In only a matter of weeks I will be finished with Uni for this semester and on my way to the land of stars and stripes, America. To be honest I can't wait, I bought my ticket about a month ago and basically I can't concentrate on my Uni work coz I'm too excited about this trip. I have heaps of friends over in the states, some who I met during my 3 months in New Zealand on a volunteer team, some who I met here in Sydney. I'm heading over with one of my best mates Min for a month. We fly in and out of LA but we intend on meeting friends in Seattle, NY and NJ. I just talked to one of my mates who lives in Seattle and I believe the excitement is very much mutual. I still have about 4 or 5 weeks and heaps of uni work to get through but this trip is really the only thing thats on my mind atm. The main thing is to just get through these last few weeks, make sure I don't stuff up any assignments or exams and then go crazy and get on a plane and go even crazier. I guess I could time travel, that might be exciting... or destructive. Either or. Meh we'll see.

After I heavy night of drinking yesterday, and not being able to sleep, I sat in front of my laptop, and below are the edited highlights of my drunken ramblings.

Luke.

James shifted, deep in sleep, trying to find a comfortable niche in his inflatable cushion.

Luke.

Irritably nearing consciousness, James tried to bury himself deeper into his sleeping bag.

Luke.

Nothing.

FOR JACOB’S SAKE! AWAKEN LUKE! I DO NOT HAVE TO TIME TO STAND IDLE BY YOUR BEDSIDE!

Streaming white light and a noise like a deafening explosion brought James forcefully awake. Casting around, he saw a man, standing a few feet from him. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, the first thing that James noticed was the fact the man seemed to have no issue with gravity, standing (or hovering, he corrected himself) over the edge of the cliff, where he had made his camp for the night. He also seemed slightly insubstantial, flicking slightly, as if he wasn't all there.....

At last. You are awake. More there is much to tell you….

James, now thoroughly confused, glanced around to see if he was addressing anyone else. Not a sole was in view, with the exception of a particularly hungry sheep, which was blithely ignoring all activity and was engrossed with a particularly stubborn blade of grass.
“Me?”

Yes you, moron. Now come, let us walk

And with that, the man wheeled around, and began to walk further out over the cliff.

“Um…”

Luke, now is not the time to be petty. Just step out behind me.
Christ, I know it’s been a while but walking should not be an issue for a mage of your abilities.

Tentatively, James moved over to the edge, and was about to step out over to drop, when he stopped.

“Look, I’m not moving any further until you explain to me what the hell is going on!”

Sighing, the man turned back towards James and returned to the cliff face.

Well, you have changed Luke. Do you not recognise your father? Or have you, as they say, turned native. Your adoptive parents never mentioned me?

“Adoptive parents? Are you sure there hasn’t been some mistake?”

Mistake? I, the great Al-dorn, do not make mistakes! You are Luke Arehretyu, born in 17843 of the Fourth Age to the Lord and Lady of Gladgutrbi, may their souls rest in peace. Did your adoptive parents tell you nothing? Nothing of the fall of Kutryn and the Free World? Nothing of how you where transported here as the sole hope for our kind.

“Look, my name is not Luke. I am James Smith, born in 1978 in Bradford. I have no idea who or what you are talking about, and another thing….”


“Excuse me”

James tirade was interrupted by a small and weedy voice behind him. He wheeled around to confront the newcomer and was surprised to see a small child, no more than 10, behind him, teddy bear in hand.
“It appears that a mistake has been made. For I am Luke, and I believe you have come for me, not him”

The man looked the boy up and down, gave James a look of exasperation, and sighed to himself.

You? You are the saviour of our entire nation ? You, a mere child, are supposed to stand up to the evil lord Kalporth and smite him unto the ground in masculine fury, as foretold by the Oracles? YOU?

“Yes”

Are you sure you aren’t him? 100% sure?
He said, looking once more, imploringly at James

“Yes”

In that case we must go. It appears we have more to do than I thought. Including finding some of those growth hormones these humans are so fond of.

And with a pop, both of them disappeared, leaving James and the sheep alone on the hillside.

Defiantly the ration packs” James muttered to himself. “I thought the sale-by date has wrong”

Notes from the Surf

The multi-faceted YouTube
http://www.yooouuutuuube.com/v/?rows=18&cols=18&id=edaJP3Lp0Gg&startZoom=1
Not just for mass RickRolling.

Video eye candy
http://www.vimeo.com/4167288
Slow motion never looked so good.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game_nolan.shtml
If you ever wanted to play this classic (again), here's your chance.

Death by ...
http://stpeteforpeace.org/real.threat.html
Interesting stats about what people die from (...even without the political commentary =)

Insecurity
http://img253.imageshack.us/img253/2096/sarkozy.jpg
Ah the perils of the modern photo-op.

Obesity and GDP?
http://apps.who.int/infobase/report.aspx
Surprisingly, Americans are closer to Mexicans in terms of obesity rates than they are to the Dutch or French.

Shoe throwing spreads to India
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/27/AR2009042703684.html
Journalist who threw shoe flooded with marriage proposals. One BJP candidate tries to shield himself during rallies with volleyball nets.

China diversifies into raw materials
http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=15194&size=A
"In April ships unloaded a total of 53.3 million tones of iron ore in Chinese ports, in March 51 million. The State Reserves Office has also announced that China is accumulating enormous quantities of other minerals, - such as copper, nickel, zinc, aluminium, titanium."

Who owns America?
http://www.socialist.net/inequality-grows.htm
Over 70% of US household wealth is owned by 10% of Americans. 50% of Americans together own less than 3%.

Communists make gains in Japan
http://pww.org/article/articleview/15365/
"Only one party -- the one that runs the country -- beats it at fundraising... the communists boast more elected officials than any other party because of their strong presence in local and prefectural assemblies."

Wolves in the Throne Room @ the Annex Wreckroom, May 18th, 2009.

I stepped outside of the subway station and glanced around. Having never seen a concert at the Wreckroom before, I wasn't sure exactly what building I was looking for, but I found the fans first. About twenty guys with long hair and black band t-shirts were lounging outside, forming a lazy sort of line, and there were vans and trailers parked nearby. That was easy.

I leaned against the wall, checked my watch, and threw some Melvins on my iPod. There were at least four Burzum t-shirts in view. One girl walked up to the crowd and greeted her friend, who exclaimed something like, "what kind of shirt is that?" and pointed at her green sweater. The girl said "Boris," and her friend accepted the answer. The line began to move.

Inside, I took a look around. It was pretty small; mostly bar. I definitely prefer Lee's Palace, which was only a few doors away. Now where were the merch tables... ah, right behind me. I had been thinking of buying the album Two Hunters a couple of weeks ago, but records are always cheaper at shows than in stores, so I grabbed one. Returning to the stage area, I staked out a spot next to a couple of kids talking about Merzbow's cancelled show, and I waited.


A Storm Of Light

The first band was one I had never listened to before, so I didn't know what to expect. Honestly, I thought they were pretty good, though they struck me as a Neurosis copy. There was a projector screen behind them, showing video clips of things like hammerhead sharks and nuclear bombs. The music was very bass-heavy, and I liked the singers. The lead vocalist had a strange voice, and made me think of swamp creatures for some reason. From the second song onwards, a female vocalist was brought on, and though she wasn't amazing for the entire performance she added a lot to the sound of the band. I wasn't blown away by A Storm of Light, but they were good.

Krallice

Ugh, Krallice. I had listened to this band before, and I wasn't dreading them, but I was not looking forward to them either. Krallice is an American black metal band that has been getting a lot of praise recently, and although that's not really a scene I pay attention to, I had hopes that they would at least put on a good show. It wasn't their fault that they didn't, it was the venue's. The Wreckroom sound guys really dropped the ball last night. A Storm of Light didn't sound great, but I could at least make out music. Krallice was just noise for 45 minutes, and not good noise either. Every time the vocalist shrieked something or other, the guitars would cut their volume by half. When they were playing, the constant blast of sound didn't change pitch as far as my nearly-burst eardrums could discern. I was watching the chord changes and listening closely. Nothing. It was a disaster. At least the drums sounded good.

Thrones

Joe Preston's one-man show Thrones was next, and I didn't know what to expect, besides greatness. The man has been the bassist for Melvins, Earth, and High On Fire, and took part in the Boris/SUNN 0))) collaboration Altar. I didn't know what one guy with a bass and a history like that would do when he has the stage to himself, and I'm going to have a lot of trouble describing what actually occurred that hour. Agony and bliss is all I remember. Joe Preston took the stage, a big, balding man with Willie Nelson-style braided pigtails and a rainbow guitar strap. He smiled, introduced himself ("we're The Thrones"), strummed his lowest string, and I thought of SUNN 0))). I've seen Boris, but they didn't play any of their really heavy drone doom, and that's what this was. The show was about as loud as I expected. The sound vibrated the hairs on my arms and legs, so low that was just high enough for us to interpret it with our ears and not our fluttering inner organs. Thrones is built on a lot of layering, with loop pedals and triggered electronic sounds. All I remember of the first song was a deep throbbing pulse that reminded me of surf running up along a beach, but in Hell, so rather it was Hell-surf running long a Hell-beach. Then there was some really heavy stoner rock, with a drum machine pounding out an industrial beat and Preston bellowing at the top of his lungs and thrashing against his strings. For a couple of songs he used electronic vocal effects like a vocoder, and for his final performance he used some sort of chorusing effect with an octaver that made him sound like three robot angel sirens. It was bizarre, and I wanted to laugh and cry at once. Thrones: a must-see-again.

Wolves In The Throne Room

Now the headliner, and the reason we were all here. Everyone crowded in closer, and the place seemed to get twice as full as WITTR took the stage. I saw only men in the band, and was disappointed, since that ruled out a number of my favourite songs from the setlist (songs with female vocalists). They played three songs, each about ten or twelve minutes long, and I only recognized one of them, which means that the others were probably new material. The same problems that plagued Krallice presented themselves, but it wasn't anywhere as severe and they fixed it up by the second song. When they were done they just walked off the stage without saying a thing, but I was 90% sure there would be an encore. Within five minutes they were back on stage, and this time they played something I wanted to hear: Queen Of The Borrowed Light, off their first album, Diadem of 12 Stars. The concert was worth seeing for that performance alone. Like I said earlier, I'm not a big fan of black metal, but long, atmospheric, epic-sounding music appeals to me no matter what genre it's in, and Wolves In The Throne Room are fantastic both on record and seen live.

The Krallice abomination and the terrible beauty of Thrones had me worried that the concert would end on a low note, but I left the venue totally satisfied. On the subway I chatted with a bunch of guys I had never met about the show, parting ways at Yonge station, and was then left alone with my stamped hand, new record, and my poor, mistreated ears.

Another day of tutoring. I get really frustrated with this particular student. She's in year six, who I have been tutoring for about 3 years now but she doesn't seem to be improving in her studies. Her weakest subject is english. I do comprehension exercises with her extensively and build her vocabulary skills through another exercise book. She seems to do quite alright when going through it with me, but the comprehension she completes for homework is...well, disastrous.
Okay, for example, last week I gave her a page of comprehension for homework. While marking her work today, i came across the most funniest answer. The comprehension questions were based on a simple train timetable. One of the questions asked "What time will you need to catch from Blacktown if you wanted to arrive at Central by 10am?". A pretty straight forward question right?
The answer to that question was '8:56am'. My student's answer was '8:51am'. I didn't understand why she would have written '8:51am' as her answer when the train timetable clearly had '8:56am'. I asked her why her answer was what she had written, and she explained to me that she firstly didn't understand the question. Okay...she didn't understand the question. I didn't think the question was particularly tricky, especially for a year six student. Then she continued to explain that her dad had told her trains never come on time so that you must always go five minutes earlier. This was the reason why she had put '8:51am' as her answer rather than '8:56am'. Pretty cute I guess, but she's is in year six!
This is not the first time she has given rather queer answers.
She is starting to worry me now..I don't know what to do with her.

Cheltenham girls high school has a reputation of being the best non-selective public school in Sydney's Hornsby region after performing very well in the HSC 2006 in New South Wales in Australia.

But in negative light, it was also known for having the ugliest school uniform in Sydney. The story behind it area as followed:

There was a teachers' strike day going on in the year 2004 if I remember correctly and some of the students from Cheltenham girls decided to join the crowd of the teacher's strike. The very next day published in the newspaper was a photograph of the crowd with a comment on one specific uniform. Among all the other students who attended the strike, was a highly attractive blob of pink. Yes! You guessed, Cheltenham girls high school's uniform is PINK. (This is in fact our summer uniform) Since uniform is so distinctive in its choice of colour, students appearing in among other students, pink stood out from the normal dull colours of navy, white, grey, green, blue and tartan too. I think the principal was abit disappointed that the two girls jigged school for teachers strike when there was still class that day. The girls DID get in trouble though.

Now that you heard about the pink uniform. Would you be proud to wear it? I mean its like salmon pink in the cutting of a nurse uniform. We were told we dress like a nurse with the way the uniform is designed and we were given the nickname of "Pink Elephants" too. I know most of my friends who attended just hate pink, abit too feminine, but because they're stuck at this school they have no choice but to wear it. Now that they are out of high school, never have I seen my tomboy girlfriends ever wear pink, not a spot in sight! I think they might have had enough.

But in my opinion, the uniform itself is quite alright despite these factors. I have actually grown to love the colour pink, most of my wardrobe consist of pink. I suppose pink now reminds me of my high school times, in an non-nostalgic way. It gives me an reason to think back to those high school times and how we get to see all my friends on a daily basis. You know you will definitely see them again, the very next day, not like "I will see you probably next year". No matter how far away we live away from our past friends, it's a sad thought but it's uniform unifies us all, even for those who hated it. One day i reckon they will cherish the distinctiveness of our high school.

Even now I kept my Cheltenham Girls High School uniform sitting in my wardrobe and I'm trying to find an excuse to wear it!

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