The Next Big (and really little) Thing

So our tiny prodigy is due today. And whether it happens today, tomorrow or in two-week’s time, it is so exciting to be so close to such an enormous life change. In many ways it feels like we’re ready: we’ve been around plenty of friends with young kids and we’ve certainly done all the “required reading” but naturally in so many other ways this is something that no theoretical education is going to adequately prepare us for.

But as much as the nervousness and terror associated with impending parenthood looms large, the far greater emotion right now is the excitement at becoming a dad. It’s not by mistake that I spend so much of my time with young people and there’s certainly something innate that brought me into teaching which is only going to grow when I’m hanging out with a little person of my own. Even just playing with our little nephew in the last few months since he arrived has been amazing: something changes when the little ball of person is somehow related to you.

So without having really said anything, (clearly out of practice with the whole blogging thing) – it’s nice to blurt some thoughts out again and share them with the world. Who knows when I’ll be able to do that again!

Things have changed

I’m furiously trying to get school reports, university assignments and Cert IV Training and Assessment stuff done all pretty much this week, and found this note. It’d obviously come from some stream-of-consciousness exercise a couple of years ago, before the whole teaching adventure started, but it’s a fair indication of how much life has changed. The note reads:

I’m so stuck. Stuck creatively, stuck in my job, just stuck where I am. There has to be more than this, more to this life than my impotent suburbia. I want to love (or perhaps it says “live” – it’s unclear), I want to do something, not get sucked into this pathetic nothingness. I’m desperate for somet….. (trails off)

Life is stressful, crazy and hard at the moment. But I’m so glad it’s definitely not “impotent suburbia”.

A note from a past existence
A note from a past existence

Recap

There are few things more tiresome than the blogger who apologises for a lack of posts, so I will refrain from falling into that trap.

In some ways I am sure that the decrease in blogging is just a symptom of trying to keep my head above water in a new profession, and in a new part of the city. But at the same time, I do feel that in some ways my theological musings have not made it quite to the www due to the fact that my theology is starting to become more practical. It’s hard to get all worked up about theological distinctions when you’re desperately wondering what it is you can do to improve the lot of a bunch of kids who in many cases seem to have limited themselves to exactly what they can see around them. So in many ways, while a lot of my “inputs” are theoretical: I’m still reading plenty, still listening to the occasional podcast and still thinking critically about the sermons I hear; my “output” has tended to be focused on “what does that change about what I’m doing?”. Which is a very rose-coloured way of looking at the world, but the glass has to be half full sometimes doesn’t it?

In other aspects of life – Soul Survivor has come and been. This was the first year I’ve been involved at the “steering group” level, which has been both an exciting thing and an exhausting one. The festival takes a lot of hands to put on – and just keeping track of who’s doing what is a huge job. But in the midst of that, I guess a big part of the struggle can be working out exactly how and when (and why) to allow yourself to participate and be “fed” (bah – what a horrible term) at the same time as being on top of as much as you can.

Teaching has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in life. It frustrates me, it wears me out, and it has me desperately wanting to get better – and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. That sense that deep down I’m genuinely participating in something I believe in, and (hopefully) making a difference in the lives of young people is not a difficult choice to believe in. And it fits with me, it fits with who I am. We had the school athletics day yesterday, and I think the best part for me was just kicking the footy for a little bit with some of my year 10s. There are days, but it’s an amazing thing to be contributing to a “big picture” that I really believe in.

And “church life” is starting to feel settled too now. We’re slowly but surely becoming a part of the Missio Dei community in Hurstbridge, and that’s quickly feeling like home (though I must hasten to mention that we don’t “go” there :P). The missio crew are an amazing bunch of people – everyone I speak to knows it as “Steve Said’s church” but that moniker is deeply underselling the contribution of a super group of comrades. Fun times.

I promise the next post will be about something other than the inside of my navel – but til then I hope this justifies the blog’s presence on the interweb tubes.

Soul Survivor 2010 – Hope

Soul Survivor 2010

We interrupt this complete lack of posts, to remind anyone and everyone that the Soul Survivor Festival is less than a month away, and if you’re in Melbourne-ish between April 7 – 11 you’d be mad not to at least drop by for a couple of days. Plus if you’re registering for the whole time you should get on down to http://soulsurvivor2010.eventbrite.com and register yourself today to save a cool $20. (Unless you’re reading this after the 19th of March, in which case I can’t help you).

And if you’re the sort of person who would be keen to lend a hand here or there, let me know and I’m sure we can find a job for you!

Life

So I realised that despite still getting regular visits, this blog has been remarkably dead for the last however long (last post on Jan 14 is a joke!). Must admit that at the moment life has been taking precedence, and with a tonne of my head-space being taken up with ruminations about teaching and a heap of my time being taken up with actually teaching: the report has been on the backburner. No apologies really, just some reality.

With that in mind, I figured I at least owed a bit of an update with respect to where life is at. We’ve just been away at a Soul Survivor team retreat (tarnished only by the website going down while we were unable to do anything) which was a great time to get to know a heap of the new team members, as well as to refresh spiritually. We really are blessed in Soul Survivor to have such an amazingly talented and committed crew on team.

Teaching is going well – though it has been a roller-coaster. Any available blogging effort has gone to my teacher blog: Son of a Teacher Man. Does certainly feel like I’ve found the place I am meant to be – the classroom must be it for the moment. Ran into some students at the shopping centre on Sunday, which was a weird experience.

The biggest struggle in the past few months has been that it’s crappy for Bec to be looking for work. Nobody likes looking for work, and it’s made the isolation of having moved house a lot tougher for her particularly. But there’s light – Bec’s got a trial doing some web stuff for a stationery crew starting tomorrow so lets hope it all goes well (both for her liking it and them liking her) and maybe that might be the end of the dramas. Who knows.

Regardless – there’s the update.

Inspired by Freire

Being inspired (and distracted) by Paulo Freire.

  • “No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors”
  • “This concept is well suited to the purposes of the oppressors, cialis whose tranquility rests on how well people fit the world the oppressors have created, cheap and how little they question it.”
  • “Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to turn them into objects”
  • “When a word is deprived of its dimension of action: reflection automatically suffers as well and the word is changed into idle chatter, into verbalism, into an alienated and alienating “blah”. “
  • “There is no true word that is not at the same time a praxis. Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world”

All taken from “The pedagogy of the oppressed”. All inspiring. All distracting me from writing my learning theories essay.

Geoff’s Glühwein

Mulled Wine in saucepan
Mulled Wine. Note the mangled lemon and orange pieces

This is normally more of a Bec thing to do – but it’s Christmas so why not have a go. With this year’s Christmas being a relatively chilly one, I decided that our Christmas Eve celebrations should involve my favourite German Christmassy tradition: Glühwein (mulled wine).

Geoff’s Glühwein recipe

  • 2 bottles of whatever Red Wine you have lying around
  • 1/3 of a bottle of leftover port (also lying around)
  • A packet of cinammon quills
  • Some brown sugar
  • Grated whole nutmeg (much nicer if you can get the whole ones – plus the insides of whole nutmeg looks a lot like brains!)
  • Cloves (we didn’t have any whole ones around so it was pre-grated for us)
  • Chinese Five Spice (Smells about right)
  • A Dash of Orange Juice
  • Two Whole Oranges (from our new backyard, Wooo!) – one sliced, the other squeezed for all its juice and mangled
  • One Whole Lemon – likewise juiced and mangled
  • A (really decent) dash of Cointreau

Directions:

Put everything except the Cointreau together in the saucepan, over a very low heat. Stir until spices and sugar have dissolved. Taste. Add some more of whatever you think is needed, until the harsh edge has been taken off the Red wine. In theory this should take about 5 minutes, but if you’re doing it right it should take about an hour and a half. Enjoy the delicious aroma permeating through the house. Add the Cointreau close to serving time or once you have taken off the heat (don’t want to lose the alcoholability of the liqueur).

Serves best if left for a number of hours to stew in the rind of the citrus and the cinammon sticks, but if not you can probably just serve straight away – nice and hot.

Blissfully in-between

For those of you who notice these things – it’s been quiet here for the past week or so. Back on Friday the 13th (ominous I know) I finished up at work, and so for the past week and a bit have been taking it easy and not doing any more than I need to. There has been a few things to do: we had an open for inspection for our current house that required a bit of preparation, and managed to get a golf game in with Dad on Friday (followed by a brief but intense period of not being at all well). We’ve got another week off coming up: and we’ll be down at Rye for most of it.

Starting to think that unemployment is looking like a pretty sweet deal.

The rules of arbitrarily picking a team

p1_ben_pensive1
Ben Roethlisberger - Not pretty

As much as I love my footy (AFL) and cricket, I’m probably almost more of a generic sports nut. Put a sport on TV and within 5 minutes I’ve probably decided who I want to win and why, especially team sports. And with the world series on, the NFL and NBA seasons both underway (and being shown on One HD!), UEFA Champions League being played there are ample opportunities to watch games that you have no earthly reason to get excited about, but for the fact that it’s a competition and just 10 minutes ago you decided you had someone here to cheer for.

With that in mind, I offer you the following rules. These have been tested over many meaningless contests, and while they will likely give you a less than 50% winning ratio in two-horse-races, they do guarantee a vaguely satisfied feeling when you’re recently aquired team happens to sneak the win. Except where otherwise specified, an earlier rule trumps a later rule: ie – Rule 1 is unbreakable, and overrules any later rules,

Rule 1: No “Collingwoods”

Also known as the “No Yankees”, “No Lakers”, “No Manchester Uniteds” rule. You can’t support the team with all the money and all the supporters. There’s no satisfaction in that. There’s no glory. That just makes you a sell out, supporting the team with the most money and the least heart. I broke this rule once: as an 11 year old in a foreign land and opted to support Manchester United out of a self-preservation instinct. To this day I am ashamed at my weakness of spirit. It’s not OK.

Rule 2:  A team that could hurt a “Collingwood”

I can’t emphasise enough how key it is that the “Collingwoods” of this world are brought down. So while this rule is less frequently invoked, it remains the second most important rule. In the event that the result of the game you are watching can have a negative impact on a “Collingwood” as defined in Rule 1, then you ought to barrack the the side who is able to inflict damage to that team. Naturally this only comes into play at the end of a season, or perhaps in a group phase of a cup competition: there’s no point choosing a team just because they’ll go a spot above in the middle of the season. The only other addition to this rule is that when a franchise team has an ugly duckling team in the same geographical area – thou must cheer for them. For that reason, teams such as the LA Clippers, or until recently (when a huge injection of funds rendered them to also be a “Collingwood”) Manchester City should automatically have your support – in order that the bigger brother might be shamed. This does not hold true in the event that the sister team wears purple (eg. Fremantle Dockers, Minnesota Vikings).

Rule 3: The underdog

If there is one thing that is sacred, it is the role of the horrendously unlikely underdog. The best example of this would be in FA Cup finals. Because of the nature of the FA Cup, in some rare circumstances you can have a lower division team who has managed to sneak into the biggest day on the English Football calendar. In that instance it is your duty to cheer your heart out for that team. Hasn’t worked yet. But that’s not to say that this strategy never sees any success, in 2002 the first Superbowl I’ve ever watched saw rank outsiders New England Patriots beat the  St Louis “14 point favourites” Rams, and do it in a last play of the game field goal from quite a decent way out. That allegiance for the underdog gave me the superbowl winner in another two Superbowls since then, as well as a very almost perfect season.

Rule 4:  The “Personal Connection” team

Once you still don’t have a team after adhering to Rules 1, 2 and 3,  you are left with the choice that comes down to somewhat more frivolous matters. Once stopped off in the airport of a team? It’s totally OK to choose that team over the other. Does one team have an Australian player/assistant coach/water boy? That could be your farnarkling team for life. Have a friend that goes for one team – probably best that you go for the other team, lest you be left with nobody to rib over your newly found teams superiority.

But always remember

There is one additional principle that must be held truly sacred: once you have chosen a team, that team must always be held above the team you have not chosen. The endgame is that you might eventually have a clear heirarchy of teams in your mind: for instance watching the NFL post-season I was cheering heartily for the Arizona Cardinals (had Ben Graham in their side) and the Pittsburg Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger is the least pretty boy Quarterback in history) all the way to the Superbowl, and was then forced to make a choice. Suffice to say I was lucky that my dislike for Cardinal’s quarterback Kurt Warner was enough to have me choose the Steelers, and I managed another Superbowl win. But the next time these two teams play, there is no longer a decision to be made: even if Roethlisberger was traded to Arizona for Warner, you have to stick with your decisions.

So there you have it, consider yourself ready to go out into the sporting world and find meaning in otherwise pointless contests. Or if you have any additions/suggestions for the rules, I’d be glad to hear it. Just as long as you don’t barrack for Collingwood.