Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Backstabbed and sabotaged! They are all applicable. This event so foul, yet so predictable. I had anticipated it happening at some stage and this is the act that it has come.

It started out fine. I slept well last night. I prepared well for class and had everything at hand when needed. My associate was in the class most of the time and gave me three pages of precious feedback on my performance. It was a bumpy ride at times but I was in control until about 2:45pm. Then my associate took over and dismissed the children.

Then I prepared for the next day. I found good resources and photocopied them. Then after chatting with my associate I left and at the intersection of Balmoral and Dominion, I suddenly remembered, I had to do some shopping. This annoyed me somewhat as I was exhausted and ready for a lie down. This is when things turn awry. I headed to St Lukes Foodtown changing hands with my now full black filing organiser that I take everywhere. It was about a 15 minute walk, I walked thinking about what I could do tomorrow. I bought my food, where the lady put all my groceries (quite heavy stuff too) into one plastic bag. I walked out carrying it and changed it from one hand to another, stopping briefly to put some of the heavier stuff in my backpack.

Home I went, did all my chores, made dinner, resucitated myself so I could work on preparation for the next day. It was 8:45pm, when I looked for my black filing organiser. It was not home. It had taken me 4 hours to notice that I was missing a kilo plus of documentation, school journals and notes. It had the forementioned precious feedback too. And I don't have a clue, where I have left it. Foodtown St Lukes is shut till 8am tomorrow, and will be the first point of call in the search for it tomorrow. I will be rushed looking for it and then preparing my lessons tomorrow. IT MIGHT NOT EVEN BE THERE. If I have lost my documents, I need to redo all of them before the University moderator comes on the Thursday.


Monday, August 30, 2004

Mindblowing~ Time is on my side~

Sometimes I get a revelation that is obvious to myself. Even though I felt like things were going well in class, for the most part, in the last week, there was something that was obviously missing. A control of time. This is rather a large flaw in any wish to control a class. But I hadn't asked about what specific times I should be transitioning between activities. I just was checking randomly throughout the days.

But I am a chronocentric kind of person. I run by the clock. Of course, if I have no idea of time to set my pace and bearing, I will list and lurch from one activity to another. So, I made little cards for each day, which have the appropriate timing for every activity. And today it worked a charm!

This was good, as today was when I effectively taught to 12pm, doing the reading session solo (unexpectedly so, my associate did a runner till then). Also I had a rough night of sleeplessness last night, making me envy my nightmare-filled night previously. In other words, I was glad that I had something going for me. It was a bearable day, but my head feels as if it were in a fish-bowl.

Suddenly, my brain has moved into a metaphysical philosophical realm, hailing back to my philosophical taoist days. I had a mentally-generated image (MGI), a vision if you will, about the whole fabric of the universe and time. It doesn't translate into words well, and I can't draw it, but I like it.

My most interesting other thought of the day was courtesy of a TV2 news programme, for the youth market who can't be stuffed watching TV one or TV3 news. It is called Flipside, which starts at 5pm. It has the function where if you wanted to comment on a news item, that you can text in your thoughts and it will run across the bottom of the screen. I think that is pretty cool in that it makes an awareness of issues more interesting and interactive. Also, one thing that we are actually taught in our Education diploma, txtmsg language is almost too pervasive to ignore. Reading those messages, I can see why.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Let me Level with You

A script penned by me is now a goer for a show at the Maidment Theatre...

As if I didn't have enough on my mind already!
Steeds in the Night

Oddly I had the longest "sleep" I have had for about one month last night but it was beset by not one, not two but three nightmares. Two of them ended with me trying to scream in the dream, which both woke me. That is something I have only done once before. I can't really remember most of what it was all about though. The most lucid bit was the seeing the moon in a clear sky, clear except for a crab-shaped cloud just below the moon, I scrambled for a camera, but couldn't find one, so I switched on the light and someone yelled at me, as it was too bright.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Oh dear...

Another blog consumed by this system..

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Thursday's phoenix

I have just watched probably the most interesting race of the Olympics (for me). New Zealand managed to win the gold and silver medals in the triathlon. The two kiwis were always in the front bunch and then the two leaders for most of the race, but there was always an enthusiastic Swiss man hanging on to their coat-tails, and the usual insidious Australian menace (who came in fourth). Also good was that they completely abandoned the Holmes show to broadcast it live!

Anyhow, today was a crunch day. Observed twice over. Compared to many of my colleagues, I am not averse to being observed. I usually forget that there is someone there while teaching and then am ready to chat with them after. I got some really good pointers from both the University lecturer and my own associate. Ah, I am in self-improvement heaven.

I was quite inspired after class too, figuring out the maths for the next day, spending a lot of time contemplating logical follow-ups and preparing seat work.

The day seemed to take its toll. After listening to the end of the Monday’s Koorero Mai on tape, my energy level collapsed for the first time this week. I just shut my eyes and may have passed out momentarily. Interestingly, looking back in my blogs, it was Thursday that I collapsed last week too.

Since then I have been focussed with the challenge for tomorrow. I will do the whole morning, handle all the transitions and send them off at the end of the day. Unfortunately, due to my own associate’s required lessons, I cannot do any more than that (I wanted to take on one more lesson of work to be completely my responsibility). But it would be nice to consolidate what I have done already. If I can use the feedback I have received, and solidly do the whole morning, it would be a big boost to my confidence before I take on new challenges from Monday to Wednesday before I take the whole reins on Thursday.

I am starting to feel I have timed this facet well. Although, I will have to put a lot of consideration into how I will do the required work for my assignments. Getting momentum and capability should come first, but the assignment stress in this practicum is quite intense too, especially considering the lack of any holiday at the end of it. This weekend had better be a focussed one. It will be the lynchpin of the both the practical side and the assignment side. I have to plan build up enough preparation to be self-determining in the lessons for most of this crucial third week and also calculate the exact execution of lessons to get data for my assignments in this three-week stretch.

Oh dear. I like my talk, now for the walk.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

What a drag!

More about the title later... Koorero mai has a waiata section, which I usually I give scant regard to because apart from loud karaoke songs, I don't like singing much. But recently, while walking home, I have found myself singing them. Maybe they DO have heuristic value.

Anyway, today was another interesting day to be a student-teacher. And part of this is where the title comes in. Suddenly, many of the boys have found the joy is swinging from the arms of the male student teacher in their classroom. I will rein this behaviour in tomorrow. It was fun today though.

One interesting issue with one of the boys, who seemed overtly affectionate to not just me, but about half the boys in the class. He regularly gives me hugs. More shockingly, while sitting on the mat, a boy stood in front of him facing the other way, the boy in question then proceded to lift up the bottom of the other boy's sweatshirt to have a better look at the standing boy's backside. What is more, at times he almost puts his lips close enough to his best mate to almost appear to be kissing him. I chatted with my associate teacher and she just laughed about it a little and then mentioned that it was when his Dad left his mother that these things started to happen. .

Today has also been a landmark as it is the start of REAL work! Tomorrow I will be under the objective eye of my Uni lecturer for at least 20 minutes of teaching (in a lesson where I will be doing an activity that flopped for me on Friday last week). This will be followed by being observed by my associate while I take my first lesson of maths on this practicum with the new format for teaching maths. I will maintain this level of work on Friday. Then prepare for what will be the escalation of work for the next week. I would like to assume control of the class either Wednesday or Thursday next week. That means that I will have to get all these easy things down pat, before adding the harder bits (to be added in the next 4-5 school days) and then putting it all together for 5 consecutive school days (I had to check that word in the dictionary, I wonder why its spelling is not more similar to the root word of consequence).

One important fact that I have neglected to mention in recent blogs is my recent capital investment in my teaching career: A whistle. I have been blowing my own whistle at PE for the last few days.

On the health front, I think my body has warded off a cold before it became symptomatic. My right foot is officially not to be messed with. I am going to treat it like fragile porcelain. It felt alright for almost a week, then last Friday shattered all illusions of a recovery with a terrible walk along Mt Eden Rd. It felt mostly OK this week until yesterday when it was feeling restrictive, and then today my foot slipped off the side of the footpath reigniting pain from the sprain in March (recently the pain was on the other side of my ankle... not the sprain side).

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

(for some reason this did not come up last night when posted... lets see what happens now)


I had another good day on prac, taking on some Reading and P.E. In general I am feeling like I haven’t taken up enough new challenges. It feels so much better than last week, which was now obviously just a mixture of settling in and slight disorganisation on both my associate’s and my sides.

I had an interesting discussion with my mother over dinner last night. She seems to like getting me into such discussions because for a while I seemed to be so neutral on many topics.

Yesterday, there was a protest rally in Wellington organised by the Destiny Church, run by an “American-styled” evangelist, Brian Tamaki. The message of the church is essentially Christian-fundamentalist grievance against the social liberalisation in New Zealand (“Enough is enough!”) and specifically wishing to prevent the passage of the Civil Unions Bill, which would allow homosexual couples who apply for a civil union to have the same legal rights as a married couple. They believe strongly that this will ruin the sanctity of marriage and harm the family. Both my mother and I thought this was highly specious logic and I think I have enough basis to out-argue proponents of those views.

BUT what we were most differing in opinion of was the “right” of the parents to pass on intolerance to their children. My mother thought that it was highly inappropriate for these parents to indoctrinate their children with hatred and homophobia.

I thought it was wonderful that parents are acting to pass on their values and morals. I think that it is good that children are first given some basis from which to build a worldview. It is only if you have an existing view will you be able to contrast it with another. It would be an egregious sin for a fundamentalist Christian to allow their offspring leeway to stray anyway, so it is unreasonable to expect otherwise. There was the issue that the children were off school for the march, I think that a march of conscience and morality is probably a good reason to not attend class and probably a good educating point about participating in society.

As abhorrent to me as their views are, I think that the existence of the Destiny Church or the National Front are essentially good thing as it gives a form to the prejudice. With form, it can be identified, addressed, and reasoned with. The devil you know is always better than the devil that lurks beneath.

On a side point of discussion, my mother was also highly upset that The Women’s Show at the Auckland Showgrounds gave free entry to men! I have no idea what a women’s day would sell but I raised the point that the opposite was done regularly by nightclubs (bring the babes, and paying men will come). Is this discrimination? Well, it is good business sense. My mother raised the point (strangely linked to the previous one) that gay men could take advantage of the Women’s Show…

Ah well...

Monday, August 23, 2004

A new week~

Things went much better and not so tiringly today. I feel I have regained some control of the general workings of the class and am handling many of the activities and transitions. I will be going a bit deeper tomorrow with actual teaching, not just facilitating. In a week and a half I will be starting full control.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Nga Uruora

I am part-listening to a radio programme talking about deforestation in New Zealand and the history of ecological change in New Zealand. It is a based on a book which I think has the name Nga Uruora (The grove of life).

There was a line, that I will paraphrase:

"When the new purchasers of the land found that the lush wet forest was not what it cracked up to be, quickly went about felling the trees... Naturally later, men saw the floods, erosion and landslides as anomalies for the land rather than their own occupation..."

We have had some devastating floods lately. In fact, in the history of my family, it was devastating Waikato floods in 1980 that caused massive losses of lambs on my father's farm that caused us to move to Helensville for market gardening.

"Sorry teacher, www.blogger.com ate my last blogwork. Could I have an extension?"

Thursday, August 19, 2004


This day is notable in that it is the first day that I was overcome by tiredness upon arriving home.

It is also interesting that in an age where obesity is often describe as epidemic, that many schools including this school fundraise by giving EVERY child a box of 20 90g Cadbury Caramello chocolate bars. The children don't get to choose, they have to bring it home, and sell what they can and bring back the remainder (even if all of it). That must be part of the sponsorship agreement as well as the most simple way of doing things. Many children got two boxes, one exclaiming that he was going to eat one box by himself and sell the other box.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It makes you think...

Today, I observed my associate teacher conducting an activity called “Community of Inquiry.” This is where the whole class is in a circle and discuss particular topics. There is a set of rules of how to contribute ideas. Today was the topic of whether magic existed. It was first introduced from the book “Where the wild things roam” (I think that was the title, which is a ubiquitous book in New Zealand classrooms). Children could raise their ideas and give arguments for and against. The teacher is more or less a prompter rather than a contributor, in that if the discussion is getting weighed to one side, she would ask a question that could trigger differing opinion and explore other aspects of the topic.

Interestingly, the most vociferous contributors believed strongly in magic. Their arguments at first appealed to the story as a reference, “…if there was no magic, then how did trees grow in his room?” Once debate on the credibility of fiction frothed from the other side, discussion went rather metaphysical such as “if there was no magic, how was the world created?” and this lead to questions of god(s). A couple of students asserted that they didn’t believe in gods. One student (a usually problematic child) said that there is so much magic in the world making everything work. The teacher nearer the end of the session checked whether anyone who hadn’t contributed had any thoughts they wanted to contribute. The previous week they had apparently discussed “dreams.”

For me, it was a revelation, because I had planned to generate a forum atmosphere at the start of the day when I finally have a class of my own. I was going to be completely experimental (which is always my compulsion) rather than do a thorough search of the existing techniques.

Originally I had intended to get them to discuss in small groups before contributing as a class. This means that all students had the opportunity to bounce their thoughts around as well as quickly find what objections there are to their thoughts.

I hadn’t considered what I know is a crucial part of the teaching process, motivation. The technique mentioned above uses a storybook to establish the meaning of the discussion. I was naively planning just to be the teacher setting the topic of discussion, which thinking about it now is very simplistic. Probably another advantage of their scheme is that the topic was more accessible to them, whereas I had lofty ideals of discussing responsibility, values and truth etc. as concept topics.

I already had the idea of having special rules for contribution (a la co-operative teaching), which is a common element between my intended model and that I saw in class today. The technique I observed apparently is based on a book, which I now want to have dearly!
You Name It!

I have officially got all 29 names of the students of my class in my mind and can say them with a moments hesitation. It took me a day longer to do this than last practicum BUT this class does have more students. It also has more lookalikes too (even though my last practicum I had to deal with identical twins) but I do have the advantage this time of having very few foreign names in the class to get a handle on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Kei runga noa atu, raatou

Closing the second day of my practicum, I have found myself where I want to be.

This is quite surprising because I woke up very uneasily and wondering whether I would like to take on a class like I had. In fact, when I woke up it struck me again, "I will have FULL CONTROL of THIS class for a week, this practicum."

But although I was relatively passive, I observed many of the different cues and ideas used by my associate. I mentally criticised some of what she did (I think this shows that I am engaged into thinking about pedagogical techniques), but also saw far more positives that negatives.

After class today, there was a staff meeting. And I was pleased to see a leader as a principal. The previous Principals I had seen were almost nominal in their influence. This one held everyone's attention. Persuasively sent us off to a task. Then in small groups, we completed our tasks with an industrious hum. The whole group was co-operative, productive, focussed and committed to the task. The teachers wanted to be there and saw importance in what they were doing. It is the kind of environment that I think suits me.

Some interesting points from today's observations:

A student was "labelled" as a potential ADHD child by my teacher. From my knowledge of the disorder, I think it is obvious that he wasn't. I had an enlightening chat with the expert teacher who came in who said that teachers tend not to want to raise that possibility. One of our lecturers convincingly argued against the prevalence or even the existence of the disorder.

I received the first challenge to my authority today. I will prepare mentally how I will reply in future. My extemporaneous reply was OK but forethought is my advantage as an adult. Children think on their feet better though in the verbal exchanges. They have the freedom of complete irrationality too (teachers can sometimes play on this too, because it is taken as a given that adults sometimes are completely arbitrary about some thing)

Anyway, I am now motivated and optimistic and over the hitches of yesterday.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Deja vu

The first day on practicum and... my associate teacher is ill. A reliever was in and I was rather inactive time. My associate apparently will be in tomorrow, and she sounds a much acclaimed teacher. Her classroom doesn't show it unfortunately but I am still optimistic.

I think I learnt over half of the names of the children and many of the staff. I slipped into two old habits and now am writing in my new Planning And Reflections file why these came about and what I am going to do to change them.

The class is entirely different to my previous classes. The majority are Paakehaa. Pacific Is./Maaori come in second with only one Chinese boy and two or so indian children. Edendale Primary School, my first practicum and a fifteen minute walk away, was the polar opposite.

Due to the absence of my associate, I came home before 3:30pm, which was a nice relief and a nice start to the week. It will only get heavier and it is nice not to feel mentally incapacitated at the end of the first day.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Strange Knights

On the Friday past, I hosted a strange night. This is where people are permitted to be strange, bring their own games and oddities. That was my vision for it anyway. Over the weekend, I have been mental revisiting it and considering how things happened and whether it should be repeated. The following is my retrospection of the night.

My planning left something to be desired. A glitch in the invitation e-mail meant that people had to consider what they would be doing before RSVPing but still people cautiously gave spoken notification that they would come.
I had an unrealistic start time which was impossible for two people to come on time for, and apparently unlikely for all but two others. I should have been more conservative and said 8 o'clock.

The food side of things was unfortunate. I wanted to cook strange things to suit the ends of the party but in the end it was the only "mains" dinner food that came (it was meant to be potluck). I knew at least two people would have trouble bringing food but others brought no shareable food. Two brought food for themselves and ate it while waiting for the other people to arrive. I thought that was peculiar, but then again, to wait for everyone to come would be a long wait for someone who may have arrived starving. Strange food doesn't particularly fill the stomach. A bit like unfamiliar foreign food perhaps. So maybe I should have gone a bit more productive and conventional in the kitchen or made checks to see what people were bringing.

Probably one of the things I was frustrated about is that people don't tend to share my vision for an event. That of course is not their fault, I should either inspire people with the vision, or ask them whether they should really be coming. But I tend to just want people to come.

For example, one person called to see if they could come but also added that they hadn't planned nor thought about what strange things they could do. He and another arrived with seemingly little "strange" intent. I reverted to my old habits of overcontrolling the situation, dragging one out to my bedroom to find strange things for him to wear. I couldn't help but feel how hostile I was or how persecuted he may have felt. I wind myself up for events that I organise, enjoyment is only in appreciation after the event. I even took out a little frustration on a person who called in late and said they would come if someone gave them a lift (a car had been to the Uni already to pick a person up why didn't they communicate earlier...?)

Things went along well at the start with Arvind's game which got everyone involved. From their it had its ups and downs. Hits and misses. Several people had no activities to contribute and little things came up spontaneously (or if it did, I may have killed it accidentally). I may have made the identities in Party Quirks too difficult to firstly represent and secondly to guess. Obviously I hadn't learnt the lesson of my last birthday party.

At times, I waited for someone else to contribute something. I even had a strange outburst saying something was boring when the discussion turned rather prosaic (in retrospect, many seemed rather interested). I forced the pace to continue onto things that I had planned (as I had prepared as much as I could). Maybe because of that outburst though, suddenly it seemed even harder to get any enthusiasm from any of the other guests. My idea of a David Lynch game flopped. Fortunately Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mountain dance worked better.

In the end, out of all the activities I had planned, I got through all but one, my personal challenge. The second to last event (an experiment) almost became that challenge though. My challenge was to submit to tickling and to see if I could refrain from reacting for 5 seconds. I thought it could be repeated through the night until I did it. I didn't raise this because I wanted to alternate between ideas from other people. Unfortunately or fortunately, my experiment at one stage got be blindfolded and suddenly everyone seemed to want to tickle or hit me. It is not that pleasant when you are blindfolded. Maybe it was their frustration or perhaps it was more light-hearted than I took it.

In the end, I was a little disappointed. Maybe my "Days" are over. I seem to annoy myself and others doing them. At least I didn't get sick (well not yet) over this one.

Activity Ex Nihilo

I have always thought that I was overly reliant on talent to solve my problems. I have good ability in some areas. When inspired, I can do a lot of work in very little time. I remember a case in the past where a sixth-form classmate had a fit when I and a similarly talented student got A+'s for thrown together work, while she got a B- for her planned, timely done assignment. That was probably compounded by our saying that we were anxious and that we had rushed our work etc. prior to the scores being handed back.

In my University life, such habits are not as conducive to results. The level of understanding required is higher, and if you are not a strong reader, then you cannot possibly read through required readings efficiently. Passing assignments and tests can always be done but there is a loss of the distinguishing 10-20% to show excellence. This is probably what has hampered my academic results in Uni.

No matter how much I reflect on my scholastic nonchalance, it still persists.

The one thing that is a relief to this is the burst of activity that suddenly makes up for several weeks of diffidence. The last 24 hours have tapped into an atom-shattering release of energy and suddenly things seem quite easy. Now, this is a good position from which to approach what was building to be an anxious third practicum. Suddenly my planning function is in overdrive, my organisation is forming some sense of structure. My handiwork wants to get handy and dissatisfaction with mess will soon be transformed into a tidy room.

Now, the thing that I don't need is distraction. I suddenly see a chinese language tape... Oh I would love to study. A momentary lapse of discipline can lead to 2 hours of Olympics on the box. But awareness of this should be the key.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


One thing that this teaching course is giving me practice at doing is transitioning between study and work. It is surprisingly difficult. I am the kind that gets into routines and changing from one set of routines to another is an awkward time. Shifting from holiday to study/work was difficult, but from study to practicum represents a challenging. You need to go through one set of specialised skills (listening, note taking etc) to proficiently actively demonstrating skills (teaching, riot control etc.). You need to jump from academic language to simplified language. Writing cursively to printing (depending on the level). Casual to authoritarian. One focus to multitasking with multiply awarenesses. Room to wing it versus no latitude for error.

Maybe most importantly, the first week of a practicum is where you set the precedent for the children, so they can have correct expectations for you. This is what I need practice at. It needs a whole mental plan of how to handle different phases of classroom management and introspection about every interaction.

Ah, if only my next practicum didn't start on Monday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Allusively Cryptic

Another kind of clue that creates frustration for cryptic crossword solvers are those that are only an indirect allusion to the answer. They indirectly refer to something else, and without that something else (or noticing that something else), the clue is unsolvable. There is no mechanism within the clue to assist the solving. You just need to realise the link.

Two brilliant examples appeared today:

1) As lately burnt by students? (8,3)

2) Stormy spot for drinkers (3-3)

Both are allusions to phrases, but often a cryptician has to exhaust all other options and suddenly be inspired by the other intersecting letters to solve. As it was, without intersecting clues and realising the first was not an anagram or the latter was not related to the weather, they would have been left blank.

Clues: A good general knowledge of Australian music may aid the solving of the first, and the second is a favourite of mine.
A Week and a Half of Word of the Week

And so the lexically obscure story weaving continues....

Excuse me if I bloviate, but I have a point to make:

In a world where senescence is often seen as the enemy rather than the progression of life and one in which the image of being like a carefree gamine has risen to be the apotheosis of what it means to be alive, it is not hard to see why middle-age crises are pervasive in the lives of the Western World. Ascending years is the megrim of most. People don't see the cycle of life as having a providential purpose of developing a soul, or sorting the wheat from the chaff, but rather something to be trivially subverted like a game, where cheating is seen as a virtue.

I would not like to conflate this the development of an image based society, which is often done. The fear of ageing and the excessive desire to not let people see the signs of ageing are two different phenomena in my opinion although the often appear in tandem.

The acceptance of ageing or death is possessed only by a nonpareil of life, someone sui generis, one of the self-effacing few, who can advance in years with growing strength and experience. Or perhaps also by the aged who have seen and accepted those blessed with birth are blessed with death, to which can conclude a fructuous life. Either way, they are those with less worry, and in the end may live longer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

a rant without hem-lines

The myth of public consultation

The term comes up quite regularly these days. But in reality, I think with the death of the community, there is no real possibility of public consultation. It is more or less consulting interest groups filled with the only people who really care about the topic. That might be productive but hardly the public at large. Maybe it is just a misnomer or euphemism.

Today, our lecturer whom many love and many hate came up with the research that there is not a shred of evidence that computers increase the power to learn, that computer skills do not necessarily need to be taught EARLY at school (as they can be picked up fairly easily). Some researchers perhaps of particular political persuasions suggest that the marketing of computers to schools is unethical and is essentially a trojan horse to expose children to commercialism. The thought is that computers assist children to learn (a meme that could have originated from those who are now profiting), so parents will pressure schools to invest heavily in computers (and they do, they could have another teacher or two at any school if they decided to not use computers), and now computers are ubiquitous in the classroom.

I was thinking back to whether I benefited from computers. I think the answer is bound to be yes, although I have no idea what a computerless me may have become. I started writing computer programs from books (in BASIC) and writing my own programmes very young (in machine code). Maybe the constant attempts to avoid "syntax error" statements cause me to have a fairly ingrained logical streak. Programs revolve around numbers. Programs are made on numbers and order.

I had some lovely inspiration for the use of computers in classroom today. I previously just had one thought, but now it has multiplied like opossums in spring. Now if only I find the Perfect World classroom.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Language exchange

After a hiatus of 2 years, I have restarted doing language exchange. This time it is with my newly acquired language te reo Maaori. My exchange partner worked in China for a brief time and had tried to pick up Chinese at that time but had forgotten a lot, so I used my Chinese knowledge to trade for Maaori practice. She was quite shocked that I had quite substantial Maaori accumulated in my memory banks and was making sentences quite readily and even asked questions about how to say sentences that she struggled to know how to say.

It was productive though, it was so nice to hear sentence structures and be able to get an explanation. Sometimes the meaning just flowed into my mind, other times my brain froze under the intensity of a string of words which it declared as familiar but didn't want the further commitment of identifying.
Evidence of the advantage of developing a cryptic mind!


Friday, August 06, 2004

The Finest Cryptic

For a cryptic crossword fan like myself, crosswords bring pleasure and frustration. The biggest frustration known to crossword solvers would probably be a clue that you have many of the letters (provided by intersecting answers) yet still cannot crack the clue or fit a likely word.

Two such clues have a risen in the last week:

1. Time-worn tea ceremony (5) letters supplied: T _ I _ E

This clue was impregnable to both me and the cryptic magician previously mentioned in this blog. We concluded that it must be a specific technical or archaic word that neither of us knew. It was only when we got the following day's paper that we discovered we were wrong. The answer is a logical and reasonable answer indeed yet we could not crack it.

Just yesterday, there was another:

2. With which the Orientals show agreement (4), letters supplied: E _ E _

This clue I was contemplating many times during an eight hour period where I also got the intersecting letters. The answer, which is actually reasonably obvious in retrospect, came to me intuitively rather than logically when I was tired and frustrated. But getting it brought ecstacy.

These two reflect a fine distillation of crypticity. A real mystery waiting to be cracked. Often clues are far too illustrative of the method by which they are to be solved. These two with their utilitarianism and simplicity show that although frustrating they are the finest cryptic clues.

(the answers will be in the comments page later, clue, they are essentially the same mechanism)

This message is a reconstructed version of a previous D.O.A blog I wrote last night.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

It seems like www.blogger.com has an error

The previous blogs have been eaten by www.blogger.com.
Oh well, I guess some things were never going to
happen. Goodnight.

(this is posted in via e-mail, a good function)

Find local movie times and trailers on Yahoo! Movies.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Return of the Fierce Creatures

Another assorted dream brought back the big cats to my subconscious.

I have had several dreams lately about being in my teaching course. The classes are nothing like mine but we are learning teaching. None of the people in the class are from my teaching class either (or perhaps one or two that I can only vaguely remember). Anyway, last night I had to collaborate on a lesson to show our class with an Indian classmate. We did it on tea, a good topic. We were preparing the lesson when the guy suddenly put two eggs in the cup we were using and I just said "Oh, that is not the kind of tea I make." Anyway, while he got the tea ready, I found some wonderful ornamental vessels from which to drink the tea from, really nice ones although the shape was a little odd. My memory gets a bit fuzzy, and I think my classmate had rather illicit relations with a teacher in the interlude before we presented...

Then suddenly I was in a wall-less zoo, where the lions and the antelope are in one big field with me. Apart from being mildly apprehensive about the proximity of such carnivores nothing happened.

Fanciful things dreams are.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Another new column

Haha, well I have found a category for myself. The Listener has a new column too called "Words Worth" which introduces readers to "new" words. Some of them seem a joke but maybe people use them somewhere..

Anyway, one of the words today was "Generation C", which means:

"Obsessive content generators. Often to be found snapping photos - of themselves - on their mobile phones for instant distribution to friends and family. Or constantly updating personal blogs with boring personal trivia."

Yeah that's me. But he/she makes it seem so narcissistic... Hmmmm maybe I am.....
Today's Thought

Today's Thought is a little column in the New Zealand Herald daily. It is usually a little Biblical excerpt but with the facelift of the Herald there was an interesting change. The Weekend Herald now carries one Bible excerpt and one from a different religion. This is the one from last weekend:

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who
delights greately in his commandments.
- Psalm 112:1

I have been insulted! I have been hurt! I
have been beaten! I have been robbed!
Anger ceases in those who do not harbour
this sort of thought.
(Buddhism, Dhammapada)