Apr. 8th, 2011 10:01 am
the_vulture: (tvhead)
Based on the poem "Where They're Coming From", written by [ profile] ysabetwordsmith  during her most recent Poetry Fishbowl (with the theme of "Mad Scientists"), a discussion arose concerning what might happen if a victim of bullying somehow acquired the power to stop his or her torment (I'd recommend reading the poem and the resultant conversations). During one of the discussions, I was reminded of a web comic project I had done a number of years ago (before I was even fully aware of what a web comic was). The original project was presented as a very simple website with a single panel displayed at a time, looping continuously (so it's just as endless as bullying seems to be). I present here in more of a traditional web comic form: 

(Trigger warning: bullying)

The rest of the comic... )
the_vulture: (tvhead)
Recently, I followed a link, presented by [ profile] fayanora, to a discussion titled How kids in England are smeared in the press, and what to do about it. The following is a reitteration of the thoughts I presented in response to her blog entry:

Upon reading the discsussion couldn't help but reflect on my experiences teaching in England and what I observed of the children (and their parents) there.

Two general themes seemed to run through the comments, the first being a discussion of the idea that thuggery amongst British youth is worse than most other nations because of a lack of any serious consequence for poor behaviour or even proper parenting, whilst the second revolved around the ethical ramifications of corporal punishment (spanking).

Unfortunately, these discussions tended to be really simplified and only touched superficially on some of the major issues that affect British youth. Read more... )

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the issues presented here?
the_vulture: (Default)

I must make a better effort to keep up with my blog. It gets to be a bit difficult, though, as my leisure time is somewhat limited and often taken up by other pursuits. Alas...

On my way at about 2 in the morning last Tuesday, I had a bit of a disturbing encounter with some of the local thuggery. As I was walking along the street nearing home, a jeep full of young men turned around the corner from the opposite side of the sheet. They swiftly pulled to a stop just ahead of me, after having accelerated through the turn. I continued walking along, though I strongly suspected I was the object of their attention, for a number of reasons; first, they have simply wanted some information, like directions. Second, if their intentions were not so benign, showing fear by stopping or altering travel is a mistake. Third, if it was to come to a physical confrontation, the jeep would have served as a good tactical obstruction by which to limit how many of the little boogers could come at me at once. (Crikey! With that level of paranoia and continuous risk evaluation, you'd think I'd grown up in some crime ridden ghetto.)

There were five young men in the jeep, maybe in their late teens or early twenties. Fortunately, all of them looked like I could drop them in one solid hit. And perhaps that's why, when I finally got fairly close to the vehicle, they peeled away, with but a singular, violent throwing motion (hardly threatening as the passenger window was rolled up) and a menacing sneer from the driver. 'Course, slightly annoyed look I was probably sporting at the time might also have had something to do with it. As mentioned earlier, thugs of this nature prefer a fearful nature and it was actually kinda hard to be fearful of this lot, even if there was five of them.

Still, when I got home, I phoned the event in to the local police. These little hoodlums may have had second thoughts about picking a fight with me, but I have smaller and female colleagues at work, some of whom I knew would be walking these streets mere hours from the point this occurance. That's aside from any other unfortunate member of the public who might've ran afoul of them. In most cases, I'd be skeptical if the cops would do anything about it, but these local ones actually seem to maintain a pretty active presence, as demonstrated on Saturday, so perhaps something good came of that call.

In other news, I've racked up a bit of a bonus by working a day of overtime yesterday. Yeah, I'll be working a six day week, but, honestly?, that's not at all that taxing. The only issue is squeezing in time to get other stuff sorted in my off hours. Today, for example, I took a bike ride out to a local charity used goods warehouse to check into possible furniture for my flat. Sadly, that seemed to be nigh a wasted effort as they were charging quite a bit for what was quite slim pickings. I'm better off shopping for stuff at Walmart and Zellers. This was especially disappointing because I really wanted to pick up something I could use as an altar (I've been feeling somewhat spiritually amiss) and it was over an hour's worth of time I could have devoted to other things. I at least, however, came home with a rice cooker/veggie steamer in reasonable condition for a mere four dollars.

I also got a bit of exercise on the bike, which helped clear out the lactic acid burn from yesterday's run. It was a pleasant enough run that took me through a lovely marsh and allowed me to soak up a luxurious amount of sunshine. Sadly, though, my nipples got chafed (owie!) and, alas, there was no one about to kiss them better for me. *melodramatic sigh*
the_vulture: (Default)
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."


Ah, bless!

the_vulture: (Default)
 Potato and leek soup, gammon with crackling, mash, carrots, and plenty of wine... Yes, it was a lovely farewell dinner prepared by my lovely next door neighbours. I will say, there are few things about England that I will truly miss, but my neighbours rank high amongst them.  

Ah well, my need to escape is still great. The other day, whilst shopping in another town for appropriately sized boxes and questing for a postal tube long enough for my didges (I will have to resort to buying two smaller ones and putting them end to end), I was chased back into a train station by a large (and ugly) pack of thuggish yobs, some of which I recognized as scum associated with the worst we've permanently excluded from my school in recent years.

They were carrying large piles of fresh snow (a novelty in southern England) and decided I'd make a great target for snowballs. There was about seven or eight of them, in their late teens. Many of 'em were large enough to be a substantial threat to me (and I only just now thought about how many of them were probably carrying a knife) and they were behaving in an aggressive and malevolent fashion. Sensing that a confrontation could get very ugly very quickly (these were yobs of the lowest order), I ducked back into the train station, not realizing that some of them would actually throw INTO the station itself and, whilst I tried to get a train staff member to phone the police, a number of forcefully hurled snowballs followed me. I would say that, fortunately, the English have lousy aim with a snowball, as I was never struck, but sadly, an older woman got struck in the head.

Pure yobbishness!

Fortunately, the presence of CCTV cameras in the station (which they seemed highly aware of (previous experience?)), as well as my rather loud demand for the attendent to phone the police, seemed to deter them from further nastiness and the thugs moved on. I last saw them in the high street near the station, where they proceeded to hurl snowballs at cars and whatever else they could terrorize. The train police were phoned, but I didn't stick around to see if they showed up or were able to do anything about them. I left the station in the opposite direction and went about my business whilst I still had time remaining. I completed my box shopping without further incident, but was glad to make it back to my own village.

Ya know, I should have talked about the dinner after the unpleasantness that preceded it. I could then have ended this post with a pleasant thought. *sigh*

Oh well, nothing to be done for it but to get on with my preparations.


Mar. 28th, 2008 04:51 pm
the_vulture: (Default)
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. 


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.


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

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

the_vulture: (Default)
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?


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. 


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: 4

the_vulture: (tvhead)
This week, most of my feelings and other higher brain functions seem to have been replaced by a homocidal urge to rend my pupils limb from bloody limb. Yep, I must be infected with the T-Virus from Resident Evil; it's the only rational explanation... aside from my pupils being total bastitches. So if you've missed me this week, I do apologize; I was spending a lot of my mental energy resisting the urge to bite the heads off of my 'little darlings.'  

Speaking of Resident Evil, I got to see RE: Extinction last night. For those unfamiliar with this film series, based on the popular video game of the same name, the premise is based on the escape of a highly contageous mutagenic agent, the T-Virus, from a bio-weapons research division of the shadowy Umbrella Corporation. This virus, despite desperate (and exceptionally violent) attempts to contain it, renders the planet into a barren wasteland where the last remnants of humanity battle for survival against hordes of mutagenically created 'zombies'. This film takes some of the best elements of films like Romero's Day of the Dead and post-apocalyptic classics like Mad Max and The Road Warrior and fuses them into a vivid, gritty, tension filled and action packed nightmare. The film is further enhanced by brilliant cinematography as well as good acting and a complex narrative. The creators of the film set out to generate serious innovations for this film genre and, IMHO, they've succeeded brilliantly! If you're a fan of zombie, horror, and/or post-apocalyptic films, you will thoroughly enjoy this one. Quite simply, IT ROCKS!!!

Resident Evil: Extinction Trailer: 0   

The creators of the film The Zombie Diaries also set out to revolutionize the genre by utilizing a cinema verite approach in telling a series of interconnected short stories about small groups of people attempting to cope with a world in which a rampant virus has transformed most of the human population into blood thirsty zombies. The cinema verite approach, like The Blaire Witch Project, assumes a documentary style in which video cameras carried by the characters record their actions and dialogue.

Unfortunately, the film simply lacks energy and pace and is only really watchable as a curiosity at best. In fact, I was quite zombified by the end of it. If you're looking for an entertaining zombie flick (either for chills or laughs), give this one a miss.  

The Zombie Diaries
Trailer: w


Mar. 8th, 2008 10:37 pm
the_vulture: (Default)
 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.

the_vulture: (Default)

The rest of the photos to be found at: 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: (Default)
I've been rather out of sorts the last couple of days.  

Yesterday, whilst walking to the train station on my way to work, I noticed a number of familiar faces, normally seen on the train platform, heading from  the station. This was a bit worrisome, as this usually indicates a train cancellation of prolonged length. This suspicion was confirmed when one woman stopped to inform me that it was cancelled as there had been a fatality on the tracks just a couple stations away. 

Aside from being the start of a strange day that involved mock exam invigilation, a crack down after an incident involving firecrackers, and a surprisingly pleasant final period class spent with normally obnoxious year 8s, this incident served as a omen for me. When I heard the news, I couldn't help wonder if it was someone who had committed suicide. It wouldn't have been the first time that throwing oneself in front of a train crossed my mind as a solution to much of the grief I've suffered during my time teaching here. Yes, I've had some pretty rough times over the last four years.  

But those are soon to come to an end! Today, I handed in my notice for the end of April; I am now officially a short timer! I just have to count down the weeks now. Already, I can feel parts of my psyche beginning to decompress! I still have to sort out all the logistics of shipping my butt back to Canada, but that's now a 'sooner,' rather than 'later.'

the_vulture: (tvhead)
 When I'm running along the roads, occasionally, some pupil of the school will yell something out a car window as he or she passes by. This isn't a big deal to me; half the time, I can't even make out what was said, anyhow.  

Today, though, I was struck by coins thrown from a passing SUV whilst I was running. The coins were thrown hard enough to bruise. A youth from inside yelled "Asshole!" as they drove away.  

What infuriates me the most is that these little shites will get away with it. I couldn't make out any details of the faces inside, nor could I get the license plate number. I'm currently awaiting a visit from a police officer so the details can be taken, but I know there just isn't enough to find these fuckers. 

How the hell am I suppose to live in this country if I have to be looking over my fucking shoulder wherever I go?!? I may be putting in my notice tomorrow; I don't think I can handle living in this country much longer.

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

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)

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,


Somewhere baby
Somehow I know it baby


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? )


Jan. 29th, 2008 09:17 am
the_vulture: (Default)
The definition of 'home' has been problematic for me. Much of that I attribute to a lot of wandering. My father has been an industrial electrician for most of his life. As such, my childhood has been one of constant relocation, moving from one project to the next, rarely spending more than a year in any one place.  

And those places? They consist of pretty much every one horse town in central British Columbia and a few beyond. Perhaps part of the reason I took to the small living space of my flat in the UK so readily is because much of my childhood was spent living in trailers (larger caravans, for you Brits), mobile homes, townhouses, and even hotel rooms. I don't remember exactly when we actually moved into my parents' home in Prince George. I think it may have been when I was around 10 or so. However, we never stayed in it much, as Dad's job kept pulling us elsewhere and everywhere. The house served more as a 'base camp' to which we would return to on weekends and between jobs. It was only after my first year of high school (a psychologically disastrous one for me) that my mother insisted that she, my brother and I had to remain in PG.

Few of my memories of any of these places are at all fond. As the perpetual new kid, along with sporting glasses and being a butterball, I quickly developed a strong distaste for local populations of rednecks early on in my schooling. By the time we truly settled in PG, what social development I had was pretty much stunted by nearly a decade of intense bullying. I may have spent more of my life there than in any other one location, and, indeed, it is even the city of my birth, but it ceased being 'home' for me long ago and, instead, became a prison from which to escape. 

That escape took place in my early twenties when I left for Victoria, BC, to attend art school. Victoria was a whole new world for me, filled with wonder, beauty, and culture. Surrounded by Mother Ocean and filled with many hidden treasures, I felt an immediate and deep connection to this place. The move to Victoria reflected more than just a change of geography, it also marked my transformation from bitter ex-Catholic to a life-reaffirming Wiccan, as well as the first steps towards becoming a teacher. It was Victorian soil that saw me blossom spiritually, educationally and socially. 

In part, being separated from the only place I ever truly considered 'home' was one of the reasons why my first year teaching in the UK was so traumatic. (Of course, the sheer wretchedness of my first pupils played a MUCH greater part.) The irony that I was moving from place to place following the work, as my father had done (and still does), did not escape me. 

For all the trials of teaching here, all the tears, all the trauma, the UK has seen a lot of my development, professionally, emotionally, and even physically, albeit much of that in a 'sink or swim' capacity. I've even come to enjoy the last year of my existence in my cozy little flat, the only place I've ever occupied entirely by myself. I will miss it, and the farms, and the trails along which I run. I will also miss the wonders of London and other amazing parts of Britain that I have, and yet to have, explored. 

I'm certain my journey through life will take me through many other incredible places. Aside from the UK, it has already seen both coasts of Canada, a couple of stays in Toronto, visits to Washington State and California, and even two months in South Australia. Along the way, my fascination with problem of personal connection to space has manifested in an astounding collection of photos, some of which are the only thing that can say "I have been here." I'm certain I will add many, many more photos to that collection (and to that of my heart shaped stones) before I finally come to 'home.'

the_vulture: (Default)
Well, I may have to stay a bit longer than I would really like. It seems that, in order to actually make use of the money I've been putting into a pension fund for nearly two years, I actually have to COMPLETE two years of service in the county, which would put me about a week AFTER the Easter holidays are done with. 'Course, school systems kinda want you to put in half term periods, so I might be stuck for an extra one. Ugh!  

On the upside though, the year 7s have calmed down quite a bit since the ugliness of the previous couple of weeks. I'm actually ENJOYING the year 7 group that was causing me the most despair a week ago. I might actually be able to last out that extra term and, since the last half-term may prove easier depending on the timetable, I might just finish off the year. 'Course, that'll depend entirely on how long things remain calm...  

In other bits, I now have the joy of having to call my landlord and informing him that there's a leak under the tub. I've identified the problem; the pipe connection has loosened and will need new sealant. I've tightened up the connection to slow the leaking, but I'll likely have to surrender another Saturday for the visit of a plumber to reseal the the thing. Sure I could do it myself, but there'd be no guarantee that I'd get done right and, frankly, why go through the hassle when getting a plumber would be on the landlord's dime?  

Health wise, things seem to be slowly improving. I've managed to stop the weight gain and have regained some of my former stamina. On Saturday, I did a good 45 minute session of yoga and, on Sunday, I covered 5.6 miles. For my longer distances, I've opted to alternate between 10 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking. It makes for a bit of a slower time, but my knee gives me far less aggro about it. I should probably do the same for shorter distances, but that's not a worry until I actually start doing them again during the week. Yep, motivating myself during weekdays is still a problem for me. Ah well, at least I can complete a 10k race again, if I needed to, albeit with even less grace than I did the first time.

the_vulture: (Default)
 Yesterday was very interesting. Originally, it was supposed to be a fairly relaxed Friday in which my year 10s would spend most of the class watching the first bits of Of Mice and Men whilst most of the other classes worked on storyboards of Jimmy Dean's most famous ballad  "Big Bad John."  

I got into the Friday morning staff meeting a few minutes late (not a biggie) and the assistant head looked quite relieved to see me. After the meeting, mere minutes before morning registeration, he came to me and said, casually, "Michael, you're not here today." 

"I'm not?" I replied with understandable curiousity. 

"You're on a training session today," he said. 

"I'm what?!?" I responded, with a bit of inward panic, as I tried, vainly, to recall what memo, e-mail, announcement, or school calendar event I had forgotten about and/or failed to read. 

The situation rapidly went weird from there. I was informed that I had only a short amount of time to arrange cover before meeting with another teacher and catch a ride with her for a full day training session. Whilst dealing with my registeration group, I was verbally giving my cover work to my head of department whilst setting up AV for the first class.  

More details came to me from a variety of people as I bustled about. Apparently, the other teacher and I were to attend a training session for a new software platform that the school is in the process of implementing. The other teacher apparently found a mere 10 minutes before I did and upper management, really, hadn't been informed that much earlier. Essentially, the head of IT phoned in that information whilst he was on the road. Okayyyy.... Of course, it seems that we were not the only school to have had a similar issue. This was a training session we were supposed to attend in December, but had gotten cancelled for reasons I cannot even recall. Regardless, it was a situation TARFU that I, at least, wasn't in any way responsible for. 

The training day wasn't all that boring, despite the fact that my familiarity with IT made it exceptionally easy to grasp what was going on. The whole idea is to create a "virtual learning environment" where teachers can place resources for pupils in an easily accessible location, give and receive assigments, share resources with others, and give marks and feedback. Really, it simply about using a standardized data storage system that is more user friendly. I pretty much just spent the day getting familiar with a new interface. 

Yes, an easy day with pay away from the kids who just want to play. 

And the lunch catering was actually pretty decent, too! 

The training session ended about a half an hour before the school day would've. The other teacher dropped me off at the train station and then headed on her way home - no point for her to head back into school. And there really wasn't any point for me, either, as it was now afternoon registeration and neither of us were actually expected back. The only nagging thing was that I had arranged some afterschool detentions that should've been seen to, but the other teacher's comments regarding doing so still rung clear in my mind: 

"You're going to go back for THAT?!? Listen, all the kids will know that you're away today; how many of the one you're expecting do you think will actually show up?" 

Fair enough! That sound argument had me about five minutes walk from my flat as the final pips rang for the school. *grin* 

Yep, a very relaxed day indeed. 

And I get another one the week after next!  


the_vulture: (Default)

Today is the first day of Christmas Holidays! Woohoo! Needless to say, I slept in quite late! It's a good thing, too. I desperately need the rest; I've been fighting off a bug for a week now and I'd actually like to finish the damn thing off before it does the same for me. I have to say, though, that the last week and a bit actually went a fair bit easier than anticipated. The last two and a half days in particular were quite easy to manage, actually. I could say this is in spite of all the 'unfortuitous' events that occurred, but, really, it's actually because of 'em. Between the head of department and her right hand woman going off ill, repairmen showing up unexpectedly to fix the window that had broken last week, discovering (only minutes before the class I needed them for) that worksheets haven't been photocopied because BOTH photocopiers went down, a change of last day scheduling substituting my last year 10 class for an extended registeration period, and a good chunk of staff joining the aforemention head of department in the 'dropping like flies' category, it became very easy to justify spending much of the 2 and half days playing Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away' to keep the hyper little wretches mesmerized and in their seats. And hey, some real work did get done Monday!  

This week has really sucked in the health and fitness department. I have done zip for training in the last week and a bit; there's been just too much going on and fighting this bug has NOT been helping. There won't be much serious running for a while yet, either, as my lungs are feeling pretty congested. Ugh. I might do a bit of yoga today, though.

Other than that, I'm pretty much relaxing and doing my best to pretend that the holiday season doesn't exist. No, I'm not depressed or anything, but this will be my second Christmas away from family and I don't really have anyone to spend the holidays with. I'm also trying very hard to save up so I have the money to return to Canada and start afresh. Because of this, I'm also denied the joy of shopping for weird and wonderful presents (saves a lot of hassle, though!). As such, I'm just sorta treating this as a double length midterm break and trying to enjoy it that way. 

Finally, the film 'Curse of the Golden Flower' is not really worth watching. It can most easily be described as a Chinese historical drama coarsely ground together with 'Eastenders.' The occasional bit of Hong Kong wire flying action is thrown in to jolt the audience out of its stupor when things get too boring. The only thing going for this film is brilliant cinematography and great set decoration.


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