Category Archives: random

Twitter and More Blogging

Hello, whoever is reading this! I haven’t written a blog post for AGES. My theory is that I use things like blogging for procrastination, so I only really blog when I’m really busy. Hence, when I’m on holiday, I don’t say so much. Which is silly, because it is exactly when I can say a lot. Or photos, or whatever.

Anyway, I really want to get back into this (by which I mean blogging) and might change my focus/direction. Everything I’ve written so far tends to be quite long and thought-out, so it’s more difficult for me to write regularly. I think I’ll switch to shorter posts about pointless thoughts I’ve had rather than sticking to reviewing movies and music (because then I have to actually listen to the whole album and think of something original to say).

I also need to find more blogs and get a blogroll and whatever. Ooh! And I’m on Twitter now. I’m not sure how it will work out, since I’ve got one follower who I think has already given up on it. So, add me on http://twitter.com/apsheko so I can start a network or something.

Do I need a conclusion? Psssh, I’m not at school anymore. Fin.

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7 Things

The idea of “7 Things” is to write seven things that your readers may not know about you and then “tag” other bloggers to do the same. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough bloggers to do that, so if you read this and decide to participate, please let me know so I can pretend that I put you up to this. Here goes.

1. When I was in pre-school, I was convinced I was not a human being. The reason? We were read an environmental-themed book which showed “human beings destroying animals’ habitats”. Logic: human beings practise deforestation, I have never even thought about deforesting anything, ergo I am not a human being.

2. In the past week, I have been eaten by lift doors over a dozen times and almost lost my manhood to a scaffolding pole at a church clean-up

3. Russians don’t have middle names but rather patronymics so my full name is Alexander Petrovich Sheko (which is to say, “Alexander Sheko, son of Peter”). However, when I was young, I decided to rebel against the patriarchal system (you’re welcome, ladies) and called myself AlexanderTatianovich (Alexander, son of Tania).

4. At the age of three (or so), I had nightmares about a dragon chasing me around the backyard. Not just any dragon: the St George dragon. And I don’t mean the generic ectothermic creature of legend, but the dragon on the St George Bank logo. (Ironic twist: Last year I briefly worked for a sales company representing St George Bank)

5. I sing bass but because I have never had proper singing training, my range depends on the temperature, time of day and how long I have been singing. Usually the lowest note I can reach is D below the stave but it can go up to F if I’ve strained my voice. I once sang an A below the stave.

6. My parents made me learn the piano. At various points in time, I despised it and hated them for not letting me quit. I now have an Associate Diploma in piano, am being paid to play for a school musical (Cabaret) and enjoy playing every single day. I consider it a great blessing and one of the most rewarding aspects of my life.

7. A fundamental element of Russian culture is forcing children who have barely learned to speak to commit to memory large portions of poetry and recite them in front of large groups of people. At some point in my childhood, it was decided that it would be a good for my education (despite the fact I spoke very little Russian) for me to participate in this cultural treat and I learned some verses of a poem to recite at the annual Russian Culture Day. Unfortunately, I was sent on stage with a girl (half my age and height) who recited her poetry first. It never occured to me to adjust the microphone stand and I could not understand why several dozen Russians were laughing raucously at my attempt to combine poetry recitation with limbo.

If you are reading this and have a blog, please give it a shot of your own (and tell me so I can have a read!). It’s good fun.

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20 Things I Learned in 2008

1. Never SMS, drink and pose for photos while standing perilously close to an unfilled hole containing a pointy metal foundation post

2. The sun rises in the west in Queensland

3. Skipping across a school oval with another guy singing “I’ve Just Seen A Face” may cause impressions of homosexuality

4. The addition of Jagermeister does not improve the taste of Red Bull

5. It is preferable not to question the arguments of Irish Catholic dramatists when one’s English teacher is an Irish Catholic

6. People don’t eat leaves and the only safe thing to do is pray

7. When organising a birthday get-together at a licensed venue, inform the underage guests that should they choose to exit the premises once security has arrived for the night, it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to come back in

8. The introduction of “structured celebratory activities” by the school does not decrease the probability of traditional muck-up day happenings

9. Electric cooktops are cheaper for a reason

10. When walking to a location to which everybody else is driving, make sure to ascertain exactly where it is and, failing that, try not to walk in the wrong direction once you get to the wrong place

11. Never question the logic of a mad epistemology teacher

12. Bringing a Maoist propaganda book to class as a joke may cause some of the international students to believe that you too are a communist

13. Accordions are heavy but fun

14. Sleeping on couches significantly shorter than one’s height can be quite the uncomfortable experience

15. Never stand between an adolescent girl and a Stephanie Meyer book

16. There is an inverse correlation between the amount of mockery levelled at one’s music teacher and one’s chances of being selected for Music Captain

17. Holding a chair/music stand/etc… and walking nowhere in particular with a determined look on one’s face gives the impression one is actually contributing to cleanup

18. The “Toast-O-Matic” at the University Open Day was just a bunch of Science students with toasters behind a panel of flashing lights and random gauges

19. Never watch seven straight hours of David Lynch films, especially late at night

20. If you are expecting to see an MA-rated movie and sit down in a cinema filled with children, you have probably made a wrong turn at some point

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Colours

ColoursAaah… my first non-reflective post. It’s good to return to blogging, having kept an eye on my stats during the period I wasn’t writing. Having had 40, 50 or more visits per day during the period in which I was initially writing (having stopped in late September/early October to focus on study), it was a bit disappointing to see the number of visits steadily decreasing as people realised there was nothing new.

But now I’m back and hope to turn all that around. Firstly, I’d like to promote some music I’ve recorded during the study period, a short concept album of sorts. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to embed the music player directly into the blog, but you can listen to (and download) these recordings at my Last.fm page. The idea of a colour-themed concept album (EP, really) came to me when my brother was studying musical general knowledge for his violin exam and was learning about Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a Russian composer of the Romantic era who had colour synesthesia, a condition which caused him to “experience” colours when hearing music played in certain keys.

I casually remarked to my mother that I associated certain colours with various keys and we soon realised that though I did not have synesthesia (I did not vividly “feel” the colours), some of my colour associations were the same as Rimsky-Korsakov’s. This gave me the idea to play with some musical ideas and record a set of improvisations in keys with which I associated colours, using colour-related ideas.

Red is in D minor, a key which I associate with the colour red and contains a lot of arpeggi and sequence passages, which sort of made me think of some exotic or ornate object, returning to loud and powerful tonal notes in the bass. Yellow is in triple time and meant to sound a bit Eastern European in its chord structure, which made me think of old Russian cartoons and storybooks with a big yellow sun. I also associated yellow with A minor. The image underlying Green (G minor) was one of a forest, and so I worked in some (admittedly simple) cross-rhythms to give the sensation of the complexity of the forest, of the trees in three dimensions, randomly scattered. Blue (E minor) is an ocean, with a lapping, repetitve bass line; the waves rising and falling with cresendo and diminuendo. Finally, White is in C major, more conventional and ballad-y with a recurring tonic note in the higher registers. When I was playing around with the ideas on my upright, the image was one of ice and its cold purity, especially through the harmonics that it caused; but unfortunately these were lost when I recorded it on my electronic piano.

I wanted to record a collection of pieces that meant something to me as a whole, unified by the concept and I found this difficult to do as music without words is quite an abstract medium. So I chose the theme of colour to unify the tracks, and the structure of the album as a whole is sort of like a tierce de Picardie, being in minor but ending in major.

The quality of the playing is far from perfect as these were essentially improvisations, but the actual recording quality turned out all right considering I connected an electric piano directly to the microphone plug of my laptop computer and recorded in Audacity without editing the sound (mainly because I don’t know how to). I would be very grateful for any feedback and hope you enjoy listening to the music (it’s available for free download). Hopefully, it’s something I will be doing more of in the future.

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A Great Day For Freedom

On the day the wall came down

They threw the locks onto the ground

With glasses high, we raised a cry

For freedom had arrived!

A Great Day For Freedom, Pink Floyd

And so it ended: not with a whimper, but a bang… or at least with a large degree of whooping, running around and tearing off of school ties. After eight days of exams (or, rather, two years preparing for the IB diploma), the stress and the wait was over, replaced with an overwhelming sense of jubilance and lightness. Somehow (but luckily!) throughout the final exam, I managed to displace excitement from my mind and even at the point we were told to put down our pens, nothing seemed extraordinary. It was just another exam, one of the fifteen we each had to sit. It was just another essay, one of countless I had written in the past couple of months.  But as I went through each of the pages of my essay, numbering them and marking them with my candidate number (000794-018), it began to sink it- I realised that school was over and I had made it.

And so I ran down the stairs and outside (well, until the thought occurred to me it would be mighty unlucky for me to break both legs on the day I finished exams), probably singing something or else just grinning as I’ve never grinned before. I ripped off the tie I would never have to wear again and did a victory lap of the school oval (the term “lap” being used in its loosest sense).

I had imagined that moment ever since I started high school, and especially in the last couple of weeks. When I experienced the sense of relief and freedom at the end of my first set of exams in Year 9, I imagined how much better that feeling would be when the end of exams meant the end of schooling. When, last year, I saw my friends in the year above me come out from their final exams, I felt intensely jealous and pictured myself in their place. And finally the moment was there, unsurprising in hindsight, but quite unexpected at the time, as during the last week or so it felt like it would never come.

That feeling (labelled “diffusion of time” by Erikson– one of the many things I’ll never have to remember or write on again) peaked in the middle of the year. We were told that the middle of Year 12 was the most difficult part (even more so than exams) because all the major assessments were due in quick succession, as were language oral examinations and the such. The gloomy weather probably didn’t help either. At many points in the year, I would look at the “IB Year 12 Calendar”, look at all of the assessments and months still to come and despair. The end would never come, it seemed.

So the feeling was one of great discharge, of finally being unburdened of the stresses and requirements that accumulated throughout the two years of having done IB, especially in this year. It was a sense of freedom I remembered only distantly from the happiness of having come to the end of a school term in primary school, of having been given two weeks (or six, over the Christmas break) of holidays. Througout the IB, the workload had built up: even during the Christmas holidays of 2007-2008, I nonetheless spent many hours working and while relaxing, would still have the prospect of my assignments hanging over me. With each set of holidays, the amount of time allocated to study increased to the point where in the Term 3 holidays, I made a colour-coded study planner which had me studying for eight hours a day (anal much?). And suddenly, there was nothing. No assignments, no requirements, no study or pressure. 

And I am liberated, with so many things to do, to which I can look forward. First on the agenda was a complete purging of my bedroom, moving anything and everything related to school out of my room and into the garage. The notes and handouts- on my table, in my folders, stacked in my wardrobe- filled two photocopy paper boxes and nearly gave me a hernia as I lifted them. And filling those boxes felt so very good, leafing through the countless sheets of paper as I laid them to rest. Flipping through what I was throwing away was a reminder both of what I had achieved and what I had endured– what I would never have to worry about again. Looking at my Extended Essay handbook, blank CAS sheets, various subject syllubi and assessment markbands made me even more happy and grateful; the physical weight of what I was throwing a way a reminder of my new sense of ligthness. The fact that I can actually see my table for the first time in months is an added bonus (also to my mother, who tolerated the general clutteredness and dustiness of the room while I could still play the “hard-at-work” card).

So… three months of freedom and what to do? It would be tempting to literally flop into a sedentary mode, watching television reruns and getting up only for Doritos or coffee. But it would be much more enjoyable and rewarding to finally take the oppurtunity to do all those things I had wanted to do throughout the year but couldn’t. So a return to blogging is on the cards, as is seeing some jazz and learning bass guitar and piano accordion. Finally, I will use the indian cookbook I got for my birthday. Finally, I will read the books piling up in my to-read list. Finally, I will take up bike riding again in an attempt to raise my fitness from a dangerous level.

Finally, I am free.

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Hiatus

Hello there. If you’ve found this blog, liked it and are wondering why there haven’t been any new posts for several weeks, I offer my sincerest apologies. For those of you who didn’t like the blog, I ask: why are you reading this? Sod off!

I assure you this is not a dead blog. Being in my final year of secondary school and about three weeks from final exams, I am excessively busy with revision for this, that and the other as well as the miscellany that comes with this marvellously exciting period of change and transition (the annual Year 12 Teddy Bears’ Picnic comes to mind, as well as my current preoccupation with finding something suitable to wear to Friday’s “what-I-wanted-to-be-when-I-was-little” themed Dress-Up Day). If anybody has a Planeteers tshirt in a Large size, please be sure to let me know.

But I digress. The main function of this post is to alert my dear readers (and I know that you do exist, because WordPress gives me all sorts of charts and graphs and tables detailing your most personal information and the ClustrMap on this site informs me that though my mother has more Australian views on her blog, I am killing her in the South American and European markets) to the fact that as I am inordinately busy, I am, as of the moment unable to provide my readership with new posts.

I will however *points finger inspiringly* promise to resume regular writing once the exams are over, which would be on Thursday, the 13th of November, at approximately 11.00am Eastern Standard Time. At that point, I will likely have a lot of time on my hands to do things like photograph and review Melbourne’s nooks and crannies; as well as record some new musical titbits (which I have been promising to do for quite some time).

So despair not reader! Hope is at hand! The great Phillip Sandwich has not abandoned you completely, but is instead buried in subversive post-modern literature, history texts and news reports on the financial crisis written in Indonesian. I shall return November the 13th. Until then, I bid you adieu.

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International Baccalaureate

An exclusive look at what actually goes on in IB classes…

 

English Class:

Teacher: Now you see how there are many words starting with ‘C’ here? This symbolizes the naive white attitude to black sexuality.

Me: How do you figure that?

Teacher: Well, the repeated sounds sort of give that image. Do you get it?

Me: Not really. I mean, there aren’t even that many words starting with ‘C’.

Teacher: Oh. Well. Look, theres some words starting with ‘K’ and ‘Q’.

Me: But that’s not ‘C’.

Teacher: ‘K’ and ‘Q’ are practically ‘C’.

 

Indonesian Class:

Teacher: Alright people. You have to do the study. Every day!

Me: Why?

Teacher: I am like a car going in fifth gear. You must keep up!

Me: Wouldn’t it be hard to run alongside a car going in fifth gear?

Teacher: Yes. That is why you must do the study. Every day!

Me: Hmmmm… so what are you teaching us today?

Teacher: I am not a teacher. I am just a facilitator.

Me: But you’re being paid teacher’s rates, right?

Teacher: I am sorry, Sha-sha. I do not understand. Please do the study.

 

History Class:

Teacher: Alright class, today we’ll be watching a movie called “Battleship Potemkin”. It’s a very good film and you can learn a lot about pre-Revolution Russia from it.

Me: Isn’t that a Communist propaganda film? Commissioned by Lenin himself?

Teacher: Um…. er…… ok then. *plays film*

(another day)

Teacher: Alright class, today we’ll be watching a documentary called “Ten Days That Shook The World” *plays film*

Narrator: The entire army had mutinied. The Provisional Government was now left without its military support. The only group that remained loyal to them was the Women’s Battalion.

*film cuts to video of women marching out of time*

Me: LOL!

 

Physics Class:

(Class consists of three of us Australian citizens on one side of the room, and a bunch of international students on the other side)

Teacher: So what is a gradient?

(People put their hands up; Teacher chooses one of the international students)

Student: *Something unintelligible*

Teacher: Not what I’m thinking of. Gradient is what happens when you wait “one”.

Me: Isn’t gradient “rise over run”.

Teacher: No. Its what happens when you wait “one”. So what is the gradient of this graph? You!

Another student: Um…. er…..

Teacher: Its one over four….

Me: Rise over run!

Teacher: Shut up. Its one over four…. so that means… how many fours go into one?

Student: Um…. er…. one?

Teacher: Not what I’m thinking of.

 

Maths Class:

(Class is HL Maths = harder than Specialist. As thus, 95% of the class are international students. About two of them can speak English)

Teacher: Alright. Today we’re going to learn about complex numbers.

Me: That sounds complex

Teacher: Not really. It’s easier than the stuff we did last week.

Me: Very well then.

Teacher: So pretty much what it is, there’s an imaginary number called ‘i’, which is equal to the square root of negative one.

One of the international students that can sort of speak English: But Sir. You cannot square root a negative number.

Teacher: Yes. I know. That’s why we call it an ‘imaginary number’.

Me: Fair enough.

Student: *tries to imagine a number which squares to give negative one* I do not understand, Sir!

Teacher: Don’t worry. Just know that ‘i’ squared is negative one.

International students: *confer in Mandarin*

 

Psychology Class:

Teacher: Alright. Today we’re going to study measures of central tendency. This is used in psychology to understand the information you have. There are several methods to do this….

Me: Why are there several packets of chocolate cookies on your desk?

Teacher: Because we’re going to use them to help us learn about sampling.

Me: Oh.

Teacher: We are going to take one chocolate cookie of brand and count the number of choc chips in them. Then you’re going to fill in this worksheet. Then you can eat the cookies.

Me: Did you pay for those cookies?

Teacher: No, I charged them to the school account *starts eating cookies* Now, come up and put on a rubber glove and take one of each kind of cookie. Peter. You’re first.

Peter: *walks up to front, puts on a glove, takes a cookie. then takes a big bite out of it*

Teacher: Don’t eat your participants!

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