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.