Friday, June 30, 2006

Things to Do

A list for Matt:

- teach 4 lessons
- run 1 detention
- finish cleaning / emptying the old flat (not much left to do)
- get garage door openers installed
- change 2 light switches
- new light fittings for lounges
- bank some cheques
- get bill from lawyer to bank
- redirect mail, pick up big stack of change-of-address postcards
- book a video camera for the holidays
- have a beer (at the end of today)
- pick up last curtain from Lower Hutt
- go home promptly for phone connection
- enjoy holidays
- duck home to pick up apples for shared morning tea period 2

Better dash!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

We are in

We now live in our new house - complete with nice carpet.

There's a bunch of stuff still at the old house - probably in the neighbourhood of a carload of stuff in the kitchen area, plus lots of old boxes in the garage that we didn't use for packing. Hopefully we can get clear of the old place tonight - we have until Sunday, so there's no panic, but it would be nice...

Lots of unpacking to do at home. The good news is that there are only 2 days between us and the holidays!

We should have the phone on at our new place tonight - same number as before. So once we set the computer up, we'll be all internetty again.

There are a number of audiobooks that are in the public domain (creative commons recordings of texts that are in the public domain, like Sherlock Holmes) that I am interested in downloading, so that's likely to be on the menu for the near future.

Icy window on the car today - had to scrape it off with a kiwifruit spoon.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Burns, Curtains, Aches...

Our house has curtains now, thanks to the combined efforts of Debbie, Barbara, Luke, Sam and myself! And a little over $1000. The curtains look good.

Hanging curtains is tiring work, especially with nothing to stand on (there is no furniture in our house yet). Holding your arms over your head for extended periods of time is less than fun, and for some odd reason has made my jaw ache.

I also changed a light fitting (yay me!) which again involved much arms-over-head action - though this time I was standing on a chair (brought over by the wonderful Luke and Sam).

So our house has one piece of furniture in it. Disregard my earlier lies.

Our house also has about 80 - 90% of our kitchen stuff in it, plus sundry other bits and bobs. We are waiting for the $5000 worth of new carpet to go in before taking anything over that has to sit on the floor, like furniture or guitars or bean-bags (which are furniture) or... stuff.

A less-than-fun fact about the curtain hanging is that it hurt my poor finger. I kept banging the back of my finger very gently against the railings or the wall, which would have been fine except that I burned myself on the iron on... Thursday? Friday? One of the days near the end of last week. I merely brushed my finger against the iron, and it hardly hurt, but I noticed a big small red patch on the back of my finger an hour later, and today have had falling-off-skin and banging against tracks and walls, and it has been minus-fun. The amount of skin that fell off was smaller than my pinky-fingernail, and my finger doesn't hurt as much as my jaw (except when I wash dishes in hot water and my finger says ouchee), so really I can't complain.

Any more than I already have.

Until tomorrow.

When I may post further complaints.

Other people post interesting things on their blogs. Honest. Maybe you should... go... read... one of them?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Best Associate Principal Evah!

I have only taken 3 days off work this year, if I recall rightly. One was a course I was sent on (about Media Studies - interesting stuff which will prove valuable later this year). One was the Monday after the 48.

I now have permission to take another day off - moving house day. It will be awesome to have a bit of time to get unpacked and sorted on the day we move.

One thing I really appreciate this year is that we have a wonderful gentleman as AP who is retiring at the end of the year. He's a very quietly spoken chap, very polite and friendly and all-round great. In fact, he's the kind of teacher I should quite like to be in a few years.

One of the things that I enjoy about having him as AP is that he's very approachable, he remembers when you've done him a favour (like covering a class when there aren't enough relievers), and I don't feel like I have to be disingenuous when dealing with him. I wanted a day off to move, so I asked him a week in advance and told him the reason. He took a day or two to check how feasible it was, then approved.

One of the reasons I like to get this sort of thing sorted up front is that I then have zero guilt about 'throwing a sicky', the school knows in advance and can get a releiver sorted, and it helps build my personal loyalty to the management of the school.

The flip side of this I guess is that if he'd said no, and I threw a sicky anyway, it would have been pretty obvious and detrimental to my reputation and the working relationship. I'm not sure I would have asked if someone else was in his position - someone I didn't both hold in high regard and trust.

On balance, it's clearly to my advantage to have such a person in the position. I'm not sure whether it's to the school's advantage: maybe more people take days off if they know the person they have to talk to is going to be a gentleman about it? On the other hand, I haven't heard many people grumble about being asked to help cover a lesson, and if the Ministry funds relievers anyway, it may not cost the school anything.

I'm glad he's there, and am happy to have been given the day off. So I say hooray and huzzah!

Note to self: check sick day allowance in PPTA contract. I've only taken about 6 sick days in the last 2 and a half years, moving included, so I'm sure I have a bunch left over, but it's nice to know exactly.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Masses of debt!

We bought a house today.

We owe the bank $250,000.

It is imaginary money, and a real house, so I'm fairly happy :)

It's a little sad to see our wee savings account looking so low - and it will continue to get sadder as we pay for necessities like moving and carpet and garage-door-openers and such. Still, our mortgage is small enough that we can afford to both spend and save while we're on 2 incomes, so that's all good. We can pay for what we have to, and still be putting $ aside for future stuff like further renovations and funding Matt and Debbie junior and such.

We are both very tired, and are looking forward to the holidays like crazy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nearly there

It's a nice feeling to be getting close to moving in to our house. There are still a few hurdles to get over - the actual packing and moving being fairly significant ones - but it's all getting close and getting exciting too.

I am also getting close to a couple of very positive things at school:

*Holidays! They are always great (and very necessary - nobody would be a high school teacher if you didn't get sufficient down-time to unwind).

*Reduced workload. I am actually working more hours than is contractually permissable at the moment, as well as having a TIC responsibility. It's only one extra hour, but it does mean that I have a 5 lesson day that is sometimes also the day I have to do detention duty at lunch-time. I will be reducing my workload by at least 4 hours a week next term - 4 hours less that I have to teach, 4 hours more preparation time. Bliss! I should also be dropping the study class that I have once a week, but I suspect that I'll end up stuck with it as the teacher I'm class-sharing with is teaching a Year 9 class that period.

I've been good this year, and I've taught all my extra lessons in the first half of the year. If I do manage to get that 5th hour of reduction, I'll be extra happy!

So, I'm generally feeling very positive and hopeful and busy and cold. In exciting consumer news I bought myself some big chunky padded headphones, and they sound awesome. Only $20, but very nice sound quality. They're especially good when I'm working in my office, which is attached to my classroom, and there are Year 9's in there making the kinds of noise that Year 9's make. So much easier to concentrate on the not-work (or, on rare occasions, work) when there is music and reduced sound from outside. They will also come in handy if I'm junior editing again for the 48!

Lastly, big Happy Birthday to my Papa, for today, to Debbie, for tomorrow, and to my nephew, for Monday (must get card in post). June is a busy birthday month for my family!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Boys Up the Rear

Regan's party was a lot of fun, and there were many random moments:

Nick and I performing the world's lamest shady underworld exchange - transferring 'the package' (Mighty Boosh audio files) from my ipod to his. We did have the technological challenge of getting the computer turned on, which was harder than we anticipated. We discussed whether we ought to hit it with sticks and bones (male model styles) but triumphed in the end using our massive, massive brains.

The boy band! Morgue, Svend, Erik, Jarratt and myself were dubbed 'Boys Up The Rear'. Our first single was going to be called 'Rear Up'. I think I was the one who could actually play an instrument (though wouldn't on any songs on our first album. I was allowed to strum a guitar on a ballad on the second album). I was the most likely to leave and do a solo project.

Nick had left the band just before we went big to pursue a screen career, and I was his replacement. Morgue was the bad boy. Jarratt was the soulful one. Erik and Svend were the brothers. I think Erik died in a tragic gasoline-fight incident, and his ashes were placed in an urn. He lived on the edge, and continued to be on the edge after death on a specially made mantel that would allow him to be simultaneously at the rear and on the edge.

It was all a little silly. Debbie was our manager, and Jenni signed on as our stylist. We had Sock Dreams sponsorship, and were going to pose for a RHCP tribute photo - with extra long socks.

Then there was the Morgue and Svend show, which viewers enjoyed but found hard to hear at times. The fan base grew pretty quickly, and there was lively discussion on the boards about the tension between the characters, the possibility that all of season one was going to turn out to be a dream sequence, and the odd fact that Nick seemed to be in the background of every shot.

Lastly for today: Swooning. For the safety of ladies, a couch should be handily placed to swoon onto. Morgue dubbed this a swouch. For those situations where no such furniture is available, indentured servants may be employed to catch you: swervants. It is an expensive affair swooning, and may indeed require its very own swudget.

That is my account of Saturday night, loosed like an arrow from a bow, whose target is random.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Delicious Breakfast

The Year 9 form teachers at my school had a pre-school breakfast at a local cafe today. The cafe was kind enough to open early for us - we rocked up at 7:30am.

There were all the usual cafe breakfast things on the menu, and they looked pretty good, but I decided to go with a Cajun Chicken Salad as my breakfast food of choice. Several people seemed weirded out that I was eating salad for breakfast, but, y'know, cajun.

The other options that appealed were a kumara and chicken curry, and oddly nachos. I know that my breakfast tastes are not necessarily average, but I suspect that if more people tried eating full-on hot food for breakfast they'd be less scornful of freaks like me.

The cajun chicken salad was awesome, by the way. Very delicious, and a great pre-school meal. We even made it to school more or less on time for the 8:30am staff briefing (I was one of the less, getting stuck at the school entrance waiting for 2 buses to get out).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Too grown up?

I have just acquired a copy of Watchmen, which I felt compelled to purchase from my school library. I recommended a bunch of graphic novels (they put out a form asking for recommendations), and they diligently bought several of them.

All was going smoothly until this morning, when the concerns of one of the school librarians were brought to my attention:

*KKK references
*Sexual content - specifically rape
*Violence

They haven't read the book, but it's easy to flick through a comic and look at the images and get concerned.

It's a little while since I read Watchmen, and I hadn't looked at any parts of it in isolation when I made the recommendation. I merely looked at the fact that it's a classic of the genre, and is actually meaty enough to be usable for a Y13 theme study text. I wasn't about to recommend it to juniors, but if you put a book in a school library, you can be sure that a junior student is going to pick it up some time - especially if it's a graphic novel.

So, much concern and alternate plans hatched to house it in the staff section, and I decided that, since I don't already have it, I'd offer to buy the book for myself. Unfortunately they'd already stamped the inside cover before flicking through it, so couldn't return it to the bookstore.

I don't mind picking up a copy of it at all - it's been on my wish-list for some time. It's just a little sad that it can't live in a school library. There are solid reasons, and having fielded complaints from parents about very 'clean' fantasy books (Wizard of Earthsea) I know exactly how it feels to have a book challenged, or a parent offended, and no librarian needs that.

Now I just need to bring some $ to school so I can pick up my near-pristine copy of Watchmen!

Monday, June 05, 2006

48 Hours - Then and Now

I thought I'd just write up a quick comparison of last year's 48 experience and this year's - very quick:

Last Year
We had a sizable team (around 20 or 22) with varying levels of experience. Most of us had very little experience, and none of us had done the 48 before. The writing team consisted of 6 people, the editing team consisted of Norman (who was also the on set technical adviser), and we had an at best nebulous idea of who actually wanted to act in the film.

We stayed up writing until 4am Friday, at which time Hix took the 14 page script (already hacked down from 22 pages) home to cut it down to 7 pages by 8am.

Meeting at Jenni and Lee's, 8am Saturday. Big huslte to get costumes and props sorted, then meet at first location at 10.30am? Filming at first location until about 12.30pm.

Shift to second location, lunch provided by Luke and Sam, filming at second location until 5pm.

Break for dinner and LARP.

Post-LARP, one hour to shoot a scene at Turnbull house. Many extras to wrangle. Chased out by security guard ata bout 12.05am.

Sunday meet up at Botanical Gardens for more shooting. Norm editing on set. Wrap shooting at noon Sunday, back to Norm's. Norm, Jenni and Steve disappear downstairs with very strict instructions not to be interrupted. Time passes. Promised rough cut does not appear. Deadline looms. Output to tape begins around 6.40pm? Deadline missed by 2.41.

This Year
Slightly larger team (mostly the same). Most of the team now have one 48 under their belt. Writing team = 3 people. Editing team = 2. Post-production team = 4 people, which is very cool.

Script finished at a similar time, but looks like it was meant to be 7 pages, not a cut down 22 page idea.

Slight chaos at Indigo City in the morning, but enough people knew what to do from last year for it to work out. It would have been easy for some things to slip through the cracks - I think a more organised meeting with public read-through of the script would really help here.

At location by 10.30. One location for whole shoot = GOOD. Rain + outdoor shoot = suxxors.

Filming commences, hampered by rain. Progress before lunch is slow. Junior editor on set ready to run tape back to Indigo city, but this doesn't happen until 5pm.

Filming after lunch is good, though I wonder whether we could have worked faster. We certainly picked up the pace on Sunday morning.

Tape run back to Indigo city at 5pm. Shooting stops when light fails, around 5.30pm.

No LARP.

Matt and Norman capture footage and assemble the beginning and end of the film. Some work is done on the credits. Credits should be finished and viewable by the end of Saturday, so errors can be picked up and fixed on Sunday.

Sunday morning features shooting on location in three stages: 1 - First shots, taken back by Matt at 9am (regardless of progress). 2 - remaining dialogue shots, brought back by Jenni as soon as they're done (before noon). 3 - stunt sequence, brought back by Hix as soon as it's done (before 2pm).

Simultaneous editing taking place at Indigo city - Svend and Norman working on music (very successfully) and sound effects. This continues while Matt captures footage and assembles scenes, then hands them on to Norm.

Rough cut complete by 3.30pm. Jenni and Hix view and make suggestions. I think a safety tape or .avi back-up at this point would be awesome - or even plugging the camera output into a vcr so that it can be recorded to vhs while Jenni and Hix are watching it, then taken upstairs and watched. This could take zero minutes (the vhs option) or about 5 minutes (save to avi) or longer (up to 30 minutes - backup to tape). Probably the avi option would be best? If someone has a dvd recorder they could plug the camera into that and make a dvd in real time. The other possibility is to backup to usb hard drive, which could then be taken to another (non-network) editing station and viewed/rendered/output.

Fine tuning continues until 4.30pm. Pressure applied to Norman to get him to output safety tape - 5pm is the deadline. Norman still making changes at 5.10pm. Threatened with stick. Bribed with food. Eventually relents, safety tape complete around 5.40pm.

View safety tape, make notes as to fixes needed.

Final adjustments, export to tape at 6.15pm. Computer crashes. Back on line by 6.30, output to tape complete by about 6.37. Tape checked and dispatched.

Relax, celebrate.

Mammoth Improvements Made (Pimp my Pachyderm)
The tape was on time.
We had a safety cut.
We had an assisstant editor.
The music was awesome.
We knew what needed to be done most of the time.
The script was tighter.
We had t-shirts (neat but not essential).
NZRaG was great as a communication tool, and Svend's fly-on-the-wall updates were brilliant.

For Next Time
I'd like to see a cut of the film released to the cast and crew as early as possible. They know the script, were on set, and have worked damn hard. They might give valuable feedback (via suggestions box), and deserve to see the fim ASAP regardless. Finding a quick way to achieve this would be boss.

Organised Saturday meeting, whiteboard of shooting schedule, public read-through of script, scene summaries on the wall.

A practice shoot, any time during the year. I'd love to see our team tackle one or two of the really tough genres - musical, war etc. I know I learned a huge amount from each of the 48 experiences, and would love to learn more.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Still Obsessing

Watched the tapes through last night (with Luke and Sam). There are a couple of cute moments, but the blooper reel is going to be very short - it was quite a focussed shoot, and Michaela didn't record anything uneccessary (which was awesome when we were editing - wading through extraneous footage would have been painful).

Mortgage meeting with bank straight after school today, then a long weekend! Bliss!

Actually, both Debbie and I had a 3 day weekend last week, what with the sick-day, but this weekend we will be just a little bit less busy :)

Now I must do photocopying, and see if the library is free period 3...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Screening was Awesome!

Last night's premiere screening of Monster Hunter 4: Beyond Repair was excellent. We were without technical hitches, we got a good audience response, and the MC commented that as Angelina Jolie was out of action for a while, we had a replacement ready to go :)

It was fantastic to see the team again (with a few sadly missed), and it was neat to be able to deliver a DVD to Jenni, and a CD of photos to Wayne (in exchange for a DVD of his photos). People seemed to like the DVD cover that Debbie and I put together.

Tonight I think the plan is to take a look at the footage and start assembling some blooper reel / out-takes stuff. Should be lots of fun.

Man, I'm loving this obsession.