanted to learn to drive, but she's not allowed on the road. So once they've done the big paddock, I might take her for some lessons. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's brother got told that the baler was 3 centimetres too wide, and he'd have to buy flags to mark it. Then Bronwyn's dad managed to lose one. Bronwyn made a new one out of some bright yellow furry material. It's really bright, and somewhat frilly, but a little too small for the regulations, so we might have to extend the material.

Warm and dry. Haven't had much rain since Sigrid arrived, but it's all still quite green. Fortunately Sigrid hasn't got any more sunburn, and is showing a bit of a tan. She's also taken to running up the hill and right round the forest, which is more than I've ever done.



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