Fifteen years of blogging

Very long and faintly embarrassing is my very first online blog post – though I then called it a “diary entry” – on Angelfire or Talk City.

There my “Brother” diary ends, and the online diary starts next with one entry:
29 April, 2000: 6:07AM
“M offered to pay for private hospital! My life changed absolutely when he came into it. I hope the delay hearing about his citizenship application does not indicate a problem. It shouldn’t. But there will undoubtedly be more about M as this journal grows.” QUOTE FROM MY JOURNAL Christmas Eve
* * *
M finally got his Australian citizenship in 1997. The process had begun in 1991. I had my hernia operation around Anzac Day 1997 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (an excellent public hospital) after a six month wait as it was elective surgery; hence M’s offer 4-5 months earlier. I had meantime found another use for bicycle shorts, though I don’t recommend them as underwear in a Sydney summer. I saw Mardi Gras 1997 on TV in emergency at Prince Alfred where I was waiting to have the hernia pushed back into place, having for once failed to do so myself, only to be told by a cheerful nurse after the deed was done that it was just as well she’d succeeded as they couldn’t have admitted me anyway because they had no beds.
* * *
I don’t usually perform lucubrations on my Brother at this hour. There, that will have them running for their dictionaries; and I’m only using my Brother because it saves powering up the PC; I just have to keep my eye out for the sticky “w”– the w key on the Brother is a bit erratic.
And I’m only performing lucubrations because I’ve just finished Hell Week (as the Quitnetters call it), having made a determination that this cigarette quit will hold. I did run from July 1998 to just on New Year 1999 almost ciggieless, and for a couple of extended periods in 1999 and 2000. I suppose I have in total smoked over the last year half of what I would have. However, I now know I cannot be a moderate smoker, so it has to stop. My advice to anyone out there: if you don’t, don’t start! It’s an evil drug really. I, poor fool, started in my 30s, as an alternative, I think, to strangling children: teachers may know what I mean.

Sadly it wasn’t until February 2011 that I finally quit for good!

The ill-starred Diary-X was my blogging home for several years. There is a remnant: 30 captures between 2001 and 2005 on the Wayback Machine. Here is part of Thursday, June 19, 2003.

On English teachers, my suggestion that they sit the exams themselves is not entirely facetious. I have seen such things done in the days when staff development was somewhat more generous, and it is a very chastening exercise. I once did this (quite a long time ago now) at Sydney Boys High. I was supervising an in-class assessment task and sat out the front doing it myself. I subsequently handed my answer (no name) in with the others and the Head of English (Alan Whitehurst) marked it. You will be pleased to know I scored 20/20.
A couple of years ago I attempted to answer a new-style task in order to provide a model for an ESL student I was helping. I wrote something halfway decent, but not in the time frame an examinee would have, and drawing on knowledge it would be totally idiotic to expect a student to have mastered in the time available — such as, in my case, an Honours degree in English and years of thinking about the concepts involved. The best most students can do, given their circumstances, is a reasonably coherent parroting of a mishmash of half-understood theories and inadequate “readings” in the light of those theories. There is not time, realistically, to properly absorb, say, King Lear and really explore various “readings” in order to assess what one really thinks of them. There is nothing wrong with the concept of multiple readings, but everything wrong with the truncated treatment they get in an HSC time-frame.
Very few teachers will have exposed themselves by trying to do what they expect students to do. I really do wish they, and the syllabus makers, would do just that.

Now part of Friday, 30 May 2003: Winter’s coming.

You may recall our school Principal is circumnavigating Australia as a member of the Sailors with Disabilities crew. Here is a student contribution to the Around Australia Challenge Bulletin Board, and the reply:

SBHS Student (no name) (Sydney)
Dear Dr Jaggar, school has broken up early this term, with the Deputy Headmaster winning the approval of all students with his decision to suspend schooling for the rest of the term. All students are being encouraged to stay at home and watch progress of KAZ on the web. Hence we work on our geography (around Australia), science (oocean currents, weather systems) and mathmatics (will they break the record at this speed?). The website is also helpful in working on the foreign language of sailing jargon. Keep sailing.
2003-05-26 21:34:43 °168

Reply from the Boat
Dear Unidentified Student,
Thank you for alerting me to the radical action of the Deputy Principal. I hope you work on your spelling during this unexpectedly long vacation.
2003-05-27 08:24:25

Thanks to J Beringer for pointing it out to me. Oh, just in case: it’s not true, you know… What was in the student message, that is; I mean it really is a student message… Oh, I am sure you get it 😉

And finally, from May 2005:

Exeunt omnes…

25 MAY 2005

Fancy that, eh. Graham Kennedy dead; another marker on one’s own progress towards the grave, isn’t it? Morbid maybe, but true. One year older than my brother…

Who will ever forget the famous “crow call” that got him banned from live TV for a while? “On the show of 5 March 1975 Kennedy imitated a crow (“faaaaaark”) during a live read of a Cedel Hairspray advert by Rosemary Margan. Apparently it wasn’t the first time Kennedy had used the joke, but for some reason it stood out this time and Nine supposedly received hundreds of complaints, followed by a rash of predictably scandalised newspaper headlines the next day. The incident was reported to the Broadcasting Control Board and as a result Graham was banned from performing live on TV for an indefinite period and was forced to pre-record the show on videotape.” Link

Actor and author Graeme Blundell said Kennedy was “a genuine celebrity who seemed to have come from another planet… (and) that’s why he retired so early, he was only 50 when he disappeared”.

The biographer and close friend of Graham Kennedy said the television personality was frail and appeared much older than his years when they met recently.

“He was very frail and he looked much older than 70.”

“His tone was comic but he was a very frail man … he couldn’t walk or dress himself. He was in a pretty bad way,” he said.

Blundell said he left the last few pages of Kennedy’s biography blank for readers to insert their own ending to the “king’s” life.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe amazing Father Ted Kennedy of Redfern died last week too. The pic shows an Interfaith service that was held at St Vincent’s Redfern on the anniversary of the Mass of Compassion for the Muslim community in Australia in 2002. Link

Fr Ted Kennedy sided with the Redfern Aborigines around Mum Shirl and became a close collaborator in her work. His genius was to privilege the excluded in such a way that they became friends. His deep and profound love of the Aborigines in Redfern and all their relatives around Australia was expressed in his extraordinary memory of names and places and where those names belonged. He could identify where each family was based geographically and knew members of visiting Aborigines’ families. This practical knowledge was matched with a keen theological insight and edge that came straight from a political reading of the gospel that left fellow travellers enthralled with its freshness and cultural critique. Ted had an eye for the angle that gave hope to the underdog and a passion to those who stood in solidarity with the underdog. Redfern parishioners – that strange, diverse and sometimes tortured group of all kinds, all colours and even various beliefs – somehow created a community that would have made Jesus proud. Link

Ed Campion did a nice obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald last week. Link

PK mentioned Ted Kennedy’s death last Saturday when I told him about Father Ken Sinclair. It’s Ken’s funeral today, by the way. Link

If your name’s Kennedy, you’d best be careful just now, it seems.


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