Thursday, December 20, 2007

totally floored

The original desire to win a pizza party, followed by the desire to be the winning class, has somehow lead to my class raising over $500 for the foodbank this Christmas. My class alone raised what the entire school set as its goal this year. The generosity of these 25 students is totally amazing, especially since I know for almost all of them it was their own money they donated.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

always amazed

Our annual foodbank drive started Monday. I've found the kids here to be really generous with their money in general, but one kid just blew me away this year. He handed me $100 of his own money. When I asked him if he was sure he wanted to donate that much money he replied "I have more money right now than I have in my entire life and I have nothing to spend it on." This seems like a pretty mature realisation from a 16 year old.

I'm sure a few other students overheard pieces of our conversation, and shortly after asked him how much he'd donated. Again, I was surprised by his reply. "I didn't donate a lot of money just so I could brag about how much I gave." And that was that.

Wow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

brrrrrr!

I walked out of my condo this morning and thought "wow, it's much nicer out today." People, it was -20 degrees plus some added coldness from the windchill. I'm sure that's it for the best that -20 is my new "warm" but still. I don't want global warming, but a little prairie warming likely couldn't hurt...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

already?

Seriously, how is it already November? The good news about this must be that Christmas will be here before I've really registered that's it's November.

Things are still just as crazy as previously mentioned. Last week, while running late, I even managed to have a shower and not wash my hair. For those of you who don't know about my self-cleaning policies, on most days this is the only purpose of even having a shower. So by 7:45am, I'd already failed in one of my more important daily goals. Of course, there was no real way to rectify this situation until 6:30pm. Gross.

This is also the time of year when I leave the house in the dark and don't get home until it is dark. If my classroom didn't have windows I could viably look into becoming a vampire and have it not affect my daily routine in the least. This would simplify the difficulty I seem to have finding quick protein sources for one.

Have I mentioned most of my students are grade 10s? Typically lame at the best of times, entering into these thankless weeks before Christmas really brings out the best in them. I mean, currently I'm expecting them to breath AND stay awake at the same time. I know, my expectations, they are too much.

How many days til Christmas?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

happy coming out month!

I've been meaning to post about this for a week now, but I have literally been so angry at the whole situation that it just hasn't been possible.

In case you were unaware, October is international coming out month. Now, I don't really know why (and haven't really bothered to look into it too much either...) but regardless, coming out month. My GSA, being the crazy awesome group they are decided my school should celebrate coming out month. True, they didn't ask the school's permission, but who doesn't love a celebration? For the first of the month the decorated the hallways - rather sparsely, it is a huge school - with posters and set up our closet. The closet says "closets are for clothes" and everyday of the month another celebrity "comes out." Huge kudos to the kids in our building - our posters have remained up and our closet remains intact.

Imagine our surprise, when last week, one of our APs approaches my co-advisor with a few concerns. It appears he has had a few complaints from other staff members about the "offensive" posters the GSA has up. Not really wanting to get into this discussion, she politely asked him to our meeting, which just happened to be at noon that day. My co-advisor is a force to be reckoned with so I'm sure he figured that would be a much simpler way to attain his goal.

Our meeting was already underway by the time he decided to grace us with his presence. The girls quickly wrapped up whatever business we were tending to so that our very busy AP could get back to whatever it is APs do. It all went downhill after he stood up. You see, because after he stood up, he opened his mouth. As often happens, words came out. He opened with a long list of people he knew. This is never a good sign, the simultaneous assertion of importance and confirmation of "common allies." He was searching so deep for these common allies that he was bringing out the siblings of my co-advisor. I could barely contain myself from rolling my eyes.

He then launched into full on "it's not me but" mode. He stated that a couple teachers had sought him out to tell him that they found two of our posters offensive. That we needed to be respectful of people of different mind sets then ours. That some people who are not homophobic might take offense to the fact that we are saying there are homophobic people in our school. When he was done talking, there was silence. For a few seconds I was very concerned none of the students were going to be able to say anything, and I was already fuming angry at this man and his ridiculous claims. So I not so respectfully told him, and the room, that those people were ignorant and it was their choice to be mis-interpreting what our group was saying and doing.

Almost as soon as I opened my mouth, the hands started creeping up. It was almost as if they needed a little push, just an "it's okay, we are not going to let this man come in here and undo what we are doing." Never in my life have I been prouder of a group of students. They were polite, they were articulate, they were logical, they were all of the things we worry young people won't be. Our poor AP didn't see it coming. He was completely unprepared to be dealt with in this way. So he started digging himself a hole. A large hole. He gave these kids more ammunition then they ever could have hoped for. Some gems include
  • we don't want to encourage the "gay lifestyle"
  • he knows gay people
  • we don't put up posters about being Christian or Muslim (when really, we do, we have an ISCF)
  • well, I had to answer in an "old school" kind of way (when asked how he responded to the complainers)
On top of this, he keeps falling back on his argument that he's not telling them they need to do anything, he's not asking us to take down our posters, he really just wanted to come and let us know that he had had two complaints. It is becoming more and more obvious he has no reason to be at our meeting. The kids are far too polite to point this out. So me - now with permanent contract! - asks him flat out "So, Mr. AP, this is a building of 1500 people. We have over 100 staff members. You keep telling us that you have only had 2 people approach you with concerns, and that you aren't asking us to take down our posters. So what are you doing here?" He couldn't answer. There was time for a few last questions and remarks before lunch was over.

I was shaking I was so mad. This man is supposed to be a leader in our school. This man is supposed to set aside his personal beliefs and advocate for students. Instead, he is a bully. A passive aggressive bully. I cannot believe he honestly thought he would walk into that room and magically "deal" with the GSA and their rainbow posters, just in time for Parent-Teacher interviews I might add. It is his own fault, that he never even dreamed this story could have another ending. He has stirred something in these kids that was likely dormant in most of them. You see, until now, it was all fun. Sure, the issues were out there, and there was work to do in raising awareness in our school. But making positive space posters, holding a day of silence, having coffee with other GSAs, bake sales, marching in the pride parade, etc. it was all fun because most of these kids had never really seen what the ugly two faced beast of homophobia looks like in person. He made it personal. He made them see that there is a fight here, and instead of beating them down like he was hoping to, he wound them up.

I'm not sure he's realized his mistake quite yet. But he might by the end of the year when instead of carving themselves a little niche in the school the GSA has permeated the very fabric that it is made of.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

SURPRISE!

I think all 8 of you who read this are aware I have a new roommate, she is often not around, but when she is she is full of awesomeness. For the purposes of this blog she shall henceforth be known as Invisible Roommate.

I finally crossed paths with my Invisible Roomate Thursday. She was basically home for a little bit to relax and pick stuff up to be gone again for another couple weeks. We caught up, and then she went to her boyfriend's before starting the marathon tour of SK an AL for work.

While living on my own, I developed habits of not closing doors, and not being particularly concerned about my state of dress. For Invisible Rommates sanity and general peace of mind, I keep my clothes on or close my door when they need to be removed. It's pretty easy to fall back into not doing these things when I know she's not home. Yes, I am aware I just admitted to being too lazy to close a door, even partially.

Imagine my surprise Friday morning as I am bent over a drawer wearing only my underwear to hear a very cheery "Good Morning!" from the hallway. It's not ideal to be scared shitless before you're fully awake in the first place, it's even less ideal if you have no clothes on and are further than an arm's length away from the door. I'm am also sure it's even more less ideal to have the first thing you see in the morning be your naked roommate. I need to work on the whole door thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

awesome

My conference has been awesome. Practical, useful, insightful, and mostly, real. Maybe I can evolve into a leader. A stealthy leader.

Day 2 tomorrow.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

lead who?

I've been identified as an "emerging leader" in my school. This sort of freaks me out. I mean, for now it just means they're going to send me to a conference but what about when they want me to actually be a leader?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

done like dinner and other things that are done

As of 15 minutes ago I am finished my calculus course. Ugh. It's funny how you work so hard for something and then it's just over.

The exam was even more of a monster than I expected, full of tricks and exceptions (and things we weren't supposed to know!). There will be no 100% on this one as in my attempt to finish off everything I didn't understand, I forgot to go back and finish a question I did understand but got stuck with. They sure don't mess around with their time restrictions here at McGill! The dude barked at me to "PUT DOWN YOUR PENCIL!" when I tried to finish a sentence I was writing after time had been called. Yipes.

I do know I got at least 2 questions right as they were for the bits we weren't supposed to know and el proferino told me to leave them as is and they were right up to the point I'd done them to.

Marks will be out on Sunday (claims el prof), til then it's shopping and time for more house guests!

UPDATE: It's Tuesday and there are finally marks on my transcript. An A, followed by a GPA of 4. Boo!! Don't get me wrong, both of those things are good things, things that make me happy, but there is a critical piece of information missing. The number. The difference between an 89% and a 92% is huge in my world and I want to know. I really want to know. I know, I'm a teacher and I tell kids not to worry about "their mark" all the time, I'm supposed to be in it for the learning, but goddammit, I want that final number.

Monday, July 30, 2007

lists

Things I really enjoy:
  1. Having house guests. They will eventually all merit their own post.
  2. People in my calculus class who have started seriously referring to denominators as dominators. People who are native English speakers.
  3. Our new fan.
  4. So You Think You Can Dance. Ya, I went there.
Things I don't enjoy:
  1. That "due to the high class average on the midterm, the final will be A MONSTER." (okay, he didn't call it a monster, but he did say it would be hard)
  2. Anything "polar."
  3. Limits.
Things I am indifferent about at the moment:
  1. My final. WHAT? I really need to study...

Monday, July 23, 2007

OMG!

I got 100% on my calculus midterm. It would appear my 8 hour math days payed off!

I will try for a real update soon!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

mcgill vip treatment

Our professor was away today, so we had a guest lecturer. I feel like McGill was feeling rather generous today and gave us suckers taking Cal2 (as it appears they call it here in m-town) a free ticket to the Just for Laughs festival, Calculus style.

This dude was so funny that even Ms Condescending couldn't help but laugh. Often! He started off the morning with a "tip for champions" and just kept getting funnier. Now I know what you're thinking "tip for champions isn't very funny." You clearly have forgotten what your Math 140 class was like. It sucked. Your prof didn't speak English. It was a very very dull hour out of your day 3 times a week where you madly scribbled foreign symbols down hoping you could decipher them later. Maybe you cried, I don't know.

If only all Math teachers were a little ADHD and as obviously in love with math as prof Charbonneau. Then we could fondly look back on our notes and try to remember what exactly "that cloud thing" was...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

hallellulah!

I've made school friends! Sure they don't speak French, but they could potentially prove to be valuable resources once the course get harder.

I say potentially, because somehow, I seem to have the best understanding of what's going on. How did this happen? 9 years ago was when I last visited Calculus... I mean, I liked it and stuff, but not enough to have remembered any of it. So at the moment, I'm using the technique of better understanding something through explaining it/my reasoning to others. So far so good. I probably need to run through a forest with my arms outstretched after saying this, but I'm getting it!

At least I'm not annoying know it all girl (she occasionally sit beside me). She has a severe sighing and eye-rolling problem. Anytime anyone asks a questions (be it intelligent or otherwise) or the prof deviates from some imaginary set of strict course material, she cannot help but sigh, roll her eyes or do both. If the question just so happens to be approaching the limit of not so smart, she also mutters. Yesterday, while trying to draw concentric circles, the prof made fun of himself since his circles were less than circular. He took all of 3 seconds to also mention that he's seen a clip on youtube of someone who can infallibly draw perfect circles by hand. I thought she was going to have a seizure. Maybe she did have a petit-mal, it's tough to tell what with her regular state of annoyance.

It's funny that from either side of the teacher's desk, she is the one I always want to sucker punch.

Monday, July 09, 2007

what exactly are we talking about?

My first day of calculus went by surprisingly well considering I haven't touched anything calculus related in 9 years. Deriva-what? That stuff got replaced with phrases from Harry Potter and song lyrics ages ago. In one of my wiser moments (they don't happen very often...) I remembered to snitch one of the new high school calculus texts from the school before I left and spent some time reading it during the drive. Certainly doesn't rank anywhere near recommended reading of any kind, but it was a good warm up stretch before my first class. It kept me from wigging out when my prof started talking about limits anyway. Ya, that's right, my level of confusion is rating somewhere around the wigging out level.

My prof seems alright. His English is passable (thank a random deity!) and his accent rarely throws me off. It took me a few times to realise he pronounces the letter a e (ee). Which is really weird to me. How do you speak really well, yet not know how to say the first letter of the alphabet? Not to mention the letter a comes up a lot, so I am always having to double check what letter he actually means.

There is one little speech issue that I'm having massive difficulties with. We were discussing some kind of function - surprise! - and he kept referring to the nominator. Which, ok, you can't say numerator. It's only a couple vowel sounds. When he started talking about the dominator however, I lost it. Dominator is quite a ways away from denominator. And it's hilarious. Just try and discuss a dominator of x squared without laughing. This might be my pick me up all summer - just thinking about dominators makes me laugh, no matter where I am. Which of course makes me very cool, ie crazy. Thanks professor Laayoumi, I am now crazy laughing metro/walking/random girl because of you.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

the not so long day

Day 1 of our drive to Montreal was by far the best. It was also by far the shortest. That was only partly what made it the best day. Really, the bestestness of day 1 was due to the friend factor. Yay friends.

Knowing it would be a short day, we left early which made lots of time for breakfast in Regina. We met up with the NSFG, D, Not so Cambodian couple and their friend from Cambodia, Chourn. (I think) everyone had a good breakfast, specifically Chourn who was served 3 buttermilk pancakes that were each the size of his head. I'm sure this wasn't his first exposure to the ridiculousness that is North American restaurant culture since he'd already been in Canada for a couple weeks, but it was still pretty awesome to watch his try and make his way through one of the mammoth pancakes.

My Human Rights Club wound up choosing the school Chourn and some others started in his home village as our international charity this year. While really all I did was make sure no one got stabbed during meetings (that is why teacher supervisors are necessary for everything isn't it?) I was the only member of the group available for photos. Isn't it amazing that after only 2.5 hours in the car I'm already a greasy mess? Beware my powers folks...

After breakfast we continued on to Brandon, where we were welcomed with extreme hospitality from JJ and Wade. It would appear owning a house transforms you into domestic gods and goddesses. Seriously, JJ has put together a house that looks like it might be showing up in some home magazine any day now. It would be funny to pretend that Wade had participated in any of the decorating... I'm sure his level of participation included approving of the floor colour and requesting that no more vases be purchased...

On top on the fabulous job they've done with the house, the have also stepped up the whole "hosting friends" thing to the next level. JJ had stuffed mushroom cap appetizers ready for us. Seriously, if that's not a huge step in the direction of adulthood, I'm not too sure what it. Shortly after a few drinks, appetizers, and visiting, Wade stepped up to prove he has also entered some realm of domesticity - by cooking a most delicious salmon BBQ. Mmmm.

Trying to prove we haven't yet entered too far into the adult world, we decided we should at least make an attempt at leaving the house - knowing full well at the first side of being bored we'd be back on JJ's couches in a second. Since it was Canada Day, there was hope of decent music followed by fireworks in the park. The music was pretty good (the lead singer was amazing), there were lots of kids to keep us laughing, however, we got there a little too early to really be able to stay entertained until the fireworks. No problemo, Montana's was just right across the street. It was entertainment in itself watching Wade finish off 3/4 of a mile high mud pie all by himself. We were back in the park with lots of time to spare.

Brandon fireworks, expected to be on the very weak side, actually put Saskatoon to shame. They were also accompanied by a very strange death fog that floated in just as quickly as it floated out. JJ is suspecting there were some special circumstances leading to a rather large firework budget, regardless, they were really good! So if you're ever driving through Brandon on Canada Day, it might be worth it to stop. Assuming they've fixed the parking problems by then...

After all the excitement it was time to go back home. The boys crashed almost immediately and JJ and I weren't far behind. It was great to finally have a reason for going to Brandon, if only for half a day.

The rest of the drive was just that, a big, long drive.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

save 140$? yes please!

Part of getting ready to leave for Montreal included some rather expensive car repairs. Apparently my brakes needed to be fully replaced (ouch!) so while that was being done I asked the nice folks to make sure nothing else needed to be done before Bluey II attempted a 6000km round trip.

This of course was asking for trouble. A belt needed to be replaced. Or several. They quoted me $160 to change all of them. I sighed, grumbled a bit (a lot), and said fine, do it. My childhood memories are filled with our car breaking down on road trips. None of those memories are particularly fun times. Then I talked to Big Red, grumbled some more. Being the calm, gentle person he is, he insinuated that the car place may be lying to me in a very reasonable tone. I actually quite like my mechanic, and don't think he would lie to me, but none the less, it merited checking out.

So I approached the car guy at my school. Contradictory to what Big Red was screaming into the phone, it would seem it was perfectly plausible that I needed one (or more) belts replaced. He, however, seemed to think it would be no trouble to fix it at the school. He implied this would be much cheaper that having it fixed chez my mechanic. So I called my mechanic back and told him not to fix the belts. Being the nice guy he is, he said no problem and somehow managed to fix my breaks cheaper than originally quoted.

The next day I took Bluey II in to be looked at by Murray's car guy. Indeed my belt was a little frayed, and while it might make the trip there and back, fixing it was most likely a better option. If any of you are curious as to how much a belt costs, it's $15.

So, I took car guy out for lunch, and then we swung by Part Source to pick up the belt. Then we went back to school so it could be replaced. By me. At first, I thought car guy was joking when he told me I was going to fix my own car. And then I realised he wasn't. Ok, well for a savings of $140 I was pretty sure I could get a little dirty.

So car guy pointed at things, handed me tools - mostly wrenches of various sizes, taught me about leverage, and used the lift. I did what he pointed at, loosened bolts mostly, managed to get both belts on myself and then tightened things back up. Car guy double checked everything, and it appeared that all was good to go.

The whole process took me 45 minutes. ME. 45 MINUTES. It is mind blowing that a garage was going to charge me over an hours worth of labour for something I did in 45 minutes. Needless to say, car guy is my new best friend and has volunteered his minions to fix any future car problems I may have. Whoot!

i'm back!

Enough time has been put between me and then end of the semester that I actually feel like blogging again. Which is sorta funny since I'm guessing no one reads this anymore. C'est la vie.

Oh yes, and I'm in Montreal now. So I've got new stuff and old stuff to post about, in whichever order I feel like. Have I mentioned I love summer?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

victory!

I made it. Essentially anyway. Finals start today (for me) and even with all the marking it feels like a holiday.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

it's almost over

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markingitsalmostoverihatemarkingitsalmostoverihatemarkingitsalmostoverihatemarkingitsalmost
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itsalmostoverihatemarkingitsalmostoverihatemarkingitsalmostover...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

good pd?

An opportunity arose for some PD revolving around assessment for any interested staff. Paid PD! It is true that all PD has a severe chance of being boring, useless, and an extreme waste of time. However, it looked like it had potential, it fit in perfectly with a program I'll be teaching next year, and downtown was footing the bill. If nothing else I would gain two free lunches and two days outside of school.

It was awesome! Between 5 schools, there were only 11 participant, but quality participants indeed. From my limited experience, it is very rare to walk away from a workshop with a drastically improved understanding of the topic addressed. Not only did we discuss many really interesting ideas, controversies and difficulties surrounding assessment in depth, many really good improvements and practical suggestions came out. I left wanting to do things differently AND knowing how to.

Fabulous! I'm very impressed someone pulled this together at the end of the year. Secretly I also hope I will get to count this towards my accreditation...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

a very official proof

While having a discussion with a colleague today after our department meeting, she interrupted our highly academic train of thought to ask me, in a rather surprised tone, if I had a black eye. I assumed, in typical me style, I had managed to get pencil, marker, or worse on my face.

Upon closer inspection, requiring two other teachers, it was decided that no, those must just be your veins. Corollary, you must be tired.

WOW.

my favorite time of year...

Finally some sun! I know I live in a bi-polar weather region, but the sun usually sticks it out with us through the mood swings. It's that time of year at school, and the miserable weather so close on the heels of 30 degree very lovely summer weather was enough to turn my classrooms into packs of whiny, unpleasant adolescents. It's hard being 16! The expectation of showing up with a textbook is just plain not fair! ohmygodpleasehelpmenow.

With only 13 actually physical classes left, and even that is best case scenario since there are assemblies, pep rallies, and fire drills that have all been left to the last minute it is serious crunch time. How can I have a full unit left to do, if not two, in all of my classes? That does not include final review, or any of the "fun" stuff I've been trying to incorporate into the geometry units.

On the plus side, in 13 days I don't need to worry about any of it. But who's counting...

(Attempt #1 at fun failed miserably, and by the end of the class they were essentially begging for notes. So much for experiential learning. Attempt #2 goes today...)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WAHOO!

It been very unofficial, on the down low, blah blah blah that I would have a job at my school next year. Not that I was feeling unsure about this, or particularly concerned, I just wish administrivia wasn't so complicated and time consuming.

Today I got the official hand shake with a congrats you're here full time next year! Something about you're a good fit for our school, we like you, good times. What I heard? FULL TIME JOB BOTH SEMESTERS. This means I can pay my mortgage, something the bank enjoys even more than I do. Also, I'll be teaching essentially what I taught this year. All these good ideas I've been having lately won't go to waste.

I WIN!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

29.75 sleepathon?

Yipes, life is hectic! It's the long weekend and I have no plans. Don't really want any either. A big thanks to queen Vicotria though, Monday is going to feel like heaven.



Due to working at school that never stops with the activities, unfortunately my Human Rights group had to organise their annual 30 hour famine for the long weekend. We also had to change the name since we are not sending the money raised to World Vision, so the 29.75 hour famine is born. I'm guessing it would never be a particularly easy task to get supervisors for such a big block of time (it is broken down into 2 hour shifts), the long weekend made it essentially impossible. Being the only advisor without other life commitments, I agreed up front to supervise the deathly 1:15am to 5:15am block. I also was feeling generous enough to sign Big Red up to assist me in my supervising.

As doom time approached, I was feeling less and less keen to force myself to stay up with 25ish hyperactive teenagers when my body was making it abundantly clear it really wanted to be in bed. I did go however, and was totally unprepared for what I found.

Upon arrival, I was a little confused that the two supervisors we were replacing were sitting completely removed from the kids, they appeared to be supervising a couple of chairs and a table in fact. The door to where the crazy should have been coming from wasn't even open. I congratulated them on their clearly superior supervising skills. Anything could have been going on in the auditorium, and here they were, making sure the table didn't move. That is dedication.

This is when they informed me that they were all sleeping, and had been since just shortly after midnight. WHAT?! I knew I was risking waking them all up, thusly creating 25 energetic since we just had a great nap students, but this was something I could not believe without seeing it. But it was true! No whispering, no fidgeting, just sleeping. What kind of teenagers are these? I was secretly dreaming that they would choose to at least try to sleep at around 3ish, but sleeping at midnight? In a large group of their peers? On the Friday of the long weekend? The bizarro situation almost made me want to go wake them up just to explain how my brain could not handle them acting in such an atypical fashion.

I didn't. Big Red and I then proceeded to sit for 4 hours, in a school without heat, never hearing a peep from anyone until our replacements showed up. I'm not even sure there were students present.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

mmmmuffins!

I ran into Xtina today, and as was bound to happen, we made fun of other people. This always happens, it's what we do. Not in a "we're totally evil bitches and we're going to hell because we say these things behind people's backs" kind of way, but in a "we're totally evil bitches because if they were present we would say these things to their faces" kind of way.

So I make fun of Xtina's lululemon pants, she makes fun of herself, segueing nicely into making fun of someone else, and while I'm laughing I hear her refer to someone as a "muffin-top." I had to stop her mid-sentence to repeat "muffin-top" for me. Of course she looks at me like I've lost it, muffin-top being choice vocabulary to describe a common affliction I need to comment on all the time.

Gold! It's the perfect description for a condition so rampant I've almost stopped complaining about it. I've replaced it with "why are you not wearing pants?" on my list of fashion faux pas to complain about if you were interested. Anyway, muffin-top! The condition where for reasons unbeknownst to other humans, girls insist on wearing pants 3 sizes too small. These girls typically aren't particularly large, but when forced into eeensy pants, their non-existent bums are forced up and over the waistband of their pants making them look totally ridiculous and much fatter than they actually are. The big mystery to the muffin-top is WHY do you want to make yourself look fatter? Buy pants that fit people! Do you have any idea what a pair of proper fitting pants can do for your bum?

While I would like to wage a war on the muffin-top, I'm sorta scared of strange girls. They could beat me up. So instead, I would just like for us all to bask in the glory that is the term muffin-top. It is up to all 10 of you who read this thing to spread the love and teach your friends. Hopefully, it will make it into the Webster's 2009 edition.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

you want me to what?

A little while ago, the other GSA advisor was approached by one of my former students to present a session on homophobia at a Western conference they were hosting in town. Originally, my partner in crime had agreed to do it solo - apparently she does the conference thing fairly regularly. Then, slowly - and without my forcing I might add! - she realised we should get our youth involved. Yay! Then she wanted me to present as well. What? I've done the small group session at a conference before, but never the lone person at the front of a huge room. The thought was intimidating to say the least. I mean, sure they are just teenagers, but there was going to be one hundred of them!

By the time we had gotten the youth presenters committed, we only had a week before the conference. So in a very focused planning session over a noon hour, we banged out what we wanted to do. Working with other advisor was interesting as when I work with youth I tend to get them to do everything (Totally a cop out for me, but also the way it should be. Convenient eh?) and other advisor loves to talk cause she doesn't want anything she thinks is important to get missed. Watching her brain acclimatise itself to giving over responsibility was really interesting. Not that she was overly resistant to it or anything, it just made me realise how much work needs to be done in changing the way adults think of working with youth. Her brain just wasn't used to thinking "the kids can do that, and that, and that..."

The conference itself was awesome. The kids did a great job, I didn't talk too fast and just may have pulled off sounding articulate, and other advisor's love of talking came in handy when we had a few extra minutes to fill. The kids in attendance, for the most part, asked intelligent questions and participated as well as could be expected after a full day of conferencing. The reason we were asked to come was very recently one of the youth in Saskatoon's Jewish community came out and they were looking raise awareness and tolerance. I thought this was so fabulous on the part of the organisers - opinions on homosexuality in the Jewish faith are mixed so for them to step up and be over the top accepting is really wonderful.

I'm guessing now that word is out there that we do public presentations there will be more requests, but I'm all for some revisions and letting the kids run it all!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

doomed to be a crazy cat lady

Why is it that groups of people (teachers) love to sit around complaining about how things don't work, yet treat you as if you have severely advanced dementia when you propose a solution?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

boston, part deux

After a very early starting and busy day one in Boston, we allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in (9:30!) while making sure we still hit up the free continental breakfast. The one free meal of the day is a pretty important one when you are traveling on a budget.

The it was back to Boston Common to walk the Freedom! Trail! It is very full of freedom, the Freedom Trail. Also, it is painted with a big red line, so the tourists don't accidentally make a wrong turn and find themselves on the slavery trail. Handy.

Here we are at the beginning of the trail, each representing a piece of freedom.

Education:


Employment:


And Jeff, the most pious of all, representing Religion:

Plenty of things to see on the trail, but one of the best had to be the birthplace of the tastiest bun ever, the Pakerhouse Roll (now unavailable in Stoon *pout*)
One of Boston's most famous historical figures is Paul Revere. He's essentially the Laura Secord of the States, but clearly not as important or cool as I don't see him with his own line of delicious chocolate products. Rach and I stopped to reenact his famous "midnight ride."
The trail to freedom ends at the Bunker Hill Monument. Freedom, it would appear, is a big phallic symbol on a hill. We (I) thought it would be fun to try and get a group picture for jumpingphotos.com . Turns out we're not quite ready to be "famous" for our jumping skills (or lack thereof.)




After getting our fill of freedom, we headed out to Harvard to wander around the campus. We looked so natural in that environment that several different people came up to ask us information or directions. That's right - WE PASSED FOR HARVARD STUDENTS. Clearly you can see why,


After Harvard, we headed back downtown to try and secure some kind of tickets since we needed to occupy ourselves until midnight. We wound up with tickets to "Shear Madness" a bizarre murder mystery that is the worlds longest running non-musical play. It was no Blue Man Group, but I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.

After the play we went to Cheers! for supper and a beer. Turns out we accidentally missed the replica Cheers! while walking the freedom trail thinking it was a tourist trap/trick and instead visited the bar that was the inspiration for Cheers! We even watched the end of a Boston RedSox baseball to complete the official Boston pub experience. Since we were traveling on a budget, I had Jeff take my picture with my Cheers! beer mug as opposed to actually buying it. I'm crafty that way.
After Cheers! and trying to find a gas station in downtown Boston, it was finally time to go pick Erica up from the airport. It would of course be my luck that the one weekend I go to Boston, she would be busy gallivanting around the Galiano islands in BC. Her flight finally arrived just before 1am. I hadn't seen Erica since I left Japan in 2003, and if was fantastic to finally get to see her again after all this time, even though our visit was brief. We did meet up for lunch before we left town and hopefully we'll be able to arrange a longer visit this summer so I can bask in the awesomeness that is Erica for a little longer.

Thanks Boston!

you want stress?

Dear coworker:

I am writing to inform you, that while previously I had doubts about your professional capabilities, I no longer hold any respect for you as a professional. Someone who cannot be trusted with a dainty tray and some fruit certainly can not be trusted with forming the minds of the next generation.

Regretfully,
Mme Chelle
~~~~~~~~~~~~

After school I received this email from a coworker who had already proved herself ridiculously unreliable, prompting me to write the above reply.

I need your help. Would you be able to help me tomorrow at lunch? I bought some snacks for our multi-school department meeting and they need to be organised. I'm all alone - [two other teachers] can't help me. I'm really stressed!

Woman, if I were you I would stay away from me. After this, you have NO idea what you're getting yourself into next time you ask me how it's going...

Monday, April 16, 2007

do you? do you really?

My human rights group/Gay Straight Alliance is holding a Day of Silence on Wednesday. This is a national movement that will be occurring on Wednesday in High Schools across Canada.

The students, around 20 in total, have been pre-identfied to their teachers and will also be wearing lanyards so they will be easily identified. These are awesome kids. Most are top students and are actively involved in other extra-curricular activities. I don't think any are struggling academically. On Wednesday, they will also be carrying around cards that say the following:

Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?

There are a few exceptions to the silence. Students with pre-scheduled presentations may not use the Day of Silence as an excuse to not participate. If they need to ask a school related question that can't wait to a teacher, they may.

So you can imagine my surprise when a teacher came to see me today to double check that students had to still talk to teachers. I answered that if absolutely necessary of course they could, but the idea was for them to not talk between the hours of 8:30 until 3:15 when as a GSA we would officially break the silence and debrief about our day. The teacher continued, unsatisfied with my answer. I need to be able to ask those students questions. Do you? Really? Everyday, in your class, you ask EVERY SINGLE STUDENT a question? You evaluate them on their response? There is NO WAY you can go 1 HOUR without talking to those students? In your classes of 30 students, those 2 or 3 must be called upon?

Really? Then I would like you to also stop taking your basketball team to tournaments. They also NEEDED to be in my class for that hour you made them miss. Jerk.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

road trip!

(All photos courtesy of Jeff since I was too lazy to take my own camera. Thanks Jeff!)

Wednesday night as I was getting ready to leave, Rach sent me a text to bring my passport "just in case." That just in case turned out to be a little plan Rach had been hatching for who knows how long - spinning it, twisting it, and then presenting it just right to Jeff and I. She certainly knows how to work us both. The plan? Boston! I certainly didn't see that coming (I was thinking she would say NY or Toronto). Tired from all the work we had all been doing, Friday was a much deserved sleep in day and we didn't really firm up what our tentative plans would be until late afternoon. Jeff was in it for the Blue Man group, I was in if we could do it VERY cheap, and Rach? well she just likes to hang out with both of us. Since it was already late, we decided to run errands Friday and leave early Saturday morning so as to save on a hotel room.

Saturday morning we made it out of the house running only 10 minutes behind out proposed schedule. Jeff had preprogrammed his new GPS the previous evening and we followed it the entire way. It certainly used a more "creative" route than we probably would have taken ourselves, but then end result was our planned hotel in Boston. Which looked much much nicer on the internet...





So it wasn't the prettiest hotel in Boston, but it certainly got the job done AND served up a good continental breakfast. Waffles! Who would have guessed?

After checking in, we headed off to the Museum of Science. Considering the number of big name universities in Boston, I was sort of expecting something fabulous. I mean, a city can't very well be the home to MIT and then have a crappy science centre... It was pretty average though. I remember the one in Ottawa or Toronto being much better, but that could have been because I was young and impressionable the last time I was there...


Obviously Rach has more practice at this, check out that perfect hand placement!



After running around the museum taking funny pictures, we went to a show at the Planetarium called "Far far away." Jeff really wanted to go since it was all about the Star Wars galaxy. I wasn't super keen, but I do love a good planetarium regardless of whether what I'm looking at is real or not. The show was a total bust. It was a movie, projected on both sides of the planetarium, that talked about the earth's various stages and how those stages could be compared to Star Wars planets. LAME! Every once in awhile they would randomly show stars on the planetarium, as if this justified putting the show in there as opposed to on a white screen in a corner somewhere. I took this opportunity to have a little nap in the comfy chairs they provide for you so you don't have to strain your neck looking up.

Well rested after the show, we took a DUCK tour of the city. This was money well spent since I knew NOTHING about Boston, and our guide seemed pretty well informed. He was rather entertaining, and Canadian. At first we sorta though the Canadian bit was just a gimmick, but then he was saying "aboot" all over the place and was very excited about us being from Saskatchewan. He actually said aboot! I thought just Newfoundlanders did that! The DUCKs themselves are these nifty army vehicles that drive on land and then turn into a boat on the water.



After the tour we made our way for dinner (not supper, apparently they don't call it that in Boston) somewhere called the Rock Bottom Grill. We had quite a bit of time to spend there before our show started, so when Rach finally caved and made us order desert, our waitress seemed very pleased and assured us it was the greatest thing ever. Really? I take my desert very seriously as you all know. She, however, was not lying. Check this thing out! So much icing, so much caramel, so much everything in fact!



Lastly we headed off to the Blue Man Group show. It was even better than I was expecting. We laughed pretty much solid for their entire show. I was also pretty entertained at what a possible "audition" might look/sound like. Are you constantly annoying people because you insist on playing percussion with any available "instrument" on any available surface? Can you catch a ridiculous amount of marshmallows in your mouth with physics defying precision? Can you then regurgitate those marshmallows into "art"? Can you spit paint creatively? Do you really like the colour blue? Lastly, do you enjoy making messes? Yes? Hired! I would definitely go see these guys again in a second.

All in all it was an excellent start to our whirlwind Boston tour.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

a day of firsts

Finally Easter holidays are here. For a the break, I am out in Montreal visiting Rachel and Jeff. Yes, I am aware that I will be moving here in two long months, but they will be back home at the time. So to factor in the "visiting" part, here I am.

My first full day in Montreal encompassed some pretty important life firsts.

1. My very first Krispy Kream doughnut. I was very skeptical about this. I mean, what could really be THAT great about a doughnut. So we watch the doughnuts being made for 30 seconds. Then Rachel turns around and says "here's our sample!" I was expecting a small piece of a doughnut on a toothpick. THEY GIVE YOU A WHOLE DOUGHNUT. A whole doughnut people. They are so confident that their doughnuts are warm, iced, and delicious and that you will want more, they give you an entire free doughnut every time you come in the store. Oh they are right. We did briefly debate just leaving after our free doughnut, but then the cream filled chocolate was just too much to resist. That not quite boston cream was the best doughnut I've ever eaten.

2. My first Guitar Hero experience. I had pretty much been ignoring all the guitar hero hype. I don't have a system that will play it anyway. Too bad it meets pretty much all my qualifications for a good game. Do you need to be able to manoeuvre in 3-D? No. Is it played to music? Yes. Do you need to tap to the music? Yes. Are there different colours to be played? Yes. Seriously, this is DDR for the lazy. (And the potentially more hand-eye coordinated than myself.) Awesome.

3. The first time I have been made fun of by a Costco employee. Rach and Jeff needed some groceries, and Jeff has a certain fondness for Costco pre-made meals. We also needed a GPS. While waiting for them to finish the shopping, I headed over to the books. They sell a whole series of enrichment books for elementary school kids for French (and math). These look awesome for a lost and struggling core-french teaching me. So I pick out a few in the gr 3 to 6 level. As we get up to the till the cashier must have noticed Jeff and I were speaking English since he greets us in English. Then he looks down at my only purchase, the 4 French books, and says "Well I guess it's never to late to learn!"

Monday, April 02, 2007

juno festivus

Oh Juno weekend, how you turned my little city upside down for about 48 hours. You made so many of us very very happy indeed!

In all honesty, I really didn't want too much to do with the actual Junos themselves since I rarely watch them and tickets were astronomical prices. To pay close to $200 for something I typically ignore seemed totally bonkers. I stand by my decision.

Junofest, on the other hand, was SO worth it. True, there were way cooler people who could have agreed to play shows (Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Joel Plaskett, Sarah Harmer, Trag, and cool French bands where were you guys?!? Especially you Sarah, I know you were in town!) I digress.

Friday evening saw me at the Pat. Oh dear. This in itself is a sign of my love for Wide Mouth Mason. We arrived promptly at 10, and avoided massive lineups by mere minutes. A large-ish amount of beverages were consumed to make being at the Pat for 3 hours listening to terrible music bearable. However, it was all worth it. I wound up front row for pretty much the entire show and - terrible sound system excluded - wasn't disappointed. I realised about 15 minutes in that I have been standing in that exact same spot at WMM concerts for 10 years now. They played most of my old favourites.

Saturday evening we went to Louis'. We arrived early as I would have killed my concert going companion if we would have not gotten in. The quality of the evening was WAY better than the previous evening. I enjoyed all the groups, except the first. Enjoyment aside, I was really there to see David Usher. He was amazing. The small venue, the sound quality, I was pretty much bursting with happiness the entire show. So much love for Dave. He even played St. Lawrence River for the last song of his encore which pretty much proves he loves me too.

So thanks for bringing Dave to town Junos!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

mon ame!

The weather is seriously breaking my soul. This needs to end, preferably before I wind up in a puddle of my own tears in the middle of my living room floor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

worst scam ever

DEAREST ONE,
IN BRIEF I AM MISS RACHEL ADAMS FROM IVORY COAST. I AM THE ONLY DAUGHTER OF DR. BOUGADUGU ADAMS FORMER DIRECTOR OF IVORY COAST COCOA EXPORTING BOARD, HE WAS ASSASSINATED BY THE REBELS FOLLOWING THE POLITICAL UPRISING.BEFORE HIS DEATH HE MADE A DEPOSIT OF TEN MILLION DOLLARS ( 10,000,000.00 DOLLARS ) HERE IN IVORY COAST WITH ONE OF THE LARGEST SECURITY COMPANY. THIS FUND HE INTENDED TO BUY A COCOA PROCESSING MACHINE.I ONLY WANT YOU TO HELP ME AND RETRIEVE THIS FUND OUT OF THE SECURITY COMPANY AND TRANSFER IT INTO YOUR ACCOUNT IN YOUR COUNTRY OR ANY SAFER PLACE FOR SECURITY REASONS JUST AS A FOREIGN BUSINESS PARTYNER TO MY LATE FATHERS DUE TO MY AGE.AND THIS IS FOR PROPER INVESTMENT AS YOU WILL BE THE BENEFICIARY AND RECIPIENT OF THE FUND .I PROMISED TO SEND TO YOU ALL THE DOCUMENTS ISSUED TO MY LATE FATHER DURING THE DEPOSITION OF THE FUND IN THE SECURITY COMPANY.I REALLY NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE IN MY LIFE FOR NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THIS POLITICAL PROBLEM WILL END UP IN THIS COUNTRY ( IVORY COAST ) AND FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ME IN THESE TRANSACTION I WILL OFFER 25% OF THE TOTALL SUM.THANKS FOR YOUR KIND ATTENTION AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING.I AM WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU URGENTLY.THANKS AND GOD BLESS YOU.
YOURS FAITHFULLY.
FROM MISS RACHEL ADAMS

I get this spam at least once a week, often written in very good french. I don't get it. What does the sender get from this? I can't suddenly realise me penis is too small or that I really do need to lose! weight! now! and spend money. The reply email given is in Japan of all places. What's the deal?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

not stabbed!

Just in case any of you were planning on watching the news tonight, I did not get stabbed. I trust the news will manage to at least convey the message that it was two males involved in the stabbing at my school, but just in case they only get the former student part down, said former student is not me. I would also like to think that were it me, they would call me a former student AND current teacher, but Global was first on the scene; nothing should be assumed.

I'm guessing the media is going to make a huge deal of out said stabbing. To be fair, it probably is the most interesting thing that happened in toon town today. However, a stabbing between the young gentlemen involved was just as likely to happen on 8th, in front of Safeway, or in Kilburn Hall. They are the kind of gentlemen who stab one another. The media, I'm sure, will be running with not so logical conclusions. Safety in schools! Gangs! Poor supervision! Bad teachers! Metal detectors! and so on and so forth pretending that the rest of the 1500 people in their general vicinity were somehow involved.

Our neighbouring Catholic school is probably holding a party right now, in anticipation of a higher grade nine enrollment next year. Their school didn't have a stabbing after all. Bah.

A real update (band trip!) maybe once interviews are over...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

mathletes

Last weekend I was lucky enough to chaperone a group of students down to Regina for the SK Math Challenge. What Saturday don't I want to get up at 4h45 to ride on a yellow school bus for 2.5 hours on an icy highway? Oh wait... all of them. Nothing says comfort like having your knees up around your neck and very little heat. The wheel well I sat overtop of turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it kept my feet off the ground, and apparently at least 5 degrees warmer than everyone else's feet.

When we finally arrived in Regina I was very happy to realign my body and partake in the 8h30am cookie break provided for us. Cookies at 8h30? I was slowly warming up to these math types.

After everyone was cookied and juiced, it was time to get things started. A very impressive number of 242 students from gr 8-10 were present (technically we snuck some grade 7s in...) The students wrote 3 rounds - one individual, two group. While they were all writing their individual rounds, I met some math types and helped out with door prizes, supervision, etc.

During the two group rounds, I supervised a room with 3 different groups of students. One from my school, one from a Regina highschool, and one from a small town. Before coming, I had been told our students were out to win. Not having much prior involvement with the students or this particular math competition, I really wasn't aware of just how serious they were. Watching our students compete was something in itself. They had a game plan and strategy that had obviously been practiced. They divided and attacked the first round and seemed to compile their answers as some kind of technicality. The second round was divided, but more group discussion took place. It is fantastic and hilarious to watch kids get this into math. Large arm movements and heated discussion was going on at all 3 tables. I felt bad, because one (presumably grade 9) boy from the Regina school kept coming to ask me questions, but as he would walk towards me he would have the most intense look of concentration on his face, that it was hard not to laugh. I hope he also does drama. Seriously. The third group was there for fun and may or may not have gotten one of the second round questions correct but they were still very entertaining.

While the kids were writing away, I got to visit with another teacher from a small town close to the border who's name I've already forgotten. She was shocked to see how into it my students were, and it is pretty amazing that somehow a reverse sort of peer pressure has built up around the math contests and math club. Someone must be doing something right if you're a "loser" if you miss math club.

The least pleasant part of the day? Lunch. It was loud, the kids were all riled up, and an idiot designed the setup. Everyone got into a large line that did a bit of a Disney wind to first get their drink. So far so good. Then, the drink line branched off into 2 different lines for pizza acquisition. Also good. However, instead of getting a plate and then pizza, you were supposed to walk past the pizza to the far end of the table for you plate and then back around in a circular pattern. Who thought of this? Instead of 4 lines, there were two very chaotic circles. And only one girl bringing out new pizza. Have these people never seen 14 year old boys eat? The pizza girl never had a chance. I was very happy NSFG and Mr. T showed up to have lunch with me. We had a nice, albeit quick, visit while the students were receiving a tour of the University.

Back for award time. Wow. Our students took home pretty much everything. 7 of the top ten grade 9s, 6 of the top 10 grade 10s, and all but one team award. The grade 7s and 8s from our feeder school also cleaned up and only 1 of their students went home without a certificate. I even won the good door prize - $75 to spend on NCTM stuff. Whoot!

On a bit of a math (and sugar) high, the bus ride home was a little on the painful side. Ok, by the time we hit Hanley, very on the painful side. I'm certainly looking forward to next year when it's in Saskatoon and I can just witness the math parts!

Monday, March 05, 2007

hello friends!

Last weekend JJ and Waderick were very kind and stopped in on their "prairie vacation." While not quite the Mexican vacation they originally had planned, it was still fantabulous to see them. We enjoyed a great sushi supper where we all ate too much, a bottle of wine, and much visiting. I'm not sure going to bed at 1am on a Sunday was the best way to start off a busy week, but I'm still here.

I'm very excited to hear they're trying to leave Brandon ASAP. Not cause I have anything against Brandon, it's location is just not ideal. Too far for a weekend trip, too awkward to fly to. Let's all hope JJ gets a great job either very close, or somewhere with good shopping ;)

Love you guys!

Friday, February 23, 2007

blizzard-shmizzard

OMG, it's snowing out! Someone organise traffic advisories in case the roads get icy, someone else update the "blizzard's" status at all time, someone else send out emails making it sound like no one will make it home tonight and you, over there, make sure you tell people about the wind - that thing that blows the snow around in an annoying fashion. Mostly, let's get everyone all panicked, because this is a serious situation.

It would appear that once you actually have a serious blizzard, all blizzards are very serious. It's currently snowing. And it's windy. And for some reason, there is a whole lot of to do over these two events occurring simultaneously. I get that there was a very serious blizzard a month ago, blah blah blah. But seriously, think of what you would say if someone asked you to describe Saskatchewan in the winter. Windy, snowy, and cold - in the order of your personal preference. Not to mention, the roads have been overly icy all winter because of the messed up weather we've had.

What comes next? The "War on the Weather?" That we should all be on "high alert" for winter? Get over it people, at least it's not cold.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

je ne comprends pas

Rarely does my age ever cause my any grief at my job, ha ha yes I know I look just like a student ha ha. Typically my ideas and work (or my student's work rather) say enough that I really don't think anyone really thinks about it. Today I was reminded just how annoying it can be to be "the young one."

Core French. Grrr. Anyway, my class has requested that we read a 'real book' instead of the junk they typically water down for non native French speakers. I really enjoy this play called "Zone," and have taught it before, albeit in an immersion setting. However, I really don't recall it being that difficult since it's something done in grade 9. As an added bonus it matches two (2!) of the three topics we will study and lends itself really well to class discussions on current issues, youth issues, and slang/language.

So I go to see the main immersion teacher about using "Zone." Mainly because I figured she would need to teach it at some point in the semester and book sharing would need to coordinated. She hmmm-ed and haww-ed and suggested a few other books I could do. I didn't really want to, but didn't want to be rude. One of the books she suggested was Les Mis. I guess there is a decent shortened version floating around and students have really liked it in the past. I suppose you could say she sold me on the idea, mainly cause I love Les Mis and it did open up the opportunity or watching the musical and doing stuff with some of the music.

Until of course I asked my class, to double check that they hadn't read it. They had. With her. In grade 10. Ugh. No harm done, I still have my original "Zone" plan. So I go back to talk to her about when I can use the books. Again with the suggesting of different books. Again with the explaining of why I want to do Zone. This is getting frustrating since I've already explained numerous times one of the main reasons (aside from the sound curricular ones stated earlier) I'm set on "Zone" is that I've already taught it. I have material, I have ideas, I might even have projects lying around somewhere. I even went so far to say that I could order the books from downtown if she was really that concerned that we'd need them at the same time.

To this she responded "How about "Les trois mousquetaires"?" She is normally such a lovely lady. I just don't understand what the big deal is. If there really is one, come on out and tell me about it. If you have a feeling it's going to go over terribly and I will deeply regret this decision at a later date: 1) I would not feel bad at all abandoning the play and admitting it was a rotten idea to my students if it really was that bad, and 2) please just let me fall on my face on my own. The weird part is, it's not like she's secretly wanting to do it herself with her students next year - these are grade 12s.

In a week I may just go upstairs and take the books without reconsulting her. If she wants them, she knows where my classroom is.

Monday, February 19, 2007

february break - the condensed version

So I had an eventful and an uneventful February break all at the same time. In no particular order:

The most time consuming part of my break was spent with Big Red. You see, the Friday prior he got a waaaaay overdue nose job. If you think you may need a deviated septum repaired, may I suggest you do this sooner than later? Since this was something that should most likely have been fixed, oh say, at least 10 years ago, it was a pretty big deal. Not only did they have to straighten his septum, they also needed to relocate cartilage and "shave" off a large amount of bone. Big Red spent most of the break not being able to move and swallowing large amounts of blood and gel foam. On top of the other stuff, they had to move a nerve to properly repair his nose so his mouth and teeth hurt and will continue to hurt for the next 3ish months. Awesome! Now that most of the swelling is gone and his splint is off, I enjoy staring at him. He looks the same, but different. He says I'm the only one who will notice since I spend a considerable amount of time looking at him, but I think it's fairly noticeable and that the gentlemen and ladies alike will notice his spiffy new nose.

Institute and Convention were blah-ish. The only thing I got out of the first day is that there are a lot of unintelligent teachers out there. I'm sure they are good teachers (well most of them) but most of the conversations I overheard people were raving about the keynote. It was a continuation of last years dreary, never ending presentation of brain development and the media. Yet again, there never was a real point made, or any tangible solutions, or well anything of substance. However, it seemed that since she could competently talk about YouTube, blogs and MySpace, everyone loved her. Boo. Not that I'm a genius or anything, but I'm pretty sure I could have given her entire 2 hour talk in no more than 20 minutes. So much filler.

Day 2 was slightly more inspiring. Mostly since I was able to participate in some really good discussion with a small group of teachers in the afternoon. I would call the morning a total waste of my time, only it did give us a catalyst for the lively afternoon discussions. Nothing too world changing came out of these discussions, but it is interesting for me to kind of realise that I am slowly solidifying some strong beliefs, values and opinions about my position as a teacher. It's an interesting evolution to chart if I think back to when I was an intern in 2001. Ya, that's right, 2001. Did I mention they've given me a student teacher for the next 2 weeks? In Core French. Gong show.

I didn't get as much planning as I'd have liked done (do I ever?), but I did put in some quality hours. What I did do was take a mental vacation from the stress Core French is putting on me. I think this is most likely as valuable considering the enormous feeling of hatred that would overcome me just thinking about it before the break has turned back into a feeling of disorientation, but also something that could be fun.

Oh yes, Big Red and I also played a ridiculous amount of Twilight Princess and watched and entire season of Scrubs.

Back to work tomorrow.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

i guess you had to be there...

Often I try to tell stories of the weird and wonderful projects my students make up for me. Normally, I do a piss poor job and everyone looks away awkwardly (except Rach, who wishes school was still about making funny videos...). So, thanks to YouTube, I can now share these darling projects with you. This is my most recent acquisition. Voila, le future simple and le future proche for your enjoyment!

Update
It looks like YouTube isn't cooperating with me right now. I can't even access YouTube since I'm at school so I'll have to fix this later. Stupid school board and their blocking antics.

Update #2
It would appear YouTube and I aren't friends anymore. You would think since google bought both Blogger and YouTube using the same account between all three would be simple. YouTube currently thinks doesn't think my blog is mine. So go here to see the video.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

uma!

I was having a terribly depressing day. Full of stupid stress, just counting down the hours until February break when hopefully I can finally get a handle on all that I am supposed to be doing and accomplishing right now.

I'm not sure if I've ever talked about Erica on my blog. My bad if I haven't. You see, she's over the top amazing. Many of my happiest times in Japan involved la belle Erica. Then, because being the regular kind of amazing - you know, all around good person with an attitude and the patience typically only awarded to people in make believe stories, crazy intelligent, empowered, going to change the world type of amazing - she had to go kick leukemia's butt as well, just to add that to her long list of credentials.

One of her very good friends, Uma, had a brain aneurysm this week. Now, while a young person having this happen to them definitely doesn't bring joy or happiness, seeing this just kinda snapped me out of my way overly self involved pity party.

Screw you school, stress, and the non essentials. I have way better things to focus my energy on and have nothing to complain about. So send some happy thoughts and energy the way of someone you know who truly needs it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

tales of gr 10 repeaters

S: Ms did you get your hair cut?
Me: Nope.
S: Well are you wearing a new sweater or something?
Me: Ummmm, no S, I change my clothes every day. It's kinda my thing.
S: Oh. You just look different today.*

The class approved of me changing my clothes, while S persisted with "no but she really looks different!"

*I was wearing my contacts. And a different sweater.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

so this is what everyone was talking about...

I think I've unfortunately found out what everyone was complaining about back when they were first year teachers. Up until now, I thought the rumours of never going home, of having no resources, very little support and always having something to do were just a wee bit exaggerated by people who for one reason or another, just aren't efficient. This might still be true, but to those of you who were genuinely working your butts off, I'm sorry.

So, on year 4, I have been reduced to that person who has nothing. Today was the first day this week I wasn't at school til way after even the extra curr activities has gone home. Mainly because I had to be at the store, looking after other people's boobs. Also, our school is hosting a big basketball tournament this weekend and I have decided to let all my classes "support" the games as a coping mechanism. Essentially I am buying myself time. 3 blessed days before I need to magically understand how to teach kids French.

My staff has attempted to be helpful, by saying things like "there's some stuff in this book, and this book, and this book over here" and then following it with "but I don't really teach Core French so I'm really not the best person to ask." The girl who is the person to ask, lent me her binder (thanks!). Unfortunately, it is full of grammar worksheets and things that make me hate French. She tells me she had "a lot of fun!" with her class last semester, but I have no idea how if this binder truly represents what went on in her classroom.

To top it all off, I was pretty sure Core French involved putting on skits and eating fun things. I was sorta hoping for cupcakes. My students have asked if we can read a novel. Bless them for wanting to learn, but seriously. You want me to be good at this? It's going to be a long semester.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

ears,noses and throats, oh my!

I have been waiting since early October to get in to see an Otolaryngologists. There aren't very many (read, 1) here, so while my symptoms weren't anything serious, I figured if something needed to be done I better get on the waiting list while I could still walk. You see, my sinuses/throat always feels like there is something stuck in it. I am constantly trying to swallow whatever that may be, and honestly, it's pretty gross. And never goes away. Also, not really a huge concern of mine, but hypothetically due to the blocked sinuses, I have started snoring. Super awesome for Big Red.

So finally the big day. Since I'd never been to this particular office, it was decided by someone that was not me, that I needed a complete exam. It must all start with the ears or something, cause that's essentially what the full exam entailed. First, I had to sit down so she could check the pressure in my ears. She assures me this won't hurt. Then she starts reefing my ears into unnatural positions so she can shove a mangy looking piece of plastic in to them (apparently the "nothing bigger then your elbow" rule doesn't apply here and sterilization is optional). Once she seemed happy with my level of discomfort, she began to blow air into my ears. I must have misshapen ears, because more reefing and pulling was necessary to get the plastic bit to seal properly so maximum pressure and discomfort could be attained.

Next, I needed a hearing test. To perform said test, they close you in a room that looks like it was fabricated in Russian during the first World War. Only, instead of feeling safe in my own personal "bomb shelter" I had the feeling that if a bomb were to go off, somehow that room would implode while the rest of the building just shook a little. Anyway, the hearing test is no big deal, but they totally try to trick you. The first beeps come rhythmically, so you feel that you should be hearing the next one. The you worry there is a next one, but you can't hear it. So then you imagine noises and you press the button anyway. What started as a tiny concern about excess snot has now wound up with me getting a hearing aid...

Finally, I'm done with the technicalities and we can focus on why I'm really there. My nez. I explain my problems to the doctor. He looks at my tonsils - they are apparently a normal size. The rest of the exam is going to be much more serious. So serious it necessitates a metal forehead reflector. This makes me happy indeed. The rest does not. After careful placement of forehead reflector, he stuck a mirror waaaaay back in my throat so he could look up my nose. This was kinda like having a throat culture taken, but it took longer, so I was starting to have issues with not gagging. All clear! You would think this would be good. Not so much. Having a clear nasal passage meant he wanted to look down my throat. OMG. So he takes gauze and pulls my tongue out a painful amount. Then he takes a crazy snaky mirror and weaves it under my tongue and down my throat. Then he reminds me to breath because I am freaking out and holding my breath. I'm sure this took all of 45 seconds, but it felt like forever. The verdict? All clear.

What? So he's explaining to me that there is absolutely nothing blocking my throat in either direction. That my tonsils are totally normal and not causing the problem. And I have no adenoids, so that's not it either. I must have had a very confused look on my face. Cause I can feel something, as he's telling me this, in my throat. His assessment? Stress.

Stress? I wasn't aware I was stressed?! Not being aware that I have enough stress to make me think I'm sick makes me more stressed! As one final last shot I ask why I'm snoring. He takes one look at my profile and says "Oh, you have an out chin." Like that explains it all. Reading my mind he continues, "People with out chins tend to swallow their tongues when they sleep." Great...

So all this time I have been (unsuccessfully) trying to swallow my tonsils. But somewhat successfully swallowing my tongue. Awesome?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

someone call the darwin awards...

I've always known I was an idiot. This stopped surprising me eons ago. I catch myself surprising other people with just how stupid I can be all the time, but I thought I'd run out of things to surprise myself with. Laugh and shake my head at me, sure. But actually be surprised, not likely.

Until today. Home, since school was cancelled, I was making an attempt at being productive. Bathroom cleaning ranks highly on the list of things to do while being productive. So I'm cleaning away, almost finished, when I go to clean the mirror. Not thinking I spray Windex away to my hearts content. And it registers. My toothbrush sits right next to the mirror. I have solidly sprayed my toothbrush with orange, anti-bacterial, Windex. Awesome. Remember when it blizzarded out yesterday? I'm not going out for a toothbrush. I'm also not not going to brush my teeth. If I die, just tell them what happened and save them all the trouble of figuring out how I was poisoned...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

clearly the world is ending

They actually cancelled school this afternoon. I cannot recall any other time in my history of living in Saskatchewan that I was present for schools being closed. Hell has frozen over my friends. Seriously, all them little demons are wearing ice skates today.

Of course, it needed to be done as awkwardly as possible. So the school board waited until everything in the city shut down first - universities, SIAST, the buses. Really, I'm pretty sure that's the only reason we got to go home at all - if we didn't send the kids home right then, we would have been stuck with them til tomorrow. While superintendants may be crazy, they do have a vague idea that that would be a bad scene. On the plus side, my neighbour and I already had a plan hatched out so that we would get the cookies from the cafeteria before anyone else even knew what was going on.

Interested in knowing what it looks like here? I'm too lazy to post my own stuff, so go check out Jeff's blog.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

resolutions

When Rach asked me if I'd made New Year's resolutions this year, I answered no. Upon reflection, this is not entirely true. You see, I've been making resolutions since around mid-August when I commenced a slightly more active quest for a happier, more relaxed and more socially conscious lifestyle. This makes sense as my life revolves around the school calendar, and January 1st is really just an excuse to prolong the Christmas holidays (and a good one at that!). Anywho, since everyone else is doing it, I might as well firm up some of these resolutions. Heck, maybe I'll include them in my Annual Growth Binder as it's looking a little slim these days...

1. Consume less and consume more intelligently.
I hate that consumerism has become such a large part of our culture. I hate even more that people are defining themselves by what they own. The constant need to "upgrade" things that don't need upgrading while the planet is dying hurts me a lot. I'm really trying to be an intelligent consumer, but honestly it's difficult. There are so many hidden evils, so much conflicting information - who do you believe? So I have picked a few absolute evils, a few companies I feel good in supporting, but I think more important is the consuming less bit. Since buying my condo, I have been on a mini mission to simplify my life and a large part of this has been getting rid of unnecessary stuff. If you don't buy unnecessary stuff in the first place it gets even easier!

2. Moisturize more often.
Seriously, I must be related to crocodiles or alligators. I own things I can't touch without getting grossed out because they stick to my hands. Bare feet are a no no because they catch on the carpet. While I haven't yet gone out and purchased a bottle of Gold Bond, I do really wonder if it could get rid of the terrible terrible itching that is my back. You would think making myself bleed from scratching would have been motivation enough, but no. It would appear that noticing my skin is starting to look it's age may be the deciding factor. Does this mean my days of being ID'd are almost over?

3. Drink more wine.
I don't think I'll have any trouble with this one. I'm drinking wine right now! This is quite the progress considering just a little over two years ago I hated wine in most forms. (Not you ice wine, you have always been delicious. Expensive, but delicious.) So in the last couple of years, in the interest of looking much more cool than I really am and fitting into social situations with people my age, I decided I should like wine. I know I can force myself to like things as liking tea was my 2001 project, sushi was 2003 and these are now both staples to my diet. So now I like wine, but sometimes forget I like it, and therefore don't enjoy a glass enough. Besides, at least one of my resolutions needs to be attainable.

4. See Nelly Furtado.
On April 5th, live, in Montreal. This is for you Rach. I really am trying.

5. Revamp the way I teach Math 10.
I hate the way I teach Math 10. It's not a bad way, I accomplish all the provincial objectives and my students do well. But I have no love for Math 10. Partially because I have less love for grade 10 students compared to the other grades, but also because the course it a little bit of an oddity with the rest of the math flow. I've been reflecting upon this quite a bit lately, and I think with some changes I could learn to like Math 10 (or at least tolerate it more than I do now) and that this would also make me like grade 10 students a little more. If I like it more, I will be more excited and by extension they will like it more, right? It has potential to be one of the most practical math classes in a very literal sense, just not the way it's set out according to our ressources and common practice. This is the semester where I shall say screw that! and up the bar a little bit. This might be a bit of a challenge seeing as I have 3 new preps outside of this, but still doable me thinks.

6. Get out more often.
Possibly rendered a little more difficult by the last sentence in resolution #5, but most people give up on their resolutions by the end of January anyway so there's no harm in trying... Christmas really made me realise how much I've isolated myself this year; staying in to work, hang with Bid Red or to just watch tv. While these are all important things to do, I kinda forgot how much I enjoy going out with friends. This seems like a stupid thing to say, but I forget how awesome all my friends are. Sorry guys, sometimes it's just so easy to be lazy and to not call. While my Christmas schedule would be impossible to uphold all year round, I really do want to make more of an effort at getting out for coffee or actually getting together for that board game night instead of just talking about it all the time. Oh yes, and Dad, we should start going to movies again.

I think I should stop while I'm ahead. And before the wine hits and I start spewing nonsense. Happy 2007 everyone!

Friday, January 05, 2007

i'm a failure

What's that Chelle? You somehow managed to pull your hamstring by doing absolutely nothing in the last couple days? Those days where you have been sleeping in, sitting at the computer, then napping, followed by tv or video game watching? But those activities don't even require legs! Oh, you know that? Then what's up with the limp?

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In other news, I have failed at my only post Christmas project. Or maybe not. Heavens I make things complicated! Yesterday, when I went to apply the second coat to my shelving unit it was very tacky. Check it out, there's my fingerprints in my new coat of paint kind of tacky. I was thinking this was probably because I was a failure as a shelf sander and that I would need to start over. Not to mention seek out therapy for my inability to complete the easiest tasks. I have been racking my brain as to where I could find a palm sander to make this second attempt more successful. Just for fun, after I typed the first sentence of this paragraph, I thought I should leave some more fingerprints in my shelf to remind me of what a failure I really am. Quelle surprise! It's totally dry now.

Now what to do? Do I paint it again, and simply expect a strange 48 hour drying time? Do I "scuff" the surface and then paint? Do I go with the original plan of palm sanding the crap out of it and starting over? Or do I throw the whole thing in the Loras bin and pretend I never wanted a corner shelf in the first place? Help! Who let me buy a house?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

happy new year!

I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as I did this year. Every year as more and more people move away, Christmas is more jam packed with visiting friends I really wish would hurry up and move back home already! It was especially great that Rach and Marlito finagled some serious holiday time so we had the luxury of spending not just catching up time but quality time as well. Rach and I, obviously in a bit of withdrawl from political discussion, had enough debate-like conversations to hopefully get us through this next period of not seeing one another without our brains turning to mush and/or without accidentally scaring an acquaintance with our opinions.

Against all my better judgment, Big Red and I went out on New Years. I am not a lover of New Years as plans typically go awry and way too much expectation is invested in one evening. So I was pleasantly surprised indeed when we had a kickassawesome evening of dancing and socializing. I should probably thank our boss who gave us both the night off, and then was not angry that we came to her club anyway.

There are very few days of holidays left and so it is time to finally address the little bits of work that need to get done before I go back to school. I did a good job of this yesterday. I had a leisurely morning, and talked to a few people I didn't manage to see over the break. I put the first coat of paint on a shelving unit for my kitchen. I may have managed to clear off my kitchen table. I rewarded this "hard work" with an afternoon nap. The rest of my day didn't look much different (I did manage to get my house clean).

It's been a wonderful holiday indeed.