Monthly Archives: April, 2004


I’ve been thinking about naming my fish. James is slightly disturbed by the idea. I think he’s most disturbed by the fact that I want to go with classical names – Just Because.* You may recall, Faithful Reader (if you exist), that this trend was begun with the late, lamented Hektor. So: the bumblebee gobies are Castor and Pollux, because they’re virtually indistinguishable. The male molly is Zeus, of course; the beaten-up molly is Hephaestus, and the baby male is Ganymede… The Bitch Fish is Hera, also of course. I think the snail is Ajax. I’ve been trying to think of a couple to name the rainbows after, but I want to encourage them to be nice and have little rainbows so there aren’t really that many good role models that spring to mind! Maybe Priam and Hecuba. And I’m not sure whether the neons or the harlequins get to be the Argonauts. One or the other; the others can be the Nereids. Which leaves the SAEs, and I’m not sure about them either.

*Errata: actually, he tells me that he thinks naming them is a bad idea because their deaths cause enough grief as it is.

Revitalising as a teacher

I’ve just been at a VATE Beginning Teachers’ Conference, which was fantastic. Much too short, actually: you had to choose 2 sessions from 8, so personally I think they should have had it over 2 days (I almost wouldn’t have minded were it Friday and Saturday), so that you could do 4 or even 5 sessions. Anyway… I think I am a little more enthused about teaching English now. It’s been getting me down a bit. I realised a few things I should change that should both change student attitudes to me and the class and my attitudes to the whole teaching thing; hopefully this will be healthy. I also bought a book on teaching films and one on teaching poetry; I think these will be useful, because they are two things I’m really keen on. If only HTAV did the same, and I could get re-enthused about History. I might go and visit their offices, and see what material I can pick up there.


I forgot to mention… I also got a Mystery Snail.

Yesterday, I thought I killed it.

See, the glass lid sort of slipped as I was manhandling it, and it fell into the water. This wasn’t a huge worry, just a pain – I fished it out again and all was fine. However… a little while later I was ogling the tank, which I do sometimes, and noticed the snail was not looking good. Like not attached to anything. And no gooey bits showing. And THEN… he sank to the bottom of the tank! Oh no, I thought! He’s lost buoyancy, which surely means he’s dead! AND THEN: he started falling out of his shell! As you can imagine, I promptly thought about bewailing my misfortune and how bad a fishkeeper I am (because it’s all about me, not the fish and/or snail). However, I decided to delay that a little and see what happened with the snail. What happened was that he finished turning himself around inside his shell, bringing the skirt-bit back to where it usually is rather than protecting his innards, and proceeded to suck scum from the bottom of the tank.

Snails are a lot more complacent than their owners.

It's been a long time, again

Quite a lot has happened in the fish world while I have been largely in communicado. That was after we moved and didn’t have the internet, and then we did have the internet just not on my computer (still the case; have been promised improvement Soon). Since we haven’t transferred the old entries yet I can’t remember where I have got up to, so I may well repeat myself…

We moved. All but the mollies died. We bought new fish (2 bristlenose, 3 cloaches… cos we are silly and wanted to act way too fast); they died also, in a couple of weeks. Highly traumatic.

I bought some new plants. The Lizard Tongue seems to be going ok-ish (not completely dead); the Dragon Flame thing (which was beautiful… and this is starting to feel very familiar, so I think this is a repeat) is all gone – just didn’t cope, for some reason; and the dwarf Amazon Sword is making a serious takeover bid of at least one side of the tank. It has heaps of Sword Clones popping up on runners, which I must admit is very exciting. There’s at least 6 of them now.

So on the weekend… we went fish shopping. It’s been a while, and we figure the tank really is properly stable now. We went on Sunday, and decided we might as well go for a real road trip. The first place we went to was a complete and utter waster of time. Poor range of fish, not overly healthy looking tanks (some of them), and just generally not appealing. Then… because we were half way there and curiosity has been killing us… we made the trek to Boronia, to see whether it really does deserve its reputation.

Pretty much, yes.

It was a great aquarium: well set up, great range of fish, lots of other stuff. James was very excited by the range of cichlids. The one thing that disappointed me was the service; I think it was just the one guy who served us, and maybe his excuse was that it was 4.30 on a Sunday… but still. Anyway: we bought two bumblebee gobies, which is Very Exciting as I have been eyeing them off for a while now; two Siamese Algae Eaters (I had forgotten just how much I like them, dancing around); and the last two Madagascan Rainbow Fish. These last two were a spontaneous purchase… they were the last two left in the tank, and looked lonely. That’s my excuse. They turn out to be a male and a female, which could turn out to be interesting. It could also turn out to be not great for them, because apparently they like to be in larger groups. However, we shall see; hopefully they’ll go ok, and maybe if I ever see more I will get some more.

And today, I went to Coburg and bought some plants: a little pot-thing of Hair Grass, and some Hygrophilia (spelling?), which is largely purple. I also got 10 neons, to keep James happy. So the qt is stocked to the max, almost, and James is being a pedantic pain and saying we have to keep them all in there for 3 weeks. Three weeks! It might kill me. I moved the not-dominant male molly yesterday too, because he was really getting bullied by the alpha. Today the alpha seems to be acting Very Oddly… standing on his tail… as he has on and off for a few days, James says. Sigh. And the baby male seems to be gay.

Did I mention there is a surviving baby? I thought they were all dead. Well, they might actually be now; I thought they were all gone, then a fortnight or so later I saw a baby and rejoiced; and I haven’t seen it again for a couple of days now.

This is ridiculously long.

Tim Severin is my hero

I’m reading his Genghis Khan at the moment, and it’s as fantastic as the others. Different, though: he’s not in charge of this one (it got hijacked by other people). Still fascinating… so much to know about Mongolia, and so little people seem to care.

The first I read was Marco Polo, which was good since that’s the first he did. I’ve also read his Jason and the Argonauts – it would be awesome to find the doco of that to show Yr7 students as we did mythology; Sinbad, which might be my favourite so far; and Moby Dick – both following Herman around, and finding out about Great White Other Animals and their myths. What a legend he is.

I’ve got Mum reading him too. She’s got about 10 at her uni library, of which I am fairly envious. She’s reading the one where he follows the Crusades right now, which is immediately before his Genghis trip.

Bulbs who don’t know what’s good for them

I went a bit mad at the Flower and Garden Show a few weeks ago; bought quite a few bulbs, as well as some nice plastic pots. I waited a little while before planting (I bought them at the end of March). Late last week, though, when I was perusing the courtyard, I noticed that a couple of pots had Green Bits in them. For whatever reason, a few of the bulbs have decided it’s time to sprout… I feel they may get quite a shock in a few weeks. AND I had left the hyacinth bulbs until late April/early May, as instructed, and they had started to sprout in the packet! Also, I planted a couple of bulbs in the pot that had had a cyclamen in it. Said cyclamen has now resurrected itself. It will be interesting to see what happens on that front.

Our roses seem to Praying Mantis Land.