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...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Counting down...

As I write this, I am less than 24 hours from starting NaNoWriMo 2010.

Further evidence that I am ready for a novelling adventure
Very shortly I will be heading off to church, then we will be heading off to Jola's parents for the night.
Monday is a holiday in Poland (All Saints Day) and we will be spending the day with her parents, brother and Grandmother.

But, that does not mean that I will not find time to write.  I only have to write 1,667 words each day in order to reach my target.  Based on last year that should take an average of two hours a day.  Time that I would have otherwise spent on facebook, watching TV or faffing about.

So if YOU haven't yet signed up to write a novel in November, I don't know what's holding you back.

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo

Today is October 27
It’s approaching the end of the month, so of course I have a lot of things on my mind.  For example making sure I have recorded all of my hours at work; making sure I have paid all the bills due this month; finishing off my Australian tax return (all I have to do now is lodge it); and preparing for NaNoWriMo.

Last year my preparations for NaNoWriMo were pretty much non-existent.  I found out on the 1st of November and managed to type up almost 2,000 words in the first day.  I had no plot, nor did I really have any characters.  All I had was an introduction to a story which didn’t fully coalesce until a few days later.
So, in order to avoid the mistakes of last year I have spent the last few weeks and months preparing.  So, here is what I have done:
1. Read some books.  In the last couple of months I have managed to read an assortment of books including:
(I would like to thank my sister for introducing me to the Book Depository, which delivers books worldwide without charging postage and handling)

2. I have updated my author profile on the NaNoWriMo website

3. I have tried to blog more regularly in order to get back into the habit of writing (not very successfully)

4. Blocked most of my Facebook applications and installed Tweetdeck so I don’t get distracted

5. I have an idea for a story and the glimmerings of a plot (I don’t know if ‘glimmering’ is the right word here, but I’ve used it anyway)

6. Asked my wife if she minded I spend two or three hours a day sitting in front of the computer every night.  Funnily enough she didn’t seem to mind too much.

7. Downloaded the latest version of Scrivener.  The software of writers.

That’s it, I’m ready now.  Only a few more days to go before I start my next novel adventure.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Monthly Journal Oct 2010

Malcolm and Jola’s Monthly Journal

October 2010

“Haven’t I always done everything you asked me?”
- Destiny’s Child

Warm salutations!

Welcome back.  When I wrote the last Monthly Journal I was feeling a bit lazy.  I guess I didn’t know just how lazy I would be.  It has taken only six months to write this Monthly Journal.  Of course I’d like you to think that we haven’t written it because we have been too busy.  But that is simply not true.  It doesn’t actually take much effort to write one of these things…  But I’m getting side-tracked.

Since last April a great many things have happened in our little lives.  The biggest thing that happened of course was summer.  One of the most wonderful things about being a teacher is that we get a two month summer holiday every year.  It is just a pity that we are casual teachers and we don’t actually get paid for those precious six weeks or so in the sun.  This year we went to the Mazurian lakes.  There are a few nice pictures here:

Daddy and Chris kicking the water

Also check out some photos of our kids playing in the sun:

Over summer we bought ourselves a car.  We decided to take the plunge when we discovered the cost of using public transport to get to our holiday.  It was cheaper to buy a car (including insurance and gas) than to take the train/bus to our holiday place.  The kids like us having a car because now we don’t have to walk to the shops all the time.  Also we have been able to take a few trips into the surrounding countryside.  I’d love to drive a bit further (eg to the Czech Republic and Germany), but the price of petrol is still quite high here and Ela gets car sick too easily.  Not to mention that I am still waiting for my permanent visa.

Exploring Legnica the easy way

Now there is a story.  In June we applied for my permanent visa.  We filled in all of the forms, submitted all of our documents, had our ‘Green Card’ style interview and we were waiting for the final decision when we were (very politely) informed that we had actually applied too early and that we had to submit all of the documents again.  We were not happy; and are still waiting to hear back from the second application.

Talking about applications, Jola finished her Masters and scored top marks.  We are very proud of her!  Now she is a Master of Teaching (or something like that).

My two girls sleeping in a tent

Jola has started her new job as an English speaking pre-school teacher at Happy Kids (There are a few photos of her and her group at this website - just click on ‘Galeria’).  She seems to be enjoying it.  Apparently her class is the best behaved.  This is obviously because she is the best teacher (maybe I’m just biased).  It has meant a few changes for us.  This is the first time since we have been married that she has had a full time job.  Mostly it means that I am stuck at home by myself during the day.

The kids have started pre-school at Kubus Puchatek For the most part they are loving it.  Little Chris had a few issues with missing mummy and daddy (mostly daddy), but now is doing much better.  But having said that, they have spent two weeks at home because they caught various bugs from the other school kids.  Fortunately they didn’t catch chicken pox when all of the other children did (our kids were immunised when they were younger).

My little MasterChefs

We also have a new flat now, which is wonderful.  Our old flat was cheap and cold and not very nice.  Our new flat is nice and warm and 250 zloty more expensive.  Actually it’s kind of funny because we are renting from mine and Jola’s boss’s parents.  So our boss pays us and then we pay their parents most of our wages the next day.  We feel a bit like serfs…

You can see our block of flats second from top and the kids pre-school is the T shaped building on the bottom

I think that that’s about all I can write about at the moment.  If you have any questions, then send us an email   (we like emails)

Malcolm, Jola, Ela & Chris

the Rage Against God

I've just finished reading The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens.

Of course I am not the only one who has read it.  You can read a better review over here.

I did enjoy reading the book.  It provides a very calm and clear explanation of how the current attack on the Christian church in the west has been developing over the past fifty or so years.

I guess the most disappointing part of the book is that it didn't really answer the question so boldly emblazoned on the cover: "how atheism led me to faith."  The book contains almost zero references to faith.  In fact you could be forgiven for thinking that the author simply wanted society to adopt religion as opposed to each individual developing a personal, intimate relationship with God.

But the most value I got from the book was the way that the author clearly and succinctly provided a link between the effects of attaining an atheistic society and the resultant moral and societal decay of that country.

Which brings me to an article that I read today about a school in Krakow.  Krakow bishops outraged after school takes down crosses

On one hand any religion that feels threatened because a private school removes religious symbols from it's classrooms is extremely insecure (there are no crosses in the school that I teach in).  But on the other hand it possibly represents the thin edge of the wedge of an attack against religion.
In Poland the line between the church and state is often quite blurred.  Unfortunately this has probably caused greater damage to the church than it has to the state (especially when you consider the shenanigans of the former PM).

I guess the comments I really want to make is that in some respects I am grateful for the current 'Rage Against God.'  It is forcing people to carefully consider their faith.  People will either decide that their religion is a sham and stop giving lip-service to the church; or they will decide to give their lives fully to their God and change their lives accordingly.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Apologies to Phil Collins for borrowing his song title for my blog post.

We have had a pretty tough week.  I guess these things happen every now and then.

We had planned to travel 150kms to Wrocław to a conference yesterday.  In fact we had been planning to go for two weeks.  But somehow everything seemed to go wrong.  The first ominous sign was that all the maps on my GPS became corrupted.  The kids were ridiculously disobedient as we were getting ready (partly explicable by the fact that they had had bad colds for all last week and haven't been sleeping properly).  It was so bad that as I was walking to the car (only 45 minutes later than planned) I was praying to God "God, if you don't want us to go, then give us a sign!"  Then the sign came: the car wouldn't start; the battery was dead.  My wonderful wife (who was strangely annoyed) tried to get the help of one of the other drivers in the car-park, but no-one was willing to help.
And so we didn't get to go to Wrocław.

The view from my balcony this morning.  Yes, the bird is plastic.

The Bible says that 'all things work together for the good of those who love Him' (Romans 8:28).  But sometimes it doesn't make sense.

So instead of going to Wrocław we stayed at home; the kids played (mostly nicely); Jola dragged me to the shops to buy some winter shoes; I got to read some more of my book and think about NaNoWriMo.

Sorry that this is not a very positive post.  I guess we all come under clouds from time to time.  But every cloud has a silver lining; so here's hoping for a very silvery next week (a bit like the blue skies that I can see outside my window at the moment)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Happy Birthday Jola!

Last Saturday was my beautiful wife's birthday.
I can't remember how old she turned because I am not very good at remembering dates, especially birthdays.

One of the problems of living in Poland is that it is virtually impossible to buy meat pies.  And so, for Jola's birthday we made a meat pie with a smiley face.
(I forgot to put a glaze on the top, so it got a bit burnt, but it was still delicious!)

But of course it wouldn't be a real party without cake.  Cake is fantastic stuff, and my kids love helping out in the kitchen.
 Here they are licking the mixers clean.

Here they are applying the finishing touches.  Apparently pink icing tastes the best.

And here is Jola enjoying the finished product.

Happy Birthday Jolu!

Friday, 1 October 2010

How Polish are you?

This is a little thing that I have stolen and modified from another Blog.  You can find it here.

I was going to use this simply as a conversation starter for my English lesson today, but apparently October is Blogtoberfest month (as heard by little birdies here and here).  I'm probably not going to join in officially, but as I am planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year, I might lift up the frequency of my blogs just so I get back into the habit of writing daily again.

So, here is the Quiz.  Tell me how you go.

How Polish are you? 
1.   do you have relatives who aren't really your relatives
a) yes
b) maybe, I'm not sure
c) no

2.    you love watching football, but can't play it very well
a) yes, unfortunately
b) I CAN play football
c) what's football?

3.    Pope John Paul II was Polish and his first name was…
a) Karol
b) Carol
c) John

4.    When do you take down your Christmas Tree?
a) February
b) January
c) 31st December

5.    you open your Christmas presents on…
a) 24th December
b) 25th December
c) 26th December

6.    The plural of PIEROGI is:
a) Pierogi
b) Pierogis
c) The plural of what?

7.    you see a girl/guy and the first thing you look at are his/her…
a) eyes
b) buttocks/chest
c) bank balance

8.    your parents make you listen to…
a) Polish disco
b) 90's pop
c) Classic Rock

9.    when you're at a stranger's house, you expect their garbage can to be…
a) under the sink
b) somewhere in the kitchen
c) in the laundry

10.   you take off your shoes as soon as you step into someone else's house…
a) every time
b) when you are asked
c) only when you have muddy boots

11.  weddings should last…

a) two or three days
b) 24 hours
c) three or four hours

12.  Marie Curie was born in…
a) Poland
b) France
c) Belgium

13.  your grandma understands you better than you understand yourself

 a) true
b) maybe, I'm not sure
c) no

14.  have you ever eaten meat on Good Friday?
a) never!
b) a couple of times
c) Friday is steak day!

15.   you dash your sevens and hat your ones
a) is there another way?
b) when I remember
c) no, what for?

16.  What do your parents do on a computer?
a) Play solitaire
b) look at photo's
c) surf the net

17.  your grandmother has a framed picture of Pope John Paul II…
a) beside your family photo
b) in the living room
c) in the attic

18.   your family considers mushroom/berry picking as 'having a good time"
a) yes
b) sometimes
c) what? Don't be ridiculous

19.  your grandma insists you wear slippers because the floor is chilly and you'll get a cold.

a) yes, even in summer
b) only in winter
c) my grandma doesn't tell me what to wear

20.  your grandma can tell if you like a girl/guy just by looking at you

a) yes
b) maybe, I'm not sure
c) no, my grandma stays out of my business

Answer Key:
Mostly A's: Yep, you are Polish.  "If you're not a Pole, you're not whole!"

Mostly B's: You wish you were Polish, but you still have a bit more work to do.

Mostly C's: You're not Polish.  Even if you think you are.