It would seem that the combination of winter, teaching and house hunting has turned me into the World's most boring person. Winter has been nasty this year, teaching seems to have encouraged every flu strain to take up residence in my system and by Friday I tend to be a social wreck. The weekends are currently spent
trolleying around open homes which, it has to be said is one of the most depressing past-times known to humanity. Add these all together and it's not a pretty picture. My latest and greatest achievement was starting another wash for distilling spirits. Good times.
Back to house hunting though. We are slowly getting a good look at housing in Christchurch and along with it a feel for what we like and don't like. It's nice to be in no particular hurry to buy and be able to take our time as we look. Real estate agents seem to either like us or hate us...we have become somewhat cynically mellow while looking through houses. There is quite an art to looking cynically mellow. It's a sort of "we have time...and this house ain't all that" thing that seems to infuriate some agents resulting in a lecture about "jumping on opportunities" and "we have 15 offers and this is the first open home" style comments. Odd people really.
The garden is still alive but that's about all I can say about it. House hunting has sort of killed my interest in this garden and my attention has sort of moved to my new (and as yet unknown) garden. I'll know it when I see it but in the mean time I guess I'll stick with being a bit boring and carry on
with business as usual.
Having a great holiday at the moment. My brother arrived back in NZ last Monday so we took a trip down to Moeraki to see mum and dad. Just back from there after a few days of sleeping a lot. Nothing like sea air to knock you flat.
The batteries for the scooter arrived while I was away so I spent the morning changing them over. I'd be lying if I said I was completely at ease changing them over but all went well. The new batteries are in and charging. Went for a quick ride to make sure everything was still all working properly before doing a longer ride tomorrow. Hopefully these batteries last a little longer so have started a record to see how many kilometers I get out of them.
Am looking forward to a new machine in the next few days. The old laptop is starting to fall apart so I'm getting something a little more Linux focused set up. Hopefully the last machine I have to buy for a while. The next few days are all about catching up with people, a little bit of gardening and maybe some beer production.
I have had a fascinating time converting my desktop to Ubuntu lately. Fascinating because I had to learn some new things...actually a lot of new things but also had to face up to what I use a computer for. It has also been fascinating watching people switch off when I start to talk about my latest challenge. Fair enough
I guess. A number of the Computing College students have followed suit though. Change the World one student at a time I guess.
I am back on my bike pending the replacement of batteries in my electric scooter. I'd forgotten how nice this city is to actually bike around, especially through the park. Pity about all the cars. As this Friday is the last day of term I plan to show the Computing students "End of Suburbia" as part of our 'Technologists and Society' theme. I am not sure how this is going to go really but at least it has some educational value...certainly more so than what they want to watch. Maybe it'll make one or two think. Change the World one student at a time I guess.
Watching the news a few nights ago I caught one of those articles about petrol prices and how the US has started pumping more money into finding more oil to solve the issue. Interesting plan. I think I'll carry on with my plan to work towards living more sustainably. It's a long term plan but I have more faith in it's viability than the somewhat mystic "let's find more resources" or "someone will invent something new" approaches.
What a weird couple of weeks. Snow, sickness and workshops have meant that teaching has been a bit empty. I don't know what was in the water this week but the students were all over the place. I wasn't much better. With the Stanley Cup on I am next to useless. The fact that it's cold and wintery doesn't help any I guess. I left home today on my bike in the warm dry morning and got to work soaked and iced up. I had some choice things to say about the World and then went and taught juniors to weld themselves to metal. Very tired.
Am getting seriously sick of being told I'm young at school. I don't suppose it's occurred to anyone that I look young because everyone around me is pushing 80 and should have stopped teaching a million years ago. Fucking baby boomers. Ooooh, it's all about you ... ya selfish bastards. Get over yourselves.
Edmonton Oilers won game 5 so I get to watch more hockey on Sunday. I don't ask for much really but in a nation of rugby morons it's nice to watch hockey morons.
Whisky and hockey kill the pain.
That sickness that started to set in last Friday has just started to go away. I think all my muscles turned into mush over the last week...which sucks 'cos they're not exactly iron at the best of times. To top it off I managed to pull my calf muscle while cutting sheet metal today. I feel old.
After a week of trying to get wireless going on Suse 10 I have given up. It would appear I have one of those wireless cards that just plain suck on anything other
than Windows. I blame the manufacturers for being silly with their chipsets and sucking up to Microsoft in the worst possible way. I have also downloaded the Ubuntu distribution on the advice of friends who know better. It's all positive though as while trying to figure out how to solve problems on Linux I have inadvertantly learned a lot. The best way to learn I say.
It is Stanley Cup time again...finally. I have missed the first two games due to that school/teaching thing. This will not be tolerated for much longer. Sunday will be a day of watching hockey.
Long weekends are a bit of a godsend. Three days to relax in seems a bit of a luxury really. I, of course, became sick on the first day and am still feeling like a concrete mixer ran over me but I have another whole day so all is good. That and four weeks until the end of term so I am willing to take the knocks in the meantime. Positive...if a little dramatic.
I have finally converted my laptop to Linux. Our house is now officially a Windows free zone and my hair has gone just that little bit more grey. I chose Suse because it seems slightly friendlier and for the most part everything is working. I have internet access, I can talk to the server, I have all the applications I need and more and the printer is working. Next in line: wireless, scanning, wacom and proper write access for all machines to the server. I'm leaving the webcam out for now but it will happen I'm sure. The support for Linux on the web is phenomonal and so far nothing I'm striking is new so it's easy to potter along trying things until something works. It's interesting how quickly you can get the hang of using a commandline when you have a reason to. The aim is to get enough experience under my belt to convert my classroom at school to Linux workstations in the near future.
Winter is starting to appear in full force. It's amazing how much harder life becomes in winter. Something to keep in mind.
Nothing good to say today. This is a blow out rant for the sake of sanity.
I am tired of being told what I can and cannot do, I am tired of people with no self-discipline or honour, I am tired of people who constantly ask questions they could easily solve themselves if they put some effort in, I am tired of bullshit systems that pamper people who are dead weight and above all I am tired of the fact that deep down I actually care about people and want them to succeed. Sometimes I think life would be much simpler if I was a complete bastard.
I stood in front of two classes today, the two I really enjoy teaching and found I had absolutely nothing left to give. Half way through the week and I've got nothing left. I still don't really understand why we've institutionalised education and made it so relentless. It seems really insecure and unsustainable. There is no leeway for mistakes or any sort of pressure valve. This morning I heard about the teenage girls who had beaten a couple of bus drivers, dealt with kids who were in various states of coma (some alcohol induced) and didn't want to be in class, listened to some twattle about the 21st century being all "hi-tech", shiny and glossy, was witness to a woman get hit by a car and then got the low down on the 5th Dunedin-based teenage suicide in 2 months. Something has broken in this part of the World and bad things are starting to happen. I find myself looking at certain kids at school wondering if they're going to be the bastards who break into my house or assault someone I know (or me). It's a shit way to spend a day.
I know there are great people out there working hard to make things better. I work with some of them each day. Today I could not see them for the layer of shit.
I had the unfortunate experience of driving in this city this week and all it really did was reinforce my dislike for the clumsiness of cars and the overwhelming feeling that something big is about to give in society. It's no shock that we are seeing price increases beyond incomes and that certain industries are simply selling vapour to vaccuous people and it should come as no shock that our society has become very demanding, arguably unreasonably so, and that something somewhere will give under the pressure. Back to the driving experience though - I found myself at one point with a rather large, angry, somewhat overweight man pulled up beside me with his head sticking out his window yelling abuse at me. From what I understood I had changed lanes in front of him and this had irritated him in some way... at least I think that was it. I tried to take a photo of him with my camera phone while he was in full swing (he looked pretty absurd all red and puffy like that) but that only made him drive off (with his head still out the window I might add). Now, I might be wrong but that doesn't seem like the behaviour of a stable and relaxed individual...but then, I don't seem to understand the current rules in this country anymore.
On a similar note I was talking to my Mum recently and she mentioned that three, very old Ngaio trees had been cut down to make way for development in a section near them (they live in the coastal rural world). This sort of thing upsets me as it's just another example of that needless waste that leads greed fueled destruction that is so prevalent now. I can't understand people who see themselves as separate from the World. My biggest concern about where things are headed is how other people will react. If they all decide to get angry, red, puffy and try to maintain their current levels of lifestyle I'm likely to get taken down with them. Not something I'm overly keen on.
Back at school with some slightly reworked approaches to teaching.
Today was a testing day for the black boy peach wine I've had on the go for a while now. It's been sitting clearing for the last few weeks and has a way to go yet but a quick test proved it to be pretty fine stuff. Given a year of sitting it'll likely settle down into a very nice wine. There may well be method to
this madness. In a similar vein I started a new wash for spirits as well. It'd been at least two weeks since I was in the brewing supplies place so figured it was time to do something. That and we polished off the last of the bourbon while in Auckland and with school starting I'm likely to need the reinforcement.
While in Auckland I found a model shop that sold Gundam models like those I discovered in Japan back in 2002. Was so stoked I bought two to keep me happy for a while.
Our kitten is now at that age when vets and the woman of the house believe it is time to get neutered. It concerns me how eager women are to get males snipped. It's messed up. What was worse is that I was given the job of taking the wee guy to the vet and I felt a right shit about leaving him there. The look I got when I went to pick him up kinda said it all really so I'm now actively working on getting him to transfer that hate to the one who initiated it all. Men of any species know the score...
I'm currently in the middle of one of those "holidays that aren't actually holidays" things. School ends, ZYPE starts. I need to rebalance this way of life or I'll go mad. We spent last week in Auckland...and most of that was staring at insane people, drinking water that tastes strongly of chlorine and avoiding speeding cars. Good times.
Petrol costs have well and truly gone north on us now and have started making things a bit tricky for some of us. It's been fascinating to watch different people's reactions and the somewhat odd solutions that start to arise. Places like Auckland are in so much trouble it's not funny. I wonder who is trying
to kid who at the moment.
There seems to be a lot of discussion about things like "house prices only go up", "do women get sexier over 40", "reverse mortgages (where a younger generation takes on debt to sustain the lifestyle of the older generation)" and the usual "think of the children" bullshit. Now, to me this just seems like self-congratulatory backslapping from an aging generation who are getting a bit concerned about how wrinkly they have become. Word of advice, don't look to your kids for reassurance. You thought your parents were ugly as they got older...nothing has changed. In general we're in massive debt and simply can't buy houses without going bust. Forget a reverse mortgage, if you didn't save that's your problem. I'm assuming the concept of inheritance has gone so my money goes towards my future not yours. Stop telling young people they are in trouble or getting worse. You sucked as kids. Didn't you base your existence on sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? Shit, teenagers today can't do anything to make a difference without being stamped on. Stop thinking about the
children and stop shafting them.
"denial > anger > bargaining > depression > acceptance". Peak oil is starting to cause us problems....where do you fit on that sequence of emotional reactions of humans facing certain death?
School's are turning out to be really odd places. I guess it's been a while since I worked with this many people and I've never worked in such a large organisation so maybe it's not surprising that things seem strange. I think every conversation I've had so far has ended in someone skipping around the issue and being overly polite. I'm not used to that as in the past most of my customers and colleagues who disagreed with me were quite blunt about it. I'm not
sure which I prefer actually.
I have just been through a salary assessment which involves listing all my work experience to date and getting credit for the relevant stuff by going up the pay scale accordingly. Now, I didn't go into teaching for the money, it'd take more naivety than even I have but when it came back with my time as an employee acknowledged and my time running a design business ignored my eyebrows were somewhat raised. I remember the bank having trouble with me when I went to talk about a mortgage a few years back. Being a Director of a company (that is making pretty good money I might add) is seen as less stable than being employed by a company. Financially I couldn't see their logic: being paid by around six different sources each month is less stable than being paid by one? If I lost a customer I still had five sources of income, if I lose my 'customer' now I don't have any income (especially if you discount my company the way the Ministry of Education have). Will have another go at this and make sure they aren't just being obtuse. On a positive note it provided some content for discussion about running a company with my Computing College students. I'll have my army of political and social activists yet.
I was struck this week by the number of people who use the word 'boss' to describe their employer or, even worse, anyone who supervises them. I'm not a big fan of the word as it seems to me to be loaded with connotations of control, ownership and slavery. It was worse when I heard it used on the TV news to describe 'media bosses'. That's just scary. I can't imagine what kind of person would use language that describes them as less or lower somehow than someone
else. I realise it wasn't that long ago that New Zealand was blatantly socialist and we were all told where and how to buy fridges and unions were all the rage but surely we have pulled enough control back now to not have to refer to the people who employ us as 'bosses'. For those of us who run a company and work as an employee it's just plain confusing...though it does explain some fun, if odd conversations I've had with the principal.
I've been looking around lately and thinking I don't belong in this World. Nothing that seems to be considered normal makes much sense to me and I'm not sure if it's because of me or everyone else. I guess I'm talking about western society (as a generalisation) as I have no idea what is going on in a lot of places. Specifically I'm probably just talking about New Zealand but it feels bigger. All a bit confused really. As I get tired I tend to get cynical, or more so at least, and in an effort to break that I have to ignore almost anyone who works in retail, marketing, housing, fast food, anything to do with cars, tourism and anyone who talks about the global economy or that really messed up 'knowledge economy' thing. None of it seems to make much sense to me and all seem to make my hackles go up. It's easier to ignore them.
I watched the majority of my Graphics class knuckle down today and complete some really good work. They came in, sat down and started working without much prompting. It was a great moment. Nothing cuts through cynicism like watching young people do something creative and interesting. It was also reassuring when one of my Computing College students had the muppets, 'manah manah' on their playlist.
Ignore the tossers and listen to the muppets. That's my advice to myself for now.
I think I have discovered a law of marketing. I call it the law of one thirds and it goes a little something like this. Whatever a business or organisation says about themselves only one third is likely to be true. For example, if an IT company says it can set up Linux servers and workstations, develops for open source, and is the leading technology company in the world, you can probably bet that they, maybe, use a Linux server and possibly Open Office and are a small company in the back stall of a small toilet block.. The rest will be bollocks. If a company advertises a 29" TV, you can probably bet it's only 9.6". That sort of thing. It just seems that lately everyone is lying about what they do and hoping they will never have their bluff called. It is time to make a stand, walk into businesses and start asking for them to do what they say they do. If they can't, raise your eyebrows (one if you can do that as it looks more cynical), snort gently while shaking your head and leave without saying a word. Maybe mutter "pathetic" as you leave. I am tired of all the white noise that surrounds business at the moment. It's not necessary and not making the world a good place.
This weekend I have managed to kill two electric sanders. One was brand new and it just stopped working. Either it's not a good time for me to be playing with electrical items or the above law has come into play once more.
I have now officially met all my classes...I am going to go back next week but I can see this is going to be a very interesting year. The Computing College students are great, the Year 11 graphics class are pretty standard teenagers and the Year 10 Material Tech students are...well...Year 10 students. I had them for one hour today and was totally drained after. In an interesting twist one of the students I met during my practice at Linwood is in the class. I think he spent the period trying to hide. Poor kid. I feel almost exactly like I did on my first teaching practice. Hopefully that means I'll find my feet and get into it and stop feeling like a muppet. Needless to say I am glad I did all that brewing and distilling over Christmas.
My laptop has started to fall apart. I think something in the graphics card area is starting to fail but knackered if I can track it down. Sometimes computers seem
very random. It occurred to me recently that I used open source software for everything so there is nothing stopping me from moving to a Linux operating system now. After a bit of playing I've decicded I like Suse so very soon Windows XP will be replaced.
I think I need some sleep very soon.
My first week as a teacher is over though the students don't start until next week so probably not a major achievement really. Mostly all about information overload at this stage. I think I'm pretty much ready, classrooms set up, lessons planned etc so just a matter of getting used to having breakfast really early, having lots of people around all the time and having lots of people giving me their opinions all the time. This is all quite an adjustment considering my last four years. It's going to be interesting.
The cat has gone into mad mode lately and spends most of his time spazzing out. Our vet mentioned it would get worse before it gets better and he was right. Whenever we walk into a room we can expect to have a small fuzzy animal attack our legs and sometimes groin area depending on the level of madness. He was introduced to rain recently and did not seem to approve.
My first load of wine is drinkable and actually quite nice. January was all about making beer, spirits and wine all of which is now done and stored away for future use. It doesn't seem too long ago that I started this hobby but apparently it's been about a year.
It is raining today which is good. I am in the mood to sit inside and do very little. Waitangi day tomorrow so nominally a holiday.