Being in Griffith (part 4)

Shannon, the guy I live with, does not have a PC, and the Department of Education is now telling staff that they can't use the internet for personal purposes, which means that my access to the net (and thus this blog) will be sporadic at best.

I'm sitting here in the Griffith Public Library - probably the best place to go online. There are no internet cafes in town just yet.

Some observations of life here so far:

* The school does not have enough casual staff to cover teachers when they're ill. Consequently, classes often have to go out into the playground since there are no teachers to look after them. Considering the amount of staff sick at this time of year, the amount of kids running around the playground at various times can be concerning. This sort of thing is common in country schools - but not seen at all in better resourced areas like Sydney and Newcastle, where anyone who is sick is usually replaced by a casual teacher.

* Because of the lack of teachers, every single teacher has, as part of their teaching load, a number of periods set aside every fortnight to cover the lessons of teachers who are not present. This means that around 0.9 of the teacher's load are actual lessons, and 0.1 are described as "IBR" : "In-built relief".

* Being exposed to Austar has its advantages and disadvantages, apart from that wonderful line from the Pink Floyd song Nobody Home ("I got thirteen channels of *&^*& on the TV to choose from", although in my case there is around 40 channels), I occasionally get to view some of the programs available on the Australian Christian Channel - channel 140. The fact that it is located immediately after TVSN and the Expo Channel - channels both dedicated to selling things - is wonderfully ironic. I have, as a result of this, heard Phil Pringle and Brian Houston - both of whom are peddling the false teaching that God will provide us with happiness and self-actualization if we only release the power that he gives us through Christ. No biblical expositions so far.

* Man I am hating Windows. Both at school and here in the Public Library I have to have multiple windows open rather than tabs. At both school and this library I am having some strange mouse movements - where suddenly the mouse arrow will disappear up to the top left corner and I have to drag it down again. I am also missing Kubuntu - even more so since the wife rang the other night to tell me she can't get the printer to work.

* I'm missing my family a lot. One good thing is that before I even got the job we had decided to get new mobile phones and we are now happily taking pictures and movies of one another to send. It's nice to have a video message of my kids saying hi to me. Wow. We live in the future now.

* One advantage of not having the family around is that I have been able to have more regular quiet times. Reading through Ezra and Nehemiah recently was interesting since in both books there is no record of God speaking directly to anyone. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were obviously God's agents to bring about the re-making of post-exilic exile but there was absolutely no direct guidance given to either of them.

* This message is for Tom - No I haven't.

* My little girl, Lillian, managed to fall over and gash her head last week - a process that cost her three stitches. It's not good that I'm not there. Please pray that God will provide more long-term or permanent work for me so that the family can come down and escape the evil clutches of a certain in-law.

* According to a pedometer I bought, I am averaging over 10000 steps each day working at school. This will be good for my health and weight.

* I have a number of difficult students in my classes. They're not too bad yet but I just need patience and time to understand "the system" before things cool down.

* While at sport the other day (year 7-8 Rugby) a gale blew up as the roll was being taken. One student came up to me and asked "Sir, is that wind due to a low pressure system?". "Yes" I replied. "See?", he told me "I do learn things in your class!".

* I am learning just how much Griffith sits at "the bottom of the barrel" in terms of its attraction to teachers. The teaching profession, like all professions, has its share of crazies but it seems as though GHS has attracted much more than its fair share of wrong people over the years. I was told today of a former teacher who apparently had undiagnosed Aspergers and who was completely incapable of teaching properly. Another one apparently discussed sexual positions with a class of year 10 students and was only sacked after he decided to join in a fist-fight while watching a Rugby game at the school oval. Two former teachers were described as "alcoholics" to me as well. There's also a problem because the school has attracted overseas teachers who have varying degrees of teaching ability. One woman was apparently a physics professor in Eastern Europe, but when she came to GHS she did not have the ability to teach basic year 7 science since a) She couldn't speak English properly, and b) She did not have an education degree and thus the knowledge needed to be able to teach teenage students.

* Went to Bible Study on Wednesday night after dinner with the minister and his family. It's not good that Griffith has just one evangelical church, but from what I can see they are informed and mature in their Christian faith.

* I took my entire DVD collection with me. In the last few days I have watched The Party, Platoon and half of Pulp Fiction.

* Interesting episode of Compass the other night - interesting because it did not have anything to do with religion. It was about WW2 veterans finally dealing with their PTSD after 50 years. A clinic in Melbourne has set up a support group for WW2 veterans, who are also given individual therapy and antidepressants. The result has apparently been astounding - with all these guys in their mid 70s suddenly treating their long-suffering wives better and learning how to confront issues.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there mate.

When I joined the army at 19, I saw men a decade older (silently) crying in a lonely corner of bootcamp, because they missed their wives and kids.

You must be going through something similar (hopefully without a Sergeant screaming at you!) Hang in there, I really think this was the right thing despite any doubts you might be feeling. The school sounds rough, but ripe for ministry and surely very appreciative of all your efforts. Indeed, the church really needs your support as well.

Maybe this was not so much about just getting away from a certain (demon-possessed?) person, but could be the kick-start that gets you into a serious life career and ministry platform. At least, I pray so.

So hang in there. God willing, the family will join you soon and you will finally be completely free from the Psychopath. And if you EVER, and I mean EVER see him in Griffith, get an AVO, fast.

Hey, does Griffith have a cinema?

How green is Griffith in winter?
Where is it’s water from?

What is it like in summer?
What sort of temperatures are we talking about? Do you have to save for air-con?
Sussing out apartments or homes yet?

How is teaching full time again?
Have you surveyed living in Griffith for bike-friendliness?
How’s a peak oil assessment of the place?

Are there any perma-culture growers… or do they all rely on huge oil-driven harvesters?

What’s transport between Griffith and Sydney like?
When are you seeing the town Mayor about peak oil!???? ;-)

I’m really happy for you there and I hope your family can settle in soon.

Tommy B at the news desk said...

I'm very pleased to hear it Neil. You sound happier, in many respects, than I have heard in a while.

Tommy B at the news desk said...

Hey Neil

I tried sending an email to the hotmail address but was unsuccessful. Any suggestions?

One Salient Oversight said...


It's one_salient_oversight@yahoo.com.au

One Salient Oversight said...


1. Griffith does have a small cinema, but I am not the cinema going type these days so who cares?

2. Griffith is pretty much dry all the time. But it is also green. Why? Because:

3. Griffith is part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Water from the Snowy is transported by the Snowy Mountains Scheme into the Murrumbidgee and then used for irrigation in the entire area. It's generally dry all the time and the area is officially in drought but the farms are okay because they irrigate.

4. Summer is a bummer. Check out the BOM figures for the area. Last January every single day was over 30, and about half over 35.

5. "Save for Air con" I don't know what that statement means. Every single house in Griffith has a large boxy structure on the top which is an evaporative air conditioner. No one lives without an air con in this town.

6. Not sussing out homes just yet.

7. Teaching is okay. I've caught a bad cold and have had three days off so far this week so I'll let you know again when I'm back at school.

8. Griffith is flat and is only around 5km from end to end. Good for biking, although it is also good for saving fuel in the car.

9. Peak Oil assessment: Easy to travel by bike which is good; increase in prices for foodstuffs as the peak passes means that the town will continue to prosper; most of the farming is citrus and grapes (winemaking) at the moment but as grains increase in price I'm sure that most farmers will move over when it becomes more profitable.

10. Not permaculture - all big agribusiness. Since most produce is fruit and grapes the picking is done by hand.

11. Griffith is located in a good place. Not far from Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra. Melbourne is closer than Sydney. Train and road routes are good.

12. Don't know what the mayor is doing about Peak Oil. Don't care really.