Kickstart the holiday

What’s the best way to say – mate.  I’m on holidays.

For me, it’s taking off immediately for Dunsborough.  Even if it is only for a couple of nights.


We are lucky in that Mum and Dad have built down there so spur of the moment getaways are possible and yet this is the first time we’ve been down all year.

Mind you. This is my first holiday this year.

View from the bed

We had a lovely break and raced the bad weather back to Perth well rested and planning our next visit.

While down there I caught up with my sister’s blog.

She is a homeschooler – really a wholeschooler – and I am continually amazed and impressed with how she is raising her kids to be truly themselves.

If she lived in Perth I would ask her to homeschool my kids!

I would beg her.

My niece is equally impressive. She has set up an animal rescue program to rescue dogs on death row.

How amazing is that?

What was I doing at her age?

Reading crap novels probably.

And my nephew is acting in Shakespearean plays in adult productions.

Yeah I would totally get her to homeschool my kids.

Education fail

No, not the school, me.

My son has lost 4% on a recent maths test because of me.

The question read something like this:

Sam went to a restaurant, he had the choice of two entrees, three main courses and two desserts.  Pate and pumpkin soup for the entrees, steak, chicken and beef for main course and icecream and chocolate cake for the desserts.  What is the probability that Sam would choose soup and chocolate cake?

The correct answer is 1 in 4 but unfortunately my son had no idea what pate was (see image on the right if you are unsure… no, not the bread).

He thought “pate” might be “some kind of random gourmet product you might turn into soup”.

In other words he thought BOTH entrees were soup.


Knew I should have made him eat pate!

This is why feeding expensive, overpriced gourmet foods to your children from an early age is important if you want them to do well at school.

Bless him, he’s asked the teacher to restore his marks on the basis that the question was ambiguous.

Note:  Hugamuga would like to point out that their was no illustrative photograph with the words “Pate de Foie” on the test.

Not good at English?

Not impressed with my poetry selection

This week I received this text from my errant son:

I have not completed my english speech, please do not be alarmed to recieve a phone call from my friendly yet evil english teacher you dont need to eat me she already has, thank you for your cooperation most sincerely H

Okay so he needs the “I before E except after C” lesson, but it was a text so I can forgive the lack of punctuation… impressed he bothered to put any in if I’m honest.

He was supposed to have chosen a poem and discussed it…

I gave him my three favourite poetry books to help him choose a poem but hey… what do I know?

I chose TS Eliot – Selected Poems – still annotated with my notes from Year 11 lit.

My (ex-nun) teacher was a huge fan of Cats.

Can anyone really go past The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.


(and of course not complete)

Then I suggested “Smoke Encrypted Whispers” by Samuel Wagan Watson who I heard recite his poetry at a Book Slam in Leederville a few years ago…

How about this – “mudflat”:

dried up and cracked
of prehistoric reptile scales
huge and menacing,
a chocolate flesh
that twists along the shores of the wetland

– but waiting for the veil of the incoming tide
is the monster
content when cold and hungry for
the mass that rolls with the current

it never sleeps

A geographical flavour for my geography nut?

Anyway, then I suggested Carol Ann Duffy‘s The World’s Wife.

My friend J gave me this book and I love it.

Pithy poems about some of the more famous wives in history.

Like Mrs Darwin:

7 April 1852.
Went to the Zoo
I said to Him –
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.


My favourite is Eurydice and if you see me in real life – don’t ask me about it – or you may be in for a recital.


Anyway – he didn’t choose a poem – any poem – and now he is in trouble.

(But he writes a good text – don’t you think?)

A perfect Sunday lunch


How good is this diet I’m on?

In the last two weeks I’ve lost about four kilos, I’ve not given up wine and I get to have lunches like this.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese wheels – easy and delicious – with a light salad.

There was a light breeze as I sat outside on my reclining camper chair eating my salad and thinking that the world was a pretty good place to be in.

Speaking of salads… here’s a little rant.

Why do restaurants – in particular perhaps those that aren’t so great – overdo salads?

The one on this plate has some rocket leaves, one chopped spring onion, some sliced cucumber and yellow capsicum.

Simple and delicious.

A salad I had the other day at a restaurant had so many competing flavours I felt sick by the end of it.

It’s unnecessary.

I’m writing this listening to my new iTunes purchase – Elbow‘s The Seldom Seen Kid.

Strange name for a band don’t you think?

Stranger if they’d decided to call themselves after the inside of the elbow… you know… that little crease on your arm that has no name.

I guess then that little crease would have a name.

You know, maybe I should give up on the wine.

Speaking of which…

I’ve just volunteered to host four kids going to my daughter’s school’s drama weekend.

Are you okay with Halal cooking I’m asked.

LOL – I don’t even know what that is.

Something to do with the meat is slaughtered no?

So I say yes, whatever and then my daughter tells me she’s not even doing the weekend because I didn’t fill out some form.

How very irritating.

I put my headphones in, turn Elbow up loud and go to a better place.

UPDATE: And then discover that iTunes didn’t download the album properly and I’m missing two tracks including the one I actually bought the album for. I don’t know, you do the right thing and throw money at the problem and you end up wishing you’d got your teenage son to steal it for you. (Note… that was a joke. As if I’d admit to being THAT bad a parent on a public blog)

GFP – a story of bacterial magic

Expression of GFP in E. coli. The bacteria on the right side of the figure have the GFP expression plasmid. Cells were photographed during irradiation with a hand-held long-wave UV source (Photo courtesy Marty Chalfie from the original 1994 Science article and GFP).

You know that saying about parents living through their children.

Well today I was that parent.

Today my son got to do some genetic engineering.

He’s 14.

They hadn’t got much past Mendel when I was 14.

When I was doing microbiology at university, the same university where he was today, we didn’t go much past gram stains.

And here he is at 14 inserting plasmids with Green Flourescent Protein into Escherichia coli.

How cool is that?

(it is very cool… in a geeky-I-wish-I’d-been-a-genetic-engineer kind of way… I mean lets face it usually “glow in the dark” refers to those stars you stick on the ceiling)

Last month I was listening to my NFP* about this cool bunch of genetic engineering students at MIT who had got sick of working with stinky E. coli (it smells like poo) and so engineered in wintergreen so that it would smell nice.

I played it in the car to my son on the way to school to inspire him to pay attention in science this term.

Little did I know then that a few weeks later he’d be doing it himself.

Damn I wish I was at school again!

Unfortunately, when they get to high-school they don’t seem to want their parents to volunteer as parent helpers on excursions… and the teachers don’t seem to want you either – or at least are very slow at picking up the hint so I offered Hugamuga my video camera to film the lab so I could “be there”.

Strangely he wasn’t keen.

But my boy is a nice kid.

Taking pity on his geeky saddo mother he filmed a bit of it for me on his mate’s phone.


Still, when he boasted over dinner tonight that today he had “made life”, I gently brought him back down with the reminder that I had already done it.


And they also sometimes smelled like poo.

*NFP = New Favourite Podcast.

The sound of silence


What I love about the school curriculum these days – no matter it be private or public – is the onus on public service.

I don’t remember it being part of my education.

There are heaps of fundraisers of course but the kids are also required to complete a certain number of hours of community service.

Hugamuga for example teaches computer skills to elderly people.  Dippity has sat on the gate of a community fair collecting money.

The thing with community work is when you do it you realise that you feel SO good which is why I shouldn’t have been surprised when Dippity came to me with  a handmade sponsorship sheet and a promise not to speak for 24 hours.

Win-win I thought.


She came up with it herself and convinced some mates to join her.  She got permission from her teachers and went for it.

They raised about $140.

We had a very quiet night.

Community service… it’s a good thing.

UPDATE: For those of you who are interested here is the Education Department Policy.

As part of the Community Service Program students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of service in the community. Students complete their community service between Years 10 and 12.

From 2009, completion of 20 hours of service will be one of the requirements for achieving the WACE for Year 12 students. 

Schools provide students with a variety of ways in which they can complete their 20 hours of service through the Community Service Program.

Personal Excellence

This is the book my daughter wonMy daughter was awarded a prize for “Personal Excellence” at this year’s “Celebration of Learning”.

She has had a great year and it seems that the move to the new school has really worked out for her.

I’m so proud of her my heart might burst.

I had to laugh though at the terms they use.  What happened to duxes and speech nights?  

I guess there weren’t many speeches come to think of it.  The principal of course and the head of Junior School gave a little speech but that was about it.  

The rest of the evening was dancing, acting and displaying artwork.  I guess it really is better described as a celebration of learning… not that I saw much in the way of maths and science – does Jack Johnson’s song “3 R’s” count?

As we mingled about afterwards I saw a girl I used to hang out with at uni.  She was the girlfriend of my boyfriend’s friend.  She hadn’t changed a bit.

Still immaculately turned out.  Full make-up.  Coifed hair.  Her cream suit spotless.

I felt like dumpy Dora. 

Not much changed there then.

Groover earned his wedding ring as we walked away that night.

“She’s got too thin,” he said, his arm around my waist.

Ohhhh gotta love that man! 

(did I mention my Dippity won a personal excellence prize?)

How can you be angry with a boy like mine?

Me and my boy

I received an email from Hugamuga’s maths teacher today:

Hugamuga did not do very well on his algebra test on Monday, partly due to being away. I told him that some work from him was necessary and I did give him some revision sheets and did tell him to come and see me at lunch time so I could help him, but he never did.

So this modern mother sent her son the email with a please explain request.

I laughed out loud when I got this reply:

errr i will tell the truth 🙁

i thought it would be boring and none of my friends were doing it also in fact nobody and i thought i knew pretty much most of it. 🙁

and with the computing i had alot of interuptions on fridays so i barely got 60% of the lessons

i finished the last assignment just need to send it.

i know its not good enough and your going to be very grumpy when you get home :(!!!

very scared

hugamuga curls up in to a little ball behind the book i won for geography at the assembly and the certificate for getting in the top 5% out of 1.7million who did the science comp.

Cute.  But he still has to go and do a catch up lesson!

Can you live with bad spelling?

Me… not so much.

Sure I’m not perfect. Definitely has always been a tricky one for me and just the other day bolognese had me a bit flummoxed but if I notice a mistake – I can’t go to sleep knowing that it’s there.

I write a lot for my living and I read a lot, and let me tell you that bad spelling, especially on a job application does not impress.

Sure on radio you could argue does spelling really matter? – it’s not like anyone can actually see the words – but it does matter.

If you’re reading a script and you notice a bad spelling you check yourself. The read can become stilted, can sound read as you try and decipher what is being meant.

Bad spelling can change the meaning of the sentence… and worse really bad spelling can make you giggle – and laughing on air – well what if it was a script about a serious subject – an obituary for example.

Frankly if it’s typewritten there is no excuse.

Handwritten? Should I be grateful they can write at all? Well everyone makes mistakes I guess. I’ll allow one or two but no more.

This guy? Well I can hear he is frustrated with the bad spelling he encounters everyday – my advice – never give up!

Colin – I join you in your crusade!

And the smallest planet is?

Out of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune?

Yes like me you knew it was Neptune. You probably also knew it was Tasman who discovered a number of Pacific islands in the 1600s – unlike me.

In the end it didn’t matter – WE WON!

Oh you’ve guessed we’ve just come back from a quiz nite where I swear our table drank more than any other. Luckily we won a voucher to a wine bar.

This is Groover shortly before he had to sit down for getting the true/false answer wrong:

At the Quiz Nite

It was an electronic quiz. Multiple choice. You buzzed in your answers. Here’s the leader board.

At the Quiz Nite

It was fun having the instant scores. It increased the anticipation each round – especially towards the end. We drew first in the first round, won outright in the second, and came second in the last round due to not knowing about Tasman. Doh! Still overall first and that’s what matters… doesn’t it?

Actually second place got a few bottles of wine which also looked attractive…