Monday, June 29, 2009

Short story contest

Debbie and I are both entering a local short story competition. It's for Kapiti residents and is starting up this year. The conditions are pretty open - write a short story of no more than 500 words. Be a resident of Kapiti.

Pretty simple really :-) It's actually kind of hard to know what to do with such a blank canvas but I'm pretty happy with the story I came up with. The result of the contest won't be announced until August.

I had a head-scratching think about it a few days ago (Friday?), slept on it, then wrote the story on Saturday. Debbie gave me some very good feedback and I made a few minor tweaks, and it was good to go. I actually wrote two drafts of it really, as I wrote one in a notebook in the lounge when Dom was up early, then typed it up when he was having a nap. For the most part I typed without looking at the notebook, so it really was a second draft rather than a transcript of the notebook version. I think the handwritten version pretty much mapped out the beats and turned up one or two nice phrases, but the crafting and sparkle was 90% second draft stuff.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Picasa collages

I downloaded Picasa the other day and have been playing with the collage function. It's pretty wintastic! Incredibly simple to use and it produces very pretty collages :-)
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Setting the tone

So this week Y8 students from the local primary schools are visiting our college to get an idea of what it's like here. They take a tour, look at a bunch of display materials for option courses and listen to the principal and Y9 deans for a while. Yesterday I was asked to provide an ice-breaker for the groups, something they could watch at the start of the day to set the tone. Specifically I was asked for a DVD of our 48 Hour Film.

Yes, every Y8 student who was around this week gets to watch our highly silly 48 Hour film. My reputation as a stern English teacher is now well established for next year's Y9 kids :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What I ate on Sunday

I've been meaning to do this for a while, and it was quite fun :-) I didn't photograph the cup of tea, hot chocolate or glasses of coke zero I had. Foods only.

Delicious Weetbix with lite milk and no sugar. It took me a loooong time to get used to eating flavourless mush for breakfast, but now I quite like it. And find it has flavour.

I didn't eat both these cheese and tomato tuna sandwiches. One was for Debbie :-)

I have two apples and a banana every day at school, and most weekend days too. I often have more than one mandarin.

Small amount of dry roasted peanuts.

Mmmm, beef and potato and kumara korma with onion and cauliflower. And basmati rice.

I ate half this fruit platter. Debbie and I have fruit in the evening every day, usually 4 or more types of fruit. This one even had two types of grapes. Nom nom nom.

Result? 200 grams weight loss.

18 Month size comparison

Taken the day Dom turned 18 months, so a couple of weeks old now. It's pretty hard to get him to lie still for a photo these days :-)

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Bowling photo - posted from Picasa


Next time I go bowling I'm going to try to finish with this pose for every frame :-)
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yo Gabba Gabba

Weekday mornings, TV2, at about 8.15am Dom's been enjoying American kids' show Yo Gabba Gabba. It features DJ Lance Rock with his mean ghetto blaster filled with characters:

The models of the characters are very nicely crafted (I kind of want a Moono and a Plex doll - for Dom of course). And the costumes for when the characters come alive are fantastic (I definitely want a Moono or Plex costume).

The show has lots of songs and animation and important messages like 'don't bite your friends' as well as a guest most episodes who demonstrates a dancey dance.

Elijah Wood's dancey dance can be seen online at the official Yo Gabba Gabba site ( They recently had Jack Black doing disco dancing, and have had Tony Hawk as a guest too (he skated, rather than danced).

Debbie tells me it's slightly less compelling if you have to dance to it *every day* but I'm really enjoying seeing bits of it before I race out to work in the morning :-)

Yo! Gabba Gabba - Party In My Tummy from Sundtrak on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teaching teachers

I'm running a Professional Development session tomorrow for teachers from our school plus several local primary schools. There are 19 people signed up for the session which is focussing on making and editing movies in a school environment. In preparation I've been making resources to hand out - a handout of 10 things to consider when making films with classes, a unit plan for Y9 film making.

It's an interesting thing to run a PD session for teachers - I'm taking a compromise approach which combines the two sorts of PD that I tend to like:

1. Knowledgable person talks about a subject, gives their own experience and insight, give out resources that can be used.

2. Presenter gets you to learn by doing, helps when there are problems.

So I'm planning to talk at the start with a couple of powerpoints to illustrate what I'm on about, hand out a few bits and bobs of paper stuff, then for the remaining hour give people 2 options:

a. Take a camera out and film something, then bring it back and try to wrangle the footage onto a computer / do some sort of basic editing.

b. Stay indoors and use the sample footage (from our 48 Hour Film) that I've loaded onto the school network to have a play with editing software (either Moviemaker or Premiere Elements)

And of course option C and D:

c. Hang out and ask questions

d. Play on the internet or go home

I'm referring to it as a 'differentiated seminar' approach. Or a 'casual' session. Or a 'pissing about in a computer room and learninating' session, with a hint of academic rigour at the start :-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey, look at me

"I want to look at my reflection in your eyes. But not in a gay way." - Y13 boy to another Y13 boy

"Mr, are all those puppets CG?" - Y12 boy asking daft question about Greg the Bunny

"Shawshank Redemption is a film that will rape you in the face." - first line of a Y12 student's review of Shawshank. He will need to change it before he can pass the Unit Standard/get any credits.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Filthy, filthy computer

On Saturday I finished editing the two shows of my school's production and started Nero on the arduous task of converting the files to DVD format. All was looking good for about half an hour, then the computer mysteriously shut itself down. This happened a couple of times, causing me some consternation. Software problem? Virus evils?

A quick google search provided a probable cause - filth. Dirty, dusty filth clogging up the CPU's cooling fan.

I unplugged everything, opened up the case, and sure enough the cooling fan had a solid coating of dust on the vents. A few minutes of cleaning later I plugged the machine back in and started up the encoding process and it completed with no trouble.

So cleaning the dust out of the interior of a PC has now made it onto my list of things to do every couple of years :-)

When my folks came to visit they couldn't resist getting a photo of the little guy on a hog. We're not so keen on him actually riding motorbikes, but they do *look* cool...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009