Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From the Adorable File.

My niece started junior kindergarten last week. Here she is with her neighbour, who is in senior kindergarten and goes to the same school (and yeah, the little one is older):

Cute as a button! Loves school, too.

Some of her observations:
  • There are rules at school, but not everyone follows them.
  • One of the rules is, no running. (We all think she'll have a problem with that one... her Tigger-like bounciness might get in the way. But, she can also spend hours on the Etch-a-Sketch.)
  • Not all the kids want to learn.
  • She wonders what she'll be like when she gets big.
  • She wants to be a teacher like Uncle JTL.
Just think, ladies*... hook up with a feller like me, and you have a not-so-terrible shot at having one of these darling little creatures of your very own!
* no fat chicks

Monday, September 28, 2009

I am a night owl.

It happens every Sunday night from September through June: I can't get to sleep.

Some people are morning people. I hate these people, because by the time you see them arrive at work — rather, they've been there for an hour and a half and you're just hauling your ass in — they've already jogged three miles, had a full breakfast with orange juice they hand-squeezed themselves, planned out their wardrobe for the week, given themselves an audit (just in case the taxman doesn't believe their outrageous tuition bill), and re-alphatized their CD collection.

Meanwhile, I likely spent 15 minutes in the shower trying in vain to rouse myself from a coma, grabbed a pre-squished granola bar on my way out the door, wondered who the hell in their right mind would get up so fucking early of their own volition, and generally cursing my own upright existence.

Unfortunately, you can only get your revenge on these people on Saturday night... you can't even see them because they're probably at home, unfolding their perfectly-made bedspread precisely at 9pm because they're all tuckered-out, while you're over at a friend's place shotgunning the first tallboy of the evening in preparation of "gettin' all tore-up" over the next several hours, eventually falling into that mess of sheets you call a bed somewhere around 5.

Which would you rather be?

The problem with being a creature of the night — which I fully realized in all its glory as a second-year Master's student with an extremely flexible schedule, being ridiculously productive between midnight and 4am and eventually waking up around 10:30 — is that most of the world doesn't run on that schedule. Obviously, I wish it did... not just for myself, but to stick it to all those perky morning people who I've not-so-secretly hated all my life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Czars, interchangeable terminology, and overwhelming stupidity.

You may have heard that there was a big right-wing gathering in Washington, DC recently. Here's the ugly proof.

I tell ya, left-wing protests are always so much more fun. Hotter chicks (read: chicks under 60), far fewer stupid-sounding southern accents, fewer annoying "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chants, and people who actually know things.

Hat-tip: The Airing of Grievances

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Generalized goings-on, and such.

People — friends, enemies, sycophants and other hangers-on — have been asking me how the school year has been going lately.

Every year (so far) has been pretty much the same in its rhythm...
  • classes start out really, really quiet
  • like, uncomfortably quiet
  • then they all get to know each other
  • then you get to know them
  • eventually, it all sorta flows
There are factors that affect how soon "flow" is achieved. Larger classes tend to get it first, but that's just because the interpersonal chemistry part is a little easier, owing to the fact that more people probably know more other people in the room. You have to be careful with big classes, though: you have to make sure to corral that energy and direct it towards the material, rather than let it spiral outwards into pure socialization.

I'm teaching college-prep physics for the first time in a couple of years; lately it seems like all I've been doing is the university-prep courses, in terms of senior physics. When I first taught the course, I made the huge mistake of treating the kids in the college stream like those in the university stream; after all, forces and energy were the same in both courses, right? Wrong. You have to be a bit of a gear-head in the college course... these kids aren't going to be engineers — they're going to be HVAC repair-people, car mechanics, and the like. In short, these kids don't give a shit how an equation is derived, even though I (and the kids in the university stream) might.

One of the courses I'm teaching this year is this wacky Earth and Space Science course. Obviously, I enjoy the material... but (a.) there's no textbook for the course, (b.) half of it is more like physical geography, and (c.) there are nine kids in the class. That means I have to do most of the talking — classroom discussion is pretty sparse, save for a couple of students — which means that, by the end of it, my voice is completely shot. In the end, I'm working my ass off (probably 60% of the prep work I've done so far is for this one course), and there are nine kids in the room... which makes me feel like all this effort is being chucked down a well, sometimes.

On the bright side, a few of us teachers are trying to start up a weekly tradition of having a drink at the local pub every Friday. I've suggested that, Queen's-like, we call this thing "Ritual." We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One-Sentence Random Thought #10.

It's starting to become apparent to me that, despite the fact that it's painfully obvious, people from the upper-midwest in the US (e.g. Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Wisconsin, etc.) don't actually realize that they sound all annoying and nasally and ridiculous.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stevie Speaks.

At a private (so he thought) gathering of Conservative Party faithful, Stephen Harper was caught on tape saying this:

"If we do not win a majority, there will be a Liberal government, propped up by the socialists and the separatists."

Is that a promise, Steve? If it isn't, can it be? Because there's no way in hell you're going to win a majority, if Iggy brings you down this fall. Too many people just flat-out hate you and your d-bag ways, and I'm one of them. In fact, when I dream about the kind of government Steve described, and then when I wake up, it looks like I peed in my bed a bit, but it doesn't look like pee, and it smells a little like bleach.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We're back.

Not only am I back with a brand-new blog post, I'm back with the kiddies in the classroom. Hooray!

It usually takes a few days before a class starts to come together in any sort of meaningful way. For the first little while, people don't really know each other too well — both between the students themselves, and between me and them — and classroom discussions can fall flat if you don't have one or two kids who are pretty naturally outgoing and gregarious. Fortunately, most classes have at least a few of these, so you probably aren't going to hear crickets in the background until the class naturally picks itself up and becomes more interesting.

This year, we have two more people in our department than we've ever had before. This is good, obviously; we don't want our numbers to dwindle, and more kids means more sections of classes, which means more classes and more teachers that have a job. The problem is we're running out of space in our office — we don't have space for any more teacher desks, and when everyone's in there it's pretty loud and raucous. But, compare this to a school (and there are a lot of them) where teachers scatter like cockroaches to their individual prep-rooms, hardly interact with each other during the day, don't share any resources, and hoard equipment in obscure hiding places... I'll take a communal-yet-slightly-chaotic department anytime.

One down, only 193 to go. I can practically taste the freedom already.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

One-Sentence Random Thought #9.

When Bo Diddley suggested, "Don't let your mouth write a cheque that your tail can't cash," he was really on to something, because this is about the most important advice that anyone could ever receive, ever.