Monday, February 27, 2006

Sometimes the monologue should stay internal

Another week starting. Another week closer to the holidays.

I am hoping to make it to a number of roleplaying events this year. First and foremost I want to get down to Christchurch for Buckets of Dice. With my gebruder having moved down to Christchurch recently, and my sister's family living down there, I'm very keen to pop down anyways, and going for a roleplaying convention should be a lot of fun.

Of course there will be some tension there - I'll be wanting to spend as much time as possible with both family and roleplaying. One awesome solution would be to get Adam to come to Buckets. He was keen on Kapcon (and may come next year), so a local con might be appealing. And his new job doesn't have any weekend work (unlike his previous job), so he'll definitely be free J

I'm also wanting to get up to Palmerston North for at least a day of Magecon / Panzershreck. I think it's the week before Buckets, so the middle of the year could be quite roleplaying-y. I shall have to make sure I have a con scenario ready to run, although going as a player would also be awesome (and less stressful than GMing).

Work is a place where I have to be 5 days a week. It's actually quite enjoyable at times, but there are times when I am really earning my salary. It's not easy teaching alternate classes. On the other hand, it's certainly not boring either.

In my old job I used to read a lot, play computer games, and write at work. That doesn't happen so much in teaching, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there aren't that many hours in the day when I'm not in front of a class - I have 4 non-contact hours a week this half of the year. That'll go up to 8 hours a week at the mid-point of the year, which is awesome. Also, strangely, the amount of work I'll have to do as head of a course will probably drop off too - a lot of it is start-of-the-year stuff. So the second half of the year should be pretty nice.

The other reason that reading and writing and other fun activities don't happen so much is that there are always things that need doing - marking, paperwork and planning. Those few moments that I do take as 'mental health breaks' tend to be to check email or, occasionally, NZRaG.

So - many good things about the job, some things that are difficult, but a job that is never boring. I got to play hack today for about half an hour with some Year 13 students, so that was awesome.

In related news, I didn't want to blog about my day specifically, as Debbie did such an awesome job on her own blog. I will say that the race from my school to hers to drop off keys was a much more pulse-pounding start to the day than sitting in staff briefing, and that I could totally get to her school in half the time, maybe less, if I had sirens flashing and was ignoring all speed limits.

I got stuck behind someone doing 40km/h for NO REASON for a while too, which made it take longer than it needed to. Still, there and back inside of 22 minutes, including waiting around for about 4 precious minutes at the office.

Hmmm, now I want to race around madly, seeing how quickly I can get from one place to another. Maybe I need to get a job as an ambulance driver, or *cheap shot about the Prime Minister's driver*. Or I should take up extreme roller-blading, as I think that it's technically not a vehicle, and thus I could go as fast as I wanted to.

Hmmm, do horse riders have to stick to the speed limit? What about animals, such as cheetah? Cyclists? Mad-fast sprinters?

Friday, February 24, 2006

To Johari?

I have all of 2 minutes before I need to run away, so this will be quick.

I am tempted to set up a Johari window, but I want to be able to customise it with my own adjectives. I would love to know how many people see me as "masterful" or "crazy" or even "crack-smoking". I'm sure some clever internet person has already set up customiable Johari window thingees, but with 30 seconds left to type, I may never know.

I actually thought the lack of simple adjectives like 'creative' was sad.

And I felt bad about filling in a Nohari window. Having to point at flaws is less fun than you might think. Unless you did it behind someone's back. That would be totally I Know, Right?

Friday, February 17, 2006

He can read?

Last year (and the year before) I read a woefully small amount. This seems to be a common complaint among English teachers - a lot of them live in a world of words that extends beyond the 9 to 5 into soul-crushing evening marking. Reading for pleasure gets relegated to being a holiday activity, sadly, as there's so much student writing to wade through.

The holidays were good, and the start of the year has been good too. I'm still well behind the amount I used to read when I was a projectionist (about 2 books a week for almost a year). I am at least reading for pleasure every day at the moment.

So - books read since the end of last school year:

Lord of the Flies - a very cool book, with some chilling moments.

The Da Vinci Code - a well written action-film-as-novel. A very pleasant way to revisit the ideas in Holy Blood Holy Grail, which I've been casually flicking through over the past few months, without really reading.

Venus on the Half Shell - a brilliant novel by Kilgore Trout. I'd been curious about what it would be like to read a whole book in that Kilgore Trout style, rather than just a plot summary. It's a lot of fun :)

The Fat Man - some quality NZ fiction. A surprisingly crime-thrillery young adult book, that I very much enjoyed.

Hatchet - another school text, but a good light read. Oddly enough it almost made me want to go camping in the Canadian mountains.

Current Book In Progress - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the autobiography of Maya Angelou (or at least one book of her autobiography - I think she wrote other autobiographical books later on). It has introduced me to the words powhitetrash and whitefolksville.

Monday, February 13, 2006

You're Not Sitting There, Son

This year, somewhat unexpectedly, I seem to have developed the habit of calling students 'son'. Last year I did call a student son when he addressed me as dad (something that he was a little embarassed about, but not too mortified), but only once. This year the term 'son' has slipped out several times in the space of a week, both in the positive "good job, son" and the negative "I don't think so, son, you're sitting THERE."

It's an interesting thing - I think I am moving into an age where I can actually start dealing with students as a 'proper' grown-up - someone they see as being old enough to be a parent to a teenager. Doing the maths, I would have had to have fathered a child when I was 16 to have a teenage child now, which is entirely possible.

I think the teaching profession has artificially aged me too, hitting me over the head with a several-years aging stick. I feel it in my bones, and maybe it's starting to show in my unusual vocabulary choices.

The Vicar Ejaculated

It was an odd thing to be reading a Dorothy Sayers novel last night (Busman's Honeymoon) and come across a phrase something like "the vicar ejaculated several times while she was talking."

I have, of course, seen that usage of the verb many times, and it seems rather juvenile to still find it amusing, but that particular sentence construction seemed to be very suggestive.

It's the second example I've noticed recently of a very different usage of a word in a book I've read. I finally got around to reading The Fat Man, as I was considering teaching it, and came across the word 'pimp' used to mean 'squeal' or 'rat' or 'narc'. As in - "Martin was furious that Jones had pimped him to the principal on Friday."

I would be furious too!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

First Week Back

Holidays, lovely things that they are, are now over. I am officially back in the saddle, and have survived Week 1 of the school year. It went pretty well, both in the classroom and in my new position of responsibility. Cool things from the week:

1. My long-awaited projector/home theatre set-up in my classroom is now complete! There's a ceiling mounted projector, a DVD/VCR combo, a sound system, and space and cabling to plug in a laptop. I have used it for powerpoint notes (vastly superior to OHTs), and am looking forward to showing movies on it over the course of the year. It ended up being very cheap, as I went to Dick Smiths and had limited options for the sound system. All up it will be in the neighbourhood of $2000, but I think about $600 to $700 of that is curtains!

2. My first meeting with the teachers of the courses I'm running went well. I was feeling a bit stressed about this, but am now thinking it should go pretty smoothly.

3. Debbie and I were talking about the fact that we have both levelled up as teachers - it's clear from our first weeks back that we are both now Level 3 teachers. Obviously not experts, but noticeably improved.

4. Unknown Armies on Thursday was excellent. It's looking like the game is going to be a lot of fun, although certain happy-go-lucky characters may end up making my character pull his hair out. Actually, given that we won't be based at the restaurant, it shouldn't be quite so bad, but being sandwiched between Debbie and Conan while they played through an average day at work, and having to try to be their shift manager, was Ha-ard.

5. The weekend is awesome. I got to sleep in this morning, and that is a glorious thing. I wouldn't say that I ever took my holidays for granted, but boy do I appreciate the arrival of Friday night when I'm working.

There were other things, little things that I've forgotten, but in a few broad strokes that was my week. I have managed to learn all 29 names of my form class (I did this on the second day I saw them, by staring at the seating plan and saying to myself "John sits next to Gavin, Gavin sits next to Amelia..."). I haven't learned all the names of my other students, but they'll come.

I am still quietly upbeat about this year - optimistic even. I can see that some parts of it are going to be difficult, but that other aspects will be quite rewarding. I am quite sure that whatever else happens, it will not be boring :)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Quick Post

Weddings are awesome. The wedding of Jenni and Lee this weekend was stunning in every way.

The castle is a pretty spectacular venue, and many comments were made about its desirability as a LARP venue.

The ceremony felt very relaxed, yet still formal. Everyone looked lovely, and the celebrant left a hilarious pause after the 'any just cause' question - just long enough for people to chuckle, but not long enough for anyone to actually get smart.

There were pool tables, so much bad pool playing ensued.

Random quotage:
"They're easier to insert when they're small"
"I am not a flat surface!"


The speeches were all really touching, especially Lee's (during which I was on the verge of tears).

The dinner conversation (and dinner) were pretty fantastic, though the topics of conversation became less... polite... as the evening wore on. Talking about leveling up your marriage, and then being able to multi-class into other people's marriages (and take their gold pieces) was very silly.

One of the really nice things that Luke and Sam and Debbie and I discussed in the car on the way home, was the fact that there aren't that many occasions when you celebrate relationships, and that it's one lovely thing that weddings can do - make you look around and appreciate the positive relationships around you.

Oh, and I think I talked at length to several people (possibly semi-coherently) about my desire to move away from the self-deprecating mode that I grew up with, into a more honsetly congratulatory one. Both congratulating others for their awesomeness, but also being able to pat myself on the back and really own my successes. At least, that's what I meant to say.

So, a lovely lovely wedding filled with lovely people, to celebrate a lovely couple and their success in being together and wanting to stay together.

Tino pai.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Full of Metal!

Re-enrolment day is not the funnest day ever. It involves sitting in a very noisy hall and approving the course choices of a few hundred students. This means signing their pieces of paper, having first checked how many credits they got in English in 2005.

We did this for three and a half hours straight.

There were a few interesting observations to be made, which I shall list in easy-to-digest form, thusly:

1. Students in mufti at the end of the holidays seem to be either showing off their awesome tans (and thus wearing the skimpiest outfits possible) or declaring their membership of a social group (such as punk, mod or so forth). There were some interesting fashion choices at the fringes (most students, to be honest, were wearing either jeans + t-shirt or shorts + t-shirt).

2. Students love piercings! There were a striking number of nose, lip, eyebrow, and uppper ear piercings with really big jewellery stuffed in them. These will, of course, have to be removed before next week.

3. Some 6th formers, who should be either 15 or 16, are absolutely huge and sound like James Earl Jones. I swear that there were kids signing up for 6th form who made Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed look like a toddler.

4. Beards, though not popular, were in the hizzouse. Two of my former students had grown awesome beards over the holidays, one a full beard, and the other a kind of Abe Lincoln meets Skater beard. Heh.

5. Students are loud. Loudly loud. I grew tired in the vocal region from having to raise my voice to be heard by students sitting across the table from me, just because the hall itself was filled with chatting teenagers.

6. Catered lunches are awesome. We don't get many of them in the teaching profession (they are one of the benefits of going on courses), but that just means that when they do come along they're appreciated all the more.

I should be working. I am at least at work, and have sorted out a network cable for the computer in my block, but I should really try to get as much as possible done before lunch time. It would not be so cool to have to come back after lunch.