Sunday, October 31, 2010

Walks of Wellington - the next adventure

Like all sequels this was not as good as the first, even though it was full of promise with its "canopy walkway". We had a lot of the same elements as the first outing, we had the same cast, and some of the features of the genre were becoming very apparent, such as, the kids who complain at the start but then enjoy it. In this sequel it was not that the nature that was bad. It was stunning in that "wow, when I really stop and look at this nature business, instead of walking past it in a hustle and bustle of everyday life and not notice it, it really is quite special" kind of way. And it is not that the company was bad, I really like going walking with my sister and her boys. We get to chat and they get to play. It was the disparity between the maps, the sign posts and the paths that was not so great. The maps seemed to be missing a vast number of the paths that we stumbled across, meaning we did a lot of stumbling and returning down paths already beaten.
The second thing that I did not like so much in this sequel was the intrusions of modern life in my 'nature' walk. Such as the native growing pylons amongst the ferns, or the manhole covers that were like stepping stones or dropped bread crumbs showing you the way along one path (why do you need manholes in a nature reserve?) Along the path with the modern day breadcrumbs there were multiple bits of metal sticking out through the mud. It was like it used to be a rubbish dump and the rubbish is slowly clawing its way back up to the surface. Saddled up nonchalantly to the rocks in the stream, desperately trying to be part of its natural surroundings, was a space saver tyre. It seemed to want to shed its bright orange rim, change its identity and become something natural and not man made. Even though we made jokes about the non natural things we saw as we went along, I must say I did find it disappointing, I went on this walk to escape such things. But maybe it is a good reminder of how we need to treat our natural settings with much more care.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Walks of Wellington

Apparently there are lots of walks you can do around Wellington; nature walks, city walks, historical walks, and some other walks I don't know about or can't care to remember. I want to get back outdoors now that the weather has brightened so I looked for a walk that Bennett, me, my sister and her two boys could do together. We (my sister and I) wanted a short walk to start us off, so we chose one in Seatoun that went through bush and along the shore line and also had old, crumbling gun turrets to amuse the young boys who follow us everywhere.

You may be able to tell from the slumped over figure of my 8 year old nephew Noah that we did not have fully excited and enthusiastic participates at the start of this walk. However, Bennett demonstrates he is not all teen as he lets his Aunty hug him in public.
The mood of our walking companions improved with time and the appearance of "caves" (there were some bigger ones than this but I like how excited they were by just the smallest of gaps)

and banks to climb and steps that started nowhere and went nowhere - I guess these steps were there for a reason at some point?

All in all it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and it cost nothing! Hooray for cheap family bonding! here I am at the end of the walk - all victorious.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

it's just a stage

I would never want to be a teenager ever again, you couldn't pay me enough money to turn back the clock (although I would accept the wrinkle free face, the lack of grey hairs, and the thighs without cellulite without much complaint)
But I do really like teenagers, they are fascinating creatures. There are a lot of complaints about the teenagers of today, but really it is the same re-hashed complaint that has been around since the term teenager was coined. There is nothing new about teenagers, except they can carry their music collection around with them in their pocket. Teenagers can be very predictable; show them a segment of South Pacific because you are studying musical theatre and they will predictably groan at the idea of expanding their viewing sphere, ask them to read a book that isn't Twilight and they will expel a loud groan at the mere idea of broadening their minds. Tell them they are having a day off and they will whoop and holler, give them pizza and they will inhale it faster than a fast thing. I sometimes (like most adults) find some of their behaviour tedious and exasperating but on the other hand I also find it really reassuring. It shows that they are normal human beings, progressing just as they should be through an awkward and confusing stage.
But sometimes they are not predictable and this is the thing I like the most, I love it when they step outside the boundaries we have set for them and they wow us. These are sometimes little things and sometimes they are pretty big. A couple of weeks ago four girls at East shaved their heads to raise money for cancer, they raised around $4000. I don't know about you but you could not pay me that much to shave mine right now, and to think that a teenage GIRL could do that astounds me. That is a pretty big thing.
Sometimes they surprise in small ways. Like the 5 Coll boys who pushed an East teacher's car into the school car park after it had broken down on the road, or Bennett when he gave up his TV programme so that the little girl my sister was babysitting could watch kiddie programmes. These things might me small, but they are just as good. These are the things I like to think about when it comes to teenagers.
Some days I just love my job, being surrounded by these strange creatures all day. At one point today I was almost moved to tears by how special my Year 10 drama class are, when they created a funny and original musical number from a small 30sec non-musical script I had given them. I can only hope that I step outside my boring, predictable adult 'stage' sometimes and wow them too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why do we love dolphins?

It is revision time at East - For my Year 12 English class this means they have to spend two weeks looking at unfamiliar texts. I try (mostly in vain) to find something that might be somewhat interesting to them - sometimes I fail at this because there is a gulf between what I find interesting and what they find interesting. It should be noted that sometimes I fail at this on purpose as I don't want to just give them stuff that they would be drawn to themselves, I want to expand their horizons even if they don't want them expanded. I may have never read Shakespeare if my Year 12 teacher had not made me, and I may not have even read Janet Evanovich if my sister had not bought it for me for my birthday - sometimes we need pushing.
Anyway today I had run out of articles/poems/speeches etc and in a last minute decision got an article from a ESA workbook. This article was one that made you see the silly things we do as humans in a new or enlightening way, and it engaged some students who are over revision during last period on a Friday. This article was all about how as silly humans idolise dolphins and whales above almost all other mammals. It asked why these mammals are so special?

"How is it that we can stare at a paddock full of cows, who communicate with each other with sounds just as dolphins do, an dnot swoon at the lyric wonder of it? ...Sheep are friendly and curious souls, just like dolphins but people don't want to graze along side them as a meaningful experience"

I must admit I love the picture this last comment made me visualise - I want to see people rolling in paddocks having a one on one experience with a flock of sheep - and not in a dodgy New Zealand/Australian sheep shagger kind of way. Maybe I like this idea because I have never been one to be fascinated by dolphins or whales and so this equally ridiculous idea which is making a mockery of the fools who think it is meaningful experience tickles my funny bone; or maybe the idea of some hippy tree lover rolling in paddocks communing with sheep just makes me laugh. What ever it is it sure made me and my students laugh today...but not as much as a bit of toilet humour.

Another section of the article questioned why we made trinkets, china ornaments and even toilet paper depicting dolphins and this descended into being able to have personalised toilet paper with a picture of someone you didn't like too much on it, so you could have the pleasure of wiping your butt with it (much mirth was had at this thought) I must admit I would feel a bit funny about wiping any of my bits with someones face, even someone I don't like - I wouldn't want them getting that close... but it does make you wonder...who would you choose or maybe you would just stick with dolphins?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fist pumping for life

Tuesday night is my favourite night of TV. There is a lot on TV that I just can't stand these days; like The News (so depressing and full of smarmy, smirky politicians) and like a billion crime scene investigation shows (the only show in this genre that I don't hate is Bones, but anything with David Boreanaz in it is mighty fine by me)

Mmmmmmm he makes crime drama worth watching...

But tonight! Tonight is the best TV night. First I get to watch dancing. Dance movies are go to when I am feeling sad, they never fail to make me happy even though they are completely predicable - they are my not so guilty pleasure. Because of my love of dance I love the show about the New Zealand Ballet company - I have dreams of being a dancer and meeting a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who dances a different style of dance but we seamlessly combine our dance styles and create a dance that wows the crowds and makes us fall in love (this all happens in my head while I watch this dance show)
After that I support more New Zealand made television by watching Outrageous Fortune. THE best characters on TV and some pretty inventive swears and curses make this an absolute delight. I have read before that people think we connect to this show as NZers because they are real characters with real emotions and real situations; that we all have someone in our family like them. I have to say no, I know no one like any of these people, but I kinda wish I did. The real highlight of my night, the moment when I get really excited, the moment of absolute pleasure which I should probably keep to myself comes at 9:30! This is when the absolutely crazy, stupid, weird, stupid, mental, unbelievably stupid people from Jersey Shore grace my TV screen. I am not ashamed to say, although I probably should be, that I LOVE THIS SHOW! I am not sure what it says about me that I love this kind of crap, but don't we all have something that is not particularly high brow? Or even medium brow? I find it odd that I will watch Jersey Shore tonight then I will go to be and read Pride and Prejudice, which I am re reading for the hundredth time. Maybe Pride and Prejudice was really the Jersey Shore of its day.