Thursday, November 11, 2010

Too Critical?

I'm not being mean but my grandparents won't live forever; that's why I take time out of my schedule to see them. However, the cousins of my generation don't see things in my light. They see it as a hindrance.

I am quite critical of them. I am sad that they don't appreciate having the older generation around.

Yet, am I being too critical?

I am the oldest of my generation, and in Chinese families that is a big deal. Perhaps going to see them is my responsibility. Perhaps subconsciously I feel the need to be the authoritarian in this situation.

Is it because I am an only child and all my cousins have at least one brother and/or sister?

I will probably never know, but I know that I won't regret anything when my grandparents hit the bucket.

Will they?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Smashing Pumpkins

I cannot believe the time the tickets went on sale to the date they arrived. It was like there was no time to prepare. There I was, Tuesday 9am with the credit card out and fingers on the keyboard just waiting for the confirmation that I had purchased tickets to the Smashing Pumpkins.

The last time they came to Auckland I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience, because really...who comes to New Zealand? Yet the Smashing Pumpkins came again and I was delighted to see them again.

I was thinking that they would be playing an acoustic set because they were playing at the Town Hall which would only contain around 3000 people. The intimate venue would have been a perfect place for something such as an acoustic set. They didn't however.

Billy came on and blasted a new song called The Fellowship. It wasn't long after that singles like Today and Bullet With Butterfly Wings came on to amp up the crowd. I was very impressed with the array of songs they choose. There were songs from almost every album and it wasn't just singles they broke out. 'Shame', 'Glass and the Ghost Children', 'Eye' and an awesome more rock version of 'Stumbleine'. Yet, as with most concerts there would be many there that only knew the singles and every time he played one of them the crowd seemed to be subdued, which is a crying shame as there are many quality non-single songs they have produced.

Around the middle Billy introduced the band members one at a time, which is probably needed as Billy is the only original member of the group. Some say Billy is egotistic and arrogant. I say, why shouldn't he be? He is the heart and soul of the band.

The set he played (from memory, pretty sure I missed some...not in order) were, The Fellowship (new), Freaks (new), A Stitch in time (new), Song for a Song (new), Spangled (new), Today, Eye, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Zero, United States (which he played, stopped and played Star Spangled Banner and Moby Dick (Led Zep Song) and a drum solo for 10 minutes + before he resumed), Ava Adore, Cherub Rock, Shame, Glass and the Ghost Children, Tonight Tonight, Stumbleine, Stand Inside Your Love, Tarantula and an EPIC version of Gossamer.

My favourite part was most definitely the first two songs of the encore. Billy got out the acoustic and played one of his new songs 'Stitch in Time' and 'Disarm'. Just Billy and his guitar. Magic.

Would it be too much to ask for Smashing Pumpkins unplugged to come here? I've got a perfect set for him to play...maybe I should email him.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The War on Fat

I am a big advocate of stopping youth obesity. There should never be a need for it and in a nut shell I think it comes down to bad parenting. Children do not have much choice when it comes to what is being put on their plate to eat, it is up to adults to decide what is best for their children. Yet, how right am I?

Here is a clip from the nzherald

"Leading doctors in Britain will today demand tough government action to curb the nation's addiction to unhealthy food, and so help halt spiralling rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Senior medical figures want to stop fast-food outlets opening near schools, restrict the advertising of products high in fat, salt or sugar and limit sponsorship of sports events by fast-food producers such as McDonald's."
Isn't this great? I'm not sure. I think the best way to curb child obesity and therefore adult obesity is through education. It is definitely the most effective in my opinion but it is one that takes a long time to see results and here lies problem; we live in a world where immediate results are cherished. 
At the school I work at, I would estimate the children who are beyond the healthy guideline would be no more than 2% of an 800 child school. This is because the school has had a long standing education on healthy eating and good fun exercise. You would also think that this school has great parents as well. 
"Mr Lansley received unexpected support from Professor Stephenson and Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners both strongly criticised parents for setting their children a bad example by overeating, serving poor-quality food and exercising too little.
"Parents are role models for their children. It's crucial that they set the tone for what the children eat and their physical activity," said Professor Stephenson."

Did you think about the socioeconomic status (SES) of parents and the school when you were reading this post? I bet not. The school in mention is in the 80th percentile in terms of SES which means that families that go to the school are on average in the 80th percentile in terms of SES. 
So where does this lead me? Bad parenting is only part of the reason why there is youth obesity. Those groups that have a higher rate of youth obesity also have a lower SES. The reason for this is...junk food costs less than healthy food. 
How can you compete with Fish and Chips which costs less than $10 to feed a family of 5. McDonald's may cost a little more but it is easy, tastes great (to most) and has toys to please the children.
Food courts has extremely good value for money but they aren't looking out for your interests. 
To buy a healthy meal isn't astronomical in terms of price but it is a lot of effort. There are those parents who work their butts off for their children (and are in the lower SES). When they get home they are tired and it is easier to just buy the children something (we've all done it before, just not on a day to day basis). Bad parenting? Maybe, but you have to realise that we live in an ever increasing world and food is one of those products that just keep getting more expensive. This expensive world is punishing those lower SES families. 
"They also want "fat taxes" to be imposed on foods that cause the most dietary harm and introduce cigarette-style warnings for schoolchildren about the dangers of a bad diet."
One way to force families to change their ways is to make junk food more expensive. Force them to look into alternative ways to feed their children. Yet we have to be careful because I've seen many children from different schools not bring any lunch to school simply because their parents didn't give them any.  
I'm not a fan of "fat taxes" but cigarette style warnings may be a start. 
I know that bad eating in conjunction with little exercise is the causation of the obesity rate but those things that lead to bad eating and little exercise...there are many factors and they are all correlated. It is hard to find the panacea for this epidemic but it starts with education, those children who have been brought up with this education will hopefully in turn, teach good eating values to their children.

Quotes taken from:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I try to be optimistic

First time I've had a birthday in which I've been alone. Can't say that I like it much.

This morning was a happy time. I love my kids. Wish I could have just hung out instead of having to teaching them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Real Disappointment

I think for the first time in my life I've felt real disappointment. I had school assembly on this week and my class and I have been working frantically for a whole week.

Today rolls around and I wake up at 530am, it is raining and I can't get back to sleep because I am so excited for the children. When I get to school I got told that the children won't be there to see the assembly because it is too wet. We would have to do it in a near empty hall and then have it replayed back to the kids later.

Man was I shattered. I had prepared myself for such an awesome assembly that I did not even think about what if it got cancelled. Why was I so devastated? I think it's because of the work load at school. We have had a lot to do, reports, observations from upper management, reading tests, math tests and to top that off, I have to try and actually teach.

I'm not complaining about the work load, but when things get done and you see appreciation, it is all worth it. It's like washing the dishes at home, most of the time it is a thankless job that needs to be done. I wanted the school to see and appreciated what my class and I had done.

Obviously I couldn't do anything about it. The gods were not looking favorably.

Would I change anything? Nope...but it is definitely not a feeling I would like to feel again anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Kitties

My two kittens are doing very well. They like to play a lot and do lots of hilarious things for me to laugh at. Recently I moved in with a friend of mine and he has been getting great entertainment from them.

Last week I got them both name tags to go with their collars. I've let them go outside for the very first time and I can tell you that I was very nervous. Just praying they would come back! Sure enough they do.

I do have a bugbear though. What is with the 5.30am face lick? I mean, the sun hasn't even come out yet and I get some coarse wet sandpaper scrapped across my face. I even try to cover my face, but Audee (the new kitten) just finds a spot to crawl under and recommence operation lick.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

More than meets the eye

Term 1 was a great term. It is so different when you start the year with a new class rather than taking over during term 3. At the end of Term 2 the whole school will be doing a UN show. I got lucky and got Japan uncontested (because no class could have the same country).
Thinking about this timeline
Written language → Samurai vs. Ninjas → Euros + WWII → Pop Culture (Anime)

Anyways, I have a lot of time to tinker over it during the holidays. Perhaps too much time, as I am getting a little bit bored. So hard when your friends have to work.

Oh. Got a new kitten to the family, her name is Audee (like Autumn). Ruby (old cat), is afraid and dislikes the new Audee, but am hoping she will be over it in a weeks time. At the moment Audee is trying to play with Ruby, but Ruby isn't having a bar of it. Lots of hissing and claws coming out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Still a Pumpkins Fan

Another new song from the Pumpkins was released today called "A Stitch in Time." 

In other news, Smashing Pumpkins are yet looking for another new member. Ginger the bassist has left to raise her new baby. Of all the original members only Billy Corgan is left. The type of music they (he) is producing these days is very different to everything that has been released before. I'm not a big fan of the new music but at least it is something. Am hoping this isn't the influence of Jessica Simpson....ewww

Still a Pumpkins Fan, still a Billy Corgan fan.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Year 3 we're on camp camp camp, and we're feeling alright right right...

What a couple of days.  The kids were so amped for camp. The hardest part was getting 130 kids to sleep. It took around 1hr+ before they got to sleep. I slept on the hall stage looking down on the children. It was such a serene sight. So beautiful to watch 130 kids asleep.

I started to think that this is perhaps how it was like for a general looking down on his army before a battle. However, instead of the kids going to war, they slaughtered me the next day. Man was I tired.  I went home, ate, slept for 2 hours (at 6pm). Got up....then went back to bed for another 9hrs.

Wish I had a picture of the whole hall asleep.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mea Culpa

The 'Internet Age' has given us many possibilities that we had never fathom before. From simple communication to buying groceries and having them delivered to your doorstep are just two of many possibilities. Nothing seems impossible now (especially with Google Inc. around).

Apple Inc. is one company who has really benefited from the 'Internet Age'. The iPod was the first big thing for them and later the iPhone. These devices allow music to be played on them, both requiring a piece of software called iTunes. iTunes is a music application which syncs music to your Apple listening device. iTunes also allows you to purchase music, digital music that is, and that is what I really want to talk about.

Buying digital music seems like a great way of purchasing music.
The benefits are immense:

  • Don't need to leave the house
  • You can listen to it straight away
  • It is cheaper
  • It reduces carbon footprint because there is no packaging or shipping involved.
Now, how could you pass that up?

My problem with this is, that the iTunes store, is a store in America. When you spend any money at the store, money goes from NZ to the USA. It does not get pumped into the local market. When your country is a small island nation of 4 million, little things like that could cause business to lose huge market share and eventually close down. Less tax is paid to the government, people lose jobs etc. etc.

This is just one example of money being handed to foreign shores. I have found a UK book site which sells books cheaper (after shipping) than books purchased in NZ retail stores. A clothing website based in the USA sells t-shirts for less than $20nzd (after shipping). Amazon (and now Apple) are the two main places to purchase e-books.

Eventually when everyone has the internet, more people will realise that there are many more options when it comes to shopping. NZ products can't compare to the prices of overseas items because of the inflated prices due to 3rd or even 4th party (middle men). Will our economy crumble in 20 years time because we don't support local businesses?

*Edit* After writing this post, I found out that iTunes redirects you to a NZ version of iTunes store, which converts some albums to NZD (while others aren't available in NZ). However, a $5 album in the states costs you $14 is up with that? Anyway, I don't believe the money goes to the NZ economy. *Edit*

Monday, February 01, 2010

Homemade Scratching Post

Finally got around to making a scratching post for Ruby (my kitten, like duh obviously...).

Materials Used:
  • Old Jeans
  • Carpet Off Cuts
  • Basketball and Vs. Cards
  • Unused CD Rack
  • Cellotape
  • Gladwrap
  • Nails
  • Coat Hanger
  • Bungy Cord
  • Staples
Tools Used:
  • Hammer
  • Staple Gun
  • Scissors
  • Blood and Sweat

This is an old CD Case that has been sitting there for years. Took it apart to use the large board as the base of the scratching post.

Pile these things together into "bricks" and cellotape them. Once you have your bricks, pile them into two even piles (make sure your bricks are the same helps). Cellotape them all together and then gladwrap it a few times.

This is what it looks like afterwards.

The bottom of the "stack" is the CD board with carpet over the top and stapled in using the staple gun.

I then had to make sure that the stack was in the middle of the board. Turned it upside down and then nailed it. The stack of cards is a lot harder to nail in than normal wood, which was really surprising. I think it is because there is a bit of a cushion and my hammer hits were just being absorbed.

After it was nailed in, I cut off the legs from the jeans and just fit it onto the stack of cards. It was amazing how well it fit...lucky I guess. Both of the jeans legs are on the stack.

Once on, I stapled the top of it onto the stack.

The last thing I did was put a coat hanger inbetween the two stack of cards and then tied the bungy cord on the end of the hanger.

Day 1 Ruby only used the "toys" but I taught her to use it for scratching and she did so all by herself on Day 2!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good vs Evil

While reading a fantasy book, I came across a good piece of dialogue between two characters. It was a discussion about Good vs Evil. Once you have read it, you may think, like duh....obviously, but we probably wouldn't have thought of it if we had to ourselves. Just something for you to ponder about.

Background: Prince Robert is talking to Sir Neil (A knight). At this time Prince Robert is in talks with a country called Hansa about a possible alliance (thus peace), but Sir Neil is against because they have been their sworn enemy since the beginning of days.
"Until I came to Eslen, I thought my world was large. The sea, after all, seems endless when one is upon it, and the islands seem uncountable. But then I came to discover all of that could fit into a cup if the world were a table."
"Poetic" Robert said.
"In the little cup of the world I lived in," Neil went on, "things were pretty simple. I kjnew who I fought for, I knew why. Then I came here, and things became confusing. As I travel farther into the world, they became more confusing yet."
Robert smiled indulgently. "Confusing how? Did you lose your sense of right and wrong?"
Neil returned the smile. "I grew up fighting, and mostly I fought Weihand raiders. They were bad people because they attacked my people. They wer bad people becuase they gfought for Hansa, people who once kept my people inbondage and would do it again if they could. And yet looking back on itm most of the men I killed were probably not that different from me. They probably died believing their cause was just, hoping their fathers would look from beyond the world and be proud of them."
"Yes, I see," Robert said. "You may not know this, but there is a philosophy of considerable weight built on that same premise. It is not a philosophy suited to the weakminded, hoiwever because it suggests-as, in fact, you just suggested-that there is really no such thing as good or evil that most people do what they think is right. It's just the lack of agreemnent on what is right that leads us to believe in good and evil."
"Uou traveled great distances, Sir Neil. Leagues. But one can also travel, so to speak, in time, through the study of history. Consider the argument that sits before us now; I am vilified for trying to strenthen our bonds of friendship with Hansa and thus avert a war we can ill afford. My detractors point out that by doing so I create conditions that might allow a Reiksbaurg (Leader of Hansa) to take the throne a few years hence."
"Now, why should that be considered wrong? Becayuse Hansa is evil? Because they desire control of this kingdom? And yet my family, the Dares, wrested Crotheny from Hansa in a bloody conflict. My great-great-grandfather murdered the Reiksbaurg emperor in their Castle. Who was good and who was evil then? It's a meaningless question, don't you think?"
"I'm not as learned as you," Neil acknowledged. "I know little about history, even less about philosophy. I am a knight, after all, and my job is to do as I am told. I have killed many ,men I might have liked if we had met under other circumstances, because they weren't - as you say - evil. We were merely serving masters at cross-purposes. In some cases, it wasn't even that. To do my duty, I had to stay alive, and to stay alive sometimes means killing others.
"As you say, most people in this world are just trying to do the best they can, to protect the ones they love and the life they know, live up to their duties and obligations."

Keyes, G (2006) The Blood Knight (pg. 341-342). New York.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A bookmark is a thin marker, used to keep one's place in a book when the book is put down, and allows the reader to return to it with ease.

As I was growing up, a bookmark was something set in stone for me. It was a piece of paper or card and it was laminated. Now it is a different story. I was inspired to write this article after receiving what is probably the best bookmark in the world.

I want to breakdown the different types of common bookmarks people use these days.

I was going to say this is perhaps one of the oldest forms of bookmarks, but the more I thought about it the more I think I am wrong. It is perhaps one of the most recent forms of bookmarks, and the worst. Why is it the most recent? Well because paper and books were scarce a few hundred years ago and it would have been sacrilege to have bent pages in the book (I still feel this way about dog ears).

Pros: You don't need a real book mark.
Cons: I regard you as a lower life form than an amoeba.

Probably the oldest form of bookmark. A bound bookmark is usually a piece of thin fabric that is attached to the book itself. Prevalent in older books or books that are leather bound. Now it is usually found in bibles.

Pros: Right there when you need it.
Non-transferable.....unless you really want to

First used by the filthy rich and now by the most common of people. Quite a prevalent form of bookmark these days. Used because it is handy.

Pros: Usually readily available. You can also use the $1, $5, $20, $50 or $100 bill.
Cons: Don't use them for library books or borrowed books. You might find yourself poorer.

Laminated bookmarks are probably the most prevalent kind of bookmarks these days. They can be bought straight up from a store or they can be made. An excellent activity to do with your kids.

Pros: Looks good, can be personalised, lasts a long time.
Cons: Feeling guilty when you lose one that someone made for you, but then feel utterly relieved when you find it a day later on the street!

Probably the best bookmark in the world. Seriously. Just look at it! I received this from a friend for Christmas 09' and I must say, it has been my favourite. It is a little bit smaller than a small sized paperback and only a few millimeters thick.

Look at me rambling.

The fabric bookmark is becoming more popular these days. They come in different sizes and usually are in the shape of a normal bookmark. Felt is a common fabric to use and can be also layered with other different coloured felt to give it a cool effect.

Pros: Way more stylish than laminated ones. Also has all their pros.
Cons: Harder to make than laminated ones, can get dirty.

I hope that I've made you think a little more about bookmarks now. Yes I know there are other forms of bookmarks, but these are the ones that are worth writing about.

Just another reminder to look at my sexy sexy bookmark.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Albums of the Decade

So while I was making a Yeah Yeah Yeahs CD, I came upon an article that lists the top 50 albums of the past decade, with The Strokes coming in at number 1 with 'Is This It'.

While I appreciate that music is very subjective and no ones list will ever be the same, I will attempt to make my top 10 albums of the last decade. My list should be quite interesting because it is similar to the above list yet not.

Top 10 List in no particular order.

The Strokes - Room On Fire
I'm not sure why NME have 'Is This It' above this album. In my opinion this one is clearly the best album, so much more refined. However, 'You Only Live Once' from the album 'First Impressions of Earth' is my favourite song from them.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
It was a toss up between this and 'Show Your Bones'. Definitely my favourite band with a female lead singer and perhaps the find of the Noughties.

The Killers - Hot Fuss
Very surprised that this album...nay...this band was not on the top 50 list. Two of my favourite songs from this album aren't even singles!

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
The first British Band to get me excited about British music since Oasis and Pulp. A very good listen and amazing for their debut album.

Muse - Absolution
'Plug In Baby' is the song that got my attention, the album 'Absolution' made me fall in love with them and their concert at the St. James Theater blew me away.

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob
This band surprised me with this album. I got it on the cheap and thought I would take a gamble. I scooped the pot.

My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
I think the first song I heard of their was 'Helena' and it was a music video. The song didn't grab me but the video clip. It is gothic and reminded me of the Smashing Pumpkins. When I saw the lead Singer Gerard Way, I thought it was Billy Corgan with hair. I never looked back.

Radiohead - Kid A
Everybody was up in arms when this album came out. What were Radiohead doing!!! What happened to the catchy pop/rock songs. Well I got 'Kid A' as soon as it came out and am still listening to it now.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say, That's What I'm Not
Another British band that has made it big thanks to Jools Holland. Raw and Loud. Just how I like it.

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist
I just couldn't leave them out of it! Their first album in 7 years. Sure it wasn't really the Smashing Pumpkins of old without D'arcy and James Iha but it was a still good listen. If you didn't know, Smashing Pumpkins are releasing 44 new songs (all for free), one at a time on their website.

Honourable Mention:
The Hives - Your New Favourite Band
Technically a best of compilation but were relatively unheard of before this album.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Years!

I normally try to stay away from energy drinks like V and Redbull, though I do have them occasionally. However last night, I had about 5 of them mixed with Vodka. What a fail.
Too many Vodka Redbulls = way too amped and no sleep.

Anyways, I had a great time with my friends at 'Our House' and even banged into some old friends who I would love to catch up with.

Happy New Years to all!