Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007 (another attempt)

Okay, by popular demand, a more serious attempt at a Christmas Letter for 2007, or at least a "Year in review" for us. You can read it online here.

Brisbane 9pm New Year's Eve Fireworks

Okay, these are quick, low-quality copies, but that's what you get when I took the photos only an hour ago! Enjoy.

New Year’s Resolutions

Next year I want to:
  • continue to grow in my relationship with God
  • continue my journey towards being the teacher God wants me to be
  • be an even better husband
  • learn to play drums
  • do more viola practice
  • (learn how to) do some rock climbing

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Catching up with friends

We drove back to Brisbane on Boxing Day, after a relaxing Christmas in Valla Beach with Nadine and Dennis and their family.

The drive back took us seven hours again, by almost the same route. We just took it easy, not wanting to get involved in any shenanigans or excitement—unlike (apparently) some of the other drivers on the roads that day.

The following few days have been filled with friends and laughter. It’s been really good to catch up with some old friends (Facebook just isn’t the same). We even saw Stuart last night, who’s been living in Kalgoorlie!

More family and friends in the coming week, then we go up to CMS Summer School on Mt Tamborine on Friday. We’re planning to be “in for visitors” on Thursday 3rd. Come visit us if you’re free, at Ian’s parents’ place: 54 Highcrest Dr (corner with Ranchwood Ave), Browns Plains.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wedding in Dorrigo: Tracey & Londe

Drove up to Dorrigo yesterday for Tracey & Londe's wedding. It was spitting and raining for most of the day, but stopped just as the girls arrived at the church (St Stephens, Anglican).

The boys turned up wearing cool black hats; they looked like Mafia boys. And then the bridesmaids showed up with matching white hats! They all looked very smart.

The reception was at the bowling club. Tracey's friends Tash and Bre from Darwin had decorated the hall very nicely. Laetitia and I got to know a few of Tracey's friends during the evening, including these two girls. Tracey's mum had made us Cottage Pie, and Tracey herself had made us some delicious chocolate cake; we were very well fed!

(More photos available here.)

We stayed the night up in Dorrigo, at the Dangar Falls Lodge, which is a twelve-bed building right next to the Dangar Falls parking and lookout area. Tracey had booked it for the week. On Sunday morning we walked down to the falls, then spent some time sight-seeing before returning to the Lodge with take-away lunch from a cafe in town.

We stopped in Bellingen to check out some craft places, both on the way up and on the way back down.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Drive to Valla Beach

We took a leisurely drive down to Valla Beach today. Rathdowney first, where we spent our third and fourth nights on our honeymoon almost ten years ago. Then the Lions Road over the range to Kyogle. We stopped for lunch at Wiangaree just north of Kyogle.

From Kyogle we drove down the Bruxner Highway to Grafton, then took the beautiful back road to Coffs Harbour, arriving there from the west down through the banana plantations. I like this road. It's quiet and relaxing, gorgeous gum forests to look at, enough hills and turns to keep you awake (unlike the sleepy 340km between Mackay and Rockhampton, which is otherwise very similar), and only a couple of towns to slow down for.

They're still working on the highway just south of Coffs, but it's much better than it was this time last year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


We went out for dinner tonight, with our parents, to “Zafron”, a Persian/Mediterranean restaurant on Brunswick St in the Valley. Let's just say they don't cater to vegans. Only one dish on the menu seems to be okay… but no such luck. All the rice is prepared with butter; no, they can't do up any more. The lavash bread is pre-stuffed with cheese and who knows what else. The chef came out to chat, but she wasn't very helpful. In the end she offered to mix and match a couple of items from the menu, including a few dips with some Turkish bread.

Our meals were served on very large plates, of a most interesting variety of shapes. But the servings themselves were not especially large. Laetitia and I basically shared a few slices of Turkish bread and dips, and a small helping of char-grilled vegetables. Laetitia's mum was disappointed that her “Lamb Shanks” turned out to be “Lamb Shank” (no plural). The flavours were certainly delicious, and the texture and preparation excellent… just there wasn't enough of it to satisfy. (And they charged Laetitia and me $15 each for the privelege. Our parents' meals were quite a bit more—the meal total for six adults was $120.)

Recommendation: Don't, unless you're a rich meat-eater.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Drive to Brisbane

We made it to Brisbane! That was a long drive. It's only 1000km, but it took us 13 hours. Okay, we spent over an hour at Vicki's in Rockhampton for lunch. And then just as we came through Gympie, the rain came bucketing down. We were all driving slowly and carefully (except for one or two drivers who apparently were in too much of a hurry to take care, even after driving past an accident on a bridge) through to about Caboolture when the rain lightened up. We just kept swapping drivers every hour or so.

This lovely park is in Malborough, about two thirds of the way from Mackay to Rockhampton.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Towards Reconciliation

We in Australia are part of a frighteningly racist society. Cherbourg School Principal Chris Sarra recently spoke at a ‘Towards Reconciliation’ Indigenous Education Conference. When I read the following excerpts from his speech, I was … well, okay, not really shocked. I did already know how racist people are. But I guess I'd hoped for more from fellow teachers.

Chris said (in part):

I had to challenge teachers and students who were colluding and reinforcing this notion that Aboriginal children were to be feared or despised, or at best helpless and pitiable … You see I wanted our children at Cherbourg to act like Aborigines and not like delinquents and not like no hopers. I wanted them to act like Aborigines and this was the space that we created for children and this is what we got.

I did challenge teachers about their restricted beliefs of children in school and I did say to them what I believe: that our children can leave here with a very strong and very positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal and they can leave here with educational outcomes that are just as good as any other child in any other school in Queensland. I did say to them ‘if you don't believe this, then you will have to go’ and it is true that half the teaching staff got up and left.

Half the teaching staff did not believe that Aboriginal children could either (a) achieve a positive sense of Aboriginal identity or (b) achieve as well academically as any other children. I'm disappointed.

And just in case you agree with them, let's look at the results:

When I was principal at Cherbourg school, I saw the true colours of Aboriginal children … I saw Year 2 literacy improve from a point where no children were at expected reading levels in 1998 to a point where 52% of Year 2 children were at expected reading levels just two years later. I saw Year 7 literacy improve to the extent that all children were at rock bottom in state-wide diagnostic tests in 1999, to a point where 17 out of 21 Year 7 children were within the state average band for literacy in 2004. I saw unexplained absenteeism reduced by 94% within 18 months. I saw real attendance improve—62% in 1999 to 93% in 2004.

The bottom line for teachers?

Teachers in schools need to know just three things if they want to get great things from Aboriginal children: high expectations, high expectations, high expectations.

(Quotes taken from ‘True colours—strong and smart’, Independent Education, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 8–10.)

Mathematics and science—different from other subjects?

Below is a copy of a letter I have written to the editor of The Independent Voice, a newspaper for QIEU members. I responded to an article written by Chris Seymour; you can read the full document on which his article was based (my letter is in response to section 3.4 starting on page 5).

Dear IV Editor,

Chris Seymour writes in part (IV Nov 2007, p.6) that ‘demonstrationg “knowledge, [sic] and understanding of concepts, facts and procedures, and applications of processes” [is] a narrow skill set … valuable for mathematics and science but prejudicial to English’ (and presumably other humanities subjects). Without denying the value of these criteria for mathematics and science, I would argue that in both mathematics and science, as in English, ‘visual literacy, affective and attitudinal domains and values’ are equally important.

Indeed, as a high school mathematics and science teacher, I have seen many students fail to gain knowledge and understanding of ‘concepts, facts, procedures and processes’ directly because of affective and attitudinal factors. Some cannot learn these concepts because, for example, they lack confidence in their own ability. Others do not learn the concepts because they choose not to (attitude). Yet others fail entirely to engage with the subject (particularly in mathematics) because they simply do not value such knowledge.

Certainly mathematics and science involve ‘aspects of visual literacy’, in the form of symbols and technical terms which need to be recognised and used appropriately. “Positive dispositions towards mathematics learning and active engagement with mathematical tasks are integral to thinking, reasoning and working mathematically.” (Mathematics: Years 1 to 10 Syllabus, QSA, 2004, p.1)

Please do not single out mathematics and science as different from other subjects because they supposedly lack any affective, attitudinal or value-related factors. We need to remember that we are actually teaching students, not subjects.

Yours faithfully,
Ian Bailey-Mortimer
(Teacher, Mackay Christian College)

Christmas letter 2007

Those of you who've known us for more than a year will know that we've published a substantial Christmas epistle each year for the last few years. However, what we've found is that most people don't actually seem to read it. We know this because they still ask us questions that we've already answered in our letter!

So instead, this year, if you want to know more about our lives in 2007, please feel free to call us, email us or read our blogs.. er, hang on, you're already doing the latter. :-)

Anyway, Laetitia and I will be on holiday for the next few weeks, so our internet access will be somewhat intermittent. I'll try to write blog entries when I can, and upload a few photos when bandwidth is available.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


There was this most gorgeous sunset that I saw from the gym carpark. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me at the time! So this fairly pathetic attempt at digital artwork will have to do. Sorry.

There really were these four pink-orange swathes of light beaming out over the dark grey clouds. It was awesome! God, you're a great painter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday plans

People keep asking me about our holiday plans, so I thought I'd just add it to my blog, and then next time I can just point people to this blog entry.

  1. Drive from Mackay to Brisbane
    1. Leave Mackay Sunday afternoon 16th or Monday morning 17th (depending when we're ready)
    2. Possible stopover between Rocky and Bundaberg (inclusive)
    3. Arrive in Brisbane

  2. Spend a few mad days in Brisbane
  3. Tracey's wedding and Christmas
    1. Drive to Valla Beach near Coffs Harbour Friday 21st
    2. Stay with Laetitia's sister Nadine and Dennis
    3. Up to Dorrigo on Saturday 22nd for Tracey's wedding
    4. Spend Christmas in Valla Beach
    5. Drive back to Brisbane some time before New Year

  4. New Year
    1. Probably go to some mad friend's New Year's party (any volunteers?)
    2. Spend a few relaxed days in Brisbane

  5. CMS Summer School 4th-10th January
    1. Drive up to Mt Tamborine Friday afternoon 4th
    2. Enjoy the cool air and good company
    3. Study the Bible
    4. Make new friends
    5. Drive back to Brisbane Thursday 10th

  6. Return to Mackay
    1. Leave Brisbane Friday 11th
    2. Possible stopover between Bundaberg and Rocky (inclusive)
    3. Arrive in Mackay

There may yet be changes to this timetable, and there's plenty of flexibility built-in, but that's the basic plan.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Poisonwood Bible, or Tata Jesus is Bängala!

Finally got around to finishing off The Poisonwood Bible. I found finishing it hard, and not only because the end of the school year got in the way. The last part of the book seemed … well, a bit weird, actually. To me.

The story is “about” a Baptist missionary family from the south-east of the USA, who go to the Belgian Congo in 1959, shortly before that country's independence. It is also, more accurately, about the history of that independence, and the nature of its effects on the local people and the international scene. It is about culture, mission, and human nature.

The story is told in the voice of the four daughters of the evangelistic patriarch (with introductory narratives by their mother). Right from the word go, I picked Adah as a mathematician—which says something either about me or about Barbara Kingsolver's ability to portray characters well. Actually, I think Kingsolver's characters are excellently developed and very cleverly portrayed. But in the end I think I liked Adah's perspective the most.

The first two-thirds of the book are a narrative of the family's arrival and gradual adjustment to the local culture. Then the critical event happens (sorry, no spoilers here). The last part of the book describes the aftermath and legacy. The mother and daughters each reflect on their experiences.

I do recommend you read this book, if you haven't already. It provides an illuminating perspective on the history of the Belgian Congo / Zaire / D.R. Congo. The cultural and historical processes involved are discussed clearly and critically but without absolute moral judgement. And it is also an enjoyable read (my earlier comment about the latter part of the book notwithstanding).

Young adult reading list: Suggestions wanted

I've asked this on my facebook account, but I know there are plenty of you who don't read that, so I'll ask it here too:

I'm building a reading list for my younger (13-14 years old) students for next year. So I'm looking for a variety of interesting, important and/or confronting books across a range of genres. What book(s) would you recommend?

School's out

School is over for the year—yay! I survived my first year!

I've sorted through all my paperwork for the year, too. My desk is almost clear again. I still have a stack of maths worksheets to sort, though, ready for next year. That's Monday's job. :-)

Now I'm contemplating how to go about selling my photos. I intend to submit a fair few to a stock photo agency. But I think I can do more. I think I'd like to talk to a business consultant about it. I have the skills I need, but I lack wisdom: I can budget, but I don't know what are reasonable amounts to expect; I know how to plan, but I don't know what are realistic, achievable goals; I can build a website, but I don't know what style of website will attract the most customers and achieve the best sales.

Do you know anyone who can help me with this? Please let me know.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The gym

I've been jogging to the gym lately, as my warm up exercise. Well, I've been trying to. But I can definitely see an improvement in my fitness: Today I managed to jog most of the way there, instead of my usual stop-start-stop-start. (The gym is about 1.5km from home.)

When we used to live in Brisbane I was walking 2km+ every day. When we first arrived in Mackay I was doing almost no exercise at all, and I noticed within a month or so a distinct drop in my fitness level. So it's good to be seeing my fitness improving again.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Well I've been trying Flickr as a way to put some of my 3000 or so digital photos on the web. Unfortunately, as nice as Flickr is for browsing, to actually manage any serious collection of photos one has to pay—and it's about $US25 per year.

So I'll try a few of the other free photo sharing sites and see what I come up with. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

(URL for my Flickr account updated 16 Dec 2007)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


No, I'm not talking about the 1960s musical. I'm talking about my own mop. Well, it was a mop. But now it's shorter, neater and definitely much cooler.

See, I had planned to grow it long, for our tenth wedding anniversary next August. It was down to my shoulder blades when we married, and Laetitia wanted me to grow it long again for our anniversary. I started growing it this term. But what with the warm humidity and the bother of looking after it and the way it falls out and makes a mess everywhere that I get hounded about because I'm too busy to clean it up, and with the way it blows in my eyes when I'm driving and tangles around my glasses and just plain looks messy most of the time… I decided I couldn't be bothered.

Besides, when my year 10 girls can do this to me, my hair is definitely too long!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Moving on up

Last week the year 12 students graduated.

On Friday last week, when the year 12s were away on their Mystery Tour, the year 11s lost no time in staking out new territory in the area where the year 12s normally used to hang out during lunch breaks. On Monday the year 10s were filling in the spaces vacated by the year 11s. Surprisingly the year 9s haven't moved much—although perhaps that's because there are still quite a few year 10 students who also haven't moved. But the year 8s are already noticeably infiltrating the year 9 areas.

I suppose it must be an annual migration. Different areas of the school grounds become associated with the different year levels, and the students feel the need to move on up, preferably a little sooner than the start of next year…

(With apologies to M People for the title of this blog entry.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our weekend in Brisbane

While the photos are being downloaded, backed up, imported, etc, I figure I may as well tell you a little about our weekend in Bris Vegas.

Got there at 11am on Friday, took far too long to travel about 15km to the restaurant where we met our parents for lunch. Spent the afternoon shopping for a few things we needed, and showing our car to a potential buyer. Had dinner at my parents' place, went to bed early—I was pretty tired!

Saturday was the wedding day. This was actually a “Wedding Party” to celebrate their marriage with friends and renew their vows; the original wedding was in a hospital chapel with the serious threat of imminent death for the groom (here's more info for those who don't know the story). It was a great time of celebration. But since we were the official photographers, we didn't get time to eat lunch or anything much else, except a few bits of fruit grabbed from the nibblies available.

It was held at Palma Rosa: the service outside behind and below the house, the food-eating inside afterwards, and much chatting and mingling on the wide verandahs. Laetitia did a great job of rounding people up for the many family and group photos. By the end of the afternoon the bride and groom were quite worn out, so the plan to go into town for more photos was cancelled, and we went straight to the Pancake Manor for dinner… Uh oh, Laetitia and I can't eat there either! So we grabbed some fast food on the way.

On Sunday we dropped in on the bride and groom to deliver photo proofs and films, and then went to a birthday party of another friend. In the evening we flew home to Mackay.

This is the first wedding I've shot with a digital camera, and I'm very happy with it. I don't have to worry about how much film I'm using up! Yeah baby!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Senior Grad

What a wonderful evening!

It was held in the function room at the local bowls club. It had been decorated nicely, and there was plenty of room (or so I thought). When we first arrived Laetitia thought we might have been overdressed because we saw a few people walking in who were dressed quite casually, but they must have been locals just going to the club. In fact Laetitia turned out to be dressed very appropriately. She looked gorgeous in her Sex Kitten outfit.

First there was an informal meet-and-greet session as people arrived and mingled, followed by a large group photo. Then guests without tickets had to leave, and the rest of us took our seats for the introductions, after which came the meal and formal speeches and presentations.

The speeches were lovely: not too long, very meaningful. Even Laetitia commented on the wisdom of the principal's encouraging message about keeping your eyes on the goal and letting God watch your steps.

Finally the cake was cut, and the graduates got up and danced. They have been practicing for months, and it showed. They looked fantastic! They began with a waltz, then a cha-cha. The third dance was rock-and-roll, after which they invited other guests to join them.

Which brings me to what I think was the greatest thing about the night: The parents were a major part of the evening's celebrations. Every student's parents were there, and some brothers, sisters and grandparents too. It was a lovely evening in which the parents and families really got to celebrate together. The parents were invited to stand behind their children and bless them, and the students presented flowers to their parents as a token of thanks.

And now I'd better go because I have a plane to catch. We're going to Brisbane this morning, for Esther and Andy's wedding party tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Celebration week & Mr Muscle

Whew! What a week.

On Monday evening at square dancing, someone stood on my foot. It hurt. I've been limping since.

Tuesday morning I lost a lesson I'd planned for because instead we had a whole-high-school practice for Celebration Night. Then I lost the next lesson too, because my year 12 students were practicing for their final Chapel on Thursday morning. I had intended to do a “maths in the kitchen” (i.e. cooking) lesson with them. But that was okay, we did it at lunch time instead. They loved the cake I made, and the chocolate cubes and chicken stir fry that two of them made.

Tuesday night was Celebration Night. It was exciting and action packed (no, really!). In a distinctly different experience from my own high school graduation nights, the principal spoke for only 20 minutes. The school's Jazz Ensemble played at the end, and they were simply fantastic!

Wednesday morning was Celebration Morning, when they gave out all the awards they didn't have time for on Tuesday night. After that I got to supervise a year 10 drama class; I think I'll ask to teach drama some time in the future, it was a lot of fun!

Then this morning was Senior Chapel. The year 12s came in free dress, and produced a morning of music, short speeches, advice, and teacher awards. I am now officially “Mr Muscle”. (“Although it looks like there's nothing on the outside, all the power is on the inside!”) My year 8s asked me in the next lesson whether they could call me that. (I said, “Sure, for the rest of this year—but I don't promise to answer!”) The teachers sang “I cannot tell…” for the graduating students; I played violin, a last-minute idea that worked out quite well.

Tonight is the Senior Graduation Dinner. I hope I survive!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What a beginning teacher says about his first year

For one of the final subjects in CHC's Bachelor of Education program, the lecturer sets an assignment which is fairly free-form; one of the options for the assignment is to interview some beginning teachers to find out what they thought of their first year of teaching. I remember doing this assignment last year, and very much appreciating the helpful responses I got.

Anyway, one of my fellow students at CHC, who finishes this year, asked me if I would answer some questions for her. Remembering how much I got out of it myself, I told her I'd love to! Little did I know how many questions she'd ask..

It took me a few hours to type up the answers. (She ‘interviewed’ me by email.) And I thought, maybe others might be interested in my answers. So I've made them available on the web. Enjoy! (Warning: It's quite long.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Loquacious Laetitia

And now my wife also has a blog:

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Part of the family

Laetitia keeps reminding me that I haven't posted to my blog for a while, so here goes..

This afternoon she told me something very touching. Her mum has offered us their piano (I have no idea how we could possibly get it up here to Mackay!) because I'm “the only person in the family who (still) plays piano”. Why do I find that touching? It shows that she considers me part of her family.

Meanwhile, we've just been offered a 13-month extension to our lease here (until early January 2009), which means we don't have to worry about finding somewhere to live for next year. For those who don't know, we currently live directly over the fence from the school where I work—I can even connect to the school's wireless network from our dining room table, on a good day. This is very convenient, as it saves us from needing two cars (or alternatively from organising a complicated schedule that would get us both to work on time). But it can be almost too convenient: it can sometimes be hard for me to leave my work behind when I come home, and it's almost too easy for me to go in to the staffroom on a weekend.

Speaking of two cars, we're still trying to sell our Volvo 440. Know anyone who wants one?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

An unexpected marriage proposal

Well today one of the year 9 girls (not one of my own students) told me we were getting married. I thought I'd misheard, so I asked her, “Who are you going to marry?” Me, apparently! She wasn't at all bothered when I asked her what I was going to tell my wife! Go figure.

Meanwhile, in other news, some of my year 12 students are very happy to have finished all their maths assessment - for ever, for a couple of them! (Or so they think now.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Graffiti and punishment

Today I encountered my first unsupportive parent. I guess I'm doing quite well, really, considering I've made it nearly to the end of October.

After a term and a half of almost no graffiti, the first science lesson this week ended with serious marking of almost half the desks in the room. Who knows why it happens like this? Anyway, as instructed by my HOF, I implemented firm consequences: after the next lesson, all the students sitting at each group of desks where graffiti had been found joined me on the playground for litter duty.

Today I got a letter from a parent: “My daughter has been brought up to respect furniture and would not dream of writing on a desk.” (I'm paraphrasing.) “Yet apparently she was punished for what some other child did. I want a written apology to my daughter from the teacher who accused her of writing on the desk.”

So I called the mother back after school, to explain the situation. Yes, I understand your point of view; yes, I agree, your daughter is a lovely girl. However, at least one of the four lovely girls in her group left some serious graffiti on the desks. (And it's not the first time, either. But I didn't say that.) “I don't believe in group punishment.” I'm not trying to punish the many for the sins of the one, I'm trying to inculcate some respect for school property and to build some responsibility for preventing re-occurrence. (Not quite what I said.) “But my daughter was not responsible for the graffiti.” Perhaps not, but then she sat idle while she watched her friend damaging the desk. “You didn't even ask my daughter whether she did it.” Correct: I've tried that before. Every student disclaims responsibility. Then what? Nobody did it? It just happened all by itself? (No, I didn't actually say that. Just wanted to.) “Well, that's your responsibility. It's the school's responsibility, and the teacher's.”

What I wish I could have responded with was: Fine, you come in to the next science lesson, I'll line the kids up for you, and you can try to figure out who did it. They're all yours. (Perhaps when you see how hard my job is, you'll reconsider what you're asking of me. Oh, this isn't the perfect environment you envisioned for your daughter's education? Then maybe you ought to consider home schooling.)

Instead, what I actually said was: I understand your point of view; I'm doing the best I can.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bill Bailey out of hospital after 5½ weeks!

Laetitia writes:

Dad is out of hospital (got out Mon 15 Oct). He and Mum have been staying with Mum's mum for the last week or so because her bathroom was remodelled last year so there's no lip to the shower.

He has to go up to the hospital for things like rehab, chest x-ray… Some things can be done by a visiting nurse—he had his throat dressing (from the tracheostomy) changed on Monday and it is healing well—that may be the last dressing change. He had a blood test on Tuesday but they didn't have those results when I talked to Mum about him yesterday.

The lower part of his lung (left?) is still collapsed so he has to do some deep breathing exercises. He's on about 4 different drugs including Warfarin and fluid reduction tablets. His fluid reduction tablet morning dose was increased to two (from one) because his feet are swollen in the morning. I suspect this is to do with both legs having been opened to get a suitable vein for the bypass.

On the whole he is on the mend and reasonably cheery—who wouldn't be at simply being out of hospital after 5.5 weeks! :-)

[Note from Ian: For those who don't know, Laetitia's dad went into hospital on 5 September for a heart valve replacement.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Townsville photos

Just a few images of Townsville for you…

The view from our motel window. (Mt Stuart in background.)

Magnetic Island from the beach (The Strand).

Magnetic Island again, from Castle Hill. (City in foreground.)
The wierd colours are entirely false: The image was taken through an infra-red filter (which is almost opaque black to the eye, but lets infra-red light through), and the colours are artefacts of the camera's white-balance algorithm.

A cool sign we found beside the road going up to the Mt Stuart lookout.

Little brown ants

When we went to Townsville recently (what, three weeks ago? last weekend of the school holidays), we stayed at a motel on the southern side of town. In the little guidebook they put in our room, there was an FAQ for “There are little brown ants in my room.” We found the response quite amusing; it was along the lines of “Yes, there are. Please try not to feed them.”

So now every time Laetitia and I see the little brown ants (and they really are everywhere in tropical Queensland—I've even seen them inside computers at school!) we say to each other, “There are little brown ants in my room.”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Open Day 2007

Well yesterday was Open Day. I was surprised at the number of people who came. Even some of my students who left to attend other schools during the year! Obviously this is quite a community event.

I'd love to post some photos, but unfortunately the only ones I have are of some of my students.

I climbed the climbing tower! Well, I didn't quite make it all the way to the top. You get about three quarters of the way up and then suddenly it's like, I have to put my foot where? It was not a question of strength, but of inexperience with knowing how to get from here to there. Two of my smallest students were also the best climbers: up they shot like little monkeys, ring the bell, even turning around and waving, and hanging off the wall facing out.

The fireworks at the end were pretty impressive.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Right now, by the way, I've been playing a bit with Facebook. My wife invited me. Sigh.

Welcome to my blog!

That's welcome to me, as well as to you!

I decided the other night (while I was lying awake at— well, it was far too early to be already wide awake and unable to get back to sleep, let's leave it at that, okay?) that I needed to keep in touch better with my (extended) family and friends. So I thought I'd try keeping a blog.

I'm no stranger to the ideas or the technology (I used to be a computer programmer; I wrote software like this, for fun) but I just haven't got around to starting my own blog yet. I guess I never really thought I had anything to say. Perhaps I still don't! Ah well, I guess we'll see whether anyone is interested in reading what I write.

So: Welcome to my blog. Let me post this now so I can get started.