Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making mentoring meaningful

Well, that was funny! Tonight was episode #1 of "The Librarians", a new Australian TV series on the ABC, in the timeslot recently held by the hilarious and pithy "Summer Heights High".

I happened to say to a few friends that I expected the series to be successful and funny, and probably rather close to the bone re my experiences in school libraries, studying with teacher-librarians at university, working at SCIS/Scan for the Department of Education & Training's State Office, and my connections with ALIA (the Australian Library & Information Association).

Yesterday and today, I was relieved at school (by another teacher-librarian) so I could act as mentor for a fellow teacher-librarian undergoing her training. Well, as if I'd read the script ahead of time, the plot of the first episode of "The Librarians" saw the main female character, frustrated Frances (Robyn Butler) dealing with Book Week, and being a mentor for the main hunky male character (played by Josh Lawson). When she should have had eyes for how he was coping with his librarian duties, she couldn't keep her eyes off his butt.

I'm rather glad the episode didn't air a day or two earlier - and probably the female colleague I was mentoring thinks so, too!

And hey! Not one "Trick or treater" knocked at my door this Halloween night. Drat. Now I have to eat all this candy all by myself.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Comparisons #7: ST Magazine UK/Aust vs ST Magazine US

Continuing my series of comparisons between the UK/Australasian and US editions of "Star Trek" magazine.

The latest issue (the "Q" issue) turned up Down Under a few weeks ago and, now that there has been agreement to publish essentially-identical versions in all markets, I wasn't going to bother buying a copy of the local edition, since the US air-freighted version turns up at least a month earlier, and the only differences are the local advertisements of each market. However, I noticed last week that the UK/Aust. version of US #7 - #92 NOV/DEC 2007 (#134 UK) - forgoes a double-page spread of "Lost and Found" candid set photos from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" for a double-page spread of very cool upcoming Star Trek merchandise soon to be available via UK's "Forbidden Planet" mail order store.

Minimates 2

The second wave of original series (TOS) MiniMates (above) are due soon, and the photograph of the (shortpacked?) Ezri Dax DS9 action figure (below) shows her walking softly and carrying a very big gun. And wearing a Dominion sighting device over one eye.

Ezri Dax

The next issue (#8) is already available in the US, again essentially standardized, and differing only in advertising content. It features an interview with TNG's Jonathan Frakes. The issue after that (#9) has a captains' focus and an interview with Kate Mulgrew, of "Star Trek: Voyager".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chance meeting: a good sign?

Today was our school choir's annual pilgrimage into Sydney Town Hall to participate in the Celebration Concert, raising money for children's charities. Basically, I help escort the (very well-behaved) students into the CBD on a bus, fill in time shopping while they rehearse with the rest of a 1000-voice choir, then take them to their dinner break, and back to enjoy the concert. Not a terribly difficult set of tasks.

As we were getting off the bus, there was my good friend, Jean Prouvaire, on his way to the annual Sydney kick-off meeting of 2007's NaNoWriMo, the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month at Books Kinokuniya.

Was I on my way to the meeting?, he wondered aloud.

How fortuitous! I'd received an official email about NaNoWriMo, but I hadn't made a note of the date; last year these two annual events didn't clash. I had a few hours to kill while the students rehearsed, so I was able to meet up with him at the coffee shop (which had no coffee; their machine was broken. Sigh.) Also at the meeting were my Star Trek Meet-up buddies, the_real_adamj (who went to the kick-off with us last year) and KillRaven (whom we didn't actually know as a fellow Trek fan in 2006), plus about 40 others. KillRaven deserves extra kudos: he finished his novel last November!

Once again, we are supposed to produce about four typed pages daily to achieve the goal of a whole novel manuscript completed during November 2007. Wish me more luck than I had last year; at least this time I have no report cards to write in November!

Of the 400 or so Sydneysiders who attempted NaNoWriMo last year, about 40 supposedly achieved their goal. Not bad odds, I guess, although that may also mean that statistics say that only an average of four people at today's meeting will achieve their word count. (Or maybe all 40 were at today's meeting? Nah; wishful thinking.)

The concert was great, too, by the way. The finale was a medley of Peter Allen songs. "Tenterfield Saddler" gets me in the tear ducts every time! It really is one of those special Australian songs. If I could only capture some of that nostalgic emotion for my NaNoWriMo manuscript...

Sunday's magic number: 92.2 - back up again. I thought I was doing well, too. Damned fund-raising cake days. (What's that point about muscles having a heavier mass than fat?)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

There was a librarian who swallowed a fly...

I don't know why I swallowed a fly,
Perhaps I'll die.

Ugh, it was sooooo gross.

Salute to eBay and Voyager - Weird Al style

This is one brilliant, conscientious fan's Youtube salute to all those "It's a Wrap!" auction-lovers who went through major withdrawal symptons as IaW moved warehouses for a week, and posted no new "Star Trek" costumes! Music by Weird Al Yankovic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bone of contention

The book about the care of Jack Russell terriers says that they are guaranteed to make the owner laugh at least once a day - and it's never been wrong.

Tonight, I was walking Jack just after dark and, on a whim, I ended up adding an extra block to the size of our regular route. We were about halfway back when I noticed him pounce on something on the ground, but I jerked his lead and thought I'd circumvented any problems.

As we were approaching the home stretch, I realised that I hadn't heard Jack panting for quite some time. I glanced down and saw Jack grinning proudly, as best he could, while holding a huge chicken drumstick bone between his jaws.

Me: "Jack, drop it. Not for Jack."

Jack: "Grrrrrr."

In a fit of giggles, I set about trying to get him to release his grip on his prize.

At least he didn't get the chance to hide it under my doona.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Perth or bust! - and back again already

Thanks to the wonders of the wonderful "Post options" command, I've been in Perth, visiting with my parents. Not having to dart off to Internet cafes to post blog entries - well, that was the intention, to back date some entries and pretend I was keeping a daily diary of events - but I'm back already. I actually thought I'd be missing for only the two weekends (plus the week between them) I was away, but catching up on all the goss is so overwhelming, I've been another week getting around to actually typing up something.

Handpainted religious artifact (above left, made in El Salvador) and purchased in New Norcia, Western Australia, plus a resin thong (or flip flop, above right) magnet from Perth.

I've been composing entries in my head all fortnight, but now I'm drawing a blank on everything I wanted to say. I'll try and elaborate during the week, but essentially: I got to remember all the good and bad things about living with one's parents again after so many years of being independent; I caught up with Adam, a long lost Star Trek pal from the 90s who, it turned out, lives only ten minutes away from my parents' place (and even still had two videotapes of mine); and I did plenty of catch-up Star trek novel and comic reading, so I owe you some reviews.

Over on TrekBBS, meanwhile, some fans are proudly announcing their intention to boycott the new movie, for a myriad of reasons. Ho hum. They are scared about the writers, about the new young cast and about any possibility the Enterprise will look different.

Hey, I heard people complain about changes made to the Enterprise, internal and external, and the SPFX, for ST:TMP, way back in 1978. Many of them changed their minds once the movie came out, and some even denied ever hating the idea of change.

But a boycott? I couldn't bear knowing there was a new Star Trek adventure out there that I hadn't seen yet. Quality just doesn't concern me in that first instance (but quality will influence how many times I go back to the cinema to see it again before the DVD comes out, just like the last ten movies.) In fact, it already drives me crazy that I haven't got back to the US for a visit since the Las Vegas Hilton opened its two Star Trek rides. New live-action footage, and I haven't seen it.

Thanks to De for noticing I was gone, and for his concern!

Sunday October 07's magic number: 93.8 - a slight rise, thanks to Mum's home cooking. Oh well, just as well I did long walks around the block every day.

Sunday October 14's magic number: 93.1 - and falling again. This is despite the fish 'n' chips on a Fremantle wharf. A highlight of my first night back home that the weight has been maintained despite having three square meals a day!

Sunday October 21's magic number: 91.3 - finally caught up to below where I'd been before I left for Perth. Hopefully it's all downhill till Christmas.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Kirk's Bastards

I accidentally came across this very funny Star Trek fan film today, "Bastards of Kirk", a very funny send up of TV's "Sixty Minutes" and "Star Trek". There are so many clever things about this parody. The costuming is often quite inspired, and the acting performances very appealing. There's some typically fannish fastidious attention to detail, and the script even acknowledges the concept of four-gendered Andorians, hinted at by Data in "The Next Generation", and extrapolated by the Pocket Books' Star Trek novels set after "Deep Space Nine".


I particularly loved: the introduction of Kirk's Andorian half-breed son, Rhan (Erick Fournier, above centre); the hilarious interview with Apollo (previously of "Who Mourns for Adonais"), for which even the interviewer dresses the part; Nurse Chapel trying out a Rand-inspired hairstyle and explaining why Spock couldn't commit to her; Spock avoiding his interview in the most logical way; and the handsome but troubled young twins from Cheron (Clint Maguire as Elbe and Erick Fournier, again, as Zokai), only one of whom has inherited his Dad's unique speech patterns.

Enjoy all six parts!







Well done Red Fort Films and Bright Anvil Studios! (And there's a blog of the production, written as it happened.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Connect, Collaborate, Create


Today, I was an invited presenter at the 2007 Connected Learning Conference, held at the Novotel, Brighton-Le-Sands. The topic of my brief contribution was book raps, and how they were great examples of connecting, collaborating and creating. I can only guess that my audience included principals, teacher-librarians and computer savvy teachers.

Lots of deja vu moments. Once again, Colleen and I were venturing off for a lengthy car journey to speak at an education conference about ICT (information and communication technologies) and collaborative teaching; one of my first duties at "Scan", in 1998, had been a similar task. The Novotel is also the annual venue of Selwa Anthony's author management conferences, Succeed With Me, so the rooms, decor and even the wicked food offerings were all very familiar. (Bang goes the diet for this week.) There were also lots of well-remembered faces from my time at Ryde State Office of the NSW Department of Education and Training. Most of these people couldn't believe it had been over five years since I was working with them at Ryde, as editor of "Scan" - and neither could I!

The whole day was most rewarding - really great keynote speeches that had everyone both overwhelmed but invigorated about future possibilities in education! - and the pen souvenir I was given, as a presenter, is very cool in its Star Trek inspired plastic tube!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lounging around

Today I went shopping for a new lounge suite. The old lounges (a three-seater with foldaway bed and a matching two-seater) have done almost eight years service here, and several years back at my old home unit. It had quite bold geometric designs on it originally and then, as the material became shabby, I bought lounge covers and the second set is just about worn out now.

When a lounge suite makes such a significant contribution to a house's decor, not to mention the significant inroads into one's savings/credit account, it can be quite daunting.

Add to that the need to complement essential existing room contents, such as; DVDs; CDs; a full-size blue mannequin dressed in Andorian ambassadorial robes; widescreen TV - that sort of everyday thing.

Add to that a Jack Russell terrier, who plays "mountain goat" on the existing furniture without fear or favour, and sheds white fur onto most materials that are within two rooms' proximity.

I settled for a made-to-order large corner suite, covered with a liquid-repelling, "ocean blue", thick, corduroy material - with recliners built-in. The foldaway bed will be hidden inside a matching coffee table, hopefully extending the life of the lounge. It also will come with two cube-shaped storage ottomans.

I'm looking forward to its arrival, but not to the many sleepy nights spent trying to watch DVDs that make meee sooooo sleeee.........


Monday, October 01, 2007

Hey Hoshi, translate this!

We all know that, in the original series of "Star Trek", Doctor McCoy cured his patients with a selection of rejected, exotic salt shakers, originally purchased for use in the episode, "The Man Trap". And then, in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", McCoy cured Chekov's brain with a piece of a Klingon Bird of Prey model ship.

But Hoshi Sato found a 22nd century use for toilet cleaners!

Universal translator
Universal translator from "Star Trek: Enterprise".

Mineral magnet
Mineral magnet toilet cleaner, in the latest "Penny Miller" catalogue
(Spring 2007) that landed on my doorstep this week. Obviously, this handy
little device was the basis for the mould of the Universal Translator, as
seen in "Star Trek: Enterprise".

Ambassador Thoris
Andorian Ambassador Thoris, feeling flushed
with his trusty mineral magnet toilet cleaner...,
er, Universal Translator.
("Terra Prime", ENT.)