Thursday, 7 November 2013

More of Your Guide to Melbourne: Oaks Day

Went to Oaks Day at Flemington today as  part of the Spring Racing Carnival - I think I enjoyed it more than the Cup last year. Less people, fewer crowds.

The trains, however, were still very crowded with people going to Oaks Day, which is traditionally Ladies' Day. So there is great hooha about getting dressed up, matching your hat or fascinator to your outfit and having matching gloves, shoes and clutch.

While everyone I say had fascinators or little tiny hats on no one had the matching clutch or gloves. That must be de rigeur for people entering Fashions on the Fields. Apparently that is a big deal- at least according to the advertising it is. Or maybe it's people sitting in the Members stand, or maybe it's just for celebrities.

I had a look at some links of what I assumed were people at the races, or even just Fashion in the Field entrants, but were in fact just celebrities. Not terribly well-known celebrities either.

I didn't even know who the first person was - Lance Franklin, apparently a famous footballer. And then there were a lot of his girlfriend but finally someone I did recognise Jennifer Hawkins. Strange, I did not at any time see any of these people so unless you had entrance to the celebrity tent or wherever they hung out it was like we were attending different races entirely.

Just sayin'. . .

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

NaBloPoMo quandaries

Ugh . . . if I blog but no one reads it. . . is it still a blog?

What if I do it in the forest and no one reads it?

What if I do it every day (in November) and no one reads it?

What if I blog, and then one person reads it - me? (I'll make a note to get back to myself about that.)

Yeah, I get it, I'm meant to go and read other people's blogs but they all appear to be mummy blogs and I'm not. However, that's not really the only reason- I just don't seem to have much time. I haven't even been reading the latest postings from blogs I already follow.

What happened to my spare time?

Tonight I spent ages requesting DVDs from the TAFE library to introduce Blade Runner, which we're watching as another example of dystopian literature/film; we read The Handmaid's Tale previously. I think they're gonna be just as 'impressed' with Blade Runner. . . they're both kind of bleak. But  I guess that's the point of dystopian fiction.

And did you know/realise that Blade Runner has some very film noir qualities? The first release most especially with the 'hard boiled' detective - Deckard, the femme fatale- Rachel, and the voice over effects.  It has been called neo noir, in fact. Huh, the interesting things you discover as a teacher!

Anyway, so I spent some time requesting some film noir DVDs to show them also.

Rightyo signing off now, I have two units that I have to design, devise and invent to teach next year and a Cert IV in Training and Assessment that I have to demonstrate RPL (recognised prior learning) for even though I'm a fully trained up secondary teacher with muchos experience. However that doesn't count I still have to show that I can and do apply everything a Certificate qualification outlines- that'd be stuff I've been doing without even thinking about it for the last 15 years.

Huh, still it'll be worth it for the extra $2 I'll get an hour!

Ah. . . I am discovering that as I am blogging in the forest I feel A LOT of freedom to vent any which way I like.

Yay me!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Your Guide to Melbourne Life: The Cup

Cup Day- the race that stops a nation. So they say.

The Melbourne Cup, a race for three year (and older) horses is a traditional day off for the majority of Victorians, if not Australians.

 I have no idea why.

Held every year on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse, Cup Day has been an official public holiday since 1877. This year the race had about 20 horses and prize money of over six million dollars. The race is run over 3, 200 metres (2 miles) and horses from around the globe are flown into Australia for the Cup.

The first race was in 1861, and won by Archer, who also won it the next year too.  He may have won it the year after as well if his owner had submitted the entry form on time; as it was he didn’t, and the horse wasn’t allowed to race.

Phar Lap is the most famous winner of the Melbourne Cup, in 1930 and claimed by Australians as one of their own but in reality is a New Zealand born horse. Other famous winners of the Melbourne Cup include:
Peter Pan 1932/1934
Rain Lover 1968/ 1969
Think Big 1974/1975
Makybe Diva 2003/ 2004/ 2005 (the only horse to win three years in a row.)

Each year 300-400 horses nominate to run in the race but only 24 are selected. It costs $50, 805 to enter a horse into the Melbourne Cup. Winners of the previous year’s Cup, the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup gain automatic entry into the race.

At the races there is much celebration and dressing up. Hats and fashion are a feature of the race, there is even a Fashions on the Field competition.

Many workplaces around Victoria will have a Cup Sweep where people will buy a ticket  and be randomly allocated a horse number. They’ll then follow the race to see if their horse wins. Of course people will also place bets at the track with bookies, or with the TAB.

As it is a public holiday many Victorians, and those from interstate, will go to the races. Others will hold barbeques and picnics, or if at work participate in a Cup Sweep. It is not uncommon for television sets to be turned on just before 3pm to watch the race, whether at home or at work.

By this point in time you're dying to see the real thing aren't you? Go on, go and look at the running of this year's  Melbourne Cup.

Monday, 4 November 2013

That's the way it's always been done, and other reasonings of a well run college

The Setting: TAFE college, locked classroom.

When: Monday before Cup Day. (No, it's not important other than to signal to other Australians that there would be a very low attendance rate as Cup Day, the next day, is a holiday.)

Time: 8.30am. (And I pride myself on getting there on time. Me and two students. )

The Aggravation: The fact that this classroom is locked for the 13th time in a row despite the fact that I am timetabled in there, same time, every week.

More Aggravation: That I have to ring Security EVERY SINGLE WEEK to ask them to unlock the freakin' door.

As you can tell, I'm taking this is my stride. I actually enjoy whipping out my mobile (cell phone for you northern continent types) and ringing Security to ask them to unlock the door despite the fact that there are FOUR other classrooms in the same corridor and no one else bothers to ring Security, and the Security guards DO NOT turn up until they've been rung, and that I'm actually on time.

The Query: Good morning Security. This is Stella. I need my classroom unlocked. Again. Is this how it's meant to be? Am I meant to ring every, single, Monday morning to get access to the classroom I'm timetabled in?

The Advice: Speak to your Faculty Head and get them to write to Security.

So I speak to my manager. She speaks to whoever. . . possibly someone called Nancy.

The Outcome: No, I cannot have a key. There are no keys. No reason given.

Security's Reality: They don't like to unlock computer rooms until the teacher's there. It's security ya know. (These are the worlds oldest yuckiest computers.)

More of Security's Unreality: The fact that TWO windows in the classroom have been left open over the weekend and anyone who wanted to - I repeat these are very old computers - could break in and steal any computers that weren't damaged by the rain swishing in all weekend is NOT a security issue.

Furthermore (AKA Final Rant) : This is how it's always been done. This is the way they did it at the other campus so this is the way we're gonna do it here. No, don't be silly the Security guards couldn't possibly have the doors unlocked already for me to start my class. . . or even just happen to stroll down that particular corridor and open ALL FOUR OF THE FREAKIN' CLASSROOMS that are scheduled to have a class in them. Or even simply HANG AROUND at the allotted time for when I appear ON TIME to teach my class instead of making me wait FIFTEEN MINUTES to get into my classroom. You know, the one with the TWO OPEN WINDOWS.

I feel much better now.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Technical Dificulties

Yep, if you neglect your blog for a while you forget all sorts of passwords and then have technical difficulties.

Like the password to sign into your blog.
And the password to your email account where you follow other people's blogs.
And the google password. . . is that the same or different from my email password?

And compounding the difficulties is my tendency to change my mind.

When I started this new anonymous blog, because I no longer wanted to be Josie, I started a Wordpress blog. And I followed other blogs using Wordpress account and the associated email address. I ran into issues following Blogspot blogs so got rid of that blog and started again with Blogspot.

But it didn't all get cleared away, did it?

No, I couldn't manage to change my followings and somehow when I comment on someone's Wordpress blog it prompts me to log on with my old blog. Which I can't do as I cleared it.

Then I decided that a gmail account would be more useful as an email account so changed the account associated with this blog. Now I can't access my yahoo email but for some reason I can log into my blog using that email address- there are just no emails for me to read.

It's taken a couple of hours to access my blog again- yay - but I still can't access my yahoo emails.

Then I needed to log onto Blogher to sign up for Nablomopo . . . with a Facebook account for some reason.  So I had to create passwords for both of those AND a Facebook account, which I don't particularly want to be on, but I was quite motivated to do Nablopomo this November so I persevered.

I'm quite confused now. I'd like to go and read other Nablopomo blogs but I'm quite worn out from figuring out how to access my blog and some of my emails.

And there are all the other things competing for my time. There's the five or six books I have borrowed from the library that I really want to read, and the units I'll be teaching next year that I was to start researching and writing up, and marking, and all the other nitty gritty aspects of life. . .

Phew. So, my aim will be to keep up with Nablopomo every day this month, attempt to log onto Blogher, and find some time to read other people's blogs.

Stella x

Saturday, 2 November 2013

GOP, the wacky world of politics, and all that jazz

I’m trying to become more “aware” and follow Obama’s Affordable Care Act, after all a major crisis has only just been averted with Congress getting the go ahead to keep on . . . congressing.

My knowledge is thin and weedy.

The very first article I looked at had me stumped:

Here’s how GOP Obamacare hypocrisy backfires
First I had to figure out who or what GOP was, OK, easy fixed. Thanks google. They’re the Republicans, also called the Grand Old Party. Apparently this was an ironic title bestowed upon them, which started out life as the Gallant Old Party.

Huh, and I thought it was some official acronym.

So, then I started reading:

Why Obamacare Grandfathered Plans are Going Extinct
And was stumped again.

So what, are they taken down to the park, given sweeties, and pushed on the swings?

Still I persevered:

Kludgeocracy: The American Way of Policy
And what in the sweet green grass is  kludgeocracy?

I might just stop calling myself an English teacher since I am following none of that.

I guess the only positive  thing – the only thing –  to be said about Australian politics is their use of plain English. Or should that be Australianisms?

In an interview with The Washington Post our newest Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, explains the previous government’s policies thus:

''Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.'' 
Mr Fernandes, an associate professor of international and political studies at the University of New South Wales, offers this observation:

“Generally speaking the convention is that you don’t go to a foreign country and attack your political opponents at home.
“Their commentators will be privately thinking that this is extremely uncouth.”

Fantastic- I don’t understand American politics, and we’re the country with an uncouth PM.

Friday, 1 November 2013

When nerdom equals success

For the past few months I have been teaching in the TAFE system- that's Technical and Further Education for those not in the know. My students are mainly ones who completed year 12 (final year of secondary school) last year but did not do well enough to get into university. There is also a smattering of mature age students.

In a class last week my students were working on an essay. The course demands I teach them essay skills as it provides them with the skills to succeed at university.  I have broken down the steps to researching and writing an essay and then needed to decide on an essay topic.

Because I am an awesome teacher I decided on a topic that would be applicable to them: What factors contribute to success at the tertiary level. Brillliant, I thought. They learn to write an essay and in the process find out what their stumbling blocks may be at university.

Most don't really appreciate the topic, however, one mature age student told me last week:

"I feel like such a nerd in your class because I'm finding this so interesting." 

And, 'TOUCH DOWN!" as they say on certain TV shows when applauding success. 

My work here is done. I walked away with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Stella x