Friday, December 30, 2005


I have entered a pleasant post-Christmas phase. The pre-Christmas stress and study have been transformed into a reading, sleeping, walking, breathing phase. My ankle feels mostly OK except for occasional moments - so much so I might have a New Year's Walk.

Nothing much more to say but: Bliss.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Crappy 2005

Well, all I can say is this job application process has been both the best and worst of this year. There was no phone call confirming that I have seized for myself my own dream job, and this was the day it had to happen. Of course there is no call to say I haven’t succeeded – but then it was pretty much promised ‘before Christmas’ – Conclusion: I have missed out.

Miracle aside, like them leaving the selection to after the New Year, I am pretty much back to square one in the planning stakes. I have a few workless weeks to consider exactly what I’m going to do with my 2006.

Not-so-momentary despair caught me earlier on, and the fact that there is any hope at all in this posting was the result of the computer automatically rebooting itself while I was in the process of venting here the first time round, wiping all my good work. Between then and now I have had a soothing call to Xin, an episode of ‘24’ and a cup of camomile tea, and now am feeling more myself.
It has put a damper on my recent language-learning surge. I had absorbed so much Arabic in the last 7 days, but I will be cutting it loose, and going back to my old friends Japanese and Chinese. My foray into Arabic was a revelation in terms of sheer speed that I could acquire language – surely the ideal skill for that job, damnit. I could already make out names, grammatical structures and meanings from Al-Jazera articles. And when it wasn’t Arabic, it was one of the other two. All my leisure time had been engulfed by language and quite frankly I am exhausted.
Time for a rest. Oh yeah, it's Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Two long days...

The end of this year has been defined by a few days that have been busier than many of my previous years. After my interview postponement, Wednesday initially looked to be a busy day anyway. I would be planning classes, in the morning, helping my sister move out at noon and doing language exchange in the evening. This was made even better by the one thing that could make me jump out of my seat, namely, a call from Wellington asking me if I would like to be job interviewed on Thursday (i.e. today). Naturally I was willing but needing to cancel all my classes on today.

So after yesterday, quite naturally came today. This time I would not be denied by the weather. I started off the bat with a Chinese translation test. Pleasingly, it was two news item (something which I had been translating a lot as practice). I was struggling for time but finished with 30 seconds to spare, and no time to check.

Then came a security check and interview. The interview was quite disappointing for me in some ways, as they asked many questions that I had never considered and didn't necessarily give the answer with the emphasis I would have liked. But all in all, it was solid, but not enough to make me feel too confident about getting a result. The psych test was loopy. It started with a IQ test, with a few curve balls and then brain-numbing multichoice test. And then it was off back home. No matter how easy it was to summarise in retrospect, it was a rather exhausting process.

I also had a pleasant chat with my fellow candidates. Out of those there today, I was the only one not with a foreign language from Europe. That could be in my favour. I am pretty sure I am the only person out of those there today who could learn effectively a language outside those they are already familiar with. This is another plus for me.

On the whole, compared to the pre-interview excitement, my surety has been dampened, which is good whatever the result. Either way, if I get the result I wish, I will stop all further reference to the job here.

Friday, December 09, 2005


I feel afluster. Things have happened quite fast lately, in a good way, and it nice to have a change of fortune.

The one thought that has crowded my mind is that of getting what seems like the job of my dreams: Being a linguist analyst. Last Wednesday I was flown down for a thirty minute interview. The interview itself just indicated I was one of the 30 (!) applicants that they were interviewing in the first round. The interview was mainly about language which was delightful as it is one topic I could talk endlessly about. One interesting aspect is that my core languages may not be the main skill, but rather the ability to acquire languages. THAT'S ME to a "T"!

They told me they'd get back to me on Friday, but were kind enough to call me on the Thursday, to tell me YES come for the second interview (now one of 10), which is this coming Tuesday. This will be much more involved, with a "psych test", a security briefing, a formal panel interview and an hour long translation test (from Chinese to English). Again I am being flown down. The whole thought kept me awake for most of last night continuing a dreadful run of sleepless nights.

Now, here I will demonstrate how loaded my expectations are. If I don't get the job, how disappointed will I be? And if I get the job, how can it possibly meet my expectations? But if I DO get this job, I may just be able to forgive all those damned principals for turning me down so many times. If I were teaching, I would never have noticed this job. In reality, I don't think there is much that could disappoint me in this job though. I have been yearning for a job that is a groove for me to adapt into and make my own, master it and progress to the top over a long time.

So now, till Tuesday, I will be loading my brain with Chinese and practising translation.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So this is the aftermath...

Ah, another test down and another brain-numbing experience.

The day started with me easing into action, getting to Unversity with plenty of time to spare. Regrettably, I suddenly realised that through a little bit of confusion I had neglected to bring the requisite pencil, eraser and pencil sharpener!! (I had put it in a pencil case but then thought it to big and 'thought' I had transferred them to a bag I was taking, but apparently not). So I hustled around trying to find a place that sold pencils. There weren't any. I came in and started going to people asking if they had an extra one. Fortunately, they had extra pencils at the test room.

Also fortunately, unlikely the Chinese Torture test earlier in the year, this one had rest breaks between the sections (the Chinese test was a non-stop 3.5 hour obstacle course of reading, listening and writing). In fact the whole test, as expected, was run like a far too oiled machine. The over-efficiency meant that everyone was ready waiting for each start times, occasionally in stark silence.

My performance, like the Chinese test, is most certainly going to undercut pre-test predictions. Only the first section was anything to write about (I may have got only one or two wrong out of 60+ questions). The listening was the most disappointing as I will not even get near to the heights of my practice test yesterday morning - my lack of ability to gain composure returned. The reading was rushed nearer the end, but I should still have quite a reasonable score.

Likely result: Vocabulary and Characters 96%, Listening 60%, Reading 75%.

But I'll have to wait till late February or early March for the results. That is where they have forgot to oil the Japanese marking machine...

Saturday, December 03, 2005


My last two weeks have been engulfed by nothing but Japanese study (and a few minor things like work, eating, sleeping, and sadly, seeing Xin off to the airport). This period of study has been surprising to me, and has been something I am now quite proud of. The best thing of all: I have almost completely slain my Listening Comprehension demons. They are lying there baring breathing.

To put it in comparison, when I did the Level 2 test in 1998, I got 20% in the Listening, defying even the average result from random guessing (it was multichoice!). When I had begun my course back in July/August, every listening test had me struggling to break even at 50% - and this even after having a 'break-through'. Some nights, admittedly when I was tired after a day of work, I would be getting maybe 30%. When that course ended though, my listening skills faded and in the early stages of my preparation I would be lucky to understand even the Level 3 or 4 tests.

Recently though, I have been slaughtering tests. I just did a practice test and in the section with pictures, I got an unprecedented 14/15 and in the second section (without pictures where you have to rely on listening for the question, the listening segment and the four choices) I got 14/16.

My biggest discovery is that my problem was mainly mental. I used to get flustered and none of the words went in. I probably gained composure through the Chinese study I did earlier as I also exposed myself to a lot of listening and eliminated that weakness. It is surprising listening to listening tests that I had done previously. They are so easy, yet months previously I was all at sea. I now am dousing my brain in Japanese news and current affairs.

With this, I now have immense confidence in my ability to pass tomorrow. In fact, I would even be sure that I would have made a valiant attempt at passing the highest level (I have done the advanced level practice tests).

Friday, November 25, 2005

Lingual pendula

After the hurlyburly of autoclashes and insurance, it is easy to forget that I have a Japanese test to attend to on the 4th of December. Until recently I was dreading it, knowing that since the completion of the Prep course earlier this year, my Japanese had somewhat sunk from prominence.

Suddenly though, I have re-captured my lingual happy thought, also encouraged by the possibility of my dream job and now are burning through a lot of listening material, reading everything in Nihongo, absorbing hundreds of words daily and revitalising my skills.

Tuesday had a good sign. I went to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant and accidentally said 'Arigatoo' to the serving Chinese waitress. She knew I spoke Chinese and she knew I knew she was Chinese and what's more knew that I knew Chinese - but she just walked off thinking I she had misheard me (I assume).

My language exchanges are paying dividends too. But I cannot help but get the feeling my listening skill in particular will not be up to the mark. I am quite able to learn huge quantities of information and do a lot of work in a short space of time, but improving a skill area in a short time is not easy. But I have a strategy in place that I will be following to its conclusion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fault lines

Strange times are sometimes the most educational. On my way to an interview on Wednesday morning, I got a call from the guy I collided into. Despite me thinking that all those worries were over, a new chapter began.

He had gone to pick up his car, but suddenly found that he had to pay the excess to get his car back. Apparently if the excess was not paid, the person who is getting repairs courtesy of the insurance company must pay the excess for their repairs. Needing his car immediately, he got the money together and paid it to get the car out.
Yes, I hadn't paid the excess, but I neither did I know that not paying the excess soon enough would cause the other person to be put out.

So he urged me to pay the excess so he could be refunded the money. So not knowing exactly where the nearest place to pay I called the insurance company. After some dilly-dallying, I was put through to another guy who was on his game. He said that despite my misleading indication causing the crash, it was not, according to the Road Code, my fault. I was on the main road and hence I still had the right to change my mind, and him being in a side road should have reacted with a bit more care.

In other words, AA will contest who is at fault with Fintel, in a duel to see who has to pay for the repairs. If it turns out that he is at fault then our repairs will be paid for (!).

Of course this doubles as an ethical problem: The other guy is now out of pocket for my fault (regardless of what the Road Code says) and had to borrow from his father just to get his car back. So I called him with the bad news that the insurance won't be forthcoming immediately, and also made a verbal agreement that I would forward him the money that he had to pay for the excess with the agreement that if the case comes to pass that it becomes his 'fault' then he would send the money back to me.

Xin raised the spectre of suspicion that he could deny the agreement and pocket the money. I do have some evidence, texts and my back account statement to prove that I have done that so if it hypothetically leads to a civil case, I have something. But he has been very understanding despite the circumstances and I believe a little trust is in order.

If it was the case that he was at 'fault', I don't really mind him keeping the excess as it was my fault anyway. But we'll see which way the cookie crumbles.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Nga piki me nga heke

This really was the week that was. It was the most action packed week of mixed fortunes that I have had for some time. It started off on a high, everything was going well and I had well resurrected my job seeking fortunes.

Monday came and a golden call arrived declaring that I was still on the road for my dream job - the linguist analyst position with an interview in early December. Monday was also a day of action in that I started my preparation for an AIESEC event - which I ambitiously asserted my participation upon, deciding to do my first whaikorero (speech at a powhiri, maori lesson, culture session and teaching of Maori songs and the stick game, ti rakau).

Tuesday ushered in frenetic preparation for my paid work and then productive language exchange.

Wednesday was the breaking point. I through together the last of my lesson preparation and then threw myself into a job interview for the National Library. At first this position sounded promising, but then I realised that it was more or less a grunt job. I will have to make a decision whether I will use it as an interim job, and one that will get me a lot fitter, or whether I retain the status quo - provided of course I am selected for the job. I am rather overqualified.
But it was still the breaking point - upon returning from the interview I drove along Manukau Rd in search of capsicums and coriander, instead I indicated one way, changed my mind and drove into a four-wheel drive. Zu, the brave vehicle he is, went for the low blow, slipping under the ribs of the bull-bars and leaving a deep impression on his stunned combatant. We certainly did get him better than he got us. Unfortunately with the 3rd party insurance and being obviously at fault, it was me who became a cropper. Repair bills are depressing and will wipe out a month or two of my savings. From that crash on, I have been a mess.

Thursday and Friday were normal, crazily busy work days with the spice of chess, language exchange and 24. And another primary school job interview arranged!

Saturday was taken up with the AIESEC event. I seemed to be a one-man show for a large part of the time I was there. I was a little disappointed by the amount of preparation that was done before it by the organisers - I think there were a lot of lessons learnt. The time had obviously caught them out. I was the only external 'facilitator'. I took care of the powhiri - my speech rocked and I surprised the hosts with the fact that I could speak more than basic maori. And I had prepared everyone with two maori songs. My session explaining the powhiri went well, so did the culture one, the stick game one and the Maori lesson. I learnt a few things too. I learnt the actions to the haka (again), the words to Ten Guitars and most importantly to me, had my public outing in Maori. I had missed many opportunities last year due to my hesitation and am satisfied that I nailed my opportunities here. A local kaumatua even quizzed me and was a little disturbed that I could name all the main tribes in different locations.

Sunday was the fitting come down with a nice slow day before brunch with my mum and sister for their respective birthdays.

I don't need any more weeks like this frankly. My japanese preparation has suffered and I had better hope for two weeks of rather effective study or else my goose will be cooked again at level two.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I got a call last night saying I had a job interview in Wellington for the linguist analyst job. Wow! What's more, they will buy my plane ticket! Apparently it is a long application process for this particular job but I will give it a shot. It might be fun.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Progress and Change

My luck has turned a little for the better lately.

My injured foot has finally healed enough to walk distances without pain. This is a major mobility boost for me as I had been refraining from any walk longer than 5 minutes to give it the time to heal properly. Today I visited the spot where I believe I sprained it - and noted this time a "No Exit" sign next to the entrance to the driveway. I cannot know how I had missed it that night, but it was a sign that reflects so maybe it was not that visible. Also, I might have only glanced up, while watching my step. I have the goal of going on a big walk over the New Year or thereabouts to really test it. And then maybe getting into running within the first half of next year. I have also made moves to diversify my fitness. It is sad that my body is only really a walking machine with little upper body strength, agility or flexibility.

On the employment front, I have more or less decided to abandon my company project as a main source of work and re-started my job search. Lately, I have been losing my working hours due to the efficacy of my teaching: I was graduating off my students as they reached their goals! This is not a bad thing of course, as if they were not achieving their goals, it would be questionable if I were the man for the job. There is also no more students, beyond those I am teaching, that require teaching at F&P, the only growth area for me is... teaching Chinese! If I am still at F&P next year, I will teach another manager there from scratch.

The alternative side to all this is that I have several applications out there for new jobs - a librarian, a linguist analyst and... four for primary schools. I will have an interview for the librarian position this week. After the draining of finance in the last two years (two foreign trips, one year of study without work, and one marginal year of employment)

My personal life is blissful right now and I can only reflect how lucky I am - but the professional and financial side of my life must be the area to correct for me to feel any satisfaction with where I am going and that is my two month goal until the end of the year. Only when I achieve it can any real further goals be made.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Eels

I went to only my second concert last night (it would have been my third if Massive Attack hadn't cancelled on me a few years ago). The Eels are not a well-known band but one that I became familiar with back at high school when a couple of their songs featured on Max TV regularly. I put the lead singer among Beck, Bjork, Tricky and David Bowie as someone who creates his own trademark music, inhabits it and succeeds on their faithfulness to themselves rather than compromising musically.

When I say The Eels, there is only one true member, with apparently 20 transient band members. The surly gent who is the morbid heart to the band, E, is the writer and frontman is a bit of a character.He also feels very free to be himself, not one to fuss over his appearance or mind bothering people by his incessant cigar smoking. The songs are generally musically simple but touchingly lyrical.

On the whole, the concert was wonderful except for the neverending wait at the start. I was frankly a little peeved, especially that I had failed to bring some refreshments in my bag. We waited long and then were greeted with a 10 minute russian cartoon, and then waited even longer, and got another informative short film introduction to The Eels, but still not the band... And then, maybe an hour after the start time, the curtain went up yet again but this time to reveal a band with strip instruments.

Then on came E, puffing his fragrant cigar (probably breaking the law of December 10 last year) and bursting into song. From that point on he scarcely missed a beat, passing song to song with out pause. His songs are usually no longer than three minutes, although sometimes daring to four.

For a sample of the music:
"Trouble with Dreams" is pretty cool. I remember it so clearly from the concert.

He bantered with the audience a fair bit. First telling of a few guys cheering while he was speaking. Telling jokes, apologising it taking him 10 years to come to New Zealand and promoting the room party of Chet, the multi-instrument musician (inviting girls only).

The songs were excellent. Having only one of his albums, I knew only four or five of the songs. But he picked my two favourites from that album "Dead of Winter" and "Climbing to the Moon".

The end was amusing. He introduced the last song, saying: 'This is the last song I am contracted to play. But you know after that, we have to play that whole cat and mouse thing. You know. So I just want to say that this is officially the last song.' So he belted out that song, bowed and left with the bad. Then the "cat and mouse" began. The applause, stamping and bottle tapping from the audience went louder and louder. A minute passed. And then the people at the front went even louder. And that's when they came back for another two songs. And then said goodbye again. And then the applause came back. They returned, did a few more songs, and left again. The audience again persisted with applause after they left. And then they came back for the very last song. And left the stage again. The audience cheered and clapped again, requesting they come back. The floor-crew started collecting the equipment. But still the sound went on. We started to leave, along with half the audience. And one of the floorcrew went to the microphone and said: "Sorry folks, the Eels have left the building. No they haven't, they're back!" And back they came, this time dressed in pyjamas and ripped into "I can never take the place of your man" (originally a Prince song). People came pouring back into the St James again. But that was the last.
Cat and Mouse.

Then we went to Kebabs on Queen which it seems that the Eels also got their dinner from because they sent a girl down at the same time we were there. But anyway, it was worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Video Reviews - A Billy Bob Thornton double

50c videos and time at home can be a time consuming occupation. Fortunately, I restrict myself to one a week.

The Man Who Wasn't There

I watched this one last week, being that I had seen it in the shop and thought that I might like it, but strangely never got it out. This is perhaps one of the darkest comedies possible, either that or it isn't funny. Filmed in black and white, humour as black as can be, and an actor who makes depression seem like delight, you might be challenged to see any light at all. But Billy Bob Thornton is a cool actor, for whom I have gained a lot of respect. He is one of those solid actors who can be the complete character, and despite appearances has quite a range (as evinced by his Oscar-winning turn in A Simple Plan).

Here he is the lead role and narrator of the story, an unaspiring barber in a routine mundane life. He is suddenly impelled to actually do something different, to finally try to better himself... but a series of consequences consume four lives including his own (and also breaks the clavicle of Scarlet Johansson's character Bitsy).

Watching it was almost reminiscent of reading The Outsider by Camus, in the numbness that the lead leads. His murder of a friend, the trial leading to his own impending execution are all just humdrum excursions on his way through life.

It was a cool movie to enjoy, as long as you are unhurried.

Monster's Ball

This week I decided upon Monster's Ball, mainly because of seeing the other Billy Bob Thornton movie the previous week, but it turned out to be a good choice. I only knew that Halle Berry won an Oscar for her role, a deservingly so.

The movie is almost one long unmitigated personal disasters for all concerned. All of the disasters had large repercussions except for one, the very last one when suddenly it becomes obvious to Leticia (Berry) how fate has dealt to her yet again. But she takes it silently and in that way the film elegantly ends, Leticia swallowing the pain and learning to accept.

As long as you are prepared for the most depressing of melodramas, I highly recommend Monster's Ball simply because it is honest and unflinching and in a heartbeat, moving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Until today, I have probably been through my most intense period of focussed work and study for a long time. I was hardly distractable. With completion of the Chinese proficiency test, my Dad’s birthday and one day of work at my old language school over the previous three days, I could finally rest today. I didn’t really plan on it, but my mind was determined and I got fixated on all sorts of strange things…

Actually I can pinpoint exactly when in happened. 5pm Monday afternoon, my bus passed another bus, which had been slapped on the left cheek, by a car door, while the bus was moving at quite a speed. Needless to say, all drivers concerned were rather flustered. And the car door was now double-jointed. But I suddenly felt a relaxing feeling spreading through my body.

Today I did do some work but only half as much as I had put into my schedule. The game of internet chess I had started last week had been going very badly. I had been rueing every move, move by sickening move. Today, my opponent pretty much handed me back the game and I have a reasonable chance of winning now.
I demolished a bar of chocolate I somehow bought. I caught some rays (not of the stinging kind), watched the Life of David Gale. I surfed old movie reviews of Lord of the Rings... Boy, do people hold them in high regard. And started ferreting through my drawers for lost treasure.

Hopefully tomorrow I can regain my work-ethic or else I am screwed for my lessons on Thurs/Fri!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

One down, One to go

The first of the two language tests that I have been preparing for has now finished.

HSK was not as hard as I thought it would be, but at the same time, I mentally was not as strong as I thought I would be. By the Reading section (3/4 of the way through) I could hardly read a sentence let alone a scientific description of lazer-eye surgery or an item on the new migratory patterns of mammals in Finland (I am not making those up either). When I practiced, I always had at least 5 minutes when I finished each section. This was not the case this time. Each time I was under pressure to finish in the time, and usually did it with only the skin of my teeth remaining.

Overall, I think only the Listening Section will be any higher than my practice tests, grammar may be equal, reading will be lower and maybe the combined final section will be a little lower.

Now I have two months to re-configure my brain again to mellifluous Japanese tapes and barbarically complex grammar patterns for the Japanese Proficiency Test.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Longest Day

From the perspective of paid hours of work, ESOL teaching seems a piece of cake. For years, I worked no more than 5 hours a day, and only in a blue moon more. Of course, unlike other jobs it is mentally more demanding per hour of work too, and on top of that, you have many unpaid hours of work. Going back to teaching after even a week off tends to knock you for six. Actually I can still remember my first week of teaching at the dead-and-buried ASL and every afternoon coming home and passing out on the couch (I had never been one to pass out so easily). Class teaching may be hard, but one-on-one teaching is even more intensive.

As a contractor to my only client, I have slowly been increasing my hours, week after week. I can still remember the first week when I only worked one day and that was for 4.5 hours. And as it was my first teaching one-on-one for quite some time, I was zonked.

Only as I was coming home today did I realise that I had made a new record for working... I had a 6 hour day. This is the longest day I have had of paid work since 1999 (there is one other time that might pull that statement into doubt - I can't quite recall clearly my hours at that time - I don't think I was working mornings). Either way, it is a bumper day for me, but I may be peaking, and the only way to get more would be to spill over to a third day (which will be more acceptable to me after the HSK test, this Saturday). Or get another client but my chances haven't been that high of late and most leads have unfortunately not amounted to anything.

Free business cards to anyone who wants one though!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Final Straight~

Reminiscent of exam seasons past, I have a 5 day dash to the HSK examination and seeking every shred of vocabulary, listening opportunity and even dreaming of Chinese (unusually, Xin spoke in Chinese in my dream, although not in real life). Overall, I know that I can pass the test easily - the thing is that to pass it is not the important thing. Because I want to attempt the higher level next year, I would ideally want to show that this level is a piece of cake. The test itself has band scores just like IELTS, this means it is not just a pass/fail test but tells you how good you are, or bad you are, with a rough integer score up to 8.

Yesterday, I took another practice test and in the first three sections set personal records in each on (76% in listening, 97% in grammar, 94% in reading), then quite unexpectedly collapsed in the fourth section losing 10/16 marks in one of the two parts. Considering that the whole test is 170 marks, losing 10 marks on one part of one section is criminal. In previous practice tests I was averaging just under 80% for that section; yesterday I got 68%. This has completely distracted me from my self-perceived listening weakness.

Listening in fact is shaping up nicely. I can understand the Chinese radio station with comparative ease. Maybe even better than my Taiwan days (where I understood conversation far better than broadcasts or television). But the tests are not natural Chinese. They are orchestrated logical tricks, sometimes involving rapid mental arithmetic, set idioms, and rhetorical speech.

(in Chinese)

"Does Little Wang know the score in the rugby?"
"Little Wang doesn't know, no-body knows".

Question: "Which of the following statements can be deduced from the dialogue?"
A. Little Wang likes ice-cream.
B. Little Wang knows the score.
C. Little Wang was sucked up a tornado and relocated to Ontario.
D. Little Wang doesn't know.

Of course, the answer is Little Wang knows (B), which once you get the hang of Chinese rhetorical sentences, is obvious. And no the answers aren't usually as ridiculuous as above in the Listening (although often that way in the Reading that test).

Anywho, back to a day of my nose to the grindstone.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Party time

Well my 27th birthday has passed once more. This time a much less ambitious party plan was chosen, and went smoothly.

Probably the nicest revelation is to find I can take on much less mental burden and still have a party go well. Usually I usually squash myself with stress and preparation, and usually control things far too much. This time, I even darted out of the house to grab some sushi for about 15 minutes. Everyone still seemed to be chatting nicely when I had returned.

Some of my overpreparations came to nothing. I was really concerned about there being enough food, but in the end it was just enough. I had to be reminded that I had sushi, completely forgot I had olives, didn't put out the alternative beverages and even when I did, everyone kept drinking the tea. The food side of things almost fell apart, with some food not living up to expectations in my eyes but were praised by others. One person seemed intent on finding my secret ingredient to my Tomato Basil Tofu.

The strange day was short but far superior to the previous effort on the 13th of August last year. There were sufficient ideas, and more importantly will, to go through with things - this might be due to those involved. I resolved a curious doubt I had about the philosophical question dilemma, where no-one seemed to be interested in contributing a substantial question and may approach the issue differently next time.

Leg-wrestling: Andrew (winning the final against Xin)
Straightface keeping: Paul (2 mins 30 seconds undefeated)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Change

As my work-life changed from being at a work-place to being predominantly at home, I was confronted with the challenge to change my habits. It is far too easy to be lazy at home.

Today can be a landmark of sorts. It is the first day at home that I have worked myself to exhaustion at home. After one spell of typing, my arms had a sudden feeling that I could type no longer on the computer. I even felt a little dizzy (thought I might have another tinnitus attack, but apparently not).

After all that, I went and did a practice test for HSK, which probably was not the best choice of times to do so, I completely missed a few of the listening questions. I think the test was harder too, and I probably wouldn't have matched my previous scores anyway. Needless to say, my score was lower than expected.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lixiang de Jinxingqu

Along with my work, I now have an immediate goal, the HSK Chinese examination on October 15th. For this test, I must be the most well-prepared person around. On my last trip to China, over a year ago, I bought big on books to prepare for it.

It must assess certain skills quite reliably because in the two successive times I took the practice test I got virtually the same result. That being said, it neglects two major skill areas; speaking and writing - a bit like Chinese TOEFL/TOEIC etc. It also is almost completely multichoice - which pedagogically speaking is not a good test design (easy to mark though). It essentially tests how well people do multichoice rather than language ability. Having written answer questions etc. is superior. The Japanese Proficiency Test has similar shortcomings.

One of the aspects of these are that they usually require memorisation and test technique. For example, it will simply ask you what something means, sometimes without much context. Idioms and proverbs are thrown in, and you might have to recall the meaning, or worse, choose which is the correct third character etc. In such situations, I revert to the abhorrent of learning techniques - the kind I tell all my students to avoid - rout learning and the like. I can actually do such base methods well. I found an excellent website ( which has a 7 day trial period but has lessons for HSK. One is a lesson to teach 800 idioms (of which I already know about 30). It says: "Approximately 72 days (Based on 50min Study/Day) "
Bah! I can learn them in seven days. And well my memory function is pretty efficient. In three days, I have consumed over half of it. Already I heard a couple of them that I learnt on the Chinese radio - which is good, as it shows that I have learnt them.

I will re-do the test tomorrow and also on Sunday to practice my exam technique and to evaluate the points that I need to really focus on in the last two weeks of preparation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Pick-me-up

Well, after a bit of disappointment with work, lately I have had some success - some of it completely out of the blue.

On Thursday, suddenly a new teaching option arose: Teaching Chinese! Some workers at F&P were interested in studying Chinese, and as they go on work-trips to China - F&P are interested in having me teach. So, suddenly I have another stable class. I have actually taught Chinese before, to a friend. But the amount of extra time to prepare caught me by surprise. It has taken a little bit of time to rearrange my thinking.

Then on Monday, I had two interviews, one with the Chamber of Commerce, and the other with NZ Police. Neither gave immediate openings, but gave a way to proceed. It was also quite exciting.

And now just 10 minutes ago, I got a call on my cellphone - from one of the companies I sent my one page proposal to. Surprisingly, for budgetting purposes, she wanted to know my price structure for reference.

All of these give me reasons to push on - if I had one more full(ish) day of work at another business - I would be able to be easily making in three days what I were in one week at a language school.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hard Going

My one-man business has not really gathered any momentum. I only have one realistic lead secondary lead currently and although I still rate it as realistic, I have done what is an admission of defeat:

I applied for another job.

And I am seriously considering re-starting my primary school applications. It pains me to do so, but I have been feeling rather down about the whole employment thing. I NEED a regular job to get some rhythm out of my life. My business is softening my brain.

Anyway, back to work.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I'm so lame

Well, just as my running programme was gaining a bit of momentum I have received a rather sudden and unpleasant setback.

Last night, I decided to step up the distance and time of my running. I set off after 7pm after a busy day. I made the goal of running at least 30 minutes in a random loop run. So I weaved through suburbia, reaching the corner of Manukau and Greenlane Rd at the most distant point of my run, before my turn for home. I came back from there along The Drive, weaved down Empire Rd and then onto St Andrews. I crossed to the right hand side of the road when I noticed that the footpath disappeared into a lower part below the level of the road, also serving as a driveway for many homes. I had seen these before and often you can go through them and re-emerge with the road, so I decided to chance it and go down. But this was not a good choice. Being off the road, there was limited light and it was hard to see exactly where my feet were going. I ran for about 20 metres when I discovered to my annoyance that the path was not a thoroughfare, and I came to a dead end. So I turned and went back up when after a few paces, my left foot entered a dip of some sort (I will investigate at a later date, in the light of day). My ankle rolled overbalancing me and throwing me into the ground. I knew exactly what had happened and rolled on my back to mention a few things to the starry sky.

I got up gingerly and looked and felt the damage. My ankle was sprained, but I didn't know exactly to what extent. My knees and hands were warm and more than a little bit grazed. Blood ran down from my right knee. One thing I knew from my last sprain is that you shouldn't rest it until you are where you can rest for a long time. If I rested, it would swell and then be impossible to walk on. So I limped home for 20 minutes on my injured foot.

Once home I realised that it was not the same foot as what I sprained last year. Not good! Spraining makes your whole ankle weak permanently. Now I have two ankles which that has happened too. A brief look at my new shoes also show a puncture mark on top of my left shoe. Obviously the force of my fall had damaged them.

On the bright side, the sprain is far milder than my previous sprain. There is very little bruising and I am more mobile now than at a previous stage last time. Also it was treated earlier and better. Last time, I could only hop for three days, my sprained foot not being able to cope with any weight. So I will delay all other running for at least a month or three. My planned Birthday Walk would be a little in doubt, although I will probably do it anyway.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Running records (this is mainly for personal record for my memory, probably boring)

In the last two weeks, I have attempted to start running again. This is not the first time but I am hoping it will be something of a sustained effort.

My running habit was fairly strong all through school representing my primary school and high school at cross-country competitions. But soon as I started University, the regularity started to drop off. I still enjoyed the benefits of being fit but my aerobic fitness, flexibility, weight, and every other sign of fitness slowly deteriorated. The one thing that slowed the decline was my predilection towards walking. Even when I was in Taiwan, I seized the chances to go on day walks up through the mountains behind my University and up to the temples and tea-huts that were there. In an effort to save money I also walked rather than bus or take the MRT. Now that I mention it, I also ran on a track with a friend in Taiwan too.

Upon returning to New Zealand, On many occasions, I decided to start running but each time it seemed so very hard and I seldom persisted. Occasionally I was getting some in my ankle and arch too, so that complicated my attempts at rehabilitation. Then in 2001 I started to run with James semi-regularly. But one long run along the waterfront really did aggravate my ankle. I left it a little while and gradually the pain was less but I still walked with a lot of pain. Following that, I did purely masochistic walking, firstly my conquering of Great Barrier (which is a feat I still marvel at today) and then to circumambulate Auckland Harbour with Eric. Both I did with considerable self-inflicted pain and hardheadedness. It was only at the start of the next year that I visited a podiatrist to find that I was flat-footed and according to that specialist, would not ever be cut out for running.

Prescribed orthotic insoles helped me regain my walking habit while reducing the likelihood of pain. I walked again unhindered but through 2002 and 2003 I hardly ran a kilometre. In 2004, I had another setback with being hobbled by spraining my ankle. This caused me much distress. It stopped me walking for several days and then hindered me with a limp for several weeks. A few months later I was motivated to strengthen my system once more and started running short runs (the lesser and greater blocks), but after five runs something 'went' in my ankle and again I couldn't run. Early this year, I made myself run once more, but it was only once.

Now is probably the time when I have had most confidence in my foot stability, and I have had four short runs and recorded times faster than any others in the last three years. So far I have only had a few twinges in my feet but nothing that has stopped me to any great extent. My two measures of fitness are the lesser and greater blocks and I have records of 9:08 and 13:58 for them respectively.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

One-and-three-quarter clients

Well, I am still stuck with the one loving, and ever growing, client. I may have even more hours of work there as of next week. I might actually make more than I am spending (gasp!).

On the marketing front, I have had a little good news today. Firstly, I met with the ACT Asian Chapter about possible support. But they are completely run by donation of course (politics alone generates nothing), so they need to pass it by their treasurer, so they asked me to lower my price (to levels I was asking F&P for originally till I bumped it up). But there are no promises till after the election.

And also a company called In Step Limited, which provides staff support and services, has put me on their books although there is no guarantee of work till they have a client who needs my services. It is a start though and it is nice to finally get something from the phone calls I have been making.
The Liberation and Domestication of Push

Suburban Auckland is often the battleground of a feline turf-war. Territories are staked out and defended, patrolled leading to inevitable skirmishes and clashes. In such hurly-burly, sometimes there are losers and one of those losers, on a grand scale was Push the pussycat.

Push's weak psychological make-up is a map to the past, and it would not appear to be a happy one. When Push came to us, she was a sickly sight, her whole arm having got passed through her flea-collar, the fur under her legpit and skin had been mostly removed. She reacted with anxious hissing and hasty flight with anyone's advance. She was bony, probably diseased and a mess.

Her outright defensiveness and her miserable state might indicate irresponsible ownership, but to a house of two excessively caring suburbanites, Push was the ripe target for concern. Milk was put out and then tasty snacks. No gratitude was received for this, and no approach was possible due to pussycat paranoia and evasive action.

Then yesterday, coaxing with food on several occasions finally gave me the opportunity to get in contact with Push. The final session included about 10 minutes of tempting and slowly approaching. I ignored the hisses and eventually Push made the move to eat. I patted her for the first time and heard the most unlikely sound - a meow. I then slid a pair of secateurs under the collar and snipped it. Push whose face was immersed in the food hardly noticed, the collar however didn't fall off. It seemed stuck. I left Push but when I returned, all that remained was the collar with fur and maybe a little flesh lying there.

Push is still very defensive but we had a nice chat tonight and Mum even got a pat (that is, she patted Push). We are still waiting the SPCA to come around and take Push away, regrettably we don't need a cat. I am sure Push will either get the medicine she needs or at worst euthanaised. Er....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I forgot how brutal cold calling really was. Pinpricks of hope on an otherwise bruisingly unsuccessful time.
But there is hope nonetheless.
But I can't really consider myself succeeding till the number of my client companies surpasses the one very good-natured company I work with now...

Monday, August 15, 2005

The complete review of tea

Pu-Erh 4 / 6
- An aged Chinese tea from the province of Yunnan.

"Deep, Earthy, subtle aftertaste, light aroma, full-bodied, ancient, placed me in an old chinese village."
"Smokey, earthy, very warming"

Rangitoto Blend 4.1 / 6
-A blend of assam and ceylon teas with vanilla.

"Very creamy"
"Easy to drink but it had a charcoal aftertaste. Soothes the throat"
"Very palatable, with a hint of spice, perhaps a tad too bitter."

Oolong Earl Grey 3.6 / 6
-A cross between green and black teas with a flavouring of bergamot oil.

"Initial smokiness, further consumption brings othe the citrus smell - primitive comination of flavours"
"Bitter, reminded me of green tea but was quite drinkable, I liked it."
"Wheaty smell. The taste failed to excite but I would still drink it on the couch watching DVDs"

English Afternoon 2.7 / 6
- A traditional blend of ceylon tea.

"Tastes like rangitoto blend, maybe the English are sleepy in the afternoon so they mistakenly think it's a different tea."
"Insipid. Only for languid afternoons."
"Perfect for someone who wants to drink tea in a hurry."

Grannies' Garden 3.1 / 6
- A fruit tea with a mix of berries.

"Simple and fruity without being overpowering"
"Very sweet, but not too sweet, nice and flavoursome"
"Strawberry!! Nice!!! Love it!"
"This is not a tea"

Sencha Spice 3.2 / 6
- Green tea with indian spices.

"Very strong, pungent flavour"
"Makes me feel drunk. Strange texture."
"Reminds me of autumn in the Netherlands; a hint of pepernoten. The smell is more aggressive than the tast - doesn't overwhelm the palate."

Genmaicha 4.8 / 6
- a Japanese green sencha tea with popped rice (available in all loose leaf tea shops).

"Ricy and Zenlike"
"Pure and subtle"
"Tastes... er.... GOOD!!!"
"Hits the spot quite nicely"

Lapsong Souchong 4.5 / 6
- a smoked traditional black tea.

"Richly smoky. Textured like a gypsy's dress"
"Stays with you a longtime after drinking"
"Like lying in front of a wood fire on a sheepskin"
"Kind of moorish"

Bengal Chai 4.5 / 6
- a chai tea made with blacktea, cardamon, pepper and cinnamon.
(Purchased at Tea Total inMilford, $7.90/100 grams)

"Very nice"
"Perfect for drinking at a small town cafe on the way homefrom a roadtrip, A feel-good tea"

Rooibos Earl Grey 3.4 / 6
-South African rooibos with the flavouring of rooibos.

"Smells likes Jif washing liquid"
"The bergamot flavour destroyed the subtlety."
"Earthy but with a masculine taste of bergamot"
"I could drink a bucket of this."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Things that make you go....

Yesterday was a terrible day that got better and better. Today was a good day that had one period of complete confusion. There is only one hour of time that is really that interesting though:

After I finished my Fisher and Paykel teaching, I contacted my Dad to meet him and Adam, the newest member to my family tree. Anyhow, he is a cute little one, a little bit early apparently and certainly a bit dozy (he was on song last night). At first sight, he looks more like Dad than Armin but things can change, and I am yet to see him with his eyes open.

After chatting a bit, I felt a little hot, so I removed my vest, and then the world was a little shaky, and my strength faded. I made myself a place on the bed but then the world was disappearing. I felt like I was about to faint (I have had experience at fainting). Dad guided me out the door and got me to sit down outside. Ringing came to my ears and and the rest of the world became muffled and maybe for a brief period I was in a black void. Then I came back, and I could talk to my Dad again, the tinny sound, quieter now persisted for a few minutes more. It almost sounded like it came from around me so I had to check that it was only me hearing it. It was tinnitus - a condition my Dad has in a more severe form - Meniere's disease. I had better see the doctor to know exactly what this will mean to me.

After I got up and about again and said my farewells, I left to investigate Tea Lovers, which is owned by the same people as Darjeelingz. This could have been guessed due to the colours of the walls. A pretty shop and I indulged in an Irish Breakfast. Not too bad, and as it is in the proximity of Fisher and Paykel, I may fill up my card reasonably quickly! I also bought the leaves of the nastiest tea I have tried in recent times - Lapsang Souchong - which is starting to grow on me. Drinking it now, I am~

Oh, and one other good thing, I bought $30 of fuel this morning at $1.39/L and in the afternoon it was $1.43/L. I should have filled it up to the top maybe but $30 will take me a fair bit of time to go through.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New member to the family

I now the half-brother I never had! Adam Joseph Goudie was born today.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well-worn paths

Sometimes skills and experiences from the past come to fore suddenly and you are thankful for experiences you have gone through. It was strangely coincidental that I did a speech at an AIESEC recruitment session at AUT just over a week ago saying what I had learnt through my AIESEC experience. Back in the day of my own recruitment, I remember forcing myself to call companies in my first year of AIESEC, then in subsequent years guiding the next generation to do the same and gaining the confidence to do so, and to be a model of how to do so.

Today I cold-called ASB and Telecom to offer my ESOL services and all of it was utilising the phone system navigation and marketing skills I had gained. Of course, someone without the experience could have done it but perhaps committing a few mistakes that maybe I can avoid this time round. It still remains to be seen whether it produces any outcomes but that is an aspect of cold-calling too. Understanding that effort in the short term does not always correlate directly with results in the short term, but has to be viewed in a long-term framework.

Naturally, this day turned out to be perhaps 300% more productive than Monday, not that it was a difficult task, I cannot say I achieved all that I could have today. I have given myself a rest from my Japanese drills and focussed on the business set-up, tutoring preparation and tea party preparation. I also gave myself a walk/run to get myself moving. Writing plans and a list of things to do have not been effective in getting me moving. As always it comes down to the mental push to go and just do things. Cattle-prods should not be necessary, but it is hard to psychologically rearrange oneself from a employee mentality (in which I tend to thrive). Probably the biggest motivator is to think financially. If I don't get my business going at fair rate, I will be earning only a minimum amount. I think I need to have a more materialistic, greedy mantra. "Making money is good", up till now it has been "Making tea is good!" (I have drunk soooo much).

The only hitch is that I am yet to complete the cryptic (something I have been doing almost at will, and usually quickly).

Tomorrow will be my second to last Japanese class, and I will be submitting a timed test paper. That means I will be getting a true measurement of my progress in relation to passing the second level test that I have put all the effort into achieving in December. If I am I will exert the next two months to preparing for the Chinese test (HSK) which happens in October. I think I can already get a pretty good score, but pushing the boundaries is a good idea. After that test I can properly brush my Japanese back up and assail the December test.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I haven't come off work well and I have struggled to step back into a productive rhythm. And what is worse, the price of organic chickpeas has skyrocketed (3 times what it was). But all is not bad, I have increased my F&P work by 1 1/2 hours a week which is nice. Also my disturbing dreams have ceased (well my memorable dreams). I am making my own social event and already mentally planning my birthday party.

I also tried to go completely crazy, trying to increase consumer spending over Xin's birthday weekend, which also coincided with The Food Show. Food Shows tend to make me go funny. I love to be surrounded by such interesting food and new products. Despite the exorbitant entry price ($18), you get a whole meal of samples and drinks, get vouchers to reduce the price of things you buy and get discounted things. Of course with me, I buy pricy unimportant things. I love buying (edible) oils. I got hempseed oil this time and came close to getting a wonderfully expensive bottle of olive oil, but I couldn't find the stall... The tea side of thing was good and bad. The Twinnings stall was very disappointing but Chai and Kerikeri Tea did well and one benefitted for my extravagance.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


With the sudden change in my working lifestyle, I am still out of kilter. I am not as good at working without structure so I need to be more regimented.

Since leaving my regular teaching, I have been beset by poor sleep (infected by Japanese study, words and sentences floating in and out of my mind for what seems like hours in bed) and then strange nightmarish dreams of suicide (using explosives or jumping off buildings). Such dreams are very out of the ordinary for me but it is probably not unexpected when you have a change in life.

But on the study side of things, it couldn't be better. I have two remaining classes and last night scored my highest listening test result. Either I was guessing better or just had a fresher mind to capture important facts or perhaps I have bombarded my brain with Japanese radio news and listening tapes since I began having more time ;-)

I found my listening skills was held back on two points, vocabulary and general listening speed. So often, even if I squint my ears (if that is possible) to not have a clue about the answer, only to find that the key words were all ones far yonder even my vaguely known vocabulary.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Brand New Phase

Work at ALC has ended. All school based ESOL is off. For the short-term I am not going to apply for primary jobs to work at my new "In-company ESOL" project. My hourly wage is handsome and the hours a week I work is growing, and even a new tutoring lead courtesy of Winston has arisen.

So I now have an interesting new professional phase and also time to focus on my languages! How delightful!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Movie Reviews

The two movies I will review today are interestingly poles apart.

First of all, Banana in a Nutshell, the New Zealand made personal documentary of a 'Banana' (an ethnic Chinese person who has lived abroad for much of or all of their lives) and her quest to get her parent's blessing for her desired marriage with a white Kiwi. It was a colourful voyage through the life of another person, with very little held back. It bears the truth that truth sometimes makes the best stories, rather than fiction, a fact that may be spurring the popularity of documentaries. The recorded events are richer than actors could instill and its pertinance never stronger.

The banana in question is an aspiring filmmaker, which allows her to explore her craft at the same time. The composition of the 55-minute film was entertaining and nice devices used to lighten it at times. Being a world premiere, the filmmaker was there to answer questions, along with her long suffering fiance. Some of these really broadened the meaning of the movie, and addressed far more than the film directly alluded to, which was great.

Second of all, A Wayward Cloud, a Cai Mingliang movie, with many of the hallmarks and actors again in for the voyage. This time we follow the reunion of two characters from a previous movie (What time is it there? which you don't need to have seen to appreciate). The camera contemplates every scene, with long takes on every action and minimal dialogue. For the unacquainted, this is disconcerting, "Make something happen, damn it!" In fact, it may be the case that the two, who fall in love this time (or at least more visably), may say just one line in the whole film. This is all stylistic to the director, who won an award for this movie. The movie also was punctuated by song and dance numbers to either alleviate (or accentuate) the silence.

Overall, I saw it as a love story, of the coming together of two very unique people. One had to slowly overcome his uncertainty of the physicality of love, caused by his job as a porn star. The other had to overcome her shyness with love and her introversion. The culmination of the movie is the most surreal love scenes you'll ever see, as finally his secret profession is suddenly known and she reaches out to accept him for it.

It is a highly sexual film too although as it is porn, it is shown as hollow and impersonal. The lead actor in fact spends at least half of his film time nude and most of that simulating or having sex. The movie contains many extraordinary scenes. The opening watermelon love scene, the big dick song and dance, the woman giving birth to the watermelon, it all made sense in this mesmerising film.

The two films are polar opposites in that A Wayward Cloud is acting to create neither reality nor phony movie reality. It manages to create two parallel universes, the normal Taiwan with monotonous Taiwan construction, pornography and silly TV news and another surreal world that exists between the two leads. A Banana in a Nutshell on the other hand sought to grab reality and use the movie format to portray it.

Overall, both were immensely satisfying and recommendable.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Movie Reviews

Three... Extreme

Well, the title says it all. There are three shortish movies, illustrating three macarbe stories. And extreme they were.

Dumplings, the first movie, was the most elegant gross-out movie you can have. Simply put, there is a woman who makes special dumplings which when women eat them can assist in their rejuvenation and anti-ageing. The first scenes showing us a waning star painfully eats them one by one, their maker casually reminding her: "Don't think about what they were, but the effect they will have!"
Strangely, the content was rather close to some background internet browsing I did to help debunk a hoax spam a wee while back. The movie's cinematography was quite very smooth, and I wasn't surprised that it was Christopher Doyle. Isn't it odd that one can predict a cinematographer?

Cut, directed by Park Chanwook (of Old Boy and JSA) is a nasty piece of work, but oddly reminiscent of Old Boy. The film ironically is about a successful director who creates a scene in his movie exactly like his home, and then who is kidnapped to his set in the middle of the night and tormented by a rather psychotic "extra". The motive: All rich successful people are essentially bad people who trod on others, which makes the extra feel fine because he is neither rich nor successful, so could feel that those rich people were nothing. But the director, he is rich, successful AND a good man. Now that ain't fair!

Some elements of the film were so similar to Old Boy but it was still interesting. The ending though, I am yet to fathom.

Box, directed by the notorious Takashi Miike, was a disappointment. The plot was hard to describe, but was ever spiralling back on itself. This was good, it kept creating itself anew till the end... failed. Or so I thought.
Probably the same person who memorably pleaded "What happened?" at the end of Mulholland Drive, also yelped: "What?!" upon the second to last frame. And yes, something else could have happened... Ah, I can't be bothered in explaining it.

On the whole, it was the bad, the wicked and the disgusting (in reverse order) and worth the watch.
Daniel Incorporated

There is a distinct possibly I will transform myself into an entrepreneur, should primary schools continue to rebuff my overtures. A niche has been spotted for a person like myself. The idea, though not coming purely from me, could well be grabbed by me.

Market research required and other investigations.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The funeral hearth grows dim

Any organisation changes form over time. The school known as Intrax was no exception. It was the current manifestation of an unbroken continuation. Just like a growing body, it shed cells and hair, but the essence remained, while the external appearance changed into new forms. The school apparently started as 'ASL' in the mid-90s, the original owners and principal that started it have been gone for a while now. Its name change, ownership change have all happened, but it was always the same old school. Four teachers were there during the final four years, some leaving but always returning. We could have taken ourselves to be the spirit of the place.

Now three of us, ripped from that dying body, we were transplanted into another school. Alien entities don't necessarily stay long before the systematic immune system weeds them out. And that includes me. Friday will be the last day of my three week tenure at ALC. I leave it without a working home to go to.

Psychologically, it may be a good thing. Even at teacher's college, there was that subconscious thought, 'I can always go back to my home at the language school'. And even now, who could resist that appeal of the comfortable workplace. Now, I am compelled to fend for myself.

But as the smoke disperses, I can't help but think if the friendships at the old school will stand the distance of non-work. That is only something each of us can strive for, and that is where I will leave this meandering obituary.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Sometimes things happen too fast. This is one of those times. Going on a busy trip, adjusting to the new rules at my new place of week, my body adjusting to early mornings and full-time work and then neglecting my Japanese study for two weeks and then going to class to be overwhelmed has all added up to a washed-out Daniel.

What's worse it seems I have begun a losing spree reminiscent of times gone by. I am ashamed even to name the things that I have misplaced and/or lost in the last little while. It has been costly too. And also soaking...

One small bright side is that my financial situation has received three injections; one calling in a long-time debt from my old chess club and another being working full-time $28/hr at the new work and already getting my first pay cheque. I will also get another shot in the arm when I get my final payment from my old school, including outstanding holiday pay. But if the new school only keeps me for two weeks, then this might be the boom before the bust.

The school's closure has left me a little bereft too. Many of the students have taken it hard. Some have already left, not wishing to move onto the other school. In fact, one poor sole had been to the other school before and in desparation had left for a better school... I bumped into some accidentally on Monday, went back to school on the Tuesday, and went to a farewell on Tuesday night. One unusual encounter occurred on the way home when I heard my name called out while I crossed the road. One of the students that I taught long ago, in her first week, ran over to my side of the road. Strangely (or not), she spoke purely in Japanese, while I used English. Strangely (or not) I could understand every word. And for a moment we shared yet another moment of shared sadness on the side of Albert Street on a rather wet night.

There is a formal school farewell party tomorrow, where apparently the jilted American marketing director will be extravagant with the food at the companies expense. Great!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Resurrection

Well, after Black Friday, the weather cleared to reveal a brand-new day. I had slept over at AJ's with the tramping group. My cellphone alarm rang, Amy was nearest:
"Amy! Turn off the alarm please" Nothing.
So anyway, I got up and turned off my alarm and started getting myself ready while annoying others to the extent that they would rise from their warm beds. The time that we used to prepare for our departure for the mountains was ponderous and dragged on, but eventually we hit the road for Ruapehu.

The weather held well as we arrived at the waistline of the mountain, and after finding the trailhead, we grooved to eighties music while munching on our lunch. For all of us, the feel of treading on fresh snow was a unique experience. We saw strange ice phenomena, like water bubbling under sheet ice ("Are they small fish?"), murderous icicles, snow on dirt-dry dirt (theories abound), frozen ripples on frozen puddles and ice crystals aplenty. Through all this we were permanently backed by the imposing sight of Ruapehu, while Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and even Taranaki watched from a distance. Xin played detective with animal tracks, AJ played hitman with snowballs. My big task of the day was the re-animation of a weta. AJ happened across it quite accidentally. It had been half-submerged in ice and looked lifeless. But from my biological studies, I declared it could be revived. Some doubted it but my pleas for an effort, for the sake of science, was met with action. The ice was broken, sawn and soon we had a block of ice with a weta in the middle.

Our group trod forward until we arrived at the hut. We set up, and started a fire. I set up the weta for defrost, first in the sun, and then with the slowly warming pot-bellied stove. While this happened we got digging into the food and drink: And discovered AJ is a sucker for punishment having carried a 3L bottle of apple juice all the way there. In an act of altruism, Edwin and I relieved him of his burden. Likewise, I relieved Edwin of the burden of his mini-twix bars.

Night closed in, and with it the cold and a group of DOC workers who were staying a night at the attached room. Our fire stopped it appearing cold and heated water. The food was simple but as with all tramping food, it was good. Stargazing was the event for the night. Never before will you see the stars so clearly, a clear sky, at altitude (as there is less atmosphere). But the coldness meant that it could only be enjoyed briefly. With only candlelight, the time felt late (even at the modest 7pm) and sleep beckoned most of us. And in our nice warm room we all passed into sleep (some faster than others).

At what might have been 5am I awoke to find, for the first time in my camping life, that I was cold in my sleeping bag. Amazing! I was wearing just polyprop but I should have been warm! So after a loo-break, I put on my full tramping gear (less boots) and found a nice warm thought. My feet never recovered though. No-one's feet felt any warmer than freezing and the prospect of putting on wet boots was not a happy thought. I got out to discover the liberated weta had moved 90 degrees and stood on the sponge I had placed the ice on, contemplating. I was right! Breakfast porridge tasted wonderful but nor did that warm my frigid feet.

We threw together our things, packed and prepared for our homeward bound journey. One of the DOC workers came in to fill a pot of water and casually mentioned that we would have a few river crossings, "well... one." After depositing the resurrected weta, we departed and indeed did come to a stream. AJ demonstrated a wonderful slip-pirouette on the ice with his crossing. A more reliable crossing was found upstream. But was that the river? No! The next stream had to be crossed. This time AJ found a good method, but that just meant him and Xin were the only ones spared a boot-full of cold water. And after that we finally arrived at the river! After a lot of effort to find methods, we got across.

Then it was the plow onward to the cars and that was our Ruapehu odyssey.

One peculiar coincidence was that I met three of my students on the road up Ruapehu on the way there. I knew they were going to be in Taupo but to have them pull up next to you is uncanny.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Black Friday (to be followed by the Resurrection)

Like all black days, there are usually precursors which give an indication of what to come. In this case, it was last Wednesday when, while I was at my desk preparing class, I heard from quite a distance and through the closed door of the Managing Director's office a loud expletive. At first I thought he had injured himself but he turned up later, very much in one piece.

Then, Friday morning I was reminded that there was to be a staff meeting today, to which I replied, I had to leave early to get ready for my weekend trip. Stay at least for the start, they said. And they remained as cryptic as possible. So at 3:15pm we all sat down for the meeting, to hear: "I'm sorry but Intrax will be closed down by Friday next week." Yes, the American owners had reconsidered their investment and decided to up and leave. To cut a long story short, another school has already offered to take our students from next week, and also wanted to snaffle a few teachers in the short term. So now I am working there, full-time, well, for the time being.

The school's impending closure left all in an odd state of mind. As a co-worker told me today, when he told other people, even his wife, they didn't seem to understand. It felt like grief. Many of us had been with the school in its many manifestations since 2001. For me, driving a motor vehicle was probably not the best thing to do as I kept having realisations all the way to Taupo: the EIA course is now worthless, ah, but I don't have to fill in all the holes! I don't have to deal with surly Pablo, but what will happen to all those nice students. Will we keep in touch?

Now us teachers are already in a new school while the news was broken to the students. Should we be there? It seemed cowardly not to be. But we had jobs. The news was not received well.

After 5pm I went to Foodtown where as it happens I bumped into three previous students of mine. They were all sad and resigned to the fact. One of them was not going to be affected, as it was her last week, but the other two had three more weeks remaining. But they didn't seem to want to go to the next school. There was attachment to the old one.

Anyway, life goes on. And in this case, just two days later (rather than the usual three) there was a Resurrection, which I will describe along with details of our wicked trip to Ruapehu in my next blog.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


If you say a word enough, you can abstract it from its meaning, to being just a sound, bestowing it with a solely onomatopoeic meaning. Say it with joy, and it becomes the joy.

Learning a language is weird just because you stuff your brain with sounds which have no connection with your mind, but which have a link into the very foundations of another cultures lingual landscape. But just looking at the word it is merely a sound. You can say the most tragic things, again and again, concentrating on the pronunciation, executing the grammar of a cruel put down with perfection. And all for the purposes of learning a language.

I never have understood suicide, so perhaps it must be one of the perspective things. I know some people will never understand stuff that I think either. Watching a play that toyed with suicide, I sometimes felt like it was speaking another language. Ritualistic existentialistic self-sacrifice.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

On Friday, I went to see this movie, slightly due to the fact that the movie I wanted to see (Down Fall) was not available, and I had originally planned to see it at a previous film festival but neglected to see any from that selection.

But this movie is powerful. The fact that it is a fact that this happened is probably the strongest element in its power. It enacts the crucial days before and after the Rwandan genocide where almost a million people died in bloody ethnic cleansing.

The acting was great, especially the lead, Don Cheadle, an American actor who was convincing as Paul Rusesabagina. He was the savior to a great many of those who would have been otherwise killed. An Oscar Schindler or John Rabe for the modern time.

For me it clarified the cause of the conflict, and what people mean when it is said, "The UN failed in Rwanda". So on an awareness basis, it was an important film to see. It also is a lesson in global responsibility, and in reflection, with the Darfur crisis just past us, was that a repeat? On the whole, this is a good movie and well worth the effort to see.

One interesting aside was that the small LibertariaNZ political party had this ad before the movie. It was actually very interesting to juxtapose it next to the movie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Temporarily, my interest in the Chinese language has overcome me (which is good, because Japanese has successfully hogged my attention for so long). I have decided to read a whole Chinese book as quickly as I can. One particular book at the library caught my eye, Rang wo shou yi ju - liu xue Riben (Translation: Please let me say something - Studying abroad in Japan). It caught my eye because it is written by a culturally frustrated Mainland Chinese person in Japan. He is sometimes hateful, sometimes amazingly humble and other times quite confused by Japanese. Strangely, some of his criticism of Japanese drivers was akin to something another friend (from Hong Kong) says about Mainland Chinese drivers. Anyway, I have shot through to page 54 - an achievement for me who struggles to get to that page in English...

Strantely conciding with this burst, perhaps the first Chinese student in a long time, came stumbling into the school, and with many VISA and passport issues, so complicated the issues that she begged for a Chinese speaker... and I was the best they had (well, I am the ONLY person vaguely fitting the bill). So suddenly my skills were in use. Great! Great to hear Chinese English too.

But now, I have class tonight, and strangely I am coping even better with listening than I imagined. I hope it continues in class.

P.S. A nifty little Korean girl defeated the school champ at ping-pong. This I had to see, and instead played her first-hand. Fortunately for my pride, she doesn't cope well with people who love to spin the ping-pong ball, or can serve fast. So in other words, she was minced-meat against me. Purely a matter of style rather than skill though.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


... and not in the usual way. Again I had my Japanese class on the Wednesday and we had our first listening practice test. Oh dear. I have so much work to do to shore up my ability in this area. Almost every question drowned out all comprehension with rapid incomprehensible streams of Japanese. I got a dismal 7 / 16 for the easier part of the test - partially due to test strategy and probability. I will put in twice the effort before the next class because even her instructions were losing me. One bright light was the fact I more or less aced the reading (an area which I didn't do well on in the previous year). And easily dealt with the vocabulary section. So, in a way, I am lucky. I only have one area to really push myself to develop.

One good thing is that I found that my pay was being paid further in arrears than I first thought, so the last cheque included some of my previous full-time work, i.e. a good sum of money. So perhaps I shouldn't be so frugal. Even so, I am planning to restrict myself to one bus-ride a day, and take my dinner whenever I plan to not be home for dinner. I am also making my way through my extensive stocks of grains and legumes to save money. It is actually a good idea, as I usually by stuff and hardly use them till their expiry date, so at least there is a bit of clearing out going on.

I also woke to the news that I could have been relieving a Primary class today. My mum received the call early in the morning while I was still fast asleep. I was already required for work today at the language school but I could have called unavailable. I do have a degree of trepidation about going back to a primary classroom right now, just because I have been out of there for 8 months. I should really get my head together about how I would go about gaining order in such a class, and make the arrangements so I can seize the chance should it happen again.

Anywho, back to work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Mild relief

Well, I have had one full day of work today (i.e. effectively $60 of income) which was a pleasant surprise. Although it came at the expense of a co-worker who had fallen ill. He has recovered now, or is well enough to work tomorrow so I have time to prepare for my course tomorrow as well as do job applications.

I had a slight motivational "bust" over the weekend, where I did pretty much little of any substantial study or preparation for the week, but have refocussed myself now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Packing for Wednesday

My long weekend has been full of learning, pleasurable learning. I have filled my brain with so much it is almost set to explode. But this is all in the name of good timing. My Japanese proficiency course starts on Wednesday and I need to be hitting well above my weight from the start (as I will be at a comparative disadvantage from all the other students who will have had received recent Japanese teaching or been to Japan).

So comes the art of packing one's brain. As with going abroad to study, it pays to really do intensive learning prior to starting to ensure as many of the hurdles one is going to encounter are minimised and the time spent in class (or abroad) is really worth every penny. Since this course will cost me a bundle, in these low-income days, I want value for money, and I want my efforts and this course to lead to a good level of Japanese and a pass in the second level of the test.

As with my current burst of Chinese study, my Japanese study is going far beyond what I could do previously and oddly it has been easy to do so. Probably one of the better results of this weekend is that I know I can pass the third level of the test already. I have already passed it in 1997 and was initially planning to take it again this year just to shore up my Japanese ability. But if I know I can already pass it, doing it again is rather a waste of time. I did the past test (from 1996) and passed in all sections, even the listening test which is the weakest link in my lingual suit of chainmail. Kanji and Vocabulary was 92%, Listening 77% and Reading and Grammar was 74%. The pass mark is 60% overall.

However, I rediscovered my test results from 1998 to see how badly I did. That was my first and only previous attempt at level two. 19% in listening is a hard thing to accept. It is multichoice with four choices for each answer, so my listening at level two was no better than random guessing. And another aspect I missed, was that even Reading and Grammar, back then, was 57.5% which as a section, does not help me to pass.

Anyway, I still expect a rough time on Wednesday. But have a small goal to use polite language with the teacher if I can. Something, my high school Japanese has not provided me with.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Another Hit

Language junkie, Daniel, has another shot of language amphetamines, this time it was K. Again it came flooding back but was not the tsunami of yesterday. A year of university Korean is not much to really overcome one, so my high was not the high tide that Japanese gave. But the usual people in the class seemed quite dismayed that some foreigner (I was the only "kiwi" there) could stumble in and seem to speak the language better than them.

And I played the villain. Every language teacher hates those horrible Europeans, always so eager to fill the silence when the teacher asks a question. And for a brief time, I was that person. Well, the teacher in question was hardly teaching anyway. More like lurching from topic to topic, and then putting unprepared, untaught students on the spot to answer questions with the whole class listening, without any preparation at all. i.e. setting them up for failure.

So my style was to take the heat off the first perplexed receiver of the obscure question, and then not answer any more (unless I was uncontrollably seized by the moment to blurt out an answer). Overall, I recalled a lot and learnt a little on the way. Even though it was a conversation class, there was little conversation. But some nice people there. I got to practice my Japanese and Chinese while there, which was a pleasant chance seized (love that word) with gusto.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Back to the Future

Ah, the wonders of the brain. Today represents the time when I recovered about 50% of my previous Japanese learning in a day.

Things are happening quite fast. My assault on the three main East Asian languages continues on all fronts unabated. So much so, it is hard to detail everything. Last night I went to a Korean class, but it was just beginners so I observed for free. Strangely, I bumped into a former student there. Inspired, I went to the library to study more Korean. Then I went home and listened to a Chinese listening. At this point, my Japanese was a minimal as ever. But things were about to change. The first sign of things to come was arranging my first language exchange, which was Japanese for Thursday morning.

This morning, I was listening to the Chinese radio, my mind now breathing Chinese while being immersed in English. Then I visited a Korean lecturer and found another conversational opportunity. But while I was exploring the floors of the Auckland Uni Asian Languages building (a building I am very familiar with), I saw a small ad. It said there was a course starting tonight for level 2 of the Japanese Proficiency Test. Originally I was only planning to do level 3 (level 1 being the hardest), because I had passed it before (in 1997) and had failed level 2, in 1998. But, suddenly in the grip of language fever, I decided to give the level 2 course my best shot (I still have plenty of time to decide what I am going to do at the actual test). I e-mailed them, and was told I had to sit a test tonight.

Oh, suddenly my mind switched into recovery mode as I swatted old textbooks, reading it brought back many words. Then I went to the test, and the Japanese people there blurted things that I just couldn't catch. Then I listened again. Suddenly it was like changing the channel. I could catch things. I looked at some words. I couldn't understand them at all. Then I stared at it. And the pronunciation came out of the deepest darkest corners of my mind.

The actual result of the test wasn't great but it was enough to give me confidence. And then the testers chatted with me and suddenly I was speaking it. Although I sometimes accidentally switched to Chinese (zenme shuo... oops... dou iu...), overall I suddenly found the meanings I wished to say were forming naturally in my mind. Then I went into the usual conversation groups and suddenly things were easy. I caught the meanings and I produced my own sentences with much ease.

This all being said, the mountain of knowledge contained in a single language, and even the language required for level 2 Japanese is unbelieveably huge. It is scary to think about it. But I will be preparing myself for the first lesson next Wednesday. I will be exploring newly accessed grounds of my inner mind in language exchange tomorrow and will intensify my language acquisition on the Japanese front.

I have also secured a Korean exchange partner, which will be prepared for before next Monday. On the whole, I think I have naturally and rationally adjusted to my semi-unemployment. I am getting around three quality language courses courtesy of myself, mostly for free. Well the Japanese course will cost a lot, but it is over seven years since I received any instruction in Japanese, it would be nice to have a teacher to take up some of the burden.

So in effect I have changed into a part-time student, but with the flexibility that my time exactly coincides with the time I have free. Excellente! (I am still applying for jobs too, so don't think this is just some elaborate Danielesque procrastination technique, although starting Spanish probably was one such thing)


Monday, May 30, 2005


One good event to keep my mind off my er... light workload is the Intrax Ping Pong championships. A great idea that has occurred only once previously. It will be in the afternoons for the next three afternoons, with single prelims tomorrow, doubles prelims the next day and the championship finals on the Thursday. It should be very interesting. I have a couple of intense rivalries with players so it will be interesting to see how it pans out. I have a reasonable chance of winning either of the competitions.

I have gained a couple of new tricks since my return. One of them is being able to reflect smash shots, which is something I could never do (although I have vivid memories of a former Chinese student doing it to perfection years ago). Doing so, in itself can be a winning shot because when you smash you expect to win the point immediately (or hit the net immediately and lose a point) and it is psychologically strange to have to play it again, and sometimes difficult because it comes back only marginally slower than it is hit, and when it comes from me, it comes bearing a little spin too. There is one kind fellow, who has me as a bogeyman. He is a good smasher, can smash anything really, but tends to smash very straight (not to the corners). A usual point with him will be him swinging successive smashes at me, with me flicking them back each time till his frustrations get the better of him and he hits it into the net. The most important thing is to stay close to the table (unless it is an overhead smash).

The Japanese student who, with me, restarted the ping-pong fad originally struggled to reclaim his prowess (being the only person who has actual ping-pong competition experience), but now is coming into form. He underspins it better than me, although just recently I have discovered a few ways to repel his serves. But he can be unplayable, with some of his arsenal. One other factor that opens the door is that the other teacher who plays ping-pong has been tied up in the new course he is running and it is nice to play a little before going into matches like that.

Probably the greatest danger for me now is my serving. Traditionally my serves are lethal against anyone who doesn't understand spin but seemingly innocuous to anyone who has played me in a few games. In fact, one of my core serves can be easily preyed upon in doubles matches leaving my slow partner no time to get to the inevitable cross-court shot.

One interesting fact about doubles is that it is not necessarily the pairings that matter, but who receives from who. I am better, of course, against the smashers and the spinners. Anyone who serves flat and fast or places the ball with speed gives me nothing to work with and can reduce me to my simply return shots, which in turn can set up a smash shot at my less accomplished partner.

So yeah, a report will follow tomorrow evening about the results (or my crying disappointment).

Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Studies

I am in the depths of study. My mind has been taken over by the urge to learn and recoup my Chinese knowledge. Last time I was in China, I picked up a pile of books to help me learn, and I have picked up one that has been not only helpful but interesting. I want to go through it as much as possible. My speaking and listening have picked back to a respectable level (respectable by my standards). In this little work hiatus, I will be aiming to get all the knowledge I can about both the HSK (Chinese exam) and the Japanese Proficency test and even check if there is an equivalent Korean test. And then bulk up on my knowledge of all of them.

My mental immersion into Chinese brings some thoughts of what I can achieve with a bit of mental elbow-grease. I found myself correcting one of my common language learning mistakes: that is, learning in an undirected fashion, e.g. just reading the newspaper and learning words from it. That is not to say it is bad, but a lot more can be achieved with directed learning. Undirected learning is for the bus. Directed learning is for a set time devoted to learning.

Anyway, my last morning of set work for four weeks is tomorrow so I will go freshen my mind, basking in the moonlight on my bed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Well, it has been an interesting day. All that follows is the contents of my subjective mind. And most of it is just the verbal download to enable me to sleep soundly, without mental discord.

Clouds have been brewing a while at work. Recently, the American headquarters of my language school has been tightening the purse strings. This distressed a co-worker who suddenly found the course he was planning no longer existed anymore. Then came the staff meeting on the Tuesday which talked about the changes which didn't seem all too bad, such as a four week cycle, new textbooks to be used etc. etc. AND there was indications that their were going to be fewer teaching positions than there would be teachers, in the short term.

Following the staff meeting, some of us had individual meetings with the management, to talk about our desired future classes. Since I had taken the last two weeks with the mornings off, they asked me whether I wanted to continue that way. I said I did not and that I would like to work.

I had chosen to do without morning work (for a short time) as a way to save myself from my own commitments to the school. I had said I would simultaneously plan two courses and teach, which I found was not possible while keeping my brain together, so accepted (at what is lower pay) mornings off to 'save' the afternoon higher course, tidy up the lower course and do the things I was procrastinating.

This was also a good benefit to me, admittedly, because I had fallen off my applications to primary schools and hadn't had much time to devote to my other studies. But now the lower course has reached 12 weeks! That means it needs much less maintenance as it repeats. I don't need to work on it much longer. And the higher class is the only thing that I need to bother with for the afternoon.

Now, comes the punchline - due to the aforementioned budget restraints and limitations caused by student numbers I won't have fixed morning work for the next four weeks, perhaps indefinitely. In one way, I am rather annoyed and another way I see it as a rational decision. I took the time off in the mornings, in part, for the company. If it were not for the task of maintaining both afternoon courses, I would not have asked for the time off. I have put a lot of my own time into the school and accepted less weekly pay for it. And to be told that I won't be required full-time after that, does cause me to feel a little knocked back.

But, I can't see any other worker that deserves work less than me. One has a mortgage, I would cede work to him. The 'meek' one, formerly mentioned, has lost a lot of income in the labour shortage here already and won't be fully employed even in the new arrangement. The other teacher also has rarely had a regular supply of work, yet is bound to stay longer than me and be more useful to the company. There are lots of pragmatic aspects for the school, which I console myself with.

But at the same time, I should rightfully be the first to go, as stated, I was always there just to get me through to my first primary teaching position. The threat of my rapid departure has been there for some time, and has probably made the decision of management to choose this path much easier. One plus will be to cause me to push me harder to find a primary position - which has been my original goal. All disappointment at being denied work is because of my wrong attachment to the language school. A very important point for me to see.

Anyway, financially, this means going on a tight budget even to maintain my current cash level (making me wish I hadn't paid off the student loan in full). It will mean slashing my discretionary spending which has been high since I started work. My income works out at about $1200 less for the next four weeks.

The second curious happening today is being mildly censured for my ramblings on this blog. It ain't just airline hostesses who have this trouble it seems. The censure was on these grounds:

(1) I don't know the full details of certain events, so I shouldn't portray things as if they were fact.
(2) I used the wrong title for a person, the person I called the administrator, is actually the head teacher. I called this person the administrator as this person assumed the role of the person I formerly called, "the administrator".
(3) I made comments that could be distressing for people mentioned in my tales.
(4) If I have qualms about the head teacher's performance, I should just tell him.

I think (1) is a 'don't go there' point. EVERYONE has perceptions, just because they are written down rather than spoken or thought, it doesn't make them any less real to me. If anyone believes this is any more than my opinion and subjective perception though, please re-educate yourselves. If you believe me, you'll believe anything.

Comment number (2) could be a pertinent point - although I think it is rather semantic. The head teacher, in the time that I am referring to, was not 'teaching'. He was allocating classes, drawing up class rolls, handling testing, evaluating teachers, preparing professional development and courses. It was for these roles that I was referring to as belonging to an administrator. It doesn't really matter to the substance of my comments but simply the name of the role...

Comment (3) is a more real concern, except for the fact that I do not e-mail those people. They have no other way of getting my blog address. And if I were to send something to them, I would remove the signature to my e-mail which is the only source of my blog address. Although it is VERY pertinent that the only reason for me being censured here and now was that I forgot to remove my signature when forwarding something to the head teacher. So obviously I'm not careful enough. But I have found that the signature function is more flexible than I thought. I can now add it whenever I want. And it is not the default to add it anymore.

Comment (4) was a surprising thought. I am highly outspoken on most things. I wrote an e-mail last week directly referring to problems and criticism to the head teacher and the school. I DO say things to him. Actually I was worried that I made too many suggestions, and that it might seem patronising. I think everyone needs a mentor, and perhaps I was mistaken in believing I could give him advice or feedback.

One good thing is that I have been wanting the head teacher to be more upfront and challenge his own communication issues (what I see as issues, at least). And he came to me directly about this. So maybe it is a sign of improvement (although he didn't come to me straight away to say that I wouldn't have work - so I had to go in and ask directly - although there was eventually a meeting late in the day).

So as the smoke clears I see myself with a very different May/June to what I expected. One bad side is that soon as I heard, my motivation to work for the company has plummeted. I can only motivate myself for working for the students and myself, and not be constructive for the company. I found it hard to even think of what to supply to the reliever for tomorrow morning. I hope he manages my former students depend on it. Now, I realise, I can claim that time as preparation. I would never have noticed otherwise, it was formally a natural function of working.

Plans now, broaden job search - Primary schools are annoying the hell out of me.
Rig up language exchange - I am motivated like never before.
Get fit - I have no excuse.
Start writing again - maybe that is the gold mine future I have always underestimated.
Relinquish my responsibilities at Intrax - get mentally divorced from the job

Perhaps I should do some formal planning. Anyway, time to shut my eyes for the night.