Friday, 25 April 2014

ANZAC Day: Lest We Forget

Anzac day. The day we remember the brave Australian and New Zealand soldiers. I know three of my Great Grandfathers were part of the World Wars, one of which passed away 20 years ago today. I met one of them, I've heard the stories. But I hardly know anything about any of the wars, never attended any sort of Anzac day parade or service, never really thought about it. Sure, when the day comes around, people buy their poppies and remember the fallen and the living. We think about the families, the wars, the funny stories shared, but once the day is over everybody probably goes back to life until next year where they do it all over again.
Although Anzac day isn't only remembering those who fought at Gallipoli, we do think of those who are part of the Army/Navy etc who are out serving now. But to think that the likes of me who don't know all that much about it, and it's only 99 years later, what is going to happen in 10, 20, 30 years time? Will Anzac day be celebrated - of course. But will the majority know what it is really about? Probably not. And that is the sad, honest truth.
I read in an article that 10,000 horses served in the WW1 and only 4 returned. That definitely made me come to a halt for a second. There were many animals that were part of the war, not so much nowadays but they were a big part of it back then. It's crazy to think that all these animals went out, carrying soldiers, supplies, the wounded. The were killed, injured and probably terrified, yet they were such a necessity and it's sad to think how many were killed yet all the did was help. For an animal lover like myself, I think it's really cool how not only the men and women are remembered, but also the horses as well. It's not often people appreciate what they do for us, but in this case, the definitely are.

In other news:
Mum and I were at the supermarket yesterday when a memory flashed in my head. Going to my friends place and drinking Orange and Barley or Lemon and Barley. I used to love going there, one of the bonuses was the drink that we never had at home. I know it says on the bottle "1 part to 6 parts water", but my friend and I were always shocking, We hated getting given watery juice, so we'd likely pour ourselves 2 parts to 4 parts or half and half. Golly, the latter was sweet! Lol. I think Mum thought I was a tad odd for remembering random things like that, but we hunted it out and whatdoyaknow? It still gets sold, so we bought one of each. It's super yummy. And very refreshing too!

While down there we went to Paper Plus where I bought myself a couple of Kobo cards. It's annoying because our takenote store doesn't sell them. Which means I have to go south to get them. I could get myself a debit card to use online, but I prefer to do it this way. I've invested in three more books that have been on my wishlist - Marley & Me, My Sister's Keeper and Elegy (from a series I've been reading for years). it's bad, having three books on the go at once, especially with all my school work, but I've got to have something on the side! I just finished the Bay at Midnight by Diane Chamberlain - it's an interesting read.

I slept in 'til nine this morning! Such bliss! The past six days I've been getting up for milking at about 4:30 ish so I'm on the job for 5:30. The last two mornings were the worst of all and at milking I was running on autopilot, I was so jolly tired. This is my first weekend off in ages - 13 weeks in fact. I should spend the time doing school or something productive, but I've heard there are three books on my Kobo that are eager to be started.... ;) There's nothing better than some chips, a drink, a good book and a nice place to snuggle up in. Now, a spa would be heaven right now because my legs are achy from standing on concrete for 33 hours worth of milking! If it wasn't for the fact that it is so blimmen expensive to run...ugh. It's the little things in life, huh?

Mum and Dad recently bought a new second-hand ute to do the spraying with, as our original one keeps having breakdowns. Unfortunately though, Dad pulled the aluminum deck off last night to find the structural/framing part of the deck needed to be replaced. It isn't strong enough to hold what we need it to carry. The welds are coming apart and Dad was advised not to fix it up, but start again to avoid more problems. It's definitely not something that was budgeted for, or considered. Now the changing over of the utes will take a lot longer than first thought. Not something that Dad wanted to have happen, especially since he's so far behind in work now as it is. The work won't stop coming, the weather is now causing issues and try as we might, we can't find anybody who wants to work for us. It's a frustrating thing, but I guess life is always throwing curveballs, you just gotta figure out how to get around them.

Paintball tomorrow! Nervous and excited, lets see how many bruises I come away with!!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday

First off - happy Easter!! Hope all my readers have a safe and fun long weekend. I'm not crazy enough to travel (nor do I have the time), but for those that do, keep safe on the roads aye.

Should be fun tonight, we've got a youth night at the youth leaders house. It's always cool going there, play some games, have a spa. The others will probably watch a movie there too. Last Wednesday was skipped, for reasons I don't know, which meant that my friend and I couldn't get together to make the Easter cupcakes we'd planned. Which now means I've got a big bag of Black Knight liquorice, a couple bags of Marshmellows, there was a bag of jelly beans but they um, kinda got lost in transit and never made it to today...(hehe?) It's kinda bad that we've got all that bad food sitting around. I'm not sure how long it will all stay there...

Today has been rather slow. I pulled out two of the three rows of tomato plants, I was intending on mowing some more lawns but my plans were tarnished by a sudden heavy downpour of rain, making the lawn far too wet to touch. I instead got out my cross stitch - which I don't think I've touched since January! We had our first lot of hot cross buns for lunch (It wouldn't be Easter without them!), then I put on the Pirates of the Caribbean - Curse of the Black Pearl, carried on with my cross stitching and munched on some MnM's that I bought ages ago and hadn't yet touched. Now, there are still some left over, for the record!

One of our youth leaders - who is generally the one who organises all our fun events has planned paintball for next Saturday. Here's an abstract of his post on Facebook - "soldiers willing to lay their bods on the line. So if you ready to cap, shoot and anihilate the enemy then I need your immediate response so I can post the declaration of war. If there is another preferred day to do battle, let me know but as you know, this mans army is no democracy. Do I have your commitment soldiers??"
     He's super fun, really nice, and as you can see he's a pretty good leader for a bunch of teenagers! I've never played paintball before, so it'll be interesting to give it a go. I've heard that people come away with bruises. Oh well, live while you're young, right?!

Apparently I'm not going to OPC because the school never contacted me to let me know. I'm guessing that they were only telling the successful students that they got in. But what is wrong with contacting those who weren't? It's frustrating really, their lack of organisation and order is extremely slack, for all I know, they never received my application! So yet again, all I want to do is go to the main department and shake them into a working order! You'd think that since they are New Zealand's biggest school, they'd be a little more on the operational side. It's jolly frustrating to say the least. Not that I mind not going to OPC, because now it means I'll be able to go to HM Rage! Yay! It'll be my first time going too, so hopefully it's as fun as everybody says it is. It also means I'll have yet another week up my sleeve for school. Mum always goes by the saying, "If it's meant to be, it'll happen". Obviously after missing out on two trips, I'm not meant to be going anywhere for very long, well at least this half of the year. You never know what might pop up.
     In this case, I've signed up for this years metagenomics project. My biology teacher emailed me about it yesterday. Basically it's a biology project that this organisation does and students from 50 high schools around the country join into it. There are seven venues around the country, and it's a one day course and you get to extract DNA from soil and whatnot. It sounds pretty neat, and you get to use the leading technologies etc etc! It sounds fun! I should definitely have a place because I was the first person in Te Kura to say yes. It's a while away yet - end of September, but I'm looking forward to it.

Regarding having an extra week for school, these past couple days I've gotten a sudden burst of enthusiasm - something I've been lacking for a while. So I drew up a plan for next term and in the holidays. The intention is to sit the Statistics internal these holidays which will give me my first 4 credits, finish off my last biology booklet, meaning I'm ready for one biology external. Then over next term the goal is to finish and pass two more Statistics internals (another 8 credits), and finish up to five biology booklets, including one internal research which I'm basing on the Japanese Whaling. Also finish 6 Chemistry booklets (hopefully) including one internal.
That should just leave me with one more statistics internal to do, which will give me 16 credits total, plus one more biology internal and external, and one more chemistry external to do in term 3, meaning hopefully I'm set to actually sit the mock exams in September, and having the usual short term 4 for study. I know the likelihood of achieving all of that might be a little slim, but fingers crossed I can get most of it done. That'll make term 3 easier with all the work to do alongside!

We seem to be getting more fencing work every day now. In the past week the guys have managed to finish one job and I think we've gained another three? Dad's dropped off the posts to the two next jobs he's hoping to do this weekend as they're only little. Then all next week they'll be working full time at a farm to finish off all the fencing that needs to be done by the end of the season. From what I know, there is another three weeks of full fencing after that job is finished. It's crazy! Grandad only worked for us one day, and left for home this morning after a case of gout in his foot meant he couldn't work. It's a little frustrating, but what can we do? So now we're on the look out for somebody who can sit in a tractor and operate it safely just to speed up all the work that needs to be done. I don't know our luck in finding anybody, but hopefully there'll be people keen, as many farmers have been laid off their jobs because of the drought.
     Speaking of the drought, if the rain we're having continues, the drought must be well and truly over! There is no flooding where we are, but heaps everywhere else. When it comes to farming it's either a feast or famine, you can never win. We got 50mm on Wednesday night.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Another good week :)

Grandad arrives today, it'll be good to see him after all of these years. He's coming up from the Wairarapa to help Dad with a tonne of fencing jobs we've got. Currently, there are about three straight weeks booked, and another three weeks at a specific farm. The latter isn't booked in yet, but it has to be done by the end of the season to comply with Fonterra's regulations. We're not quite sure how long Grandad will stay for - we originally told him there would be about 10 days of solid work, but there's quite a bit more now. It's a good thing, because milking is winding down as the farmers are drying off their cows. It's coming up to the end of the season, and with this drought I'm quite surprised how some are still milking. Dad's not too keen on continuing fencing for too long. Winter is coming up and fencing in the winter is just diabolical. It gets too wet and muddy and all we make is a mess, so come end of May we'll shut it down. That, and we have to return the tractor we lease to the owner for winter/spring time. However, for now, with little in the way of milkings, it's good for the guys to have something to do. It'll be different having Grandad here though for the next little while, especially as we haven't seen him in such a long time! Hopefully all goes well :)

I was a tad disappointed last night when I read an email from the Royal Society, saying I wasn't accepted for the trip to England. I'm not surprised though. They reckon they had over 400 applications from really high calibre students, with only minimal spaces to fill. Of course they did the typical "soften the blow" email, where they explained the situation etc etc etc before finally saying I was not accepted. In other words, they didn't want to say "nah, not good enough" - I'm sure they would probably get in trouble for that too, thinking about it. The world is so PC these days, I mean, imagine offending somebody?!
     But I'm not too concerned, because it will save me money that I really need for University, also it means I will be able to go the Palmerston North Massey open day in August as I will be in the country for it. That, and Mum was stressing out about the possibility of me going overseas by myself. lol. Next Wednesday I find out whether I was accepted to go to Outdoors Pursuits Camp. I really really hope I can go to that, so that I can go somewhere interesting before the slog of uni...But of course there is a plan B for that too. If I don't get to go there I will instead go to HM Rage with my youth group! Since both activities are in May, I don't really want to abandon Mum and Dad twice!
     Another thing I want to attempt this year is Biology Scholarship. I don't know all the details about scholarship so I'm planning on calling my learning advisor on Monday to talk to her about it. Then call my Biology teacher and ask her to possibly sign me up, or tell  me the ropes. I've also been thinking about this Ag/Hort that I'm doing....I'm so not enjoying it. Don't get me wrong, it's not an absolutely horrible subject, but it is so time consuming. All these things I need to do, I seriously wonder how an urban student could do it? Anyway, I'm not liking it and I'm about two booklets behind. It's an all year course, and if I were to use it for my 14 credits in one subject I would need to do four tests and so so so much work. It's just not worth it. I would rather do Bio, Chem and Stats (which I'm doing really well on by the way!) and enjoy those subjects, and do well. Rather than suffer with a not so great subject. Anyway, I'm sure my LA will agree. I can't take up another subject because there aren't any subjects that I could do, or would suit me, or would be worth it. So it'll just be three subjects from here on out hopefully. And that means I won't be so far behind and work won't be so much of a problem.
    I did my practice test for my first stats internal the other day - finally! I've been putting it off for a while, but I spent all day last week and did everything I needed to do on Excel, then copied the graphs and forecasts and wrote up the report. It's not completely finished, I still need to add some more detail, change things around a bit but otherwise it was mostly done. So I sent it to my Statistics teacher for him to have a look over, so I knew I was doing it right. Yep, I was! He said it was a very easy achieved, and with the added detail that I still needed to do would definitely gain a higher mark. So yay! So I'll just finish that up, and he's sending me the actual test. So, finally, after 12 weeks of school, four credits (in maths of all things o.O) will be soon coming my way. Excellent.

The other day I looked through the diary and found that since the beginning of February, I have worked every weekend. So that is 10 weekends in a row I've been milking and I've done heaps of work - at one particular place - during the weekdays. I thought to myself, no wonder I am so behind in things! This weekend was meant to be my weekend off, but as my brother and Dad were milking this weekend at sole charges, and had extra work during the day, Mum and I decided to go with them and help them to get the milkings finished faster. My brother and I decided to start at 5am this morning, so I got up at four and met up with him at 4:30 when we left. We arrived at the farm to find a bit of a surprise, there was only 80 cows still milking! It is a 16 cows per side cowshed, pretty cute, and there were only just over 5 rows to do. Normally it's a one person job, but with two of us and a small number of cows, we were out of there by 6:30! Everything all done, and we were home by 7am lol. I've never had such a quick milking. I have to milk next weekend too, so my 10 weekends in a row will be upped to 12 weekends in a row. It's a bit amusing to be honest.

On Wednesday a friend of mine is coming over. It's the last youth group night for the term, so we're making cupcakes and decorating them with cute Easter bunnies :D One style that was in a supermarket catalogue is a rabbits' face, with ears, eyes, nose and whiskers. Yesterday Mum found another kind on Facebook (oh yeah, Mum and Nana have facebook!) It basically looks like a rabbit digging its face into the cupcake, and all you can see is the tail, feet and back end. They're super cute! My friend also has another idea that she's bringing with her. It's great, because her older sister left her a bucket of Fondant when she moved to Aussie. And since Fondant is what we need for the ears and feet, it's worked out great!  Hopefully they work and I'll take some pictures to show next week.

Oh yeah, and if anybody who reads is interested in cats, be sure to check out my friends blog! She's recently started her blog and is an SPCA foster mum for kittens. If you like cats, this is a cool blog with cute as pictures of the kittens! You can find her on the right hand side of my blog :)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Chemical Warfare

It feels just like yesterday that I wrote my previous post but then I realised  we're in April now! It's crazy how fast the days are passing.

We had a bit of drama today on the road outside our house. Our neighbour down the road has decided to build a new house in his  paddock directly opposite us. Which means a new concrete driveway had to go in. They've boxed it all up in the last couple of days, but today had some road workers holding up traffic as the concrete truck took up the whole road. It was interesting because there is a big sweeping bend outside our house, and the speed people go around it! Ideally 45km/h is the best speed to go around it, but generally drivers take the corner extremely fast and end up in the middle of the road, or on the other lane! Mum and I decided that the lollipop guys should stay full time and slow the traffic down!

Biology today was a fun affair, and for a change in relation to school work I'm not being sarcastic! How great is that?! I'm doing the topic on plant and animal responses to their external environment. There was a mix up with the booklets which meant I had to begin on the animal one, the second in the topic. So it hasn't been all that fun because there's been a lot of things that I haven't fully understood and they haven't explained much on. But I now realise this was because it was covered in the first book on plants.
     Much to my surprise, learning about plants is actually really cool! They talk a lot about how plants are the beginning of the life cycle, they're the ones eaten first etc etc etc. But then they go on to say that, well, plants don't actually enjoy being eaten all the time and they've quite seriously got a fair amount of ammunition up their, um, stems.
     For instance, there are some plants that produce volatile chemicals. So when they're attacked by, say, a caterpillar, the chemical is released into the air which then attracts predators to attack the caterpillar. In this case dragonflies come to feed on the caterpillar, or wasps will lay their eggs inside the caterpiller, which in turn will save the plant.
     Then there are other plants such as the Chrysanthemum that have pyrethrins in their leaves. This is nasty, toxic stuff which prevents insects from eating the leaves and eventually kills them. However it does go on to explain how some caterpillars developed an enzyme to detoxify the pyrethrins, thus they could carry on eating the plant. But wait, the Chrysanthemum can go one better and produce another chemical to knock out the protective enzymes! So much chemical warfare!!!

Later on I read about plants of the same species being able to communicate with each other. Yeah, I know right? I thought trees only talked on Lord of the Rings. Apparently not!
     They say that when under attack, a tree, such as a Willow, will release volatile chemicals which are then picked up by the trees of the same species. The other trees understand the warning of being eaten by herbivores, so they also start producing the chemical, which induces the production of another chemical which protects the tree from further attack.
     Other trees produce a chemical to make their leaves unpalatable, so grazers like the Giraffe only stop for a bite, before continuing on to the next tree, which has in fact been pre-warned by its neighbour! Pretty cool huh? Imagine if humans communicated in the same way....It'd certainly save for awkward conversations!

In the relation to plants not being too keen on being eaten, I'm going to squirm a bit next time I eat some form of plant, or pull some leaves of silverbeet for the chooks. I can just imagine hearing it scream in anger and start firing heaps of nasty toxic juices at me! They say humans are bad for being the ultimate predator and killing everything, but when you think about it, plants are at the beginning of the life cycle and they're pretty darn evil and twisted. It's no wonder we're like we are, we have to protect ourselves! As the booklet says, plants are pretty crazy chemists!

This form of biology is so much different from previous levels, for instance, the answers don't show just the one answer. They have examples for Achieved, Merit or Excellence answers. And unlike level 2, they don't ramble on about just DNA and genes in every topic, this one for instance has completely moved on from general photosynthesis. Don't get me wrong, I love learning about the genetics side of biology, but it's nice to get something different. I even think there is a topic on human evolution...? That'll be a little out there to study I think...I'm happy with plants evolving to suit their environments, but humans? Yeah..Nah.
     I'm happy with how much I've done over the past couple of days though, just one more chapter in the first booklet, and two more in the second booklet. Of course I've got the Teacher Marked Assessments at the end and then that will be one external topic, eventually worth five credits (five, for such an easy topic?!) done and dusted.