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Thanks to Hestia's Larder for this delightful award.
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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Extra Fun

Spotted these pictures whilst I was lazing away an hour.  Thought you'd like them, to cheer up what is a pretty dreech day.
So True.  Every married man goes through this.

Truth sometimes hurts
Your manhole can never have enough protection
And now for some funnies sent to me by a friend in Singapore.

How he's managed to stay out of jail in that lovely but over-policed country beats me.




Specially for Ringo

For Elma

Dental hygeine is so important

Life, The Universe and Sausage Rolls

Richard [of RBB] has been delving into the depths of philosophy and religion, using Buddhism as an example.  I applaud his mental stamina, because after about an hour of talking on such subjects with friends, my brain tends to freeze up.  Too many questions, not enough factual answers.

I mentioned before that I cleaned up our decks with bleach and scrubbing, and it worked quite well, although some areas will probably need re-treatment.  However to spray such a large expanse uses about 20 litres of bleach, so I used a backpack sprayer.  I must have twisted my back when I had the backpack on, because I can barely move now.  If I remain in one posture for longer than 5 minutes, my back locks up.  Typical, the one time I have a real excuse to get of work and I'm on holiday.  The Universe is not fair sometimes.

The steamboat lunch went really well, large amounts of food and wine was consumed, and everyone had a good time.  My beloved had spent a lot of time and effort in making the raw food portions to go into the boiling stock of the steamboat, pork and water chestnut stuffed mushrooms, stuffed capsicums and zucchini, fish balls, chicken strips, prawns and Bok Choy.  She also made a variety of dipping sauces, chili, hot chili, garlic and ginger and the usual soy sauce.  It was delicious, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it, but as I was helping our friends out to their cars, I heard one elderly lady say to her friend, "That was really nice, but I think I would have preferred sausage rolls"  It wasn't said out of malice, and the lady concerned is a really nice person, but she's used to mostly European NZ food.  Take people out of their comfort zone and mostly they want to get back inside it.
Ah well, we can but try.

Same sort of thing in teaching.  We push the kids to try something new, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Something Old and Something New

We all want to see something new

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Time Flies

Goodness me, doesn't the time fly when you're busy.

Already the third day of the holidays, only 12 days left.

Spent yesterday scrubbing the decks.  We've had such a wet winter that the algae is getting dangerous, my beloved slipped on it last week and hurt her back, so I had to take over a lot of the household chores.  I don't want that to happen again, so out with the bleach, scrubbing brush and water blaster.  Just got it finished when the blaster packed in, so it'll be back onto Trade Me looking for a replacement.

We've got a bunch of friends coming over for lunch, and my beloved (back thankfully much better) is going to give them a steamboat.  This is traditional Northern Chinese food (my darling's family originates from Shanghai), where portions of prepared meat and vegetables are cooked at the table by the diners themselves, using the steamboat, a charcoal fired stockpot.  The process extends most meals to 3-4 hours, so of course you drink a lot more wine during that time.  I like steamboat meals.  I almost always end up pissed, but so is everyone else.  The best way to eat the freshly cooked portions is by using chopsticks.  After 32 years of marriage to my Chinese dearest, I am now pretty proficient in using chopsticks (let's face it; it was either learn or starve) but many of our guests are rather elderly, and are either NZ European or Maori, and struggle a little to use the sticks, so we'll spend a lot of time in educating our friends in their use, and having a load of laughs as we do.
I spent some time yesterday in a large music shop in Wellington.  Richard [of RBB] has mentioned that these are fascinating places.  He was right.  I've never seen a bigger bunch of oddballs than the customers.  The two pictures below will show you what I mean.
Waiting in line to buy a Double Bass
Going for the casual yet understated look and trying to shoplift a kettle drum

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Something New

The Curmudgeon said on his recent post that  "TSB has brought some zest to the blogging community. He has also brought some salaciousness and some knee-crossing images"
And he showed a delightful image I had used of a very pretty Cello player.

I though I'd better show some zest.

This image should bring the Universal Equilibrium back into some kind of balance.


Monday, 27 September 2010


It's 7:30 in the morning, the sun is blazing in our dining room windows.  All I can see is blue sky, so the storms we've been experiencing over the last week seem to have abated.
If the weather stays as nice as it is, I guess I'm destined to spend at least 2-3 hours weeding.  As I've mentioned before, my beloved does not hold with "Chemical Gardening", so it's all manual back-breaking work.  The god-botherers would probably say that it's good for my soul.
Maybe (The debate about the existence or non-existence or even what the hell is a soul can keep for later)
But it's not good for my back. 
I'll give the lawns their first exposure to Yates' Turfix to knock back the dandelions and other broadleaved weeds. (Curiously, my beloved does not object too much about this, maybe because none of her prized plantings are in any danger)

Look, it was an accident OK?

One little mistake, 2 years ago.  I forgot to wash out the sprayer before I changed to a fungal treatment.
It certainly proved the efficiency of Glyphosate. 
My beloved was not amused.

After Glyphosate
 After gardening who knows?

Maybe down to the Library.  I've got 2 or 3 books on reserve, and I hope they're ready.  One of the joys of these two weeks is the opportunity to actually read in peace, without that vague feeling of guilty "I should be doing something more productive and work-oriented" that creeps in during a normal working week.
Maybe down for a coffee, or a stroll along the Petone esplanade, or a wander through the Bays.

That is what is so delicious about the holidays. 


Nothing is fixed, all is free, like the wind blowing through what little hair I've got left, like the direction fart gas drifts after the event, like the flight of a bumble bee in the strong spring sunshine, like the potential in a new born baby.

We shall see.

Have an absolutely bloody nice day.

I'm pretty sure I will.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Lunch at the Dragon

Met our son in the Dragon Chinese restaurant in Torry St. in Wellington.

It's always nice to see him, and catch up on his life.  (Don't tell him, but I'm always proud of him, and love him deeply, no matter what he does.) It must be quite scary, flatting in a foreign country, trying to make ends meet while he's working as a barrista and also trying to expand his web design business.  All we can do is support him by letting him know there's always a home for him with us.

Regarding the Dragon restaurant , don't.

It got good reviews in the press (It used to be the Eastern Sunrise) but the Yam Cha they served were really low quality.  The minced pork, the basis of many of the dumplings which make up the Yam Cha (or Dim Sum) was really crap.  It was more like a meat paste rather than freshly minced pork.  This Dragon needs a St. George to put it out of it's misery.  We' ll try the Grand Century up at the top of Torry St., it's supposed to make all their own dumplings rather than buy them in.

Finished off with a cup of coffee in Te Papa.  I've always liked Te Papa from the first day I was in NZ.  Even the words Te Papa, Our Place" is so welcoming.  Anyway went to the Level 4 coffee shop (not the cheap and cheerful cafe in the basement), had our coffee and a treat.  The NZ Symphony Orchestra was giving a recital down on Level 1, so we sat in comfortable armchairs, sipping good quality flat whites (Earl Grey Tea for my beloved) while being regaled by beautiful music drifting up from below.

 I recognised "Night on a bare mountain" and excerpts from the Nutcracker plus others from "Fairy Story" pieces.

What a lovely way to finish the day.

I really think that this is the best way to enjoy classical music.  Sitting comfortably, sipping the beverage of your choice, talking to your loved ones while still enjoying the music, going to the loo without too much disturbance (an increasing priority as age encroaches) and not having to actually see the poor, sweating hard working musicians.

Actually I remember some years ago, watching the NZSO playing in the Michael Usher Hall, and being absolutely entranced by the gleaming thighs and heaving bosom of a particularly enchanting cello player, so watching the musicians is not always a bad thing.

Peace and Quiet

Got up at my normal 5:30am, only it's now 6:30am because of daylight saving.

So quiet.

So Peaceful

I'm going back to bed.

Enjoy these pics, and they may make you as rested as I fell at this moment.

And for absolute perfection:

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Rest and Relaxation

During the Vietnam war, the Americans realised that their troops needed not only frequent breaks from the conflict, but also needed to know when they would be taking "time off" from the battlefield (R&R).

Teachers are the same.  We plan towards the breaks at the end of each term, most of us arriving at the due time and date absolutely exhausted.

I managed to get the reports completed yesterday at 3:30.  The usual last minute scramble to find missing teacher comments and competence sheets.  I was supposed to be teaching from 2 'til 3, but C volunteered to take my class while I got the reports corrected and reprinted.  We wouldn't have got them finished by the deadline otherwise.  Thanks C, you saved the day, enjoy the choccies.

Since I started this new responsibility of Reports and Relief, I've found out a lot about my colleagues.  Some are incredibly helpful, most are pretty efficient, completing all stages of a set task by the agreed deadline, and some are a bit lackadaisical, completing their tasks at, or soon after the deadlines.

There are also 1 or 2 who just ignore all the rules and do as they see fit.  They see nothing wrong with the students playing their i-pods in class, or students not wearing uniform, or swearing at their students, or getting their reports ready by the agreed date, or getting their comments proof-read, or getting their form class to complete their self-assessment sheets. I would think that some form of counselling is required, or the application of a big stick.  Or fire the buggers for not reaching professional standards, there is at least one who I think deserves to get the chop.  I hear his classes are a shambles, that their is no overall plan and the kids in the classes are not progressing in their learning and will probably not be passing their assessments next term.  He's a nice enough guy, but I really wonder if he's a real teacher.  Has anyone actually checked his references?  I'd give him one more warning then if no improvement is seen, chop.

ManofErrors arrived to take his pre-arranged classics trip with his senior pupils.  This is true dedication.  A new baby at home, with a (probably) exhausted wife, yet he came back into school to take his pupils.  Unfortunately, the day before, the powers that be had decided to cancel the trip, and had so informed the pupils.  No one informed MoE (the person, not the Ministry), so no one discovered that he had actually booked and pre-paid for a meal at a Wellington restaurant.  So the trip was suddenly back on, and I had to scramble around and find a reliever to cover for the other teacher who was suddenly needed to accompany the trip.  It was a comedy of errors (note the play on MoE's user name), which I am sure that Basket Maker could turn into a traditional farce with little change.

The bad thing I find about these holidays is the change in routine.  All term I've been getting up at 5:30, leaving at 6:30, and I know that for at least the first week I'll be continuing with the same routine, waking at 5:30 every morning, and almost impossible to get back to sleep.  Then at the end of the second week, just as I've got used to sleeping in until about 8 or 9, I'll have to get back to the 5:30 start.  Bugger.

Never mind, I've got these 2 weeks to look forward to, no kids, no planning and no bloody relief.

Have fun.

I plan to.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Free at Last

Well not quite free, and not quite yet.

One more day.

I stayed in Nuova Lazio High until after 6 last night, checking the relief, but mostly correcting and reprinting the senior reports.
The two FuhrerMadchen finished all theirs yesterday, but the Emperor and Ringo are still completing theirs.
Every time they pick up an error, they pass it to me, I go into the computer system, make the changes and reprint.  It takes time, and today is the last chance.  We are supposed to post them out at 3:00 today, and as I'm teaching for 3 spells today, that doesn't allow for much time to fix the damned things.
Pissed of Pandas

Ringo really pissed me off yesterday.  I think he knows I don't especially like him, and I'm pretty sure the feeling is reciprocated.  But it's not personal.  I don't dislike him because he's English, or because he talks in a nasal mancunian accent, or because he looks down his nose at all and sundry, or because he walks into classrooms without acknowledging the resident teacher, or because he interrupts conversations and meetings without an apology.
No, I don't dislike him because of all of those.
I dislike him because he doesn't do what he's supposed to do.

In previous years he mucked up the timetable.  Repeatedly.
When he was in charge of relief, there were cock-ups all over the place, and some staff felt picked on.

Yesterday, this paragon of efficiency, a supposed example to us all went to a meeting outside school.

Nothing wrong with that, except he hadn't told me he was going.
I didn't have a relief teacher organised to cover his classes.
The first thing I knew about it was when a text message came through about 8:50, asking me to go into his room and collect some work for his pupils, and to print out the class lists and photos and to pick up some sheets from the library for his pupils to work on.

We have a simple system in Nuova Lazio.
If a teacher knows he/she is going to be away the next day, they print out a class role and a lesson plan for the relieving teacher, and give it to me in advance, telling me the day(s) they need of and the reason..
I arrange a relief teacher to come in and cover the class.
If someone is suddenly off sick or otherwise indisposed (like MaonofErrors.  Some people will do anything to get a few days off work) I print out the roles and try and find some work for their classes.

Ringo ignored all the rules, and dumped it onto me at the very last minute.

I don't know whether it's simple incompetence or just an indication for the contempt he feels towards everyone else.


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Grumpy Old Bugger

Not to be confused with GrumpyOldManReturns (The Curmudgeon)
As I've mentioned before, I'm responsible for arranging relief teachers to come in and take classes when any of our regular teachers is off-sick, or on a course, or just had enough.
I'm a methodical and systematic person.. Before I go home at night, I make sure that I've arranged everything I can.  All the planned absences have been covered, timetables and relief lessons all prepared.

In the morning when I get in, I check the phone for messages, check the email for messages from the newly sick, and I carry my cell phone, to receive urgent updates from staff stricken with unexpected illness.

Yesterday the normal routine was observed, and I did my usual bit at the morning brief explaining any special requirements (like asking a poor, tired, overworked teacher to do an extra period because i couldn't get a reliever)
Just as we finished, before we had to go and get into our class rooms, one of our younger lady teachers (S) came up and told me that she had just received a text message from C (our Head Art teacher)saying that she would not be into work today because of some family emergency.

The young lady (S) telling me this began to look apprehensive, then actually a bit scared.  I asked a few questions, nodded and went off to check C's timetable and to see what I could do to arrange cover for her first class which started in 5 or 6 minutes.  As I turned away to go to my office, I heard S give a sigh then go and sit down with some of her friends.

It was then that I realised that I had been using my "Teachers Scary Face" on the poor girl.  This is the expression I and many of my older colleagues use on kids who are stepping out of line.  It's not an expression of anger, it is devoid of emotion except for the eyes which narrow slightly, and attempt to drill through the recipients brain.  Properly used, it can be quite scary, and I had been using it on that poor young lady teacher who was just passing on a message.

As soon as I had arranged the emergency cover, I went back and found S, and apologised fully.
The Apology

But I now wonder if I have been doing this with others.  Have I turned into a Grumpy Old Bugger (GOB) without realising it?  Are other colleagues wary of talking to me in case they get the "Scary Face"?
I'll be more careful in the future, and try to be more approachable.  I don't mind being seen as "That Grumpy Old Bald Scottish Git" by the kids, but not by my friends and colleagues.
Maybe being a teacher just automatically turns you into a GOB? 
Maybe it's just life in general that turns you into a GOB?
Grumpy?  Me?

Maybe I've always been a GOB?

Ah Well, back to work.  I've just read that J-P (ManOfErrors) is a Dad again.  Welcome Rosamund, to a world full of lovely gentle guys like your Dad, and GOBs like me.

By The Way, while doing some research into grumpiness and the associated apologies, I came across this. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


The sight picture took shape.  The foresight was now perfectly balanced in the middle of the rear sight aperture.  The target moved, seemingly of its own accord, drifting into the picture, becoming perfectly occluded by the foresight, then just appearing on the top sight plane.


I started to squeeze, feeling the trigger move towards the release point.
Gently, gently keep it aligned.

The release came as a surprise, as it always does with a clean shot.  I could feel the thump of the butt into my shoulder.

The 7.62mm round left the barrel at 840 m/s, going straight for my aiming point, the bridge of his nose, midpoint between his closely-set and glazed eyes.

"No Ben", I said, "a spreadsheet formula always starts with an equal sign".
"That's why the calculation didn't work"  "Lets try again, and remember, always the equal sign first"
The bovine orbs gazed and glazed.  I could imagine the cud being chewed.  I could imagine the thump of the butt into my shoulder.  I could imagine the end of the period, only 15 minutes to go.
"No Ben, remember?" "The equal sign first" . "Well done, now lets try for the first cell reference"

I could see the glimmering brass cartridge case spinning slowly, end for end, to fall with a gentle thump onto the carpet of the computer classroom.

Imagination can be such a release.

It's much better than going to prison for life, but not quite as satisfying.

Perhaps one day.

I used to be able to put in a 4" group at 300 metres.  I wondered how many I could get from the roof of "B" Block.

One day.

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