Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The IWB arrives!

The start of a new school term, and the long-awaited interactive whiteboard (IWB) has arrived!

IWB complete

IWB tigger

I had to adjust the layout of the four "news room" clocks, and I now have even more ugly conduit to cover up with green wall paint, but here we are!

Welcome to the 21st century!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sneaky sneak previews

Thanks to a Facebook colleague's timely heads-up while I was on vacation, I had to undertake a mission to SMS every friend I knew who possibly had access to "boutique SMS calls", since mine was blocked. One of those who sent in a newspaper competition entry on my behalf came through, and tonight my friend Karen and I saw...

... a sneak preview of JJ Abram's new "Star Trek" movie in the Sydney CBD.

Oh wow! "Star Trek" has been reborn, and it's wonderful!

So thank you John, Fleur, Leonie, Paul, Karen, Steve and Maggie, for helping me out in my hour of need. I have no way of knowing which SMS actually won the double pass, but I am thrilled that one of you has magical texting abilities!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oh pooh! Again

Not impressed that Jack again took the opportunity to roll in cat poo while we were visiting friends. Why do dogs love so much to smell like their prey? (As if a Jack Russell terrier has any hope of actually catching a cat.)

Jack Russells supposedly like to roll in the poo of their prey so they can sneak up behind them, smelling exactly like the prey. So one can't fight animal instinct. But Jack always regrets it once he's covered in poo from head to toe, and ends up very sad and stinky. The worst was the goose poo he once found on a farm during a holiday in the country. Green dog, fast geese.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Full moon, "Full Circle"

Maybe it was the full moon, but the Internet BBSs went wacky this week, what with people avoiding spoilers for the new Star Trek movie, others devouring spoilers for the new Star Trek movie, many celebrating/commiserating about their quest for tickets to the Sydney gala world premiere, plus the surprise preview screening in Austin, TX.

As diehard fans continue to grapple with how the new movie might affect their personal view of Star Trek, others are continuing to demand predestined assurance of a happy ending (ie. a resurrection) for the recently-departed Admiral Kathyrn Janeway, formerly captain of "Voyager". Killed off in a "Next Generation" novel, Peter David's "Before Dishonor", and dying again this month - from another angle - in the just-released "Voyager: Full Circle", the passionate Janeway/Kate Mulgrew fans continue to express their online anguish.

Perhaps Pocket will bring Janeway back as a surprise, unexpected event? They might not want us to know when, or why, or how long we must wait. In real life we never know how long we will take to recover from an illness, a death of a loved one, or adapt to a career change, a divorce, or moving house, Perhaps the creative team at Pocket, too, don't know yet what is in store for Janeway.

When the Borg ship needed to be secured who went charging in? The best woman for the job. A popular main character. She gave her last breath to help save the Federation. In fact, she gave that support beyond the death of her physical body. How heroic!

(Less effective alternate version: When the Borg ship needed to be secured who went charging in? The best woman for the job. A popular main character. She once again kicked Borg ass, just like every other time. How... repetitive!)

Now Pocket Books has a highly popular character waiting in the wings. Just as Wesley Crusher returned (twice) in the "A Time..." mini-series of novels (set between "Insurrection" and "Nemesis") to help save the day with his Traveler powers, now Admiral Janeway may be off learning new abilities with the Q Continuum. Considering if she still has a future with mortals? Maybe. Who knows? We aren't supposed to know. Yet.

As I told a few distressed VOY fanfic writers, I would have thought they'd realise how to manipulate the emotions of their readers by now. A writer learns to use his or her words in clever ways, to cause readers to experience strong emotions towards a particular set of fictional characters. Sometimes negative emotions, and sometimes positive ones. Because we, as an audience, all bring to a work of fiction our own sets of values and experiences, each individual reader's reponses to a story will be unique.

Some fans might not like the twists this particular storyline ("Full Circle") took, but it's part of an ongoing saga, and it's a licensed tie-in. As history has shown, all successful licensed tie-ins usually end up reverting to the status quo. Eventually. Because to continue too far beyond the canonical work, the tie-in stops resembling the parent show. I have no doubt that Janeway will return. You can't keep a popular character down, and the Janeway fans keep telling us how popular she is.

Surely it's the right of an author to use everything in his or her power - even death - but also a host of other life-changing experiences, to bring us the best possible story they can tell? Many VOY and ST readers are loving Kirsten Beyer's "Full Circle", and are eagerly anticipating the sequel, and are willing to bide their time in case Janeway returns. Some fans need to be a little more patient. (I waited from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", in 1979, all the way until the "Enterprse" TV series to get what I had always hoped for: a continuing, feisty, wonderful, antagonistic, ongoing Andorian character: Shran. I even got an entire ST DS9 novel, "Paradigm" by Heather Jarman, set on Andor itself! And then ENT set an episode on Andor, "The Aenar"!)

But I don't want a return to the situation of 1987-1991, where every licensed ST novel was guaranteed to be self-contained, and guaranteed to preserve the status quo, and - in the licensed comics - every new character added to DC Comics' TOS movie era and TNG storylines was only permitted to stay for a short story arc and then had to be dismissed forever. It got very tedious knowing the authors were so hemmed in, and their creativity was constantly being challenged.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bullies beware

I truly used to think that, one day, I would be free from schoolyard bullies.

As a teacher myself, I spend so much of my life helping defenseless little kids to ride out their first encounters with bullying, and it continually hurts when I remember (via personal experiences) that adults are out there, bullying other adults, deliberately trying to take away someone else's fun, stomping on perceived tall poppies, and admonishing happy people for their behaviour, just as often.

Even via the Internet.

And I thank those who rally around the bullied person, giving them encouragement, and telling the bully, in unison, that enough is enough. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Live from Sydney

Australia's TV current affairs show "Today Tonight" showed most of the ST XI trailer footage tonight, and excerpts from TOS and TMP, plus all-new studio interviews with Pine, Quinto, Cho and Abrams, and an interview with Eric Bana in a live (or just-delayed) cross to the red carpet leading up to the Sydney Opera House.

The front cover of Saturday's The Sydney Morning Herald's "Spectrum" arts & entertainment lift-out had a great full page pic of Zachary Quinto doing the Vulcan salute, and the interview with him (and pre-publicity on the premiere), is a double page feature spread on pages 4 and 5.

Let the reviews begin...

By the way, there was also a surprise screening in Austin, TX, with Leonard Nimoy and the writers, before the official one. Fans thought they were attending a retro screening of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", plus ten minutes of highlights of the new "Star Trek" (ST XI), but Nimoy walked out on stage to tell them they'd been punked, and were about to see all of ST XI.

I eventually worked that out, but it wasn't obvious here, in Sydney, when I was seeing all these reviews pop up online (on TrekBBS) before the film had even finished running here - and knowing all the Aussie guests' mobile phones, iPhones and Blackberries had been cloaked by Opera House security.

ST XI poster in Sydney CBD
Star Trek poster in Sydney's CBD this week.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Duck and cover! [SPOILERS for "Star Trek: Destiny" novel trilogy]

Omigosh, I accidentally found this (above) today on Memory Beta, the online Star Trek wiki concordance of licensed materials.

In 2381, Charivretha zh'Thane was amongst the 63 billion Federates killed by the Borg Collective during its attempted extermination of the Federation and allied worlds, gathered in Therin Park in Laibok along with hundreds of other Andorians awaiting their doom (ST - Destiny novel: "Lost Souls"). (Memory Beta.)

I finished Book 2 of David Mack's "Destiny" trilogy only yesterday, and am just about to commence the final book...


Where did they say?????????????

Dammit D.M. Thanks so much for the nod, but......... Nooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Captain's Log: Supplemental.

Therin Park was coined in 2004 by author Heather Jarman, and named for my Star Trek alter ego, in the novel, "Andor: Paradigm", in "Worlds of Deep Space Nine, Book 1".

About a year ago, another ST author, Terri Osborne, briefly made reference on TrekBBS, as to how I might feel about what she'd done to Andor in the "Starfleet Corps of Engineers" eBook, "Remembrance of Things Past, Book 1" (2007). Now, I'm so far behind in my ST reading, so I haven't given the now-defunct eBook range much of a look-in, but this excerpt (of a much longer excerpt) turned up just now in a Google search:

Bart cringed. "I hope Sarjenka's got sickbay stocked with antacids. And speaking of stomach acid, where's Tev?"

Stevens gave a snort of derision. Much as Tev was making an effort to get along better with everyone, Stevens still wasn't a fan of having the big furry oaf in a social gathering, not one that he was throwing, at least. "He's not on board. Remember those bombings on Andor a couple of weeks ago?"

"Yeah, it was all over the Federation News Service. The Shran memorial, the Wall of Heroes, you name it. If it was a location worth hitting, sounded like they hit it. Last I heard, the real surprise had been why they hit Therin Park, but, man did they raze everything they hit to the ground. Still haven't caught the terrorists who claim to have done it." Faulwell paused, his eyes widening. "Wait a second, Tev wasn't there, was he?"

"We aren't that lucky," Fabian said with a shake of his head. "Turns out a friend of his from the Academy was in Therin Park, though. He was too close to one of the bombs when it went off. The Elgin escorted him to the funeral on Andor after they dropped you off."

"Wow, I've got to admit, that's a surprise."

"What," Stevens said, "that Therin Park was one of the places that got bombed? Everyone's surprised by that, you just said so yourself."

Faulwell shook his head. "No, that Tev actually had a friend at the Academy. Learn something new every day."
(Simon & Schuster website.)

Wow. I thought she was joking! I'm honoured, Terri. I think.

So, had the park just been rebuilt in time for David Mack to um, "salute" it again in "Destiny"? Welcome to Ground Zero. Don't feed the thizzards.

Friday, April 03, 2009

What a difference a skull makes


RL Stine's old "Goosebumps" series of light, punny, horror fiction is having a major resurgence in our school library at the moment.

I was remembering back to my own primary schooling in the 60s. I had a great rapport with my inspirational teacher-librarian, Janette McKenny (later Janette Mercer when she married my equally-inspirational Year 4 teacher, years after they left the school). One day, Mrs McKenny decided that we needed to revamp the "Ghost Stories" section of the library, and several of us were elected to create a papier-mache skull, that would act as a scary bookend for the section of old wooden shelves (which had been lined with black crepe paper and a sign made out of spooky letters). We spent several hours tearing up newspaper and soaking it in a garbage can of water, but none of us could remember what held wet papier-mache together as it started to dry.

Mrs McKenny remember that papier-mache needed starch, and bought a box of the stuff on her way to school. We scampered off to the storeroom and sprinkled in the powder. Again, the papier-mache refused to clump together. Imagine our horror when Mrs McKenny asked, "Are you ready for me to boil up the starch?"

Luckily, we found another box of starch in the art store room and a quantity was boiled up, the papier-mache was drained and we began to create our skull. The paper was so sodden, it was essentially impossible to get it to hold its shape, even with the addition of thick, warm, boiled starch. After school, Mrs McKenny drove me home with it, and one of the boys who'd been part of the team at school came over to help me have another go at moulding it. I forfeited a "Noddy" beachball from the toy box and we constructed the skull around it. My mother then dutifully took the board holding the model in and out of the sun every day - for about two weeks? - until the papier-mache had hardened. It never needed painting, the newspaper pulp having taken on a suitable, consistent, grey colour from its many hours soaking in the water.

The skull sat in pride of place in the library at Arncliffe Public School for many years after I departed for high school. Gosh - maybe it's still there?

I was pondering this old anecdote the other day as I passed a local fancy dress shop and, when I saw the skull (pictured above), I realised how perfectly it would dress up our sometimes-popular "Goosebumps" shelf. $13 for a lightweight, lifelike, plastic skull seemed like a great investment - just so long as I didn't have to endure the weeks of waiting for overly-sodden, overly-starched, papier-mache to harden!

And the effect? "Goosebumps" books are once again flavour of the month with our students, and have been flying off the shelf all month. Several of the students borrowing them are saying, "This is my first time borrowing this year!" and "My first ever chapter book!". Maybe I should soon try moving them on to a few other spooky authors and titles now that they're hooked by the reading bug? But at the moment, apparently, "'Goosebumps' rulez!"