Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Decade!

In this time of New Year, I hope that you are happy and safe, and have plans to improve your life for the next year, if you are happy and safe or not.

Last night I reconnected with some of my old friends, and I had a fantastic night over at a friend's house, playing pool, dangling our feet in the spa, eating, playing boardgames and wii, and playing with sparklers and bubble blowing and the dog. It was warm, and we were in tshirts, bare feet and half of us in board shorts. We saw my friend's ultrasound images. We ate a home made icecream cake. Our night was simple and wonderful. We didn't see fireworks. We didn't get drunk. We didn't go out to some huge party. We didn't dress up. We did have a great time, and though we do like fireworks, we also just like being ourselves.

I've not had time to think about my resolutions yet, but I am resolved that this year will be full of adventures and development and achievements. I had a great 2009, learning many new things, finding a boyfriend, going back to university, getting over (more or less) depression and anxiety and perhaps a silly thing, but I've had a great time with my websites. I often freak out about all the things I didn't manage to do in a year, but this year I feel quite contented, even though there's that niggle that maybe I could have done more.

What are your New Year's thoughts?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Secret Army

The other day, I finished watching Secret Army, it only took Mum and I a year of finding time when we had an hour to watch something at the same time!

I highly recommend that anyone with even the remotest interest in the Second World War watch this show. Or anyone who wants a gripping drama, or likes classic shows.

So, what is Secret Army?

Secret Army is/was a BBC Drama that was made in the late 70s, about the incredibly brave work that the Belgian evasion lines did. They weren't 'resistance' with guns and spying (though they do do some!) and they didn't help Jews escape. They did collect wounded or fallen airmen from the Allied side, hide them, nurse them back to health and help them escape detection by the Germans (who occupied Belgium during the war) and get back home to England, so that they'd be able to pass on useful information about the things they saw behind German lines, and also, hopefully come back and blow up some more Germans, and of course, to save their lives.

The front to their Evasion Line, named 'Lifeline' is the cafe (then in series 2 and 3, Restaurant) Candide. Much of the work is done by female characters, in fact the woman who started it off, Lisa, was a very young woman. She is aided by another young woman Natalie, the man who owns the Candide, Albert, and Albert's mistress, Monique. When the story begins Albert has an invalid wife who never leaves her bedroom that they must hide everything from. They have helpers such as a farmer who does the radio work, and a doctor, who helps the wounded and also gives a Front for Lisa's travelling around at night by letting her work for him.

There are two Germans who are 'after them' (as well as other people of course) part of the occupying force in Germany. This is Kessler, the head of the Belgian Gestapo, and Brandt, then later Reinhart, the leader of the Luftwaffe in Belgium. They become extremely interesting characters.

There is a great turnover of other characters- be warned, much of it is through death, and the show is very dramatic, tense, and tragic, though also incredibly interesting and wonderful.

The iconic opening (and ending) titles.

The story of Lifeline is based on a true group of people in Belgium. And many of the details in individual stories and the fates of many different characters is based on other true stories.

The show was obviously filmed and made with much love, a lot of research and great actors who put their heart and soul into being these characters. It is filmed partially in studio in England, partially on location in England, and partially on location in Belgium.

Though it does have a very 1970s feel, and isn't all cut all over the place like a modern wartime drama would be, it certainly stands up on its own even now, and is just as sad and great as it was then. It was also one of the first wartime dramas that showed the friendship between the women.

Does this storyline sound familiar to you? Perhaps you were or are a fan of 'Allo Allo', a seventies Britcom that was actually... based on Secret Army! Though they set themselves in France rather than Belgium, 'Albert' has more than one girlfriend, and of course it's a comedy. Never in Secret Army are the words 'Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once' uttered.

Albert from Secret Army

Rene from Allo Allo. Notice a resemblance?

I highly recommend that people go out and get this series (available in ABC shops, on Amazon, and probably many other shops that I just don't pay attention to/know about), and enjoy it- you'll learn a lot, and come away with the same question that my mother and I did. If we lived in those times- could we do that sort of thing? We agreed that it was braver than what soldiers did, and that it must have been incredibly strange when the war ended.

Part 1 of the first episode.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My List of Books to Find or Request

A goal of mine for 2010 is to read more books. I'm going through lists right now and finding good sounding ones. Fiction, non fiction, children's/teens/young adult fiction, help books, travel books, anything useful sounding. I'm requesting and holding them now (some aren't in our local library so I need to ask them if they'll buy it, or look elsewhere), because then I'm much more likely to actually get to the library soon, unlike last year when months would go by without any Library access. Unfortunately my library card will only let me request or hold 10 books at a time, so I need to make a list to remind me. Perhaps you'll want to do the same?

Laura Charlotte- a picture book that was my brother's favourite when he was little. I want to reread it!
The Neverending Story- I don't know if I've read this or not.
The Princess Bride- I've read it before, but I think I want to own it, or at least read it again.
Bring the Jubilee, Ward Moore- Alternative Fiction about the South winning the Civil War

Pretty much all the books on this list.

The Catcher in the Rye, because I've not read it yet
What I saw and How I Lied
One of those Twilight Parody books
Pagan's Daughter ... I think I disagree with the book being written and Pagan having a daughter, but I do still sorta want to read it. I might want to rant about it though.
The '100 Ideas' books for education
Little Brother- I really like dystopian kinds of books.
Saturn's Children, about a sexbot after the humans have died out.
Zoe's Tale
The Last Colony
Books by Lois McMaster Bujold
Briefs for the Reading Room by Dan Marvin
The Magicians
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
The Handmaid's Tale- read it before, but I want to read it again.
The Time Traveller's Wife... I'm not totally sure on this one but I'll give it a go.
Before I Die - if I'm wanting a tearjerker.
More of the Jeeves and Wooster stories
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Up the Down Staircase- about teaching
To Sir With Love
More books by Mark Billingham, one of the guards in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. He writes crime novels.
A book by Hugh Laurie. I forget what it's called, it's a detective story
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Books by Dickens
Gods Behaving Badly
Galex-Arena A book that has stuck with me since my early teens.
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
The Brief History of the Dead
Geek Love, Catherine Dunn
Catch 22
Buying Time
Starship Titanic (again)
The Difference Engine
Diary of Anne Frank
The Minpins
Something Beginning With

And I'm sure, much much more. Which books do you think I'd like?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wreaths and Decorations

From Clayitagain

Resolutions for next Christmas

I want to make more decorations, particularly a wreath
I want to cook more foods. This year I made gingerbread!
Watch more Christmas themed tv and movies (this year I saw The Big Baby from Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, AD/BC and that's about it.)
Donate more things
Make presents for friends
Have a Christmas party for friends.

What are yours?

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Joke

In our bon bons, we, like every other user of bon bons, get bad jokes, and read them out to our families. We'd just finished reading out such delights as "Why are fish easy to weigh? Because they have their own scales!" when my brother said something about laughing at a joke about Tiger Woods the other day. My aunt asked him what it was.
And he launched right into it.

"Why is Father Christmas better than Tiger Woods? He stops at three hos"

Cue a gasp and a laugh, and my grandfather asking him to repeat it and then explain it, and my mother being horribly embarrassed. My aunt explained to him, and it went okay but my goodness I wouldn't have been brave enough to tell a dirty joke in front of my grandfather!

We had slightly upmarket bonbons, with such prizes as giant paper clips, round dice, little notebooks, tiny packs of cards, and nail clippers. And jokes on shiny paper. The other day my brother and his girlfriend had a Christmas party with their friends and had jokes like " Why are elephants not small, white and fluffy? Because then they'd be an aspirin".

One day I want to make bonbons with better jokes in them, and perhaps sell them on Etsy.

We also have a tradition where we must cross our arms to pull the bonbons. Fun times! How about you? Do you have any? What was your worst or best joke this year? Any particular traditions?

Santa Claus vs Father Christmas

When I was little, he was called Father Christmas, NEVER Santa Claus. Santa was, we were told, what children in America called him, and Saint Nicholas, what people in Europe called him. He was all the same person, but he was drawn and portrayed in different ways. Father Christmas usually didn't have a hat (when seeing him in real life. He did on cards and on the big statue of him in the mall), he had a wreath of holly or ivy on his head, he also often

wore a robe or a hood. He often wore glasses. Sometimes he had pants and black boots, other times an ankle length robe or coat. He seemed a bit more mystical though he was still jolly. Over the years, the increased American media, and the Internet, has led to people in shops calling him 'Santa' on signs, and children saying 'Santa' because of the tv shows they're watching which have him in it. My own brother is saying 'Santa', and he's 21. But he also insists on saying 'cookies' and 'candy' instead of biscuits and lollies just to piss me off- he likes saying the American words in a 'funny' way, like he's imitating a tv show.

This change makes me sad. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe because it's another example of us losing our uniqueness. A sign of commercialism, and mass media, and almost brainwashing.
'Father Christmas' puts a nice, calm image and feeling in my head. 'Santa Claus' somehow does not. It almost doesn't seem like the same person, though I know the idea is the same.
I will find it weird if my children eagerly await 'Santa' where I was excited for 'Father Christmas'. A weird culture shock in my own country and within 20 years. I guess I can still call him Father Christmas with my own children.

People right now are complaining that Santa is too fat, and is a bad example. Father Christmas (and Saint Nicholas for that matter) were never traditionally hugely obese (sure in some books they were, but the ones I saw in shops, were not). Maybe a bit of a belly but it didn't usually require shoving 3 pillows up your front. Maybe we should go back to the look they had in the 80s rather than the look they're having now. Then they still look Jolly, rather than like Gandalf dressed in red.

What did the Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, etc etc, look like when you were little? And do you still call him the same thing? (Especially if you're not American). What do you think about that?

The actual Father Christmas of my childhood, from the John Martin's Christmas Pageant. I visited him in John Martin's every year.

Somehow him not having a hat makes a difference. And though he looks reasonably similar to the American one here, except not having a hat, most of the Santas around the place that I saw as a kid had hoods, long robes (sometimes over the top of the belted suit), no hat, glasses, long hair (not just a long beard) and all sorts.

*sigh* I hate change.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's 11 pm on Christmas Eve and I'm ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow, we have to wake up at 7, as my brother is going to a Christmas Breakfast, plus two other Christmas engagements other than for our family- insane boy, and making our Christmas as full and early awake as it was when we were little.
I'm quite happy with the gifts I have chosen/made for other people, and something great is happening- my boyfriend is spending the day with us. :) I'm looking forward to it. The Christmas tree looks great, the weather will be nice (21 degrees celcius ish), I really think this year has a lot of potential.

I was going to try to write something awesome and profound, or rant about something, but I don't really have anything. I'm not very prepared am I? But I have a list of things that I'd like to talk about after Christmas. I'll take photos, I promise.

Have a wonderful and safe Christmas everyone, and thanks for reading my blog!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Treadmill Time

That '15 lbs' that you gain (though of course I'd use kilograms!) when you go to university seems to be true. I was normal in High School, I assume because I was walking between classes, was carrying heavy bags, walking to the bus interchange after school and it was more acceptable to run around. I gained a LOT (... probably... hmn. 10 kilograms? A lot on my short frame) during the first year of uni and didn't really notice it until 2.5 years ago when I finished my degree. Then I put myself on a 'diet' (as in, just cut down how much crap I was eating.), started dancing, and did more walking on the treadmill. In a year, I lost 15 kilograms, it was crazy, I was as light as I was as a 14 year old!

Then I started up this education degree and ... yeahhhh. 7 kilograms gained back (still less than I was after my first degree). Boo. I just didn't have time to go out as much. Even though I was dancing 2 or 3 times a week, I was eating less healthily and not walking around as much in the home.

The past two or three months I've had insane homework and teaching time, so I've not been able to go to dancing as often. Also my Wednesday dancing ended forever. :(

I felt so unfit walking around in the Yorke Peninsula, when a year ago it would have been no problem (and until 3 months ago I could have easily danced for 2 hours non stop without a problem. Different muscle use I suppose.) I think I need a treadmill program. I would go out walking on the streets but unless I go late at night (with someone else, I think!) then it's too hot to go out.

Another motivation is that my boyfriend wants to travel more with me- backpacking. And he's more into adventure travel than I am. I'd be happy wandering around museums. But he wants to go on lots of walks as well as museums. And I suppose, if I were in a strange city I'd be wanting to walk around all day and it could be quite hilly.
I need to get myself fit again! I just walked 5 kms and I don't think that's a bad effort.

I want to put myself through some sort of program and see what happens with it. Got any to recommend, for someone who can't go outside right now?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Bloopy!

One of my favourite shows is Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.

It is a musical, historical, comedy/parody show that I believe is great for all ages. It has Tony Robinson who is currently doing many historical documentary shows like Time Team, but was also Baldrick in Blackadder.

MMMM is a parody of the Robin Hood legends that is saturated in historical anachronisms. Marian is the leader of the gang rather than Robin. But more about that another day.

Since it's almost Christmas I thought I'd share one of my favourite songs from it! Father Bloopy. From the episode "The Big Baby".

The Sheriff is trying to get out trouble for having a parcel stolen by the Merry Men, and so he and the two guards, Gary and Graeme, invent the holiday of 'Bloopy'- which means deliveries can't be made! They get a bit carried away with their invention of it, and invent Father Bloopy, a man who is supposed to bring presents to everyone on Bloopy. The King is outraged- why isn't HE getting any Bloopy presents?? They then invent the 'tradition' that all the villagers must give presents to Father Bloopy (the King in disguise) in order to get a present in return. So they head off to the village to convince everyone (and Robin who happens to be passing) about Father Bloopy and how great he is.

My favourite quotes "And in his stable he has got sixteen hippopotamuses, and he harnesses them to a silver sleigh, cos he doesn't like using buses!"

"He'll climb right down your chimney stack, but if you haven't got one, he'll crawl right out of a radiator valve, unless it's a very hot one, then his hippos will come and smash down your door, and if you've been good he will thrill you! To good girls and boys, he gives presents and toys... but if you've been bad, he will kill you!"

Watch it, and have a Merry Bloopy, everyone!

If you are or were a fan, make sure to join the fanforum! And if you want to watch it, it IS available on dvd! (and much better quality than this video)

Blythe Dolls -Guest Blog

Liz Logan from Paperbella on Etsy makes some great papercut crafts! She's also the guest blogger for today, talking about something that I like- dolls! (though I'm more into the 1:12 scale variety).

Here she is!:

Am I the only one who hasn’t ever heard of Blythe dolls?


I was born in the 80’s so as you can imagine, there was no shortage of the coolest toys; Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and the list goes on and on. I was such a girly girl too; I loved dolls. My childhood consisted of the ones that you can actually feed them a bottle and then they wet themselves. You know what I’m talking about right?

I’ve had to grow up of course, and put away all those pretty and shiny toys, C’est le vie. So, fast forward 20 + years later; where I stumbled onto a listing on Etsy; of a Blythe doll. It instantly caught my attention. She was so pretty with big doe eyes, angelic face, and shiny hair in a cute bob. I looked at more listings, and this Blythe doll can pull off any look! Seriously! Short bob hair, long hair, pink hair, curly hair and so on. I then saw that this doll has excellent sense of fashion; she has some cool accessories.


I decided to learn more about the Blythe doll and I nearly passed out when I saw that she has been around since the 1970’s! Have I been living on some other planet all these years? How could I have never heard of these dolls before? I know I would have coveted one of these beauties so bad!

I invite you to check her out too, take a look at their official website

Throughout this post, I’ve picked some of my favorite shops who sell accessories for these dolls on Etsy, here are some more; click on each one to learn more:



Thanks Liz! And remember, anyone may contact me with an offer to guest blog. :)


At last year's Lobethal Lights, (see previous entry) we witnessed something that totally shocked us. My Mum, brother, his girlfriend and I were walking along the main road. There's a house there with a verandah, and it had these toys that were moving up and down on a mechanism, attached to 'parachutes' I think it was. All these different toys were clipped onto it. There were people all over the place even though it was dark.

Suddenly, a car pulled up. It was full of laughing teenagers. One jumped out and ran up onto the porch. I don't know what we were thinking, maybe that she lived there. She grabbed one of the toys, ripped it off of the clips that were holding it, and ran off back into the car.

We just stood there, totally shocked. Our minds had all gone to about five different assumptions before we realised what was going on, and by the time we had, it was too late for anything but my brother's girlfriend to call out something telling her off.

Sorry, Lobethal people, that we couldn't save your bear. :(

When have you been gobsmacked?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Awesome Grammar Quotes

When I 'grow up' and get my own classroom, I want many of these quotes all over the walls!

From Mylifeisaverage

Today at school, I was on my way to english class when I noticed a sign taped to the door. It read: "'Let's eat grandma!' or, 'Let's eat, grandma!' Punctuation saves lives." I laughed for about 10 minutes. MLIA

What are your favourites?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lobethal Lights and the Beach

This post contains random parts of my life, a date idea, and tourism in Adelaide ideas. Plus probably other stuff.

Yesterday was a hot day, almost 40 degrees, and my boyfriend and I decided to go to the beach- one of the many things on our Making The Holidays Great list we've made. We went to Semaphore Beach, which I highly recommend if you want a very safe swimming beach in the Adelaide area. We went with my pool noodles, were laughed at by a drunk/weird man who thought I was a boy (seems you're a boy if you're not in a bikini!) who said we looked as ridiculous as his three legged dog, and threw a ball for his dog. Drunk/weird but at least funny. The water was beautifully warm, and so we sat in probably waist deep water enjoying it for hours. We got out, and then went to get some chips with chicken salt and tartare sauce... mmm. Met some seagulls, felt sorry for another 'gimpy' one that was missing a foot, and fed that one 6 chips. The other seagulls were so angry with that seagull by the time we left- they actually came up and pecked it in the back of the head a couple of times! Whoops.

As we sat on our towel at the edge of the dunes, big black clouds were rolling in on the horizon. Instead of making a run for it, we decided we'd stay and watch, as huge bolts of lightening were shooting across the sky in the distance, and it was still warm. We stayed until it started to rain, but it didn't bother us as we were still in our bathers. I think we got the better deal than the people who ran home!

We then decided a bit randomly, that we'd drive up to see the Lobethal Lights. Lobethal is a town in the Adelaide Hills that has a huge reputation for its Christmas Lights on most of the houses. They get many thousands of tourists yearly. We're going to see their Pageant on Tuesday, but that gets so crowded we thought we'd get an early look in.

So, we made the 30 or so minute drive up through the twisting Hills roads through a short cut that my boyfriend knew of because he used to live there. We originally intended to just drive around, but we changed our mind and walked around, still embarrassingly dressed in bathers (though I'd put on a sarong and a tshirt) and with our hair looking like we never wash it. We explored many of the places that he used to hang out in as a child, even though it was dark. This whole thing was a lot more spontaneous than I usually do, and I greatly enjoyed it. We explored one of the Christmas markets they have, saw many lights, laughed at bogans, ate a boysenberry icecream, drooled over the pancakes that we couldn't afford as we'd only brought enough money for chips, and were rained on in a humid, huge drops, sort of way.

Then came home and played Sims3.

All in all a fantastic afternoon/evening/night out! :D

Monday, December 14, 2009


What is winter like in Australia? Can you tame kangaroos and keep them as pets?

From Prairie Boutique

It depends on where you live!
Winter is of course, not over Christmas. In South Australia, winter is rainy/rainyer than usual, and anywhere from 5 to 20 degrees Celcius. In Queensland, it is anywhere between 15 and 25 degrees celcius, and dry, rather than wet. Queensland and the Northern Territory has two main seasons- the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is during summer, and it's wet and humid and hot. So a great time to travel to Queensland is in June and July! The Northern Territory and Alice Springs can be 30 degrees in 'winter'. In Tasmania, it is colder, from about 0-10 degrees I believe, and it can snow a bit, in the mountains (it can also snow in the mountains in New South Wales and Victoria. It doesn't tend to snow in places where people live).

You can tame kangaroos yes, but they won't ever be exactly like a dog or cat. People don't tend to have them as housepets. My aunt has 'tamed' a few by feeding them, and she can pat most of them. Some come when they're called. They roam around her land.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coober Pedy

I recently watched a documentary on the underground town, Coober Pedy. Have you ever been there... heard of it? I was fascinated.

There's something magical about the idea of Coober Pedy, a town in the middle of South Australia, red, hot, full of Opals (it's the Opal capital of the world!), where everyone lives in caves underground called 'dug outs'. There are even churches underground!


But as well as being fascinating, this is a very valid action. It prevents the inhabitants from being too affected by the heat, as under the ground the temperature is more constant. And it is eco friendly, before the term existed. Many sci fi books I've read imply that in the future we should all be living underground.

Though I've obviously heard of it, and I've read books like Fire in the Stone by Colin Thiele (I'd recommend it!) I have not been there. Why, you might say, looking at the map. Don't you live in South Australia?

I do indeed. But it is 850 kilometres away, or over 9 hours drive. One day I'll go. How about you?

My Blog is Over A Year Old!

I just realised that this blog is 1 year and 8 days old.

I think I've changed a lot since then. The content and purpose of the blog certainly has, and I actually have some readers. (Thanks guys and girls!) I'm updating regularly, which I wasn't doing at the start of this year. I'm a lot more confident in myself. I'm back at uni, I have a boyfriend, and my best friend is still in the UK... Sadly, it'll be a year tomorrow that I last saw him, that we went down as a group to say goodbye at the airport... that we did swing dancing and some of them did circus tricks in the departure lounge... do I feel silly about my plot about 'bringing him back'? No. I've also not given up hope. Our websites have however taken a down turn (check out Not Negative News on the sidebar there- and join in, we'd LOVE to have you), because we've both been so busy, working and studying, and it didn't kick off as quickly as we were thinking it would. Why couldn't it have been passed around amongst friends like twitter was, and have a sudden start up? I guess it's not too late for that to happen.

I hope this blog continues to grow and develop over the next year!
A big thanks to my 46 followers I have so far, and all the readers. I absolutely adore your comments.

Yesterday I finally had time to work out the labels/tags whatever you call them. You'll be able to see them in the cloud on the side, perhaps it'll help you search through my blog. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Student Teaching

I have my placement for next year! I have a school that is just down the road (25 minutes walk, I timed it last night), and is very good. It's got a lot less socio economic problems than the school I was at last, the teachers from all accounts are nice and friendly. However, I have a year 2/3 class. Year 2s? They're junior primary and aren't included in my degree. This will make it difficult for me, as I've not been trained properly for teaching literacy and numeracy to younger children. I'm sure that I can do it well especially with the support of the mentor teacher, but it is still a bit odd to be so placed. I rang the principal and she was very understanding after I explained what the problem was (and explained that year 2s are like year 1s at the start of the year). At least I have many resources and I have had experience with junior primary before.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nine Men's Morris

I thought I'd recommend a game to you today.

Let me introduce "Nine Men's Morris", a game of strategy and thinking skills.
It is an extremely ancient game- the Vikings enjoyed playing it, sometimes for money.

Nine Mens' Morris is a game for two players. Each player has 9 pieces. They each take turns putting a piece on the board- if they get three in a row, that is a 'mill' and they are allowed to take one of the other player's pieces from play. Once all nine pieces are on the board, they are allowed to move pieces to get more mills. A piece in a mill is untouchable from being removed by the other player- but sometimes you have to move one out!

My boyfriend and I played this while in our tent in the wild wild wind, it was the first time he'd been introduced to it. Playing against him is much harder than playing against the computer, which is how I learnt it back in the 90s.

I bought my board in a museum in England, and my pieces are two different colours of marbles.

A fantastic travel game, or for fans of board games, or for kids who want an extension on noughts and crosses.

Anyone else here a fan?

Cultural Shock Of The Day

A group of college students are made to go to court, fined $25 and made to do 8 hours community service, for playing on the swings after dark.

People respond with "But the parks close after dark, so you deserve it"

What? Parks close in the USA? (At first I just thought it was only in New York, but the comments imply that it happens everywhere, and I just read a comment that says the parks are closed in England too after dusk...).

This is totally bizarre to me. Around here it's quite common for friends to go walking together after dark when NOT drunk (or even just a little drunk, and who really cares?), for teenagers to go and actually play on equipment but not do anything wrong after dark, for people to go out and exercise from 8-11 pm, in the dark. I've never heard of a park being 'closed'! If it doesn't have a fence around it, it's fair game. But you wouldn't want to make a lot of noise if there are houses nearby, but you'd just be moved on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 Blogging Tips

If you want people to comment more on your blog...

1. Put the comment form at the end of your posts. Never have it where it pops up, or where to verify it pops up and reloads the page.

2. Allow anonymous comments. People stumble upon blogs often, yet are not members of blogger. Make it easy for them to comment!

3. Allow people to post using a name and url. People like to promote themselves, and again, may not have a blogger, or don't want to log in right now.

4. Get rid of the verification captcha, if you're not one of those hugely popular blogs anyway who get thousands of comments a day. Then make it so that comments on entries over a week old are moderated- those are the ones more likely to be hit by spammers. Verifications take time, and many people just can't be bothered.

5. Post about things that people care about or could have an opinion on.

6. Comment on other people's blogs.

7. Get genuine followers. Don't participate in 'follow for follow' deals- you want people who are actually interested in you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Simple Cadbury Experiment

An experiment that will even get your older kids excited. It can be connected to science, or to Society and Environment, or even Design and Technology.

Materials: Get two different sorts of milk tray chocolate boxes. One has to be Cadbury (make sure you test this out first).

Come into class with the chocolate boxes and announce that we're going to have an experiment, but first... we must eat the chocolate!

Then, give each group of students two containers of warm/almost hot water, and two pieces of the plastic trays- one from each box.

Have them put the piece in the warm water and record the results.

If you have the correct Cadbury one- the Cadbury tray will dissolve and 'melt'! Have them feel the texture. The other will not.

You could then test a few pieces of the cadbury one and different temperatures of water!

Cadbury has made their milk trays biodegradable. You can then discuss with the children why Cadbury might have chosen to do that, and what it would mean for rubbish dumps. What else is biodegradable?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eating Kangaroo and Emu

This is the Australian coat of arms. It has a kangaroo and an emu on it. They're on it because they're quite common in Australia, and because they're both animals that cannot walk backwards- symbolic of our progression as a nation.

People have been eating kangaroo and emu for centuries. The Aboriginal peoples have been eating them for thousands of years. I ate a kangaroo meat patty the other week and it was delicious. It's quite a good meat, very lean. I've not yet eaten emu but I wouldn't be opposed to it. There are sometimes emu and kangaroo farms for meat, other times, there needs to be a cull of them (they are too abundant in some areas due to humans planting/allowing grass, providing too much food. Then they have a population boom, eat all the grass, and potentially starve or ruin crops.), and that meat I believe is sometimes eaten. (if it's not, it should be!).

Foreigners are often horrified by this. How can we eat something so cute??

Apparently there is now/going to be emu or kangaroo flavoured chips. Why is that worse than beef flavoured chips?

Some people are getting a bit upset about it, but most Australians I've asked are not concerned- though they may not choose to eat them themselves.

Their argument is that 'it's on the Australian coat of arms'. We're apparently the only nation that eats the animals on our coat of arms. But we made a choice that was like putting a cow or pig on the coat of arms.
And I think that the argument against the chip flavour is ridiculous.
It's not like we're eating a bald eagle, a lion, a unicorn, etc, things that don't exist or are almost extinct.

What's your opinion?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gifts For Teachers Part 4

Fourth part in my series of what to get for teachers. Teachers get some horrible presents. I am trying to help you make good decisions! Since this is the last week of school for Australian students, I think this will be the last post I'll make on this for this year. I have a lot more to add for next year! I hope you enjoyed the series.

25. Thank You Cards
Invita Paper Studio

Buy your teacher some thank you cards, or if you're particularly crafty, make it yourself! Many teachers like to give thank you cards if they're able to. (In Australia it is harder because of the fact that kids move on to a different classroom after the gift giving occurs in most cases). Attractive cards that are blank inside would also be useful- they could give them out for whatever they want then!

26. Something for the whole class, or the staffroom or library.

Apparently some parents do this, and I think it's a nice idea. Buy some new books for the library or the classroom bookshelf. Buy an 'apple slinky' to encourage the kids to eat fruit. Buy a new binding machine or laminator or a microwave. Buy sports equipment or a dvd. As I mentioned previously, a new beanbag or cushion. Buy science equipment. The ideas could be endless! What are your ideas?

27. Donations to Charity

This is good, but only if you actually do it. If you just tell the teacher 'instead of giving you a present, I might donate to charity this year!', it'll sound like you won't actually do either. Actually go and make the donation, then give them a card saying that you gave a donation to [charity] in their name. This works especially well for charities that give back a little thank you card. Perhaps you could buy some chickens via World Vision for a village overseas- particularly if you've been learning about that country! Or to Book Aid which provides books in native languages all over the world. 2 British pounds sends a book overseas.

28. A letter or email years later telling the teacher about what you're up to.

Gifts don't have to be given now! Email them or send them a letter a few years later explaining how they helped you, or just saying what you've been up to.

29. A teacher's resource book.

A book of plays for example, or craft activities, cooking for kids, history books, maths quizzes/games, family quiz/trivia books, crossword books, there are all sorts out there and often easily accessible in Newsagencies and book shops.

I even made an Amazon widget for you. :)
30. Origami
PLB Crafter

A book of origami folding procedures and some origami paper. The guy who I originally started this blog about gave me a fantastic one involving maths. Or you could make a piece of origami for him or her.

31. Group Gifts
You might want to pool your money with other students or parents and get something fantastic and 'bigger'!

32: A dvd
A dvd either for them or for the classroom. If for the classroom make sure it is of an appropriate rating. In Australian schools, primary schools can't show PG rated movies without a permission slip. Some historical fiction/drama/comedy series are about that are fantastic, documentaries, educational shows, or just fun ones to watch on a hot or rainy day. Or perhaps you want to recommend one of your favourite movies or shows to the teacher?
I'd be happy to talk about my favourites that could be useful in class!

33. Joke or riddle books

Teachers like funny things. And many teachers like to start the day with a joke or riddle for the class!

34. Things about a pet peeve of theirs
Is your teacher a stickler for grammar for example? Make a light joke or acknowledgement of this fact!

35. Board or card games

Teachers tend to love these! They can be played by the students, or at home with their friends or family. There are some fantastically creative games out there right now.

Where The Wild Things Are

(photo is mine, taken at the Innes National Park in South Australia)
I saw Where The Wild Things Are on Sunday.
This is one of my mother's favourite books to read to her class.
I always liked it too.
So when I saw that they'd made a movie from a 25 page (each with a sentence or less) Children's book, I was very confused about how they could make it into a movie!

But I'd give it 5/5. Max was a very realistic little boy, the story was lovely and obviously lovingly created, they 'stuck to the book' as much as possible- including amazingly created Jim Henson puppets showing The Wild Things. The scenery is beautiful, and is obviously filmed in Australia (Apparently in Victoria), and I loved that they filmed it like it was filmed with a camcorder, most of the time. That was very surprising.
Apparently the writer of the book had worked with the producers and script writer, and approved it heartily.

I don't believe it is suitable watching for the under 10s however. There are some scary and heavy themes and feelings involved. As an adult I can watch it and know that the characters are upset over really trivial things but somehow it is shown so that you feel all of the character's childish yet real pain. Children may not be able to cope with that. And some things are indeed very scary- one thing (spoiler alert!) is the teacher freaking Max out by telling the class that the sun was going to go out... and neglecting to say when that's expected to happen. That whole issue isn't resolved in the movie, he goes on believing it and convinces the Wild Things of it (though they decide not to worry about it). I was very scared by that concept as a child myself. Great example of careless teachers though, or a reminder of how kids take what we say!

I'm also very curious how they got the names for the Wild Things! Where do they come from?

I recommend it to everyone over the age of 10 years. Don't be put off thinking it's for 'Children'. It is much more than that. It will either take you back to your childhood, or make you want to hug little Max!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

School Hat Policies

From West Wallsend School
From Happy Valley School

If you're moving to Australia, this might be something you don't know about!
In Australian primary schools, hats are usually compulsory. Some are compulsory just in the last and first terms of school (ie, in the hot weather), others all year round, whenever the children are outside. They're usually part of the school uniform and are of the school colour or have the school logo. Baseball caps are not acceptable hats. It's usually bucket hats or broadbrimmed hats or caps with a flap at the back (my least favourite...).
"No Hat, No Play" is a common phrase heard around Australia!

There was an article in the paper today about how Sunsmart Australia is trying to encourage high schools to get their high school students to wear hats.
We had to wear hats in Highschool for PE but not for just outside during lunch. We just put on sunscreen.

I do feel for those kids who hate what it does to their hair. They want to still look nice in the afternoon but they must completely redo their hair. It also used to make my head hot and my head feel horrible. But it is a good idea as it shades the face and (usually) neck, something which is needed in our hot country, where something like 1/3 get some form of skin cancer.

I say bring back shallow hats and hat pins so hats can perch on top of the head rather than being jammed over the ears. Or have hats be shady yet good looking rather than hugely daggy and dorky. (The bucket hat is the best option of the three for that, as long as it is broad brimmed like mine usually is). Then older kids don't have to worry about their hair. And it's not like they need strings around their chin to keep them on their heads as they play chasey. Or maybe some nice straw hats like the private schools have sometimes?
But, at least everyone is dorky together.

Animals We Encountered in Innes and Yorke Peninsula

On our trip around Yorke Peninsula we encountered a lot more animals than we expected to... or, we forgot that we would, being silly city people.

1. Dolphins.
(The beach where we saw the dolphins)
We saw dolphins while on the beach where the Ethel Wreck is, in the Innes National Park at the foot of the leg of the Yorke Peninsula (see the map in my previous entry). There was a beautiful beach with only a few footprints on it on part of the beach, a rusting skeleton of an Edwardian wrecked ship, waves crashing onto the beach, high cliffs that we were about to go down via a very steep staircase, and then we saw the fins near the shoreline. My boyfriend later saw them jumping. We believe there were four out there.

2. Kangaroos
We saw kangaroos when we were out walking. They'd usually stand and stare at us. We were going home from trying to call my parents on the solar powered Telstra public phone in Pondalowie campground in Innes (all other phone lines were dead. And this one wasn't good! It cut out.). It was dark, and only the light of the moon was available. I had forgotten how bright the moon can be at night! I am a bit too used to light pollution I believe. We'd just been talking about how we're the only ones in the campsite (a huge one built for 50 camp sites) and how there was no way to get help since all the phones were down, if there was a problem. We then saw a big shadowy figure by the path and thought that our fears were becoming reality! My boyfriend shone the torch, after stopping me from walking on and freaking me out in the process. It was a HUGE male kangaroo. We turned the light off and hurried past so we wouldn't annoy it. There were two female kangaroos in the campsite near to us too that night.

3. Tammar Wallaby
(picture from OzAnimals)

Tammar wallabies were extinct in Australia, until strangely they found some in New Zealand. New Zealand has no kangaroos naturally (or other mammals), but someone had taken some of these wallabies over in the past and they'd been living quite happily there. They're being reintroduced into Australia, starting with Innes National Park. I only saw a flash of it in the scrub but my boyfriend insisted that it was one. It was certainly a wallaby with similar colouring.

4. Big Black Snake
Strangely enough, we didn't get a photo of this one.

This one is the hugely scary one. My heart still beats thinking about it!
The stories are true folks, there are big black scary snakes in Australia!
We were walking along a path in the abandoned town of Inneston in Innes National Park. Actually just out of it, on another walk that went up the old railway tracks (an official walk). We were carrying sticks waving them around to get rid of the horrible flies, and to ward off spider webs in front of us as it was a narrow path. Suddenly my boyfriend grabs me and says stop. In front of us, only 2 metres away, was a big black snake that was rising up ready to strike. My first instinct was to grip my stick tighter to defend myself, but then fear kicked in and we both ran like hell the other way. We needed lots of hugs after that! We managed to get through a scrubless area to the dirt road just about 5 metres away that is for cars, and then we stomped our way through the next two kilometres to get back to our car, and made as many vibrations as possible.

My heart was still beating hard hours later. But we were joking that the snake was probably all 'yeah, I scared them off! I didn't even have to bite them, they ran away, they were so scared of me! Scary stupid humans!!'

5. Ticks

(This Is Actual Size)
We noticed these weird flat bodied spiders almost as soon as we were setting up our tent. There were thousands of them all over the bush. I looked a bit closer and suspected they were ticks. We kept finding them on us when we slept, or crawling up our pant legs. They were like little contortionists. You'd squish them and their body would just contract and not squish! Neither of us were bitten, but the very fact that they were everywhere was disturbing and shudder worthy. We looked it up when we had the internet again and confirmed yes, they were ticks. BIG ticks. And some came back home with us in our tent! According to Dad they're there all year round in Innes.

6. Flies

Every. Where. (In Innes. It wasn't bad in Port Vincent and surrounding area because of the crazy wind on those days, or in the Copper Triangle area for some reason... sea breezes?)
We'd have about 10 seconds outside before they'd find us. I'm incredibly thankful that there aren't many flies in Adelaide. I really REALLY wanted one of those cork hats, or to cover myself in a veil made of tulle to keep them off me.

7. Seagulls and Pigeons and other birds

We found these pretty hilarious! We made 'friends' with two of them in Innes. (This photo is of 'Not Gimpy'. And we laughed at the pigeons living in the old buildings in the copper triangle.
We saw parrots, tiny finches, all sorts of others as well.

8. Lizard
In Innes we saw a lizard. I love lizards. Its head is behind that stick a bit.

9. Emu and Chicks
We saw a Dad emu (the Dads are the ones that raise the chicks) and three teenage looking emu chicks about half his size.

This confirms to me that yes, Australia is as dangerous and wonderful as 'they' say it is. So, bring your repellent, crash around in the bush, watch out on oceans and bush, and bring a camera!

Is it better to crash around in the bush and scare off snakes, or walk quietly and see cuter animals?
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