Friday, November 17, 2006

U.S. Blues

I'll drink your health
share your wealth
Run your life
steal your wife

The other day, I was in a senior year science class and the lesson plans were boring. So I chose to go off the page and hold a discussion. These kids get a lot of rote learning but not much debate and critical thinking practice.

I posed a question that came with no repercussions from me no matter what they decided to answer. They could be impolite, snide, or inappropriate - I did not care.

The question was, "What is the image of the American here in New Zealand?"

The responses were thought provoking, and remember, New Zealand is a nice, friendly country. Imagine how we are looked upon in the unfriendly parts of the world.

Rich - Based on the current exchange rate, our dollar is worth 1.5 Kiwi dollars and prices of many things here are already lower than they were in California, so if you do the math, Americans seem to be rich. We would never be considered rich in San Diego.

Arrogant - They are looking at the recent politics and W. has not helped our reputation with that swagger of his.

Bullies - See "Arrogant" They also view the War in Iraq to have been an obvious error that we should have seen coming down Main Street and cannot believe the

Greedy - New Zealand has a different culture where they value freedom, fitness, family and as little labor as possible. Nobody works one minute after 5PM, even if they are making a big sale.

At the same time, they give a full 8 hour day of constant work, minus tea time. Whatever they earn, they make it last and do not waste their dough on frivolous trinkets. They do not pine for lots of "stuff"

Self indulgent - It's all about ME, not us

Fat - Thanks to "SUPER SIZE ME" they all think Americans spend their time on the couch in front of the big screen munching pizza, cokes, and potato chips. Movies sometimes don't always tell the truth, but in this case....

Christian, Religious -Kiwis most often will claim their religion as "no preference". They keep it private, personal, and in the home. A Christian who attempts to lecture about behavior will be shouted down and told to mind their own beeswax.

Patriotic - New Zealanders love their country and are extremely proud. But they don't wave the flag or wrap themselves in the colors to prove anything. The flag we are more likely to see is the All Blacks Rugby emblem.

Powerful - NZ is a small country that is happy to be alive and lucky to be a beautiful place. They have no desire to expand and are not even looking to add more citizens. So a power trip of ruling the world looks like the act of imperialists.

Ethnocentric - Americans think they have the best country in the world, yet only 25% have ever traveled out of the USA due to not even having a passport. Kiwis are more humble and accepting of people from other places. They also have traveled much more than their American counterparts.

Hot looking girls - One kid thought NZ girls were boring and all the USA girls look like Hillary Duff. He could not be convinced, thanks to the media, that their is a place in America called the Midwest, which is far from Hollywood. If the truth be told, not even Hillary Duff looks like Hillary Duff.

That's it for now from our little corner of the world.

Rick and Barry, they are here, can you spot them??

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Now I'm Payin' For Those Happy Hours I Spent There In Her Arms

I know we have readers out there who are involved in education so today we will be discussing the teacher's lounge and perks therein.

Here in Nelson at the college, which is what they call their high school, there is a vast lounge, with comfortable couches and tables.
There is also a lovely patio for outdoor seating.

Mornings, we get the newspaper and there is coffee and tea freshly made for all. Cups are supplied and someone is hired to wash it all up.

3 times a week, there is a morning briefing which goes very quickly (10 min.) The headmaster speaks as do the VPs. Then the staff can make announcements.

There is NO GRIPING or criticizing at any time. No teacher dare talk or fool around during the briefing. Very proper and professional. In fact, I have heard nobody knocking any of their fellow teacher here.

Donna Hamilton would be thrown out after 5 seconds

Every day, after 2nd period, there is an interval where we all come back to the lounge. Tea and coffee are prepared and folks eat some snack they have may have brought. This is a 20 minute break.

One hour later is lunch which lasts an hour.

The interval on Friday is different. In their turn, people shout food, like cheese and crackers, cookies, cakes.

This was a surprise for me at first, but now I dig in like the others. being a relief person, I don't think I am required to treat.

Also on Friday, after school, they do something completely outrageous.

We all know alcohol is banned in schools in the US. One could get in deep trouble for having an empty beer can on campus.

Forget about what could happen if you had a tiny bit of mary jane in your backpack.

At Nelson college, as soon as the final bell rings, before the kids all get on the busses, the booze is flowing in the teachers lounge.

It is purchased with school funds, sold at a slight profit to any faculty member who wants to drop in for a quick one before going home, and the net goes to pay for teacher functions.

Good news for me...Tomorrow is Friday and I am going in to sub.

Cheers, and have a good weekend!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ain't A Winner in the Game, He Don't Go Home With All

Geez, the people here are really into sport. And that means playing, not watching.

I came for the waters.... I was misinformed.

Often the first question asked to from a new acquaintance is, "What sport do you do?" Luckily, I play golf, and that counts as a sport around here, Rick.

I have been trying squash, being prompted by Bill Gansline, the current world champ from Tucson, Arizona. But I must admit, I have the racquet and the club membership, but have not yet managed to get a regular schedule. I have only played a couple times. And I suck.

Many here have TV, but not cable with all the channels like I do. I tell them that we Americans have the strongest thumbs because of pushing on the remote.

Kiwis have an impression of us as eating at McDonald's and sitting on the couch getting fat.

I hope I was not sent here to erase that image.

So I play golf whenever I do not teach and I have gotten my handicap down to 14. But here, there are no golf carts, although I have seen guys hooking up to motorbikes and riding them on the course.

Most everyone walks, or I should say, scampers through 18 holes. They expect to finish the round in less than 4 hours. All players understand and there is never any waiting around to hit.

There is also no driving into other players to hurry them along. This is quite a civil country.

I remember watching students in California during PE. They all had lame excuses why they could not participate. They would sit around and talk whenever they could and try to avoid working out.

This is how it works in NZ:

The boys have over an hour for lunch so most of the time they are at the fields playing games that require much running and agility. You would think that would be quite enough for one day.

But I took a PE class right after lunch and for another hour they ran and jumped and dodged and shot balls of all shapes and sorts. There was no name calling, fighting, arguing, complaining, or fighting. Everyone participated and ran like devils for the entire hour. At the end, they picked up all the equipment and went out, saying "Thank you, sir" to me, the guy who stood on the side and watched.

There are heaps of national sports teams here playing some games we never heard of...Like Underwater Hockey and European Handball

New Zealand is proud to be so small and able to put a competitive bunch on the field of play.

The country's uniform colors names are black, white, and silver and the team names reflect that.

The rugby team is the ALL BLACKS

The woman's Rugby team is the BACK FERNS

Men's basketball - TALL BLACKS

Woman's basketball - TALL FERNS

Women's netball - SILVER FERNS

Wheelchair rugby!!?? - WHEEL BLACKS

Field hockey, male and female - BLACK STICKS

BLACK CAPS - cricket

Women's cricket - WHITE FERNS

ALL WHITES - soccer

Men's softball - BLACK SOCKS

Men's gridiron - IRON BLACKS

There are more of course, but I have saved the best for last.

The men's badminton team is known as...and you can look it up...


I know this is hard to swallow, but it's true.

I gotta run now myself...

Jerry Springer re-run is about to start.