The Struggle of Mowing The School Lawn

Every school year in high school, I have to complete 20 hours of community service. Yesterday, I spend almost three “mowing” the lawn. Most of that time was spent cursing both the extension leads (There were more than one) and the half-broken lawn mower. Here are some of the best things about mowing your school lawn (that was sarcastic).

Firstly, we have the wonderful fact that most of this grass hadn’t seen a blade in probably close to a year. There was some attempt around October time, but as I recall, they didn’t get very far. The result of this was that I was cutting almost knee-length grass with a wonderful lawn mower (more on that later).

Secondly, there are around thirteen trees or tree-dedicated spots dotted around this lawn. The school also lacks a strimmer (God bless them), so the grass around the trees was even longer than the surrounding grass. In the end, I cut it by lifting up and slightly tilting the lawn mower in order to create a makeshift strimmer. These trees also have very low branches so I had to kneel on the ground and push the lawn mower through the leaves.

Thirdly, we have this wonderful lawn mower that was probably the pinnacle in Lawn-Mowing Technology, BACK IN 1962 (It was probably John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s model that he would take for a spin while chatting with Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado). This dusty old boy had the wheel guards falling off and a broken attaching device for the black grass-holding bin. It also had the shortest power lead in all of Christendom. To reach the corner of the lawn, I ended up using no less than THREE extension cords to cover the land; one from the plug to the window, one from the window to the outside floor, one from the floor to the second row of trees followed by the mower’s cable. I know now what I will be bringing back from the UK – a 20-metre extension cord.

Fourth of all, WHY THE HECK DO YOU THROW STONES??? The number of times that a guttural sound issued from the mower, and I had to stop to remove a rock ridiculous. In the UK, my father would scour the ground first for rocks. In a school yard, It’s easier to just move them out as you go along. Never again will I throw a rock into a grassy spot of land.

Lastly, there was a slightly more pressing problem. Our school is host to three tortoises that roam the grounds freely. Or at least, they did until I almost squashed one with the lawn mower. At one stage, I had to pick one up and transfer him to the other side of the garden while I covered the area next to the wall. I can honestly say that that is the closest call I have ever had. Still, at least we would know that the blade was working!

When I leave GDQ, you can forget a scholarship fund. I’m setting up the Lawn Mower Fund to make sure that no student ever has to stop every two minutes to change the positioning of a cord in relation to thirteen trees.

 

Click on each image to see the full caption.

Jonathan’s Guide to Rocking your Geography IGCSE

Greetings to all readers of this post. I have three Geography papers this year; themes, maps and skills, on the 2, 10, and 6 of May and June respectively (now the question is, does that “respectively” apply to the May-June and dates, or the list of exams and dates?). I thought I would share with you all how these things are structured and how to get the most out of your exam…Not that any of my readers will ever need it again! All of the screenshots and sample questions below are taken from the June 2015 exam – the one taken by those in year 12 (grade 11) at the moment.

There are three parts to every question on the IGCSE paper. Here is each explained in more detail, and how to answer them, to help YOU ace your upcoming test (imagine corny advert on the TV):

Firstly, the short-answer questions – Mr McCart calls them “Common Sense”. Simple, one- or two-point questions to earn easy marks by interpreting graphs or maps. Easy. Some basic knowledge might be required, but mainly just warm-up stuff.

 

Geography Stage 1
The first part of an IGCSE question

 

Then we have the second type of question – the medium answer ones. These are, in my opinion, the hardest – they require objective facts from set, textbook knowledge. Forget the case studies – this is what I study for. It’s also what I make allowances for – knowing that I’ll probably only make three or four marks out of five, I perfect my case study and check my “Common Sense” first before embarking on these little bundles of joy. The example we have here requires information about overpopulation and reasons for growth and development (actually, the four points about overpopulation are relatively simple, – poorer quality of life, joblessness, lack of services, and maybe slip in deforestation due to an increased demand for housing – but this is how it turned out for this question).

 

Geography Stage 2
The second, more challenging type of IGCSE question

The third and final aspect of an IGCSE question is the thing which I look at when choosing which questions I want to answer on my test (there are six questions; we answer two of them). It is an instance of where something we have learned about is being experienced in a named country. The example from this question is to describe changes in the population structure for a country I have studied. That end part is important – it makes the student panic as he tries to remember what country he has studied for this. However, as with most things in life, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that counts. Despite the fact that Albania isn’t mentioned once in the entire textbook, as long as I can come up with three true statements about how Albania’s population has changed, I’ll get the marks. Here, I’d probably go for Japan’s ageing population – but as I said, it doesn’t matter so long as I sound sincere and as if I actually know what I am talking about.

 

Geography Stage 3
The final, daunting step across the finish line

So there it is. How to ace your Geography IGCSE. SO much easier than Biology, but still fun. In fact, writing these gives me great pleasure – but that’s because I’m weird. Besides, if I forget it all at 10:30 on 2 May, it doesn’t matter how much I think I know the system…

 

 

A Week of Cycling

Along with school and the Myers’-Briggs’ Type Indicator, cycling is one of my favourite things in life. We have had this last week off school so I have had the opportunity to do a lot of cycling! Below is a paragraph dedicated to each day over the last week and the cycling that I did on it.

Saturday 8 April: I cycled up the mountain to a restaurant where I met the rest of my family along with some friends, to a total of 15 miles. This screenshot is from the way down.

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Sunday 9 April: I discovered an AWESOME new route up the mountain, and an even more awesome way down to a total of 17 miles.

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Monday 10 April: I cycled around the city in some areas I haven’t been before and also up some roads with a wonderful tail wind, to a total of 13 miles.

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Wednesday 12 April: I cycled out to TEG in the morning to stockpile ball-point pens, to a total of 11.5 miles.

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Thursday 13 April: I cycled out on the old Durres road, but only got just past the second hamlet on the way since it was almost dinner time, to a total of 15 miles.

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Friday 14 April: I just did a small cycle ride in circles around the centre of town – the most exotic place I reached was the beginning of the fast Elbasan road, to a total of 7 miles.

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Saturday 15 April: Using back roads, I cycled out to the airport on a route Google Maps rated quite highly. On the way back, I didn’t fancy using ten miles of dirt roads again, so I came back on the main road to a total of 23 miles.

A Few Changes

It’s been ages since I’ve posted…but with good reason!

Since my last post in late February, several changes in my day-to-day lifestyle have occurred. Firstly, I have got back into reading quite a lot. Not as much as I used to when I was ten, but still more than has been customary for the last couple of years. My current read is a brilliant Tom Clancy novel called Red Storm Rising. It stands on its own (it isn’t part of a series) which means that I can then get on with some other books for school, like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (For English) and To Kill a Mockingbird (Also for English).

Secondly, school has got a lot better. Not only academically, but also the volleyball season has meant that I spend more time outside at break times, which is very fun. I have invested more time into biology, which has paid off on my grades – I’m set for an A this quarter…

Hope y’all are doing wonderfully as well. I’ll try and write again next weekend.

Jonathan

Thus with a Kiss…

At 1525 hours this Monday 13 February, I committed suicide quite literally over my wife’s dead body, having slain her fiancee and then honoured his dying request to be laid to rest with the thirteen-year-old girl with whom I was having an affair…Paris was played by Halil, who I seem to have a play-history with. Not only did I humiliate him in a swordfight and then take his girl last year, but I stabbed him while he was playing Tybalt, to avenge Mercutio, and then today when he played Paris. Here’s to many more occasions of beating him to the girl…Well actually, Here’s to my love. O true apothecary, Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss, I die.

Romeo’s Final Soliloquy:

In faith, I will.—Let me peruse this face.
Mercutio’s kinsman, noble County Paris.
What said my man, when my betossèd soul
Did not attend him as we rode? I think
He told me Paris should have married Juliet.
Said he not so? Or did I dream it so?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so?—O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune’s book.
I’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave.
A grave? Oh, no. A lantern, slaughtered youth,
For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes
This vault a feasting presence full of light.
Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interred.
How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry, which their keepers call
A lightning before death! Oh, how may I
Call this a lightning?—O my love, my wife!
Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty.
Thou art not conquered. Beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advancèd there.—
Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin.—Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee,
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again. Here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber maids. Oh, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last.
Arms, take your last embrace. And, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death.
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide.
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy seasick, weary bark.
Here’s to my love! O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.

 

Romeo and Juliet

At the moment in English class, we are reading Romeo and Juliet and acting it out as we go. It is one of my favourite things that we have done in class! For example, today I got to avenge Mercutio by stabbing Tybalt. Then again, it was really getting to poke one classmate with a sword while another one rolled around on the ground in agony (he had been stabbed…)

Below are two photos from the balcony scene which we did in the rain on Friday. Miss Jones didn’t want the script to get wet, hence the pink umbrella. The other shot was meant to be me calling up to Juliet, but it didn’t really go so well…

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Photos

I was looking through my camera roll the other day, and noticed that there are many photos that I might as well post on here. Three unrelated photos are below, simply because visuals are easier than words (especially when I take too many words to say a single statement).

In other news, we have our second basketball match tomorrow at the mansion pictured below, so that will be fun…

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The Tirana International School Mansion (as I fondly know call it), the site of our basketball games
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A failed attempt at a nice corridor-image looking up towards the mountain (From the Stephen Centre)
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The parliament buildings with a mosque to the left and the clock tower behind (just because it isn’t that bad of a shot)