NZ Secret Santa

A few years ago, a creative kiwi – @websam came up with the idea of running a secret-santa (kriskindl) on a country-wide scale. Basically you sign up on Twitter and you are allocated a random person to send a gift too (it’s all quite anonymous). It has now been taken over and run by the new zealand post secretsanta elves. My friend @alison encouraged me to do it, and I’m super glad I did – it was great fun. There’s a TedX talk of him explaining about it too.

It is random who you get, I was allocated a young lady from Auckland. I was completely terrified. I had nothing in common really. Still, I could see she was into dance & theatre and colour and unicorns & the TV show stranger things. So, I got her some awesome socks and a stranger things figurine. It seemed to go down well enough :)

My own secretsanta was….. ridiculously generous. I think the budget was supposed to be about $30-40 or something, and mine went way over the top! Super generous, very kind, I was really very touched by the lovely letter too. I really need to up my game for next year – that’s for sure! Awesome to finally have a whiskey flask!

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Croesus & Moonlight Valley

Croesus-Moonlight Valley

We headed away to walk the Croesus track. I’ve never done it before, though I’d certainly heard of it. You can also bike it (if you’re a decent biker). One of the problems with the walk is that it’s _not_ a loop track, so, you end up with having to hitch / organise someone to drop you back to where you started. Fortunately, we have a friend Ivor, and Ivor knows things about stuff! Ivor’s suggestion was to dump a bicycle at the Moonlight Valley end, and then do a _sort of_ loop and simply bike the 15/20km back to Blackball at the end. So, that’s what we did.

Ces Clark hutView from Ces Clark

Maaike had lots of days up her sleeve, and I have the luxury of being able, to some extent, make my own hours.. so, we headed off midweek (nice and quiet). It was quite a few hours up to the beautifully situated Ces Clark hut. Really lovely views, a nice pot-belly stove, and we had the entire place to ourselves.

The next day we were hoping that the weather would cheer up (it didn’t) so, we ended up starting walking at about 3pm or so. A little late. Our tramping book had suggested that there was a decentish camp spot “close to spot height 1147. I think our ideas of what constitutes a decent campspot are different. That said, we had quite bad visibility, so, it’s possible that there _were_ nice places and we just didn’t see it. So, it was a pretty uncomfortable night, though it definitely could have been worse.

thick mossKorumore mossTramping

Lovely walk out the next day down Moonlight Valley, can definitely recommend that. We did see quite a few people fossicking for gold at the end. Maaike had a nice chat with one of them while I went off to get the bike. I’d _thought_ there was an agreement that she’d start walking… but… I guess the lure of the gold was just too strong ;)

Fossick

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Cass Lagoon

A lovely trip up and around Cass Lagoon with Frances and Berit. It’s just an hour and a bits drive from ChCh so very accessible. The trip isn’t quite a loop so you end up having to hitch (or do a car shuttle at the end). Frances who is quite pregnant at the moment was still smashing me up the hills ;) Ridiculous state of affairs.

I was most impressed with her Coke Can stove. Basically a cheap trangia burner. What was interesting was that I didn’t see that she had built a pot support .. I’ll have to check up on that. Still, fantastically light. When you know you’re not going to be cooking outside, I’d say it’s a real winner actually.

Berit and FrancesBark detailMoss & LichenCareful nowBivLichen DetailSwing BridgeTopsHamilton Hut

I’ve also been out climbing a little (and playing squash a little more). Here’s Malc, enjoying the sun at cattlestop.

Malc climbing

Oh, I’ve also recently discovered the very nice Lichess thanks again to Malc. I’m pretty rubbish at chess, but, I’m enjoying improving a little. The Android app is especially nice. If you’re also pretty rubbish and fancy a game, let me know – I’m psdavey :)

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San Francisco

The main purpose of my trip to the states was to get to visit the client I work for, problem-attic, in their offices outside of San Francisco. It’s funny, you’d think being remote that maybe there’s no need, or at least not much of value to be gained in visiting, however, it was totally worth it. It was great to meet the team (and parts of the team that I had very little contact with before). I really enjoyed meeting them, a thoroughly nice bunch of people. I also got to meet Grace, a developer who used to work at Problem-Attic that I definitely miss having around :( . Thanks to Dan and the team for showing me a really great time, making me feel like one of the team, and for all the great little local eateries. I really do miss quality Mexican food!. Nyom.

TEAMMATES!Grace Norbert and meDan and meAlcatrazGolden Gate, maybeNot golden gate

I also managed to meet up with David Jones, my old boss from resolve digital who is now working at percy which sounds like it’s a very good startup and sounds very much like it’s on track for great things! I’m extremely excited for him after hearing all about it! He very kindly invited me over for dinner at his & Amy’s place, it was a really lovely evening. Then the morning I was due to fly out we went for a really nice little bike ride up Twin Peaks..

Me and Dave

I did manage to have a quick catch up with cousins who are living in Berkeley. I totally messed up my dates though so I didn’t get to see them all! There had been some massive fires in California which were actually only a few km’s from their house – very lucky in a way. However, knowing what it’s like after big disasters (in our case, earthquakes), I’m quite sure the putting-stuff-back-together-process is going to take quite a while.

It was funny being back in San Francisco, as I’d spent 3 months there when I was 19 on my J1 student visa. I admit to being quite surprised that there wasn’t free Wi-Fi on the BART, I mean, this is silicon valley right? ;) I didn’t quite manage to get to our old apartment on Post street. I remember at the time we thought it a complete rip off at about $1200p/m, sounds like that would be a ridiculously cheap price these days.

All in all a fantastic trip, but, it was still lovely to fly back in over Golden Bay and get a decent flat-white and a pie ;)

pie and coffeeGolden Bay

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Taking advantage of being remote

I’m in a fortunate position. I’m currently working as a remote (Ruby on Rails) developer for a client in San Francisco. There are definitely pluses and minuses to being remote. I like the flexibility and freedom of it. I like being able to sneak off for an early afternoon game of squash with my friend Warrick. I very much dislike being the main developer on the team and not having smarter people to go ask questions from. I dislike not having a team around me from the purely sociable aspect of things, being able to show someone the latest ridiculous cat video that you’ve come across on Twitter, that sort of thing. That said, being in quite a nice co-working space definitely makes a difference.

I have no idea how long this position will last, I hope a while, but who knows. So, I decided to take advantage of the situation and go and work remotely from Minneapolis where my sister lives. I mean, why not? It makes no difference where I am (within reason), so, great to be able to work 9-5 but enjoy their company in the evenings & weekends. Also, I’d never actually met the client, so, it was about time to actually meet as I’ve been working with them for about 4 years at this stage. Thanks to Maaike for being massively supportive and pushing me to head away for the three weeks.

So, I flew to Minneapolis and just spent a couple of weeks hanging out. It was super fun. Tim has a pinball machine, and I spent far too many hours playing the damn thing. Still didn’t come close to his high score, not even remotely. It was lovely to just spend some regular time, just hanging out. Meeting their chickens, playing pinball, going on nice walks through the countryside, playing more pinball, eating frozen yoghurt at The Yogurt Lab, playing more pinball, going to a country festival and corn maze, playing more pinball. It was just lovely. Never did beat Liz or Tim’s high score at pinball. I’ll be back ;)

I also took advantage of the network of remote offices that I’m allowed to use because of the NZ place I go to being a member of lexc, very handy. The grain exchange office in downtown Minneapolis was amazingly cool. The huge display you can see was somewhat programmable.. so much fun!

Also, it was Halloween time as you can see from the decorations around the house. We went to a specialised shop where you could buy your fake chainsaws ;) They really take it seriously.

The two weeks flew by, and then it was off to San Francisco… I’m super lucky to have had this opportunity, and I’m glad I made the most of it. Thanks very much to Liz & Tim (and the kids) for putting up with an interloper :)

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