Saturday, March 30, 2013

My current top 5 Sci-Fi TV series

In the last few years, I've developed a thing for Science Fiction. In TV series, it's become my genre of choice. Why would you bother watching something if there's no possibility of aliens or time travel or paranormal events or futuristic, dystopian worlds? IMHO, when most TV shows try to make you think they are just lame. Not so with Sci-Fi.

Anyway, here are 5 Sci-Fi shows I'm into. No particular order.

Doll House - I can't believe that more people aren't mad about this show. It's made by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, the Avengers etc) and is brilliant. The premise is that there are these 'Doll Houses' full of people (called 'dolls' or 'actives') who have had their brains wiped. Actives are temporarily uploaded with particular skills and personalities and hired out to wealthy clients to do stuff (like rob a bank or fulfil some fantasy). I think you should all watch it. It raises issues of freedom and slavery and what it means to be a person. There's 26 episodes.

Firefly - Joss Whedon again. This one is like a Western set in outer space. Or like the adventures of Hans Solo before he met Luke. I fell in love with Nathan Fillion watching it. (Who couldn't?) Watch Firefly - you'll love it - then come and debrief with me. We can rage together about how Fox cancelled the best show ever made after just one season...

Haven - This one is an American/Canadian production that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. It's set in a fictitious town called Haven whose inhabitants are inflicted with supernatural 'troubles'. It's beautiful and tense and sweet and edge-of-your-seat. Three seasons so far. Another out later this year.

Torchwood - A grown up Doctor Who spin off. The Torchwood team stay on earth and protect us from alien invasions. The series 'Children of Earth' was very good television.

Doctor Who. I put this one on because a new series starts tomorrow night. I'm not a huge fan of this particular doctor, but...

What have I missed? Are you into Sci-Fi?

My biggest swim ever


I'm doing some squad training.

Not very good at it yet. I thought I was going well then fatigued suddenly at 3km.

Others pushed on for the final 1000m.

Next time...

(Can't complain. I usually only swim 1500m.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

5 thoughts about work at the end of term 1

1. Despite the groundhog day thing (I repeat the same lesson twelve times every week!) I like my new job. I've picked up a third day of work which I'm enjoying as well. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I teach preps and year 1s. On Thursdays I do a variety of things.
2. I like teaching a class twice a week. They learn so much more. Next term I'm trying to arrange things so that I see the preps three times a week - for 2 music lessons and a choir session. This is one step closer to the ideal... (ideal = music lessons every day!)
3. I love working in a place where there is a culture of not whinging. Everyone teaching in my school feels thankful to be there so no one complains.
4. Next term I'm hoping to start a boys choir. Repertoire suggestions? Maybe some Chisel?
5. I really really really want a piano in my classroom. I really really do. Really. Because I'm the second music teacher, working in a regular classroom (that I've made my own) there is no piano. But I want one. What can I do?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who needs substance when you've got the easter bunny?

Easter bonnet parade at school tomorrow. 

Easter seems a time for all things vacuous. One of the prep classes is singing this song. Another is singing this. If you can't talk about Jesus at this time of the year, it seems that you need to descend into the completely inane. 

I've taught all 6 prep classes this little song I made up. It's not very good but at least it moves towards something. Feel free to use it if you are looking for something secular that suggests something more. (I have a rough recording. Email me or leave a comment with your email address if you want it. The recording is too awful to post online.)

What's inside the egg?

What’s inside the egg
hiding in its shell?
has it scales or has it wings?
Who can see? Who can tell?

What’s inside the egg
Scratching with its claw?
One thing we know for certain
One thing we know for sure:

New life! New life!
What’s inside the egg?
New life!
New life! New life!
What’s inside the egg?
New life!

a chicken or a dragon or a turtle or a flea
a lizard or a penguin or a little buzzing bee
a snake, a shark, a spider, perhaps a dinosaur
One thing we know for certain. One thing we know for sure:

New life! New life!
What’s inside the egg?
New life! 
New life! New life!
What’s inside the egg?
New life!

sar 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dollhouse - review

This is what I'm watching at the moment. Love it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gingerbread men fail = ginger and passionfruit slice

I didn't have enough cocoa for chocolate slice so I thought I'd try making gingerbread men instead. I got a my standard recipe and left out the brown sugar and replaced the golden syrup with glucose syrup (and only used half as much.)  The mixture ended up far too crumbly to make gingerbread men from, so I pressed it into a tin and called it slice (slice is a great catch-all term.) I iced it with dextrose, butter and passionfruit icing and am pleased to report that it's fantastic. I'll be making it again.

How to make it

melt 250g butter with
3 tablespoons glucose syrup

Cool briefly, then add
2 egg yolks

Mix in
4 cups plain flour
6 teaspoons ginger

Press into tin
Bake in moderate oven

Ice with melted butter, dextrose and passionfruit.

Sugar Free Chocolate Slice

I'm still doing the no fructose thing. I haven't had anything with added sugar since November. It's just normal now. You probably don't believe me, but I don't miss sugar at all.

But I still like to bake.

I'm about to go and bake some chocolate slice. I really like it. It has icing made on dextrose but no other sugar.

rolled oats
wholemeal SR Flour
butter (melted)

Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Press into lined tin.

Bake till done.


I usually ice it when it's hot. (Mostly because I want it finished quickly.)

What is it with shows about hoarders?

There always seems to be one on.

Why do we watch them?

Finding pleasure in other people's misery is pretty warped.

Despite the Pain

Despite the pain, despite the price
God took flesh in Jesus Christ
Lived with us, eternal word
A light shone in the darkness of our world 

Despite the pain, Christ set his will
He turned his face to Calvary’s hill
Trusting in his father’s plans
he put his life in God’s eternal hands

Despite the taunts, the promised doom
Despite the nails, the spear, the tomb
Christ arose triumphantly
He trusted God, God gave him victory.

Despite the blackness of my soul
Despite the sin that still takes hold
Christ the Lord has giv’n me life
So I will follow my Lord Jesus Christ.

Despite the pain, despite the price
I will follow my Lord Jesus Christ.

sar 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My life of ease and leisure is over.

I've picked up an extra day of work a week. Starts tomorrow.

Care to comment?

Some fun over at the briefing. I had stuff to say on Monday. Anyone got an opinion

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In my head.

Last week many of my preps told me that they have (had?) head lice.

Since then I've had a bad case of psychological nits.

I've done a thorough comb through and there is nothing there.

If it continues, tonight I'm going for some chemical.

For those unaware, the treatment protocol for psychological nits is the same as for ordinary nits. Sometimes harsh chemicals are the only thing to get those annoying little critters out of your head!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sydney is a strange place.

So much fear.

Whoever made up the 'what one generation believes, the next generation assumes, and the next generation denies' thing? Is it even true? Or is it just a bat we use to belt the person who sits slightly to the left of us?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I know I'm decades behind the times...

... but I really like Covey's quadrants.

GTD annoys me. Following GTD seems like a recipe for writing a bad song. Clearing inboxes, putting things into buff coloured manilla folders... focussing on the 'next step' of projects... What is the 'next step' in writing a song anyway? Mostly it's going to be sitting down and pulling your hair out! There is no tidy way! I am going to have 50 tabs open on my computer when I write. I'm going to be reading 16 books/articles/blog posts at the same time and none of them may contribute anything. 

Covey is simple. Spend most of your time on quadrant 2 stuff. That is all.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beyond Horizons (resurrected)

Today I've been looking through old lyrics that never made it anywhere. A couple of years later I can see why they never made it. But sometimes there's an idea that deserves another chance.

This song was always problematic. It's gone through a few re-writes already but it was too experimental, theologically. I was trying to define faith by Hebrews 12:2. I still like the idea, but it wasn't working. I did a re-write today toning that side of it down. Thoughts?

Beyond Horizons

1. Beyond horizons, we will see
Our home, our promised land
Across the oceans waits for me
My Lord upon the sand.
Looking past today
To a world away
Our eyes in faith can see

Beyond horizons, across the oceans
Life awaits, a brand new day!
A flowing river, a shining city
Where our tears are wiped away!
So today we take our cross and bear
All things for joy will meet us there.
Beyond horizons.

2. Beyond horizons Christ prepared
A land of pure delight
He sought a bride to share it all
And bought her with his life
We stand redeemed
Washed pure and clean
And soon our eyes will see

3. With all the saints of ages past
We have glimpsed her shores
And long for her as for a home
That we have known before.
And though today 
be dark and grey
our eyes still strain to see

4. Beyond horizons we will see
That faith was not in vain
For every promise Christ will keep
And every glory claim.
Now his word’s our guide,
Our vision, light
Until our eyes will see

sar 2011, 2013

Why I believe the bible.

Andrew is preaching on 'Why trust the bible?' on Sunday night.

Here are my honest personal thoughts on why I trust the bible.

1. Because when I read the bible it feels true. This sounds lame, but I don't think it is. The bible correctly the diagnoses the problem I see in my heart and in the world around me. It's assessment of human nature matches my experience. The characters in the bible are real - the heroes are angular and odd at times. Jesus does things I wouldn't have him do if I wrote it. It story doesn't seem made up. The more I read it the more I am drawn into the narrative and to the God who reaches out to us.

2. Because historians who know how to test these things tell me that the New Testament documents are reliable.

3. Because I've decided to.

How about you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

5 more things about education

1. However good the teacher, kids won't learn school stuff if they're not at school. Absenteeism is an issue that has to be addressed.

2. The first hour of the school day is the most important for little kids. A lot of at-risk kids are chronically late for school. It takes some management skills to get the family out the door in the morning. If the parents don't have themselves together, they will not make the school bell. If a prep child is half an hour late each day, he or she will miss the majority of the literacy teaching.

3. If kids come to school without having had a proper breakfast, their learning will be compromised. The teacher has no control over this.

4. Some parents really want to do a good job, but have very little idea how to. If schools are to help these parents, they will need to be resourced for this.

5. There is no excuse ever for dropping music out of the curriculum to fund something else (however good.) Don't even think of it!

How to fix the education system in 5 easy steps!

1. Change the entry requirements for eduction courses at uni. Undergrad - High School leavers must get a minimum B+ for English and B for Maths B or A for Maths A. Postgrad - Minimum GPA of 5. Actually, don't accept anyone straight from school. We want teachers who have a thirst to learn - not people who are thirsty for qualification. Let them get a BA or BSc or something first.

2. For Professional Development, encourage teachers to do further study in anything they are interested in. If teachers are excited about learning themselves they will teach better.

3. Have educationalists start talking to psychologists. There is a whole lot of research out there about how kids learn that teachers never ever read.

4. Employ many more guidance officers (school based psychologists). They can do a swag of assessments on kids to help work out why they are having troubles with stuff. What usually happens is that if a kid can't read (or something) they are put on a particular program that the school has decided to use without asking whether or not it is appropriate for that child. You need to diagnose what is going wrong before you can fix the problem. GO's can help with that. (This one would be very expensive.)

5. Give teachers freedom to teach in the way they think is best for the kids. Specify outcomes not the method.

schloppy shpeaking

Okay. So child #3 speaks a little strangely. He was in speech therapy for not speaking at all early on, then he needed help forming pretty much all his sounds, then he developed a stutter. All of those issues resolved nicely, except for a schloppy 's' which is still alive and well and with us. I should have dealt with it, but I kind of ran out of steam with the whole speech therapy thing (child #1 also had issues and so did I). Apart from the 's' he sounds like a kid who has been in speech therapy. His sounds are made precisely. He sounds formal when he speaks.

Anyway, it seems that he's getting teased because he speaks with an 'accent'. I'm trying to work out what's going on. Is it:

1. He's being standoffish (quite possible) and so the kids are just looking for something to pick on him about and his 's' is as good as anything.
2. They've noticed the ex-therapy thing.
3. They have noticed that he doesn't sound like a FNQ kid because he isn't one (yet). He forms his words properly, doesn't mumble and speaks with correct(ish) grammar.

Speechie friends - should we go see someone?

Parents of little kids, this is where things are headed.

I don't think our kids do very many activities. Certainly no where near what they could be doing. Basically, they play an instrument each, do something for exercise and do church. But here's what our week looks like:

Sunday - Church (x2), Football in between for Nathan
Monday - Concert Band (Nathan), Stage Band (Nathan)- lunch time so it doesn't count
Tuesday - Orchestra (Micah), Swimming (Joel and Micah), Football training (Nathan)
Wednesday - Trombone lesson (Nathan), Orchestra (Nathan), Cello lesson (Micah)
Thursday - Concert Band (Joel), Swimming (Joel and Micah), Football training (Nathan)
Friday - Youth group (Nathan and Joel)
Saturday - Sweet, sweet nothing.

On top of that, we have bible study 3 nights a week and Andrew has meetings one other night.

The afternoons are pretty full, but I don't know what the alternative is. What do families with more kids do?

I'm not complaining. Apart from the football, I love everything that our kids are involved in.

Help me out?

I'm preparing a talk on Mary and Martha (Luke 10). [This passage is part of the set list for women preachers!]

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).
I'm interested in the bold bit. What was Mary doing? What does it mean to sit at a teacher's feet?

Someone I'm reading suggests that Martha's issue with Mary is partly that Mary is behaving as if she were a man. She has crossed an invisible but important divide into male territory. Sitting at the feet of a rabbi is what men did - and the men who did it were the men who wanted to be rabbis themselves.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Is this too vanilla?

Remember Him

1. Remember him
who walked the path
unto the cross
in place of us
Remember him
his sweat and pain
For through his death
we live, we live again.

Take this bread
Feed on him
Glory in
Forgiven sin
Drink with us
The wine of life
Remember him:
Remember Jesus Christ

2. Remember when
the earth turned dark
All work complete
he breathed his last
The contract signed 
in tears and blood
Christ bowed his head
and bought our hearts for God

3. Remember him
lest we forget
the cost of our
Or we forget
that we are free
The death he died
is life, is life for me!

sar 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Prayer for a minister

Prayer for a Christian friend who is a paid minister of the gospel

Dear Father,

You have given ___________ the task of shepherding your people. By your spirit, make him competent for this task. Allow him to preach your word with clarity and conviction so that your people are built up in the faith. 

Steel his mind and will against the snares of the devil. Keep him from disbelief, from discontent, from envy, from lust, from despair, from pride, from anxiety, from prayerlessness, from distraction, from laziness and from factionalism. Guard his tongue from error, from slander and from carelessness. 

Give him a quick mind and an open heart. Bless him with an increasing knowledge and love of Jesus. Help him to be eager to hear to your word, fast to repent of sin and full of love for others that he may grow to be like the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ.


Prayers for friends

For unbelieving friends

Dear Father.

I know you to be a lover of the prodigal and a welcomer to the lost. I know that you desire for all people be saved and none to perish. I remember the kindness you showed to me when I was blind to your goodness. You opened my eyes and revealed to me your righteous demands and my own unrighteousness. You comforted my heart with the grace of the gospel and caused me to trust in Jesus. Today I ask you to do the same work in the lives of _________,  ___________ and ______________. Please open their eyes, forgive their sins and cause them to live for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.


For a Christian friend (far away)

Dear Father.

Thank you for loving _____________ and bringing her into your family. Thank you for the friendship that we share due to the common bond of grace. Please watch over her and protect her from harm. Keep her safe in your love. Guard her heart from temptation and strengthen her will to be faithful to you. Spare her from pride, from self sufficiency, from greed, from envy, from malice, from slander, from discontent, from lust, from laziness, from apathy, from despair and from all sin that will pull her from you. Help her to love and serve others with joy, to work diligently, to rest well, to pray, and in all things to delight in the name of Jesus.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are you an entrepreneur?

General profile170 

I did a test. The numbers and the blue lines are my scores. The vertical red line is the average score for entrepreneurs. So it seems I have the right motivations and attitudes to be an entrepreneur, but I lack the skills. Oh well.

Wanna take the test?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Right now...

Watching : Once Upon A Time. You should too. It's great!

Reading : James Denney The Death Of Christ, Jenny Brown Growing Yourself Up, Phil Campbell and Gary Millar Saving Eutychus. All excellent. Reviews to come.

Feeling : A little unsettled. Bored with work. Fenced in.

Thinking about : Prayer in church

Frustrated about : People thinking the worst of one another, Christians sniping at each other.

Wondering if : Son #1 will learn that procrastination isn't worth it. Hoping that this night of being awake with worry will bring about good results.