Tuesday, April 29, 2008


So loving it. I love the feeling of a brisk wind on my face. Not so much my toes, but the face - yes.

It makes me nostalgic about Orange. It snowed there this week! I miss going for walks on the weekend and being hit by sleet on the way home, being glued to the radio for updates on the icy roads, and taking in stunning vistas of Mt Canobolas from my bedroom. I wore my big eskimo jacket everywhere, and my beanie and scarves got a good work out.

But all is well in Sydney, and I plan to get to the mountains soon, to experience winter for what it's worth. And I think a few friends of mine are planning a trip to Cowra, so I might pop in on Orange on the way back if we do end up going.

I'm not sure why I'm attracted to cold climates. It's a dream of mine to visit Tasmania one day, and parts of Europe. Don't think I could do the Antarctic though!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I always find going to the art gallery surreal. It's hard to grasp just how significant the works you are viewing are, and they're right in front of you. Some of them seem to leap off the canvas.

Two that I just loved seeing at the landscape exhibition yesterday were these (totally not done justice by digital images found on google! But anyway):

Sunlight and shadow: the Newbury Marshes c.1871-75
by Martin Johnson Heade

I love the pink clouds, and the majestic beauty of such a simple scene.

and Vincent Van Gogh's Tree Trunks in the Grass.

I just think this is an amazing painting of such a quotidian subject. His use of colour and form is astounding - it's a tree, and yet it's also just a bunch of coloured lines..

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Turner to Monet and then some

My parents and I are going to Canberra tomorrow for the "Turner to Monet: The Triumph of Landscape" exhibition at the National Gallery. I'm really looking forward to this.

It's funny though, we're visiting the national capital the day before the Olympic Torch relay. I'm curious to see what the vibe is like, and just how much security will be in place. We're not staying overnight, but presumably preparations will be underway.

I've been thinking quite a bit recently about how the Olympics have created this fascinating global panopticon effect on Beijing. Panopticon was a term I became familiar with at university. It refers to a prison cell designed by a utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Benthem. The design was radial, so the prisoners were in cells lining the edge of a spiral-shaped jail. In the centre was a tower, where an observer would be positioned. However the prisoners could not see into the tower. Basically, it created the effect of being watched from every angle, although there was no guarantee anyone was in the tower at the time! Sneaky! Below is a picture of Bentham's design.

But it's interesting how normally our (the media's) attention on rogue states - eg. North Korea, Iran etc oscillates depending on the day's news. Whereas with China at the moment, all its warts are under constant scrutiny because of the Olympics. There is a clear panopticon effect - wherein they must feel like prisoners being watched. And it's really interesting that it's through the Olympics, which most people view as quite benign. It makes me think North Korea should host the next Olympics!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Learning Styles

So I've been doing a bit of reading on learning styles, because I run bible study groups with uni students and I want to engage them appropriately. And during this process I've been reflecting on my school and university experiences of learning.

We can learn one of two ways - inductive or deductive.

Inductive = observing facts, then interpreting them to reach a conclusion.

Deductive = forming an idea about what might have happened, then looking for the facts to back up the theory.

The deductive approach is flawed because it can result in proof-texting, in other words, trying to prove an assumption, thereby missing the actual meaning of the text.

The inductive approach is flawed because we could ask - as the HSC English syllabus does - what is a fact and who/what has the authority to claim such a title?

But... putting aside the post-modern debate over truth for a moment (hah! Impossible!), the general concensus is inductive learning is better than deductive, as you're more likely to come across the actual meaning of a text.

Now when I did the HSC, most of what we did in English was 'reading' the text, and then straight away applying a critique to it - eg feminist or marxist. I have memories of not really understanding the Shakespeare play we were studying, but forging with interpretation anyway. This is so bad! I totally did not understand the text itself, before moving onto the interpretation stage. But the syllabus supports this style of learning. I mean, my teachers overall did a good job of helping us get the best marks by teaching us how to make judgements and interpret a text through a particular lense, but there is a real possibility 90% of our class couldn't actually articulate the who, what, when, where, why and how of the story in its original context.

This may have been isolated to my school, but I don't think so... I'm pretty sure the Department of Education has written a syllabus sympathetic to this style of learning. However, I think it's really dangerous, because it fosters terrible reading skills. People no longer know how to simply "read" a text, and instead only know how to make judgements and interpret a text based on a set of assumptions.

Yes, I know I've glossed over the entire post modern debate over authorship, but I'm not clued in enough to go there right now! This is just a blog, afterall...

The other thing I've been reflecting on is university.

Now the book I'm reading at the moment encourages you to think about different learning styles - do you learn by seeing, hearing or doing? (Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic?)

Now university is almost solely based on auditory learning - that is, lectures.... with the odd powerpoint (so a bit of visual). There is basically no 'doing'. Journalism was slightly better in this regard - we did 'do' things to complement the learning process. But the rest of the communications degree was completely biased towards auditory learning.

The other bias is towards various stages of the learning cycle.

So some people enjoy the initial stage of learning, others prefer the reflection, others prefer the theorisation stage and still others, like knowing the consequences. Once again, university is very biased towards reflectors and theorists.

So, now that I've raised a whole lot of problems with our education system - I should have some solutions. I don't yet... but then again, I haven't finished reading the book!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I took this test (stolen from the other Soph's blog) on Personal DNA, which says I'm a "Reserved Designer"...

Reserved Designer

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beautiful Cups

Jo's friend came around yesterday for afternoon tea, and brought her own teacups! That's a first...

She left them at our place so we can wash them and give them back to her next time Jo sees her.

So, until then, I can admire and square up the beautiful objects.

Bill Grainger's Banana Bread


I've been waiting a while to try out this recipe, and today is the perfect day - I have nothing I should be doing instead.. well, I did plan to go to the Blue Mountains today, but then I slept in to 10AM, nullifying the possibility of arriving at my destination before the afternoon! So instead I'm knitting, painting and baking. Hah! I'm such a Nanna.

Death etc

James and I saw Grand Salvo play at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville last night, supported by Machine Translations, Holly Throsby and Firekites.

Grand Salvo (Paddy Mann) was a bit of a disappointment - his new album "Death" is even more sparse than the last, so it takes even more patience to experience live. However, I like the concept - the songs tell the story of some forest animals and a hunter. It's a dark fairytale musing on death and life.

Machine Translations played none of their old songs, much to my chagrin, but they're just as good as ever. Apparently their music is featured in the soundtrack to East of Everything - a show I miss because it's on Sunday nights when I'm at church - the new series starring Richard Roxburgh.

Holly Throsby... not a big fan. I think she's a bit overrated, but it was alright. She played sans band, which didn't create much atmosphere.

And I've never heard of Firekites, but the 7 minutes I saw of them when I arrived was more sublime than all three other bands put together. Spunk records were giving everyone free samplers at the door, and there is a track by Firekites on the cd, so I can have a deeper listen.

I think my love of music is on the return... perhaps I'll have another flirt with music journalism at some point. Sadly, Melbourne's the place to be as always. Shall have to plan a visit!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We're.... related!

It turns out that I'm related to Kevin Rudd...

My (first) cousin Anna, married Kevin's second cousin. Her last name is Rudd. The Rudd family held a reunion over the Easter weekend, where they all met! The reunion was at my cousin's inlaws farm - it's a trail riding business. The Ruddster did a bit of posing.. (he's third from the right)

And my cousin's children (I have no idea what the correct terminology is for that relationship - perhaps second cousin) were cuddled by the PM around the dinner table...

So there you go - two degrees of separation!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I have a week of holidays. I would like to go away, but won't be able to, so I'm trying to make sure it feels like a holiday of sorts. I wanted to go to Canberra for the Turner to Monet exhibition, but I might have to do that next week when mum and dad can both make it.

Tomorrow though, I'm heading to their place where Mum will tell me all her knitting secrets, and then we're going to Spotlight at Auburn to buy wool! I'm pretty excited about this - Mum knows some fancy techniques and I'm eager to learn. Plus I just like hanging out with her, and during term time I'm only really free on weekends, which is when she's asleep, because she does night duty at the hospital.

On Tuesday mum and I are going to the zoo - she has some tickets which she needs to use up - so why not? The last time I went there was early high school I think, either for an excursion or a girl guide event... so it'll be nice to go purely for leisure! I'm not sure what I'll like about seeing a whole lot of animals in cages, but I guess if they're cute then I'll be entertained...

On Wednesday I'm going to be at home in the day, because I have an appointment, and then in the evening I'm going to see Grand Salvo at the Factory Theatre, supported by Machine Translations. Really looking forward to this. I've never seen the Salvo live.

Thursday I will set out on an adventure - maybe the mountains, maybe Newcastle, just want to go somewhere on a train (so I can read, write, knit and listen to music) and explore. Yet to decide what to do with that one.

Friday, I plan to get my car repaired and washed so I can sell it asap.

Yay for holidays. It's not even holidays yet and I feel good. So nice not to have things I have to do. I mean there are things I could do, but will leave them for next week.

My main aim this week? To rest up and to see some autumn leaves...

Friday, April 11, 2008

The denouement of a Ruddslide

I've enjoyed watching the news coverage of Mr Rudd's diplomatic marathon. The amount of attention and analysis given to a simple "salute" of the hand, some purple suits worn by Therese Rein, and his fluent Mandarin is hilarious!

Have to say, it's so much more exhilarating watching someone with integrity, competency and charisma representing our country..

I learnt Mandarin for 12 weeks back in 2004. All I can remember is "Ni Hao Mah?" = Hello, how are you? and "She she" = thankyou. It was such a difficult language, with those different tones and characters and stuff.

Car stress

I've been really lucky all my life I've never really had to worry about not being able to pay the bills, I've held down a job since late primary school (okay so it was a paper run to start with, but still!) and have extremely generous parents. Since I moved out of home in 2nd year uni I've become financially independent from them, and that was my decision. It's been quite smooth sailing, budgeting, paying rent on time, electricity bills etc. But this year has been a challenge.

I don't think I realised when I bought a car, just how expensive they are. I needed a car for driving to and from and around the NSW countryside, when I moved to Orange. So I bought a 12 year old Holden Berlina, which had low kms and a good service history. It has been a great car, but very expensive to maintain. My insurance premiums are massive because I'm young, and last year I had it serviced twice, and also had to have a broken water pump and burnt out spark plugs repaired, and a flat tyre changed. This year I've put 4 new tyres on, and then had to get it registered, plus update my insurance. On top of this, petrol is so expensive, and this car is a guzzler.

This is all okay, because that's the reality of owning a 13 year old car, but the annoying part is human error! In the last year, I've had two accidents. The last one was the worst. I was quite upset and emotional, having had a big conversation with someone when I got in the car to drive to meet a friend in Glebe. I was a bit out of it, and quite teary. The car in front of my braked suddenly because of a "slow down, roadwork ahead" sign, and I didn't see it coming. Unfortunately, the car in front was a BMW convertible. ARGH! I was really upset and the woman yelled at me and was really patronising. That was a pretty bad day.

Well, 5 months on, the bill for the repairs have come through, and it's just insane how much it costs to repair a BMW convertible's slightly dinted rear end. And, because I'm on a really tight budget this year, it's going to be pretty devastating. I'm hoping to pay for the repairs from my savings. But I'm having to look long-term and work out whether I'll actually be able to afford to have a car into the future. I want to sell the commodore and get a fuel-efficient hatchback, but even then I need to remember the insurance and rego costs and the potential for another accident to occur etc. Things seem to be pointing to the living without a car side of the argument. But then catching a bus from Lewisham to Annandale is nigh impossible... particularly late at night.

I'm trying not to be anxious and get worked up about this, but sometimes it does just suck being an adult :(

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I bought some greenery yesterday. I really wanted to pot up some herbs, so we wouldn't have to buy them from the supermarket ever again! I got basil, rosemary, thyme and parsley. And then for fun, bought a little plant called "Mikado" to put on our table. It's all spiky and stuff. I like it!

My knitting is getting better

I undid all my horribly hole-y knitting to start again. It had gotten outta control! It was about 80 stiches wide or something, and so it was going nowhere, and was the widest scarft I'd ever seen, plus it was all uneven....

Now i've started on that is much more scarf-shaped, and I've even been changing colour regularly. There are still a few holes, and my tension isn't great, but i'm getting better! Mum would be proud :)