Thursday, November 26, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: iPod Shuffle

It takes a bit of work to keep in shape, especially if you are like me: heading towards 50 and not willing to go on any sort of diet. I've exercised reasonably regularly over the years and am pretty satisfied with my weight and overall physical condition.

Of the many modes of physical exercise I have utilised, running has been a constant. It's odd because I don't really like it and it has certainly not become any easier with practice. I'm still tired and leg weary from the first step to the last. Running isn't fun, but I persist because I reckon it does me good. The end result is what motivates me to throw on my runners early in the morning and hit the road.

Of great assistance in this discipline is a little friend who comes with me. My children gave me an iPod shuffle (the only Apple device I own or intend to ever own) for Christmas several years ago, and it provides the beats for my foot pounding exertion. Loaded with an awesome selection of songs I love from band such as Switchfoot and As I Lay Dying, plus everything with crunchy guitars in between. I don't always listen, mind you. Sometimes the music is simply there in the background, calming my mind and allowing me to think. I couldn't punish myself this way without my iPod shuffle, so today I give thanks for this clever little device.

Do you exercise? How? How often? Do you listen to music while you do it?

P.S. Creeping Death by Metallica provides the best beat to match my gait.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eight migrants and a cricket bat

Cricket is the national sport of Australia, and I am a cricket nut. I've loved the game since I was boy, and with each passing year I love it more and more. So, it seems only right to me that I should introduce this game, which in truth is so much more than just a game, to my students regardless of whether they are interested or not.

Most of my adult migrant students know nothing at all about cricket, but as I explained to them, cricket is a part of Australian culture. Even those who (gasp) don't like it, still know about it and understand its significance.

I developed a five week unit of study on cricket which culminates with a trip to the local park to actually play a game. I do this with my students every year in November as the international cricket season begins here.

Today was culmination day, 2015. I had eight ladies from Iraq, Cook Islands, Vietnam, Serbia and China. After some warm up drills we ripped right into a test match battle of Ashes like proportions, and it was a lot of fun. Not a great deal of skill was on display, but there was plenty of enthusiastic participation, and lots of laughter.

I love my job, and today was just another reminder why.

Photo sources:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What the Magpie Lark taught me

I was outside, enjoying a cigarette in the sunshine, with a pleasant zephyr blowing, when I spied a Magpie Lark attempting to fly into a closed window. It was sitting on the fence with its mate watching on. It had five goes at entering the window, and each time, merely butted its head and staggered (if you can stagger in the air) back to the fence.

Observing this display of bird-brainery, I was reminded of a common definition of madness: to repeat the same action over and over, and expect a different result.

Stay with me here. I guy came into church last Sunday roughly five minutes before the end of the service. He carried a burger and a Coke, and was wearing sunglasses and a cap. Unfortunately, I made a quick call on this guy without knowing a thing about him. I shouldn't have cared about his late arrival, with or without food. I should have been glad he came in at all. I don't like being judgemental and I try not to be, but it's a little tricky fighting habit sometimes.

Back to the Magpie Lark. I edged a little closer and saw the bird make it's sixth attempt, but this time when it reeled away following the collision with the window, it had something in its mouth: a bug of some sort. The bird was not stupid. It was determined.

Moral of the tale? Get your facts straight before leaping to conclusions. When have you jumped to an erroneous conclusion?

P.S. Daniel Craig did not visit my church.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Flowers of War

Christian Bale plays an accidental hero named John Miller in this film set during the fall of Nanking in 1937. As the Japanese troops march in and take over the city, Miller, an America mortician and drunkard finds refuge in a church with a group of school girls. They are later joined by a group of prostitutes from the nearby red light district.

The events in this exciting and tragic tale are based on actual events, but the story is quite fantastic so I wonder how much poetic licence has been taken. Nevertheless, it is a compelling and tragic tale with another wonderful performance by Bale.

Rated MA, the advisory says it features strong violence which in my view is a bit of an understatement, and it also contains rape scenes which I couldn't watch. The Flowers of War is in English, Japanese and Chinese (with English subtitles for the latter two) and is a suspenseful, shocking and heart warming film.

Watching it gave me some understanding of the historical antipathy of the Chinese people to the Japanese.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrate the small things:Trivium and the cool

I love the space inside my car. I love the the look of my car too. Despite its flaws, it's a beautiful thing and it drives well, but it's the space inside that I really love. I love air conditioning, heavy metal music and privacy. These three loves of mine, which are not incidentally my only loves, unite in the space inside my car.

It's hot today, but not inside my car because the a/c is running. In Waves by Trivium is playing and it's the only sound inside my car. I'm alone so no one can tell me to turn it down. This a peaceful place, albeit a mobile one. I'm cool, comfortable and entertained. It's easy to make me happy.

The song is called Of All These Yesterdays, and it speaks of rage  burning the pages of the book of the past, and the ashes covering us. It's a sad, but beautiful song.

These are the little things I'm celebrating today.

The Magnificent Seven

Each Thursday I show a movie in my English language class. This is for educational as well as entertainment purposes. I have a data projector so I play the film on the wall and run it with subtitles. During the film I write questions which I put on the board for the students to copy down and then attempt to answer. As we go through the answers to the questions together, we discuss the film. Not surprisingly, this is a popular activity.

Over the past five weeks or so I've playing movies from my collection: my favourites. I began doing that after a student rebellion against the Australian television police drama, Blue Heelers. Despite numerous complaints I persisted and encouraged them to get to know the characters and get used to the language: genuine Aussie lingo complete with more idioms and slang than you could poke a stick at.

Alas, it was too much for them, and I was presented with a petition to end the Blue Heelers experiment. I heard the voice of the people, and gave them what they wanted.

Today, we watched The Magnificent Seven, and despite initial grumbling about viewing an old film, the overall reaction was positive. I asked them all to choose their favourite one of the seven, and to explain why they choose him. We had quite a bit a fun with that.

Have you seen The Magnificent Seven? Did you like it? Who is your favourite character?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Launching my River

Although local media ignored it, and the masses stayed away, Monday night's official launch of my latest novel, A Muddy Red River, was a blast. Dapto Library hosted the event which was my first official book launch. I entertained the audience with a talk titled Why Aussie Men Love Asian Women.

The talk included two selected readings from A Muddy Red River. It was the first time I had read my work out loud to an audience, and I liked it. The talk was followed by a discussion, and some selling and signing of the aforementioned and perhaps one day best selling novel.

I dream. I dream of big things. I dream of success. I dream of many, many, many people reading my work. I dream of touching people with my words. I dream therefore I write. I've nearly finished the first draft of my next novel, Lovesick. I have big dreams about it as well.

What do you dream of?

P.S. I'd like to have more members in my group:Aussie Blokes who love and marry Asian Girls  If you know anyone who might be interested please let them know.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Going, leaving, gone.

After a relatively short and fiery sojourn in the Australian Alliance of Atheists Facebook group, I pulled the pin this week. 

I was often frustrated when trying to discuss issues, but I could have endured the frustration. For example, people suggesting that there is no evidence outside of the Bible that there ever lived a man called Jesus Christ, and me pointing out that a first century Jewish historian called Josephus wrote about Jesus, and them saying Josephus' writing was forged or faked. 

I also could have put up with the name calling and disrespect, which I mainly dealt with by blocking the offenders. However, I could no longer stand the negativity. In fact, I began to feel poisoned by it, and I was concerned about the very offensive memes being posted on AAA, appearing in the feeds of my Facebook friends. For atheists to deny that there is a God is one thing, but to suggest that nothing good at all comes from religion, is really wrong and stupid.

I made some friends on AAA, and I look forward to continuing  online interactions with them, but today I am celebrating the small action of clicking a button to leave a group.