Friday, December 30, 2011

A typically Icelandic conversation.

By May of 1940, Germany had easily invaded Denmark and Norway, and the Allies thought that Germany was looking to steamroll its way across the North Atlantic. (They probably were.)

Iceland was formally neutral in World War II. It still had ties to Denmark — their king was still formally the head of the Icelandic government — so the fact that Germany invaded Denmark was sort of a big deal.

The UK thought it'd be a good idea to act first on securing Iceland; might as well grab it before the Krauts do, they surmised. So, they put together a sloppy invasion strategy — because Iceland had no military, it didn't have to be great — and set about the task.

In the middle of the night before British ships were to land, a reconnaissance plane was sent forward to scout out the harbour. The pilot mistakenly flew over downtown Reykjavík, and because Iceland didn't have any airplanes at the time, this woke a lot of people up, including the Prime Minister. So much for surprise.

At any rate, in the morning, the British ships came into the harbour, and a crowd of curious Icelanders was gathered around. The British consul in Iceland knew about the so-called invasion beforehand, so he went down to make sure everything was going smoothly. The crowd — which included some police officers — was getting in the way a bit:

British consul, to Icelandic police:
Would you mind getting the crowd to stand back a bit, so that the soldiers can get off the destroyer?

Police reply, essentially to the army that was there to invade them:
Certainly.

A little later, a pissed-off local did this:
One Icelander snatched a rifle from a [British] marine and stuffed a cigarette in it. He then threw it back to the marine and told him to be careful with it.

Ah, Iceland. My kind of place: endlessly polite, even to invading armies. Full story here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cooking Tip #1.

Bacon grease really isn't all that good a substance to fry stuff in.

I usually put a little canola oil in the bottom of my pan before frying. I like it because it has a really high smoke point, unlike olive oil which smokes like crazy if I put the heat on anywhere past medium. Turns out, bacon grease does the exact same thing. Jesus, it looked like a god damn hot box in my kitchen when I was done cooking breakfast. I even took the battery out of my smoke detector, 'cause it was bound to go off like a fuckin' air raid siren.

So, in conclusion, while it sounds like a great idea to fry things in bacon grease... it's really just more trouble than it's worth.

Next time on Cooking Tips With the J-man: huckleberries. Once you've had fresh, you'll never go back to frozen!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy anniversary.

Two things happened twenty years ago today.

1. Sgt Pepper taught the band to play.



(Jesus, how high were these guys?!)

2. The Soviet Union broke up.

I remember sitting on my grandparents' couch on Boxing Day, 1991 and watching the evening news that night after a family gathering. I just couldn't believe this big, huge, indestructible thing could just... end. Amazing.

The Current had a really interesting retrospective on it today. Definitely worth a listen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, teenagers.

First off, a bit of Informal South Scarberian dialect to pass on to you:

facety (fās' tē) adj.
combative, argumentative, in one's face
e.g. "Leave me alone, don't be so facety."

Secondly, this story goes under the "Wow, kids can be exceptionally stupid" file. It happened to a colleague of mine yesterday, who is not one for exaggeration.

The student, who we will call "H" for anonymity's sake, was in a class yesterday with a supply teacher, who is one of our normal full-time teachers who's on a leave of absence this year doing her master's, but comes back frequently to supply on her days off to make a little cash.

The class which contains H is really quite a sight: a good majority of the complete and utter assholes of H's year — and, boy-howdy, there's a lot of 'em — somehow all ended up in the same room. It really is like that scene in The Usual Suspects where all these criminals are in the same holding cell, and naturally they start to plan a crime to commit when they get out.

Shockingly, though, yesterday they were actually being productive and completing the work that their regular teacher left behind for them... except H, who tried his best to let his inner a-hole-ness shine through a little more than it often does. For reference, H is black, and his family comes from Jamaica (although he was born here).

According to our intrepid supply teacher, H spent most of the class dicking-around and not doing a whole lot of anything. But, eventually he decided it'd be more fun to do the following:
  • use a computer in the room to shop for $200 sneakers
  • berate another student in the room for having "Wal-Mart sneakers"
  • make fun of Africans in general, and Nigerians in particular, by...
    • making monkey noises, and
    • imitating Zulu war dances
When the supply teacher confronted H about his racist and insane behaviour, he justified it as such (in a paraphrased way):

H: "Well, I'm black, so I can make fun of Africans. It's okay."
Teacher: "You know your ancestors came from Africa, right?"
H: "No they didn't! There's no way they did." (Presumably, he thought they were "only" from Jamaica, and didn't know/care how they got to Jamaica in the first place.)

(I'll give you a hint: most of them didn't end up in Jamaica of their own free will.)

So, what we have here is a case of terminal stupidity. Apparently the supply teacher attempted to give H a little history lesson, but he just wasn't believing any part of it. And even if he did believe it, he's still an idiot: because he's black he can make fun of any black person, in incredibly racist ways? That's like me mercilessly ripping on the Scots and Irish, which I'm pretty obviously descended from, and then denying my ancestors came from there but saying, "oh, it's okay, because I'm white I can rip on 'em."

Me: "Those cheap motherfucking Scots and those drunk Irish assholes. And don't get me started on people from the north of England!"
Someone: "Uh... isn't your family all from there, many generations ago?"
Me: "Fuck no! Not a damn chance. Don't you worry about this blond hair and my blue eyes and this pale-ass skin. I'm totally not-Celtic. At all."
Someone: "Really? You kinda look like it."
Me: "Hellz-no, dawg. Not in the least. But have you ever seen them on your box of Lucky Charms? What a little gay fag queer that leprechaun is! But it's alright, I'm white."

So, in the end, some kids are idiots. Most are alright, but some are just really, really, really stupid. As H's teacher puts it, "Most kids, even the ones you have that drive you crazy, have at least one redeeming quality. H has absolutely none."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One-sentence random thought #15.

Discuss: text-messaging has become the new MSN.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's that time of year again.

Yup. It's that time of year when the daily grind has worn us down into a powder, the kids are getting squirrelly, there's all kinds of meetings and engagements and parties and such to attend, and you still sorta have to carry on and plough through your everyday routine even though we've had one weekday off since Labour Day. (And no, PD days don't count, because we gotta come in and do stuff, even though the kiddies get to stay home.)

Christmas gifts purchased: 0

Marking recently done: nearly 0

Times in the past two weeks when I've come home late from a ridiculous waste-of-time meeting and conked-out on my couch for multiple hours: 2

Six days of classes left to go, though — so, in the words of Carl Spackler, "I've got that going for me."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Everything's coming up J-man.

Well, almost everything. But hey, c'est la vie.

1. Blue Jays Season Pass
No, I didn't suddenly switch allegiances: I'll be a Tiger fan until the day I die. But hey, having Major League Baseball a short bus-and-subway ride away from me is a pretty neat thing, so I'll go to some Jays games now and again. This year, the Jays have their super-amazing deal on again: the Blue Jays Fan Pass, formerly the Toronto Star Fan Pass, gets you into every Jays home game (except Opening Day) for a cool $99. That's eighty games for a hundred bones! You can't beat that deal, not even with your good crowbar. Sure, it's in the 500 level. And sure, the ushers have become Nazis about moving down into lower levels. But it's still a steal of a deal.

2. Trip to Florida
The Sixth Annual "J Goes To Florida To Watch Meaningless Baseball" trip is shaping up nicely for March. I bought my plane tickets and nailed down a rental car today... and I really have to say something here about the prices on rental cars. You can be searching for the same cars on the same days from two different vendors; one will be $35 a day, and the other will be $85 a day. It's nuts! At least I can (somewhat) understand the (convoluted) logic behind plane ticket pricing... but this? Pure craziness. Also: if you have to rent a car, do it through Expedia.

3. Trip to Chicago
Former frequent-commenter ECB is nearing the end of her time in the Windy City, and Porter had a good sale on plane tickets, and I got to take three days off whenever I wanted them for the first time ever (from my union in gratitude for working my ass off during the provincial election). Thus, this weekend I'm headed off to Chicago to finally go out for a serious round of drinking: I've done a lot of stuff in that city, but hitting a bar has (bizarrely) not been one of them. Then again, after this past weekend — yes, my chest still hurts today — I may not want to overdo it too much.

4. Christmas Holidays: Gettin' Closer
If I haven't mentioned it already, my two grade 9 classes are inSANE. Mind you, they're crazy for different reasons; my morning guys just don't give a shit, and my afternoon kids are pathologically frantic. Underneath the crazy, they're all actually pretty nice kids, and will someday make for functional adults, for the most part... but for now, I just gotta grit my teeth and get through it with minimal permanent damage. (For the first time ever, I thought today that I could use a massage; the area between my shoulder blades, and my upper back in general, feels really tense.) But, we've had a countdown on the office chalkboard for the past couple of days, and today it clicked down to 12 school days before The Break.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Ouch.

Earlier this evening I was sitting on my couch and reading something, when I laughed.

And my chest hurt. Not in a heart-attack-y kind of way, but in a muscular kind of way.

At first I didn't know why. But it came to me: I puked so much on Sunday morning (after a hell of a Saturday night) that I still hurt, a day and a half later, indirectly.

Thank you, booze. I needed that.

Also: I really have to fucking grow up.