Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Turbo Encabulator

My husband sent me this clip.  Sometimes I wonder if my teaching sounds just like this to my students.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Behind the Barcode

Sometimes I buy a real bargain at the shops and, while glowing in the knowledge that I've scooped a win, have a niggling feeling that maybe my win was someone else's pain.  Perhaps these awesome shoes were made by someone as young as my own children in conditions that are appalling. Behind the bright lights of a well-styled local store, what might I see if I could look all the way back to that garment's origin?

Well, here's a handy help in that: Baptist World Aid has produced 'Behind the Barcode'.  A quick click there and you can download (free) either or both of the Ethical Electronics Guide or the Ethical Fashion Guide. Both guides give you a report card on companies according to their approach to labour rights and an indication of whether they are paying their workers a 'living wage' (a wage large enough to actually live on).


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Ad round up

I always enjoy seeing the Christmas advert productions that come out at this time of year.  They are obviously a Big Deal in the UK.  I loved the Sainsbury 2014 ad.  This year Sainsbury has done a Mog story - maybe you know the Mog books if you have kids.


John Lewis had an awesome penguin ad last year.


This year, they went for a man on the moon theme.  It didn't really do it for me.



But, the spoofs are awesome - the Star Wars version especially.



Hunting around, I found two other awesome ones from previous years.  This Apple one is great.


But I think this one is really awesome.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The parrot and the freezer

A good joke sent to me by my Uncle John this week:




A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour".

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird spoke up, very softly "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Consuming education

I've been thinking lately about consumers and education. Over the years I've been teaching, I've noticed the language of consumerism has become increasingly present in the way education is discussed and debated. Parents talk about education in terms of a product and want certain results from their "investment". Words like "client" or "customer" have occasionally appeared where previously they had no role. People swap schools - very quickly in some cases - when their desires are no longer being met.

I have some concerns.

There are dangers in representing education primarily in consumer terms.  Yes, most of us contribute financially in some way to the education of our children (public, private or homeschooling all usually require some financial investments). But does the involvement of money mean we should look at education in same terms as other products we buy?  Is it different to buying a new car?  Or a house?  Or signing up to a broadband contract?

In truth, education has some very different characteristics to most goods and services. For starters, it's a relationship. Parents are entering into a partnership, not buying a product.  And the "product" is not a product at all.  It's the nurturing of a person who is unique and who responds differently at different points in their development. When education gets reduced to a product that's purchased, performance becomes a thing that we buy and in turn we reduce our children's progress and development, and finally they themselves, to an outcome.

Children are not outcomes to be bought.

If education is a product we purchase, the temptation is to start to run education from within that paradigm. The decisions we make (as educators or parents) become about choice, market value, maximising enrolments, delivering desired results, customer expectations and service standards.

What's wrong with that?

It's not wrong to expect standards from our educational providers. They should be held to account for time and money spent and consistently sound teaching and learning practices are important. But that's not the same as seeing education as a product to be purchased or being driven by a need to forever draw in more consumers.

I wouldn't want to argue that we should never talk about results and expectations and accountability. But it's really important that a consumer mindset doesn't become the driving force in our educational decisions, both as educators and as parents.  Parents seem to push more and more in this regard. I think it's partly a generational change in attitudes. It's hard for schools not to be drawn into that way of thinking and start reflecting back to the parents the language and ideas they are exhibiting when they approach schools as consumers.  It's really important that schools educate their school community about what education means and about the nature of a partnership - rather than a product - when it comes to their children's education.

I imagine education isn't the only field in which the rise of consumerism has disrupted relationship-based services and created new tensions.  Medicine and health care?  Churches?  Social services?  The product-marketing-purchase-consume-repeat cycle has become so embedded in how we approach our resources that it is almost the default approach. But it needs to be held in check or it risks annihilating much more important ends.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

This would make Saturday easier

Saturday

 


It's Saturday morning. My husband has just let me know he's boarding a plane for the last leg of his trip home from a week's work in Korea.  South.  Not North. Can't wait to see him again.

My back, which I injured last weekend, is nearly better. 95%. But I'm still not up to changing the sheets on the big bed lest we start the whole process all over again.

My daughter has spent the morning fashioning a bow and arrow out of sticks and is refusing to brush her hair because "I'm Boudica" and thus why should she have to.  Obviously an unreasonable request on my part (no pun intended).

My youngest has just begun learning the violin - first lesson yesterday.  He's very keen on practising.  Did I mention he's only had one lesson?  And that he likes practising? A lot.

My other child watched part of a documentary on brown bears last night. This morning he is one. Thus there's been a lot of wearing of dressing gowns and getting around on all fours and eating apples.

And I'm preparing a surprise Indian banquet for my mother's birthday tonight.  I'm out-sourcing that (read: picking up takeaway for 6 before she arrives).

And that's my Saturday.  How's yours going?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The State of the Blog




Five reasons why blogs in general have faded:

1. The rise of the professional blog.  I don't mean the kind of blog a company might launch.  I mean the ubiquity of the mummy-blog-turned-marketing-machine. I like the crusty-ordinary-folk-without-an-SLR-and-sponsorship-deal kind of blog.  There used to be heaps.  Then blogs exploded - cue the entrance of people who like to make money by selling stuff - which led to blogs getting slicker and shinier and finally totally boring.  Bring back crustiness. I'm sick of someone writing a great blog and then getting a book deal and then never writing anything interesting ever again.

2. The demise of conversations (otherwise known as the rise of Twitter).  The fun thing about blogs was the comments, both for readers and bloggers. You were part of a conversation.  No one talks anymore. Comments are empty wastelands.  That's 'cause everyone's on Twitter. They are all talking over there.  Or Facebook. But not on your blog. They read. But they don't talk.

3. Time consuming. Facebook and Twitter are fast. And if you are trying to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Instagram you are either going insane or have too much time on your hands.  Something's gotta give.

4. Blogs stop. Because lives change.  And when the blogs you enjoy aren't running anymore you tend to move on as well.  Sigh.

5. The fun is elsewhere.  It becomes a rolling tide - everyone's talking and sharing somewhere so you go there for your community fix and then you don't bother replicating everything in blogland and then...... it all slows down to a trickle.

I miss the time of the blog.  Those were happy days.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Taylor Swift and Socrates get to the bottom of things


File:Taylor Swift 3, 2012.jpg

Source =http://www.flickr.com/photos/evarinaldiphotography/6966830273 

I shared this Socratic dialogue with Taylor Swift with my lovely Philosophy students (I didn't link straight to the site however because there's a bit of language etc about the place).  What's not to love?  Socrates and Taytay.

N.B. You need to know a little bit of Socrates and a little bit of Taylor Swift to enjoy this - otherwise it's just blah. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In defence of watching television

We used to jokingly called the TV "the mindless tool of the devil" in our house when I was a teenager.

All jokes aside, I have always known that the proper approach to television watching is to consider it at best a waste of time and at worst a sin. So, one should only watch when one has finished everything else and when it is a program of some intellectual value. Of course, because one can never claim to have finished everything else, watching TV justifiably can only be done when you are either too ill to read or have some very commendable task like ironing to do at the same time.  Rather sucks all the fun out it, don't you think?  We might add, that you are also required by this view to hold in some awe those folk that refuse to even have a television in their living room and speak of them with great admiration, all the while knowing you shall never quite measure up because you couldn't bear yourself to be so permanently parted from the idiot box.

However, I have lost my adolescent guilt in relation to television.  It can be an excellent thing.  It is at times gross and base but at other times a wonder and a blessing.  To be taken in moderation and with discernment but nevertheless to be enjoyed.

Recently, I've been thinking about television again in terms of family life. Twenty years ago, I would have looked down my nose at the idea of a warm family evening gathered around the TV for a reality show.  Surely that kind of mindless activity represents the deplorable absence of proper family communication and interaction!

I thought that...until something worse arrived: wifi.

Wifi allows us all to hunker down with a device - individually.  If sitting around the TV inhibits family communication, wifi and portable devices threaten the complete annihilation of shared family experiences.  You can all choose your own entertainment. And, in a trick of the mind, it can even seems more virtuous than TV watching - off I go to research the proper way to teach children to read for an hour, on my own, without a child in sight. But I'm doing something meaningful - not just watching TV - so that's okay.  Meanwhile, my husband has loaded up something else and is glued to a screen of his own. I have this terrible vision of dinner finishing and five people going off in five different directions to spend the next two to three hours in a voluntary isolation inflicted by their own entertainment.

In comparison, when you watch MasterRenovationBee together, you at least share an experience. You discuss the outcomes, the drama, the tackiness and the ad breaks. We actually have a lot of conversation going on when we watch (and a lot of saying "shhhhhhh" sometimes) and it's an opportunity to help the younger viewers understand media.  It's great when you hear a kid say, "Mum, that's not real is it? He would have been paid to say that was good."  Yes, darling, now you're getting the hang of it.

So here's to watching TV together.  Turns out it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  Things could be worse.

Get ready for the happy tears!

Ahhhhh, I love this kind of stuff.

Reflections on working life


So this is my first year back working full-time in 11 years. And it’s a big one – every class I’m teaching is new content and every non-teaching role I’m doing is new. Ha!  I have some kind of in-built magnet for ridiculousness.

But we are getting towards the end of the year now and patterns have been established and bedded in.  So what’s it like to go back to work? How’s it going?

It’s been really, really good. Yes, there have been some mad crazy mornings where kids suddenly discover they have no school shirt at the last minute, but on the whole we’ve eaten food and had clean clothes and generally been where we need to be when we need to be there.

Work is rewarding. I’ve always loved teaching and so the whole going to work caper is generally enjoyable. I want to be there. I like the people and the buzz and the kids. I like having my brain stretched (more so after the stretching than during the process).

The kids don’t seem to be too phased. I think because we all go to the same place at the same time and come home together it is pretty much business as usual for them. And we have most of the same days off so there’s only a little bit of juggling with curriculum days and so on.  And as we are at the same location, dealing with late notes, forgotten lunches or discussions with band teachers is easier – I can always pop a note in someone’s pigeon hole later in the day if I didn’t get it done before we left the house.  I know what is going on in Year Whatever so I’m not often blind-sided by finding out there’s a special day coming up that requires me to send 30 milk bottle tops and a cereal box or little Fred won’t get to be involved in the end-of-unit craft spectacular (I totally made that example up but it’s not far off…).

And I decided early on that there are no prizes for martyrdom this year.  I use the dryer lots, I buy more prep-paid stuff for lunchboxes than I used to and we have a cleaner once a fortnight. I am not doing this while still churning my own butter each morning and ironing all our pillowcases – I make choices.  And some stuff has not gotten done that probably should have (a post for another day).

I think one of the things that has become clearer for me as the year's gone on is that my circumstances in terms of life/family/work are unique.  Whether or not a mum can go back to work full-time or part-time when they have X number of children who are X years old is a question that knows of no one answer.  There are many answers as there are mothers and families and circumstances.  And even "identical" circumstances are not really identical because we all have different capacities for coping. That which would induce a meltdown in me might be fine and dandy for someone else.

Before I went back to work, I often wondered how working mums "did it".  My days were already full and I was baffled as to how other mums squeezed more in without the whole house of cards falling down.  The answer is that they don't.  They don't in the sense that my evaluation of what they might or might not be doing is totally.... imaginary.  And whether people are coping or not has to do with multiple dimensions within their circumstances (do they have family near by? does their spouse have flexi-time? do they have access to afterschool care? are their working hours predictable and negotiable? are their extra family issues or health concerns? do they love their job or are they forced into it by circumstances? how many kids? how old? what are their personalities? etc, etc) and it simply cannot be answered by asking, "How many hours of paid work per week do you do?"

For me, this is working well now.  It helped that I think my job is both God's gracious provision for me at this time and a wonderful opportunity for me to serve God in what I do.  Loving it!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Under our care

Rosie Batty points out that care for vulnerable women at risk of violence should extend not just to our free citizens but to those forcibly under our care.  Indeed.

Manus Island regional processing facility (8155612709)

















By DIAC images [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 28, 2015

It sounds sophisticated when they sing it

Oh, for all you tired parents who are afraid that if you leave the room some great disaster will occur - this is for you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A moment of wonder

I know.  I've failed to write anything meaningful for ages.  I have no excuses.  But I offer up these two enjoyable clips to make up for it.




Saturday, August 1, 2015

If teaching was treated like pro football

In a parallel universe....  this is a great parody.  My favourite bit is the faux ad at the end for BMW.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Little Lunch

Have you watched any of this new show on ABC3?  The plots revolve around the ordinary going-ons of a primary playground.  It's very watchable and engaging.  As a once-I-was-a-primary-teacher, I think it's really fun.  Not made for an adult audience, obviously, but if you can find a primary student who is willing to watch it with you no one will guess you are enjoying it for your own sake.  Catch up on iview.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Homeless in Sydney

Sydney's Homeless Connect happened in the Town Hall in July.  The ABC site today has six portraits - currently homeless people in Sydney who share a bit of there story.  Here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

"I'm Gonna Love You Through It"

This is a beautiful gift from kids to their teacher.  Adriana Lopez was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  This is their surprise end-of-year song for her.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There are no mortals among us

I'm at an outstanding education conference this week.  Lots to think about it.  Here's a taster: we were read this quote from C.S. Lewis yesterday. 

There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
C. S. Lewis The Weight of Glory 

It is immortals that I teach.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Finding out your going to be a grandpa

There are a plethora of videos of parents being told they are about to become grandparents. Cue the happy tears.  I like this one below because the grandpa-to-be plays it so cool... until he thinks he's alone.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Really clever clothes

How smart is this idea?  Clothing that fits whichever way you put it on (back, front, inside-out).  It is designed to help children and adults who have difficulty dressing independently by making it less of a chore. Whichever way you put the clothes on, it's right.  And no zippers. No tags. Here's two clips on the clothing line - Independence Day Clothing.



Saturday, July 11, 2015

The holiday

So, the holiday. Perfect. Beautiful. Relaxing. Warm.

This is was our first ever family holiday that wasn't visiting relatives. It was just lovely. We were so blessed from start to finish. The place we stayed was wonderful and there wasn't a thing to do other than enjoy it.

This was the view from our room.





Lots of water-sports every day.




Lots of pottering around and looking for hermit crabs.




 One of our sons fell deeply in love with the resort donkey named 'Lulu'.  I'm surprised we weren't charged an extra fee for the amount of carrots he fed her from the hotel kitchen.





Next door to the resort was a local village where we were warmly welcomed for church on Sunday morning.




 The windows of this church look out to the sea. It was built by hand between 2001 and 2005.  They lugged sand up from the beach with wheelbarrows and even the steel rafters that hold up the roof were lifted without the aid of machinery.  Every pew was made by hand.  We didn't understand much of the service - it was in Fijian - but we got the vibe of the proceedings.  Thank you to the lovely Mary, who shared her pew with us and lent us her hymnbook so we could sing along. When she held my hands at the end of the service and wished all of God's blessings on me and my family, I felt very welcomed and a little teary.  My daughter enjoyed watching the elder's dog during the sermon.  He follows his master everywhere and comes every week and sleeps in one of the side aisles.

And as for all the other things we enjoyed - the buffets, the kava cermony, the coral viewing, the swimming pool, doing nothing in the sunshine and so on - I won't give you a long recount except to say it was everything I had hoped for and was utterly relaxing.  It was really lovely to just have our family together for a while without knowing anyone else. With no other responsibilities, we could just enjoy each other and have fun.  We had purchased an all-inclusive deal which meant that all our meals and drinks were already worked out.  So for the whole time we were there nobody asked me, "What's for dinner?" or "Can I have a snack?"  That, my friends, was the real holiday!!!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Living in a classy neighbourhood

Saw this at our local Woolworth's carpark yesterday afternoon while I was loading the shopping into my car.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tropical

This was the view from our room for the past week.  Great holiday.  More anon.  Right now, I have serious washing to do.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Passing a semitrailer

Whoah.  That's an interesting idea.TV on back of the truck is getting a live feed from a camera at the front so drivers behind can see if it's safe to overtake.  Read details here.  Also possibly really distracting?  I don't know.

semi-trailer-display-video-screen-live-feed-safety-truck-samsung-1

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A kind heart

We are often told that hippos kill more people every year in Africa than any other animal.  Here's proof they have a softer side too.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What freaks me out about social media

This article by David Murray sums up one of my keenest fears when it comes to the online world: the rapidity with which a stupid remark can become a life-altering mistake. Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir Timothy Hunt said something about 'girls' in laboratories at a conference. Social media went wild. As a result, he was forced to resign his position at University College London, the Royal Society and a number of other roles of distinction.  In short, one little quip ended his career.

There seems to be no moderation to the online world.  It's AWESOME or it's UNFORGIVABLE.  Nothing in between.

Monday, June 29, 2015

An old preacher preaches




My dad took the service at my church yesterday.  He's in his 70s now and it was back in his 50s when I last sat regularly under his preaching. There are some changes. He preaches more slowly now, with longer pauses, a habit I suspect comes from 15 years of lecturing to men and women for whom English is a second or third language. It was good to hear him again.

And as I sat there, I did what I always did - measured his words, analysed whether that introduction was too long, did that analogy really work, predicted what he might say next, how he could have said that last sentence better. It's a habit formed by a thousand childhood Sunday post-church recaps over lunch.

And in the middle of that, I took stock. I am middle-aged. Dad is in his 70s. My children sit beside me on the pew.  And still, he preaches on.

No one else in that church, save my mother beside me, would know the true cost. The anxiety. The weariness. The loneliness. The sleepless nights. The joyless days (at times). The misunderstandings. The hopes. The disappointments.  When a man preaches for over 40 years, there are deep cuts and swollen rivers and pains.

And yet, here we are.

When you see a preacher stand before you, you often forget the back-story.  The unlikeliness of it all. The child of an alcoholic father.  Or the man who lived a very different life before he was rescued by the one he serves. Or the proud and stubborn farmer. Or maybe the brilliant executive who turns his back on it all.  Or the bloke who never finished high school and gave his first sermon shaking his whole way through it.

That man who delivers the Bible message has no superhero cloak. He's no braver.  No stronger. No more able.  A preacher preaching in his old age is a symbol of faithfulness.  Not his faithfulness.  He is weak through and through. He is instead a trophy of Christ's faithfulness to the weak, the sick and the undeserving.  He's there not because he's better.  He's there because Christ held him there and in return he clung to Christ.

God is faithful. He is able. That's what the presence of an old preacher says.

So as your preacher preaches, whether young or old, and you measure up the man and his words - 'he's very brash/too reformed/not reformed enough/too simple/too complicate/hard to communicate with/very lazy/too busy/doesn't-agree-with-me-about-the-proper-location-for-the-new-pie-warmer-in-the-church-kitchen' - there is a sense in which he is an oxen yoked to the plough.  He strains and plods, in obedience to the Lord. Pray for him (especially on Mondays which are awful), and for his family that share the struggle, and ask that God surround him with strength and faithfulness and endurance.  Pray that, if God wills, he may stay long enough in harness to be an old preacher preaching.  That he still preaches on. It is a wonderful tribute to mercy and grace.

And, if you know my dad, please don't tell him I called him old.  I'd be in heaps of trouble.

The melodic strain



I have mentioned before my love of recorder early in the morning. Imagine my delight upon discovering the second of my offspring is now also the proud owner of one of these heavenly instruments. The junior music teacher has sent them all home to practise over the holidays. I put on some music to do the dishes this morning and my two darlings appeared by my side trying to see if they can play along by guessing randomly the notes and fingering.

Have mercy.

And if you think the above is just such a *sweet* example of childhood whimsy, please contact me urgently about numerous babysitting opportunities that could be yours!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Conference call

One not-so-good innovation in my husband's work-life the past year has been the weekly (and sometimes more than weekly!) international phone conference.  The kids are in bed.  The night is winding down.  And then, suddenly, it's time for the international phone conference - a "time" which is never quite right for anyone anywhere in the world but is not as bad as it could be for most.

I observe these calls from a distance, tip-toeing around the place and trying not to set off noisy appliances.  Usually, I only hear one side of the conversation because most times my husband wears a head-set.  Anyway, if you (or someone you love) has the joy of phone conferencing in their lives, then this is for you.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blood donation in Sweden

Blood donors in Sweden get a text when their blood has been used.  Interesting article on various things being tried to raise the level of blood donation.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

25 divided by 5 = 14

One of our maths teachers put me on to this video - good fun to show the kids.


Friday, June 19, 2015

The new ethics

"...but importantly it's about ethical standards in the context of reality." 
Sometimes farce shines a torch on the muck under the bed more effectively than playing it straight.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Elizabeth Elliot

I know all around the internet at the moment are tributes to Elizabeth Elliot.  She was certainly an author who influenced my life - Through the Gates of Splendor, Amy Carmichael's biography and Passion and Purity especially.  What impressed you about her writing was its foundation in an intimate knowledge of God and His word, her personal experience of suffering and God's sustaining grace, and the ability to say things plainly and without compromise and yet with beauty and warmth.  Like many, I felt a little like I'd lost a friend when I heard she had died this week at 88 years of age.

It is very hard to pick out only one quote to mark the occasion so I shall choose three:

One on the nature of womanhood:
“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman."

A great quote from Amy Carmichael's biography:
“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”

And finally, the opening lines to her daily radio broadcast:

"You are loved with an everlasting love,’ that's what the Bible says ‘and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot . . .”

Synchronized swimming boys

Well done, lads. Well done.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

PhD at 102

Ingeborg Rapoport wrote her doctoral thesis on diphtheria in 1937. But as a Jew in Nazi Germany she was prevented from taking her final exams.  Now, the University of Hamburg, have righted that wrong and she's received her award at 102 years of age. Read the details here. Made me smile!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dangerous fantasies

Last week I heard Melinda Tankard Reist speaking to young people about the assault against girls that is being promoted through today's media and advertising. She was articulate and inspiring. Encouraging to hear was the evidence that we can speak out against the pornification of our media world and have some success - like the removal of the Isuzu competition which was obviously promoting the Bangkok sex industry.

We seem to have been talking about the unrealistic body images for years and years. I remember anorexia being the big issue when I was in high school. At least two of my friends were hospitalized because of it and lots more dabbled in it to varying degrees.  More than 20 years down the track, we're no better off.  Self-regulation in the advertising and fashion industry hasn't done a thing to bring commonsense on to the glossy pages of magazines or the glass windows of the shops down at our local centre.  Take a quick look behind any mannequin and you'll find pins.  These clothes for real people don't fit the bodies on which they are so elegantly draped. The change room mirror brings the 16-year old girl to tears yet again and, no wonder, given that the ideal that's been fostered in her mind has no true relationship with human flesh and bone.

Add to that the interstellar rise of porn that has come about in the digital age. If static Photoshopped concoctions weren't enough, today's teenager will add an avalanche of also-totally-unrealistic moving images to the bank of ideas she has about beauty, love and sex.  Most of them will be pure fantasy - truly dangerous fantasies in most cases.  Because fantasy that lures you into taking it on face-value is destructive. Whenever you find unreality dressed up as truth, you have a weapon of mass destruction.  That can be found in a digitally-enhanced photo shoot, a sexually explicit perfume ad. or a soap opera in which people's dysfunctional relationships have no real consequences.  As MTR said last week: it is no surprise that so many of our girls are struggling; the real miracle is that any of them make it through at all.

As I sat and listened to the reactions of some very saavy teenaged girls to what MTR presented, I was struck by one response in particular.  This girl asked, "But how has this been allowed to happen?  Why can they get away with this?"  Indeed!

Monday, June 8, 2015

On reflection

So I haven't sat down and thought any thoughts in bytes for ages.  But I've purposely sloooooowed way down this weekend and I feel kind of normal enough to be posting online.

Life is good.  Life has been busy.  But until the end of last week, it wasn't crazy busy.  Last week was too much.  I can have extra on my plate in terms of church stuff, or work stuff, or with family.  But should all three collide at once, it's too much.

Last weekend marked the end of one of the busiest months I've ever seen.  Church stuff saw my husband out multiple nights of the week for a couple of weeks (at least - it might have been many weeks but they've all blurred into one now).  Moving my parents into their new house and helping with the setting up kept us busy as well.  Work was super-intense for a few weeks with an application related to our registration.  And then last weekend we flew all five of us interstate for my father-in-law's wedding and to see Steve's 96-year old grandmother.  Lots of being good and waiting and saying polite things is tiring when you are in primary school.  That was the end of the busy.  But come the middle of last week, the kids were drained and I was drained and everything in the universe made me feel cranky.  When I'm Cross All The Time, I know I've overdone it.

So this weekend, I've taken the time to be slow.  And I'm feeling less cross and less like the world is spinning too fast.

Too. Too. Too.  That was the key word for the last month.  Too everything.  But, hey, a lot was done and life gets like that sometimes and now things are settled again.

So, what's happening with the blog?  Well, I still have the dilemma of whether I can continue to post online publicly and whether it will all come back to bite me one day.  Haven't resolved that.  But what I have learnt by not posting much in the last three months is that I miss the habit of reflection.  And I miss reflection that is written down and that has to be produced in a form that is edifying to others. 

Reflection makes me order my thoughts.  That helps me process stuff.  Reflection that is going to be read by others takes it up another notch - it makes me process and edit.  Processing and then editing your thoughts has significant mental health benefits or so I've found at least.

So, I shall be giving myself permission to 'waste' a bit more time on the blog again.
Snapshot from the wedding! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A clinical psychologist's view on euthanasia

"This is "true compassion" and empathy: accompanying someone during their unavoidable pain and suffering."

A very interesting article: read it here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Happy Christian - a review

I've just finished reading The Happy Christian by David Murray. And, most unexpectedly, I actually do feel happier!

bookThe start of the book really had me wondering if I wanted to read through to the end. There were so many references to research on happiness from the world of psychologists and social researchers. If David Murray didn't come with such excellent credentials, I would have questioned whether he was on the same theological wavelength as me. Surely our motivations should come from God's Word, said I, and not from some dubious study done somewhere with two depressed uni students and a dog?

And, as if he'd read my mind, Murray said, "Maybe you are surprised at how many times I've quoted unbelievers and called us to learn from them and excel them. Prepare to be further shocked, because I'm about to devote a whole chapter to the subject!"  Ah-ha. He was on to me.

In truth, it's an excellent book. Even as I was cynically working my way through the early chapters while holding the content at a mental arm's-length, I found myself beginning to reflect on circumstances and issues in life differently.

In the preface to Terry L. Johnson's book When grace comes home, he observes that there seem to be two kinds of Christians: those are glad about it and those who are mad about it.  The glad type overflow with thankfulness and want to share their joy with others.  Then there's the mad type:

'Their fundamental orientation is not the positive identity and benefits that they have in Christ, but anger at all those who don't share their outlook.  They are Christian, but mad about it.' 

This resonated with me at the time I read it because I recognise that kind of Christian: quick to put down others, fault-finding, unduly wary of the world, cynical and insular. I recognise it in myself all too often and I can trace back periods of time in my life when sadly it was my primary orientation.

Murray's book calls us to be different.  To be joyful. To be happy.  Now, a lot of Christians talk about the need to distinguish between "joy" and "happiness".  They are suggesting that there is a difference between temporary feelings of pleasure, or happiness, and life-long contentment and joy-even-in-the-midst-of-suffering. True. It is a helpful distinction. However, this has for some of us morphed into a general cynicism about temporal happiness (no doubt partly in reaction to those brands of Christianity that suggest unless you are happy like a giddy idiot all day long you are not a real Christian).

'...we have drifted into such a default normality of negativity that anyone calling for a more biblical balance is often viewed with grave suspicion. "He wants us to be happy? Burn the heretic!" '

As Murray, starts to attack our 'reasons' for seeing the world in such a gloomy manner (and I am the first 'Eeyore' to put my hand up for that) he points out that we have overwhelmingly more reasons to be positive and glad than we do for despair.  Really!  I found this difficult to believe (because I'm such a gloomy old thing) but sure enough after 233 pages I found myself thinking it too.

So definitely worth a read. I think the killer punch for me was when he said,

 'Many of us who wouldn't dream of viewing God's Word in a false or distorted way, think nothing of viewing God's world in a false or distorted way.'  

Guilty as charged!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It feels good

It feels good to know there are good things happening in the world.  Enjoy some happy links.

He just picked her up and ran:


Two men who saved each other's lives, 30 years apart:


It's nice when you remember those you love:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fika - a review and a recipe

I have for some time wanted to get hold of an English translation of the IKEA cookbook. On my recent pilgrimage to the Blue and Yellow Institute For Protracted Shopping Perambulation, I found it!

The photography is delightful.  The double-page spreads alternate between a shot of the ingredients (with a list on the side) and the final product with the method. 



There are 30 recipes for baking, mostly cookies but also others including three superb-looking gateaus at the end.  The recipes are simple, straightforward and do not require an endless number of odd ingredients.  The methods are also simple, making it a very attractive book to have in my kitchen for the younger folk to work from.

Our first attempt was the Swiss Roll. It's filling is mushed fresh strawberries (although you can substitute jam if you need to) and it is clean and simple but sweet.  It has a very quick cooking time - 5 minutes in a hot oven - so it's one you could whip up at short notice.  Here's a shot of ours and below is the recipe.  I bet you already have the ingredients in the cupboard.

Swiss Roll

Ingredients:
3 eggs
200 ml castor sugar
200 ml plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
50 ml milk

Filling: 1
50 ml jam or pulped fruit (we mushed a punnet of strawberries and it was definitely worth it)

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 250C. Line a roasting tray with baking paper. You don't need a special tray - we literally used our blackened roasting tray and whacked in a sheet of baking paper without even doing the fancy corners.
2. Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together flour and baking powder and then fold into egg mixture.
4. Tip in the milk and fold in.
5. Pour mixture into pan and pop in the oven on the bottom rack for 5 minutes.  I opened the oven after 5 minutes and decided the oven hadn't been hot enough and I'd give it an extra 5. I was wrong. I had to cut off a nasty scorch from the base of mine.  It really doesn't need more than 5 if your oven is hot.
6. Do not cool in tin but immediately sprinkle a little sugar over the top and then flip on to a sheet of baking paper.
7. Remove the layer of paper from the top and, while it's still warm, spread on the fruit (or jam).  Then you can roll it up and stand on a pretty plate with the end of the roll down.
8. Eat!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"This will revolutionize education"

Ah, the good old "this will revolutize education". Said so often over the years. And yet, we still primarily stick with the model of meddlesome teachers standing in front of a crowd of kids.  Why have we not done away with this ancient model of education?  Surely youtube could do it better? This video (oh, the irony) gives some clues.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Cinderella

I love me a good fairytale (especially if there are ornate dresses involved) so I suppose I will eventually be seeing Cinderella, most probably when it gets on the cheap tickets list. But the idea of meeting your prince, and escaping poverty as a result, is not just a fairytale idea but a dream that is often born of harsh realities.

This article in the SMH shines a light on how the continuing gap between rich and poor in America leads to the kind of situation when a way out of poverty becomes not so much about hard, honest work but that kind of extremely lucky break that only a fairy-godmother can pull off.  I am guessing there are probably plenty of Australian statistics that might point to a growing gap here in the lucky country too.

If this is increasingly the case in modern-day America, how much more so if we pull back the lens to look at economic systems on a world scale. What dreams might a small girl born into poverty have for her future in a developing country rife with corruption and a broken political system in 2015?

The complicated situations that give rise to inequality are not solved in an afternoon.  However, Psalm 140:12 says "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." So that's the side you probably want to be fighting on.

A Cinderella world is not really very beautiful, despite the dresses. It's one that needs the grace of the gospel to redefine it's priorities.  But the fact that we cheer for the triumph of good over evil in this tale suggests that we still recognise injustice and we long for a day when the schemers and the deceivers get their comeuppance. The question is, how can we influence the real world to reflect that desire for justice, rather than just float along with the current?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Refugee flatpacks go into production!

The UN has put in its first order for 30,000 flat-pack shelters.  You might remember I mentioned them here when it was being trialed.  Now, it's all systems go!  However, it's introduction has suffered some hurdles: Lebanon nearly knocked back the shelter because it was too good.

If you missed it the first time, here's the video explaining the concept...


And in Cat News...

Bringing you the latest in important cat-related news from around the globe...

First up, we have the answer for those of you have always thought to yourself, "I really wish my cat could have their own Instagram account which would upload automatically so our kitty could share her wonderful life more easily".

Really.

Someone thought that?

Really.

But, moving on.

Any-hoo, here it is:


Never mind the cats.  There are so many possibilities with that one.

In other news, the ABC has announced that scientists have discovered that putting 'scrunchies' on your cat can prevent them catching wildlife. You will remember the scrunchie from the 80s - that celebration of bright fabric and elastic that graced the many high ponytails of a generation.

The great news is that a 2-year study has shown that placing a scrunchie on a cat like a collar cut the number of native wildlife killed by that cat by more than half.  Seems the bright colours tip off the birds better than a bell which the cat can learn to silence.

Wait.  Did they just say a 2-year study?  Somebody was putting a scrunchie on a cat for 2 years?  No wonder the cat is making this face.

 Scrunchies prevent wildlife deaths

Oh the humiliation.  You'd just be too ashamed to leave the house to hunt.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I'm still here, really

Some of you who have been reading various blogs for a few years or more will be getting that feeling.  There's a point where the blog posts become so infrequent that you start to wonder how much longer this blogger will go on.  Well, I wish I could say for sure that I'll be around forever but I have to admit it's getting really hard to get time at my desk to reflect and type out my thoughts.  I'm doing my reflecting in snatched moments like the little space of time between when you put the toothpaste on the brush but before you make contact with your teeth.

But maybe we'll level off soon and I'll get back to things.  Maybe.  So hang in with me a little longer.

Anyway, work is going well. It's solid but not overwhelming.  We are all still wearing clean clothes and eating dinner so things are okay at home.  The kids are actually having a great start to the year school-wise and home-wise so that's a relief.

We just got back today from our church camp. It was fun but my awesome husband was the camp coordinator, so it was busy and now we both feel like the-day-after-a-youth-group-sleepover. Kind of fury around the eyeballs. Still, you can't beat being stuck together over a whole weekend for getting to know people and bonding.

Someone asked me this weekend if teaching was a stressful occupation.

Well.  You know from the question that they don't have a teacher in their family, I guess.

I answered fairly honestly when I said that some times it was energizing and sometimes it was exhausting and very stressful.  I can't imagine now not being a teacher. When I had been on maternity leave for about 6 years, and I was walking back into my school to start back on a tiny part-time allocation of 20 days a year, I remember feeling a wave of excitement and thankfulness coming over me. I love that place so dearly.  It's the people, I guess.  It's the opportunity to do good.  It's the joy of seeing lights come on when someone makes a discovery about learning or life.  It's the wounds and the sorrows of not being about to help make a difference in some cases.  It's kingdom work and it is the joy of working at something that lasts.

So, yeah, it's a busy year. And, yes, it has already been stressful.  But, oh, I love it!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A truly terrible honeymoon

I read this blog post aloud to my husband tonight and had to keep stopping to mop up my tears of laughter.  David Murray explains why he won the "Most Interesting Honeymoon" prize at his recent church fundraiser.  Go on and read it aloud - it's like therapy.

Monday, March 2, 2015

3-D printing a hand

I seem to be just re-posting videos at the moment... I promise I'll write something of my own before too long.  Till then, enjoy this video about a local high school, a 3D printer and a little boy who could do with a hand... literally!


HT A holy experience

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Attention to detail is a strength

So, a dad was worrying about his autistic son who was going to "age out" of support services in the U.S. He came up with this (which is awesome)...
HT 22words

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

On not falling off the face of the earth

Yes, I am still around.  It's just been a HUGE two weeks.  Anyway, the dust has settled enough for me to say hello.

New job at work is eating into my online life.  This is probably a good thing. But I do miss blogging. I write blog posts occasionally while brushing my teeth. Or dashing around the kitchen. I just don't get to type them out.

And the other issue is that most of the interesting things that happen I dare not commit to the internet which is, after all, a rather public medium. 

Indeed, this blog may one day have to be abandoned. I am still working out what to do about it.  Having a blog that is discoverable with no privacy controls is a possible problem. But I can't see myself having an enthusiasm for writing a blog that is password protected.  Who'd bother? For the time being, I'm watching my words and seeing how things go.

I did have a bit of a digital problem at the end of last year when another site that I'd posted on (long story) changed my online name to my full real-life name.  Which meant any student that googled me could find those articles and through those articles find this blog.  Took me about 4 months to figure out a fix (the good folk in charge of the other site were very helpful).

Then there was the issue of the blurb I'd written about myself that had been used for that site.  There was nothing wrong with it except that Google decided to abbreviate it and put "..." in the wrong place.  It was supposed to read, "Deb is sometimes a school teacher and at other times can be found drinking too much tea and blogging at This Fleeting Moment".  No problems there.  Except that if you googled my name you got this: "Deb is sometimes a school teacher and at other times can be found drinking too much...

Oh dear.  Sigh. 

Thankfully, when I went to our principal to proactively explain the problem just in case the information came to him some other way, he thought it was hilarious.  I've since cleared my name, as it were, and can be googled without the insinuation that I have a drinking problem.

So there we have it.  The perils of online life.  Anyway, now that things are settling a bit, I hope to say a more frequent cheerio than I have been.

On Guard - a review



On Guard
I've just finished reading On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju.  While much of it was what I had heard before through professional development, it was still worth the read to place child protection issues firmly within the unique context of a church organisation.


We are fools - worse than that actually, because to ignore the truth is reprehensible - if we think it could never happen in our church.  We cannot rely on the idea that we'd know if someone was a danger.  You never do.

If you work in a church, volunteer for a church or go to a church regularly, this should be on your reading list. I'll certainly be pressing my copy into the hands of all our church leaders.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Clean for half the price

I'm into the first week back of school and work.  Love to tell you more but I've been running around like a headless chook tonight and I'm too tired.  We were cleaning up the house tonight in preparation for the first visit of our new cleaner tomorrow afternoon.  As hubby and I cleared away the clutter after the kids had gone to bed, he said, "You know, for about half the price, we could probably employ someone to just come over once a fortnight to check that we'd cleaned up properly the night before."

Friday, January 30, 2015

If you happen to be a Scottish soup maker...

you seriously need to consider ordering one of these Nessie soup ladles.  Because ... hilarious!

From here.  HT Boredpanda.

loch-ness-monster-soup-ladle-ototo-coverimage

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Tread

This is so cleverly awesome.  It's the Leatherman converted into a wristband. It's 25 tools on your wrist as links.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The island of Zakynthos



How A Bishop And A Mayor Saved 275 Jews in Greece

I watched the ABC's Drum tonight (start watching at 21 mins and finish just before 24 mins) and heard Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, recount a WWII story about the Jews of the Greek island of Zakynthos. 

It was in the context of the importance of not being a bystander to wrong-doing, and it was a beautiful example of people who were prepared to stand up for what was right even at the risk of grave danger.  In short, the Mayor and Bishop of the island offered themselves rather than see the 275 Jewish islanders taken by the Nazis.  Well worth the 3 minutes it takes to hear him tell the story. 

 And if you'd like to know a bit more, this article is an interview with one of the Jews that survived and this article tells the story of a Jewish journalist who stumbles across the story while on the visit to the island and who then plays her own part in returning thanks for the great courage of those involved.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The chillies are not optional

I was running a pile of errands yesterday morning and lunchtime snuck up on me. Feeling ravenous and about to succumb to the smell of the nearest fast-food multinational, I spied a Vietnamese bakery with pork rolls.  Deciding that would at least up my vegetable intake, I ducked in and faced an old Vietnamese lady waiting patiently to take my order.

"I'll have a BBQ pork roll, please, but no chillies."  The chillies were sliced and still bore the seeds so I thought it might be a bit much for me.
"You want everything but no chillies?" she asked a little surprised.
"Yes, please."

And, while I watched, she put together a mouth-watering roll.  Just before the end, she added several small slices of chilli.  Her eyes swept up to my face and she said, ever so sweetly, "Now. I only put two."

I laughed,  "No worries." 

Because apparently the chillies are not optional when she makes her rolls. She was right. What would I know?

I am already dreaming of another one of those rolls.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chez joyeux

Chez joyeux is a blog I read from time to time. Thought I'd share this post with you because I got a good giggle out of it.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The trip

Oh, the relentless jetlag! I still feel awful in the mornings and reasonably bright about 10 pm. However, if I wait till I feel able to write the *perfect* blog post about my trip it will never happen.

So, ten days in India: cold, fascinating, rugged, endearing, tiring, fun.

Cold - my parents live up in the north of India at the base of the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.  So January is very cold. I slept in socks, long undearwear, a woollen spencer, a long-sleeve t-shirt and then flannel pjs over all of that and some nights I wore a beanie for good measure. I don't think it is so much that the weather is extreme - they are down in the valley so they don't get snow - but that the heating that we take for granted in winter is absent and the housing is mainly large concrete bunkers that operate like a fridge. I never went around the house with bare feet or just socks. The concrete floors were like ice and you felt it creeping up your ankles as soon as your little toes touch the ground.

My bedroom.

Fascinating - I enjoyed the sights and sounds and diversions of being in a totally different place. Someone asked my parents before I came if they thought I'd be shocked by India. The answer is, no, I wasn't. In many ways it was very much like my own childhood memories: noisy streets, people and rubbish everywhere, rough streets, auto-rickshaws which are very much like what we got around in, motorbikes, street dogs.... and so on.  So the infrastructure was similar although the culture was different. It's fun to learn things and try and work out how to operate in a new place. I love the tricks and idiosyncrasies that you uncover as you learn how people live, love and work in a different environment.

Walking up the street to get to the main road

Main road
Rugged - my parents live in an apartment on the campus at which they work.  That said, it's very different to an apartment in Australia. There is hot water in the bathroom, but not the kitchen. The tap water is not safe unless it's run through the water filter first. The only heating is comes from a small heater that runs off a portable gas cylinder. They have a fridge and a washing machine.  Their stove is two burners that run off another gas cylinder. They have a microwave, mobile phones and television. Their home is comfortable and it's all fine if you are well. But it's another thing when you are sick. Dad had gastro for two days near the start of my visit after eating something dodgy (we never did figure out what). I felt pretty bad for him when he was under the weather and was trekking out of his bed to the freezing cold bathroom. Now that they are in their 70s, I'm glad they've decided to retire.


The shower.


The bathroom.


The stove.

Endearing - I can understand why they love the place. The campus they are part of is wonderful. Full of delightful people you can't help but fall in love with and full of meaningful, engaging and purposeful work. They are truly round pegs in round holes there. They are surrounded by people who obviously love them to bits and busy each day with kingdom work. I am not the least bit puzzled as to why they've stayed 15 years.

Chocolate Corner - one of Mum's favourite shops.
You just need to know before you go that it is not on a corner
and chocolate is not its primary business.

Tiring - sooooo cold. It was a bit exhausting.  And there was the constant meeting of new people.  And the diving in to deep conversations with the short amount of time available meant that I felt pretty spent at the end of each day.  Getting your head around how you do even ordinary things in a totally different environment and being always on alert for correct manners and conversation is tiring too. Also... soooooo cold.

The horn = indispensable road safety item.

Fun - I am glad I went. I have certainly not 'caught the travel bug'. I was very glad to see my own bed and *carpet* (oh the joy) again. But I did have a lot of fun while I was there. An Australian friend who has been working at the campus for a year took me out on her motor scooter one afternoon.  There I was, zipping along in the frosty air 9 km up the mountain, hanging on to the back of the scooter as we dodged handcarts, street dogs, crazy auto-drivers and slow moving pedestrians, without a helmet and not a care in the world! Shopping at the main bazaar was fun. Being invited to lunch at various houses was great because I got to wander down lanes and spend time in family homes rather than just look on from the outside.


I wish we had this shop near home. I could do with fewer problems.


Not so convinced about the name of this shop, however.

But it is LOVELY to be home.  I am so grateful to God for safety and good health while I was away. And so thankful to be home.  Did I mention home?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack

I am feeling very jet-lagged today so I don't trust myself to make enough sense to write a proper post. Instead, I'll post this ad for a Singaporean bank that I saw about a gizillion times on the flights to and from India.  I thought it was sweet.