Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for August, 2008

The day after 080808
August 9th, 2008

Well, it is the morning after my birthday. My wife Shao Ping is teaching Mandarin to a group of adults at the Nan Tien Temple just now. I am sitting here in the living room listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ~ Babe, You Turn Me On…

You race naked through the wilderness
You torment the birds and the bees
You leapt into the abyss, but find
It only goes up to your knees
I move stealthily from tree to tree
I shadow you for hours
I make like I’m a little deer
Grazing on the flowers

Everything is collapsing, dear
All moral sense has gone
It’s just history repeating itself
And babe, you turn me on

There are two gentlemen in our gutted kitchen. They are laying some cement before applying some new tiles. They were both born in Beijing. They have been living in Australia a long time and their children have grown up here. It is funny to hear one of the gentleman to say “G’day” with an Australian accent more broader than my own. They tiled our ground floor several years back. They did a beautiful job. This morning they are so proud due to the Olympic Games opening ceremony. My wife remarked upon the neat way they have levelled the kitchen floor and one of the gentlemen beamed and said, ‘Chinese people can do everything!”.

Yesterday I shared my birthday with a number of people. They include Dustin Hoffman, The Edge and Faye Wong. I admire all three to varying degrees. I exchanged gifts with a student at school who also shares the same birthday and today I will catch up with Luke, a former colleague, also born 080858.

Today is sunny. Later Shao Ping and I shall go out, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the rays. The winter has been cold this week. Too cold. Perhaps my ‘old’ bones feel the cold more now.

Later this weekend I need to begin marking 45 historical investigations submitted by my Year Eleven Ancient History students. Later this term we shall add their investigations to a wiki. They will embed graphics and relevant links. That will be quite an undertaking.

The eighth of the eighth of the eighth ~ my birthday
August 8th, 2008

I turn 50 today. It is the eighth of August, 2008. The eighth of the eighth of th eighth. 080808. I was born on the 8th August, 1958. My mother nearly died at the time and I was born two months premature.

My mother and I

My mum’s birthday was on the 6th August. Shared a humidicrib with another baby. His name was Benjamin Kay. Ben was born on the 9th August. We ended going to school together up until the age of eighteen.

This card was on the humidicrib

I was in that humidicrib for quite a few weeks. How would you interpret the comment written across the bottom of the card above? Were they closed for an entire month? I was named after my grandfather, John. He had died a few days before I was born.

My father and I

I remember my tenth birthday on the 8th August, 1968. I visited my father in hospital that day. He had experienced a major heart attack. My father gave me a book that I read from cover to cover…Our World In Space And Time [Odhams Press Ltd., London]. The book still sits there in our bookcase. My father’s birthday greetings are written on the inside cover. He was 49 at the time. He spent some time in hospital. He worked too hard.

I turned 20 during my second year at uniersity. 8th August, 1978. I cannot remember that day at all. Second year at university was a non event. I have blanked out much of 1978. Something must have happened that I prefer to forget. I did see David Bowie perform live for the first time not long after.

David Bowie, Sydney, 1978.

I remember my 30th birthday. It was the 8th of the 8th, 1988. A lot of eights. It was a pupil free day at school and there was a party held at school. Amazingly, myself and one other colleague, Luke, shared birthdays. Both of us were born on the 8th August, 1958. Luke thought I was kidding when I made the discovery. We are both catching up this Saturday actually. Luke teaches in England now. My father came to school once to speak to the students about his experiences as a prisoner of war in the Second World War.

My father and I address the students at St Joseph’s Catholic High School

My fortieth birthday was quiet. 8th August, 1998. There was a heavy rain storm that night. I received an antique Astro Boy figurine from my wife Shao Ping. I received some South Park videos as well. Our family was going to celebrate my birthday a couple of weeks later but that was cancelled following a severe storm event in which our region was flooded. That storm happened on the 17th August. Our suburb received 313mm of rain that day. The party was cancelled. There are some accounts of the storms here and here. August 1998 was a wet month.

There will be a surprise party in our faculty staff room today. This evening my wife Shao Ping and I are going out with 4 of my 6 siblings as well as their spouses. I am having a larger party in September at the beginning of the school holidays.

My dad and all my brothers and sisters. That is me wearing the loud shirt. 2001.

All of my siblings are educators too. Let me see… two history teachers, university lecturer, mathematics teacher, music teacher, primary school teacher, librarian. What do you think we all talk about when we get together?

How do I feel turning 50? Not much really. It is a bit of a crossroads. It is harder to get a new job at this age. If I branch out it will be consulting and/or training. When will I retire? Not sure. I hope it is a simple transition that passes unnoticed. I do not think I can teach kids forever. It would be the death of me.

Recent photograph of myself and workshop participant Gabriel taken in Singapore.

I will remember this birthday as our kitchen is also being ripped out tomorrow. A new kitchen will be built next week. I remember events via association with other events. I then move backwards and forwards down the mental timeline in my head.

Another recent photograph taken with my colleague Chris, and our visiting Japanese teachers from Koshigaya Minami Senior High School in Japan ~ Tatsuo and Mitsuyo.

I will probably blog one or two more posts over the next few days. The old read-write web has seemed burdensome of late. Time to rationalise again. Twitter or Plurk? Diigo or Delicious? WordPress or Posterous? Both my wife Shao Ping and I blog.

Shao Ping and I in a previous life

The number eight is significant in Chinese culture. It has various meanings and associations. Good fortune. Wealth. Luck and so on. That is why the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony is commencing at 8.08PM on the 8th August, 2008.

Why not celebrate my birthday instead? It has just gone past midnight here in New South Wales, Australia. Plenty of room to write in the comments below. Cheers, John.

Video, image and podcasting solutions online
August 5th, 2008

Last Thursday myself and a few colleagues gathered together for a lunchtime sharing of techie tools and ideas. I was in and out of the meeting as I took some photographs of events around the school. This meeting was attended by Peter, Frank, Marion, Michelle, Steve and myself. We were also joined by our two guest teachers from Koshigaya Minami Senior High School in Japan ~ Mitsuyo and Tatsuo.

Mitsuyo and Tatsuo at Bulli Beach

I opened the proceedings with a demo of Posterous. I showed how it is capable of creating rich multimedia blog posts with elegant galleries, embedded video and podcasts ~ all via email.

Frank was impressed enough to publish his students’ Comic Life projects using Posterous. The students’ geography projects can be viewed here. As I have mentioned elsewhere this elegant publishing tool is improving by the day.

Frank shared KeepVid with the group. This site allows you to download streamed video clips from sites such as YouTube. You simply paste the web address or url of the clip in the url download field.

It searches available download links providing the user with links to flv or mp4 file downloads. Click on the download link to commence the operation. This is a useful site. Cross platform. I still prefer Tooble.

Peter shared an alternative to Apple with respect to publishing your photographs in a coffee table book. Viovio allows you to publish coffee table photo books by submitting a pdf file of the ‘book’ created in another tool such as iPhoto. It costs significantly lower than other providers of such services. Peter has just ordered a book. Stay posted for a review of the product when it arrives.

Interesting use of Posterous
August 4th, 2008

Last week I shared Posterous with some colleagues during a lunchtime Geek
meet. The image display component of Posterous impressed one colleague in
particular and he is now using Posterous to display his junior Geography
students’ Comic Life projects.

Each project was exported as image files. My colleague then posted each
project to Posterous as a separate email.

Posted by email from Watershed (posterous)

Subscribed to posterous blogs using NetNewsWire
August 4th, 2008

Just added the 17 Posterous blogs that I have subscribed to using NetNewsWire. I find reading blog posts via NetNewsWire to be fast, easy and convenient.

Posted by email from Watershed (posterous)