Feb 24, 2009
Meaning my first step was to go around town to every single skool and let them know I was back in town. Why you might ask? Well it is one of the quirks of being in a different country.
Relief teaching in New Zealand is a lot different that the institution of substitute teaching in North America that I'm more familiar with. In NA, skools are all part of a unified board, and it is this central agency that deploys substitutes wherever they are needed.
Not here in NZ. Back in the 80's they pseudo privatized their skools, and dissolved all the country's boards. Meaning that though each skool is centrally funded by the federal government, otherwise they are their own self sustaining and administrating entities. Meaning it is up to each skool to acquire their own substitute teachers.
Now there are two ways a relief teacher such as myself can get myself covering gigs. One is through the Dunedin pool. A rather cunning individual in Dunedin saw a entrepeneurial opportunity in this lack of a central substitute organization, and so set themself up as a free market version of what a skool board normally does. We relievers sign up into the pool, and then when a skool contacts the pool we are sent if available. The relieving pool does a great job, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. Afterall it was what got me going in the beginning of my relieving career.
However I've found that if I got my name out beyond the pool, I got more work. Skool's will book you for planned teacher absences, and they will even sometimes call you directly if they like you, when a teacher is absent.
Meaning to get myself rolling this year, I spent yesterday doing that tour of Dunedin's skools. Man there is a lot of them! The cool/weird thing is I've worked in 90% of them these days!!!
It is kind of fun getting your name out there, and having to market yourself. I much prefer it to the central organization system in the sense of gauging my performance, as more and more skools contact me directly (meaning they must have liked how I was doing things).
I'm sure there are benefits to a centralized system, but given the rough year the ministry of education gave me last year on my pay I'm not to keen on centralized bureaucracy at moment (as it was the government's fault I was in trouble... the local independent skools were nothing but supportive!)
I guess my only complaint with this job is "phone anticipation" in the morning. If I don't have prebooked days I never know if I'll get THE call or not. So often I'll wake up about 7am regardless if I have work or not, waiting for the phone to ring... even if it never does.
Oh well, it's not that big a worry. I'm stronger than ever in the local skool scene, and had a ton of prebooked days by the time I got home yesterday. Based on the trends of late last year I'm more likely to have to have too many offers rather than worry about a lot of jobless time.
So don't be expecting to much posting out of me, as I'm more busy than ever with work. Which is a nice change of pace...
Feb 21, 2009
Lady R's family was nice enough to bring me along for a big family gathering they had this month. If you're reading family oh R, again THANK YOU!!!
Given the current natural disasters that are ravaging through that country right now, it was a very epic and memorable time to be there. There was a lot of loss and hardship, but at the same time it was amazing to see the whole country rally to the aid of the bushfire and flood victims!
However being the trooper I am, I didn't let a little thing like rain and bad weather get me down!
- or Spiders
In other words all the fun critters I could find (minus crocodiles, but they just don't live that far South in Australia...).
Sadly I managed to not see any of the listed critters (at least till later in the trip!). However I was not one to let that damper my danger seeking spirit, and within my first day I found one of the most venomous critters on Earth! Fortunately not on Lady R's list. So no trouble for me!
Unlike New Zealand, Australia has proper tidal pools for me to explore. Unlike North American tidal pools though, it turns out these ones have deadly critters!
Here he is in moving action. The moment he figured out I was there based on his actions you'll see.
The reason for all the in rough shape wildlife? There'd be a HUGE storm the night before, and my theory is it damaged a lot of stuff offshore, and washed the hurt ones into the pools (note my first octopus was fine, and I think he was supposed to live there, unlike Lady R's giant).
For the first couple days I was taunted by Pelicans such as these flying over head. All I'd manage were distant blurry digital zoomed photographs like these.
Till on the third day, during a brief break from the weather (among the three times it could have passed for almost nice weather), I discovered where the Pelicans were gathering and flocking too.
The outlet for a river into the ocean. It was teaming with bait fish, which the Pelicans naturally were trying to eat.
This for a day was my best photo. Digital Zoom grainy yes, but passable for an okay photo.
So I was able to leisurely walk right up to them and take pictures like this... No zoom or anything!
Cool (which you'll note rhymes with the just mentioned pool)! Not only I was I doing some hardcore urban zoology, but I now had some bait with which the Kookaburras might come into range for!
Remember how I wasn't supposed to go find spiders. Well I didn't, they found me!
At the very end of our trip me and Lady R explored Sydney for 2 days. Saw lots of cool stuff, like the local zoo, aquarium, and of course museum.
Here is a teaser, but that's all you're going to get out of me.
Funny enough on this last day we actually got some nice weather.
Sadly it was on this note we had to bid Sydney farewell, and return to crap weather here in Dunedin.
Oh well had a fun time. Saw some amazing things, and got to hang with my special girl.
Thanks once again to Mama R for letting me come along (and ruin the trip ;P )
Feb 4, 2009
Today I thought I'd fire up a list of my favourite albums. Now when I talk about an album I mean listening to a soundtrack CD from start to finish in its entirety and judge the the overall listening experience.
In other words this doesn't take into account amazing singular tracks or mean these are my favourite soundtracks. Rather these are CDs that I feel have a high quality no matter what track you happen to listen to from them.
With this criteria it was a little difficult to come up with the list. I eliminated about 6 scores from this list when I realized I was subconsciously picking them for their highlight tracks, and not thinking about the other tracks I don't normally listen to.
So here they are in no particular order (other than by composer):
Lady in the Water by James Newton Howard.
Though I said these were in no order, if I had to pick the most consistent album for delivering great music it'd be this one. Though the movie it comes from is not necessarily to everyone's taste (I personal really enjoyed the first time I saw it, but it has since left me cold) it seems to have filled Howard with the magic it so desperately wanted to have.
This album perfectly catches the organic flow of water to the point that the tracks blend together seamlessly, like water being effected by the weather. This emotion flow of the music leads to a truly enjoyable listen start to finish. Myself and Peter listened to this one frequently in 2006 in the car when it came out, and we seldom swapped discs when it ended.
Atlantis by James Newton Howard.
The first album I ever bought on a whim, and it turned out to be a brilliant choice. This score actually fissures down the middle into almost two distinct sounds, which may throw off a few people.
The first half is one of cartoonish adventure and hardship as the explorers in the film search out Atlantis. The second half is one of the most amazing runs of "awe" music depicting the fantastic realm of Atlantis and its people. There is a single track that mixes the two rather well, but otherwise they do standoff against each other sound wise. I just happen to love both halves, so I consider it a very successful album overall.
Dinosaur by James Newton Howard.
Now you might think I picked this one up because it was a Dinosaur film. You'd be wrong. I hadn't seen the movie when I bought this. I boycotted Disney's Dinosaur when it came out, due to the high quality Dinosaurs talking. A decision I sort of regret. Anyways after buying Atlantis I read that this soundtrack had a great deal in common with Atlantis in quality. Picking it up I was very pleased to find this the case.
Unlike Atlantis it was not a dual identity score. Rather Dinosaur is a very continuous African flavoured musical experience. The middle of this album includes some of my favourite music ever, but the rest of the album holds up without it. If I were ever to do a prehistoric themed film I'd pick this score over Jurassic Park any day!
There were many other Goldsmith contenders for best album, but I'm holding back as their slightly less consistent than this album. That and they will make up the bulk of my bad movie music post. Goldsmith was the master at amazing music for crap movies!
Regardless this is a singularly amazing gem of movie music. Whether it be in the commercial version or the complete entire score versions, this is a solid listen. Especially if your a Star Wars fan. It has held up really well over 30 years!