Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cautionary Thoughts from a Technopom

I'm inspired to write about technology as have just visited the Leonardo exhibition in Perth, having missed it in Auckland. Truly a man ahead of his time, but it seems to me that the last few years, no more than fifteen really, have spawned a whole generation of Leonardo mini-mes. It truly amazes me what we now take for granted - a day without touching a keyboard is enough to bring on the shakes, a robust discussion at work about an obscure person or event can be clarified with a quick visit to wikipedia, and the mobile phone as a tracking tool for teenagers has earned the gratitude of parents everywhere. To say nothing of Blackberries, Bluetooth, and Bebo. It truly is a wonderful world, although I do worry about the ergonomic aspects of technology when I see kids hunched over laptops while sitting on beanbags, iPods in ears, and extended thumbs twitching constantly while texting. Could it be that in twenty years time chips will truly be bad for your health?


Patchwork Quilt

My Recent Favorites!
Originally uploaded by .imelda
Loved this collage of favourite photos. Also I was the300th person to view it, which must be lucky

Albany Village People

We sing, we dance, we issue books, is there NOTHING these gels can't do?


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chooks and tinnies

Within a month or so of arriving, I was involved in our local primary school's gala. A gala is the equivalent of a school fete, but on a much grander scale as it is the major fundraiser of the year for primary schools and requires almost military planning for at least six months before the actual event. My job on the day was to sell tickets to the quickfire raffle - once ten tickets are sold, a raffle is drawn, so I wandered the playground accosting would-be winners and yelling "chooks and tinnies" as requested, having found out that "chooks and tinnies" meant chickens (dead and ready to cook) and cans of beer - these were the raffle prizes.

Plunket, stamps and cut lunches

When I first arrived in NZ, I had children aged six and three, and knew no-one. I didn't know you HAD to sign children up for kindy by their second birthday, I didn't know I was supposed to take the younger one to Plunket. I thought Plunket was a place, but it didn't seem to feature on the maps. Plunket, for all you new arrivals, is what we in England would call the Baby Clinic. It's where babies get weighed, preschoolers do their immunisation schedule and developmental checks, and it's a wonderful resource for meeting other parents and sharing ideas. Often coffee groups are affiliated with Plunket. In case you're wondering about the name, it's all to do with Sir Frederick Truby King and Lord Plunket, but you can read all about that elsewhere.

When you take a child into a shop, library or even bank, a staff member will often smile at your child and say "Do you want a stamp?" This has nothing to do with dividend savings stamps like the Green Shield or Co-op ones they have in the UK, nor postage stamps. Stamps are inked pictures of dinosaurs, stars, teddy bears, etc. that are "stamped" on the back of the child's hand. In the library you will often see Kiwi children standing at the counter with their hand thrust towards you in a downward fist-style. This is your cue to offer them a stamp.

Cut lunches - by definition all sandwiches are cut, although admittedly rolls, bagels and croissants may not be. A cut lunch is what a Pom would call a "packed lunch" - ie. something featuring bread and filling, some fruit and perhaps a sweet treat, though these are much frowned upon now, and lay off the chips (crisps) if you don't want a stern warning from your child's teacher and a visit from the Health Police. Cheerios (small saveloys) however are acceptable, despite having a higher fat content than chips. Again, Kiwi generosity means it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase meat at a butcher's or supermarket deli without your child being offered a Cheerio as a treat.

Why Joan Bull and why a Pom Thesaurus?

I'm sure you've all heard of John Bull, the quintessential Englishman. Well Joan Bull was the headmaster's secretary/school nurse at my primary school in England. She was renowned for liberally applying iodine to all our cuts and bruises (this was, after all, the 1960s), the result of which is that Downend Primary School children were easily identifiable in the community by their permanently mottled purple faces and limbs. She too was quintessentially English. When I first arrived in New Zealand some years ago, much of the language was a complete mystery to me, so the following blog hopes to bring all sorts of contributions from migrants like myself, the sort of things that Roget would have thought of, if only he had come from Eketahuna.