Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Warm and Fuzzy

Students where I teach receive 800 hours of English language training for free as part of the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program which is funded by the government. It is, however, rare for students to actually complete 800 hours, and this is so for a number of reasons.

Some move, either to another town, interstate or overseas. Some withdraw due to health or other personal issues. Some find work (which is the purpose of the whole program). Some enrol in vocational courses such as aged care or childcare at other institutions, and some are just plain lazy and don't want to work, so they either get kicked out of the program for non or poor attendance, or they quit.

Yesterday one of my students, Thomas, completed 800 hours, and in doing so he also earned his Certificate III in Spoken and Written English. The latter achievement is also a feather in my cap as his teacher. Thomas decided that he would like to bring his guitar to class on his last day and play a song for us. Great idea.

We finished the lesson early and I made a short speech and presentation to Thomas which included his laminated certificate, and a farewell card signed by all of us. Then he sang Halo which he said was written by Lionel Ritchie, but turned out to be Hello. It was a beautiful, albeit heavily accented version. A round of applause for Thomas (front left in photo) before he played the second song: a Vietnamese song which he delivered with equal intensity and aplomb. More applause followed, then handshakes and well wishes. A few photographs and then goodbye. I felt very happy and proud, but I will miss Thomas.

That was my warm and fuzzy moment for the week. Do you have anything to share?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How long is too long?

How long is a piece of string? Waiting is such a waiting game. (Jot that down so you will remember it and can pass it on to your children and grandchildren). I'm wondering when I will start writing again. I'm pondering whether I may be turning into a professional procrastinator. 

I've been reading news articles on line this morning: about the death and legacy of former Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, about ways to use money better, and advice on what not to buy new, a bit about the cricket test between Australia and Pakistan which starts today in Dubai (I would love to be able to go and watch it), and a nice piece about the largest spider in the world.

I just shared all that riveting information with you so now I can sign off and say I ticked the 'write a blog post' box.

But seriously, will I leave it too long before starting to write again? So long that I cannot resume? Ridiculous! I'm a writer. It's what I do, so stay tuned.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The X Factor

Many people will be talking about Marlisa's win on The X Factor last night, and therefore I will. I had a beef, and have that very same beef with young contestants on these types of shows. Marlisa is undoubtedly a good singer, and developed during the course of the show into a fine performer, and I am happy for her and her family, (and for Ronan who finally cracked a win after 5 years) but...

Marlisa's age was constantly referred to during the competition which gave her an unfair advantage over the other contestants. It was used to excuse poor performances and to garner sympathy. Secondly, this young lady clearly struggled more than others with the emotional strain of being on The X Factor. It may only be a television show but the contestants work very hard, and are under a lot of pressure and public scrutiny. I don't think children should be subjected to such stress. Thirdly, I felt uncomfortable watching Marlisa: dressing beyond her years, and singing songs with which she could not possibly have had any emotional connection.

I wish her well, and I am happy for her success, but...

Any thoughts on young contestants on TV shows?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reader's Flow

Here's a reading update in case you missed my statuses on Facebook and/or you don't follow me on Goodreads. I just finished Meditations by Marcus Aurelias (long, repetitive and hard to read but very interesting and thought provoking), and The Many Loves of Marriage by Thomas and Nanette Kinkade (a lemonade and apple pie look a marriage with lots of inspirational analogies and anecdotes)

I added Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner to my exclusive 'to read' (only 20 places available). I started reading The Four Loves by my favourite author, C.S.Lewis, and I purchased Never by Crash Froelich to read on my phone.

Writing? How's the writing going, I hear you ask. Nothing to report. 

What are you reading at the moment?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rain Storm

Still on my mind this morning is the rain storm which hit Sydney and Wollongong during the week, and in particular the interview conducted with a home owner after a flash flood destroyed his home, endangering his life and the lives of his wife and children.

His description of what happened was delivered so matter of factly that it was clear he was still in shock. In the blink of an eye their situation worsened from a little water coming in under the door to a raging torrent smashing down the door and filling their house almost to the ceiling.

They managed to escape with some assistance from their neighbours as the water rose to knee level. They were lucky. The house was a complete mess. Imagine the contents of your home thrown into a mud filled tumble dryer.

This story reminds me again of the fragility of our lives, and the God given resilience of people to fight back from and overcome adversity. We are both weaker than we care to admit and stronger than we realize.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shock departure

Jarryd Hayne 2011 (cropped).jpgJarryd Hayne is a rugby league superstar. Rookie of the year in 2006, and Dally M Player of the year in 2009. The 2014 season was his best, with another Player of the Year award, the highest number of tries and player of the series in New South Wales State of Origin series triumph. At just 26 years of age, Hayne is a player of rare and ubiquitous talent who has achieved everything in the game except for a premiership with the only NRL club he has played for: the Parramatta Eels. With the signing of a new contract, he was set to become the highest paid player in the game.

Now he has quit rugby league, and is heading to the United States to have a crack at American Football. He has his sights set on playing in the NFL, and who could deny that such prodigious talent will not be as highly prized in the US as it is here. It's a huge shock for the rugby league community and a massive risk for Hayne personally, but I say good luck to him.

Hayne said in the press conference that his goal was to become a professional rugby league player so he could buy his mum a house. He said he had achieved that, and everything since had been icing on the cake. It is time, he said, for a new challenge.

Thanks for entertaining us Jarryd, and all the best with the pursuit of your dreams. When you are ready, come back to us and we will welcome you with open arms. Champion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Assuming most of my regular readers will remember what the acronym W.A.S. stands for, won't help deal with the ignorance, no offence, of new readers or casual visitors. There is an army of Square Pegs fans who storm the gates of hyperspace every morning to see what the great and not at all famous writer, D.A.Cairns has to say.

Sadly but not quite inexcusably, I have been neglecting my fans, and my writing. I've been neglecting a lot of things lately as a matter of fact, due to...let's call it an emotional distraction or two.

This Writing Activity Statement (W.A.S.) is proudly brought to you by...I've been watching too much television. Since the last W.A.S. I have had three short stories rejected, and zero published. I have added barely a paragraph to my novel and I have not written any new short stories. I'm barely a writer. I'm a shadow of a literary craftsman. I'm a vague idea. A long held but inconsistently pursued dream. I'm a bit stuck.

Never mind. It's raining and cold today. Winter has returned uninvited and unwelcomed. Never mind. It's all good. I feel good. How are you doing?