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Thanks to Hestia's Larder for this delightful award.
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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sunday, off to Paraparaumu

The House in Paraparaumu

My beloved wants to go and look at a house in Paraparam.  I smile, I'll drive, but I really don't want to go. I like our present house a lot.  It's quiet, comfortable and in good condition.  I've just re-painted the exterior, so it looks crisp and clean.
The house in Paraparam is by a small lake, and has a garden sloping down to the lakeside, with a small gazebo at the edge.  It looks nice, but it's just over the road from the airfield, so I don't know about the noise.
If you want to share in our exciting adventure, the link to the open 2 view site is here

Our local library re-opened yesterday, thank goodness.  I had reached the stage of re-reading some of my old favourites, but I was getting desperate for something new.  The new David Webber "Honor Harrington" is just in, and I've got it on reserve, and the library web site has just informed me that it's ready for collection.

Oh Happy Day.

It's a bit sad that the most exciting thing to happen to me this week is anticipating a new book to read.

Maybe I'm getting too old for too much excitement.

I'd take the little doggie for a walk, but I don't know if I can take much more stimulation.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

For Richard [ofRBB]

I mentioned to Richard [of RBB] last week a particular piece of music that I heard in Prague (Czech Republic) by Smetana called Ma Vlast.  Soothing yet rousing (emotionally you pervs).
Here it is Richard [of RBB], just for you.

And for those of you not interested in music here's something else.

Purely Gratuitous Image
or if so inclined

Another Purely Gratuitous Image

Decision Made

I put in my application for the DPs job yesterday.  It was a difficult one to make, as if I get it, my teaching load drops to about a class a day.  I became a teacher because I really love to teach.  Even after 13 years in a classroom I still enjoy almost every day (there's always exceptions.)  Since I took on the extra relief stuff, I've found that I'm not as focused on the teaching and learning as I used to be, so maybe it's a good idea for DPs to only teach 1 class per day.

Richard [of RBB] seemed a bit preoccupied yesterday, maybe another couple of Ukuleles have gone walkies?

Only another 7 teaching days (minus any strike days) to go before the senior prize giving.  For some reason our little school in Nuova Lazio, where many of the inhabitants work very hard just to keep their familes just above the poverty line, has a tradition of the teachers wearing their Academic gowns at prize giving.  I'm still not sure if it's a good or a bad idea, but I always feel like an idiot, dressed up like a semi-defrocked bishop attending a black mass.
It's good we can celebrate our student's success, and we have a lot of really nice, hardworking kids in our school.  I wish them the very best.  I just wish they'd take some of our loony year 9s and 10s when they go.

Just to finish on a positive note (for once) while I was browsing through the web for some images, I can across this Stone Bowl.  Absolutely stunning.  It comes from the Harris Museum in London (never heard of it before)

Enjoy the bowl.

Friday, 29 October 2010

A Fair Division of Labour

I recently commented that my beloved objected to my using the Devil's Computer during what little spare time I have.  I just thought I'd share with you all the very equitable division of labour in our household and comment on how it is with your own domestic arrangements.

My Beloved’s Duties

My Duties

Plan Meals

Put groceries in correct place

Buy Groceries

Wash pots and pans

Cook Meals

Load Dishwasher

Dust (once a month)

Empty Dishwasher

Occasional Gardening

Load Washing Machine

Hang up and fold washing

Vacuuming (weekly)

Attend Tai Chi classes

Wash Bathrooms and Toilets (weekly)

Attend flower arranging club

Walk dog

Read books

Bath dog

Watch TV

Car servicing and WOF

Check ALL cars tyre pressures

Check ALL cars oil and water levels



Electrical Maintenance and Repair

Plumbing Maintenance and Repair

Window Washing

All Heavy lifting

All Heavy gardening


Weed Spraying

ALL Computer problems

Explaining how the computer works, re-explaining how to
send an email, re-explaining how to download photos from our camera

Polishing shoes

Putting clean clothes in drawers and cupboards



Mice catching

Gutter cleaning

Paying Bills

Balancing Bank Accounts

Booking holidays

Working as a full time teacher from 7:00 until 18:00 5 days a week

Welcome to Middle Earth

Well, it's finally happened.

New Zealand has been sold.

The details were resolved late last night in a multi-billion dollar deal between Warners, Disney, John Key and the Green Party.

As soon as the Rugby World Cup is finished in 2011, New Zealand will no longer exist, but will become known as Middle Earth.  The plan has the complete support of the Greens, as one of the conditions of the sale , which turns Aoteroa into the world's biggest theme park, is the removal of all high-tech machinery.  The rules are as follows.

  • New Zealand renamed Middle Earth.(Aoteroa is retained as a secondary name, because Warners reckon it sounds sort of Elvish)
  • North Island becomes The North Shire
  • South Island becomes the South Shire
  • All cars to be scrapped and replaced by horse/donkey drawn transport
  • Tourist buses can remain, but ONLY for tourist use.
  • All Electricity Transmission pylons to be torn down.  Individual houses may use water-wheels and/or wind turbines, but only if they look rustic and home-made.
  • All roads to have their tarmac scraped off.  They can be cobbled or left metalled
  • All factories, Malls, High Rise (over 2 stories) buildings to be demolished, and replaced with either cave-homes or crude shacks.  The organisers have agreed that as most of the houses in Aoteroa are crude shacks anyway, they can stay.
  • All inhabitants of Middle Earth to be re-classified:
    • Adult males under 5' 2", Females under 4' 6"are Hobbits
    • All Maori are now Orcs
    • All Males and Females over 6' 2" and less than 90kg are now elves
    • Everybody else stays Human
    • Orcs can eat Hobbits and Elves
    • Everyone can kill an Orc on sight, but only if a tourist can observe.
  • John Keys is renamed as Gandalf, Hone Harawera is renamed Sauron, Lord of the North.
  • All Air NZ planes to be sent to Weta Workshops, where they will be changed into Dragons
  • Free Ears and Feet will be distributed appropriately, until the plastic surgeons can complete their work
  • Marijuana plantations to be set up around Hawkes Bay, and the plant is to be known nationally as Pipe Weed.  A free allowance of 2kg per adult per week is to be given, but must only be smoked in pipes.
  • The proceeds of the sale, plus the estimated tourist income will allow every inhabitant of Middle Earth to receive $50,000 each in annual benefits. 
The organisers hope that everyone will enter into the spirit of the agreement, and embrace the forth-coming transformation.  They also added that all hospitals would be demolished and the health system would be closed, to let everyone experience nature in a pure and Green way.  "Your lives may be shorter, but they will be much fuller" the spokesperson said.  "Anyway, you'll all be stoned on the Pipe Weed, so you won't really care"

Thursday, 28 October 2010

I miss America

When I was a kid, I wanted to live in the USA.

Many of our TV programs (In the UK in the 1950s and 60s) came from the USA, all of the cowboys (The Lone Ranger, Tombstone, Wagon Train) and the police stories (Dragnet, Streets of San Fransisco) and the war stories (Combat) comedies (Hogan's Heros, I Dream of Jeannie, My Uncle Martian) and hundreds of movies.

The society of the USA seemed to be an immensely strong one, from the UK at least, it looked homogeneous.

What the hell happened?

I've just bought some tickets to fly from NZ to the UK, via Los Angeles, and I was informed that I would have to apply to Homeland Security for a Transit Visa.

What the hell happened?

The USA used to exemplify the priority of the individual over the State, but that seems to have changed.

Here's an example.  In the 1970s (still as a reserve officer in the British Army), I planned to fly to Singapore to see my wife's family.  We had very little money, and the cheapest flight was via Moscow on Aeroflot. (I had to get permission from my Colonel to fly through the USSR)  We flew to Moscow in January, getting in to  Sheremetyevo Airport about midnight.  We had to carry our bags by hand to the transit lounge, and had to go through passport control to get to the transit lounge.
I can still remember the blank eyes of the  Border Security guy who was stamping my UK passport.  I can still vividly remember the finger of the KGB Guard behind him. 

The reason I remember the finger is that it was curled around the trigger of the AK-74 he was carrying.  Not around the trigger guard, but around the trigger.  I couldn't see the change lever, but my sphincter was twitching.  You just don't touch the trigger unless you mean to fire it.  Either this guy's training was crap, or all Soviet training was crap, or he really wanted to shoot someone, like me maybe.
However, my passport got stamped and we continued to the transit lounge and eventually Singapore via India.

Even in the extreme paranoia of the USSR in the 70s, I didn't need permission from them to transit through Moscow, so why the hell do I now need a visa to go from one plane in LA Airport to another plane in LA Airport (It might even be the same plane, after re-fuelling)

The one thing in the USA that was always the best in the wolrld was their human rights.  Their constitution protected their freedoms.  Not anymore.  I feel so sad that the champion of the individual has fallen so low.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a lefty-liberal, I'm not in favour of any form of gun control, but I can see the USA turning into a Police State.

When you have a more restrictive border policy than the USSR had, you're in the shit.

Hope you can make the old times come back.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Activities 4

Continuing the series of end of term activities in Nuova Lazio High

The Picton Special

This activity is a simple one, but can be the most enjoyable of all the activities.  Suitable for boys and girls of both good and bad behaviour.  Duration: 9am - 3pm

  1. Assemble in Nuova Lazio Car Park.  For safety, the ratio of teachers to pupils should be 1:3
  2. Put kids in minivans and lock doors
  3. Repair to staffroom, coffee and cakes
  4. Back to minivans, drive to Wellington Ferry Terminal
  5. Park vans, let kids out and board the Picton Ferry as foot passengers
  6. Find bar, prepare supervision rota for teachers
  7. Distribute activity packs for students.
    1. Count the Dolphins
    2. Count the condoms
    3. A sick-bag
    4. Count the number of sea-sick passengers
    5. Count the number of times each member of the student group says"Are we there yet"
  8. Teachers not on rota partake of strong drink and (if available) wild women
  9. Arrive Picton, disembark, count kids
  10. Buy ice cream for teachers, kids can buy their own
  11. Wander around for 1 hour observing the delights that Picton has on offer.
    1. Avoid aquarium, boring and slightly dangerous.  Never had the inclination to pet a 5 metre Great White
    2. Student who won the "Are we there yet" competition is given money and told to go and see the "Magic Fish" in the aquarium.  Make sure he understands that to make the "Magic Fish" give him/her his/her wish it has to be rubbed really hard.
  12. Count students and limbs.  If ratio is not 1:4 demand your money back from aquarium
  13. Board ferry
  14. Return to bar and repeat 7 & 8 above
  15. Extra activity of "Polish the Bloody Big Diesel" arranged with Chief Engineer.
  16. Pocket $100 from Chief Engineer.
  17. Disembark
  18. Count kids
  19. Return to Nuova Lazio High
  20. Assemble surviving kids in carpark, and explain to them what an educational experience this has been.
  21. Tell them to wash and polish minibuses before going home.  Confiscate their shoes to stop the little bugger running off (Although that does not always work with Kiwi kids.  The poor colonials seem to like running around in bare feet)
  22. Return shoes when vans clean and tidy

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Work of the Devil

I spent a most enjoyable weekend with my beloved and my son, who returned to the family home from the further reaches of Cuba St. in Wellington.  We went for a walk down the Hutt River by Akatarawa

 (actually, it's a measure of how long I've been in NZ that I can spell that without looking it up) with the little dog.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  We had a lovely dinner of Roast Mutton (cooked with a special marinade that is just superb) then I drove my son back into Wellington,
When I returned, I was aware of a certain iciness in the atmosphere.
What had I done?

I quickly checked the little things that all married men do as a routine.
Fly undone?  No
Farted in last 5 minutes?  No
Forgotten Birthday?  No
Forgotten Wedding Anniversary?  No
Forgotten Engagement Anniversary?  (I kid you not)  No
Forgotten to give little kiss on returning?  No
Forgotten to put out rubbish?  No
Forgotten to dry up dishes and put away in the exact and proper place for each?  No
Drunk?  No
Lipstick on shirt?  No

Everything seemed OK, so I did what all married men do in this situation, I ignored it, sat down and watched TV with my beloved.

Do not under any circumstances actually ASK what is wrong.  That way lies madness, sadness, grief, pain and possibly tears.  It might even escalate to having a discussion about "feelings" or "the state of the relationship" or even duration/quality/frequency of sex.  Be warned.

After the program had finished it was 9:30, and I thought I'd check my email and blogs before showering and bed.  (I have to get up at 5:30).
As I sat down at the computer (it's in the corner of the living room) I was aware of a re-doubling of the iciness in the atmosphere.  I quickly checked and shut down.

Then my beloved explained why she was upset.  Our son, whom she hadn't seen for 4 weeks had spent almost all of his non-eating and drinking time on the computer, watching streaming videos and TV shows.
I spent far too much time emailing, blogging and working ( I am an ICT teacher) on that bloody electronic mistress (pointing at my poor little PC)
Because I had a computer in the house, it was obviously my fault that my son spent all his free time on the web.


Years of experience came immediately to the fore.

Forget reason or logic.  This is a woman we're dealing with.

I apologised profusely.  It was all my fault.  I shouldn't have bought it in the first place.  My son was an idiot, ignoring his mum that way.  I would make sure to disable the computer before his next visit.  I wouldn't use the computer as much when I got home from school, etc., etc., etc.
Yes, it was completely spineless, but it worked.  Peace reigned.  The atmosphere warmed.  Cuddles in bed showed all was right in the Universe again.

Until next time.

If I start cycling too much, will my bike have been possessed by Satan?

We'll see.

Monday, 25 October 2010

I want to ride my Bicycle

Thanks to TC for his little ditty with Pink Floyd.

But I really prefer this song by Queen

I've got a Bike

I mentioned before that I bought my beloved a Tricycle for her birthday, as she suffers from a mild vertigo which makes riding a bicycle a bit iffy.

She recently commented that "wouldn't it be nice if we could go for bike rides together"

Now I've been married for over 32 years (to the same lovely lady) and I now speak (through bitter and painful experience) fluent henpeck.

What my beloved meant was:  Go and Buy a Bike to keep Me company.  Do it now.

So I did.

Through the usual sources on TradeMe I got a lovely pseudo-mountain bike for $110.

I call it a pseudo-mountain bike for two reasons.
  1. It is well made and solid, but has no front or rear suspension
  2. I have absolutely no intention to take it near a hill, let alone a bloody mountain.  Do I look that mad? (Don't answer)

I/We intend to go for gentle meandering cycles along the Hutt River.  Flat.  Paved or at least metalled tracks.

Only one slight problem.  My bike has 18 gears and can go like stink.  My beloved's has 6 gears, is made of cast iron and lead, and won't go above 3 kph.  As she is intending to take our little dog with us on our "cycles" I have fitted a special large basket to carry the little pooch when it gets tired.

I'm thinking of having a laminated sign made up to hang around my neck.
It'll have the words I'M NOT WITH THEM on it.

The sun's shining, the weeds are growing so fast you can almost hear them, so I must repair to the garden.

Where's my Glyphosate?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Good Manners

Manners Maketh Man William of Wykeham (1324-1404),

The idea that manners makyth man clearly went out of the educational system before he went into it.
[1983 R. Barnard Case of Missing Bronte vi.]

I have been brought up by my Mum & Dad to believe that good manners cost nothing, but are essential for the smooth functioning of society.  Actually, that's not quite true.  I was brought up to be polite and good mannered or else.  Or else my Dad would skelp my bum with a slipper, or my Mum would send me to bed with no supper, or my Gran would scrub my mouth out with soap.
I got the idea, and it's now part of me.
I could no more desist from thanking someone for doing a task for me, than I could expose myself to the Queen.

I always use "Please" in instructions to my pupils, and "Thank You" after they've done it.
I try not to butt into others conversations, nor eavesdrop to private chats.  I wait for permission before I enter some one's room.  (I don't mean a formal invitation here, just a simple eye-contact and a raised eyebrow is all that's required)
I always try to get on with everyone.  The one time I had to be rude to an ex-colleague, who let me and my department down very badly, I felt physically sick when I told him bluntly to go away and never contact me again.

So why does Ringo refuse to be polite or well-mannered.  There are now very few people in Nuova Lazio High he has not annoyed or reduced to tears. 

Perhaps he doesn't realise the effect he has been having. 
Perhaps he wasn't raised the way I and most of my generation were raised, learning the basic rules of behaviour as we grew up. 
Perhaps he's just a dick.

Well in the best spirit of educational practice (pedagogical really, but I hate that word), let us support rather than spurn, so here's a list of some of the basic rules of politeness.  Please use them.

  • Always greet a colleague with a smile
  • Try and use their name when saying "Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening.
  • Please don't just growl/snap their name as you pass
  • Return a greeting with a greeting or an acknowledgement
  • Don't walk into a room without being invited where:
    • A class is being taught
    • A conversation is taking place
      • between teacher and pupil
      • between teacher and parent
      • between teacher and teacher
      • between teacher and support staff
      • between support staff and support staff
      • between parent and support staff
    • A phone conversation is occurring
  • Don't stick your nose into areas that are not your concern
  • Everyone has set areas of responsibility, don't intrude.  They know what they're doing.
  • Don't pontificate in areas of technical complexity when you don't know what you're talking about
  • Try not to talk in a condescending manner
  • Don't put people down for trying their best
  • Always thank people for their best efforts
  • Acknowledge others failings in a restrained manner
  • Always acknowledge your own mistakes promptly
  • Never lie.
  • Try to keep to the same agenda everyone else is using
  • Secret agendas aren't really secret after a few months
  • Don't order colleagues in a peremptory manner, a gentle reminder or a request for a volunteer is much more effective.
  • Make sure that there are no mirrors around before you try to stab someone in the back.
  • Loyalty goes two ways, Up as well as Down
  • Don't walk into and interrupt a conversation between two colleagues.  Wait for a few seconds for their body language to invite you to speak.  No matter how urgent you think the information is you have to impart.
  • Don't assume: 
    • If you observe some pupils waiting quietly outside a teacher's door, don't assume they're in trouble, and don't start shouting at them.
    • If you're in a meeting, don't assume everyone else also has a hidden agenda
    • If you see someone working on a technical computerised task, don't assume that they don't know what they're doing
    • If you see someone working on a technical computerised task, don't assume you know more than the expert does.
  • If you forget an appointment or a deadline, tell us.  Don't try to put the blame on someone else.
 I think that covers the main areas, and I hope that Ringo will follow these basic rules of polite society.

If you think I've missed any, please add it to the comments, and I'll acknowledge them and add them to the list.

Have a good day.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

We must be doing something right

Reading ManOfErrors post about the state of education in NZ, made me think.  We are just going through the last stages of the course choice process, where we try to align the students wants for their next year's courses with the available resources, teachers classrooms etc.  It's always a bit fraught.  Sometimes a particular class that you (as a teacher devoted to a subject) really want to run next year, is cancelled because not enough students want to study it.

It happened to me 6 years ago, when I was desperate to start an academic computing class, working on advanced programming and University-Level database. (I get a lot of stick from colleagues who seem to imply that computing is just glorified typing made electronic.  Try and set up a search algorithm on a two dimensional array utilising stacks and queues guys)  I only got 5 students who put their name down for this course, so it didn't run.  I had to accept a compromise, where I amalgamated a Year 12 class with the advanced Year 13 class.  It worked, but not to the same extent as I had hoped.

It looks like next year we will actually end up with more academic computing classes at a senior level than ever before. (1 Y13, 3 Y12s and 2 Y11s)

The future of computing as seen by us and the students
Some of the students just choose computing because we're seen as an easy way to get lots of NCEA credits, and that's certainly true at the moment.  Most of the Assessment Standards from the NZQA in the Domain - Business Information Processing are just glorified typing tasks from the 60s, made modern with a few frills.  They are quite easy, and give a relatively high number of NCEA credits, although most of the students who pass these assessments could do a fair job in most offices on word processing tasks.  What the superannuated typing teachers living in their stenographic castles of the NZQA don't realise is that typing pools as they remember them are gone.  Even manager's secretaries don't just type, they're more PAs these days.  Most executives do much of their communication themselves, via email or IM or even word process themselves. 

The future of computing as seen by typing teachers
So there just isn't the demand for typists that there used to be.  There is a demand for people who can communicate effectively and who can think creatively and independently, and that's what we try to do, and sometimes we succeed.

I would also add that even those students who are focused on the word processing side of the available Units soak up good grammatical, spelling and communication skills from simply writing business-type letters.

We've actually ben a bit too successful.  In computing, I'm not sure we have enough specialist teachers hours to cope with the demand.  I know that in J-Ps department, some of their senior (and academic) courses have proven to be very popular, and they have the same problem we do, they just don't have enough specialist teachers for the demand.  The NZ system, screwed up as it is, does seem (at least in Nuova Lazio High) to be working to the extent of producing young adults with a good skill set for modern or even academic life.
Wouldn't we be able to do so much better with a better teacher/student ratio?
Oh yes, we would be able to concentrate the enthusiastic specialist teachers on smaller interested classes.
I hope Ms Bloody Tolley is listening.

Came accross this funny Thai Advert.  Nothing really to do with the rest of this post but it's unusual.

Friday, 22 October 2010

I'm Good



I refuse to be upset by Ringo's ignorant and boorish ways.

To put me, and I hope you all in a better mood, heres a clip from one of my favourite films, with one of my all-time favourite songs.  Especially the last few words of the lyrics.


Just discovered another all-time favourite.  The immortal Peter Sellers (well he's not actually immortal.  Not to put too fine a point on it he's dead.  But his timing is as great as ever)

Activities 3

Continuing the series of end of term activities in Nuova Lazio High.

Quick Change

This is an activity for fun and profit.  Best for small groups. 

Choose the participants carefully.  They need some basic mechanical knowledge.
  1. Organise the groups (8 - 10 participants) into covering areas of Nuova Lazio (You can use the maps prepared for Find the Virgin)
  2. Each group has at least one with a mobile phone
  3. If they spot a Subaru Imprezza or a Mitsi Evo in a suitable area(on the grass, nobody home) they phone the organiser
  4. Turn up with a tow truck and back to Nuova Lazio High
  5. Strip, rebuild, respray, renumber and sell to Mr Snake in the Hutt inside 4 hours.
  6. 50% of proceeds for you, the rest spilt between the group
  7. Repeat as many times as you can before the cops start sniffing about
  8. Return all tools to the Technology Department, wiping all fingerprints
  9. Remind all participants that the Dig a Hole  is on tomorrow, and that if they don't keep schtum they'll end up at the bottom as they re-fill

Teachers Only

This is my favourite activity.  As many teachers as you wish, with three pupils per teacher.

  1. All the participating teachers move their cars into the designated area of the car park
  2. Teachers move into the staffroom for coffee and savouries while the designated kids start washing and waxing the cars
  3. After finishing a leisurely tea, teachers inspect the cars, the students responsible for the washing and waxing stand beside their charge. 
  4. The students who have shown that they can produce a good finish are loaded into the minivans and transported to the Petone esplanade.
  5. The students who have produced a poor finish are encouraged to improve with a gentle whipping and sent to the Find the Landmine activity
  6. In Petone, the $5 wash and wax stall is set up in the esplanade car park (It helps if you make sure some spurious charity is shown on the sign.  It encourages the locals to contribute)
  7. One teacher is selected to start the supervision, while the rest repair to the Firemans' Arms.
  8. Drink is ordered and partaken.
  9. Ensure a fair rota is set up so all teachers involved do their fair share of supervision of the wash/wax stall
  10. 1 packet of chippies each is given to the participating pupils to keep up their energy
  11. Drink is ordered and partaken, pizza is ordered and eaten.
  12. Pack up to get back to Nuova Lazio by 3.
  13. Give each participating pupil $1 in way of thanks and dismiss.
  14. Return to staffroom and divvy up the proceeds.  There should be sufficient to cover all pub expenses, with a little extra left over.
To maximise the proceeds it has been found in the past that having at least one of the participating pupils in a wheelchair attracts many more customers, and they leave bigger tips.

To really maximise profits, make sure some of the older Year 13 girls are available in bikinis.  These ladies will attract many, many more customers, but they also need to be recompensed with much more money.

Much more profitable

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Fear not gentle readers, I shall return to the engrossing and exciting series of Activities for Nuova Lazio High end-of-term tomorrow, for today I would like to expound on Envy.

I didn't think that I was an envious person. 
I would see a gleaming i-phone someone had bought, and I would think, "That's nice"
I would pass a lovely house in a lovely beach side situation, and I would think, "That's nice"
I would pass a gorgeous, voluptuous wife on the the arm of her husband, and I would think, "They're nice"

But never a feeling of envy.

Until yesterday.

We have a nice young Canadian teacher doing a lot of relief teaching for us.  He has a good range of skills, including PE and Technology, and he's really good with the kids, they like him, and he doesn't put up with any mucking-about.
I was having a chat with him in the staffroom, discussing the joys of Aoteroa.  He's been tramping all over the North Island, and he was telling me that during the relief lay-off period, which starts in November, when there would be very few teaching hours available, he had obtained a temporary position with DOC.  He was going to get paid to go tramping all over the Mainland, starting with Queen Charlotte.  I think he said he was going to be maintaining tracks and tramping huts.  This sounded nice, but I was not envious.
He also mentioned that he wouldn't be available for teaching the last week in October.
I enquired why.
He said he had another temporary job for about 10 days.
Now being a relieving teacher is not the best job in the world, but it's reasonably well paid, with most relievers getting about $200 - $250 a day, and I wondered (out loud) what job would be better paid for our young teacher/tourist.  "Oh no", he said, "it's not better paid, I just really want to do it"
Then he told me.

He has landed a job every guy in the country would desperately and deeply desire.

No, it's not being the sunblock applicator for Angelina Jolie
No, it's not being the hit man going after Hone Harawera
No, it's not being the head taster at Speights or Mission Bay

He was going to be employed for 10 days in Wellington Harbour.

Setting up the complete firework display for November 5th on a barge just off-shore.

He would be stacking rockets and mortars and giant roman candles and Catherine wheels and huge bangers and whizz-bangs of every description.
He would also be there when they set the bugger off.  He would be igniting a lot of the stuff.  He would be responsible for a huge mass of bangs and flashes for almost 40 minutes of mayhem.

I was envious.  It hit me out of blue.  I really wanted to do that.  I wanted to make huge bangs and flashes that were frightening but harmless.  Well almost harmless, as I believe that a few pyrotechnic engineers are killed every year, but it's not designed to hurt people, just to thrill.

I was very envious.

Ah well, back to the grind of the chalkface.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Activities 2

The second exciting installment of things to do (and be done to) for the last week of term.

Find the Virgin.

A simple and fast activity, suitable for all boys.

  1. A map of Nuova Lazio is given out with a red and a black pen.
  2. The boys are allocated diferent areas of Nuova Lazio to investigate.
  3. Each boy marks with a black pen the inhabitations (houses, sheds, tents and dug-outs common to Nuova Lazio) where non-virgins abide.
  4. Each boy marks with a red pen the inhabitations where they discover a virgin.
  5. All virgins below 12 are excluded.
  6. When they return destroy the maps, there's no point.  There are no virgins over 12 in NL.
  7. An excellent exercise in futility which builds character and wastes time.
  8. The perfect end-of-term activity

Dig a Hole

A complex task, suitable only for the high achievers.  Needs some preparation and equipment, 1 Moro bar and a small bag of raw peanuts.

A paddock is obtained from a local farmer/marijuana plantation owner (NOTE: Definitely NOT the same paddock as used for find the landmine)

  1. Both boys and girls can participate in this harmless activity
  2. Each person is given a shovel or a pickaxe
  3. The group (maximum 100 participants) proceed to the paddock, where you have already marked out separate digging areas of 5 metres square.
  4. The participants work in groups of 4, digging out the indicated area.
  5. Care must be taken not to:
    1. Throw soil into an adjoining marked area (bad form, not cricket) (Not that the bloody Black Caps would recognise a real game of cricket if it bit them in their collective arses)
    2. Bury tools under loose soil
    3. Bury other participants
  6. The holes dug have to be at least 5 metres deep
  7. At 1 O'clock, the groups change areas and proceed to fill in the recently dug holes.
    1. Be especially careful to note 2 and 3 of step 5 above.
  8. The first group to complete the fill-in do NOT get the Moro bar.  You eat it as you watch.  Seeing other people working hard causes a great hunger, and must be treated quickly.
  9. Remove all tools and COUNT THE PARTICIPANTS.
  10. Any missing can be accounted for as evolution in action
  11. Clean tools and return to Nuova Lazio High.
  12. Explain to the participants that they may as well get used to it.
  13. Distribute two peanuts each (2½ for the fastest group), and explain that they may as well get used to it.
More exciting activities tomorrow.

To complete today's package is a video expounding the reasons why men should by a certain British 'newspaper'.  The video needs sound and I recommend caution, as some naughty words and pictures are included.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


We poor sods who teach at Nuova Lazio High have been asked to come up with some ideas for the last week of school for our year 9s and 10s.  The traditional tramp to Eastbourne or trip to the swimming pool is seen now as too boring.
Here are some suggestions.

Find the Landmine.

A simple activity, suitable for the thickest, but does require some preparation.
  1. Select a suitable paddock, preferably one at least 400 metres away from any habitation.
  2. Plant using standard British Army AP3 minefield plan.
  3. Carefully note the position of each mine on a map for future clearance (we must be responsible users)
  4. Place a large trestle table at one end of the paddock, and place plates of cheerios and sausage rolls on it.
  5. Attach a large picture of Princess Diana to the front of the table
  6. Open the gate and let the hungry kids through.
  7. Repeat until kids and/or mines used up.
  8. Remove and make safe any mines left
  9. Store mines safely for use next year.
  10. Plough field to hide mess and distribute remains as fertilizer
  11. A good crop of grass is guaranteed for next year, so most farmers will oblige with the loan of a paddock if asked nicely.

Hunt the Marijuana

A more complex activity, suitable for the stoners.  No preparation required.

  1. Position the selected kids at the bottom of Nuova Lazio Hill.
  2. Give each participant a simple compass, a map of Berlin, a disposable butane lighter and a large folding knife.
  3. Tell them that somewhere in the hills is a large plantation of marijuana, whose owners have been arrested and imprisoned.
  4. Tell them the first person to find this plantation will own it.
  5. Release the kids.
  6. Go and have a nice cup of coffee
  7. When you hear the first sounds/screams of fighting use your binoculars to locate the plantation
  8. As the screams die down and the first tendrils of smoke climb into the sky, call the cops, remove all evidence and depart the scene.
PS The map of Berlin can be substitued by a map of anywhere really.  Do you think that the stoners can concentrate long enough to actually read a map?

More activities will posted during the rest of this week.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Self Fulfilment

To say what you want to say is the measure of a man.  Do not be swayed by the ramblings of the politically correct, or even the politically incorrect, as they both focus on the empathic ramblings of the political unconscious.

You are the sum of your upbringing and experience, your observations, conversations, conclusions and even prejudices. 

Do your best to treat every person according to their interaction with you, not based on any preconceptions you may have absorbed from the environment.

Enjoy your life, view the world and your interactions with it through the crystal of humour, as we only have the one chance at this existence, and there are enough mean-spirited vindictive bastards out there without you adding your own corrupt miasma of despair, let alone the swarms of objectionable scrotes inhabiting your classroom.
Do not get caught, but take your revenge in a thoughtful and careful manner, and remember that bleach eradicates all traces of DNA.
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