September 2009


Just tried to retune the digibox,  EPIC FAIL.  The box does 5% of the retune then halts.  It looks like the box is just too old.  We will have to get a new one, thanks channel 5!

I was out of school for a few periods this morning.  When I got back into my classroom it had been completely transformed.  My normally chaotic mess was tidy.  My desk was especially affected being now neat and tidy.  The students tell me that an English teacher was covering one of my lessons and exclaimed, “how can someone live like this?”  They told me that they tried to stop her but she was on a mission.  They told her that I would be very cross.  I am not, I could never find anything anyway!

I had a meeting after school today.  Before I left for school I told the lovely Sharon this and she said she had a meeting after school as well.

The lovely Sharon: “I have a Year Head meeting with the Principal and Senior Management.  What’s your meeting about?”

Me: “Lego”

1 : nil, but to whom?  Me I think! 🙂

It was not the phone call I expected, but then it was something no-one could expect.  I was just munching my muesli and savouring my coffee when the lovely sharon rang.  She was emotional; through sobs and sniffles I caught a few words,…….”killed”…..”squirrel”………  Forgive me if I had an image of the lovely sharon going berserk (Norse berserk) on a poor fluffy rodent that might have stolen one of her cashews.  It turns out it was an accident and not rage that ended its poor life.  It was just frolicking along the countryside when it stepped out onto the road at the wrong time.  After she hit it, after the fluff had settled, she turned the car and returned to the scene.  She gave it some dignity by returning it to the countryside so that it might remain un-crushed by further cars.  As she lifted it by the tail she reflected on how cute it was and how mortality can be knocked out so easily in an instant.  And the worse thing, the thing that I think haunts her the most; she says she is not sure, but she think she might have seen it turn and look at the car in that last split second.

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Giving our results in the  MMM the standard scientific treatment gives rise to an interesting conclusion.  According to the line of best fit we are due for an outright guaranteed win in 2012.

MMM extrapolation

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Yet again, the lovely Sharon and I have finished the Mourne Mountain Marathon.  We don’t really know the exact reason we did it.  It did fill us with dread before we did it.  We hated many aspects of it while we were doing it, but we can say that we are glad we did it.   Other aspects of it that we are glad about include the fact that it was an amazing weekend with respect to the weather.  The views of the mountains were majestic and the real beauty of the marathon is that it takes you to vantage points that you don’t normally go to.

The campsite in the evening is another gem.  With over 200 tents and 400 people squeezed into a tiny field, the atmosphere is extremely friendly and humorous.  Everyone talks to everyone and you meet all sorts of interesting people from far and wide and all walks of life.  As a result of all competitors having to carry all their own equipment and food for the camp; lightweight seems to be the main theme of everyone’s kit.  That said, we were surprised to discover that not as many people had heard of balloon beds (animal balloons slotted into a thin sandwich of parachute silk).  As I sat and inflated our beds, all 14 balloons, several people dandered over to ask what the hell was going on.  To keep our neighbouring tent happy I finished by making a poodle and attached it to our guy rope.  The lovely Sharon says that this helped her find our tent when wandering around the camp site.  But I am not so sure, more about that later.

Nearly everyone used some sort of dehydrated dinners.  Not the tastiest of meals but amazingly light.  A few people did ignore this school of thought and decided that after day 1 and 20km of distance and at least 1100m (3600ft) of climbing, they needed their luxuries.  One of these groups were our neighbours.  After competing in the same category as us they arrived into camp, slept for an hour or so, then proceeded to light their disposable barbecue.  A while later they pulled out two steaks, a full bottle of red wine and smash (complete with herbs and butter).  We worried about being so close to them as people seemed to draw close like hyenas.  All turned out well as everyone agreed that to carry all that they deserved their feast.  I wonder if everyone was as sympathetic to the group who were frying sausages right at the entrance to the camp site.  The smell must have been tormenting to the groups arriving late.

Later that night as I was preparing myself for the long sleep and the long day that was due to follow, I heard the laughter of the lovely Sharon as she returned from filling her water bottle.  She clambered into the tent in fits of giggles claiming that she had just been stealing other peoples socks.  It turns out that she had got a little confused on the way back and arrived at the tent to begin to remove her muddy socks that were drying (as best they can) on the guy rope.  As she was calling into me, ”hello, hello”.  Our group of friendly neighbours caught her attention and pointed out our actual tent which was 4 tents over, and complete with poodle.  What strikes me as most unusual was that she was laughing at the fact that she had got confused and was not in the slightest bit aghast at having touched someone else’s socks.  Socks which are guaranteed to be absolutely stinking judging by our own.  My own socks were relatively new and are now completely trashed, destined for the bin.

I have to get a team up and running for the Lego League this year.  Last year was our first experience of it.  It was an interesting experience in terms of the challenge and the team working together.

I found a video on Youtube of a group that seemed to achieve the amazing feat of full score.  It seems nearly impossible.

At them moment the competition board is looming in the corner of my classroom.  The challenge bits are lying in pieces in un-built.  Every so often I catch students playing with it.  They ask them why I have all this lego in my room.  I tell them it is because it calms me when I feel  stressed.

Packed rucksack, unpacked rucksack, threw things away, packed, unpacked.  Don’t know how to get it as light as everybody else without compromising some luxury.

The quote for the weekend goes to the pupils who completed their silver qualifying expedition; “it’s the hardest thing I have ever done”.  At the end of Saturday the pupils were beyond exhausted, beyond tiredness, beyond ice cream.  I know this for a fact as they piled themselves into a heap beneath a tree in Rostrevor car park.  Sitting only a few meters from the cafe with ice cream and buns, they merely wittered and mumbled to themselves and made no attempt to reach the cafe or even acknowledge its existence.

For the 3 days in the heart of the mourne mountains the weather could not have been better.  Clear air, gentle breezes and star quilted crisp nights.

It is interesting to note that the challenges for them seemed to be quite wide ranging.  For some of them it was not the physical side of things.  The walking and the heavy pack were less of a burden than the team.  Individuals struggled to work with others, to pace themselves against their will and move with the herd.  For others, all thoughts of the team were irrelevant to the pain and suffering of the rucksack and the insanity of climbing endlessly up a mountain.

Seeing the reactions of them is an interesting window into human nature.  So imagine when my surprise when I asked a team of boys what their highlight of the expedition was.  Their reply; seeing a sheep lose its footing and fall 300ft of sheer cliff.  Then they all began to laugh hysterically.  Some things never change.

Pictures from the Mournes (no sheep, thankfully).

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House in the Mournes

Originally uploaded by rossrossrossross

Stumbled upon this little gem on flickr.

This house can be found on the way into the Mourne Mountains on the path from Carrick Little car park. Apparently it has an interesting little bit of history. This is alleged to be the house of the Irish Giant; Patrick Murphy. 8 feet and 1 inch tall!

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Book scans from ‘The Ring or Mourne’ by W Haughton Crowe, Dundalgan Press 1969

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I am not a massive fan of poems, but I do keep a book of Rilke (songs to Orpheus) at the top of my book pile.  I would love to be able to know these poems and use them as inspirational mantras.  But committing and words or verse to memory seems to be a mountainous task for me.  Words feel like sand in my hands.

Two poems do shine as favourites to me.  One is ‘pathways’ by Rilke.  The other ‘the windhover’  is by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king –
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

strangely warm this morning.  The wind did not seem as strong as predicted.  Though I do hope this prediction holds true:

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Please be true.

Today I left school at lunch time and went to W5 to play with lego.  Someone has to do it!  Truth be told I actually sat through a talk and a discussion as someone else played with the lego.  Not fair at all.

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image from internet

Get out and see it.  Last night was the peak of the full moon for September; the Harvest Moon.  The autumn moons of September, October and November are the ones most steeped in folklore.  For good reason, they are beautiful.

An astronomer, biologist, an engineer and a mathematician were crossing the border into Scotland from England on a train when they saw a field with a black sheep in it.

The astronomer said, “Look–all sheep on Earth are black.”

The biologist said, “Look, in Scotland the sheep are black.”

The engineer replied, “No, in Scotland some of the sheep are black.”

The mathematician rolled his eyes to heaven and said, very patiently, “In Scotland, there exists at least one field, in which there is at least one sheep which is black on at least one side.”

I am leaving moblog alone.  They seem to be having a few problems.  The main, and most annoying, problem being the fact that they switched off their MMS service.  So it seems that I have been sending my last pictures to a dead number.  The picture, and the pence that paid for them, have slipped quietly into the either.

So, I have retrieved some of them from the last month and posted them here:

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the needy one

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cup of tea?

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fig, vanilla and honey gin (I am not so sure)?

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needs no explanation

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meg dog in a storm shelter

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typical camping dinner in spain

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the hungry one

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very coffee geeky

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I feel wrecked.  It might have been teaching after having spent so long relaxing.  Or it might have been the two days this week I was locked in a room and became a machine that turned coffee into timetables.  In reality, these things are only small contributing factors.  The reality is the fact that I went circuit training twice this week after having done little of no real exercise for two months.  Every muscle in my by body is screaming at the simplest of movements.  And to top this all off, the lovely sharon wants to go for a run to break in her new fell running shoes tomorrow morning.  For the love of God; HELP!

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tumblr_kpej7uZr6I1qzqvm2o1_400from zazzle