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.