An assortment of words and phrases as typed by me. It's not that I have anything to say, I just love the sound of my own typing...

Monday, 30 November 2009

The end of NaNoWriMo

That's it.  It is finished.

I have successfully typed up a 50,000 word novel in less than 30 days.  It wasn't easy at times; and at times it was quite difficult.  But now that I have done it, I know that I can do it again.

I really cannot explain just how happy I am that I have finished this little project.  If my goal in life was just to be happy, then I would attempt seemingly impossible tasks more often. :()

I do not currently have any thoughts at the moment about publishing my novel, partly because it is poorly researched, the characters are a bit flat and the plot has far too many loose ends.  I like to think of it as Japanese Art.  And as in art, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, therefore my novel is beautiful.

I just spent the last two hours running my novel through the MS Word Grammar Checker and have discovered that Microsoft and I have different opinions on certain things...

If any of you, my dear readers, wish to have a quick read, then please send me a comment or a message or an email.  Once my novel reaches a level of quality that I am willing to share, then I will do what I can to let you have a read.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

November is Novel Month

Apparently it is National Novel Writing Month.

Every other month seems to have something associated with it these days. Eg. Movember, Ocsober etc. Personally I'm looking forward to Laypril (Lazy April - I'm sure it will be a good cause)...

Anyhow in keeping with a few of my comments as published in my last Monthly Journal, I have decided to take up the challenge to write a 50,000 word by the end of the month. So far I have written over 7,000 words. I just hope that my plot doesn't dry up before the end of the month.

If you are interested, my novel is called 'Bob's Big Day' and it is about an accountant who gets caught up (reluctantly) in the fight against organised crime.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Toilet 2012: 'public loos are improving'

Here's an interesting news story:

It's interesting to note that most of the public toilets included in the survey are actually private (hotels, restaurants, airports). I am of the opinion that Poles have very strong bowels, because it is rather difficult to find public toilets outside of these places. Maybe they are there, but are just well hidden. Perhaps there is a secret Polish word for 'where the toilets are' that they don't share with foreigners. I suspect it rhymes with 'drzewo.'

That is unless you call mysterious blue boxes found on the side of the street 'available for the public.'
My two favourite girls waiting for 'the doctor'...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Monthly Journal Oct 2009

“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active”
- Edith Hamilton

Hello fellow compatriots!

I bought a new dictionary the other day. It has 72,000 words in it, and I think I know all of the English ones already. It’s the 30,000 Polish words in it that I don’t know.

The weather is starting to get cold now (last night it dropped down to 2 degrees), which should make you Aussies less jealous. One of the disadvantages of having central heating throughout the entire block of flats is that we don’t decide when to turn it on. Maybe they are waiting for the first snow. Who knows?

We are all back at school now. This week I have 25 hours of teaching (that’s 25 hours of standing up and talking), and Jola has started working five days a week (she only has to talk for about 11 hours, but because she is teaching little kids she has to talk twice as loud). I think Ela would make a good teacher because she talks for about 10 hours a day with little or no encouragement – sometimes we turn on the TV just so that she will stop talking for half an hour.

I think most of the regular people at the playground know our names now – thanks mostly to Ela. And they all think that we speak German…
Talking about speaking, Captain Rhubarb is learning a lot of words very quickly now. I think he has taken so long to talk because he got his teeth late. Or maybe it’s because he can never get a word in edgeways because Ela does so much talking. Before he goes to bed at night he says: pa pa Mama, pa pa Daddy, pa pa Lella, pa pa Becky. (I have taken special care to teach him the English 'Daddy' instead of the Polish 'Tata'.)

I had a couple of comments from the last monthly journal that I had lost some weight. Well, it's true. We bought some bathroom scales and I discovered that I had lost about 10 kilo's since leaving Australia. I'm not sure if it's because of the food, because we don't have a car, or because of my job. But in any event, it's nice to have more energy and to be able to play with my kids at the playground (yes, on the swings!).
I have also had a few comments (based on what people read in these monthly journals) suggesting that I start writing professionally. I think I would like that, but I don't really have the imagination to write novels and there are very few English speaking newspapers that need a correspondent in south-west Poland (although it is a world centre for Boleslawiec pottery and tissue-paper making machines).

Last weekend was Jola's birthday. We had streamers and balloons and THREE cakes! As a family, we really like cakes. We did a test on Facebook to decide what Jola's real age is, and so we have just celebrated her 21st birthday again.
Unfortunately Jola couldn't celebrate too much because she has started writing her thesis for her Masters. It's a bit boring.
Jola: Hey! My thesis is not boring at all! It’s still rather short but as it gets longer I'm sure it will get more and more interesting?? That's what I say to myself anyway…

Congratulations to everyone who has got married or got pregnant (or both) in the last couple of months! (We know who you are, even if nobody else is supposed to know yet).

So long!

Malcolm, Jola, Ela & Chris

PS. As I am sending this it has started snowing...

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Polish Customer Service. Fact or Fiction?

I really don't like to complain. Most Poles are very helpful and courteous – that is until they are given a position of authority. Every now and then I come across exceptionally poor customer service. It saddens me to think how much more efficient everything would be if people actually did what they say they are going to do…

On Thursday night our modem stopped working, so on Friday I went to the local office of our internet company and told them that our modem was broken, and asked if I could buy a replacement. They had a look on their computer and said that it probably wasn't my modem, but the signal. So I was told to wait for a call for the service people sometime before 5 and they would fix everything. I thought 'fine' and went home waiting for a call.

At five to five we still hadn't received a call, so my dutiful wife called them up and was told that the service people were probably busy, and so we would get a call sometime the next morning (how hard would it have been for the office people to say within the next 24 hours instead of by 5?).

The next morning we received the call. My wife explained the problem and the service people said that it was obviously a modem problem and that we should take the modem back to the office for a replacement. At this point I wasn't very happy, because I had done this the previous day.

So we took the modem back to the office where we were told that before we could get a replacement we had to supply not only the modem, but also all of the cables with the original box and CD! I did well not to lose my temper. Why couldn't we have been told this the before?

(If you are reading this, it means that we have somehow sorted the problem out and have internet again)

Today I bought some bread from our local store. The bread has always cost 2.19, it even says so on the shelf. But when I got to the checkout the lady said it was 2.30. My response was: no, it's 2.19 (I said it a few times in Polish). However she must have realised that I'm not Polish and simply smiled and pointed to the price on the checkout. Because I wanted the bread and didn't want to waste any more time over 11 groszy (5 cents Australian, or 2pence), I paid her and left. Obviously someone changed the price in the computers, but couldn't be bothered changing the price on the shelf. This is not only bad customer service, but in Australia it is illegal.

I think the problem is that Poles don't complain to the right people. They love complaining/gossiping amongst themselves and their friends, but they very rarely make official complaints. Maybe they are embarrassed, or they think that nothing will change, or they don't to cause any problems. This is most likely due to the years of repressive government that they endured. However the time has come to move on. Poland has been a free country for quite a few years now. It's time to take the next step and for the people to start demanding that other people/organisations/government do what they say they will do. The days of accepting the mediocre and inefficient is over.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Polish in Conversation

I was told yesterday that I should learn more Polish so that I can join in with conversations. I guess I'm not much of a conversationist, so I need a bit of encouragement at the best of times.

Can someone give me a bit of help with the following statements that I could include in most Polish conversations (These may or may not be my personal views, but it should be enough to start an argument between the other members of the conversation so that I can slip quietly away and have a coffee and biscuit). If you can give me some further suggestions, I would be very happy:

Mr Kaczynski is incompetent and Mr Tusk isn't doing anything.

Catholicism is a good religion, but I have trouble accepting the catholic traditions that are not Biblically based, especially as Jesus said in Matthew 15 that tradition nullifies the Word of God.

The main problem is that Poles don't trust other Poles. And most Bureaucrats are more worried about pieces of paper than actually getting something done.

Polish footballers are good, but they can't play as a team. Is this the fault of the coach? Maybe...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Only four seasons?

I came across this article the other day. Apparently (in reality) Australia has six seasons, and the four season approach is based purely on the European model

But, is that true? Because here is another interesting blog/article talking about the six Polish seasons...

Maybe the thought of six seasons is in fact a global phenomenon?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

August Monthly Journal


“That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas!”

- Kate Perry

Hello friends,

We’ve had an interesting month, full of ups and downs and sides to sides. As you may have read from the last journal, it is summer holidays at the moment, which means that we haven’t been teaching. I’m sure that most of you would jump at the chance to have a two month summer holiday in the centre of Europe. It sounded great to us too, until we realised that we didn’t have enough money to do anything exciting.

So we have been spending a lot of time with our kids. Jola’s parents have been to visit us a few times, we visited all the local playgrounds many times. You get the idea.

About two weeks into our ‘holiday’ I found a job on the net. A local firm was looking for someone to do work in an office that could speak English. So I asked a few questions, but because I didn’t get a response I assumed that they didn’t want to talk to me.

One of our friends found a job and needed a babysitter for her kids, so all of a sudden we had four extra kids in the house. It was great! Our neighbours thought that we had started a pre-school. So we spent a lot of time outside in the sun with the six kids (ranging in age from 2 to 12). I think it was good for our children to spend time with other children, but it was very tiring for them.

Out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon, we received a call from the people that wanted the English-speaking office worker. Jola and I went for an interview the next day. It was the oddest job interview I have ever been to, and apparently they didn’t even read the questions I sent in my email. I should have realised then that would be some problems working there, but because I needed the money I accepted the job. On the Thursday I started work with an importer/exporter of dental and gynaecological supplies.

So, all of a sudden we were very busy. It was nice. I must admit that it took a bit for me to get used to working for eight hours again, and Jola enjoyed spending large amounts of time outside in the sun with six kids (not to mention cooking lots of food).

This month we bought Chris his first single bed (mostly because we were sick of him trying to get out of his cot). For the first two weeks it was very difficult to put him to bed. He kept getting out and going to where his cot used to be, or going into the lounge to watch TV with Mummy & Daddy. So we have stopped watching TV when the kids are going to sleep (the joys of a Hard Disk recorder – not that there’s anything on) and Chris helped us dismantle and pack away his old cot. Now Chris and Ela share the same bedroom so they can both learn to get on better with each other (plus our house is too small for us to do anything else).

My job was fun, but I had some problems. My boss seemed to care more about the Feng Shui of the office (including fish tanks) than the computer network (my computer took 20 minutes to load up each morning). There was no OH&S. We had to spend a great deal of time on the phone, but there weren’t enough phones to go around. There was no job description, no price-lists in English (funny because I was supposed to be selling stuff to the UK), no clear organisation. As an accountant and business consultant, you can understand how difficult this was for me; especially because the boss wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. And so after 3 weeks I was fired for ‘not working fast enough.’ And to add insult to injury, the boss wasn’t even brave enough to tell me himself, he had one of my colleagues tell me. However I’m grateful for the experience. It has taught me that you don’t have to be that good to run a business in Poland, and it has given me a few ideas for making some money on my own.

School holidays end in two weeks, so we are making the most of the sun and time with our kids. It’s a pity we don’t have a car for day trips, it just means that we spend more time walking and watching Ela ride her bike.

And that’s the end of the story!

Malcolm, Jola, Ela & Chris

Friday, 14 August 2009

Polish drivers

This is an article in my local newspaper

Apparently a new 'No Entry' sign was put up in the middle of my city and all of the drivers are ignoring it. This says two things:

1. Polish drivers do what they want to do/what they are used to and take little notice of road signs. I suspect that this is because there are far too many signs and not enough good roads and far too many imminent dangers (eg pedestrians stepping into the street in odd places, Polish drivers driving like Poles etc ...

2. Polish City Councils do not understand the first thing about communication. They think they can put up a heap of random signs and expect people to obey them immediately. In Australia whenever something changes there is always at least 3 big yellow warning signs saying 'changed traffic conditions ahead' or something similar. Or maybe someone in the office is paid on a sign commission. The more street signs he/she puts up, the more he/she gets paid...

Friday, 31 July 2009

Janice from Poland or Lower Silesia?

I found this blog yesterday about Janice

I thought it was interesting because in her 'About Me' she said she was from Walbrzych, Lower Silesia. I was a little surprised to see this because I live in Jelenia Gora, about 50km's from Walbrzych. I had no idea that US companies would send 'free samples' all the way here...

But then I got suspicious, because Janice is hardly what I would call a Polish name. So I made a comment at the bottom of the post, and am still waiting for a reply

Then I had another look at the Blog today, and Janice has suddenly moved to Santa Clara, CA! Maybe I offended her?

(Actually, this blog is a pure advertising sham. I guess Americans prefer to be told what to buy from some Mom in Walbrzych, than a big corporate company. I really don't know what that says about American culture)


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Polish Doctors

We had to take Ela to the doctor this morning...

Every now and then our beautiful daughter gets something like croup, meaning that her throat swells a bit and she coughs a lot in the mornings and evenings. It's not uncommon. It's easy to fix in the short term - in Australia.

But, this is Poland. Somehow we ended up spending about 60 zloty on medication (a bit less than $30AUD). Including Vitamin C, Calcium, Pro-Biotics, nasal spray, and (of course) antibiotics. And of course the doctor says that she needs to take all of them!

This is ludicrous. I swear that Polish doctors work on commission for the drug companies. Unfortunately I am not a doctor or a pharmacist, so I can not tell which of these are necessary or unnecessary, meaning that we have no choice but to give her everything.

That's my rant for today.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Mal & Jolas Monthly Journal

JUNE 2009

“Dance, dance, dance…“
- Lykke Li

Hello friends,

Can you believe that it’s already June? The end of the Australian financial year, the end of the Polish school year (actually I started writing this about a month ago, I’ve been slack). We are almost half way through the year now; and about 95% of the way through the decade. I wonder what this decade will be referred to as in the future: probably the two thousands, as the norties sounds a bit contrived.

A lot has happened since the last journal:
- Easter
- Ela’s Birthday
- Jola’s exams
- School
- Oliver and Rebekah Jessup visited us
- We went to Prague
- More school
- Surfing the net
- Et-cetera

(Ela blowing out her birthday candles)

Part of the reason that this Monthly Journal is so late is that we have been quite ill with a number of different things. Personally I partly blame the weather (it has been manic) and our students (I’m sure we caught something off the couple of hundred people that we teach between us).
But anyway, if we went into too much detail explaining what has happened, then I would get sore fingers, so I thought I would just explain what happened yesterday. A bit like a day in the life of the Guy family…

Saturday the 20th of June 2009. Jelenia Góra, Poland

We woke up at about 7 in the morning when Chris decided it was time that he got out of bed. Because his cot is still in our bedroom, he likes to wake us up by throwing his blanket and teddies at us. It is normally quite effective. Fortunately he went into the lounge room and played quietly by himself for half an hour or so until Ela woke up. When Ela wakes up she is less quiet. She normally goes and plays with Chris for a short time and then comes into our room and wakes us up for a second time; normally by climbing on us or asking for juice.

Because Jola had school that day, she got up, dressed the kids and generally did all the things that good wives and mothers should. whilst her favourite husband rested his weary eyes...

Anyhow, Jola went to school at about 9 am and Daddy and the kids had the house to themselves. The kids played very nicely with their new scrap books. Ela asked for a screaming out (a colouring-in picture from the laser printer) of a dinosaur and they each coloured in very happily until about 10 am. At 10 am it was time for morning tea. Daddy wanted to give the children a banana, but Ela said she had a full tummy for bananas, and wanted a biscuit instead. Daddy, who is the master of negotiation, gave them some jelly with apple instead (that we had made on Friday because the kids weren’t eating the apples).

(A random picture of Chris getting ready to eat)

After the kids had finished eating their morning tea (it’s amazing how quickly kids eat fruit after it has been cooked and put in jelly), we went to the shops. Kids love going to the shops, and so does Daddy. We went to Kaufland which is a medium sized supermarket within walking distance of our home. Chris sat in the pram and Daddy and Ela walked. On the way, Ela sang Christmas songs over and over again - it was great.
Kaufland is not a very interesting shop. But the kids made it very interesting. They sat in the trolley and played with the groceries. Somehow they managed to build a tower out of mayonnaise and pasta sauce jars. Then Chris opened a chocolate bar and, whilst Daddy was looking for a glue stick, he tried to climb out of the trolley. One of the problems with Kaufland though is that the aisles are quite narrow, so we have to push the trolley down the middle of the aisle so that little fingers don’t touch/get the items of the shelves (much to the annoyance of other shoppers).

On the way home we stopped and played at a little park (there are about ten little parks within walking distance of our home) where Ela met a new friend. They played in the sandpit and made pretend cakes and food. Captain Rhubarb was happier climbing on the see-saw and sliding on the slide (our little monkey loves climbing, whenever he sees a ladder he goes up it – which is not always a good thing…) Ela’s little friend also did a wee next to a tree, which, unfortunately, has inspired her to want to do the same.

We got home from shopping at 12:30. Just in time for Daddy to cook pasta for dinner. Unfortunately he forgot to buy mince meat and he bought the wrong vegetables (let’s just say that the children were a little distracting in the shops). But the kids ate it anyway – they love pasta. Whilst Daddy was cooking dinner and washing the dishes Ela played Pet Society on Facebook and Chris played with his toy animals. When they are separated they play very nicely and quietly.

After dinner, Chris collected his cars, picked up his blanket, and went to bed. He is very attached to his blanket and likes to have it close to him all through the day. Fortunately he doesn’t want to take it outside with him.

Whilst Chris was sleeping, Daddy and Ela made cherry jelly. We were given about four kilo’s of cherries from Jola’s parents, but unfortunately they were starting to go bad. So in order to make the kids eat them, we pitted them and made some jelly. Ela loves cooking (if you can call making jelly cooking) and stirring things (Part of the reason that we didn’t eat them is because we also got about 2 kilo’s of strawberries at the same time).

After Captain Rhubarb woke up we went and played outside again. The kids met some more new friends. Ela always surprises the other kids with how well she can speak English (and her Polish is getting better too). Ela and Chris both had ice cream in a cone. Unfortunately Chris’s Ice cream fell on the ground and then he started stepping in it.

(Only a two year old fully understands the joy of ice-cream cones!)

Jola came home from Uni at about 6 and was quite happy to lay down and rest after the whole day of sitting on her bottom. I (Jola) was supposed to have an exam, but somebody stuffed something up and our teacher felt so guilty about it that without making us sit the exam he gave everybody A’s. Easy peasy lemon squeezy J

At 7 the kids watched their cartoons, ate their supper, brushed their teeth and got ready for bed.
Mummy and Daddy then had some time to themselves. Jola was supposed to study for her exams the next day, but she was feeling a bit tired so we watched some episodes of Scrubs instead.

And that’s the end of the story!

Thank you to the twenty four people from five different countries who have visited my blog (Malcolm’s Occasional Rant: ).

Remember, if you are on Facebook ( ) or Nasza-Klasa, then look us up and be our friends. If you have Skype then send us your Skype address (our Skype address is malcolmjola).
Feel free to email us and tell us your own stories (and even send some pictures)

Best Regards,

Malcolm (mostly), Jola, Elizabeth & Christopher Guy

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Am I Happy?

I often get asked by people whether or not I am happy living here in Poland, especially when compared to living in Australia. The short answer is: Yes. The long answer follows:

Don't get me wrong though. I love living in Australia. In my opinion, Australia is the best place in the world to live. Everything is well organised, there is a good social security system, it is relatively easy for well educated people to find work, bureacracy and government departments are relatively efficient. Oh, and the weather is quite good also.

But the question is: Am I Happy here?

Although I have a small apartment, it is quite cheap to rent. I don't have a well paying job, but I work for less than 20 hours a week. Plus it is often a joy teaching your own language especially when your students want to learn (which is normally the case at a private school). Plus there is very little stress involved in teaching English, especially when compared to accounting.

My ability to speak Polish is rather poor, but I know enough to get by. My Polish is poor enough for people to be happy that I am trying to communicate with them, and it is not good enough yet for people to think that they can correct my grammar (thank goodness).

In the morning I get to spend time with my kids whilst Jola is working. Sometimes we go to the playground, we often go to the shops to buy bread (I don't know why Polish bread has to go stale in less than two days - I'm not going to even comment on the "fresh milk," except to say that I don't buy it).

Here in Poland I exercise regularly (mainly because we don't have a car), and have lost enough weight to notice the difference. It feels good.

However socialising is a bit difficult because we have two children and I usually work in the afternoons/evenings when other people are free. But I have internet, so I can still keep in touch with my friends from all over the world.

In conclusion: If my goal in life was to be happy, then I have attained it. Of course there are so many things in Poland I would love to change to make life easier, more comfortable and to make more sense. But I am happy to live here, and for the time being, raise my children here.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Dictionary of words and phrases regularly used in our house...

I thought that I would briefly summarise some of the words and phrases used in our house so that if any of you should decide to visit us, you will understand what is going on:

ROOOAARR!!! - A dinosaur being hungry and/or trying to tickle another toy
RA - A dinosaur talking to it's friends
HOOHOO - a dog (often also pronounced: Hmph, Hmph)
BAW - a ball
POO-POO - Words associated with potty, toilet, full nappies
MNUM MNUM - I'm Hungry
P'HUH! - This is yucky - normally related to things found outside
BAA-BAA - a sheep
MAMA - Mummy
TATA - Daddy
LALA - Ela
PAPA - Goodnight, Goodbye
GO - either as a question or a statement

The following are regular conversations that take place:

1. When Daddy is in the shower
Ela: Knock Knock
Daddy: Who's there?
Ela: It's Ela
Daddy: What do you want?
Ela: I want you to give me something/help me with something/take something off Becky
Daddy: I'm in the shower now, wait until I come out
- Wait for 30 seconds and then repeat ad-nausea

But it is better than the alternative:
Ela: NO!
Chris: WAAAHHH!!
Daddy: Ela, give it back to him!
- Wait for 30 seconds and then repeat ad-nausea

2. This sequence of events is not uncommon:
Chris: * Sounds of high pitched gibberish accompanied by fast footsteps
Table/Chris: Two Thumps (sometimes three)
Chris: WAAAHHH!!!
Definition: Chris had just covered his head with his blanket and run into the table or the wall - again

3: (No Comment)
Daddy/Mummy: Ela, please pick up your pencils of the floor

Additional Information:
Our son has the legal name of Christopher, but we often refer to him as Captain Rhubarb or Becky Bucket. We are often asked how this came about...

- When Baby Chris was still in his Mummy's tummy, we called him Rybek, which sounds a bit like the Polish word for fish (Ryba)
- When he was born we named him Christopher (Chris), but Ela kept calling him Bek (Because she couldn't say Rybek or Chris)
- Eventually this became Beky, because the 'Y' made it sound cuter.
- There is a cartoon in Australia called Becky Bucket, so we called him this because it sounded cool (I love alliteration)
- Eventually Becky Bucket transformed into Becky Boo, and then into Becky Boo Bah, before finally it had evolved into Boo Bah!
- Boo bah sounds a bit like Rhubarb. But Rhubarb isn't really a name.
- And so, when Captain Rhubarb was about 18 months old, we gave him the name of Captain Rhubarb

Thursday, 16 April 2009

How I Discipline my children - Part 1

Part 1: Should I use Corporal Punishment?

Note: I have prepred this document for MY OWN BENEFIT. If you agree or disagree with any of the points raised, then feel free to tell me. However don’t even pretend to think that I am telling YOU what to do. You can read, which means that you are capable of salient thought. Or in other words: make up your own mind.
I have tried to include all relevant supporting evidence, but if you think/feel I have missed something or misinterpreted something, then feel free to advise me (it doesn’t mean that I will change my mind).
All scripture references are taken from the King James Version, mostly because that is the version that I have on my computer with links to the Strongs Dictionary. I suggest that you read the verses in a version that you feel comfortable with.

I am the father of two wonderful children (this is a biased statement based purely on personal judgement) and it is my intention to raise them in the best manner possible. I believe that imperfect parents cannot raise perfect children; but I’m going to give it my best shot. Also, as a Christian, I would like to raise my children according to the principles given in the Bible (hence there will be a lot of scripture verses in here).

I was inspired to write/compile this information due to recent proposed legislation here in Poland. Esentially the government is intending to legislate that it is illegal for parents to use corporal punishment. We have discussed this with a number of people here in Poland, and they seem to suggest that Christians should ignore this law and raise their children according to what is written in the Bible. Therefore I have been presented with a decision: Either obey the law of the country, or obey what is contained in the Bible. But before I can decide which law I will obey, I must first discover for myself exactly what the Bible says about corporal punishment as a method for disciplining children.

What does the Bible say about discipline?
The following are pertinent scripture verses. I have shown the verse with my conclusions shown below each verse:

Proverbs 22:6
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
(This verse suggests that a parent or guardian can have an impact on their childs life if they train their child. This is logical and makes sense)

Proverbs 3:11-12
11 ¶My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
(These verses liken the chastening of the LORD to the discipline that a father gives his child. No child likes discipline, but then neither do adults. These verses also suggest that you only discipline people that you love or are responsible for. Again this makes complete sense)

Proverbs 29:17
17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
(An obedient child will definitely give a father rest)

Proverbs 19:18
18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
(This verse suggests that chastening or discipline should start before the child starts developing wrong ideas or bad habits. Most discipline involves providing a negative outcome in response to a child’s negative action. This invariably causes tears even when no harm is done to the child)

It is quite clear from the above verses that the Bible suggests that if you discipline/chasten a child properly and lovingly, the child will grow up to be obedient and disciplined.

I note that however that most of the scriptures about discipline are in Proverbs, which is a book largely attributed to King Solomon. King Solomon was a wise and wealthy king of Israel, but he didn’t end his life as well as he could have (1 Kings 11). Maybe he should have listened to his own advice? Maybe when a child becomes an adult, they become responsible for their own decisions/actions?

How should I discipline my children?
Proverbs 13:24
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 22:15
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14
13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Well. That appears quite clear doesn’t it. But before I head off to the nearest supermarket to buy a rod, it might be a good idea to find out what it actually is.
The Hebrew word used here for rod is shebet:
(Strongs number 7626) shebet shay'-bet from an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, i.e. (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (figuratively) a clan:--X correction, dart, rod, sceptre, staff, tribe.
Or in other words, a rod is literally a stick used for many things including punishing, writing, fighting, ruling (I assume this is not the drawing straight lines kind of ruling), walking etc.
But who uses such a stick? Obviously someone who spends his/her time punishing, writing, fighting, ruling and (from time to time) walking. Or in other words, someone in authority. So, what if a person’s rod represented his/her authority?

Another good way to determine what a word usually means is by seeing how this word is used in other places. Therefore I have found some additional verses in the Old Testament (outside of Proverbs) that use the word rod (shebet) and I have tried to garner fuller meaning from these passages.

Job 9:34
34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
(This is Job talking about God. God never used a physical stick to beat Job with, however Job felt that God was punishing him. So in this context, rod means punishment)

Job 21:9
9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
(This is Job talking to his friends about wicked people. It appears again that the rod of God is the punishment of God)

2 Samuel 7:14
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
(This is God talking to David about Solomon (funnily enough). I don’t think God ever used a physical rod, so again the word rod here refers to punishment)

Psalms 2:7-9
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
(This is God talking to Jesus, telling Him that he will break the nations with a rod of iron. Again, this rod is clearly not physical or literal, but figurative and represents punishment)

Psalm 23:4
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(here David is talking to God. How can a rod bring comfort if it is only for punishment? It must also represent authority – a staff is known to represent guidance)

Psalm 89:30-37
30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.
36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.
(This is God talking again. The word rod clearly relates to punishment as opposed to a physical stick. Verses 36 and 37 refer to Jesus, who bore our transgressions and iniquity on the cross. Is there a connection between this rod and the death of Jesus on the cross?)

Psalm 125:2-3
2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.
3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.
(Here the word rod seems to suggest affliction. It is interesting to read the second part of verse 3. These verses suggest that if undue punishment (how else would you define the punishment/affliction of the wicked) is given to those that are righteous, then even those that are righteous may turn to iniquity. Does this mean that if we as parents give undue punishment to our children, then our children will also turn to iniquity? Probably)

I think I’ll stop there. It appears to me that the Hebrew word SHEBET, meaning ROD is used primarily to indicate punishment from one with authority. I have not found any other scriptures that use this word shebet to indicate a physical stick with the primary purpose of smacking children’s bottoms.

So, let’s have another look at those scriptures from Proverbs, except instead of using the word ROD I will use the idea of punishment from someone in authority.

Proverbs 13:24
24 He that DOES NOT PUNISH HIS SON hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Proverbs 22:15
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but PUNISHMENT FROM SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 29:15
15 The PUNISHMENT FROM SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

All of the above verses make perfect sense when the word ROD is replaced with the idea of PUNISHMENT, and do not necessarily dictate the use of physical punishment.

However the following verses in Proverbs 23 do seem to suggest that physical punishment is required:

Proverbs 23:13-14
13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

The word BEAT that is used here has the following definition in Hebrew:
(Strongs number 5221) nakah naw-kaw' a primitive root; to strike (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively):--beat, cast forth, clap, give (wounds), X go forward, X indeed, kill, make (slaughter), murderer, punish, slaughter, slay(-er, -ing), smite(-r, -ing), strike, be stricken, (give) stripes, X surely, wound.

Or in other words verse 13 says: Do not withhold correction from your child. If you strike him/her (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively), then he/she will not die.
(of course if you use the extended meaning of this word, ie. slay, smite, kill; then the child will probably die and you will go to jail for child abuse or murder).
Does this mean that the parent has a choice? I think it does; they can strike the child either literally or figuratively. Or in other words, it is up to the parents of the child to determine the best way to punish.

Verse 14 is clearly intended to be figurative. Nowhere else in the scriptures does it advise being beaten as a method of escaping hell.

But wait! I remember that in Exodus there is also a lot of talk about rods (i.e. Moses had a rod, Aaron had a rod, almost everyone seemed to have a rod), but this physical stick was the Hebrew word matteh, not shebet:
(Strongs number 4294) matteh mat-teh' or (feminine) mattah {mat-taw'}; from 5186; a branch (as extending); figuratively, a tribe; also a rod, whether for chastising (figuratively, correction), ruling (a sceptre), throwing (a lance), or walking (a staff; figuratively, a support of life, e.g. bread):--rod, staff, tribe. see HEBREW for 05186

What else does Proverbs say about rods and physical punishment?
Proverbs 10:13
13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.

Proverbs 19:29
29 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

Proverbs 26:3
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

These three verses clearly suggest physical punishment. And they all suggest that physical punishment is to be used for those without understanding (or fools). I don’t know about you, dear reader, but my children are not fools. These verses do not say that the rod (or as discussed, punishment) should be used on the back of a child. These verses suggest to me that if someone has understanding (or if someone can be given understanding), then physical punishment is not required or necessary.

What does the New Testament say about disciplining children?
Ephesians 6:1-4
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

1 Timothy 3:2-5
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

These two passages seem to confirm my understanding of the Old Testament regarding the discipline of children.
It is the responsibility of the father (with assistance from the mother) to raise the children. They are to raise their children using both nurture and admonition. Where nurture is providing the child what it needs and admonition is providing direction and discipline.
1 Timothy 3:3 also requires that a bishop/elder is not a striker (also means quarrelsome in the greek). Does this also mean that he should not strike/argue with his children?
Ephesians 6:1-2 suggests that it is also the responsibility of the child to obey their parents. It is not the parents’ responsibility to beat the children into submission, especially when the child is old enough to understand the consequences of their own actions.

What about empirical research?
It is difficult to find research in this area which is not biased. Most individuals/organisations which have researched the effects of corporal punishment on children set out to prove that their hypothesis is correct. There are only a limited number of studies done with the purpose of detailing the outcomes as opposed to proving a point.
Because each of these studies contains so much information, I have simply provided a web link to enable you to peruse these at your own leisure:

The main findings that I wish to raise from these articles are:
1. There is a clear relationship between using physical forms of punishment with immediate/quick obedience by the child
2. There is not a clear relationship between using physical forms of punishment with the child’s ability to decide for him/herself what is right and what is wrong
3. There seems to be a genetic link that suggests that violence in parents is handed down to their children
4. There seems to be a relationship between physical forms of punishment and an increase in the long term chances of developing mental and/or emotional disorders

There are so many different things which affect how a child grows up. Discipline is only one of these things. As such, none of the studies can say unequivocally that physical punishment as part of a parents discipline program causes harm to a child in the long run. However on the reverse side, the studies do indicate that children who receive physical forms of punishment do not behave considerably better as adults than children who do not receive physical forms of punishment.

If it was the will of God that children should be punished solely using physical means, as opposed to other non-physical means, then there would be a clear correlation between children receiving physical punishment and better behaviour as adults. However this is simply not the case; if anything there is a slight negative correlation.
In conclusion:
The Bible teaches that we should bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the responsibility of the parents to discipline their children. There is also no doubt in the common press: Parents should discipline their children. There is no argument about this. The Bible is very clear and the positive effects of discipline are evident for all to see.
However, based on the few verses in Proverbs that are so often quoted, I do not believe that the Bible clearly states that parents should use a physical rod for delivering punishment.
I accept that I am not God, and that I will not be able to raise my children perfectly. I also accept that I will not always know what the correct punishment for my children should be. I do not want to punish my children unduly so that they turn to iniquity (Psalm 125:3).
This, coupled with the empirical evidence I have perused, and the fact that it may soon be illegal to use physical punishment on children here in Poland has led me to conclude that it is better for me and my family if we did not use physical forms of punishment as part of the process of discipline that our children will undertake.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Have a great time!

Don't eat too much chocolate - it's bad for your teeth

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Is there a line on the horizon or not?

I am a bit of a fan of U2 and I was really looking forward to their latest album - No Line on the Horizon (NLotH).

I must admit though, that even after listening to it for a week, I am unimpressed.

U2 is a band well known for changing their style and sounds, whilst still retaining their soul. Albums such as Rattle and Hum, Pop and All That You Can't Leave Behind have helped to define the current music scene. However albums such as Zooropa, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (and now, dare I say it, NLotH) have not.

Perhaps U2's unpredictability has become too predictable? Perhaps Bono has lost his edge? Maybe Brian Eno wanted to get his moneys worth from his new echo machine? Maybe it's just that I have become out of touch? Who knows...

I guess that I have always enjoyed U2 for their clear lyrics (albeit difficult to understand) and strong guitar riffs. I've always thought that U2 was trying to say something (not necessarily something specific, although usually political or religious) through their music. It's as if the band knew what they wanted to say, and they used both words and music to convey their ideas and philosophies. ATYCLB was a classic example of this.

NLotH is definitely trying to say something, but it seems that the message is confused and hazy. It's more like U2 has stopped using a megaphone and is now transmitting via radio. A radio with poor connections and too much static. Has U2 become just another background noise?

Or maybe U2 is following the lead of REM. REM had a nice little album - Around the Sun, which was calm and introspective, and forgettable. Then REM released Accelerate, a more up-tempo album that returned to their rock roots. Is U2 returning to their rock roots with this album? I don't think so. In fact I don't know where U2 is going with this album...

(Of course it is also possible that I'm just annoyed because iTunes won't let me download the Cover Art...)

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Thoughts on public housing in Tasmania

In the past few months I have noticed the subject of public housing appear in the media. As a home owner in Tasmania, any news about the housing situation there is interesting to me.

The current situation as I understand it is:

1. There is a shortage of rental properties in Tasmania

2. The rental properties that are available are overly expensive

3. Tasmania’s population recently exceeded 500,000 people

4. Housing affordability is very low

5. It is more difficult for people to get finance to purchase their own house

6. The federal government desires to spend big on public housing in order to keep the economy moving

7. There is a lack of new land available for the new housing which is required

Of course, because I am currently living in Poland, I do not have first-hand information about the situation. But I do have a different perspective. I am currently living in Jelenia Gora, an average sized city, in Poland. The population of Jelenia Gora is between 80 and 90 thousand people, so about half the size of Hobart. However it takes up about the same area as Kingston or Glenorchy. Most of the population lives in apartment blocks, and they are very happy about it.
We are living in a two bedroom apartment, which is one of sixty apartments in the block. The apartment block itself is five stories high and we live on the first floor. On our street there are about 40 such apartment blocks and I have no idea how many similar sized blocks are in the surrounding suburb. But anyway, the point is, that it is a lot more pleasant living here than I expected. There is ample room for the kids to play, our neighbours are polite, there doesn’t seem to be much crime around, the security system (although basic) works well…

And so I got to thinking: "Why couldn’t something like this work in Tasmania?"

I think that this could work quite well in Tassie, provided that the following requirements are met: 1. The apartments are positioned close (within walking distance) to shops and essential services such as public transport & schools
2. Ample car parking would need to be provided (it is not such an issue here, but Australians seem to need their cars)
3. At least half of the apartments should be sold to private owners. It is important from a cultural perspective that these places do not become a grotto for the unemployed (eg. Gagebrook)
4. The apartments should be built in desirable areas such as Taroona, Kingston, Clarence, South Hobart where there is already a positive culture. (Actually, the more I think about it, the best place to build these apartment blocks would be on the site of the existing Kingston High School)
5. The apartments should be heated centrally with ample insulation, including double glazed windows
6. There is ample space and facilities for children to play nearby
7. The outside of the buildings have an attractive appearance (not like this one)
8. Tasmanians would probably want to have lifts in these buildings, which are expensive things to own and run (of course the benefit of having a lift is that the buildings can be up to ten stories)

The main advantages of building these apartments would include:
1. Reducing the cost of providing public housing. A large part of the cost of housing these days is the cost of land. Apartment blocks use less land, and the land which is used is put to better use
2. These places would be more environmentally friendly. Central heating is much more efficient than heating individual houses. Also the people living in these apartments will not need to use the car all the time
3. Greater security (certainly against arsonists). Neighbourhood watch would be able to work much better

But of course there will be people who will argue with a proposal such as this. Probably the loudest objections will be from people who want a three or four bedroom public housing house on a quarter acre of land. Of course they want it, who wouldn’t? But if they are desparate for accommodation, then they should be happy with what they are given. I have no doubt that private buyers would be more than happy to buy these apartments.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Is it time for a New World Order?

Recently there was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald claiming that our good friend Kevin Rudd believes that now is the time for a New World Order in the financial sector.

Is this merely political posturing, or is it part of a more sinister plan? Who knows?

My current experience suggests that a lot of people are worried mostly because they don't understand what is going on. So I will do my best to give my understanding and views of how this so-called world wide crisis appeared.

Basically most people in the Western world (USA, Europe, Australia) have enjoyed steady growth in their economies for quite a long time now. For example very few people will have clear memories of Keating's 'Recession we had to have,' and the Asian crisis in 1997 didn't affect many people outside of Asia. Some people (not just economists) were so proud of the long spate of steady growth that they claimed that the business cycle was dead.

So, here is my view of things (taken from an Australian perspective). I have tried to make it as simple as possible:

1. Australia's rate of economic growth over the past ten years has come primarily from rising commodity prices, which rose primarily due to the growth of the economy in China. Resource companies, such as mines, made a lot of money which invariably flowed through to the rest of the economy.

2. China's growth has come primarily from exports to the US

3. The US demand for exports was based on the rise of US household debt. People were basically increasing their mortgages in order to buy consumer goods (eg. cars, TV's, computers etc). A similar thing was happening in Australia, but to a lesser extent.

4. Banks in the US lent too much money (because they were greedy) and had rather relaxed lending requirements. This was fine as long as house prices kept rising and peoples wages kept improving in order to cover their interest repayments.

4a. US banks packaged up and sold their high risk loans to other international banks and financial institutions.

5. By the beginning of 2008, some house prices in the US started to fall and there was a rising number of foreclosures where people couldn't pay their mortgages. Foreclosures are very bad for banks, because not only do they lose the interest repayments (income), if they cannot sell the house at market value (which is very often the case) then they lose significantly more as well. This is why banks started posting losses of up to 10 times the profits they were posting a couple of years ago.

6. Because of the extraordinary large losses being made by US Banks (causing a number to go bankrupt in the space of less than a year), other banks (including banks in foreign markets) became scared to lend to each other, making it harder for banks to get money to on-lend to it's customers.

7. Because banks no longer had easy access to finance, they tightened the lending restrictions, making it difficult for businesses and people to borrow money (for example in Italy it became so hard for businesses to borrow money, many have to borrow money from the Mafia). And because businesses no longer had access to finance, they could not expand as easily or they had cash flow problems, causing them to lay-off staff.

8. All of a sudden people have become afraid of their jobs, which means that they are no longer confident enough to buy a new car, buy new electronic items (eg stereos, TV's); and even if they wanted to, they would have difficulties getting finance. This has caused thousands of people to be fired from places such as Panasonic, Sony and has caused a significant amount of problems for car-makers all around the world (especially those in the US).

9. This drop in consumer demand has meant that people are buying less exports. Therefore China (whose growth has largely come from exports) is no longer growing as fast as it did. Therefore they are no longer buying as many resources as they did, causing commodity prices to drop. Causing problems for Australian resource companies who (as mentioned in point 1) were one of the keys to Australia's growth over the last ten years.

Well. That was a bit longer than I hoped, sorry that haven't explained anything in full. I guess it just proves how complicated everything is at the moment. In particular I have not referred to interest rates, oil prices, the food crisis or exchange rates (because these are just another level of complexity).
Nothing that has happened over the past six to twelve months was unforeseeable. People have simply been ignoring the signs. That is: rising debt levels, China's dependence on the US, instability in the share market, etc...

But is it time for a new world order? Probably not, it's just time for everyone (especially those in the West) to reduce their reliance on debt and to stop living beyond their means. (sounds a bit like hedonism, I know)
You'll have to come up with your own conclusions.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

New Years rant

Hello, and welcome to 2009. The main purpose of this entry is to ensure that my site remains fresh and cheery :)

So far the new year has been rather exciting. Today for example I played in the snow with my kids for about an hour. It was great fun and we only came inside after Chris face planted himself into the snow. He thought it was great fun, but because I don't want him to catch a cold we had to come inside. Unfortunately this caused Ela to break into tears. Anyone would think she had never played in the snow before...

Of course there is nothing like a child screaming to bring the attention of the neighbours...
What is it with elderly Polish ladies. Why do they have to comment on everything that they don't like or that they think you can improve? At the bus stop last week I was reprimanded (or at least I think I was - my Polish isn't that great) because Chris wasn't wearing warm enough clothing, and he might get sick, and if I was a good parent I would think of that, and etc etc. All this from a perfect stranger. Maybe she doesn't understand that you can't always see thermal underwear and that polar fleece (whilst not fashionable) is very warm...

Jola's cousin had her baby today. I don't know all the details yet, but it sounds like everything went according to the doctor's plans. Once we have a nice picture, we will upload it (either to Facebook, or here, or both)
Apparently one of Jola's other cousins also had a baby recently. But we don't have any details about that one yet. (We didn't even know that she was pregnant)

Talking about babies, my sister Belinda had a baby boy just before Christmas, and she called him Samuel Christopher John Wicks. We are a bit perplexed as to why she used the same name as our boy Chris. But are happy all the same. There are photo's of this little one on Facebook.

That's probably enough for now.