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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Royal Bloody Wedding

Prince William and Kate Middleton are going to get married.


Nothing makes me happier to have left the class-ridden society of the UK for the (warmer) egalitarian climes of NZ.  The buggers don't even get married for another 5 months, which means an increasingly hyped approach by the media all around the world.

Who cares?
Who really gives a shit that one of the parasitic bastards who have sucked money and land from the people of the UK is going to get married.
Is it going to impact on our lives? No.  It's just an excuse to flaunt their wealth and position to all and sundry.

A pox on them all.

Anyway they should know better by now.  After the fiasco with the Bimbo of Westminster (better known as Blondie or Diana), keeping a low profile would probably have been the intelligent option.

I've seen articles on astrologers predictions, dress possibilities, choice of venues, 3D television broadcasts of the ceremony, honeymoon choices (even NZ is on the list)

But the bloody icing on the bloody cake is he headline I saw today.

Beckhams to attend royal wedding.

Well, that must be the official seal of approval.  If Victoria and David are going, the union is obviously blessed in heaven, and no mere mortal should stand in their way.

I just hope that my blood pressure doesn't blow a gasket before the entire vomit-inducing business is over, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Monday, 29 November 2010


I am a man of many faults. Please, please don't gasp in horror, it is true. I have some failings. Not many, it's true, but I am not fault-free.



I do however possess (I think) moral courage.

If I'm in a meeting and a statement is made that I don't understand, I'll ask for clarification. I'm not scared to ask. I've found over the years that there isn't really a dumb question, and not asking about an unknown abbreviation or a newly named concept makes you look even sillier later on.



If an idea is presented which is based on concepts that I find contravene my world-view, I'll challenge them.

Last year at the HOF meeting which was deciding which courses would be available to our students the following academic year, a proposal was put forward by our Maori HOF that they introduce a course called Putaio. This was a science course, but based on Maori world-view and concepts. I originally trained as a scientist, in Biochemistry and Microbiolgy and only later did I pick up my MSc in Computing, so Science, and its concomitant ideology is very dear to my heart. I made the comment that "Perhaps Science should be taught as Science not mixed in with cultural references" As far as I know, there is no such thing as American Science, or Indian Science or any "type" of Science, there is just science; an objective method, based on theorems and experiments which tries to make sense of our Universe and establish some sort of system which will allow us to predict a cause and effect

Ringo told me off "For being culturally insensitive" The course went ahead, but I still think it's wrong.

Is a Maori Oxygen molecule different from a European one?

Do Maori electrons travel at different speeds to others?

Complete bollocks.



However, yesterday evening, I displayed a moral courage equal to anything I've done before.



Last month, as I mentioned in my post, I bought my beloved (who suffers from a mild vertigo) a tricycle. Bright red, with a huge white basket over the back axle. I also bought a cheap second hand bike for myself. The idea being that we go for gentle bike rides around the area where we live. Yesterday was the day. I packed all the bikes into the back of my FWD and went down to Trentham Memorial Park.

I re-assembled the bikes, strapped on the stupid bike helmets and off we went



Now I've been on a bike since I was about 4 or 5. Most of us in the Western (and Eastern) world know how to ride a bike. I haven't been on a bike for over 8 years, but I didn't even have to think about it, just jumped on and away I went. I went very slowly, allowing my beloved plenty of time to get used to her new conveyance.

I don't think I've ever seen a sight like it.

My beloved was in the grip of fear. She had forgotten how to steer, so I was gifted with the view of a lady of mature years, face frozen in a rictus of terror, legs extended stiffly and off the pedals veering madly (at about 2 kph) off the asphalt track onto the grass.

Over the next half-hour, I ignored the hoots of laughter from the gin-soaked members of the Trentham Cricket Club (TCC), who, sitting on their clubhouse deck, were being regaled by a continuous comedy of errors as my beloved:

  • went around in circles for 5 minutes
  • went off the path 12 times in 20 metres
  • screamed at me to stop the bloody thing as she had forgotten how to use the brakes
  • managed to strip the chain of the gears
  • tried to stop the tricycle by running it into a bush
  • smiled and waved at a passing pedestrian (he was overtaking us whilst walking his dog) and promptly steered into another bush (This one was the TCC favourite.  Two of the members fell of their chairs rolling about at this.  One actually fell off the deck, but I think he was pissed)
  • forgot how to change gear when going uphill
  • forgot (again) how to brake when going downhill



I was really proud of myself. I didn't flee. I didn't try to pretend that I didn't know her. I didn't even have a sign on my chest saying"She's not with me"

I exhibited great courage (and devotion) and stayed with my poor anxiety-ridden beloved as she struggled gamely to overcome the torture machine know as "The Red Trike"



Eventually she prevailed, and we continued on around the paths of this lovely park. We stayed on the flat, and mostly circled the cricket pitch and the reserve. I deliberately avoided the lovely path down by the Hutt river, I may be brave, but I'm not an idiot.

We're staying away from the river for the foreseeable future.
Look, I may look silly in one of these bloody bike helmets, but I'd look a complete f*cking idiot wearing a life jacket at the same time.

A complete f*cking idiot

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Early Sunday

Watched the ABs thump the Welsh.  Good game, but now I'm tired, so back to bed.

Go the ABs.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Teachers work to a series of deadlines.
Every day we have to plan, resource, present and assess in 3 to 5 one hour sessions, each with it's own deadline, the bell that announces the end of each session (or spells as we call them in Nuova Lazio High, as periods have been removed from the school vocabulary as being too demeaning to menstruating females)

We have just completed the Junior exams, which had to be organised with each teacher having a set time and place to go to for their turn at supervising an exam room.  The exam papers have to be marked by early next week, because another deadline, the report deadline is rapidly approaching. 

The report deadline is itself made up of a multitude of sub-deadlines for printing, proof-reading, re-printing, DP's comments and final printing and posting.

Unfortunately, a few of my colleagues couldn't recognise a deadline if it came up and bit them in the arse.  They're always late, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even unprepared for a lesson.  There's not many, but they make life difficult for the rest of us.  We all can make mistakes, but when you see the same mistake happening again and again action needs to be taken, except it doesn't.  They get away with it.  I would sack the buggers.  If they're still making the same mistakes after 7 bloody years, then it should be either dismissal or death.  Their choice.

Anyway, the Reports.  We spend days weeks or even in some cases, minutes in crafting these important statements on our students' performance over the last year.  Each sentence is carefully checked for grammar and syntax.  Each paragraph is lovingly moulded to be a glittering entity, striking in it's elegant simplicity, conciseness and lack of ambiguity.  The entire statement is checked and double checked for errors and compliance to the accepted style.  Our Deans, responsible for the pastoral care of our young, will add crisp, elegant comments on the little darlings' overall attitude and achievement.  Our Senior Management Leadership Team will then grace the bottom of each report with a short but pithy sentence, hand written in a cursive copperplate script.

None of this is required.  We can autiomatically generate the results of every assessment that the students have been given.  We can automatically generate their attendances, sickness and pastoral incidents.  We can even generate all of their sporting and extra-curricular activities and successes. We only need to add the following comments to complete the picture.

Thick as ShitApe-likeComplete Dickhead

Seeing as many of us use the blesséd Copy and Paste, perhaps sometimes to excess, the simple comment table shown above is possibly just as accurate, and definitely more accessable by most of our parents and caregivers.

Anyway, I must get back to finishing off my reports, as I've got a bit behind because of my timetabling responsibilities.  I've got a deadline to meet.

Friday, 26 November 2010


An exam
All of our students are sitting exams this week.  Our seniors started their NZQA exams last week, and they continue right through (for some of them) to next week as well.  Quite a few have been coming in to do last-minute research or revision, and some have been trying to complete another couple of Internal assessments under our supervision.
Don't believe all those stories about our lost generation of youth.  The vast majority (90%+) want to achieve and excel, and it's a joy to help them do so.  If any are reading this, best of luck folks, you deserve to succeed.

A different type of exam
Peek but don't cheat
Our juniors are also sitting exams in all the core subjects, and this year they're sitting them in the gym. under the usual exam conditions.  This creates a lot of problems, notably for the PE staff, but the boss wants the Year 9s and 10s to become used to the traditional big-hall exam feeling, and he has a point.  None of our pupils have sat an exam in this way before.  All through Intermediate and Primary, all assessment is in their own classrooms, and most of the assessment they get is formative rather than summative, so they were not under as much pressure.  Our pupils have to become accustomed to the feelings of stress and anxiety everyone gets during big exams, otherwise they will be at a major disadvantage when they sit the big NZQA exams in their Year 11.

Stress makes you do strange things
The juniors have been behaving superbly.  No mucking about, no talking, no cellphones.  There are always exceptions however.
Our hyperactive Year 10, who was starting to hyperventilate and trembling in his seat after the first hour of a two hour exam.  I think he's never sat in one place for more than 40 minutes in his life.  He tried, but just couldn't do it.
Then there were a couple of our year 9s who went at it hammer and tongs during tea time.  The usual name-calling got very intense, and the two involved just wouldn't let it go, and were eventually sent home.
Then the piece de resistance.  One of our notorious juniors, who is constantly in trouble, and who has been accused many, many times of tagging (drawing graffiti for any non-NZ reader) walls around the school was caught cheating in his English Exam.  Because we have about 180 students in each of our junior years, and because the gym will only hold 120 at one time, I have allocated some of the students into 3 or 4 extra classrooms, and it was in one of these that the cheating was discovered.  The silly boy had his notebook out and under the desk, resting on his knees.  Every time he turned a page, the supervising teacher could hear the paper rustle.  The best bit was after the notebook had been confiscated, it was found to contain, not just notes for cheating, but many examples of the boy's graffiti style.  Proof at last.  He's for the high jump, and I really hope the board kicks him out.  He's constantly disrupting just about every class he's in.

Parent's Night
Lastly, we had the police in.  As I mentioned in an earlier post our computer systems were hacked a couple of weeks ago, which cost us a lot of time and money to fix, and some of our seniors may have lost a couple of credits, because they couldn't finish some assessments, so whoever did it is not well-loved by us.

The policeman who came in was not one of your average cops, he was from the cyber-crime division of the NZ police in Wellington.  I didn't even know we had one (It is apparently bad manners to call them robocops.  They seem to strongly resent that name.  Wonder why?)  He had come in to process a charge of theft made against another of our pupils who had stolen a flash drive from one of our science teachers, and had then wiped the contents; a complete year's notes, resources and exercises for all of the teacher's classes.  Luckily our great Systems Manager, he of the Red Hair, managed to recover almost all of the data, but the pupil involved did not seem to realise that he had done anything wrong, and the charges were laid in the hope that something might get through to the kid before it's too late.

The policeman, after dealing with the theft, had a long talk to Red Hair about the hack, and we are delighted to find that he has the power to get the ISP to divulge their logs, so we can find the actual physical address of who it was that hacked into our system.  I'm not talking about just an account name, I'm talking about an actual physical trace which will stand up in court.  I didn't realise that all such logs on modern electronic switches could reveal so much.  The hackers "Ass is Grass", and will probably be covered in blood if our angry seniors get hold of him.

Justice is Nice

Revenge is Sweet


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Retrograde Design

I like toast.  Almost every morning, I start the day with two slices of toast with various toppings.  I used to slather the warm toast with a thick layer of butter, and quite often that would just be enough.  Hot buttered toast.  Superb.  Unfortunately, my beloved, my doctor and my high cholesterol level have combined to make this favourite delicacy almost a thing of the past.  Butter has been replaced by Alpha-One Rice Bran spread, which, to be fair, isn't too bad, with a slightly buttery taste.  My beloved uses a spread called Flora Pro-Active, which tastes disgusting.  I tried it last week by mistake, and it had more in common with engine oil than butter.  It was even worse than the margarine I can vaguely remember from the 60s.

Hot buttered toast in many forms has always been my favourite, and I can remember eating it with Marmite (as a 3 o'clock tea in the Officers Mess), or with Patum Peperium (always a favourite of my daughter), or with Sardines (always in rich Olive Oil in those dim and distant days, none of this healthy spring water crap), or with Honey.

You would think that making buttered toast wouldn't have changed that much over the years, but it has.  It's become a little bit more difficult.


Because the bloody silverware designers are obsessed with form over function.

I have in my cutlery drawer, two knives I inherited from my Gran.  They are bone-handled and have a long broad blade with a semi-circular tip, similar to those shown in the picture below.

Like all bone handled knives, these are not dish-washer friendly, as we discovered when the handles started to spilt, and the shank's a bit rusty.  But we keep using them, old as they are, because they are perfectly designed for their function.

The blade is long enough that it can butter one big slice in one movement, or even get jam out of the bottom of a jar.  The handles (even splitting as they are) give good grip, even when slightly smeared with butter.  The blade is broad enough that it is easy to control the rate of spreading.  The tip is not pointed.  It is a smoothly curving, symmetrical curve, that doesn't dig into the toast.

We have looked everywhere, but no modern manufacturer of cutlery seems to make this type of knife.  I don't think I'm alone in this viewpoint.  Everytime we visit an antique (or junk) shop, we always look for such knives.  We've seen many types of older bone handled knives, but usually the smaller variety, not the big ones we want.  The proprietor usually comments that he doesn't see the ones we want very often.. I think everyone that's got them in their possession hangs onto them, because they're so useful.

If it's so bloody obvious, why the hell doesn't a modern manufacturer make them.

Beats the hell out of me.

Please note that no pictures of nude, semi-nude or even fully clothed women were used in the making of this blog.  It's not an addiction.  I can fight it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

ABC of England (Continued)

Says it all really
N:  Nobility.  Like M, part of a culture well past its sell-by date.  These prats keep the horrific class system going, by any means possible.  Don't underestimate them.. The originals were the most successful robbers and thieves of their time, grabbing a huge expanse of the country from the original inhabitants.  Can be recognised by the way they garble spoken English into an almost unintelligible mishmash of sounds.

O: Ovaltine.  England's greatest contribution to world culture (closely followed by Horlicks and the Spice Girls).  Bedtime without Ovaltine is unthinkable, and the Ovaltinies rendition of "We are the Ovaltinies" ranks up there with anything produced by Led Zepplin or Placido Domingo.

P: Picturesque.  Many of the small villages in the Cotswolds, the Yorkshire Dales and the West Country are so picturesque that in summer they are virtually unlivable due to the massive influx of foreign tourists.  It should be remembered that these pretty little cottages are responsible for the high death rate caused by consumption, asthma, cold and damp related diseases, fungal infections and rat carried bacteria and viruses.

Q:  Queen.  England's greatest ever rock band.  Fronted by an Englishman who was a Parsi, born in Zanzibar and raised in India, who had a ridiculous moustache and a penchant for wearing tight leather pants or woman's clothing and was a confused transsexual.  Typically English.

R:  Religion.  There are now more non-Christians actively attending places of worship in England than there are actively participating Christians.  This is a good thing, as the English seem to see the Church of England as some sort of social club, whose membership is to be desired, but attendance is not mandatory.  If you're going to be an illogical loony, at least be mad with some sort of commitment,

S:  Summer.  This is the time of year supposedly found between Spring and Autumn, when the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the air is warm and mild zephyrs waft gently though the rustling corn.  This is a fantasy.  Seasons in England can be differentiated by the temperature of the rain.  If the rain is solid (ice, hail, snow) then it's Winter, Spring or Autumn, but probably not Summer.  If the rain comes down so hard, in such large droplets that it causes all of the crops to lie flat and rivers to burst their banks, then it's probably Summer.

T:  Trains.  England (with Scottish help) invented the train and the Industrial Revolution, and promptly contributed these to the world at large.  Then it abandoned them.  The greatest, most efficient transport system in the world was methodically gutted, scrapped and finally privatised.  This last step at least had the advantage of stopping the production of British Rail food jokes.
Winner of the most beautiful woman in Brighton (1998)

U:  Ugly.  English women can be gorgeous, but these are the exception rather than the rule.  Most are really ugly. I suspect a whole variety of factors.  Bad food, bad climate, bad attitude and bad genes.  To be fair, the ugliest woman I've ever seen was in Australia, near Alice Springs.  She was of such brain-stopping horrendousness that at first I thought it was a trick of the light, and that it only looked like she was walking down the road with the decomposing remains of a dead possum draped around her shoulders where her head should be.

V:  Victoria.  Not the Queen from the 19th Century, but the sponge.  A great and underestimated delicacy. A featherlight confection of delicate, airy yet buttery cake, with a layer of strawberry jam and cream.  Perfect for a traditional high tea.
Religious Service in Sydney

W: Wicca.  England developed the best religion in the world.  Any form of worship which entails young women running around in their baby-suits is OK by me.  Once you add in woad-smeared bodies and fertility rites, you've got a world-beater.

X:  X-Ray.  Originally Röntgen Rays.  There is actually nothing of interest in England beginning with X.  Except maybe Hot Cross Buns.  These spicy soft rolls, containing currants, cinnamon and other spices, with a soft pastry X on the top are delicious when served warm with lashings of butter.

Y: Youth Culture.  Supposedly developed in the 70s, it took the premise that as there were more young (18 - 25) people buying clothes and spending money, then what they did was a separate culture and therefore must be good.  An objective examination of the fashion styles and haircuts of that era proves the fallacy of that premise.  An examination of current day "youth" fashion and hairstyles just makes me feel sick.

Z:  Zulu.  Best movie ever made in England.  It had it all.  Stiff-upper-lip English officer, Gruff but kindly Sar'nt Major (who was also a raving psychopath.  Every Army needs them) hordes of regional cannon-fodder (Welsh in this case, which is a bonus, so that can all sing as they slaughter) plus huge numbers of fuzzy-wuzzies who attack in the stupidest way possible against breech-loading rifles.  The final scene where the desperate British (Welsh actually, but the English are very clever in their ethnic description.  In any sporting event (cricket, rugby, WWII) if the group involved is of any ethnic group living in Britain, Scots, Irish, Welsh Cornish etc. then they are referred to as British.  If even one Englishman is involved, AND they win (or at least a glorious failure) then they are referred to as English.) stand off the attacking Zulus by forming three lines with their backs to the wall and giving controlled volley fire is absolute magic.  In my army days, just after I joined up, we had a mad English officer who did that with our platoon as a homage to Zulu during an exercise.  We all thought he was loony.  Volley fire with Self Loading Rifles?  His other chinless wonders (other officers) thought it was funny too.  Explains a lot about the Hooray Henry type of officer found in the Army in the 70s.

I hope from my Alphabetic list that you get the impression that I hate England.  I don't, some of my best friends are English, but there are certain traits, especially of the Southern variety that get up every Scot's nose.
Arrogance, ignorance and the bloody Southern accent.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Getting Tired

As you may know, I used to (many years ago) be in the Army.  Not the respectable, but tiny, NZ force of do-gooders and disaster rescue specialists, but the pretty professional, deadly and mean British Army.  During my time in my Regiments, as both Gunner and Officer, I picked up a fair amount of training in many unusual skills.
I can (or could) conduct a basic radiological survey to report the consequences of a nuclear attack (NUKEREP), I was my Battery's Biological Warfare specialist, and also helped out the senior Captain who was our Chemical Warfare specialist.

I went on courses with REME to help understand the problems involved when recovering our Ten Ton trucks from mud and mire.  I attended a course run by the Royal Engineers on safe water supply, including building a water supply point, purification system and a temporary water tower, built with scaffolding, planks and a large rubber paddling pool.

105mm Pack Howitzers
I went on a field Artillery course, using the first computer controlled fire control systems in the military, and did many practice shoots with 105mm pack howitzers.

7.62mm L1A1 SLR
My small arms skills were enhanced after a course on marksmanship with our 7.62mm SLR (Self Loading RIfle) and my all time favourite, the updated WWII Bren Gun, designated the 7.62mm LMG.  I got so accurate with the LMG that I could pick off 30 metal plates at 200 metres with one 30 round magazine.

7.62mm L4 LMG
As we expected our life in action (as an organised unit) to be about 36 hours after the Soviets came pouring through the Fulda Gap (we were then an Air Defence Regiment, using old 40mm Bofor Guns, and would be the priority for all those nasty napalm carrying Migs) we were also trained in escape and evasion.  We were also tasked to make life as difficult as possible for the advancing Soviets by causing as much mayhem as possible using various techniques.  We were trained in setting up simple booby traps, using kit the Sappers would give us.  Tripwires, pressure switches, command detonated directional mines (Claymores) and many more.

A complete Claymore kit
I mention all of the above as a background to the next.


without an extremely good reason (wanting days off, rioting kids, missing teachers or relievers is not nearly a good enough reason) is going to find out how deadly I can be when riled.  Two Claymores rigged with a command detonation switch is a bit dangerous.  The bang would definitely hurt my ears, and the interrupter on the outside of my office might find that 700 steel ball bearings travelling at greater than 1200 m/s might sting a little.

The effects of a claymore at 100 metres


You're dealing with an irritable dealer of death.  I will not be responsible for my actions if another idiot wanders into my office warbling on about "having to go to the dentist the next day but not needing any cover really, just to let me know that he'll be out of school in the morning and that everything will be alright really."



Mr Claymore will not be your friend if I push the clacker.

And just for The Curmudgeon (and Fflur and Nicola)

The very soft and rounded Mme. Bridgette Bardot of Immortal Memory

Monday, 22 November 2010

A B C of England

England.  Smashed by the ABs .  Again

I hate to admit it, but I was reading one of my beloved's magazines. The English Woman's Weekly.

I needed something to read while I was communing with nature, and when I reached the last page, there was an article called the ABC of the UK. It was asinine, even more than the norm for these magazines, so I thought I'd have a go. 

A. Arseholes. England is filled with these, specially dominant in and around London

B. Bastards. Almost as many as arseholes.

C. Crap. All these arseholes produce vast amounts of crap. Mostly ends up on TV or in the National Gallery

D. Drunks. It is a part of the Law in England that all males between 15 and 23 drink a minimum 6 pints of beer on Friday and Saturday evening, turn into A and/or B and talk a load of C.

E. Evensong. A religious observance which has changed slightly over the years. It is now the Ds, acting as A and B and trying to sing "Viva Espania" after 10pm.

F. Freedom. No longer exists in the UK, due to a massive influx of USA derived regulation regarding free speech, and the incredible number of CCTV cameras on every roof, street corner and Public Toilets.

G. Grass. The cool wet climate of the UK is ideal for growing grass (of the bovine fodder type), and the English, being a naturally boring people have perfected the technique of using this green stuff to make lawns. And talk about lawns. And spend all their waking moments caring for their lawns. And telling everyone how much work it is keeping it smooth and verdant.
Perfect (but boring) lawn

H. Hysteria. The UK press discovered Media Hysteria round about the time Diana was killed. Raving mindlessly about this pretty but brainless adjunct to a parasitical Royal family led to a "spontaneous" outpouring of emotion and grief from the "Great British Public". Complete bollocks, just used it to sell more newspapers.

I. Indian Restaurants. A generic description, which also covers Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan restaurants and take-aways. There are more of these food outlets than in any other country. They are now embedded in the English culture, and a good thing too, as traditional English food is boring and mostly tasteless (Boiled beef and carrots?). A night out for D above is not complete without at least a Vindaloo or a Madras. Chundering afterwards is not mandatory, but is rarely avoided.

J. Jokes. The English believe that they invented humour, and that all other cultures have just tried to copy them.. They have a point. English humour is probably the most developed of all the humour sub-types. Germans only laugh when they invade somebody, French laugh, then retreat and wave a white flag, Americans do not understand Irony. Or English. And all Australian jokes are either about sheep or Kiwis.
Teacher Joke (Solve this problem)

K. Knackered. General description of England in the 21st Century. Knackered economy, knackered morals, knackered culture. Basically stuffed from start to finish

L. London. Huge, dirty, packed with every type and sub-type of just about every race on Earth. Great Museums and Art Galleries, but you couldn't pay me enough money to actually live there. Essential survival items are:

    a. An A-Z (street guide), because it's so bloody big, even the locals get lost, and the traffic is horrendous.

    b. A multi-lingual dictionary/phrase book. Because when you get lost, you'll need it to ask for directions as most of the locals don't speak English.

Royalty.  Adding class to Insane Asylums since 1255

M. Monarchy. These remnants of the Middle Ages are hanging on to their position of power and privilege by their fingernails. Most of their "subjects" want them gone. Lizzy is a consummate politician, but Phil the Greek is a racist plonker, Charlie is an eco-nut who talks to flowers and has a "thing" for older horse-faced women. The recent attempt to instil some sort of comeback using Prince William is doomed to failure. Nobody (apart from the Tabloids) really cares anymore.

N - Z will be posted as soon as I get the time.  Seeing I'm timetabling, arranging Junior Exams, setting up the reports, and contributing to an American web magazine, don't hold your breath.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Isn't Technology Wonderful

Basket Maker lent me a DVD last week.  It was 'Alice in Wonderland' with Johnny Depp, and I have never seen it and thought it would be nice to view it over the weekend.

So last night, nothing really on TV, I thought I'd give it a go.
My beloved wasn't bothered.  She's pre-occupied with knitting woolen hot-water bottle covers.  She sells them, with the proceeds going to Te Omonga hospice, and staff at Nuova Lazio High have ordered 20, in varying colours at $10 each, so she's trying to get them all finished ASAP.  They're really cute, knitted in cable stitch, with a sort of polo neck for the top of the hottie, and some staff want them as little Christmas presents for their friends and rellies.

Anyway, she said OK, and I started the process of watching the bloody thing.
First I opened the DVD tray of our new(ish) DVD/HD recorder/player.  Well I tried to open the DVD tray.  I could hear the motor whining and a sort of clicking, but the tray wouldn't extend.  It's occasionally done this before, but a slight twist at the corner with a butter kniofe usually did the trick.
Not this time.  It just wouldn't work.

No problemo, I went to the first back-up option.  We have an older DVD/VHS recorder/player we brought with us from the UK.  I brought it out of storage and plugged it in.  Pressed the DVD tray extend button.  EXACTLY THE SAME.  I could hear the motor whining and a sort of clicking, but the tray wouldn't extend.

No problemo.  I went to the second back-up option.  We have a portable DVD player we bought in Singapore about 7 years ago for our son (to watch in his room), that he had left with us when he moved into his Wellington flat.  No DVD tray on this baby.  I hooked it up to the TV, popped in the DVD and voila, the menu popped up on the TV.  We were ready to go.

I got out the wine, beer and snack and pushed the play button.. it went through the introduction screens, and started to play the piracy warning that always accompanies these things (Why?  If I'm using a pirated version, do they think I'll phone them up and turn myself in?)then the trailers started.  AND then the menu popped up again.

Repeat 3 times.  It just wouldn't start to play the main film.

Hell's Teeth.

No problemo.  I went to the third back-up option.  My trusty computer.  Put the DVD in, and it played straight away.  Now to connect the video card on my PC to the TV.


I'd changed my video card last year.  The previous video card had RGB outputs my TV would accept.  My new one didn't.  It had an S-video output, but I didn't have an S_video cable.  It had a conventional PC output that my Sony LCD large screen would accept, but my cable wasn't long enough to reach the TV.

I went and got my toolbox and took the original DVD/HD apart. 


Everything inside was modular, the DVD player module was a sealed unit.  I cleaned it out as best as I could.  Still didn't work..
At this point I reverted to what all guys revert to.

Brute force.  I used pliers and screwdrivers to force/pull out the DVD tray, and gave it a squirt of WD40.  And a good thump just in case.

Put it all back together, and IT WORKED.

Re-connected all of the cables and wires and we were in business.

Total elapsed time:  2 hours 20 minutes.

Sat down to watch the film, pouring my third glass of wine (A cheap and robust Aussie Cab Sauv. from Banrock Station.  Look, all that fiddling about made me thirsty, OK?)

I fell asleep.

My last memories were of Alice watching the Red Queen playing croquet with the flamingos and hedgehogs.

I never saw the rest of the film, as it was close to midnight, and we were planning on getting up early to watch the ABs smash the Irish.

My beloved said the film was OK, but not great.

Then I had to put away all the cables, tools and the other 2 DVD players I had dragged out.

At one point I had 4 DVD players out, and none did what I WANTED.

Isn't technology Great.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Interrupted Sleep

I had just got of to sleep (as mentioned in the previous post) when the phone rang.

I was a bit groggy when I answered it and the conversation went something like this:

Male Maori Caller (MMC) Hello TSB, I thought you'd be at the interview.

Me: What?

MMC: I thought you'd be at the interview.

Me (Realising that this weird person (not recognised yet) is referring to the DP interviews being held in Nuova Lazio High today)  (I am not on the interview list, but applied for the job)  (I am, as you would guess, a tad miffed about not getting on the bloody short list) What do you want?

MMC (Gave name which I couldn't make out) I'm stuck

Me: What?

MMC:  I'm stuck, I can't delete I mean put a line through a word

Me:  What?

MMC:  I can't put a line through it.

Me:  (Light slowly dawns as to identitiy of caller, an ICT-challenged collaegue at Nuova Lazio High) Are you talking about using strikeouts?

MMC:  Yes  (pause) I think so.  It'as where you can remove a word but leave it there.

Me:  Delete or strike through?

MMC:  What?

Me: Do you want to draw a line through some words on your page?

MMC:  Yeah, that's what I've been saying (in a slightly huffy tonme)

Me:  What program are you using?

MMC:  What?

Me:  Are you using Microsft Word?

MMC:  Yes ("of course" muttered under his breath)

Me:  Highlight the text, select the Format menu .

MMC:  What?

Me:  Highlight the text, select the Format menu  form the top of the screen.

MMC:  Oh I see it now.

Me:  Now select the Font option, and you'll see some checkboxes in the dialogue box that opens up.  Select the strikeout option.

MMC:  (Long Pause) What?

Me:  Now select the Font option, and you'll see some checkboxes in the dialogue box that opens up.

Choose the strikeout type that suits you.

MMC:  Oh, I've got it now.

Me:  OK, see you.

MMC: Yeah, thanks.  (Hangs up)

I look at the clock.  It's 7:50 am.

I know I'm regarded as the go-to guy for computing, but this is ridiculous.  30 seconds search on the net, or on MS Word help would have solved the problem.

I'm aware of an icy draft chilling my shoulder.  I look to my left and meet my beloved's glare. 
Oh Fuck. 
The phone call's woken her up.
She finally got to sleep around 4 am.  She's had about 3 hours sleep.  She looks really pissed.  It's obviously my fault.

Pissed Off Wife (I wish)

This is going to be an incredibly long day.

I'm going to have my revenge on MMC.

Maybe castrationn to start.  Then I'll get inventive.  And nasty.

Maybe give him 3 spells of dancing and drama.  Each day.  With a year 9 class
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.  (cough)

Three Weeks to go

I'm knackered.  We've been working on the timetable until after 5 most nights, plus my normal jobs of teaching, HOFing and covering the relief.
I didn't even make the short list for the DPs job, so no interview today.  Bit gutted, mais c'est la vie.

Many of my colleagues are mentioning that we're having trouble getting enough sleep.  Many of us are waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning, and can't get back to sleep.  Too many things on our minds.  Courses, exams, NCEA, holidays and strikes.

I'm going back to my bed and snuggle (chastely) down beside my beloved.

Friday, 19 November 2010


We're working on creating next year's timetable for the school.  This is a complex task which requires a lot of concentration and close co-operation with my two excellent colleagues.  We tend to sit in my little office, next to the staffroom, with a little do not disturb sign on the door.

This does not stop hordes of kids wanting their password changed (for the school computer system) or their internet quota extended, or cannot find their files.  I gently tell them to naff off, I'm busy.  Can't they read the sign.  Go away.

Forgot your password?
Then the stream of teachers wanting; days off, dental/doctor/sexual therapist appointments, lost markbooks, questions on reports, attendance, printing.  I don't mind friendly "Hellos" in the morning (thanks Richard [of RBB]), but you would think that in the middle of a complex logic problem, when we're wrestling with a 4-Term, 8 class, 8 subject rotational section of the timetable, teachers could read the bloody sign and leave us alone.  If I hear one more colleague open the door, see us crouched over a table covered in paper sheets, with the computer screen glowing from overwork, and comment "Oh, you're busy then", and then proceed to regale us with a tale about a missing file somewhere in the computer system, but cannot remember the name or what type or when it was saved, then I shall commit grievous assault on their bodies.

My Gun Babe, used to commit grievous assault.
I get less complaints using this method.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Oh dear, I'm in the doghouse.

After having gone quietly along to the amateur musical entertainment last night, I thought I'd be well into my beloved's good graces, and may have even scored enough brownie points to be in credit for at least a few days.

For you non-married folk out there, or even you recently partnered ones (recent is less than 10 years together) there is a points system involved when living together with a woman, and it works something like this.

The female partner starts of with 1000 points, and this rarely decreases.

The male starts at -5000 and has to strive to at least reach positive numbers

Males gain points by:

1. Remembering Birthdays

2. Remembering Anniversaries

3. Remembering IMPORTANT EVENTS (like when you first met, dated, got engaged, her Mother's Birthday etc.)

4. Ironing without complaint

5. Mowing the lawns

6. Vacuuming the carpets

7. House painting

8. Routine maintenance of house and car

9. Washing the dishes

10. Drying the dishes

11.  Doing what your dear lady tells you to do

Males lose points by:

1. Drinking too much

2. Arriving home too late

3. Snoring

4. Farting at inopportune moments

5. Forgetting 1 - 3 above

6. Not doing what she tells you to do.

7. Almost anything else depending on her mood.

8. Female having a bad day

9. Female having bad menstrual cramps

10. Female has PMT

11. Female starting menopause

12. Female running out of petrol in HER car, because YOU obviously didn't check it properly the last time you washed, waxed, filled the radiator and the wash reservoir, checked the oil and checked the air pressure in the tyres (including the spare)

13.  Looking in an admiring way(or even in the direction of) a pretty girl, especially if wearing/not waering attractive clothing

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and in the interests of good taste, I have not included any mention of points, plus or minus, regarding any sort of sexual activity. I leave that to your imagination.
However, I'm in the doghouse. I surmised this fact by the simple observation of seeing my beloved turning her head away from me as I attempted to give her a kiss on returning home from Nuova Lazio High last night.

I mentally ran through the usual checklist (after 30 years, the list is pretty exhaustive) as I mentioned before on this post.
Not one thing on the list. I did the sensible thing. I smiled bravely and went away to change into my home clothes (shorts and tee-shirt).
About an hour later of semi-frigid silence, I was told what my offence was. I had made a funny comment to one of her friends at the Indian Restaurant last night.

Not offensive.

Not weird.

Mildly jocular.

I had made some sort of comment about men being slightly hypochondriac. Men don't get colds, we get flu. We don't get a paper cut, we gash our fingers to the bone. My beloved had been a nurse for 25 years, and while she is really good at the major-league stuff, she is (I thought, obviously in error) a bit unsympathetic towards minor ailments. It was a quick, almost throw-away line. Not aimed at hurting anyone, just reinforcing a male mindset.


I had really completely undermined my beloved's reputation with her friends, by saying she didn't care if I was ill or dying. I don't remember saying that, but I must be wrong.

I'm a man.

We're always wrong.

Didn't you know that?
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