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Or almost, anyhow...

Yep, I finally called in to find out why I still hadn't heard anything about the supply teaching position. It turns out that one of my references didn't have my name on it. Once it was identified, the problem was solved and I was issued all the necessaries to begin supply teaching.

Now I get to play with my schedule...

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So, not only have I actually started filling out the actual substitute teaching application (I've had plenty o' time to work on it on the job, with the average of about TWO calls per evening between the hours of 12 and 2 AM!), I've also started back into the swordwork with a twenty minute workout yesterday. Tomorrow, D. and I will be off to check out some Tai Ch'i at the Y. No, it's probably not going to be Chen style, but any Tai Ch'i is better than no Tai Ch'i, so off we go.  :)
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:-D  This is my all-time favourite drama activity game. I've used it with a variety of pupils (though the younger ones seem to get into it a lot more eagerly). It essentially pits one person's ability to maintain a straight face and neutral response against another person's ability to be totally outrageous. It's great for practicing some basic acting skills, including delivering lines properly and displaying the required emotional response. It's also a great ice breaker activity and party game.  :-)
The rules... )
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It's been a few weeks since I've last dreamt of being in front of a class. I guess it says something about how much my experiences in the UK affected my will to teach, and confidence in doing so, that I've had bad dreams about it for months after leaving.

This time, though, the dream wasn't one where everything went wrong. Instead, it was one where I was co-teaching and/or sharing a class with another teacher and we talked about casual stuff - "Please don't erase those names; those are my detentions," "We should get some more board markers."

Although, in my dream, I was, again, unprepared for the lesson (a recurring theme in such dreams), I actually decided that I was going to ahead with my introduction to poetic interpretation unit using 'Big Bad John'. I'm not sure WHY I was going to be teaching poetry to a class full of adult technical support consultants, but I do remember feeling really enthusiastic about doing it.

*silly grin*

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... but I did my first 3.5 mile run since buggering up my back two weeks ago. The back muscles themselves acted up a wee bit towards the end, but, aside from being slower than usual, the run went well. Yesterday evening, I was somewhat concerned that my back might not be fully up to a run, as my left side, just above my hip, was aching. Of course, that was just muscles getting pissed off for having to compensate for other muscles that got pissed off compensating for the original injury (lower back, just right of the spine) in the first place.

In other news, I'm applying for a post as an Acting Trainer at my new workplace. I'm still in probation and, as such, technically not supposed to be allowed to do that, but, as they've extended the deadline for applying, I'm guessing they might just make an exception in my case.

And now to continue on with what I hope to be a productive day...

The Gift

Jul. 7th, 2008 10:39 am
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I often tell a version of this Zen story to many of my pupils.  

From: http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/i nsults.html 

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.  

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.  

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.  

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"  

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"

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Another Taylor Mali classic:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjhOBiSk8 Gg

 The the impotence of proofreading
By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com 

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D= )
and all because you are the word¹s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence. 

This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that¹s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn¹t be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).
 

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.
 

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can¹t can¹t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won¹t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You¹re the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.
 

Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I¹m not joking, I¹m totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.
 

So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.

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 As an English teacher in a secondary school, I wind up going through a LOT of Shakespeare, especially for SAT and coursework preparation. In doing so, I find all sorts of interesting little side thoughts that I just really have to express.

I'll start with Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. I know most of you realize that Shakespeare deliberately made Romeo's early feelings for Juliet questionable, in that it seems he was purely attracted by her beauty at the Capulet Ball (driving out any thought of Rosalyn, whom he believed he loved for the same reason). However, there are a few choice bits of Act 1 Scene 1 which really show Romeo to be truly shallow. Most of these show up in the conversation where Benvolio has a talk with Romeo in order to find out why the latter has shut himself away in misery. It is revealed that Romeo is pining for Rosalyn, the most beautiful woman he has seen. Romeo has this to say about his attempts at courting her:

Well, in that hit you miss. She'll not be hit
With Cupid's arrow. She hath Dian's wit.
And, in strong proof of chastity well armed
From love's weak childish bow, she lives uncharmed.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide th' encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.


Am I alone in thinking that Romeo is whining because he can't even PAY to get into Rosalyn's pants? 

When Romeo first sees Juliet at the Capulet's Ball, he becomes immediately enamored, forgetting completely about Rosalyn. His first comments about Juliet are entirely about her beauty and how it outshines any he has ever witnessed.

When they first begin to speak, things get a little interesting. Their dialogue takes the form of a sonnet. Many would argue that, as the sonnet was the ultimate romantic thing to do, that this signifies the beginning of "true love" between Romeo and Juliet, as an Elizabethan audience would recognize it as such. However, I would argue that Shakespeare used it for the opposite effect. Afterall, everyone in his audience would have known that it was the thing for a gentleman to write to show deepest admiration. In otherwords, it was a fancy pickup line. This idea is further heightened by the skill with which Romeo lays it on to win a kiss from Juliet. Ultimately, she comments "You kiss by the book," indicating that, not only is Romeo skillful with his lines, but he's a pro at kissing. In otherwords, Romeo is a Shakespearan "playah". (Sorry, I couldn't resist that pun...)

It becomes very clear that Romeo feels very strongly for Juliet as the end of the play approaches. However, is it love? If it is, what is he really in love with? Many mentions are made of Juliet's beauty, but what else? Yes, Romeo proves that he is devoted, but is he still as shallow as he was at the beginning of the play? I wager he is.

Anybody else have an opinion on this?

 PS: The title for this post appeared in my TA's notes. *chuckle*

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Dedicated to all of my colleagues in education - just to remind you of why we do it:

http://www.maniacworld.com/how-much-do-t eachers-make.html

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Yesterday, I went for a run for the first time in about three weeks. It was only about 2.5 miles, but damn I'm feeling it today. Yerg! Remind me never to get so slack ass; it hurts.

Still, it was good to be out running again. I took a different path through some farm fields and was treated to some beautiful English countryside as the sun lowered in the sky.

The packing front is moving slowly, but surely. Today, I packed away the contents of my altar, which was kinda sad. I'm glad I got that done, though. I didn't realize how much time it would take to pack away all the breakables with care. It would have really sucked to have discovered that at the last minute. However, now they're all well wrapped in a single sturdy plastic container, ready to be tucked into one of my larger shipping boxes.

In the trenches with the wretches, I'm still losing my sanity. A number of people have told the little toads that I'm leaving after spring break. I've been countering this by telling them that I'm leaving next year to return to Canada. Frankly, I don't need them acting up because they think they can get away with it.

Still, I'm going to miss some of 'em and, apparently, some of 'em are going to miss me. During a brief chat between classes, some of 'em asked me why I was returning to Canada. I told them part of the truth by stating that I miss my friends and family and I want to go home. One girl replied, "But this is your home now."

*blink*

Ah, bless!

the_vulture: (tvhead)
I desperately need a Life-on-Hold Button. Yes, there are far fewer fiddly bits to hassle with, but I'm running out of time if I'm to have all my boxes packed and ready for pickup on Friday. That is, I'm running out if I still want to cram in a trip to Rochester AND to London, and then pack for my trip to Germany. (Okay, that last won't take long, but still.) 

As for the quest for shipping tubes for my didges, I've had some ups and downs. I wasted a hell of a lot of time trying to find postal tubes wide enough for my largest didge, only to have no joy until I stepped into a carpet shop and salvaged a section of carpet roll tube. I repaired that only to discover that the small didge actually DOESN'T fit inside the larger one as it looked so clearly like it would. ARGH!!!

Fortunately, getting tubes for that one will be MUCH easier and, after consulting with the shipping company, I know I can tape both tubes together and count it as one 'box'. What a lot of hassle! Worse still is how much it's going to cost me to ship them to Canada. However, shipping the two will cost about as much as buying ONE in Canada (okay, actually the States and having it shipped to Canada) and that's without having any idea what it would sound like. Feh! At least I now have the added excuse of fetching some postal tubes to go to Rochester.

I'm looking forward to that; there's both a large Norman castle and a cathedral to check out, as well as some funky shops. And it's all conveniently located to make for a quick phototour, so I can come home in plenty of time to, you guessed, pack some more.

And if I should finish packing early enough? Well there's all the coursework that still has to be marked. Blech! Fortunately, the year 11 class I have are not the strongest of writers and, hence, not the most prolific, either, though they seemed to have tried a lot harder this year than I've seen them do last year, bless.

Yep, tomorrow Rochester, Friday London, Saturday Germany. That's just getting a wee bit action packed! And, yes, I know I get back Wednesday, but THEN I need to make a weekend visit to Aylesbury to see some dear friends of mine up there.

And let's not forget the coursework marking...

GLAH!

Wicked!

Mar. 28th, 2008 04:51 pm
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Well, today began somewhat crappy, with a class of sheer crappiness in the middle. However, there were some high points and some silver linings. For example, in one particularly troublesome class, filled with some pretty challenged kids, two of 'em actually demonstrated that they were not only listening this class, but remembered events from the story the last class. One even put enough events together to formulate his own thoughts about why Macbeth might be so murderous. The silver lining on the crap lesson that happened after that was the possibility that, finally, a few key pupils have done enough to get them turfed out for a substantial portion of next week.

And then the day got better.

*wicked grin*

My finally class of the day was actually an ICT lesson (computer science). In the last few lessons (I get this class once a week), a lot of pupils were refusing to do work and, instead, decided to email each other and play games.

Last lesson, I came in with a stack of worksheets and turned off all the computers at the breaker; they all got to learn about the various advantages and disadvantages of various types of media (print, CD-Roms, and the Internet). Many clued in to one of the great advantages of print by their very situation; print works without the need for a computer. *evil chuckle* 

The better pupils plowed on through and even seemed to enjoy the work they were doing. Of course, this was not the case for about half the class, who still hadn't quite gotten the message and, instead of just doing the work, decided to spend the entire lesson whinging and misbehaving in protest. 

Okay.

Shortly after that lesson, I had a brief conversation with one of the other ICT teachers about how I could selectively deactivate pupil accounts. It turns out to be quite easy...

So, yes, today many pupils found out, much to their chagrin, that they couldn't log in to their accounts and, instead, were again faced with the work sheets they needed done last lesson, whilst their motivated peers worked on a fun ICT research assignment.

This time, the worksheets were completed. *evil grin*

But the wickedness didn't stop there. At the end of the day, the 'Strategy Game *coughD&Dcough* Club* met up for our weekly game session. Sadly, I had managed to leave the characters and campaign notes at home, so there was no way to continue with that particular story, or the really wicked encounter I had planned, today. There was a bit of potential for disaster as all the boys were pretty geared up to play, the snacks had all been purchased, and the youngest lad had his ride pre-arranged for later.

So, being somewhat inventive, I suggested that one of the older players GM a session. Whilst two of the lads went out to quickly plan a campaign world, the rest of us chose from pre-created fifth level NPCs straight from the Dungeon Master's Guide. That's how we wound up with a rather colourful party consisting of: a half-orc barbarian, a lizardman druid, a goblin rogue and (my character) a kobold sorceror.

I had some trepidations about how this would go, but the two lads GMing actually pulled off a highly entertaining and well detailed adventure session that featured a prison break in an unknown land that required a fair bit of clever thinking to successfully pull off. There was even many hints at an overall story arch! 'Course, my enjoyment of the session might have been flavoured by the fact that this is the first time I've PLAYED a role playing game in quite a few years. Still, I had a blast playing my mildly nasty little reptillian sorceror with a penchant for deviousness.

Wicked!

the_vulture: (tvhead)
 Amazingly, after just a single day of teaching, following five days away from the little wretches, I came home so mentally exhausted that I wound up crashing early (as in 8 in the evening). They're just getting worse and worse and I have no clue how to stem the tide of their idiocy.

This song pretty accurately describes how I'm feeling currently:

Veteran Of The Psychic Wars, Blue Oyster Cult

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nrd2xf5DIlU&feature=related

You see me now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars
I've been living on the edge so long, where the winds of Limbo roar
And I'm young enough to look at, and far too old to see
All the scars are on the inside
I'm not sure that there's anything left of me



Don't let these shakes go on, it's time we had a break from it
It's time we had some leave
We've been living in the flames
We've been eating up our brains
Oh please, don't let these shakes go on.



You ask me why I'm weary, why I can't speak to you
You blame me for my silence, say it's time I changed and grew
But the war's still going on, dear, and there's nowhen that I know
And I can't say if we're ever
I can't say if we're ever gonna be free



Don't let these shakes go on, it's time we had a break from it
It's time we had some leave
We've been living in the flames
We've been eating up our brains
Oh please, don't let these shakes go on.



You see me now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars
My energy is spent at last, and my armor is destroyed
I have used up all my weapons, and I'm helpless and bereaved
Wounds are all I'm made of
Dare you say that this is victory?



Don't let these shakes go on, it's time we had a break from it
Send me to the rear
Where the tides of madness swell
And been sliding into hell
Oh please, don't let these shakes go on

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 I finally did it! I booked my flights for a 5 day trip to Germany during the spring break. Yay me! *big grin*  

That's pretty much the singular bright point in my day, which was elsewise filled with sorting out coursework at school and sorting through paper at home. My flat still looks like the epicentre of some form of natural disaster, but I did wade through a LOT of paper.

At least there were no kids and I started off the morning right with an email from my Beloved. *dreamy smile*

The weekend wasn't the grandest; it was too windy, wet, and nippy to really go out and explore the countryside, though I made a brave effort to do a photo-tour of my neighbourhood. (I guess I should post those at some point...) I spent most of the weekend sorting through stuff.

Much of that effort left me in a bit of an emotional turmoil. I kept coming across things like letters from my ex and the handmade Christmas card from a child that, had things gone just a bit differently, nearly became a daughter to me. Of course, the whole preparing to leave my comfort zone is not a calming thing, either. Yep, I spent a fair amount of time on the phone with my Beloved, some friends, my mother, etc., in order to ablate a desperate need for human contact that I was often feeling.

Deep blue funks suck.

Ah well, at least I only have 8 days of school till the spring break and a mere 5 after that before I depart for home. *sigh full of longing*

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Okay, so I should be happily munching chockies and celebrating the return of Spring as the Sun re-enters the world from the womb of the Earth. 

I should be, but I'm strangely melancholic. This is odd, as I tend to try and mark this particular holiday in a special way, but, this year, I feel too apathetic and down to try.

Now, I've little real reason to feel this way. Afterall, I've just begun five days (four day weekend plus one day inset) away from the little wretches who've been really getting me down. This has also reduced the length of my final weeks with them. Furthermore, when it comes to the theme of rebirth, I think my life will greatly reflect that when, in just about a month's time, I finally emerge from the 'winter' that has been my time teaching in the UK (or at least trying to), to return to my homeland for a spring spent recuperating and rejoicing in vast natural splendor.

Ya know, just typing that out made me feel a whole lot better!  Okay, whinge mode = off. I think a number of reasons why I was feeling down include the fact that I've little planned in the way to celebrate the Spring Equinox  (I really should be out burying an egg somewhere), I can't really do any running yet (as my back is still bothering me some), missing a phone call from my dear one, and, likely the most influential of the four, I was probably just emotionally decompressing from the terrors of the last few weeks.

I think I'm gonna get bundled up and wander out anyhow, Easter hours, bad back, and nasty wind be damned. Gonna see if I can find me some Easter chockies.  Maybe I might even climb a hill somewhere and spend a little time gazing at the green returning to the land.

Blessed Ostara to all!

This is sufficiently Easter-eggy, innit?

Zombified

Mar. 19th, 2008 03:51 pm
the_vulture: (tvhead)
Ugh. I'm still switching back and forth between prolonged periods of nigh comatose interspersed with frequent moments filled with the intense desire to just eat someone's face off. YARGH!!! These kids are playing it up big time and I have nearly ZERO regrets about leaving these pondscum to fester in the shallow end of the gene pool.

Nearly zero regrets... 

A couple days ago, I asked one of my colleagues in the English department if my position had been advertised for yet, only to discover, to my shock and horror, that the head teacher, in a display of complete stupidity, has decided AGAINST replacing me and, instead, has decided that my horridly wretched timetable will be foisted off on the remaining members of my department, as if they weren't over worked and stressed as it is. 

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!? 

My colleagues have been really good about trying to make sure I don't feel guilty about my decision to resign (for example, by laying full blame on the head), but I think that just makes it worse. Still, I know I couldn't have continued to take much more and I'm pretty sure they know it, too. 

*sigh* 

The head's leadership has been somewhat less than stellar. There's a LOT of discontent going around. Not only are many staff talking about leaving, some of 'em have already found positions elsewhere.  

The school is sliding into hell and that's a shame... 

Meanwhile, in an attempt to forget some of the grief of the week, I indulged in, amongst cider and chocolate, a rather entertaining film last night. In keeping with the zombie theme, I watched Planet Terror, by Robert Rodriguez, of Grindhouse. Whereas the last two zombie flicks I've seen have taken a high concept approach to the genre, Rodriguez has taken the decidedly opposite approach, attempting to emulate the style of 'grindhouse' action films (low budget B-grades, exploiting sex and violence, cranked out as rapidly as possible).

THIS was CHEESE at it's finest, including vast quantities of gratuitious gore, a heroine who is an ex-gogo dancer with a machine gun as a prosthetic for her LEG, some very slick action sequences, a 'prevue' for a machete wielding Mexican assassin on a mission of vengeance, Bruce Willis as the leader of a rogue millitary outfit, a really hot motor cycle, simulated film wear marks and scratches, more gratuitious gore, a collection of testicles, seriously bad jokes, an obsession with BBQ sauce, nasty things done with helicoper blades, and Quentin Tarantino as a would-be rapist. What Dusk Till Dawn did for (to?) vampire films, Planet Terror does for zombie films, and then some... and then some more! 

It was damn good fun! 

Planet Terror preview: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nBi00ZiqIv 4

Reading...

Mar. 8th, 2008 10:37 pm
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 Sometime last week, I picked up a Stephen King novel, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It just happened to be in a Co-op store I was shopping in for fairly cheap. As I still hadn't made it to a proper bookstore to get something to read to my Sweetie, I thought, "Why not?" Afterall, it was advertised as having something of the same flavour as the story The Body, upon which the film Stand by Me is based.  

Well, about Monday, as I was literally lying around with nothing to do (damn back), I started in on it. Later that day, I was finished. 

This showed me two things. First, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading and, second, my reading speed, despite doing very much heavy reading in a long time, seems to have actually increased. I attribute that to marking all that English work; if I'm getting speedier at reading through garbled, mispelled grammatical nightmares, it only stands to reason that I would blaze through well written work.

During the week, I received a few other books, as well. I voraciously devoured Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which was both highly imaginative and quite amusing and I've started into a novel I just got yesterday, Freedom Writers, which is a compilation of journals by underpriviledged American highschool pupils and the English teacher that helped to make a difference in their lives. I saw the film based on that book and decided that I MUST read the book. I was not wrong. 

Sadly, experiments to try and record myself reading for my dear have gone a bit awry, as it appears that my camera, which has superior video functions to my webcam, will only record for three minutes at a stretch. Yerg! I'll have to resort to my webcam, but not tonight. 

Whilst reading Freedom Writers, I noticed another thing. For kids that the school system had written off as underachievers who would likely drop out, these guys are damn articulate! Even compensating for the fact that their work was likely edited for publishing, they are very expressive and aware. And then it hit me: I'm reading the work of thirteen year olds that could vastly outwrite my most able sixteen year olds.  

Okay, actually, I've seen examples of work by eight year olds that outstrips most of my senior pupils. Bloody hell, no wonder I have such difficulty trying to match the curriculum I'm supposed to be teaching them to their actual ability level; they're simply not able to do it. Seriously, how am I supposed to teach Shakespeare (required for SATS and GCSE coursework) to kids who have difficulty remembering that full sentences need to start with a capital and end with a fullstop, exclamation mark, or question mark? 

I used to envy these teachers they write novels and make films about who could really inspire kids everyone else gives up on and changes their lives. I never could seem to do that, no matter my efforts. Now, though, it at least seems a little clearer why. The teacher in Freedom Writers helped them, in large part, by having them express themselves through journals. How can my kids write journals if they have problems dealing with full sentences? *sigh* 

At some point, I'm gonna have to do a full entry on the many ways that society, in particular the education authorities, have really let these kids down. 

For my part, the struggle will be over soon. Just a few more weeks and I'm out. THAT cannot come soon enough, all abused ideals set aside.

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The rest of the photos to be found at: http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y220/Ca thartesAura/Calais/?albumview=grid 

I do apologize to anyone who has been eagerly awaiting this post; recently I've been getting a lot of pits from the bowl of cherries that life is purported to be, but I'll get into that later. 

First, allow me to describe my second day of adventuring, in which I hopped a ferry from Dover, England, to Calais, France. It started off quite reasonably with stuffing myself with a tasty English fry-up, followed by a brisk morning walk to the ferry. Sadly, it was still misty and cloudy, so there were no great shots of the cliffs to be had as we sailed away. 

I have to say, after many merry memories of sunny afternoons spent on the broad, open observation decks of BC Ferries, those of Sea France rather decidedly sucked, especially given that the tiny patio area that passed for an outdoor observation deck was frequently filled with smokers desperate for a fag, killing off any opportunity to appreciate fresh sea air, not that the cold wind and mist made it any more pleasurable. From outside, only a vague idea of what was happening outside could be gleaned through the film of water deposits that crusted the windows. 

I was rather amused to discover a Space Invaders game in the video arcade, though.  

The ferry ride took much longer than anticipated though, teasing me with a view of the French beachside for about half an hour as the ferry sat in the harbour waiting for its place at the dock. Between that, and discovering that there was a one hour time difference that everyone neglected to tell me about, my day in Calais was a bit shorter than anticipated. 

My next consternation came as I left the ferry terminal building to discover that the next bus to town would be about forty minutes in arriving.  Thankfully, I'm not adverse to walking, and after taking a minute or two to get my bearing, I predicted, quite accurately, that it would take me a hell of a lot less time just to walk into town from the terminal and I promptly left behind the group of folk despondently settling in for that long wait for the bus (What's wrong with your feet, people?!?) 

Many architectual delights awaited my camera lens and I spent a great deal of time snapping and striding from one place of interest to the next. I got some delightful shots of Teddy with the Town Hall, which has a most impressive clock tower. Other nifty subjects of the shutter included a roundabout topped with topiary shaped like a peacock and many attempts to capture the little public busses that can only be described as "cute".  

Realizing that I was running out of time, I opted out of checking out the hypermarkets, which tend to hold the interest of most English visitors to Calais. I've since been told that I haven't missed much in that regard.   'Course, if I had gone, I might have actually found some souvenirs to purchase, something which was strangely lacking in the shops of this port town.  

I took in a nice meal in an actual French cafe (Le Cafe de Paris, no less!), which included a decidely French appetizer I had not had since I was a child, escargots. And, yes, I sipped une cafe at le cafe.  

My final visit in Calais was to the beach. In Dover, the beach consisted entirely of small pebbles without a grain of sand to be found. This, I discovered, is because the French stole all the sand for their own.  The beach of Calais was a broad expanse of fine, clean sand that formed dunes in the wind. When I say clean, I mean CLEAN. I imagine it might be different in the summer when this beach is likely cram packed with beachgoers from a variety of nations, but, during my visit, I saw nothing of the usual flotsam and jetsam found upon beaches, no driftwood, no seaweed, no partial remains of any critters, save a singular pretty clam shell (cardida?) that, due to its very uniqueness of presence on this beach, was an offering from it to me (as there weren't any rocks to be found, interesting or otherwise!). 

I eventually made it back to the ferry terminal where, upon attempting to enter the British Customs area, I was nearly given a heartattack along with the proclamation that my passport had expired. GLAH!!!   For some reason, I thought I still had time on it, but, apparently, as scrambled as my brain was before the holidays, I mixed up my driver's license expiry date with my passport expiry date. Fortunately, the customs officer was really good about it and, after checking out my (still valid) entry visa and asking a few questions about what I was doing in England, he waived me on with signed declaration and the emphatic advice to get my passport renewed post-haste (got the photos shot yesterday). Yep, THAT was excitement I didn't need!  

THEN (yes, there's more) there was the last second panic over not having a proper boarding pass.     Apparently, I was supposed to have gotten from the lady at the counter when I arrived at the terminal (my return ticket wasn't good enough?), but I didn't know that, as there wasn't anyone AT the counter when I had arrived some time earlier. This time, though, I wasn't alone in this bit of stupidity, as many folk had to race back to the ticket counter for their boarding passes. Yerg!  

Add to that a choppy, and subsequently nauseating, ferry ride and a couple hours of train ride, and you've got one very exhausted Vulture arriving home late and very glad to see his bed. Thus ended an otherwise lovely couple days out. Oh and hey, I've now set my feet upon THREE continents! Yay me!  

As I mentioned earlier, I would have got this post out sooner, but the last couple days at school have been utterly exhausting (wretched hellspawn!). The creative energy just to even write a decent blog response has been quite lacking, let alone something like this. I am exceedingly glad I put in my notice for the end of this term; it's going to be a test of my mental fortitude just to last THAT long. I've only been teaching two days and I already feel as physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted as I did before the break began. Ugh! Fortunately, there's going to be a lot of breaks inserted here and there, including an inset day next Monday and an Easter long weekend, to help stave off insanity during my last remaining weeks at this school.

the_vulture: (tvhead)
About this time into a term, the kids start kicking off. They can't seem to handle much more than four weeks of school at a time without getting antsy. As such, I've been dealing with an elevated level of aggro from 'em. Not fun. However, two other events this week have made me realize that I simply can NOT leave this job soon enough!  

To start, I've come to rely quite heavily on my pen drive. Dubbed the "Briefcase", it has become an essential part of my teaching equipment, serving as the receptacle of work that I create at home and present at school. I have several man-hours of labour saved on it. This is why, a few days ago, I was more than a little peeved to discover that some little fecking lightfingered shite had made off with it! 

Now granted, my last backup of it wasn't too hideously long ago and it won't cost me much to replace the drive itself. However, it makes me damn uncomfortable for two reasons. First, I'm not thrilled about the increased measure of paranoia I'll now be maintaining. How does one get used to working with so many people that one can never truly trust? Second, there is at least one of my pupils has so little respect for me that he or she would think nothing of stealing a pricey bit of my equipment.

However, the key thing that made me realize I've endured too much abuse at this school was when, whilst handing out a bunch of afterschool detentions for some exceptionally poor behaviour, I was told by one of the little dears to forcefully insert said detention into an orifice normally reserved for excretion, albeit much less politely. At the end of the day, when I went to write it up, I realized, to my cynical amusement, that I could not recall exactly WHICH of the little snots had said it. It truly says something that such an event didn't stick out in my mind enough from the general background level of wretchedness to enable me to remember such an essential piece of information. 

I wanna go home. 

My theme music for the moment:  

We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place

by the Animals 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wP1w5Hl8D0E

In this dirty old part of the city where the sun refuse to shine
People tell me there ain't no use in trying
Now, my girl, you're so young and pretty
And one thing I know is true,
You'll be dead before your time is due, (I know)

Watch my daddy in bed and dying
Watch his hair been turning grey
He's been working and slaving his life away, (Oh yes I know)

He's been working so hard
I've been working too baby, (every night and day)
 

(Chorus)
We've gotta get out of this place
if it's the last thing we ever do
We've gotta get out of this place
Girl there's a better life for me and you

Now my girl you're so young and pretty
And one thing I know is true
You'll be dead before your time is due, (I know it)
 

Watch my daddy in bed and dying
Watch his hair been turning grey
He's been working and slaving his life away (I know)

He's been working so hard
I've been working too baby,
 

(Chorus) 

Somewhere baby
Somehow I know it baby
 

(Chorus) 

Believe me baby
I know it baby
You know it too

the_vulture: (Default)
 It didn't go bad, just weird.  

It was a rather average day until just at the end of lunch when I got back to school from the supermarket drenched by the unexpected torrential downpour. Getting into the school, I noticed that the kids were wreaking havoc in the corridors, probably wound up by the weather.
 
However, the class of year 7s I was supposed to teach just after lunch got even more keyed up when one of their peers managed to get her leg stuck in a bench. Things got to be a bit of a circus as many members of my class tried all manner of begging and pleading to go check on their friend. A number of them also decided that they desperately needed to go to the toilet (yeah, right!) when I wouldn't let them out. I had just about managed getting most of them back in their seats and even working on task when one popped his head out the door again (I did say most, not all) and reported to the rest that the fire brigade had arrived.
 
It took threatening the entire class with a red card to get the whole mob back inside.
 
Seeing as my lesson was pretty much shot by the excitement of the moment, I gave them the option of tasks: they could either continue with the pre-assigned poetry task (which many still did) or creating a card for their 'stricken' friend (and channel their concern into an activity which WOULDN'T either interfere with efforts to free the child or unleash mass stupidity elsewhere in the school).
 
BTW, in case you're wondering, the girl was freed without injury.
 
Oh, and please, spare any sympathy; she's one of those special children that I ever so lovingly class amongst The Wretches. Bloody hell; she wasn't anywhere NEAR my class and she'll still managed to completely disrupt it!
 
I love my job! Really! 
 

(You believe me, dontcha? )

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