Back to It

The holidays as ever have flown past. We spent five lovely days in Canberra with my mother and step father and a night on the road in each direction, once with family and once at a motel. I’ve logged a bunch of our experiences over at Trip Advisor.  We had some particularly special meals out, saw more than a few museums and galleries and visited all the best playgrounds in town.

After months of talking and circling around ideas, trying to decide where and how we want to live. Including keeping voting tally sheets with pros and cons for each destination on the kitchen cabinets. We have decided that we will stay in Australia. The where in Australia bit remains nebulous, but we are effectively ruling out living in Scotland, Europe or Asia for now. I am still coming to terms with the next bit but it is likely that we will need to stay in Cobar for the duration of 2018 to build capital. Our key criteria in looking for a place to buy and build are quality school for the boys, proximity to family, proximity to a capital, affordability, proximity to wilderness, mountains, sea as well as climate stability, vulnerability and habitability. Nowhere meets all needs.

I’ve started a list of every good or interesting state or alternative school in Australia. As expected apart from a few really exceptional state schools I hadn’t encountered before, it is a pretty short list at the moment. I’m hopeful of being able to add more before we begin narrowing it down.

I’ve resolved to devote more effort to developing my creative abilities to combat the latent ennui of life out here. Finishing things is critical to progress for me and today I finally put finishing touches on two projects that have been lingering on my drive for years and months respectively. Both are being used for T-shirt design competitions the first is here on Threadless.


The second will go up on Woot! for a relevant competition opening there early tomorrow morning. Link to follow. Edit: It seems the relevant WOOT comp wont open until Thursday.

 

Votes are greatly appreciated on both. As with many such sites the winning entries get about $1k US, some store credit and a portion of all sales for the life of the design on the site.

Tomorrow is the first day of term 2 for me, though my student wont be back until Wednesday. As Tuesday is ANZAC day Monday is student free and hopefully productive.

 

Days, Pages and Books

Update

The deep exhaustion of an eleven week term conquered all for the past week or so. The two weeks I have to recover before the next onslaught are a very welcome prospect. We will be spending almost a week of the break in Canberra with my mother and step father doing who knows what yet.

For the first time since entering the profession of teaching I have found myself wondering if all the attendant crap of education, the meetings, the record keeping, marking and behaviour management are worthwhile. I remain committed to my class and to the profession for some years to come but if, in a few years time I announce that I am starting a business, or pursuing a project instead that year, don’t be surprised. Another factor in all of this is that a masters is likely to become necessary at some point not too far down the line and the very idea fills me with dread. I love learning but my every experience of higher education so far has been disappointing if not down right infuriating and the idea of writing a thesis or completing coursework while keeping up with the day to day requirements of the classroom is deeply unappealing.

Anyway apart from a small pile of marking and a big pile of planning. My goals for the break are to finally get a photo shoot done of L in his costume, and to try and knock out F’s costume to match. The helm of F’s is already done and the other pieces should all come together with relative ease.  I would also like to begin playing with modelling software in earnest and gets some drawing done.

Perhaps I need to add a more active diarising art activity to my routine. 

The cover and 'The Passiona of Chris' comic from Arielle Gamble's zine.

From ‘A Year in a (shit) country town

The Baroque Cycle

Yesterday I finally finished ‘The Baroque Cycle‘ by Stephenson. A seven book long odyssey that has taken me almost a year of listening. I shared the first book with N in Scotland but she was not as hooked as I so I have listened to the rest myself and it’s a good thing too, else N and I would still have months to go. I myself had plenty of interruptions and have listened to and read many other things along the way. But it has been an amazing journey through the Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries that I have enjoyed being able to jump in and out of for months.

These books managed to treat the origins of currency and the markets as lively and dramatic sequences of events. Although plenty of artistic licence has been taken it is clear that meticulous research was required and drawn upon regularly by Stephenson. The origins of science in natural philosophy and the political battles between the fiercest minds of the age are the central and recurring elements and are fascinating in and of themselves. All is weaved together into a compelling narrative with destitute princesses, vagabond scoundrels, pirates, alchemists and geniuses battling over the fundamental nature of reality and creating the world anew. It has been a wild ride.

Legion

N and I are a few episodes into ‘Legion‘, which is so far pretty compelling and disturbing viewing. There is a lot of quite Kubrikian elements of style and an aesthetic that pays homage to British sci-fi from the 60s and 70s.  I am impressed by the accuracy and discomfort with which the filmmakers are able to capture the uncertainty of mental illness, the slippery transience of dream and memory and the disturbing nightmarish intensity of childhood fear.

More as we progress.

The Fold

The Fold

This is a bad book, spoilers ahead. I grabbed it as it was in a bunch of peoples favourite SF of recent years book lists. N and I listened to it together and both were felt kind of embarrassed by how easily we guessed the nature of the problem from very early on. Both hoping that it could not really be that simple, like seriously he cannot really be expecting his entire audience to not have seen ‘The Prestige’, can he? Anyway by then it was too late we were committed and had to see it through and my oh my it just got worse, and worse, and worse.

It really was embarrassingly bad. From the grievous stupidity of the protagonist with the ever more preposterously good memory functions to the hilariously awful enemies from the ‘other side’ by the end we were groaning and offering exasperated counter commentary on every action.

 

Thursday 30th

F had another day care cold to start the week, cleared now. But we were all in sleep debt for a few days.

I’ve been fidgeting with the printer at school and pottering about trying to get the class aquaponics system up and running.

I’ve been holding off on delivering a lesson on cyclones as part of our natural disasters topic, Tuesday provided the perfect opportunity. I hope things ae calming down for everyone up north now. ABC had a shot of a street close to our previous residence in Brisbane deep under water so while we are grateful to not personally be going through that again.

Holidays are still a week away for us here in NSW and there is as always much to be done. We will be taking a trip to Canberra to rendezvous with my mother and step father for the long weekend. Hot tips for attractions are appreciated.

It is hard to muster energy for a good rant on school nights, but my goodness our pollies deserve more than a tongue lashing at the moment. I’ll leave off with Chomsky instead.

and a piece on the the noble Bin Chicken to lift you spirits

Chomsky day:

Just cos


Part six of the Sir Vader build video is up. Despite the best intentions we still haven’t gotten out to get some good shots of L in it.

Part seven and eight are being edited as one and should be done in coming days.

I’ve started F’s matching Storm Trooper suit, pics to follow as it develops.

Hung the bird house in a tree.

 

Lots of rich discussion about the years ahead but no answers yet. Indulged myself with a game purchase. Like it’s predecessor Just Cause 2, part 3 is 100% pure mayhem. Better writing than a Michael Bay film though every bit as silly and explody and much more fun.

Boxes, Birdhouses and Editing

A lot of long days have left me with not much to say of an evening save a string of Z’s. Nevertheless lots of projects have come together over the weekend and the beginning of this week.

A set of three nested photography sitting boxes. To be used for portraiture in the studio N has just signed a three month lease on.

 

A bird house.

Assembled from scraps and painted with a stinky old enamel helpfully labeled ‘Stromboli’ found in the shed. 

 

Puppets are taking over in my classroom. Yesterday I had a mixed group from various grades thanks to a sports day so we made free choice pin and paper puppets like this example which I whipped up in lunch. Today my class began making their own interpretations of the characters in the book we have been reading with the intention that they will then animate scenes from the story.

As noted on insta, we have denuded the entire town’s supply of split pins and I am now desperately hunting more. 

I finished another segment of the costume build video. We didn’t make it out for a costume shoot over the weekend as I had hoped to do. Looking forward to this weekend though.

I desperately need to do away with the huge and unwieldy collection of clips that are clogging up my hard drives. Editing a gogo.

Fell in love with the art and concept of this game:

I am absolutely devastated that I missed the kickstarter (and associated loot) last year. Can’t hardly wait for release.

 

 

Snake Bite

I received my first ever snake bite yesterday. Completely harmless and entirely my own fault.

Molasses the python got a a little too eager when I opened his enclosure with my hand in front of his head. I freely admit that it got my heart going though.

A week of very long days has left little energy for making in the evenings.

In an exciting development I now have fish in the classroom. A small school of Jade Perch to be precise.

The aquaponics system is still some way off functional but we have transferred the fish into a pair of the system’s tanks and plugged in some air-stones to keep them happy.

A number of interesting things have caught my eye this week but i’ll limit myself to only a couple.

The animator behind this fantastic little gorgon battle has recently finished a four year odyssey to single-handedly animate a feature length hand drawn film. Very impressive and pretty cool looking to boot.

Deep in the disturbing underweb evil masterminds find perfect matches between pop rap hits and nightmarish children’s television.

If you like me derive pleasure from watching people fail at video gaming in spectacular and amusing fashion. This guy has plenty to offer.

Build Complete

A visitor from the other side of the globe enlivened our weekend.

My good friend Nils, who is over from Berlin to see his partner, drove with her up from Melbourne. They stayed Friday and Saturday nights with us, availing themselves of our camping equipment to pitch tent in the garden for privacy and defense from early morning pounces by little boys. We took it pretty easy, lots of good conversation, rich food and late nights.

Printed him a pinhole camera:


I have requested sample images when such have been developed.

I have finally called build complete on the Sir Vader Costume.


I am hopeful of finding time to do a full dress photo shoot on or before the weekend. Getting ready to get started on the matching costume for F using what I have learned making this one.

 

I’ve also nearly completed the set of three photography sitting boxes for N’s soon to be studio, sanding and painting remain. At work I’ve been decluttering my storerooms and preparing to get an aquaponics system online.

 

N and I watched ‘La La Land‘ last night.

Occasionally I love a good musical, not to often mind, and only if they aren’t too heavy on the soppy songs.

To me this film was beat perfect, a genuine unadulterated pleasure. The vibrant colours, the on point comic timing, the emotional maturity and the ever present set and prop homages to golden era greats. Musicals aren’t for everyone and a glace at the IMDB reviews reveals that even among the musical aficionados this is clearly a contentious film. I contend that it is worth your while, impressive, emotional and fun.

 

Monobrow

Printing my way through the week.

Yesterday, or the day before, it was this lovely d20 which is unfortunately by my limited testing not a fair die. But it might make a good master for some resin casting.

 

Yesterday I finally came upon a solution for a problem that has caused many failed prints and succeeded in printing the plunger for this cupcake paper press, also a working set of the golden mean calipers that were my first failed print. It turns out that coating the build plate with glue stick is sufficient to stop builds curling up at the edges and being knocked over.

 


The class pet has gotten comfortable with me

 

It turns out that I look pretty good with a monobrow.

 


Spent what little light I’ve had after work continuing building photo stool boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

Catchup

A rough draft of the Black order set

Teaching myself Tinkercad so as to be of use as a teacher of it for my students, who will be learning the program so that the 3D printer can be put to work. It is a basic and quite powerful modelling program. The controls are a little bit idiosyncratic and it has a tendency to dump the user back the main menu when doing hard operations, though it has so far not lost progress doing so. My first self set challenge is an Order vs Chaos chess set.

I splashed out and bought a couple of rolls of printing filament from these guys mid week so that I can get some personal printing done at work guilt free.

On Saturday N and I made the Dubbo run leaving the children with grandparents. A shockingly expensive shopping and very long drive later we made it home safe and have cupboards chock full with food and a shed full of timber and paints for projects.

I’ve been commissioned to build a set of portrait photography boxes and among the supplies purchased were two sheets of 12mm ply cut down to fit in the car. This project provided me with the first opportunity to put my mitre saw to use and my what a pleasure that machine is. All pieces are cut and ready for building and I even ripped down some off cuts to make parts for a nesting box. Assembly to happen later in the week.

Tuesdays are staff and year level meetings each week, meaning that I am usually not home until near six. I have found out that there is a Judo class on from Seven in the school hall on Tuesday evenings. I would like to attend but the mental hurdle of returning to work is a big obstacle. Wish me luck.

 

A few links to share from the last few days:

A beautiful representation of the causes of Global Warming.

Finalists of the Smithsonian Photo Competition

Do Want: Colour 3D Printed scale models of astronomical bodies.

I periodically return to the works of Simon Stålenhag (Sale site) Disturbing, fantastical and somehow totally believable they conjure a deeply uncomfortable alternative world. Someday I’ll commit and buy a print. I just haven’t settled on which yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss’s Birthday

Not pictured, the white cotton gloves I was given at work to complete the look.

It was a hot day for it but there were some truly splendid costumes from the students for Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr.Seuss’s) 113th birthday. In my class I had a couple of Green Eggs and Ham, 5 Things (3 ones, 1 two and a three), a One fish, and a Blue fish (Two fish and Red fish were in other classes), A fox in socks and a couple of cats in hats, including yours truly.

 

Other than the costumes and a special canteen lunch it was a pretty ordinary school day, but outlandish outfits certainly add colour and humour to even ordinary procedures.

 

Now to settle on what to dress up as for Simultaneous Story Time in May.