Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm Talking to Women Here

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Here is a situation I recently found myself in. We (my sister, her boyfriend, and I) are looking to buy a house, and inevitably when we see something that we might be intereted in conversation drifts along to who gets what room. So have a look at the floor plan below...

What you seeing is a floor plan of a house. It's a double house joined together by a big wall down the middle, so you're not missing anything interesting off to the right.

There are two bedrooms, a large one up the top / front of the house with a large wardrobe, down from which we have the living room, leading into a large bathroom on the right. The other bedroom is at the other end of the house through the kitchen. It has a much smaller wardrobe, and a small ensuite with a toilet, shower, and baisen.

So, I went through the house first, looked through all the rooms, and came to the not (at least so I thought) unreasonable conclusion that I would get the room at the back with the small ensuite and wardrobe, and my sister and her boyfriend would get the large room up the front, with the large wardrobe and pretty much direct exclusive access to a much larger bathroom - with bath I should add! And the access is exclusive. Even if you were living with strangers they would be at the other end of the house, past the kitchen, with their own bathrrom.

Later on, my sister and her boyfriend went through. Just before we were about to go I turned and asked her

"What room would you have then?"

She gave me the sort of look you would give if someone called you up to find out your phone number or something and said

"The one at the back of course:"

And that's my question. A quick straw poll for the ladies. Is having an ensuite, no matter how small, a prize of such incomparbale indescribable value as my sister seems to suggest? Or are there women out there who can see that my assumptions had at least a it of merit.

Oh and, for New Zealand Music Month, here's the B52's

Apathy Jack writes:

This is more of a livejournal thing, sorry, but it's also intended for some folk who don't read said journal, so if you don't know me you can probably ignore it...

I’m pretty badly burned out right now. For several weeks, I’ve been working to future-proof my now ex-students at Hoodrat, and now I have to learn the new school from scratch. I don’t regret my decision for a second, but not a day goes by that I don’t miss that ridiculous school with such a crushing sense of loss that I can’t even put it into words. I haven’t told anybody just how badly my last day there messed me up. I’ve been wandering around for over a week now feeling like some kind of rubbishy science fiction robot: I understand, in the abstract, human emotion, and feel it myself as the script dictates, but do not understand how to process it properly.

Short version: I’ve been even more solipsistic than usual recently.

Which brings me to the subject of my birthday.

I hadn’t planned on alerting people to the fact of my thirtieth, because, honestly, I didn’t want a fuss made. While I am, undeniably, a big guy with a loud voice and a predilection for talking in monologues, that’s always jostled for psyche-space with an acute – if inaccurate – view of myself as Hugh Laurie described his father: so unassuming that he would spend all day searching for a queue so he could contentedly stand at the back of it. I spent most of the day leading up to my “surprise” party wishing people hadn’t put themselves out. Of course, when I was writing this Brain Stab post, I wanted a pithy way of implying that it was a time of change and reflection; using my thirtieth birthday (which actually hadn’t featured that prominently on my radar) seemed a more concise way to evoke that than a long-winded and dull diary post.

Word spread, which meant a flattering number of texts and emails on said birthday; a bunch of people shoving presents into my hand as they called me a shifty bastard for not telling them; sundry blog entries passing on their wishes; and of course, the aforementioned soiree, which, let’s say, was a huge shock that I never saw coming.

And through it all I’ve been blankly nodding and muttering vague words of thanks as they floated out of the wreckage of my brain and labelled themselves as: Correct Response For This Sort Of Occasion. I imagine I’ve some off as a pretty crap friend.

I guess I just wanted to tell people that all of it did mean something to me. I noticed it all, and it really did mean a lot to me. My brain hurts tremendously, but all of the things you all said registered, and I’m sorry I couldn’t recalibrate my brain in time to express my gratitude at the appropriate time. You’re all special to me.

That is all.


Josh writes:

Can somebody help us out here? Apparently, Brain Stab was mentioned "in the paper" on Sunday -- the Herald on Sunday, I think. I'm just wondering, purely for the sake of ego, if this is true or not. I can say that we haven't seen any real increase in site traffic since Sunday, which either means it's not true, or no-one cares what the Herald on Sunday says. Obviously, I'm stumped.

In other news:


Oh shit.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Off hiatus for a brief check in.

In the week since I started the New School, there’s been one serious incidence of violence, and the school master key has been stolen, which has resulted in many thousands of dollars worth of re-keying.

I’m almost getting bored.

Back at Hoodrat, my contacts inform me, the students have started a grassroots protest movement about the incident with the Maths teacher just before I left - every morning, dozens of crude posters appear around the school and surrounding community reading “Hoodrat students witness Maths teacher assaulting a student – told not to talk about it!” (Made the paper today, if anyone was watching...); there have been four major fights; two laptops have been stolen from classrooms; a teacher had his door kicked in and his wallet stolen from his desk; the fire alarm has been set off twice (neither times were for the actual fire that was lit later); and a student took a crap in one of the English classes. (To be fair, that teacher is so appalling bad, I remain convinced that the kid was just showing good use of metaphor...)

New school is weird; every day they bang on about the litter problem. I’ve been trying to explain to them: I’ve never seen a school as clean as it - It looks like the propaganda pictures we photoshopped for Hoodrat’s prospectus a year or two back. Whenever I meet a new staff member, they shake my hand and tell me how much they’re looking forward to working with me. I have to stop myself from yelling “What’s your angle, dammit?” at them every time they do it.

As for my cold realisation that I’d have to give up swearing in front of students; it took me around fifteen minutes into my first class to forget that. But the students told me they didn’t mind, so it wasn’t all bad. I think I’ll be able to adjust...

Friday, May 25, 2007

I try, but I can't help myself. Sorry.

Josh writes:

So, the season finale of Lost. I am mindful of the fact that it hasn't screened here yet, but I want to get this down while I think of it, so I'll keep the rest of it off the front page. Spoilers follow, but nothing major -- certainly nothing about the bit where Sawyer turns out to be Jesus and the monster is revealed to be made entirely of cheese. Anyway.

So, by and large who gives a fuck, eh? I could make predictions about where it's going from here...

...that "Jacob" will turn out to be Santa Claus, held captive on the island by the Others (he has lists of who's naughty and nice; he can give you whatever you want; he's there with Polar Bears from the North Pole -- it all makes perfect sense)...

...that the story will be complemented by the arrival of private investigators David Addison and Maddie Hayes, whose sexual tension will be dragged out into a seasons-long plot point, collapsing the show entirely when it finally pays off...

...that the majority of Season 4 will just be home video footage of Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof fucking you in the ass and high-fiving...

...but that holds little interest for me. Or for you, I imagine. What does interest me is the reactions of the fanbase. Here we have a typically wanky Salon.com review, where they try to tell us that if we don't like Lost and want answers we're just being impatient and childish and we just don't get it, man. Make sure to read the replies, many of which point out that it's not just the constant teasing/padding in the storylines; it's the fact that the characters are forced by the writing to be such uncurious motherf*ckers in order to enable the teasing/padding.

And over at Lostpedia.com, the events of the finale appear to have finally driven them over the edge into full-on fanboy obsession. How else to explain the ever more desperate and grasping attempts to find references or homages in everything that happens? That bit where Charlie hits Desmond in the head with an oar? That's a homage to the bit in The Talented Mr. Ripley when Matt Damon hits Jude Law in the head with an oar and a homage to the bit in Pirates of the Caribbean where someone hits someone in the head with an oar. The bit where Charlie talks into a microphone? Clearly a sly reference to the bit in Star Wars where Han Solo talks into a microphone. The best (and yet worst) by far, though, is:

  • Rose makes Bernard repeat he is a dentist, not Rambo. This is a homage to how Dr McCoy repeated [sic] claimed he was a doctor, not something else.
    • It's also a reference to Rambo.

I dare say it is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Civilised? Unionised? CUPped?

Josh writes:

So I am now legally attached to my partner of five and a half years, Arna (photos here). The day was fantastic, everything went smoothly, and everyone involved seemed to enjoy themselves. Nice to finally meet Span in person, too -- she's known both Arna and other members of this blog for quite some time, but we've never been in the same place at the same time for some reason.

This site seems like a suitable venue to address the obvious question: "Why a Civil Union? Aren't they for Teh Gayz?"

Basically, marriage seems to us to be a religious institution, and since neither of us is religious, we figured that a Civil Union made for a better secular option. This way religion stays out of our life, and we don't cynically rubber-stamp an institution that other people attach significance to. Arna's feminist sensibilities also twitched at the historical connotations of marriage (the symbolic transfer of ownership of the bride from her father to her husband).

In the event, it worked out very well. Because there are no traditions associated with Civil Unions, and hence no expectations, we were free to organise things however we wanted -- formal and meaningful, but not rigid. It all made for a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The only real problems were the complete lack of "Happy Civil Union" cards for people to get us, and the similar lack of vocabulary for describing our relationship to each other now (hence the title of this post)...

Monday, May 21, 2007

To Apathy Jack - On Behalf of Teh Interweb

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

And we hope you had a good day at New Work


That Morthos Stare writes:

Congrats to our Josh, who has finally decided to legalise his co-existence with a woman. We will all be anxiously awaiting his first reports on that thing legal-bound couples are allowed to do; sexual intercourse. I fully expect his first post to start:

'Why, if we were designed by a benevolent and loving god, would he put it in that location and at that angle?'

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Change (In The House Of Monkeys)

Apathy Jack writes:

Tomorrow is my first day at the new school; only the second full-time job I’ve ever had; and the first time in almost six years that I will have spent more than about an hour consecutively in a school other than Hoodrat.

Tomorrow is also my thirtieth birthday.

I’m probably going to be quiet for a little while...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great

Apathy Jack writes:

You’ve heard of people calling in sick. You may have called in sick a few times yourself. But have you ever thought about calling in well?
It’d go like this: You’d get the boss on the line and say, “Listen, I’ve been sick ever since I started working here, but today I’m well and I won’t be in anymore.” Call in well.

- From Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, by Tom Robbins

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Last three things

Apathy Jack writes:

Glancing into a Maths class as I wander the school during my free period, and I see one of mine surreptitiously texting beneath her desk. As I continue walking, I pull out my phone and send her:
“Don’t text in class!”
A reply beeps almost immediately: “Such a hypocrit”
“If you paid more attention in class, you probably wouldn’t misspell words like hypocrite...”
“Lol well i am in maths i just lost half my brain”

The next period I assigned my Year 9s a barely-educational “make a movie poster” activity (it’s in the curriculum, shut up) and spent the period idling around the room (there are thirty-one students in the class and only thirty chairs, so one of them sits at my desk and I pace) playing twenty questions, trying to figure out the identity of another student who texted me “guess who” from their new number.

Hypocrisy really is the greatest luxury. By God it’s going to be hard having to follow the rules for a change...


Chatting to one of the first year teachers – we have a higher than average proportion due to the fact that no experienced teacher will come within a mile of us – and the consensus is that something is awry at my little school. Huddled together as the bigger teachers lumber past them, they speak in their crazy first year teacher language, which I can’t really understand. However, one of them translated: They are none of them sure what’s going on, but they know that a normal school isn’t supposed to have so many unhappy teachers in it, and that more than a fortnight should go by without hearing news of the latest resignation. They’ve all agreed to serve this year and next to get their registration, but have already decided against getting too attached.

On a related note: In a true sign that I really am very, very old, one of the first year teachers is a good mate of an ex-student of mine. A former Deputy Head Boy, Peer Supporter, Sports Councellor, and, for a time, employee of the school, he has fond memories of the place. He told the then-trainee that she shouldn’t bother applying anywhere except Hoodrat. He even visited me late last year to ask into which ears he should whisper good words.

They were chatting a few weeks back, and she informed him of my resignation, and that of the Art teacher who left at the end of term one.
“Get out,” said my ex-student immediately. “Start looking for jobs now.”
“Why?” She asked.
“Because if those two are leaving; there’s something really badly wrong happening there.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know. But if those two are going, something is up. Get out now.”


Ducking out of school early one day last week, and one of the local primary school kids walking home asks me if I teach at Hoodrat.
“I do,” I tell him, as mother profusely apologises in broken English for him bothering me.
“Are you...” and he correctly names me.
I ask him how he knows me, and he launches into a convoluted tale about his brother being a student of mine and recognising me from the stories he’s heard, before his embarrassed mother shuffles him away.

My reputation precedes me like a beam of pure Awesome, scattering and brutalising all of the unbelievers.

I’m just sayin’, is all...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Three disparate things

Apathy Jack writes:

During School

“Okay, so we have Aeneas and Dido sheltering in the cave together, huddling for warmth. Can you guess what might have happened then?”
“Wagga-chicka wagga-chicka wagga-chicka!”
“Dido’s a sluttypants!”
“Pretty much, yes.”
“Sir, have you forgotten there’s a third former in the room?”
“Hey, he shouldn’t have been kicked out of his own class then. Anyway, I just asked you all a rhetorical question, you’re the ones going ‘bam’ and making distortion-pedal noises and saying, what was it, Cady?”
“Sluttypants! Sluttypants! Sluttypants!”
“Yes. So where were we? ‘The sky connived at their union; the lightning flared on the mountain-peak; nymphs...’”
“You mean the Sex-Fairies?”
“Yes, ‘...the lightning flared on the mountain-peak; the Sex-Fairies raised their cry’. So the nymphs are singing their song, which goes, Cady?”
“Sluttypants! Sluttypants! Sluttypants!”
“Thank you.”
“So, Sir, of we write in the exam that the nymphs’ song went, ‘Sluttypants! Sluttypants! Sluttypants!’ would we get the mark?”
“I’m pretty sure they won’t be asking about lyrics.”
“But if they do, can we say you told us it was that?”
“Ah, but I didn’t tell you; Cady did.”
“Can we say that Cady told us?”
“Sure, why not? I can just see the NZQA bigwig marking the papers and saying ‘Well if Cady says so...’”

After School

“Mister, can I have my bag back?”
“Nope. I told you, you get it back tomorrow.”
“It’s not fair!”
“You walked into my room, loudly announced you were going to stay here and wag Tourism, refused to leave even after I asked you five or six times, then sat in the middle of the floor for the entire period during a class that wasn’t your own.”
“Yeah, so?”
“So when I took your bag and told you that I’d keep it overnight unless you left, you stayed on the floor and said ‘Yeah okay”. I gave you a choice, and you made it in full possession of all the facts.”
“But I need my bag!”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t have made the choice that you did, but you did, so you get your bag back tomorrow.”
“Oh my god! This is stealing!”
“Yep. Go ahead and report me to the Principal for misconduct. You can begin your report with ‘I was wagging Tourism and wouldn’t leave despite being told to several times...’”
“But... But... It’s stealing! It’s wrong!”
“So is wagging and disobeying direct instructions from teachers.”
“I don’t care!”
“Exactly. You don’t care that you wagged and were disobedient; and I don’t care that I stole.”
“Oh my god! I have soccer training now, and my uniform’s in my bag!”
“I believe you. But you’re not getting it back.”
“My wallet’s in there, with my bus fare. It will take me an hour to walk home. Oh my god! My house key is in my bag! I need it!”
“I genuinely do believe you. But I’m really, honestly and truly not giving your bag back to you.”
“But I’ll get into trouble from Mum!”
“Again, I believe you. You seem to think that if you come up with new and better arguments, I’ll realise I’m wrong, however, I believe all of your arguments, but I’m not going to change my mind.”
“I’ll tell my Mum you stole it!”
“Be my guest. Remember to mention the part about the wagging and the refusal to follow instructions.”
“Oh my god! You can’t just take my bag!”
“And you can’t wag and refuse to follow instructions and expect that nothing will come of it.”
“I promise I’ll never wag or not listen to you again!”
“I do believe you’ve learned a lesson. I also believe that the lesson will stick longer if you have to walk home and explain to your mother where your bag has gone.”
“Oh my god! You can’t just steal!”
“And you can’t just wag and disobey direct instructions.”
“It’s not the same thing!”
“Why not?”
“It’s just not!”
“See, I think we’ve struck upon the nature of the problem. You realise that what you did was wrong, but you think you should be allowed to do it anyway, and suffer no consequences. You don’t want the rules – scarce though mine may be – to apply to you.”
“I didn’t think you’d mind if I wagged in your class.”
“I asked you five times to leave, and you knew I was serious.”
“It’s not like you picked me up and threw me out.”
“I tried! If you’ll recall, I did attempt to physically hoist you off the floor, and remove you from the room.”
“But I put up a good fight, ay?”
“You did.”
“And I won.”
“For certain values of ‘won’, yes. Congratulations. You’re a winner.”

Later After School

Sitting at the bus stop, trying to write something about the physical confrontation between a Maths teacher one of the students. It doesn’t really flow unless I use the phrase “fist fight”, but it wasn’t one of those; it was just a vigorous shoving match that would have turned into something far worse had the HOD of Maths not turned up and separated them.

Temporarily giving up, I chat with some passing students. One of them mentions “You know the Graphics teacher ran Billy over with his car this afternoon, ay?”

Sod the flow of “fist fight”, do you people have any idea how hard it is to make “vehicular assault” scan in what’s meant to be a casual and pithy blog post?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

“Mister, are you sure your manhood will survive? You know you’ll be beaten up by girls at that school.”
“I’ve been beaten up by girls at this school – it won’t be that big a paradigm shift.”

Monday, May 14, 2007

One night stealing books from the English department

Apathy Jack writes:

"Here, try In My Father's Den. It's one of my favourite books – it's about a teacher whose student dies. I like the idea of students dying."
"Oh yeah, I've heard of this one. Isn't the teacher a suspect?"
"Yeah, they think it's him for a while."
"Does that mean that if we died you'd be a suspect?"
"No, you see, this was a student who spent a lot of time in his house and the like. And I don't let you freaks anywhere near my house."
"No, but we are at school with you at six o'clock, after everyone else has gone home."
"You make a point. Dammit, now neither of you can die, or I'll get blamed."
"Of course, if you died, then we might be suspects."
"Damn right. And you'd probably be guilty too..."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Books You Should Be Reading Number 24 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, by Tom Robbins

“I’ve lived most of my adult life outside the law, and never have I compromised with authority. But neither have I gone out and picked fights with authority. That’s stupid. They’re waiting for that; they invite it; it helps keep them powerful. Authority is to be ridiculed, outwitted and avoided. And it’s fairly easy to do all three. If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, act lovingly; if you believe every which way then act every which way, that’s perfectly valid – but don’t go out trying to sell your beliefs to the System. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Attention Seeking

Josh writes:

I guess I should say that these are my opinions, and not necessarily those of anyone else at Brain Stab.


Yeah, I don't really do boycotts. Certainly, that particular Subway manager is a prize dickhead, and I'd be interested to hear what sort of justification he could possibly come up with for being so pedantically officious in enforcing the employee's contract -- it certainly sounds like something personal. However, the idea that by making a show of not buying the occasional meatball sub from the Newmarket franchise I might have any bearing on the operations of a separate franchise in Dunedin just seems a little, well, self-important. The mainstream (or as like to call it, "real") media's onto this -- that's the sort of naming and shaming that'll get something done about it.

Just to be completely clear: Of course you can say that this situation is bollocks -- of course you should say that it's bollocks. It is. And if you don't want to buy from Subway, who am I to tell you what to do. But when you start making noise about it in this way, it's not about the issue, it's about you.

Just like this post here -- see how it's really all about me? Don't I sound like a bit of a dick? Exactly.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Today was the inaugural Intermediate Induction Day, where a bunch of students from the contributing Intermediates spent a day being shown around Hoodrat Academy for Higher Learning to get an experience of high school life.

My Classics class stood at a healthy six students – the good students having been seconded to show the kids around, the bad students having decided, not unreasonably, that a lie-in made more long term sense than reading Virgil first thing in the morning.

One of mine turns up with her tour group. She isn’t even pretending to be enthusiastic.
“This is my awesome class,” she says, barely interested enough to inject sarcasm into her delivery.
The Year 8s look around. My desk is layered with clutter again, spilling onto the floor (that’s where I keep that, dammit!); the notes on the whiteboard, left from yesterday, have been altered by strategic erasing to reference something about bumsex; the orderly formation of my desks lasts until the second-to-last row, where they fragment like shrapnel, some are overturned, and all are surrounded by sundry food waste (I’m not entirely sure how that happened – it was first period and no one was sitting there...); and two of the six students in attendance are lying on the floor.

“This is pretty much what an average classroom looks like,” I tell the young visitors, and sit on a desk to continue making some point or another about the Aeneid. Sadly, this is the Broken Desk™, and the top slides off to flip me backwards, and I crash head-over-heels to the floor.

The class and I agree that it’s good the Intermediate students get a realistic view of what life is like at our school.

The tour continues as another of mine shows around a different group. As they are walking, one of the Year 8s asks if there are many fights at Hoodrat. My Year 13 decides (in his own words) that he'd better lie, and says no. Immediately, in one of those moments that makes you believe that God exists, and that He went to a decile 10 school, the group turns a corner to come across one of the fiercer gang fights we’ve had so far this year.

Fortunately, their attention is distracted by the fire alarm, as the school empties onto the field to flee the burning boys’ toilet just below my classroom. It turns out to be the worst fire we’ve had in a long time – that bathroom has been set alight before now, but we’ve all just gone about our business once the fire was out. This time, all of the classes in that block have to wait for the fire department to clear the smoke and check the walls for structural damage.

I think I can’t honestly say (and I am comparing it to past ones) that this has been the best open day ever.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Apathy Jack writes:

Away from the internet for a week. Things as follows:


Sitting in my room after school with one of my little Year 9s. She’s killing time scribbling on my board, I’m trying to explain that knowing that you’re clever, and proving it to, say, my successor, are two different things.
“Here’s where normal people’s brains are.” I point at a random section of the whiteboard. Lacking anything better to do, my kid makes a mark next to my finger. “And here’s where you are.” I raise my hand, she marks the new point. “And here...” I extend my arm as high as it will reach, and she again marks the spot. “... is where you think you are. But that’s fine with me. Students like you work well with teachers like me. I know you’re a genius, so I cut you certain slack that others may not. However, do you know what happens when students like you get teachers who aren’t like me?”
“Ask your sister.”
“You mean my sister who did level one English last year?”
“Her first year out of my class, if you recall.”
“And who is doing level one English again this year?”
“And who spent exactly all of her English periods last term sitting up the back of my third form class doing extra work because she had already passed the work her class was doing, but not enough to get into level two?”
“And who has spent most of this term still in my third form class because when she finally went to her English class she had a huge clash with the teacher and stormed out?”
“That would be the sister I mean, yes.”
“I understand.”
“No. You hear me, and you say you understand, but it’s not real to you. But trust me, I will be spending the next three weeks drilling that into your little blond mind.”
“Hey! That’s discrimination against blondes!”
“Sigh. I would have said ‘little brunette mind’ had you been one. I think you’re missing the point...”

Ego Stroking

Waiting around after the most recent school production – I always stay until all of the kids have been picked up – and I get to talking to one of the Year 12s.
“It sucks that you have to leave. You’re my favourite teacher.”
“Nice of you to say, but you remember you’ve never been in my class, right?”
“That just shows how good you are. You’ve never actually been my teacher, but you’ve been teaching me for years.”

Performance Anxiety

I’ve said before that if I ever taught at a real school, I’d be exposed as a fraud pretty much immediately, and I fully expect this to happen in a couple of weeks.

So I went out to the new school to get the lay of the land, and all of the teachers I met told me how highly my praises had been sung by my soon-to-be colleague, Josh’s girlfriend, and by the HOD of Social Science, who had interviewed me.

I met the Deputy Head Girl. She had run into some of mine at a future leaders conference, and had been told that most of my Classics class took the subject for me, and are all considering dropping out now.

I met a volleyball player, who had met my Volley Boys at Nationals, who reported how highly they spoke of me.

This is terrifying. If, on my first day, I’m not the best teacher that school has ever seen – and there’s the smallest of chances I may not be – the disappointment will crush them, and, if they’re anything the inhabitants of Hoodrat, lead to armed insurrection.

This is not going to end well...


“I went out to my new school yesterday afternoon, and met some of the students I’ll be teaching. Why can’t you all be that nice?”
“They weren’t really nice, they were just pretending because you’re the new guy.”
“Why can’t you all pretend to be nice?”

Give me a head with hair...

“... which shows Atticus’ insecurities about his parenting of Scout and Jem. Any questions? Yes, Michael?”
“What exactly is up with your hair?”
“My fault, really. By this stage of my life, I should know to be specific when I ask for questions.”
“Because it’s been bugging me for ages now. I mean, what is that? Is it a mullet?”
“Let’s not say anything we can’t take back, now.”
“Or is it a just a mop, or a bird’s nest, or what? What do you call that?”
“I call it awesome. Now any chance we can talk about Atticus Finch for all of five minutes?”


See, one of mine said I was getting ahead of myself by claiming to be God. (Well, I believe my exact claim was to be “the Lord your God! And I am a vengeful God, and you’re getting a smiting!” But why split hairs?)

As evidence to the contrary, I present the following texts:

“Why are you going to Communications instead of English?”
“I’m not? I don’t know. Who is this?”
“This is God, and I’m upset that you’ve been sinning.”
“Oh, Mr, huh?”

Really, the hardest thing about going to a Catholic school will be having to give up the blasphemy.

I’m going to miss the blasphemy.


So, I’ve mentioned the disbanding of the Technology classes before now. I was chatting to one of mine, who told me that she had been put into an extra Art class – meaning she now does Art twice a day. Of course, the Art teacher has quit. Given that she’s also in the Maths class without a teacher (oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention that one...) she now has relievers for three out of her six subject options. She spends exactly fifty percent of every week doing nothing.

Hoodrat is getting worse. I know of seven teachers who are actively job-seeking. The Principal doesn’t know – his behaviour of late means he is no longer trusted as a referee. I certainly didn’t use him as one. And these teachers aren’t the crap ones – they never leave. Five out of the seven are really exceptional teachers. Hoodrat only has about fifteen of these (which, hell, is more than some schools have) and a full third of them are currently sending out CVs.

I’ll admit, there’s a small (and by “small” I mean “huge”) part of me feeling enormous satisfaction that Hoodrat will fall into the sea the moment I leave. I am, by nature, a bitter and vindictive person, and I honestly wish the Management as much difficulty and suffering as can be heaped upon them.

But the kids are still there. They’re there because, hell, the ties that bind, be they parental, social or geographical, are hard to break for so flimsy a reason as the fact that they’d get a good education at another school.

In my room, searching through my cupboards, an argument raging behind me on the merits or otherwise of My Chemical Romance. The voice of the Head Girl comes from behind me, asking if I have my phone. I absent-mindedly reply that I do, and I feel her hand reach into my pocket and rummage around until she finds it. “Thanks, Sir,” and her voice recedes as she dials. I continue looking through the cupboards and it’s not until much later that it occurs to me that an Outsider might have seen something wrong with that scene.

Wandering back to my desk, kicking one of the boys from my chair, I shoot shit with a bunch of Year 11s about the bands they should really be listening to. The little Year 9 the 11s have adopted (the same one from the top of this ramble, as it happens) looks at me and says “You know you won’t be able to do this at your new school, right?”

And I do know that. My specific kids, and the specific relationship I have with them, has been six years in the making, and it comes to an end in a few weeks. I know it’s a new beginning, and I am genuinely looking forward to it, but I’ll mourn this loss for a while yet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


RSJS writes:

I watched a show last night investigating whether “pakeha” have their own culture. Which corresponds nicely with recent claims that the tangata whenua learned child abuse (well, specifically corporal punishment) off the Christian colonials. So yup, pakeha do have a culture: when we got sick of smacking the locals on the head and stealing their toys, we taught them to do it to themselves. Bastards, but clever bastards.

I’m not sure I buy some of these theories. I agree the descendents of European settlers in NZ have ties too close to the lands of their forefathers not to see what passes for a culture is derived from a dozen other countries, and the elements they found in Aotearoa… well, the copyright holders are RIGHT HERE so claiming them as ones own seems a bit cheeky. In time, as with so many other countries, our distance from the source material will allow evolution and customisation to occur until an indigenous kiwi culture will emerge to export to themed pubs overseas. But the idea that child abuse is Europe’s one great contribution to New Zealand? I wonder if this really is meant to be evoking an idyllic past where everyone got the fuck along (for limited definitions of “everyone”), or is just a reference to the structured abuse brought to the locals by nuns wielding Good Books and metre rulers with which to bruise knuckles for the Lord… Is it violence the sailors are alleged to have brought, or just institutionalised violence? Hmmmm… To the learnin’ place with those “book” things, methinks. Or I could just get all kneejerk and cough “bullshit” up my sleeve and get back to more pressing matters like flicking artificial sweeteners into my colleague’s cup o’ tea while they’re not looking.

"Mortgage" means "death pledge"

Josh writes:

As I intimated a while ago, my partner and I have been house-hunting. Six weeks ago we made an offer on one we liked -- last weekend we moved in. Having first-hand experience of the house buying woes that are all around the media these days, I figured it'd be a good idea to put my two cents in. The process of finding and buying a house has taught me the following:

  1. Houses are expensive.
  2. People like to whinge.
When people complain that they can't afford to buy a house on their income, what they usually mean is that they can't afford the kind of house they want/feel they deserve on their income. True, you can't afford a house in Mt Eden -- so go live in Massey. There are affordable houses out west or down south, but people don't want to live there. (As a side note, this is why I find unconvincing the suggestions that the way to sort all this out is to free up land and let the city sprawl more -- sprawl happens on the outskirts, and that's not where people want to be.)

So part of the problem is pickiness; part of the problem is an unwillingness to prioritise -- you might be able to afford the house you want by sacrificing some of the lifestyle you want (trips overseas and the like). We're planning a trip to Germany at the end of the year, hopefully bankrolled by gifts from our impending nuptials -- however we end up paying for it, it'll be the last extravagant spend we do for a long time. We're also going to have to put off having kids for some time, too -- longer than we'll want to, I imagine, but again: priorities.

Pickiness, unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices... I feel like I'm forgetting something... Ah, that'll be it: Houses are fucking expensive. Here's where I disagree with the other side of the commentariat as well. All the smug pricks who bought a house ten or twenty years ago -- back when the average-house-price-to-average-wage ratio was half what it is now, education was free and you could support a family on a single income -- sneering at we 20/30-somethings snorting lattes out our noses at the size of the mortgages we'll have to take on. It is harder to buy a house than it used to be -- that's just a fact.

I find it hard to blame anyone other than investment property owners -- and not just the people who rent out twenty houses; the swarms of people with one investment property for their retirement. I don't know much about economics, but doesn't restricting the supply of something make it cost more? More houses owned by investors = less houses for people to buy to live in = higher house prices. What to do about it? I dunno. I don't see what's so horrifying about a capital gains tax on investment properties that makes it "political suicide" for anyone to even talk about bringing it in -- politicos, care to comment?