Thursday, 21 December 2006

done and dusted

that's right - i have had my last day at my unhappy job. it was actually really hard to say goodbye to some of the kids, especially when they were all being so sweet, giving me cards, gifts and hugs and begging me not to leave. but i just kept telling them (and myself) that i couldn't stay in a job i didn't like for the 20 minutes a day i did actually enjoy.

i'm a bit stressed about this job interview tomorrow - i have to do some presentations as part of it and i just found out this afternoon that the reason i hadn't got any of the extra info i'd requested is that their email server is being stupid and not letting emails through, or something. i finally have some of the info i wanted but i'm feeling totally underprepared and too tired to do anything about it... so of course i am procrastinating by writing a blog post instead of working on it.

i still have a bunch of presents to wrap, some suitcases to pack (although i won't be taking many clothes - i need to do some serious shopping, especially since my favourite jeans have a hole in them :( ), some laundry to finish, a kitchen to clean and a bunch of other things to do before i get on the plane on friday... a big part of me is actually looking forward to spending 20-something hours on a plane - there's nothing to do but sleep, read and watch movies.

oh, and in case you didn't notice - i'm too lazy to use capital letters today.

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Thursday, 14 December 2006

Prepare for a long one...

...because I am certain it will be long.

I know its been forever since I blogged - my sister asked me why the other day and I said it was because all my news was depressing. I finally feel like I'm in a position to share everything thats been going on, but I don't know where to start...

OK, so its been pretty clear from early on that I wasn't enjoying my job. About a month ago, I had that week off sick and begrudgingly went back in. My third day back, I got verbally attacked by another teacher in front of a class. I'm not going to go into the details of why and what she said, but lets just be clear that I had done nothing to deserve it. I almost walked out then and there - seriously considered walking past the office, telling them they'd never see me again, getting my stuff and leaving. The only thing that stopped me was that my students supported me and said I was in the right.

As part of reporting it to my head of department, I let him know how seriously I was considering leaving. He asked me to put the incident in writing and to let him know if there was anything more he could do to make my job better.

After writing out what had happened, I included this (copied direct from the email I sent him):

I’m still thinking on sorting out my own thoughts, but I know that part of the reason I am unhappy here is that I purposefully applied for jobs at Christian/Church of England schools, knowing that schools in London can be tough and assuming that I could at least expect some basic love, honour and respect approaches from staff and students at a Christian school. I’m not feeling as though I work at a Christian school. People (staff and students) seem to think its OK to treat each other like garbage. When I try and do bible-centred discussions with my form group, its an uphill struggle. I have actually had a student (not from my form) say that she didn’t understand why some teachers tried to talk about Christian stuff when most of the students aren’t Christians. The last school I worked at, although a state-funded, non-faith high school, felt more like a Christian school than this one does, because a lot of the teachers were Christians and the environment was mostly a loving one where there was mutual respect and the students were always the number one priority for every teacher at the school.

I know for a fact this email got forwarded to the deputy in charge of our department and then the head teacher (principal). I had one discussion with the deputy who said we would talk again later - we haven't. Nothing has happened to the teacher who yelled at me. The working environment has not got any better. Why then were they surprised when I handed in my resignation last week? Mainly because it sent them into a spin about how they were going to replace me, I suspect. Especially since I said I wasn't going back after Christmas. They tried to tell me that I couldn't do this - that I would be breaking my contract. I argued that, besides the fact that I have never seen/signed a contract (they tried to say I had a verbal one, which is legally binding in this country, but since I they haven't upheld the conditions they placed on themselves.... anyway), they shouldn't want a teacher in the school who isn't passionate about working there (although, just between you and me, there are plenty of those at this school). I guess I convinced them that they weren't going to break me with their "legal talk" or something, because its all official now, even though, apparently, any reference they write me will "have to include mention of the fact I broke my contract" - pppphhhhhhhhhh whatever - I just need to get out of there. I am currently writing out a full breakdown of my reasons for leaving - I'll let you know when its done if you want to read it.

On a happier note, I have already applied for another job. Its not a teaching job and its not even a design job, but its something I think I'd be really good at. I don't want to say too much about it publicly yet, but I have an interview next Thursday. So 5 days left of my job, an interview the following day and then, next Friday, we get to go home for Christmas :) Hopefully happy Kate will reemerge with better, more regular news soon.

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Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Not about work

Because I don't want this whole blog to become about how much my job sucks...

We went out and about on Saturday afternoon to try and get some Christmas presents sorted and while we were out we vistied Hyde Park. Unfortunately we got there a bit late (read: 3.30pm) and the light was already getting sucky and I'm not super impressed by my photos, but here are a couple so you can see Hyde Park in Autumn.

Fallen Leaves and Autumn Trees

Across the Serpentine

So you can see how much the sun has set before its even 4pm.

(click on the pictures to see them bigger)

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Working out Work

I ended up having the rest of the week off last week, as in I only went in on Monday. I saw the doctor on Thursday and he gave me that great news you always love to hear when you feel like rubbish - its a virus and there's nothing you can do but stay hydrated and take some ibuprofen/paracetomol.

So I spent 4 days at home, making my Butter Menthols last as long as possible and very slowly recovering. It gave me lots of time to think and as I got better, the idea of going back to work did not make me happy. I've realised this is the first job I've EVER had where I wake up EVERY morning and wish I didn't have to go. I mean, every job has its bad days, the shifts or classes you'd rather avoid, but nothing has made me feel like this. I am still trying to determine for myself exactly what it is that is making this an unhappy experience, partly so I can decide exactly what I should/could be doing to change it, mostly because I want to give them a really good reason when I quit. Because thats how I'm feeling right now - like I'd be better off working in a supermarket.

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Wednesday, 15 November 2006

One advantage to being sick... I can actually take some photos during daylight hours. I have a killer sore throat, a bad cough and have lost my voice, so I didn't go to work yesterday or today. This morning we went to get ourselves sorted with the doctors so I could hopefully see someone, but they have a half-day today and only one doctor, so they couldn't fit me in. See, you have to register with a local doctor here in order to get treated under the NHS (national health service, i think). We knew this already, but since we both work during the hours the local surgery (about 100m down the road) is open, we hadn't sorted it out yet. So before Graeme went to work, we went and registered. As I walked back, I noticed the squirrels were out in the park across the road, scavenging in the early morning sun (OK, so it was like 8.30, but the sun was still rising), so I went inside, grabbed my camera and went to take some photos.

Unlike the squirrels in Hyde Park, who will come right up to you looking for food, these guys usually run away at the sight of a human, dog or even bird that comes too close. But this one was up in the tree, scavenging the seeds or something and was totally happy for me to be close(ish - i did use my biggest lense).

And I just wanted to show you how great my husband is. He went and found a London-based Australian grocery shop so he could get me some Butter Menthols and Eucalyptus drops in his lunch time yesterday. He's so awesome. He also brought home a couple of Freddos and a bag of Clinkers.
Please excuse the dodgy photo - I had planned on cropping it, but I'm too lazy.

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Sunday, 12 November 2006


Suddenly, since the cold snap last week, its starting to look how I expected autumn here to look. I took this photo as we walked home this afternoon - I only took the one, but I need to go out and try and capture autumn on 'film' - maybe another trip to Hyde Park is in order.

I also wanted to show you a picture that I took of my office door, but I realised it has the name of the school on the school rules (which the students don't seem to follow all that often) and I can't be bothered editing it right now. As much as I complain about my work, I don't want them named and shamed for all to see... The main reason I wanted to show it is that it now has a piece of home on it - while cleaning up the store room, the DT technician found a picture of the Twelve Apostles which I promptly attached to the door. It still had the price on it of $4.95 and it intrigues me as to who it was that bought something like that for it to end up where it did...

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Thursday, 9 November 2006

No creative title

So where have I been?

We went to Athens over half-term (there are only 3 school terms here and there is a single week break halfway through each of them). It was nice to get away from school and go somewhere a bit warmer for a few days. I would direct you to our website, but since I haven't had time to upload any photos or anything, its probably not all that interesting...

School started back last Monday. I REALLY didn't want to go, for various reasons combined. Then, on Wednesday, we found out that the school was going to get inspected this week. One of the side effects of the British love of paperwork is that everyone is held accountable for everything, even stuff they have no control over. So there is this company/ organization/ government-department/ i-have-no-idea-what-they-actually-are that go around and inspect schools and say how good they are at various things then give them an overall rank. Then their report and every statistic under the sun is available to the general public, which basically means the good schools get better as the competition for places gets harder and the bad schools get worse as good students and teachers go elsewhere. Anyway, the inspectors have been and gone and our school, which was struggling, is on the improve and has been OKed. Not that I really care, but the British teachers sure do, so everyone spent a week stressed out and on-edge about the blooming inspection and everything else got put aside or on hold. I lost my afternoons for the week and spent most of the weekend in bed with the flu. I knew I was getting sick, but stupidly went out with Graeme and his brother to Windsor and got hit hard on Saturday afternoon. So a tonne of stuff that I was planning on doing never happened - the school musical is in like 4 weeks and there are a bunch of set pieces and costumes to make that aren't even started yet...

So basically, what that probably incoherent paragraph said is that I have been sick and busy. And the weather took a sudden cold turn and the sun sets at like 4.30 and its miserable and depressing. So obviously I'm loving being in London right now... NOT.

On the plus side, some of the teachers I am working with are awesome and a couple of the other Aussies (and one American chick) and I had a great laugh at how serious everyone suddenly became when they found out about the inspection. They keep me sane. And a couple of my classes are super (like 3 out of the 11) and help me to remember why I put up with the kids I want to kill. Like my year 9 class I had this morning. I taught them for 2 hours (a double lesson) this morning and it was the first time in ages I hadn't had to raise my voice during a lesson, well, other than to tell them that I wasn't joking when I told them they needed to pack up - they were so into their projects they didn't want to stop and that made my day. And they're producing top quality work, which is ace.

So now I've babbled on for ages - hopefully I've given some insight into whats been going on. If it makes no sense, I will just choose to blame the fact that I'm still sick, OK?

Here's a pretty picture I took of the last rose of the season outside our living room window (that's it in the background). I'm on a mission to take more photos and get better at doing so, so I will try and post some more often.

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Monday, 23 October 2006

Happy 50th Birthday Mum

Today (well, still today my time, technically yesterday Australia time) is my Mum's 50th birthday. Yeah, she's pretty old :)

I called her and wished her happy birthday in person, but I just wanted to publicly announce that my Mum is ace and has always been a great mum to me and my siblings and deserves to have a very happy birthday (and spend as much as she wants on a new quilting/sewing machine ;) ).

I love you Mum.

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Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Edna Dorothy Ford (1926-2006)

I've been very quiet over the last few days, very much in my shell - I haven't gone to work yet this week because the thought of facing 25 teenagers is insane. On Sunday night (UK time) I got a phone call I'd been dreading since the day we left Australia - my Grandma passed away. She has been going downhill for a couple of years now, but the cancer just got too much and she went in her sleep with my grandfather by her side.

My siblings and I really only had one set of Grandparents growing up - my dad's dad died when dad was only a teenager and his mum was sick for most of my life and died when I was 10. So mum's parents, Grandma and Pa were our Grandparents, but we never felt as though we missed out on anything by only having the one pair. Every time a new brother or sister was born, we got to spend time with Grandma. We went there during school holidays, often we had some of our cousins there as well, and we always had a wonderful time. When I was 4 and it was time for me to go to pre-school, Mum was pregnant with my sister and Dad was both working and studying, so it was decided that I would go to pre-school where Grandma worked. This meant spending almost half the week, every week living at Grandma and Pa's. I had my 5th birthday party at Grandma's because all my friends lived around her. Their home became my second home and my unique relationship with my Grandma began.

Grandma was surrounded with love. She loved her siblings, she loved her husband (no matter how much they argued, sorry, discussed) for over 60 years, she loved her children and grandchildren, she loved her job and the children she worked with for much of her life and she had many friends. All these people loved her back - our extended family still got together every year because she made it happen. She also loved the Lord and told me that when she died, she would go up to heaven and look after all the kids who had died too young and were waiting for their parents. That’s where she is now, with my little cousin Ally, waiting for us to join her. I'm sad that she's gone and that I won't get to see her when I go home at Christmas. I'm sad that she won't be around when I have kids of my own. But I'm also glad that she is at peace and isn't in pain anymore.

Grandma never wanted a sad, mournful funeral when she died and I'm happy that there is going to be a party after the funeral. The hardest thing for me right now is not being there. I'm the eldest daughter, the big sister, the big cousin and I can't be there for the ones that I love.

I talked to her last Tuesday night. It was early Wednesday morning there. We didn't talk for very long - Mum had been doing a good job of keeping us both updated on each other. But we laughed. And I'm glad my final memory of the wonderful woman that was my Grandmother is of the happy person who loved her life every day for almost 80 years.

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Friday, 13 October 2006

Guys and Dolls

Patrick Swayze is playing Nathan Detroit in the West End production of Guys and Dolls. At the moment, however, he's "indisposed" (I think he's got a couple of weeks off). So as I was leaving school yesterday (at 5pm, after building some stage elements for the school musical) I got a phone call from Graeme to say he had got cheap tickets through his usual work connections for the show - only catch, I had to get home and then into the city as fast as possible, because the show started at 7.30pm that night.

So once again, we saw an understudy, but you wouldn't have known it. The show was awesome. I really loved it. Graeme probably didn't enjoy it quite as much, because he didn't really know the storyline or any of the songs. Although he was singing "Luck be a Lady" all the rest of the night because he had heard me sing it often enough to know it well enough for it to get stuck in his head :)

And, once again, its Thursday evening and my week has already exhausted me and tomorrow, Friday, is always my craziest day at school. Oh well, one more week and its half-term, which means a week off.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

And one more thing...

...while I'm in the posting mood.

There's this awesome pie shop in Shepherd's Bush (not too far away from where we live and where the cinema we frequent is) called Jumbucks, which prides itself as an Aussie Pie company. Everyone who works there seems to be Australian and they always have plenty of the local Australian Times on hand (a newspaper published here in London aimed at expats - the also have a NZ one and a South Africa one) so you can eat a familiar dinner, read news from home and hear other Australian accents. My family and friends can feel free to confirm with Elizabeth the awesome-ness of this place, as we went there a few times while she was here. Anyway, the point is, I realised on Saturday that not only do they sell excellent pies, great chips and a drink for a very reasonable price, but they also have a stock of things like Violet Crumbles, Cherry Ripes and other fantasticness that you just can't buy here. So now I have even more reason to eat there.

Also on Saturday (in the same trip), we saw The Children of Men, which is one of those films that you can appreciate and be enthralled by, but not really like, if that makes sense. Because some of the ideas are so harsh and yet so realistic/forseeable, that you don't leave thinking "well wasn't that nice", but more like "shit, I can totally see the world heading down a path like that" (and it obviously wasn't a happy, cheery, stroll through the forest type path).

And that is all. Since it is now past my bed time and I have a pretty full day tomorrow, I should be sleeping.

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OK, so I am a bit of a nerd

Picture Chewbacca (the big hairy guy from the original Star Wars movies). Now picture a black top-hat. Now put the top-hat onto Chewbacca and try not to laugh.

I wish I could take screenshots from the xbox, because this looks so funny I had tears streaming down my face. You see, a few weeks ago, Graeme (who owns a perfectly good original xbox back home), decided to buy a brand new xbox 360. He got one game with it - Burnout Revenge, which is a car racing game that also incorporates levels where you have to crash as many cars as possible (much funner than racing). Today, our second game arrived in the mail from Amazon - Lego Star Wars 2, in which the story of the original trilogy is recreated entirely in lego. For some reason, there was a lever on one of the early levels which, when pulled, places a random hat on the person who pulled it. I got Han Solo an Indiana Jones style hat. Graeme made Chewbacca wear a top-hat.

So now you all know - I play video games and I enjoy them. Oh, did I mention I got a Nintendo DS Lite as well? Enough said.

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Saturday, 30 September 2006

Footloose - The Musical

On Wednesday night, we went to the West End and saw Footloose.


And that's all I wrote. Its now October 10 and I just realised, when I made a new post, that I never actually finished or published this one.

Footloose was great - the lead was played by the understudy, which was quite apparent for the first 20 minutes or so, but then he got into the swing and did a really good job. I was expecting a bit more flashy dancing and probably a bit less corniness, but it was fun, the music was (obviously) catchy and everyone in the audience created the right atmosphere.

I've realised that when I go home at Christmas, I will have a big pile of things like programmes to take home. Maybe we haven't seen a whole lot of Europe yet, but we're quite familiar with London's West End.

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Friday, 29 September 2006

Harry Potter on Extras

This was soooooooooo funny. And even funnier, because you just know there are a bunch of Harry Potter movie fan-girls who would have watched it and been freaked out by the 'adult content'. I don't want to spoil too much of the plot for anyone else who might be an Extras fan, but basically, Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry Potter in the movies) was one of the guest stars and totally hammed it up - it was awesome. Although, if you're not a HP fan, the Orlando Bloom episode was probably better, especially because I didn't find the constant referral to the "Downs syndrome boy" funny at all - it was SO demeaning, and I didn't feel like they were doing it in a satirical way. But maybe thats just the social justice/special education training coming out.

And if you haven't seen the show (which is probably the case for most of my readers, since it is literally the third episode of the season shown on BBC, who make it, so I dont imagine its made it very far around the world) then this probably means nothing to any of you, but at least I've updated my blog :)

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Sunday, 24 September 2006

Violet Crumble, Caramello Koala and Tim Tam

My long lost friends :)

This morning we went and picked up a package from the post office - it turned out to be a birthday present from Elizabeth which had taken extra long to arrive because, even though she stayed with us for a month, she wrote the wrong house number. Inside were several violet crumbles, a couple of giant caramello koalas, some strawberry freddos (Graeme will probably eat all of those) and a packet of Tim Tams. I'm sure it cost her twice as much to send the things as it did to actually buy them, but they were much appreciated. We have eaten 2 Tim Tams each - the plan is to make them last as long as possible - and you can see Graeme savouring his just there. (The picture is dodgy because I took it with my mobile in bad light, but you get the idea)

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Saturday, 23 September 2006

A lovely way to spend a day

I tried telling this story without giving away too much info about the specific school I work at, but it wasn't coming out right, so I've had to add some more detail - if this helps any anonymous readers work out more about who I am or where I work - good for you. I just hope you're not one of my students...

This morning while I was getting ready, the traffic report on the radio said there was a burst water main near school, so I made sure to go around a different (slightly longer) way, which still got me to school later than I like to because of all the traffic in the area. As soon as I walked through the front door, I was met by one of the senior teachers telling me we had an emergency staff meeting - in my teaching career I've experienced an "emergency staff meeting" once before and it was NOT a pleasant meeting. This one, however, was. Our school had no water supply and therefore had to close for the day. The kids came in and we let them call their parents to make sure they knew and then the kids went home. By 10, the kids were all gone and we were allowed to go too. I stayed a little longer to get a couple of things done and then came home. I brought some school things home to do, but ended up spending most of the day on the couch, watching tv and playing xbox. I was so exhausted and not looking forward to today and now I am feeling relaxed and re-energised. At least I will be after a long night's sleep. I'll probably have to do some work over the weekend, but that's ok - I did basically only work 4 days this week, after all.

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Friday, 22 September 2006

PHS reunion

OK, so there were only six of us from our graduating class, but it did take place in the middle of the city of London, which considering we went to high school in suburban western Sydney, is quite cool.

Me - Matt - Sam
Angeline - Merryn - Graeme

Last night, we met Sam and Matt (and his partner Ed) at a pub where we had drinks and were later joined by Merryn and Angeline. Everyone had more drinks before moving on to a nearby restaurant. We had a good time and, since we are all in touch with different people from school, had fun sharing "where are they now?" stories. Unfortunately, I didn't get to bed til midnight and had to stay at school til 6 today (which is ridiculous - a 10 hour working day is stupid), so my 5 period day tomorrow is going to be hell, but it was worth it.

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Sunday, 17 September 2006

The new school year

Yes, that's right - school has started and the first full week of lessons is done and dusted. Everyone has been asking how its been, so I guess I should let you know.

Its actually a good thing I left writing something like this until the weekend, because I went through a bit of a low patch, but have talked to a couple of other teachers and am feeling much better (though not completely - that may not happen at all). The main problem is struggling with the way things are done here, especially in terms of what the focus of teaching seems to be - getting students through exams, achieving high grades to make the school look good and teaching to standardised levels. So many of the things I value in good teaching don't apply here because things are expected to be done certain ways and students have the system drilled into them so much that any deviation from it just confuses them. We're expected to produce, and stick fairly rigidly to, lesson plans, which doesn't allow for the dynamic nature of anything, especially my subject area. By my second lessons, I was not working from the lesson plans I initially submitted. Anyway, I don't want this whole blog to become about teaching, so I will be avoiding it as a topic here from now on. I'm not totally sure what I'll have to write about though, since work seems to be consuming my life at the moment…

The weather is back to being cool most of the time (although I think they'd classify it here as warm - hovering around the 20 mark) and the days are getting shorter fast. Soon we will be travelling to and from work in the dark. I guess no-one ever said we were moving here for the weather, but it is quite depressing at times - no real sun for days, living in long pants and always having a jacket handy. Add that to the level of pollution and the constant feeling of being surrounded by people and I'm really not getting how people can come to London from Australia and think it’s a better place to live.

Not the most positive of updates, sorry (although I'm sure some of you are a little glad that I'm not in love with the place - at least you know we won't be here forever). In future, I will try to post about more happy, interesting things.

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Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Yes, School's Started... Kind of

See how influential you can be, just by leaving a comment on my blog? My little sister asked "Have you started back at school yet? How's it going??"
So here's my answer...

The school year officially started yesterday (Monday), but most schools had an 'Inset Day' a pupil free day with professional development stuff - same as the start of year back home. Also the same as NSW, only year 7, 12 and 13 started today. Technically, I have year 7 first period on Tuesdays, but since they had all their welcome-to-school-stuff, the ONLY thing I had to do today was a department meeting. Oh, and I had to hand in my lesson plans for the first 2 weeks of school, but I'd finished them on Sunday. Yeah, we have to do full-on lesson plans - there's a lot more paperwork involved in teaching here and one of the other new Aussie teachers and I had a very interesting (to us, anyway) conversation about how they are trying to make people more professional by being more accountable, but in a way, they make you feel much less professional by constantly checking up on you and doing things we haven't experienced since our first teaching pracs.

So the short of it is, I spent most of yesterday in training sessions and talking to other teachers. I spent today trying to get my classroom into some sort of order. Its pretty cool having a classroom(/workshop) of my own, but it has been a bit neglected and has needed some serious cleaning, clearing and organising to get it to be a nice teaching/learning environment.

Tomorrow, the students come in with their parents for Review Day, where we go over their report and they set goals for themselves to improve their performance. They don't do anything else, other than go home again. I have 23 kids that I am supposed to see throughout the day, for 10 minutes each. Most of them probably won't show up. In between, another teacher and I will be working on making examples of the project we're going to do with our GCSE Resistant Materials classes. And hopefully I'll actually get my room fully sorted.

Lessons? They finally start on Thursday.

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Thursday, 31 August 2006


So August has come and almost gone and I haven't updated. Thought I better have at least one post this month, so here's what my August has been like:

Summer school holidays last all of August, so I haven't been working, well other than trying to work out what I'm actually going to teach this coming school year. I spent today in school trying to get my classroom organised, but they are doing a lot of renovation work over the break and its all still a big mess. Hopefully I'll actually have tables in the room before class starts next week :)

Graeme and I went on a 9 day holiday to Scotland - you can read about it on our website. Scotland is much nicer than London - less people (but friendlier ones), less polution, less cars, less of everyone living on top of each other. I guess most of Britain outside London is like that, but Scotland was great.

We only went on a short holiday within Britain because I haven't actually been paid yet, even though I started work on July 3. I have been sorting out all the paperwork and I SHOULD get paid two months pay tomorrow - although they'll probably take out more tax than they should because I only just got the paperwork to fix that...

We went and saw We Will Rock You - the musical written by Ben Elton and based on the music of Queen. Graeme basically promised on my behalf that I would write a review of it here, but part of what I loved about it was that I didn't really know what to expect - had no preconceived ideas about the plot or which songs they'd use or anything. So I'll just say it was great and leave it at that.

I pulled out my sewing machine (yes, I brought my sewing machine around the world with me) - actually, that happened in July, but I had just used it for mending and adjustments. I bought some fabric and made a couple of skirts - unfortunately I've only worn one of them and only once, because the weather here is just not suited to much less than jeans and a tshirt most days. I still have fabric that hasn't been made into anything because the change in weather right as I finished the first two kind of made me lose my motivation.

Oh, and I turned 26. Don't know what else to say about that.

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Monday, 31 July 2006

Cars (2006)

This latest offering from Pixar was accompanied by trailers for at least 5 other animated films. No-one does it like Pixar though. Shrek is the only non-PIxar animation that competes with the likes of Toy Story. That said though, Cars is not their best. Of course it is visually stunning, and their ability to make cars look like cars and still seem like characters is fantastic. I just don't think the story carried itself as well as I have come to expect - there were a couple of slow points - and there wasn't as much double appeal as their other films. By double appeal, I mean that ability they have to make the kids in the audience love it, while the adults enjoy it on a whole other level.

Don't get me wrong though, I was laughing hard and embarrassingly loud at times - like when they go "tractor tipping" - and I was so doubled up with laughter during the credits that there was actually no sound coming out. [If you haven't seen it (because I know the UK is like one of the last places on earth to get this film) you MUST stay until the film is completely over. DO NOT leave your seat until the theatre lights come on, or you will miss the best jokes.] The story was sweet and the characters were adorable - I loved Mater, who is so innocent and unassuming, and Luigi the mad ferrari fan. And, like I already said, it is visually awe-inspiring. But why didn't he ever get proper headlights?

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Thursday, 27 July 2006

I'm not feeling inspired for a good title

I haven't updated in awhile. And I was getting myself into such good habits about actually posting on this thing. I guess the main problem is our other website (which, I admit hasn't been updated much lately either). Often, I think, 'I should write about that' and then can't decide which site to write it on and end up putting it nowhere.

Since I wrote last, we have spent 5 days in Romania - which you can read about on our website (its not all there yet though). As our first excursion into Eastern Europe, it was a very different experience.

I have also finished up the school year and am now on Summer Holidays. Yeah, I worked for 3 weeks before a 6 week break. But thats how they like to do it here, especially for new and overseas trained teachers - its their way of ensuring they have a full teaching staff at the start of the new school year. Of course, it means I have a heap of things to do before September too. I have to go through and rewrite most of the units of work, since the way classes are scheduled has been changed (and, obviously, I want to make them my own). I have to get as clued in as I can about the GCSE courses I am teaching. I will be spending some time in the last week of break at school, getting my classroom sorted.

And now, the first of many explanations of aspects of the English school system - so that those of you who read this (especially the teachers) can get some idea of the similarities/differences to New South Wales (or wherever you're reading from - but NSW is the only other school system I know).

The School Years

If you know about it, think Harry Potter. Students start year 7, their first year of high school, in the September following their 11th birthday. Like NSW, they work on Key Stages - Year 7, 8 & 9 are Key Stage 3. This is when they continue their education in all areas of the curriculum. Key Stage 4 is years 10 & 11. Students take electives for both years and at the end take their GCSEs (HP equivalent = OWLs, also kind of equivalent to NSW's School Certificate, but with more external assessment). Students can choose to leave school at this point, or continue onto Sixth Form. I don't really know why its still referred to as Sixth Form, since its also years 12 & 13. This is Key Stage 5 and known as A levels (or NEWTS for the HP fans). At this point, the focus of study becomes much more specific - they take only a few subjects and what they can take generally relates to how well they did in their GCSE (very similar to what happens at Hogwarts). Its much more specialised than the HSC (NSW's final high school exams), I think, as in there aren't any compulsory courses and the courses they do take are more specific in their content.
At least I think that's all accurate - someone who knows more than I do can feel free to correct me - I've only really been exposed to this system for 3 weeks after all and am still learning myself, but the HP comparison really helped me get my head around it :)

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Monday, 10 July 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

OK, so they made the first Pirates based on the ride at Disneyland and didn't even expect it to do that well, but we all know it was great. Obviously, someone decided to cash in and make a couple of sequels and no-one is complaining about that. Big bummer though that they're doing this whole trilogy thing properly, so Pirates 2 (this one) is actually a second film of three, filling in story, progressing the plot, revealing more characters and more about the existing ones... and resolving basically nothing. You get so into it and excited about whats happening and it ends. And we have to wait til next year to see the third. I guess this is what it was like when the original Star Wars trilogy came out and Empire Strikes Back left you wondering what was going on. In fact, Graeme tells me that they actually based this trilogy on that and he'd know, since he devours information like that.

I was going to do a plot summary, but couldn't work out how without ruining any of the surprises, so I won't - you can go find that somewhere else if you want it.

We watched the first one last night, since we hadn't seen it in ages and on comparison, the second film isn't as good. But maybe thats just because they're building up to the third, like I said. Don't get me wrong though, its still great, just not as effective as a stand-alone film. If you have to see it in the cinema, like we did, then go for it. If its one of those "I'm not too fussed" movies for you, wait til the third one is due out, watch the first two on dvd and then see the third at the cinema. But really, you can't go past Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in a film together, can you?

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Wednesday, 5 July 2006

All's Well That Ends Well

I went in this morning, told them they needed to sort it by the end of the week or I was out of there. By lunch time, the other new teacher and I had swapped classloads. So now I'm teaching graphics and I have the job I thought I had taken. I thought about deleting the previous post, and I might decide to in a bit, but I am still annoyed with what happened and the stress I was put through. I am just so thankful that the other new teacher is an amazing Christian woman who was willing to do the swap when she found out the whole story. I actually think things will be better this way for her as well though, because there is a great technician/assistant up in the food room who has already alleviated most of her concerns and reasons for not wanting to take on food. So I've met a couple of my new classes and am so relieved that I feel so much at home in the new room already. So everyone who was praying and stressing for/with me - Thanks. Things are on the up and I am excited about the job again.

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Tuesday, 4 July 2006

What do I do?

OK, so that job I was so excited about has turned to poop. This is going to be long and not very uplifting, but I need to vent (and hopefully get some advice, if there's any out there in internet land)

Basically, two people are leaving the DT department - one is the food teacher and current head of department, the other teaches graphics. When I interviewed and spent the day with the new head of department, we talked about Graphics and Resistant Materials (like NSW's Industrial Technology), checking out the workshop that I would be taking over, talking about units of work that I had worked with, new ideas, etc. I took the job with the understanding that I would be teaching mainly Graphics with some Resistant Materials and they would be continuing to seek out a Food specialist.

I talked to the new Head of Department a couple of times over the 2 weeks between the interview and the induction day last week. He told me they had hired someone who was great and experienced and all that, but that as a result, I might have to teach some Food. I reluctantly said that was OK (what else could I say?). The next time we spoke, he said that it looked like my timetable would be mostly food. I wasn't excited or positive about this, but said I could handle it as long as I got to teach something else as well. He assured me that I would still get to spend some time with the A level Product Design group at least. I wasn't very excited about the job anymore.

By the time I got to the induction day last Tuesday, the timetables were done and I had nothing but food. OK, I exaggerate - I have a form group (like roll call/home room) and one class a week of what I would've called Health when I was in high school (you know, the theory stuff you do in your PE class, like living skills, sex ed, citizenship, etc - yeah, random whoevers teach it here, with VERY little help or guidance [read that as 'I had no idea what we were doing or why']).

OK, I thought, this kind of sucks, but I'm here now, I can handle it. I spent Tuesday afternoon, after the official inductiony bit (which was not very helpful in getting us prepared for starting less than a week later) helping them to transfer a bunch of stuff from another school that is closing down - heaps of materials and things that I would never get to use working in the Food room.

I met with the current food teacher on Thursday to discuss the schemes of work and all that. None of it was super appealing to me, but it seems to work and I was fairly sure I'd be able to run with it, making changes where I thought I could or whatever. I didn't look at it and think, this is a great starting point and then I will add my own flair, like I usually do though. It was more like, I have to run with this, otherwise I will be spending every waking hour between now and September trying to work out how on earth I am supposed to teach Food Tech every day of the year.

On the weekend, the whole gravity of the situation hit me and I ended up in tears, several times.
I had accepted the job because I thought I'd be teaching the areas I know best. If they had said to me "We'd like to offer you a job but you have to be the Food teacher" I wouldn't have taken it. I have nothing against food or the people that teach it, but I am a trained DESIGNER and Food Tech is not design, even if you set creative projects.
Tying into that, I feel as though I was misled and/or cheated out of a job. Not just the job I thought I had accepted (at this school, teaching what I know), but also any other job I could've got between then and now (at another school). I actually had an interview lined up for the following day with a trial class teaching a GCSE Graphics class - I doubt they would've hired me and then made me teach food...
I'm so disappointed that I focussed on applying for jobs at Christian schools because that's the environment I want to work in, where I know I have the opportunity to help young people see Christ, and then I get treated worse than anyone has ever treated me in a professional capacity.
I have two GCSE classes, one in each year, and I don't feel as though I can provide the education they need or deserve, especially after seeing the current food teacher in action today (she's an awesome teacher and food is her speciality, so she really knows what she's talking about) - I just don't have the knowledge or skills myself, so how on earth am I supposed to pass everything onto the students?

To make my misery complete, we got a phone call this morning to say that Graeme's Great-grandfather had passed away. In itself, this isn't life-shattering - its sad, yes, but he was very old and ill. It was more the hitting home of the realisation that we are so far from home and the people we love. This was literally as I should've been walking out the door.

So I get to school later than I wanted to and feeling pretty bad, but somehow, I can't bring myself to say anything to anyone, almost hiding behind the death as the reason for my being a bit off. That was, until lunch time, when the new Head asked me how I was going and I simply said "I'm not very happy about having to teach food". It spiralled from there - pretty much everything I've said above came out. The current Head of department (remember, she's also the food teacher) had no idea any of this was going on because she had basically been kept out of the whole process. She has been great - sympathetic, understanding, supportive - I wish I was going to be working with her.

So after talking to them and going through everything, I basically feel like I need to get another job. The other person who has been hired in was appointed by the Head (Principal) and is basically getting whatever she wants, simply because of the other skills she brings (she'll be a head of year and has extra qualifications) and she doesn't WANT to teach food, even though she has experience doing so. They've said they can shuffle some classes around but I won't lose the GCSE, which is the classes I'm most concerned about (I can teach junior DT in any area, no issue). I feel like I'm being pushed out of a job that I was genuinely excited about and am angry, hurt, annoyed, but mostly just sad.

So what do I do?
Its going to be even harder to get a job now, because there are like 3 weeks left until summer and most positions for next year are filled. I need a job, but not badly enough to risk my sanity for it - we can survive on Graeme's income, but there's not a lot left spare. I don't want to do day-to-day teaching because it sucks and I'm not enough of a nasty teacher to make it work for me.
Do I stick it out until I can find something better?
Do I just call them and tell them to shove it?
Help, please.

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Movie Update

I started to write the X-Men review as soon as I got home from seeing it, but was way too tired (it was after midnight). Then I tried to finish it over the weekend and couldn't think straight. And now, I've seen a bunch of movies lately, so I thought I'd do a quick thing about all of them. I think the sort of movies people enjoy can say a lot about them.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

It kind of feels as though every movie has to be part of a series these days, doesn't it? Unfortunately, like so many before it, the final(?) installment of this series does not live up to the hype and expectations you have going into it. I put the ? after final because they say it is the third and last X-Men movie, but you don't really come out feeling as though anything is actually resolved, just that they killed and de-mutant-ed enough people that somehow the natural order is restored...

Apparently Halle Berry refused to do this movie unless Storm had a bigger role, and she does, but it just lowers my already low opinion of her acting abilities. Most of the other big names are fabulous, as usual, but that is not due to the script or directing, but simply because they are skilled actors who had already established and then portrayed their characters' internal and external battles. Because I don't think the X-Men movies are really about the big battle between 'good and evil' but more about the battle within each person as to how they should react - something this movie does portray well, I think. This one didn't manage the balance of the two though - there almost wasn't enough action for an action film, if you get my drift - they tried to go all deep and meaningful, but didn't manage to get too deep.

Beauty Shop (2005)

I've always thought pretty highly of Queen Latifah, even though I don't know a lot about her. I love that she's a plus-size (I HATE that term, but can't think of a better one right now) woman who plays leading roles in films and is considered a beauty in her own right. Anyway, this movie was on and we didn't have anything else to do, so I watched it. It was pretty good. True, it was very formulaic and predictable, but it was a nice entertainment for a couple of hours.

Sin City (2005)

This film is confusing and crazy, but its really great too. Its based on a graphic novel (or comic book for grown-ups) and is filmed like one. Filmed primarily in black and white, with the splash of relevant colour to emphasise certain aspects, its very arty-looking. But it also has a cool, twisted plot - one of those ones where everything doesn't really seem to fit together til right near the end. They can be frustrating, but I really like them too, because it makes you think and question what you are watching, as opposed to your average rom-com when you know what will happen before the opening scene is finished.

Domino (2005)

One of our new DVDs, Kiera Knightley stars in this based-on-a-true-story film about Domino Harvey, a privileged English girl who moves too America and becomes a bounty hunter. The story centres around them (Domino and her bounty hunting pals) getting caught up in a plot involving gangsters, casino money and two former cast members of Beverly Hills 90210. It was pretty good, and interesting enough that it inspired us to go looking for more info about the real Domino.

Holes (2003)

When I was doing my second Teaching Prac, we were given desk space to use in the same room as the English Book Store. So, of course, in our spare periods when we had nothing better to do, we read. I would never have read Holes if there hadn't been a class set of copies with attractive covers right behind where I sat. But I thought it was great when I read it and immediately thought it would make an awesome film. Turns out, someone else who read it thought the same thing. I've been wanting to see it for ages, especially since I heard that the novel's author also wrote the screenplay, but haven't been able to get my hands on it - until yesterday when I found it cheap in Woolworths (different to the Woolworths back home, but thats a different post altogether).

The film-makers who work on Harry Potter could learn SO many lessons from the people who made Holes. It is as true to the book as you want it to be and really captures everything that makes the book so great. True, I'm not as attached to this story as I am to HP (and I've only read it once - 2 years ago), so I guess I'm not going to be as critical if they change things, but the fact is, they just didn't change enough to affect the telling of the story. One big reason for this is the use of the author as screenwriter, I guess, but also that the film-makers' vision just seemed more about telling the story and less about lining the pockets of WB.

The story is about a kid who gets accused of stealing some shoes and is sent to a detention camp where they have to dig a 5ft hole every day. I guess its aimed at like young teenagers, but is enjoyable by all ages. Its not going to make your brain hurt with its superior intelligence, or anything, but it is a well-told story with the right mix of humour, action and historical background stories intertwining. So yeah, read Holes, or watch the film, or both - they're all good.

I wonder what that collection of films says about me?

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Tuesday, 27 June 2006

We were ROBBED!!!

OK, this is about football again, but it will (probably) be the last time I mention the world cup because this afternoon Australia were robbed of their chance by the cheating Italians when one of them dived in the box and was awarded a penalty in the last 5 seconds of the game. What stupid, idiotic moron of a referee awards a penalty like that? He basically handed the game to the Italians because there was nothing Australia could say or do that would have changed that outcome, except a miracle save from Schwarzer, but no-one can EXPECT that.

OK, I'll admit that Australia should have won the game earlier anyway - they had more chances and more control of the game, especially once the Italian player was sent off (and just so you know I'm not a ranting totally biased fan, I don't actually think the guy deserved a straight red for that tackle). They should have scored and been in front and so even when the stupid penalty was awarded, it should only have made Italy catch up, not take the game.

I'm too sad, angry, annoyed, peed off to write more now, but it totally sucks and Italy are dirty cheats and I hope they get their butts kicked in a really embarrassing defeat. Oh, and that referee is never welcome in Australia, as far as I'm concerned, because I am quickly realising its the best country in the world and he doesn't deserve to ever experience it. And now I'll stop before I start swearing and saying things I'll regret.

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Friday, 23 June 2006

The World Cup

OK, so I know some of the people who read this blog have no interest in sports. If that's you, you may as well stop reading now. The rest of this post will be about football (soccer).

I can't believe Australia made it to the second round of the World Cup finals. I mean, I wanted them to and believed they were a good enough team to do it, but geez, they gave us plenty of heart attacks along the way. First, they play all over Japan, but can't score for most of the game. We all think they're going to lose 1-0. Then they score. And twice more. All in the last 6 minutes or something of the game.

They met Brazil and at times outplayed them. They had opportunities, they had skills to match the best team in the world... they had the dodgiest referee EVER. The final score of 2-0 did no justice to the performance the Australian team gave. And if they hadn't been watched over by a referee who worshipped at the feet of the Brazillians, they could've come away with a win, or at least a draw, which probably would've been fair.

Tonight, they played their final group game against Croatia. Our captain, Mark Viduka, has Croatian heritage, along with a few other members of the team. Some of the Croatian team grew up in Australia. There was bound to be fierce rivalry and I was glad that Englishman Poll was in charge. For most of the game I was happy with the refereeing, well, except the two penalties we should've got and the guy that got a second yellow and wasn't sent off. That guy, by the way, was trained at the Australian Institue of Sport and chose to play for Croatia because he thought Australia had no chance of ever getting anywhere - sucks to be him :)
But back to the game...

Assuming Brazil beat Japan (which seemed a certainty, even though Japan scored first), Australia needed a win or draw to go through second in the group. Croatia had to win to go through. So, of course, Croatia scored first. A great goal really that they came into the game hungry for. I was (and still am) convinced that Australia play better when they are coming from behind, so wasn't too concerned. It was very early on, after all. I'm not going to give a complete blow-by-blow - you can go to a news site and read that. But suffice it to say, as much as they dominated the game and had plenty of chances, Australia had to come from behind twice and only pulled off the draw. The last ten minutes were hell, as they basically dropped back to a defensive position and the ball spent way too much time in Australia's half.

And then, the game ended in complete confusion, as someone got fouled, people thought Australia had scored a third and the Croatians (in particular the one who shouldn't even have been on the field) hurled insults at the referee. They should have won the game, but a draw was enough and now we face Italy on Monday afternoon. I'm definitely not looking forward to that game, since Australia has not had a lot of favourable refereeing and Italy are a bunch of diving cheats.

And now back to my regular blogging - whatever that is :)

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Wednesday, 21 June 2006

who are YOU?

I know there are people visiting/reading/checking this blog, but since none of you leave comments, I don't know who you are (well, other than my mum). I like to cater to my public (lol - all 5 of you), so if you tell me who you are and what you're expecting to find here when you visit, I will try to oblige. Do you want the boring details of my everyday life? Funny stories about Graeme? (I think I'll try to remember to post these anyway :) ) More links to the random stuff I find online? All (reasonable) suggestions will be considered.

Stop just reading and post a comment, even if you just say hi.

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Saturday, 17 June 2006

I am so persuasive : )

Sharon has started a blog about one of my favourite families in the whole world. I'm very excited. Check it out...

Boys and Puppy dog tails!

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Thursday, 15 June 2006

How to: Make a Blog

(OK, so I know I just posted, but I wanted this to be a separate post.)

I was going to post a detailed tutorial on how to set up a blog, complete with screen shots and everything, but I realised it is too easy and that would just insult your intelligence.

So just click on the Blogger button in the top left hand corner of this page. Then create a blog. Follow the steps and a blog will be yours.

If you need help, leave a comment here, or send me an email.

And that's it. So all of my friends and family now have no excuse. Go get that blog so I can keep up with what's going on. Mum, Sharon, I'm looking at you :)

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Even Better News

So I just got a phone call from the school, asking if I'll be able to start July instead - awesome. I get to start teaching in like 2 and a bit weeks. Hang on, thats a bit scary... Oh well, I'll cope. And, I'll be getting paid. Woohoo. Plus they are happy for me to take the days off to go to Roland's wedding in Romania. I'm quite happy right now :)

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Wednesday, 14 June 2006

No more job-hunting for me :)

That's right - I got a job. I went for an interview day today, saw the school, had an interview, I think they were ready to hire me before I'd even taught the trial class. Taught the trial lesson and it went great. Went back to office, Department Head spoke to school Head and they offered me the job then and there :) So I had my first English School Lunch and spent the afternoon there as well, hanging out in a class and talking to various people.

It felt good to come home and email the people who I was supposed to be interviewing with tomorrow. Especially since the info they sent me about the interview was very slim and it only arrived in my inbox late last night.

So come September, I start my first-ever proper full-time job - no more temporary teaching for me.

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Friday, 2 June 2006

Apparently its Summer...

...but someone forgot to tell the weather.

According to the calendar, its the second day of Summer. According to my body, its still very much Winter. The seasons here run later or something apparently, but its overcast and dreary and the expected top for today is 20°C. I'm sure for the Brits thats considered warm, but I think when we go home for Christmas, we will spend the whole time thawing out.

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Sunday, 21 May 2006

Eurovision 2006

This isn't a full-on review because I should be asleep, not typing, right now. But following are some notes about the night that I took while watching it (after pulling my laptop out during a particularly boring song - you'll see which). I won't comment about the winner because I don't want to spoil it for any Aussies who will watch it later tonight (their time).


six4one, because there were six of them, who all fit a perfect stereotype of a group member. Totally not controversial in any way imaginable = boring
Moldova The chick spent more time changing her outfit than singing. It was BAD.
Israel A questionably middle eastern black man sang half in Hebrew and half in English. Unfortunately we didn’t have the subtitles turned on at this point, so we're not totally sure what the song was about - peace or something, I think.
Latvia Sang a capella, which was a cool idea, but done rather poorly. I loved their costumes - off-white suits and white shirts in all different styles. They made some robot thing which had no relation to the song. Terry Wogan classic comment of the night: "They'll probably come last"
Norway Tall, blonde girls who actually had normal sized bodies. The song was OK, a "chick ballad" (Graeme's words) completely in English. Good voices - as in actual talent. I didn't think that was allowed.
Spain Las Ketchup sang Bloody Mary - Bloody Awful is more accurate.
Malta Back-up singer (who was hidden away on the side of the stage, presumably so you wouldn't see him) provided the only decent vocals of the performance.
Germany Aussie girl sings country surrounded by neon cactuses. So bad it was good. Loved that they had their website address on their mike stands
Denmark A girl accompanied by her sisters, apparently, and a dude who danced cool. Good, boppy song about a guy who could twist.
Russia Mullet man needed to take some singing lessons. He was easily outshone by the ballerinas.
FYR Macedonia Terrible. Trying to be Jessica Simpson from Dukes of Hazzard, only sluttier and less talented.
Romania Dude who sang good but had very poor English translations
Bosnia & Herzegovina Forgettable - so much so it was the point when I picked up my computer to do something else. They predicted it would do well though, even though we couldn't see why.
Lithuania Football chant sang by a line of guys in suits, one of whom only moved at all to perform a crazy, crazy dance "We are the winners of Eurovision" "vote for the winners" "VOTE!" Hilarious. The first song that made us consider voting, so I guess their ploy might work.
United Kingdom 'Daz' raps, badly, about not listening to teachers - I think that’s the message anyway, because he obviously didn't listen to his teachers when they were trying to teach him grammar, musicianship or life lessons.
Greece Nothing amazing - the crowd were into it, but it was in Athens after all. Stuck in the 80s.
Finland Demons of the apocalypse (or arockalypse, as they called it) sing a heavy rock number which really stood out from the pop. They looked awesome - full LotR orc-inspired makeup and everything, including wings that grew out of the lead singers back.
Ukraine Trying to be Shakira. Her Cossack dancers jumping rope was the coolest part.
France At least she sang the whole song in French - the first entry to sing the whole thing in their native language. A nice slow song of little consequence.
Croatia Continued in the tradition of France by being in the native language - also tried to sound like a folk song, but the lyrics were about high heels and an ex-boyfriend and didn't make sense.
Ireland Actually a nice song - too normal and mainstream for Eurovision.
Sweden The train of her dress was like one of those parachutes you play with as a kid… until it was pulled away to reveal a gold jumpsuit thing. Typical Swedish up-beat positive outlook number. I think she idolises Abba.
Turkey Old and crusty trying to be 17, complete with stomach flab in tight outfit. "I'm your superstar" "My brilliance will bedazzle you". The coolest thing they did was use their arms (the singer and her 4 British dancers) to form a star when viewed from above.
Armenia Ricky Martin without the looks, sex appeal or vocal talent. OK, he was better than some of the others, and performed by the right person, the song would be a hit, but you simply shouldn't try and do what you can't.

Stupid Heart shape with a Greek flag voting hourglass was obviously poorly designed and executed - the thing tipped over for crying out loud. Wouldn't you test something like that before putting it live in front of millions of people?

The hosts were 'amazing' - just ask them. They must've said it 100 times during the night. Terry Wogan picked up on it too and started to comment every time they said it. Funny.
(and they actually weren't amazing, just in case you didn't catch the sarcasm over the www)

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Friday, 19 May 2006

What if... started digging a hole in Penrith Library and went all the way through the planet's core to the oposite side of the globe. Where would you end up?

A while ago, when we visited the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line, I asked Graeme where you would end up if you dug a hole all the way through Earth, starting at Penrith. We agreed somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, probably in the middle of nowhere. This was pretty much right, but to prove the point, Graeme sent me this link to the site of a guy who has used google maps to answer this exact question...

OK, so it doesn't look that impressive at this level, but trust me, its cool. I KNOW I dug the hole from Penrith Library because I zoomed right in on it. As you can see from the picture below, I took this screenshot at the second level of zoom, rather than right in so you can see other things around the library.

It wasn't too hard really - I worked out roughly where Sydney would be, went west, hit the river and followed it til I found the Lakes and from there you can examine all of Penrith. Go play with it if you have some time. I'm off to find the opposite side of the world to where I'm sitting right now.

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Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Amazing Grace (2006, i think)

We went to a film preview tonight. And I don't mean a "the movie's not officially released until tomorrow but we got permission to show it today" type preview.

When we went to see MI3 last week, a guy approached us and asked if we'd like to see a free movie that hadn't been released yet. After confirming a few things with us (in the right age bracket, seen one or more of a list of similarish films, interested from the blurb, etc) he gave us a bit of paper with a number to call and confirm we would come. I rang the number, the guy asked for our genders and ages and gave me a confirmation number. We were told to be there by 6.30 and I'm glad we arrived at about 6.20 because we were close-ish to the front of the queue and got to pick decent seats in the PACKED cinema.

The film was called Amazing Grace and was great. There were no proper titles or credits and they warned us it might be a bit rough around the edges, but it really didn't affect our enjoyment at all. It is the story of William Wilberforce, the English MP who led the charge in the abolishment of the slave trade. It centres around parliament and all the stuff they have to go through to get the bill passed by a bunch of old jerks, I mean Lords, who have financial interests in the slave trade.

I just went and read some stuff from other people who've seen previews and they complained that it didn't show enough about the actual slaves and what they experienced, but I totally disagree. True, they showed very little of actual 'slaves', but they manage to powerfully convey the horrible conditions and circumstances the slaves were put through. And I liked that, even though the final outcome is somewhat obvious, you don't feel as though they're just heading for the prewritten conclusion and trying to give you a history lesson.

The acting was great - some very famous names in the cast list (including Dumbledore and Horatio Hornblower, I mean, Michael Gambon and Ioan Gruffudd) - and the settings and cinematography beautiful. So when it finally comes out, I recommend seeing it. Oh, and the title obviously comes from the song by John Newton, who features as a character almost as much as his song does.

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Job hunting sucks. I didn't get that job. Apparently the class I taught was great and the observers had very positive feedback about it, but I didn't get the job because I didn't promote myself well enough in the interview. The most frustrating thing is it showed me how great working at a good, high achieving, Christian school could be. So now I don't know what to do...

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Friday, 12 May 2006

Blue Man Group

We went and saw the Blue Man Group show last night and it was awesome. You know who the Blue Man Group is, right? They're a group of guys who wear dark clothes and paint their hands and heads blue. They've appeared in ads and stuff all over the world.

Their show is a one and a half hour spectacular. There's music, lights, audience interaction and participation, general craziness. It's performance art in a way, especially when they pour paint on their drums and make a mess while carrying a cool beat. The first four rows of the audience have to wear plastic ponchos to protect their clothes. Its so great yet so hard to describe. If you get the chance to see them, take it. We got our tickets half price, but it totally would have been worth the full £40. And thats a LOT of money to us Australians.

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Job Hunting

So I am looking for a job at the moment. The school year here runs September to July and a lot of schools are already hiring for September. This afternoon I got a call to go for an interview on Monday at a school that, from what I've seen so far, I would love to work at. That's good, right? Great, even. Problem is, an interview isn't just turning up and talking to a bunch of people. I assume I will have to do that, but I also have to teach a lesson. To a group of students I have never met, in an environment I am unfamiliar with, in a country in which I have never even entered a classroom before, in front of people who have the power to decide whether or not I get the job. I could definitely handle all of the first three if I didn't have to worry about that last thing. See, I HATE teaching in front of other teachers. My best lessons at my first student teacher position were when my useless supervising teacher was out of the room. During my second block, my supervising teacher went home sick one day and I was 'supervised' by a Maths teacher who just sat and marked work while I taught. That lesson rocked.

The fact is, I am not your run-of-the-mill teacher. I don't do things the way many other teachers do, which most students react positively to, but some other teachers don't (cf my first supervising teacher). Also, in my area, design/technology, there are many specialisations, and I am always afraid that I will say or do something wrong, or just different to how the other teacher would do it and they'll judge me for it. I know quite a lot about the different specialisations. I have a much broader knowledge than many other young teachers I have met. But you can't know everything, especially when you've only been doing this for like, a year...

So I have 3 days to prepare a one-hour lesson. I got an email with the details and all of its content is stuff I have done before with students in some form or another. I guess I just plan it how I would if it were my class and if they don't like it then too bad. I like to think I can have this attitude, and I will try my best to do so, but it will be hard. Because I do care what other people think. And if I get the job, I have to see these kids again, so I don't want to make a fool of myself.

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Thursday, 11 May 2006

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

So, over the last week, we have managed to see both MI1 and MI2 on tv. This, of course, was the perfect excuse to go and see the third movie, especially for Graeme. I must say, even though Tom Cruise totally creeps me out, it was a good movie. Probably the best of the three.
The first one was all about the double cross and the points throughout the movie when you just go "huh? what just happened?". Also, as of last weekend when we watched it, it is VERY dated. The second movie, in typical John Woo style, is all about the big explosions and action. This third installment is a nice balance of the two. I refuse to credit this to Tom Cruise - I personally give all credit to JJ Abrams who took over when the project was failing and turned it into something.
I was going to give a brief breakdown of the plot, but can't be bothered - afterall, thats what imdb is for. I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman was great as the emotionless, scary bad guy and liked the new mission team. If only it wasn't Tom Cruise...

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Thursday, 20 April 2006

My new toy

It was our 3rd wedding anniversary last week and Graeme bought me a button/badge maker. Its a very nice little machine that makes one and a quarter inch button badges quickly and easily. Of course, the first thing I made had to be HP related, so here are the first bunch I made. I obviously have heaps of the things and am only going to keep a couple for myself. Still not sure what I'm going to do with the rest.

Inside were about fifty badges, all of different colours, but all bearing the same letters: S.P.E.W.
'"Spew"?' said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. 'What's this about?'
'Not spew,' said Hermione impatiently. 'It's S - P - E - W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare.'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
, p 198

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Friday, 7 April 2006

Ella Enchanted (2004)

We have pay tv, including the Movies pack. We had pay tv back home too, but we didn't have the movies because they weren't worth the extra money. By the time G got the super-sports package, movies hardly cost anything more, so we got them. And we got sky+ which means you can record things to watch later - soon our harddrive will be full of movies I want to see...

Ella Enchanted is one of those modern classic fairytales. It is set in a fairly classical magical world of fairies, ogres, castles and giants, but then they have put modern twists (I loved the wooden stairs that moved like an escalator). It was predictable in the way that fairytales and young romantic comedies are, but I quite enjoyed it.

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Thursday, 6 April 2006

Ice Age 2 (2006)

We saw Ice Age 2 last night. Our first trip to the movies in a long time. Definitely the first time we've been since we've been in London.
Anyway, I loved Ice Age and the sequel was just as good. I'm not going to say better, because I haven't seen the first one in a while, so its hard to compare. I will say that it is hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny for big chunks of the time. You already know the characters and their little "herd's" dynamics, so it just jumps right in with the story. Basically, the Ice Age is ending and they have to get out of the valley before it floods.
I don't really want to divulge anymore of the plot, so its hard to write too much more about it. Just go see it (but see the first one first).

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Another reason why I love Jo Rowling

Besides the fact she wrote Harry Potter, of course.
And that she has one of the coolest interactive websites I have seen.
Its something on this website that she just added today that I love.

If you've never been to her site, click on that link over there on the right and look around. While you're there, click on the hairbrush (Extra Stuff) then the tab saying Miscellaneous. Be sure to read the "For Girls Only, Probably..." page. You don't need to be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate this, you don't even have to be a girl necessarily. Its just good.

OK, here's the link to her site so you don't even have to look on my menu (not that its hard to find).

Oh, and for those who haven't read any or all of the books, just be careful - a lot of her page assumes that you have read the books... But you can get to the page I mentioned without any spoilers.

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Such a slacker

Well, not really - I have been updating, just not on here. But since I have been slack about creating my individual page on our website, I thought I should try and be better about updating here. So, a new attempt at keeping this thing up-to-date begins now. I won't be writing much about the things we are doing in terms of the move and our travels, since there is plenty about that going on over on the other site. Instead, I will be doing more me-oriented posts. Like what I've been getting up to. And going back to that resolution to write reviews.

We'll see how long it lasts...

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Thursday, 2 February 2006

In more important news...

We have 5 days left in Australia... Well, I guess we really have 6, since we don't leave til late on Tuesday night. I have spent most of the last week and a half stressing about whether we will get everything sorted in time, but it seems as though things are coming together. We don't have a lot of stuff left to go through and we have put a lot of our things into storage (in my parent's garage). Tomorrow a person is coming from the shipping company to work out exactly what needs to happen in order for them to move our stuff. This shouldn't be too big a deal, since we aren't taking furniture or anything, just personal things. Oh, and my beautiful sewing machine :)
It has been very hot and I am looking forward to getting to the cooler weather. According to the weather forecasts, it is supposed to snow the first night we are there. That would be cool.
As much as I'm looking forward to going, I wouldn't recommend doing things the way we have. We should've gone before we settled down and bought a house full of stuff and all that - it would've been much easier. But then, we wouldn't be going over on the companies expense, and walking straight into at least one well-paid job.

I think I need to cross-post this to our website...

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I love Cedric

The test says so...

Who is your Harry Potter love match?

Cedric Diggory.
You love the clean-cut, all around good boy. He always does the right thing and makes your time together romantic and special. He's a dream come true, and handsome to boot!

Take this quiz! (its for girls)

(I had to put in my own picture - I guess it died on the other server where the quiz is from?)

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Monday, 23 January 2006

long time no see

oops - its been so long since I posted, blogger had forgotten me and I actually had to log in again ('cause on my laptop, I usually just click the little 'Remember Me' box or whatever I can do to make it easier to get straight into my usual sites).

Anyway, there are plenty of reasons why I haven't been posting - the main one is London.
If you (if there is even a 'you' out there) had clicked around you would have noticed the link to the blog 'london here we come'. (I haven't made that a link, since the most recent post on there sends you to our actual website: Its not too exciting yet, mostly just a rehash of the blog entries, since Graeme insists on coding it all from scratch himself and we have been busy doing other stuff, although i did make a quite cool graphic for the top)
If you had clicked on any of those links, or you actually know me IRL (in real life for those people like mum who are still learning the lingo) you would know by now that in two weeks and one day I am moving to London, England for the experience of a lifetime (I hope). For more details, see one of the aforementioned sites - I am only putting that here as a rough explanation.

I guess I should also update some of my critiquing that I am supposed to be doing since I am here and procrastinating from more packing and sorting...

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