Friday

It was a good Friday. Nice day. Kids slightly nutty, but it's the beginning of a new half term and my patience extends to extra-long. My year 10s are about to have their BCG tests on Friday and they are already panicking about needles and fainting and silly things like that. Surprisingly (or not), it's all the boys who act tough and mean who are all planning to take off and not be here on that day. Unsurprisingly, all the girly-girls are squealing up a storm about the needles. I was honest with them and told them that if I had the choice of death by tuberculosis or a needle, I would choose the damn needle. It's very amusing to watch them go all squealy, though.

Today is National Beaver Day. I kid you not.

Also spotted on the 'net today: Caught on Film: The Bush Credibility Gap . Good old G-Wya's re-election falls to below 50 percent, but he still has an advantage of the Democrats. Two-thirds of those polled said that the economy was in a bad state, but 57% were still happy with his handing of the job. Read about it here . Not being a GW supporter of any means or shape or form, I am amazed that anybody would actually vote for this monkey. But, I must be a narrow-minded wally, then.

The Washington Post is a treasure filled with hidden goodies. Out of the Mouths of Babes is an interesting and, at times, sad article about drama therapy and children survivors of war and nasty things.

Thursday

Wisla Krakow was supposed to play Lazio tonight, but they are not. According to the Gazeta Wyborcza (pl), the pitch is too hard, too frozen. The rematch is supposed to happen now on March 5th, but nobody knows where at this moment. Uefa.com has more information.

I was just thinking: fuckwittage (as in Bridget Jones' "fuckwittage")...how is that actually pronounced? Is it, as in French...fuckwitaaaahhhge or slitghtly more American-English...fuckwittige (with a soft g)? Do we know? Should we get onto the phone with Helen Fielding? Is it pronounced in the film? Must know.

So, George Bush wants civil disobedience, eh? Naomi Klein on globeandmail.com has some suggestions.

Mister Rogers is dead at age 74. Very sad. Read about it here and here .

Also, unrelated completely, Sarah Michelle Gellar says good-bye to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. That's sad in a completely different way. How can we have Buffy without Buffy? It just won't be the same.

Wednesday

Introduction to Weblog Terms for Weblog Readers from Phil Gyford. Interesting, and v. basic and not v. applicable to this site, yet. Courtesy of another website, but I've forgotten which one. Probably Kieran Healy's.

I wish I was geekier and could set up my own blog on my own domain. Blogger is faboo, but it does everything for me and I've not learned that much yet.

What am I talking about? I wouldn't have time to learn anything new. As it is, I spent too much time on this thing. That's it. N's home now from Tae Kwon Do.

I should take this man's advice. How to Read in College. I've brought back with me a few books to read, I've bought books before we left for Poland, I've been given books (great ones!) by friends and family...I am running out of time to read. Especially since I spend a large and disproportionate amount of time reading articles, news, essays on the Internet. Kurt Easterwood mentions in here that he feels his eyes are bigger than his capacity to read and I can totally understand that. I relate. I've always got lists of books waiting to read and I never get to them because I buy more books, or magazines, or I'm trying to keep up with the news and spend all of Sunday reading The Observer. I saw this a few days into January and I got excited. "Finally," I said to myself, "I'll be able to read Samuel Pepys' diary without going out and buying the large tome and trying to read it, but failing miserably because I'll get distracted." Have I been reading it? Have I! Haven't looked at it in weeks. I feel that there's so much wonderful material to read and if I read every hour of the day, every day, my entire life, I would still have books lined up to be read. Or articles. Or essays. Or pundit lefty views. Kieran Healy (see link to his site below) is the site I'm currently browsing through. In this post on his blog he laments the fact that he's found another great blog to read.

My God, have you people no pity? Give it a rest with your pithy and insighful commentary already. I’m supposed to be writing articles, for crying out loud.
he cries out. It's hard! When you find yet another great blog to check almost-daily, it's a blessed curse. I know some of you will read this, roll your eyes and wander what sort of a geek I really am (Yes, Ally, I can see you doing it). I can't help it! I love the Internet. I have always done so. My perfect job would involve me sitting on my ever-widening bottom (age, etc.) surfing the Internet for interesting, relevant articles, essays, posts, sites, etc and getting paid to do so. If any of you know of such an opening, please tell me about it! I'd be perfect for it.

This is very enjoyable. The diagrams remind me of those you sometimes see in FHM Magazine. Public Service Announcement at Kieran Healy's Blog.

Tuesday

We Don't Want No Education . It's good. Read it. It explains a lot.

A few interesting links that I found on the Internet in the past few days. It's the usual mish-mash of various topics and interests. Hope you enjoy them.

    The Washington Post does an excellent article about arranged marriages. I've always been intrigued by this prospect, as I really wonder how that would work. I cannot imagine doing it myself and I think it's very amazing that people continue to do it (especially in the Western countries). Marriage at First Sight from the Post's Magazine won't be up forever, so read it while you can.
    Also from the Washington Post (which is an excellent newspaper in itself), Reaching Rommel is about teaching an 11-year-old how to read.
    Why Are Nerds Unpopular? I've not finished this article yet, but I am half way through it and loving it. Yes, I was a nerd in high school. Sue me. Courtesy of X-tra Rant (one of my absolute faves).

I had a good day. An excellent day, some would say. I took my Year 12s to the Pathology department of the local hospital. I had such a great time, looking at their excellent machinery and the plating of bacteria and fungus. It was just brilliant! So why do I come home in a miserable mood? Parent's Evening. Why do I let one kid and his parents ruin my mood? I don't know. But after speaking about a kid who is one of the laziest people I've ever known, someone who spends his entire time talking, does no work, is a general pain in the backside, someone with whom I've been trying to work for a number of months, to encourage him....I still came out as the bad guy! I was apparently, the only one with "such a negative view". I felt like screaming. So, we had to find a compromise and maybe that's why I'm in such a shitty mood. Because I felt that I'd done enough, but, obviously, I hadn't. Anyhow. I feel tired.

The visit to the hospital has definitely rang home to me how much I miss Biology. I've been moving and squirming around between possible employments, between things that I'd like to do other than teaching and I haven't come up with anything definitive. Maybe I should consider doing a Masters degree in Biotechnology and get a job looking at plates of bacteria or fungi or something that gets me out of the classroom.

I hate hating my job.

Sunday

Kikkoman is a brand of soy sauce. You can find it on the shelves of most of your supermarkets. Yogarori has got two very funny (and very strange) flash movies about Kikkoman--the super hero. Fight!Kikkoman and Banana and Shrimp Showtime can also be found in their Japanese versions. This stuff is very strange, but very funny. Courtesy of Dave Barry.

Saturday

Just overheard on Channel 4's excellent America On Trial : Bush is no giant when it comes to foreign relations. What more is there to say?

A beautiful and sunny day today. N and I went to look at a couple of houses and I am beginning to see the seriousness of getting yourself into massive debt just to have a roof over your head. We saw one house we especially liked, but can't really make an offer on it yet. The housing market is meant to be slowing down in the UK, but the prices have yet to come down enough for many single people. It's a big move for me. It finally means that I'm sort of settled somewhere. Roots and all that jazz. Our visit to Poland did have some practical goals: we were meeting with the Headmaster of a British school in Warsaw in regards to possible employment. We spent a lot of time discussing moving and whether or not it was the right decision for this year. Thankfully, in some way, the decision has been made for us as there will not be a vacancy for me. I'm sad and disappointed in one way, because it is Poland and I got very excited about the idea of living there again (seeing my friends, working on my Polish, N learning Polish, eating all the filling Polish food, etc.), but it is probably not the right year for a move. We'll be away in Canada for most of the summer (future in-laws meeting other future in-laws) because of my friend's wedding and it would be mad to dash across the world and into a new job within days. So it must be. We can now look for a house in Bury, and I can keep my eyes open for a different job in this area. Our wedding will be next Easter and it is sanest to be in the country in which you're getting married to arrange it all, non? The Headmaster was very keen on us to keep our eyes open in case any vacancies did occur. And we decided that if not this year, then maybe next...or next...or the one after that. We're not giving up that easily.

Here are some interesting links I found today in a long surfing session.

    Daniel Drennan has recently updated his fabulous New York Diary . As always, he's informative and interesting.
    Warsaw Voice has been providing news for expats in Poland for many years. They offer a good, though not fantastic, run down of Polish news for English speakers.
    Finally, something that hits close to home: Joshua Kaplowitz writes and interesting article in on teaching in an inner-city Washington school. How I Joined Teach for America and Got Sued for $20 Million talks openly about issues facing many teachers today. Teacher shortages will continue until there is support for teachers from both parents and administration, regardless of which side of the Altantic Ocean you're on. Another article states plainly:
    When the going is tough, teachers go.
    The article also adds that:
    Kaplowitz now believes mainstream schools should be reserved for students who are capable of behaving, with disruptive students sent elsewhere. He feels guilty about the good kids who didn't get to learn much because he was so busy with the punchers, pencil throwers and screamers.

    I think he's right. When discipline is enforced, most kids will behave. A few have very serious behavior problems, usually due to seriously bad parents, and need to be in a special environment. Letting them destroy a school does them no favors and is disastrous for the majority of students.

    I agree as well. Inclusion is a very good idea, but some students are so disruptive that they really do make it nearly impossible to serve the needs of the majority. I had one incredibly disruptive, violent and frustrating (frustrated, as well, I'm sure!) student who made our teaching nearly impossible. He was withdrawn from lessons for three weeks before the half-term and I was amazed at the amount of work that we could get through with that set. Actual teaching took place, amazingly enough. If we're not serving a students' needs, then we are not doing our job. We must provide all students with the opportunity to reach their potential, but maybe not under the same roof or in the same classroom.

    *getting off soapbox*

    I'm now going to do some reading, as I've brought back several Polish magazines and newspapers to get through. Looking forward to a Chinese takeaway later on tonight. We're so domiciled.

Friday

We returned today to find London and Bury sunny and warm. It was a nice week, but it went by too quickly and I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, nor did I see them enough. We returned home and I now find myself with nearly a week's worth of reading in front of me. Because I've got a list of sites that I visit daily, after a few days of absence, there's so much to catch up! I didn't get the chance to read very much while in Poland, so now is my time. Ha.

My cat allergy is getting worse. Although, I arrived prepared with anti-histamines, they were pretty much useless and I found it hard to breathe (throat swollen, bronchioles restricted) on top of the usual sneezing and sinus congestion. Fun. After visiting two separate pharmacies and buying two different drugs, I got better, but the sinus pressure and congestion is bothering me even now. It's a shame, really, because I like cats and Ally's cat is really very cute. Next time we stay with her, I think I will have to get something prescribed and take it a few days before leaving for Poland.

N and I got to see a few films that we had wanted to see for a while: 8 Mile (I really enjoyed it, to my surprise), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which had all of us howling with laughter; with N being half-Cypriot and my parents of an equally strong heritage and us, getting married next year, it was all very close to home. I'm glad we finally got to see it) and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (enjoyed that far more than I could have ever hoped for; I think the second film is better than the first). The film that I enjoyed the most (though "enjoyed" may not be the appropriate word here) was Roman Polanski's The Pianist. It just touched me and it made me cry (not many films to that) and I found myself in a daze afterwards. I sat there, in a Warsaw cinema, where there was nothing but fields or ruins some 60 years ago. When Ally went to see it, she saw the film in a cinema in central Warsaw. She said that she found it mind-blowing, to be sitting in a cinema that was once the ruins of a city; to be sitting in a spot where people may have died; to be watching a film about a war that happened right there where she was sitting. The film is beautiful and haunting. See it, if you can.

I'm off for a bath. I've been up since 5:30 this morning and am tired. Will write more this weekend.

Sunday

I really should stop reading the newspapers, as it just gets my blood pressure up. Can the rest of the world isolate the US for their bloody, murderous, villanous, oil-hungry actions? I'm just really fed up after reading the Observer's article entitled US to punish German 'treachery'. It is such a childish reaction: oh, you disagree with me, well, then I will stop playing with you. Arrrgghhh.

Meanwhile, everywhere in the world peace marches were held. The Observer, as always, has a beautiful description of the march to be found here . I don't know how long it will be up, but some of the excerpts are just spine-tingling.

Half a mile away, round the corner in Piccadilly, the ground shook. An ocean, a perfect storm of people. Banners, a bobbing cherry-blossom of banners, covered every inch back to the Circus - and for miles beyond, south to the river, north to Euston.
Ahead of the marchers lay one remaining silent half-mile. The unprecedented turnout had shocked the organisers, shocked the marchers. And there at the end before them, high on top of the Wellington Arch, the four obsidian stallions and their vicious conquering chariot, the very Spirit of War, were stilled, rearing back - caught, and held, in the bare branches and bright chill of Piccadilly, London, on Saturday 15 February 2003.
It was the biggest public demonstration ever held in Britain, surpassing every one of the organisers' wildest expectations and Tony Blair's worst fears, and it will be remembered for the bleak bitterness of the day and the colourful warmth of feeling in the extraordinary crowds. Organisers claimed that more than 1.5 million had turned out; even the police agreed to 750,000 and rising.
By three o'clock in the afternoon they were still streaming out of Tube stations to join the end of the two routes, from Gower Street in the north and Embankment by the river. 'Must be another march,' grumbled the taxi driver, then, trying in vain to negotiate Tottenham Court Road. No, I said; it's the same one, still going, and he turned his head in shock. 'Bloody Jesus! Well, good luck to them I say.' There were, of course, the usual suspects - CND, Socialist Workers' Party, the anarchists. But even they looked shocked at the number of their fellow marchers: it is safe to say they had never experienced such a mass of humanity.
There were nuns. Toddlers. Women barristers. The Eton George Orwell Society. Archaeologists Against War. Walthamstow Catholic Church, the Swaffham Women's Choir and Notts County Supporters Say Make Love Not War (And a Home Win against Bristol would be Nice). They won 2-0, by the way. One group of SWP stalwarts were joined, for the first march in any of their histories, by their mothers. There were country folk and lecturers, dentists and poulterers, a hairdresser from Cardiff and a poet from Cheltenham.
I called a friend at two o'clock, who was still making her ponderous way along the Embankment - 'It's not a march yet, more of record shuffle' - and she expressed delight at her first protest. 'You wouldn't believe it; there are girls here with good nails and really nice bags .'
Go, read it.

I'm being asked to get off the computer ("apparently" I spend too much time on it, both Ally and N feel that this should be my week away from the computer). I'll write about Idol when I get a chance.

Saturday

Just something I found right now courtesy of the The Presurfer . Google is not nice? Google is Big Brother? Google spying? Huh. Read more here .

We are now in Poland! And instead of gray, drabby ground we have found snow! It's beautiful and snowy! We are having a wonderful time so far and I've had a lovely lunch which consisted of delicious Polish bread, tomatoes, cheese-a-go-go and mayo. It sounds very simple and ordinary, but food always tastes best for me in Poland. Especially the bread.

We are staying with my friend Ally, who is in her kitchen right now screaming how she wants to be in the blog and she never gets a mention! Well, I'm amending that right now. She is living in a very nice flat in southern Warsaw, which is a big improvement on her last manky flat. It is close to many shops and on the Metro line (there is just one metro line in Warsaw) and the flat is new and just lovely with a nice balcony and underground parking! Absolutely lovely. Her and her cat, Polka, have made themselves quite comfortable here. We are just discussing blogging and how much time I spent on the internet and how I enjoy it and enjoy reading all the great pages that I track and news and just everything . She doesn't feel quite as passionate about it. We're also discussing the USA and the Iraq issue. She feels that Bush is Saddam only American. I like it.

Speaking of the issue, I found a couple of things before I left the UK, but didn't get a chance to post them.

    Duct Tape Alert! , which I find absolutely fascinating. Duct tape the windows and cover all entrances in plastic? Hmm. South Knox Bubba also had this on his webpage, which is overall quite an interesting place to visit. If you like that sort of thing.

We are going to watch the final of the Polish version of PopIdol that I'm just so thrilled about. But Ally and her friends have gotten sucked into it pretty badly. But it's the Big Final tonight, so it might be good. Apparently, all the annoying ones (females mostly) have dropped out and we're down to the last three. I didn't watch this in the UK, as I like to avoid all sorts of Reality TV (unless it's the Edwardian House or something historical), so I have not a clue as to what will actually happen. I imagine people will phone or text in to vote and then someone will win and get a record contract and the two "losers" will get record contracts anyhow. I assume. Might be wrong. I'll let you know.

Friday

We are off to Poland tomorrow (Heathrow-permitting), so posts might be scarce. I am very excited about it, so I am sure to come back with all sorts of things to tell you. Be good, and if you can't be good, be bad.

Thursday

We know how old the Universe is! We also have a picture of the oldest light in the Universe.

Wednesday

I'm tired. I'm having trouble sleeping and when it's time to wake up my whole body aches out of exhaustion. Just a couple more days to go. I lost my temper today, which I don't do all that often, and shouted at a group of year 10s. I don't do that often either. But my tiredness took over and I couldn't take it anymore, they wouldn't stop talking, they're just so rude and difficult. And I shouted. It worked and they finally shut up and did some work, but I lost control of my emotions, which is bad, bad, bad. In my lunchtime travels on the internet (duty at the library), I found two interesting articles.

    A Visit to North Korea exposes some raw wounds in the writer. It also exposes the utter stupidity that governments can sink to (not just the Communist ones)

Tuesday

Rainy day. What Joy and Fun! Ha. As far as work, it went fine. Everyone is exhausted and/or suffering from a cold. It's been a short half term, but the nerves and patience are fraying quickly. I blame the kids. Ha.

I found a few interesting things in my Internet travels yesterday. Some of them are in Polish only, but I like them a lot, so I'll post them anyhow.

    At least I'm not Kunigunde...just the pet form of it. Find out more at Behind the Name
    Zimno...a jednak ciaza (in Polish). Fascinating account of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant and dealing with it all in your thirties.
    Strona Polska w Japonii (in Polish)...Polish site on Japan by those who live there. Interesting for those who a.) like Japan b.) speak Polish.

Something interesting to read. By Timothy Garton Ash and, yes, it is political. Anti-Europeanism in America . It's on the New York Review of Books website and I don't know how long it'll be up. First spotted somewhere on the Gazeta Wyborcza webpage, but I don't know where.

Monday

London has fascinated me since I was a little girl, and when I first went there, finally, after years and years of waiting, I was amazed. I was amazed at the architecture, the history, the style, but also at the mess, the crowds, the smell and the prices. Everyone knows that London is expensive. This is not new. It is also crowded and big and massive. I still find it fascinating, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Just like I found rail travel in Tokyo best to go sightseeing, I like doing the same in London. Much of the Underground is, of course, under the ground and you don't see much, but parts are over land and Docklands Light Railway is a good way to see a small part of London. I love riding the DLR and seeing the landscape change. I enjoy the differences in housing, office space and retail along the way and the differences are amazing. The stations around Canary Wharf are breath-taking with tall, shiny office buildings that I cannot help but find attractive. There are new flats (most rather stylish) and refurbished warehouses along the various quays. And then, as you get closer to the Bank station, or shortly past the London Arena, the area begins to change into (what I call) tenement flats, that belong more in former communist states, or at worst, Tokyo suburbs. The streets are narrower and more gray. The sidewalks crumble more easily and you can see abandoned shops and houses. It contrasts hugely with what you've just seen. Especially if you've just come from Greenwich.

N and I took a walk along one of the residential streets in Greenwich. It was a rainy day and my shoes were just beginning to get soaked through, so I wasn't in the best of moods. But we walked along a lovely street with some of the most amazing Georgian houses . What was even better is that the houses were still single-family homes and not subdivided into flats. They were very nice with back gardens and it all looked especially nice in the rain. We walked slowly and I dreamed out loud what it might be to live in such beautiful homes with character and history. It was incredible.

Sunday

V. quiet all weekend as we went down to London for a Birthday party and am feeling quite tired right now. The weekend was very good and we both enjoyed ourselves. London is incredible and I'm sure to write about it at some point in the near future, but everytime I go there I am amazed (in both positive and negative ways) at the same time. I'll write more on it this week. Right now, I am off to bed.

Thursday

Colin Powell spoke last night and this morning, everyone's changed their minds! Not really. I have to admit that I didn't really pay very much attetion because a.) I am sick and v. nauseous and woozy b.) I've reached saturation point. When I hear the words "Saddam", "UN resolution", "George Bush" and "Tony Blair" I want to scream. So I listened half-heartedly. And then I went out into the world of the web and read. Much better to read, me thinks.

So it goes on and on and on. Regardless of what we think, Bush will do as he pleases with or without a UN resolution. But we all knew this would happen anyhow.

Here are some interesting links, non-Iraq or GW related, courtesy of The Presurfer :
Bringing civilisation to their knees .
Scary but true , or how to really annoy people and cause them heartburns.
A very nifty clock . I could sit and watch it for ages.

I've been at home for the last two days feeling ill. Am slightly better today, but still woozy and dizzy and other words with double "z" in them. Should be back at work tomorrow, though. Busy day. I am comforted in the fact that N and I are off to Warsaw for nearly a week during the half term. That's in a week's time. Yipee!

Monday

Have been watching Buffy, Season 2, Ep 1 and Principal Snyder just said something that made me laugh:

I mean, it's incredible. One day the campus is completely bare. Empty. The next, there are children everywhere. Like locusts. Crawling around, mindlessly bent on feeding and mating. Destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist.
V true!

We returned back today after a fantastic 3-day weekend and people seemed quite relaxed. The unexpected extra day made my body and brain go into "holiday mode" and I was really tired and letathargic most of the day. Two weeks to go before half-term and our visit to Poland. I can't wait! It'll go by so quickly, but it will be great to see everyone in Warsaw.

In the I want, I want, I want category, I want a digital camera. I, technophile and lover of all things digital, should have been hankering after one of these puppies for a long time. But I haven't. I dunno why. I would really like the Cannon G1 or G2...and I don't know why. Think on that for a mo, eh?

I am currently perusing Biz Stone's webpage. V. interesting read. I like starting blogs from the beginning. I read through them for a while and then they become part of my favourites and then I check them daily for updates. Unless the blog is not of my liking and then, I don't read it from the beginning, it doesn't become part of my favourites and I don't check it daily for updates. In fact, I never check it. And this always happens when my regular, long-loved blogs don't update daily. I need the stimuation of reading about other people's lives! Ha.

I leave you with a quote from Myslovitz. Unfortunately for most of you, it's in Polish...but believe me, it's great.

Bo nie ma we mnie nic i nic nie jestem wart A czerwien mojej krwi to tylko jakia zart I zapominac chce tak czesto jak sie da Ze nie ma we mnie nic i nic nie jestem wart

Trying to play around with the colour scheme and am still not 100% satisfied. Tinkering with the page takes longer than anything else, but I hope that once it's perfect I'll be able to leave it alone and get on with whatever it is that I have to do. I would still like to inclue some links and books currently reading/recently read. Hopefully by this weekend.

Just a few links to start off for today.

    The old blog is to be found at Ginko .

Sunday

New location, same old drivel. With a link to the old drivel. Something went wacky with the archiving on Ginko. Seriously wacky with the FTP server. Fingers crossed it doesn't follow me here. But if you want to know what I've done in the last...uuuhh...week, it's there. Not here. Na-hah.

On a more serious note, I imagine all of us were shocked by the death of the astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia. N and I watched the news last night horrified. It was a horrible loss of life and an unbelievable sadness took over me. My thoughts, just like yours I'm sure, go out to the families of the astronauts.