Friday, 18 July 2014

Vacation

Still alive, still in New Zealand. Everything is well apart from an annoyingly lingering cold. Seriously, how much mucus is it possible for one body to produce? New Zealand in midwinter is cold, in an unexpected way. The temperature isn't all that low, usually lying somewhere between 5 and 15 degrees it's more like Nordic spring or autumn. And although I see signs of people falling into winter depression around me, the light levels are higher than what I'm used to, so the darkness doesn't faze me. 

What bothers me is that it's cold indoors. Even with multiple layers of clothing one is left shivering without people to snuggle up against. This is just wrong! I know it's kind of impolite to be all "this is how we civilised people do things better than you barbaric foreigners" when visiting another country, but seriously kiwis. Did you know that double-glass windows is a thing? That insulation is pretty useful, and that building houses with radiators placed under the windows is actually rather clever when it comes to heat-preservation? Have you noticed that while you may not get much snow, temperatures actually tend to get quite low in your country in wintertime? That building more expensive but warm houses could be very well-spent money?

Oh well, end of rant. In a couple of weeks I'll have more heat than I can handle, going back to pretty much the height of the Swedish summer. In the meantime I'm visiting Dunedin and Auckland again, to hang out with awesome people. Roleplaying, larping, playing boardgames, swordfighting, going to interesting shows and museums, snuggling. Going for some sightseeing walks as far as I have the energy for it. An excellent way of spending four weeks' vacation in this lovely country, I'd say. There are still places I'd like to visit and mountains I'd like to climb, but that will have to wait for the future, I think. The flu messed up my physical energy levels pretty badly, and moneywise I'm almost broke. But I'm not sad about that; I am enjoying myself immensely.

I'll be sad to leave, but that's the way it has to be for now. I'm happy and grateful for all the wonderful memories of places and people and moments and adventures I will take with me. 

The sun sets behind the hills of Dunedin.

Love and vacation,
Winterdragon

Friday, 4 July 2014

Bittersweet endings

University is out for the semester. Courses are over and done, whether I passed my finals or not. Results won't be brilliant, but hopefully good enough. I gave up the high-grade-chasing game a long time ago, since I really quite enjoy having spare time. There are so overwhelmingly many fun things to fill it with.

Moved out of my student room this week, and in a few days I will be leaving this place which has been my home for the past half year. The beautiful, shaken, construction site of a city called Christchurch. I love it to bits, along with all the lovely people I've made friends with here. 

The plague I've been down with for the past few weeks is giving way at last, and I feel my energy gradually returning. Joy and rejoicing! It makes such a difference that I realise I shouldn't be taking my health for granted. If you haven't got your health you haven't got anything, indeed.

I'm spending this last week here hanging out with awesome people. Roleplaying, boardgaming, swordfighting, movie-watching, snuggling, making out, partying, exploring. All those things I love so much and that make me feel like I belong. This is home now.

But I'll soon be pulling up the roots I've grown here and go back to where I came from. It hurts. It always hurts to leave someone or someplace you've gotten attached to. Because it's scary. I'm having nightmares about going back to Sweden only to find that the place has changed completely and that no-one remembers me anymore. The same fears are creeping up on me regarding New Zealand. That I will be forgotten as soon as I leave and that the friendships with people I've connected with will fade to nothing before long.

But that's the risk in any situation, not only for travel. Nothing lasts forever, and in many cases that is much more of a blessing than a curse. Life itself is fragile and will pass, so either nothing or everything will have been worthwhile. I'm going to go with the latter. I don't want fear of loss stopping me from enjoying life or connecting with people, because that's no way to live. Every moment is worth experiencing for its own sake, regardless of any possible prices of pain. I've found that the joy gained is so much greater.

Besides, since there are never any guarantees for anything, there is plenty of room for hope of future re-meetings. No expectations, for those quench the soul. Just hope.

Love and endings,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Feverish musings

Snivel. Here I am, coughing my lungs out, and in a little more than a week I'll be leaving this lovely town that I've been living in for the past half year or so. But not forever. I couldn't bear it if I had to tell myself I'd be leaving this place never to come back. I don't know when or how I'm going to get the money for it, but someday I will return to this wonderful land. Someday.

Accursed cold. I'd rather spend this time doing fun things, socialising, and properly preparing for my exams than lying around fever-dazed, devoid of energy and just generally wanting to escape my body. Talk about shitty timing. But then again, any timing tends to be shitty when it comes to illnesses. Maybe this is some kind of divine punishment for my numerous sins. Oh well, in that case it was totally worth it. 

I've had a splendid time these past couple of weekends. Hanging out with awesome people, and dancing almost until my legs fell off. I used to hate dancing, but now I love it. New Zealand is changing me. In a lot of ways. And I think all of them good.

Love and sniffles,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

All-nighter euphoria

So. True.

BOOM. Project report finished. Well, sorta, at least. Still got some details to fix probably, but that is a problem for tomorrow. The equivalent of a bachelor's project. Ten weeks' worth of work. I'm about as happy about my accomplishments in this one as with my actual bachelor's thesis. Although this one was a bit easier. I didn't have to learn a new programming language basically from scratch, and the data I got to work with actually yielded some scientifically interesting results. Woo!

According to my analysis colliding galaxies actually do produce more stars than their isolated counterparts, but dust can make it appear like the opposite is the case by obscuring the star-formation if you look at light in the wrong colours (i.e. optical rather than infrared). I'll have to say it's somewhat satisfying getting to write the academic equivalent of "HAHA I'm right and this is why you're wrong!".

Now I'm savouring the blissful state that can only be reached through excessive amounts of energy drink and sugar, dissonant gregorian chants (apparently the ultimate study music! who knew?), sleep deprivation, an overdose of academic lingo, the mandatory hours of wrestling with Python and LaTeX, and four days' worth of an undoubtedly unhealthy mix of work and procrastination. For goodness' sake, I've even gotten some writing done on my novel as a means of procrastination. That must surely be a sign of the ultimate reluctance of writing up a report. 

Nah. I'd like to tell myself that I'm just a slow starter. I actually do like the writing once I get a flow going. It is my favourite part of science, and the process through which I learn the most. And I may be slow, but once I get those words down the formulations tend to be pretty darned good. But maybe that's just the all-nighter euphoria talking. Right now my project and my report and I and everything seems fucking awesome.

I should go to bed. As much as I love this state of mind, it would be nice to get a couple hours of sleep before having to tackle the world tomorrow. Future me will probably thank me for it. So well. See ya.

Love and all-nighter high,
Winterdragon

Monday, 2 June 2014

Buckets of Dice

Who am I, again? A hopelessly romantic smuggler in space? A member of the resistance, or a traitor? A bureaucracy demon having had a proposition of the most alphabetic firesome in history turned down by the hottest vampire in the castle? A teenage witch with werewolf-ghoul-fae-human friends? A scientist occasionally passing through heaven? A meeple fleeing from owlbears in the world of necronomiconomics? A president loyalist, or a terrorist?

Trying to regain sanity and a sense of my own identity after a weekend filled with gaming convention. Back in Sweden my favourite convention LinCon is celebrating its 30th birthday, but I can't find it in my heart to feel the least bit disappointed for having missed it. I've been to an admittedly smaller, but still very excellent, one in my current hometown: Buckets of Dice. Awesome games, awesome people. Fun times were had! And I even won a prize for communicating only through interpretive dance when my character lost its ability of speech for the remainder of the game during a larp.

The post-convention feeling of euphoria coupled with exhaustion is the same on this side of the world, I've found. It is the best way to meet people, hands down. Totally worth the social overload. Now, time for food, tea and some silence. Possibly also stop being incoherent, but probably not.

Love and gaming conventions,
Winterdragon


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Street art

Just to clear things up after my recent rant. I love street art. There are a lot of nice examples of it in New Zealand, too. Here's some of what I've found.








 Love and art,
Winterdragon

Friday, 23 May 2014

Life and its lemons

My code is handing me a lot of lemons today. In the form of error messages and ridiculously unreasonable results. I debug and solve some problems, just to have new ones crop up. This was supposed to be a very simple piece of programming. My supervisors are disappointed, and I feel so stupid. I'm useless at programming. Even in Python, the simplest programming language on the planet, I manage to fuck everything up. And I suck at maths. What am I doing with my life? I'm not worthy to study astronomy. I'm about as much of an astronomer as Rincewind is a wizard. The only reason I haven't been kicked out from the university is because they need someone to keep around to blame for all the things that go wrong, and to make everyone else look like a genius in comparison.

... yeah. Self-esteem level hardly detectable today. Fuck this shit, for now. I'm gonna spend the rest of this evening writing, and pretend that it doesn't matter how useless I am at it. *puts on hat saying WRITTER*

 
Having an office on the 8th floor has its upsides. Autumn Christchurch is pretty.

Love and lemons,
Winterdragon

Friday, 16 May 2014

Rösta, för tusan!

En solig höstdag med långa promenader och inspirerande insikter. Jag har fått klarhet i min politiska ståndpunkt och brevröstat till EU-parlamentsvalet. Är du svensk medborgare så gör detsamma. Om du inte bryr dig eller har gett upp hoppet så till den grad att allt verkar kört ändå: tänk om. Hitta någonting du bryr dig om, läs på, och om utsikterna verkar dystra så rösta på det parti du tycker verkar minst ondskefullt. Politik påverkar dig, vare sig du vill det eller inte. Demokrati är din möjlighet att påverka den tillbaka, och det är sjukt jäkla viktigt att du ser den möjligheten som ett ansvar. Därför att om någon makt skall finnas kvar hos folket så måste den utnyttjas.

Om du inte använder din röst så kommer andra att använda din tystnad!

Kärlek och politik,
Winterdragon

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Vandalism

It's everywhere. It's bloody everywhere. At bus stops, train stations, bridges. On buses, street-light poles, even on trees. In dark alleys, on brightly-lit streets, all over windows. On cars and bikes. On the outsides of trains, and on the insides too. On the walls of crumbling houses, and even fancy new or beautiful old buildings. Sometimes on the very street itself. Offensive messages, words and images meant to be inspiring or funny, but for the most part just names scribbled all over the place. As if these signatures being seen by people at every street-corner would inspire respect and be a ticket to immortality. I hear there is a whole business for it nowadays. Children are growing up thinking that it is a perfectly respectable way of making a living. That it is not vandalism, morally despicable, or defacing our beautiful surroundings. Some even go as far as calling it art. The general population seems to have accepted it as a part of our culture, and there are even spaces specifically dedicated to it. There is just no respect for public places these days!


It's time to free our cities from this vandalism. Let us ban and eradicate advertisements once and for all!

Love and bitching,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Easter break

So I had an easter break. Best easter break ever. I had so many adventures and so much fun that it apparently resulted in a total writer's block. When it comes to blogging, at least. One of the many awesome things I did during these past three weeks was to finally get started with the second draft of my poor novel. It feels so damn good to be writing again. Inspiration is flowing, and I've even gotten some ideas for how to fill in some major plotholes and how this world I've created actually works. Yay!

But adventures! Were they ever had. I always consider a vacation well spent if you return from it more tired than when you set out, and this was certainly the case. I spent two weeks in Auckland hanging out with lovely people and then a week largely on my own in Queenstown.

Volcanoes were scaled and explored. Here are Mount Eden and the island Rangitoto. The latter one is just 600 years old, so very young for a volcano. There are around 40 volcanoes in Auckland, and apparently the volcanic field the city sits upon is not dead yet. Just resting. A new volcano could erupt next week or in 5000 years, no way of telling really. Still the city's inhabitants are going about their lives as if they weren't living on the brink of destruction. Humans are fascinating.


A trip was made to the Northlands, more specifically Bay of Islands with the towns of Paihia and Russel. Got the opportunity to learn a lot about the time of early European settlement by visiting museums and historic sites, made all the more fun and interesting by having a historian by my side telling awesome stories. Visited Waitangi, the place where the treaty between the British crown and Maori people regarding land ownership and legal rights and obligations was signed in 1840. Essentially the founding document of New Zealand, it is to this day relevant and problematically ambiguous. Oh, and apart from all the interesting things to learn about human history the nature of the place was really gorgeous as well. Woods to walk in with magical light and fascinating trees, a sea with such pretty islands, and a dark and splendid night sky. Yet another place to fall in love with.



I had such a great time in Auckland as well. Got to hang out with awesome people who dragged me around (quite willingly) to playing board games, roleplaying, urban explorations, acrobatics, swordfighting, movie-watching, museums, storytelling, partying... I even got invited to a wedding. All of which was so much fun and made me feel more at home than at the place where I actually live. Whee, so much happiness.

Then I moved on to Queenstown, which was a dramatic change in many respects. From late-summer weather (from my Nordic point of view) to frosty cold. From hills and seaside to snowy mountains and fiordy lakes. From very intense socialising to quiet loneliness (or at least loneliness-in-a-crowd). Queenstown is a stunningly beautiful and remote place, full of adventures. And tourists. Like that gorgeously handsome person you cannot help falling head over heels in love with, even though you know that you could never live together in the long run.


I enjoyed myself immensely. I visited the glow-worm caves in Te Anau. Underground waterfalls and little larvae glowing like so many stars! I went bungy jumping. It involved some mind-boggling terror, a lot of screaming and then hysterical laughter. I'd totally do it again! Then skydiving. Not half as scary as I had imagined, just absolutely delightful. I'd love to skydive every single day! I visited a conservation park for kiwis and other birds. They're rather cute and lay absurdly large eggs, those nocturnal, flightless little weirdos. I explored Milford Sound. Turns out that it is actually a fiord, not a sound, being carved out by a glacier some thousands of years ago. Huge waterfalls, vertical forests and seals. Very spectacular! Lastly I also went hiking up to the top of Ben Lomond at 1743 metres. Views of snow-covered mountains stretching far into the distance, a silence so profound I could hear my own heartbeats, and a perfectly dark night sky where I got to see a couple of fireball meteors and learned some new constellations. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, it filled me with tons of joy and inspiration!


And then I took the bus home to Christchurch. Stopped for a break at Tekapo, and I got to see Mount John again. Autumn has changed the place. Yellowing leaves, snow on the mountains, and an even more icy-cold lake. Still as beautiful, still the feeling of 'this is where I want to be' that keeps following me around this country.

Love and adventure,
Winterdragon