Monday

My relationship with Canada is complicated. I arrived there at 13, middle of torrential years of adolescence. It was not an easy time and I did not fully settle until five years after my arrival. I like Canada, but I don't know if I like it enough. I like what it stands for, the ease of life and comforts of Canadians and their very easy-going philosophy. I don't like things about it, as well, but I don't want to get into that right now.

Despite this indecisiveness, I do get worked up when I read about the disappointment that the Americans feel towards Canada not "supporting" them in the war with Iraq. Well, tough, I say. The Americans have no more of a say over Canada than they do over France or Germany or Iraq, for that matter. It was Canada's decision and so it should stay Canada's decision. 60% of Canadians oppose the war with Iraq, as does the Prime Minister.

So Americans are hurt and upset that Canada would not join in the fight against that threat, he said.
...
In response, Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Tuesday that although Canada does not support military action in Iraq, relations between the countries are "important for both of us."
Mr. Chretien spoke in Ottawa, where he stopped briefly to talk to reporters Tuesday morning after a cabinet meeting.
Although he is "disappointed" that Canada is not in agreement with the U.S. on this issue, the Prime Minister emphasized that Canada is still an autonomous country.
"We have the right as an independent country to make our own decisions," he added.
From the Toronto Star:
So too, Iraq. Most Canadians take no joy when U.S. soldiers are killed or captured. But the majority think this is not their war. They think Canada has no business in Iraq.
A great many think that Canada's American friends have no business there either.

Dennis puts it much stronger than I do.

Rick Mercer is a Canadian comedian, writer, performer. He was one of the four original members of the excellent satirical programme This Hour Has 22 Mintues . One of his most memorable performances was "Talking To Americans", which involved Rick going down to the US and asking them all sorts of untrue questions and getting them to agree with him or respond in some ways (e.g. "What do you think of the Canadian Prime Minster Jean Poutine?"). The TV Guide Canada website has published their favourite ten "Talking To Americans."

My Ten Favorite "TALKING TO AMERICANS." by Rick Mercer
10) In Chicago: "Congratulations Canada on having running water in all five states."
9) In Washington, D.C.: "Congratulations Canada on your first national railroad."
8) In Washington, D.C.: "Congratulations Canada on 268 consecutive days of snow."
7) At Harvard: "Yes, I believe the seal slaughter should be stopped in Saskatchewan."
6) In Chicago: "Congratulations Canada on making Beaver Balls your national dish."
5) At Mount Rushmore: "Congratulations Canada, our Eskimo neighbours to the South, on your new Mount Mulroneyuk."
4) Governor of Arkansas: "Congratulations Canada on preserving your national igloo."
3) In New York: "Yes, I think Jean Chretien-Pinochet should be charged with crimes against humanity."
2) In New York: "Yes, I think it is time to bomb Gilles Duceppe."
1) Texas Governor George W. Bush: I'm glad to have the support of Prime Minister Jean 'Poutine.'

There are some video clips with Rick Mercer doing "Talking To Americans" on this site. The website is WeDoNotLiveInIgloos and contains other Canada-related humour.

I was thinking today about the students I teach and about the relative wealth (mobile phones, portable cd players, etc.). This made me think of the less fortunate kids at my school who do not have mobile phones and other status symbols. Then I went on a bit of a search on the Internet about child labour and found some interesting pages:

  • Child Labor in America from the History Place; photographs of child workers in America at the beginning of the 20th Century. Includes
    One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, N.C
    Includes photos of factory workers, newspaper boys, miners, seafood workers and others.
  • I then followed a link that took me to a page on the Priceless Children exhibit. There are a few pictures and some information.
  • Documenting America is a very rich and varied collection of photographs (160,000 black and white and 1600 colour) depicting scenes across America between the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II.
  • There's also the Child Labour at the Encyclopaedia of British History. A rich source of information that even provides the height and weight of children factory workers.
  • This page then somehow took me to the Dictionary of Victorian London filled with textual information on life and death in the great capital during the Victorian era.

There is so much information out there and I haven't even managed to scratch the surface or to read even a small percentage that is out there.

Sunday

Yesterday, I also got the following two beauties from my friend Ally. I know they're oldies, but they are goodies. George-ography

The Link between Al-Quaeda and Iraq

Polish FlagThis was sent to me this morning and it was not what I need to wake up to :

WARSAW — Poland asked President Bush yesterday to be more discreet about Polish troop activity in Iraq and to resist the temptation to use them for propaganda purposes.The request came after Mr. Bush gave specific details about the activities of Polish elite troops in Iraq during a speech to troops in Florida on Wednesday.

"We have sent a request through diplomatic channels that the activities of our special troops are mentioned with a little less detail in future," defense ministry spokesman Eugeniusz Mleczak told Agence France-Presse.

It comes from the Washington Times . Thanks to Fra for the forward.

Why is Poland getting involved in this war to such a degree? Haven't we got money that's deeply needed in other areas of the infrastructure? The education system, the health care and the social security is hobbling along and Poland, acting as it it had money to burn, is sending special forces to Iraq. Hasn't America got enough of its own special forces to send? Yes, we've made our point. The government supports the war on Iraq. The majority of the public does not, but that's not stopping anyone these days. Fine. Support it. But don't support it with the innocent lives of Polish soldiers.

UPDATE: some more information and a scold from the Polish Defense Minister to be found here

In other exciting Polish news -- the football team managed a tie against Hungary in the Euro2004 qualifiers. This puts Poland third behind Hungary and Latvia in Group 4. In other words, it doesn't look good. Poland must win its next game (on Wednesday) if they are to have any chance at all of qualifying for the European Championship. A major gaffe occurred before the game started: the tape with the national anthem of Hungary stopped or broke and the Hungarian fans and players had to sing their national anthem to completion.

Saturday

Have just returned from a wonderful concert in Braintree. N took part and he was v. happy that he did because it was a great concert. We were both awed by the solo violinist, but for different reasons. N was amazed at the sound she produced. I was amazed at the fact that she remembered the whole complicated piece and was able to play it with such emotion and involvement. It was long piece and she remembered every single note. And there were a lot of them! She was brilliant. I still am absolutely in awe of anybody who can play an instrument proficiently. The effort and the time and the care that must go into learning how to play an instrument to such a level! Just astounds me. I was watching all the other string musicians and their ability to produce coherent sounds on a four-stringed instrument is brilliant. Their fingers moving so brilliantly fast across the strings. Their bow sliding into just the correct place at the very correct moment. It's just a talent that I would love to have.

Friday

I shouldn't have watched the news this evening. But I did. And, migrane or no migrane, there's only so much bollocks that a person can take.

  • Haliburton gets the contract of a lifetime without any bidding. Is this capitalism or what?
  • Longer war than expected. As I read somewhere this evening, when people are attacked, they tend to stick together. What did they expect? Did they think that bombing the the country for a couple of days and dumping propaganda leaflets was going to open the doors Iraq? And in the meantime, while this war is going on people will die, people are already dying and it doesn't seem to matter to those in charge if they are British, American, Iraqi or Kurdish. Familes in all three countries are already mourning the loss of their loved ones. Is it really necessary?
  • The Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said today that overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.

    "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.

  • More money for war ($75 billion at last count) but not for schools or those living below the poverty line. It reminds me of the Cold War, when the Soviet economy was in shards and people across the Eastern bloc had to queue for food, but huge sums of money went towards the military and defenses. Is this what America is running towards? A new pseudo-Communist state?
  • The administration of George W. Bush aims to spend up to 400 billion dollars this year on defense, while allocating only 16 billion dollars to welfare, says Mittal, who has spent years researching global food distribution systems.


    On Tuesday, as President Bush was asking Congress for the first installment of the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to finance the war in Iraq and its aftermath, the students and teachers at a high school within walking distance of the White House were struggling through their daily routine in a building that has no cafeteria, no gymnasium, no student lockers, not even a fully reliable source of electricity.
    ...
    In his budget last month the president offered a plan to make it more difficult for low-income families to obtain government benefits, including tax credits and school lunch assistance. This month, as The Times' Robert Pear reported, the administration proposed changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for elderly people, many of them frail, to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing care.

  • Meanwhile, the Prez can't answer questions asked of him.
  • And, as of Tuesday, 20 British soldiers have died in the conflict in Iraq. 18 of those deaths were caused by friendly fire or as a result of an accident.

(courtesy of Craig's Booknotes, This Modern World , Eschaton.)

I'm fed up and off to bed.

Light posting on the ground from me for the past two days and today. I've come down with a whopping migrane and have trouble concentrating on anything for longer than a couple of minutes. I got up this morning to fax in some cover work this morning (yes, people in "normal" jobs, even when we're ill, teachers still have to think about work). The good part of this is that I haven't been able to keep up with the war news (which is just bound to be depressing). The bad part is that I can't surf or read because of the sensitivity to light. So my reading has been limited to a few minutes each time and then a rest. Back to bed for me.

Wednesday

Further information on the visa situation with Russia. Poles will have to apply for a visa if they wish to enter Russia as of 1st of July (pl). The Russian government did not agree to an "asymetrical" proposal, in which Poles would be allowed to enter Russia without a visa and Russians would receive visas at no cost. As of May, 2004, Poland becomes part of the EU and must comply with EU regulations in regards to non-EU countries. All in all, I'm interested in how border crossings with Germany will look. Will they be like the border crossing between The Netherlands and Germany? Or will they remain pretty much the same?

Ukraine has agreed to the "asymetrical" proposal. At the moment, there are many Ukrainians coming into Poland for work (illegally, albeit) on a tourist visa. They stay for three months, do various odd jobs or work illegally and then return back to the Ukraine and after a few weeks repeat the process. It would appear that the practice of "going west" to earn money is continuously spreading eastward. Poles used to (and still do, in some cases) work in Germany or France or other western countries to earn money. Since the money earned in a space of a few weeks would be multiple of their monthly salaries, this was very popular. The trickle westward fron Poland has slowed some, but there are still people who do this. It's interesting to see this spread east of the Bug River, where Ukrainians and Belorussians come into Poland to earn money.

Tuesday

I'm sorry , but this is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. My friend Torrie sent me this in text form earlier in the week, but I didn't just want to post the text. You'll need RealPlayer to view it. It comes courtesy of This Hour Has 22 Minutes , one of the best satirical programmes and one of the best programmes on Canadian television.

Here's the text content (courtesy of Torrie)

Courtesy of Colin Mochrie from This Hour Has 22 Minutes CBC Television:

On behalf of Canadians everywhere I'd like to offer an apology to the United States of America. We haven't been getting along very well recently and for that, I am truly sorry.

I'm sorry we called George Bush a moron. He is a moron but, it wasn't nice of us to point it out. If it's any consolation, the fact that he's a moron shouldn't reflect poorly on the people of America. After all it's not like you actually elected him.

I'm sorry about our softwood lumber. Just because we have more trees than you doesn't give us the right to sell you lumber that's cheaper and better than your own.

I'm sorry we beat you in Olympic hockey. In our defense I guess our excuse would be that our team was much, much, much, much better than yours.

I'm sorry we burnt down your white house during the war of 1812. I notice you've rebuilt it! It's Very Nice.

I'm sorry about your beer. I know we had nothing to do with your beer but, we Feel your Pain.

I'm sorry about our waffling on Iraq. I mean, when you're going up against a crazed dictator, you wanna have your friends by your side. I realize it took more than two years before you guys pitched in against Hitler, but that was different. Everyone knew he had weapons.

And finally on behalf of all Canadians, I'm sorry that we're constantly apologizing for things in a passive-aggressive way which is really a thinly veiled criticism. I sincerely hope that you're not upset over this. We've seen what you do to countries you get upset with.

Thank you.


It's a cheap shot, but it's beautiful.

Thoughts of the moment :

  • I didn't want or need to see those captured soldiers being interview on TV last night. Didn't need to see the fear in their eyes. Just didn't want to know
  • How much longer until the day ends?
  • Why are year 10s so difficult somedays and completely fine others? Is it my mood swings, or theirs?
  • How To Learn Swedish in 1000 Difficult Lessons is a new blog that I found today. It took me to Name that baby!, which I also enjoyed.
  • I really want a digital camera.
  • I was fine all day yesterday and then around 8:30pm I felt more tired than I'd ever felt all my life. Still didn't help me to fall asleep until after 10pm.
  • I taped the Oscar highlights from BBC last night. (well, N did because, although I set the video, the timer didn't seem to work)
  • The bell has just gone and I'm going to go and have my lunch

Monday

Will the Kurds be allowed to have a "federacy"?

To permit, let alone encourage, Turkey to occupy anything more than the border rim of Iraqi Kurdistan will provoke both civil and armed resistance from the Kurds. A Turkish invasion is likely to provide the many European Union members worried about the prospect of Turkish membership with a pretext to block entry for good. So, if Washington foreign policy thinkers are smart, they should restrain their ally because getting Turkey into the EU has long been one of their goals.

Iraqi Kurdistan is internationally recognised as an autonomous region. It enjoys this status because the international community, including the US, sought to protect the Kurds from genocide. The world was making amends for the miserable fate of the Kurds during the 20th century, when they were partitioned, intermittently subjected to coercive assimilation and expelled from their homes (including by Turkish governments). Protected by the US and UK air forces, the region has governed itself for more than a decade, although not without internal strife. It is the sole part of Iraq with anything resembling democracy and the protection of local minority rights.

...

With the end of the Iraqi regime in sight, the regional government should declare Iraqi Kurdistan sovereign but not independent. It should say it is willing to negotiate with the rest of Iraq over its future. What it should seek is a "federacy" - a federal relationship with the rest of Iraq that cannot be changed unilaterally by Baghdad - and protection of Kurds elsewhere in the country. But the Kurds should also state that it is up to the rest of the country to determine its preferred form of internal government.

Such an arrangement would fulfil the legitimate Kurdish aspirations for autonomy. It is one that the US and UK should support. They should resist Turkish pressure to keep a lid on Kurdish aspirations and oppose outright Turkish intervention.

London and Washington have tried to sell this war as one of liberation and have promised democracy and reconstruction. These promises would soon ring hollow if they were to collaborate with Turkey in the repression of the Kurds, the people of Iraq that the Iraqi dictator has targeted more than any other.

Things to think about: will the UK/US support the Kurds all the way this time? Will the European Union block Turkey's entry into the EU if Turkey does cross over the border into northern Iraq? Will this be another Cyprus, where the UN and western nations stand by as Turkey invades another country? Let's hope that Blair, at least, has some sense and will prevent this from happening.

Adrien Brody's acceptance speech.

I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag. Oh my god. Thank you. Thank you, really. Oh my goodness. It doesn't come out in slow motion, but it doesn't really ring a bell. The name — I didn't know my name. This Adrien? Okay. I haven't really written a speech because every time I wrote a speech for the past one of these things I didn't win. But, you know, there comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense and this is not one of those times. What I do know though is that I've never felt this much love and encouragement from my peers and from people I admire and from complete strangers. And it means a great deal to me. And if it weren't for the insomnia and the sudden panic attacks, this has been an amazing, amazing journey. I have to thank — they're already flashing time's up. I have to thank my mother and father, most importantly, for all the creativity and encouragement and they've been just real strength. They've given me a great deal of strength. What can I say? This film would not be possible without the blue print provided by Wladyslaw Szpilman. This is a tribute to his survival. I'd like to thank Roman Polanski for the role of a lifetime. And for those of you who have seen the film and have sat through the credits, you know there are too many people to thank individually. I would not be there without all their efforts. And I thank them. And everyone worked extremely hard to make this film. And I have to thank Focus Features for getting us out there. To my longtime friend, manager, agent, consigliare Joanne Colonna everybody at the firm, PMK/HBH. And you know, wait one second. One second, please one second. Cut it out, cut it out. I get one shot at this. I'm sorry. I didn't say more than five names, I don't think, but. This is, you know, it fills me with great joy, but I am also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I am accepting an award at such a strange time. And you know my experiences of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war. And the repercussions of war. And whatever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may he watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution. Thank you. And I have a friend from Queens who's a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarabinski, and I hope you and your boys make it back real soon. God bless you guys. I love you. Thank you very much.

Michael Moore's acceptance speech

Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to — they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

It was a great show. And I am thrilled with the results. "The Pianist" collected 3 Oscars, which made me happy as two of those were in the areas where I hoped they'd win. Very, very excited about Roman Polanaski's win. I was predicting Martin Scorsese and thought that Roman's effort and art would go unnoticed. But it wasn't! Adrien Brody's acceptance speech was absolutely fantastic and I was over the moon about his win. His portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman was astounding and he deserved the award. Michael Moore was also an absolute gem and his acceptance speech was fantastic. V. pleased that his film won the award. All in all, an excellent award show. Totally worth loosing a night of sleep! Ally and I kept on sending text messages to each other throughout the show. Shame we couldn't watch it together, but this was the next best thing.

I have been up an hour now. Is it mad to get up in the middle of the night to watch a TV broadcast? Probably.

Sunday

It is yet another beautiful day here in Bury. We went for a walk this morning and am now basking in the ownership of two more books to read: Samurai William: The Adventured Who Unlocked Japan by Giles Milton and How to Lose Friends & Alienate People by Toby Young. It was a 3 for 2 sale and N bought a book as well.

The Academy Awards are on tonight and I want to stay up and watch them. The problem is that they begin here at 1am and don't finish until 5am. I'm usually sleeping at that time. Tomorrow is not a very heavy day, so I could try it, but I do have Parents' Evening that night as well. Difficult decision.

Some links I've picked up in the last few days:

    Vagabonding: one man, one year, one world. A fascinating account of one man's travel around the world (he seems to be in Asia at the moment).

I was reading the new issue of WORD magazine in bed last night. I came across a good interview with Elvis Costello. Never been a huge Elvis Costello fan because I've always heard about him but never actually heard his music. N has a couple of Elvis Costello albums, so now I am familiar with his work, but not jumping over the moon about it or anything. There are a couple of quotes from the article that I want to share with you.

You ask people what they want to be they say, a pop star. They don't say, a musician. They don't even know about that.

Nobody today can sing with anything like the confidentiality of those vocal jazz records of the '50s - Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan. People today haven't heard those records - they've heard Mariah Carey, who in some ways has an amazing voice bu absolutely no taste. That's 90 percent of singers today - no taste. Just sign the bloody melody, what's the matter with you?

They're in the industry of music but not in the art of music.

Some of it is pretty scathing, I know, but in some ways, I do agree with him. In 1998, I wrote a short piece that I emailed to some of my friends about my worry over the current state of music. My major moan was that most of the hit singles were covers. Now, they were very successful songs when they were originally released, of course they'd be hit songs again! Because they're just good songs! Why aren't newcoming artits made to write their own tunes? Or if not write, at least sing an original song! Songs which have been hits before are going to be a hit again! (e.g. "Unchained Melody" as covered by Will Young/Gareth Gates--one of 'em) So why bother writing a song and trying to make it a hit through a.) talent b.) good marketing c.) good songwriting. Too much effort, I guess. It does really drive me mad when I hear yet another newcomer making it big by covering the backcatalogue of successful hit singles. Record companines don't want to invest money, effort or time on new artists who don't guarantee a quick and hefty profit. Well, most large record companies. There is good music out there. There are talented writers and/or singers out there who are getting produced. But they aren't getting millions and millions of marketing behind them, so teenyboppers and the average Joe Listener don't buy their albums.

Having said that, I can be as guilty as anybody. I do like pop music and some of what I like is fluff, but I will go out and buy those who are talented (Ani DiFranco and Badly Drawn Boy in the last couple of months alone). I just wish that more people would do the same and we'd make musicians and not pop stars wealthy and successful.

Saturday

I've always found the Amish fascinating. I don't really know why. Today I found an article about excommunication in the Amish community.

Hershberger makes small talk for a while, but then his visitor -- realizing that the farmer must get back to the fields -- finally raises the question he came here to ask. He wants to know about one such wayward Amish -- a young man who left the church, and whose lifestyle seemed to be the utter antithesis of the very values to which the Hershbergers had devoted their lives.

The visitor wants to know about Noah.

Hershberger looks taken aback, surprised that his visItor knows that name, surprised to hear it mentioned here.

"Noah?" he asks.

"Noah Hershberger," the visitor says.

After some hesitation, the farmer says matter-of-factly, "He's my son."

Karen's card My friend Karen send me a card from Japan. I got it earlier this week and it got me thinking.

When I first moved away from my friends I was 12 years old (nearly 13). My friend Monika and I wrote to each other endlessly describing the minute details of our adolescent lives. We wrote about our thoughts, the gossip, boys we liked, music we listened to, books we'd read, everything that had gone on in our lives. I still have boxes of those letters under my bed back in Canada. Letters were our only means of communication and we poured ourselves into it. When we got slightly older, life got in the way and the letters became less frequent. We still wrote them, but there was so much more going on in our lives that they became more like updates of where we'd been, what film we'd seen, things we thought about. They were incomplete fragments of our lives that we chose to send to each other. No longer did I pour my heart out to her. I didn't need to; I had other friends, other things to keep me busy.

The second time I left my friends was when I moved to Japan. I left after finishing university and after I'd discovered email. I had to drop back to the letter writing after I first arrived in Japan because I didn't have a computer. The letters to my then-friend Cathy became a source of confessions, travel diary, cultural commentary and a way to keep in touch with all my friends and family back home. I wrote to her, Karen and Torrie and my parents with less obsession than to Monika, but the same need to express myself. Whenever I'd receive a letter, I would get very excited and would sit and read as I ate my dinner(as it made me feel as if I'd be having a conversation with that person). I still have boxes of those letters under my bed in Canada.

After I bought a computer, the letters pretty much came to a halt. Email was the way to communicate; it was quicker, easier and it made me feel as if I knew what was going on back home pretty much immediately after it had happened. I don't send letters anymore. I cannot remember the last time I wrote one. Yes, I send out cards: postcards sometimes when I'm travelling, Christmas cards when the season approaches and Birthday cards (sometimes late). But I no longer write letters. I don't feel the need. I've even become really bad at answering emails, preferring to put it off until months go by before I reply. When I got my postcard from Karen this week, I got very excited! Karen's very good at sending postcards: she sends me one pretty much from every part of the globe that she visits. I get excited reading words in her handwriting that she's taken the time to sit down and write. I like reading about her adventures overseas (part of me envies her and wishes that I could still do the same). And I was thrilled to get her postcard, as this time, she hadn't gone anywhere. She just felt like writing me a card and I was delighted to receive it.

Friday

Idle Words are having a French week. As part of this week, they compared the average school lunch in France to that in the US. The whole article is fascinating.

Note that not only do the French students eat more interesting meals than the American kids, but they get a different message from mealtime, too. You get the sense that a French school lunch is considered part of the child's education. Students learn that there are many kinds of foods and many kinds of main courses. They notice that meals have a structure, and consist of an appetizer, main dish, vegetable, cheese, and dessert.
...
As a culture, we Americans tend to fixate on certain exotic dangers (unpasteurized cheese will kill our children!) while completely ignoring real and pervasive dangers (there's shit in our meat; our schools are feeding children swill). And we have a strangely Calvinist attitude to our food: healthy eating has to be dour, and unpleasant, an almost unattainable ideal. Sin surrounds us, and often we fall.
The French attitude seems to be much healthier. Food is one of life's many pleasures, there is an elaborate (of course) intellectual superstructure to its proper preparation and enjoyment, and French children are introduced to the intricacies of good eating from an early age. And as they grow to adulthood, they find themselves in a country where one is expected to eat well, and where there are many opportunities to do so.

What does your God want you to do?

N and I sat up late last night watching the news. We looked as Tony Blair spoke about the war; he looked drawn, tired and much older than I remembered. N always wonders about the stress levels of Tony's job. We get stressed out as teachers, so he is amazed at how much stress a Prime Minsiter must go through. Especially at times like these. We both wonder how Tony gets any sleep at night with everything that he has to deal. He spoke passionately and had me with him up until he promised that the money made from oil would be put into a charity with the United Nations to help rebuild Iraq. I love it! We haven't won the war yet, why are we looking ahead to rebuilding. How can we be so sure of winning this war? Riiiight, cause we'll bomb the crap out of them.

I spent a lot of time last night in bed thinking. I was wondering just why I oppose this war. I don't disagree that Saddam is someone that shouldn't be in charge of a country. I don't disagree that he has done horrid things in the past and it is possible that he will do horrid things again. I have no trouble with disarming Iraq or, at least, getting rid of chemical/biological/nuclear weapons (if he has any). But it is slightly hypocritical for the US and the UK to be doing it, seeing as the US has a huge number of nuclear missiles and has people working on chemical/biological weapons. It is also slightly hypocritical to go after Iraq, when Pakistan, India, China, Russia and probably North Korea all have nuclear weapons at their disposal. I'm not even going to mention France (ok, I just did). Why are we picking on Saddam, where there are plenty of other non-democratically elected rulers across the world? The Coalition could go after a number of other "leaders". Why Saddam? And if we're trying to get Saddam out, why not just get him and forget about bombing the country to bits (so that it could be rebuild later with US companies cashing in on the deal)? Surely the CIA and other intelligence forces across the world must have some idea of his whereabouts. Surely this could have been done the last time a Bush went a-war-mongering. Surely this all could be done in other ways.

I thought last night that possibly my objectivity has been lost because George W. Bush is in the White House. If Al Gore were President, would I feel differently? Possibly my distaste for this war would be slightly less. Maybe the presence of that man, with his piggy eyes and his determination to bomb something, his lack of knowledge of foreign affairs, his lack of reading, and his lack of interest in fostering relationships with other countries (other than the ones that agree with him) that drives me mad. If Al Gore were President, I don't think I would be jumping up and down with joy about this war. I still think that I would oppose it, but maybe I wouldn't get so worked up about it.

I don't want to spend the next weeks writing about a war that I have no control over. I have looked over the last few weeks and the content is decidedly anti-war, anti-Bush. I don't want to keep on hammering about it. Somedays, I can't help it. But I'll try not to focus on it too much. It doesn't always make for fascinating reading.

Thursday

Some links that I've been meaning to post for ages.

    An absolutely unbelievable photo taken during the 2000 forest fires of Montana. Courtesy of Mint Chaos.
    And, finally: The Complete Bushisms . Go, see how the Prez has been misunderestimated.
    "Russia is no longer our enemy and therefore we shouldn't be locked into a Cold War mentality that says we keep the peace by blowing each other up. In my attitude, that's old, that's tired, that's stale."—Des Moines, Iowa, June 8, 2001"

    "They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."—St. Charles, Mo., Nov. 2, 2000

    "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''—Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

More lies said by George.

Today, I weep for my country , U.S. Senator, Robert Byrd.

"No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. ... Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned."
"We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance," Byrd said, adding: "After war has ended the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe."

Daniel Drennan has written a piece in his New York Diaries. It's a letter to George W. Bush. Being a full convert of Drennan and his prose, I found it brilliant.

Do you know anyone who lives abroad or in the Middle East, Mr. president-select? Have you ever been anywhere outside of this country before being installed as the current occupant of the White House? You probably don't lose any sleep over diplomats and their families, I don't suppose. I guess it would have been nice if our so-called Patriot missile defenses worked--I wouldn't have worried so much!
...
Do you remember when you came to New York many, many days after the attack, and were standing on the site where the Twin Towers once stood, on a pile of smoldering ash and molten metal and the incinerated remains of some 3,000 people, laughing, and promising to "get" the people who had done this? I'm just curious whether you are still going to get them. Just asking, mind you. I realize you have other things on your mind now.
...
I guess it's a good thing that you've managed to convince the troops that this is a fight worth fighting. Too bad none of them work for any of your buddies' corporations--how nice if they were to benefit from the windfalls this war will bring you and your family and friends! Did I mention that I have a brother in the Navy? I had another brother in the Navy as well; he did a tour of duty of the Mediterranean on the U.S.S. Saratoga when I was living abroad in France. I know how you feel about France and all, but you might want to think about the feelings of a nation which, unlike us, in recent memory has lost so many civilians and soldiers in wars on its own soil, which has seen its country destroyed innumerable times by war.
...
Do you have any relatives in the Armed Services, Mr. president-select? I didn't think so. Have any Bushes ever served? I'm just curious. It's amazing how you convinced the families of the troops that they are doing this in the name of freedom! "The great masses of the people...will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one", eh? So true!
Also in that vein, Kevin Sites, is a reporter blogging from Iraq. Makes for sobering reading.

Parents' Evening tonight, so I'll be at school until, at least, 6:30pm. Not as late as N, though, whose P.Eve finishes around 8pm. Before he gets home that'll be 9 and there's his evening gone. I've got a couple of links that I'll post later, as the bell for the morning meeting has just gone and I'd better post and get into the staff room.

Wednesday

Today I will not write about the war, or George or anything else. I just don't want to think about it.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

I saw some cherry blossoms today on my walk home. They were beautiful and it does mean that spring is here. It made me think of the fact that it's Hanami season in Japan. When N came home, he opened a couple of the windows. He does that on most sunny days. Even people at work have observed that he's got some sort of "widow fetish"; he's forever opening windows without realising this. Fresh air, fresh air, fresh air. I don't mind, as long as it's warm inside. I also don't mind NOT opening windows. But he likes them open. He said that today, he took his form down to assembly and without thinking about it, opened a window there, too! He loves his fresh air. We talked a lot about this last summer, when he kept on opening windows and I kept on closing them. I guess this'll just be part of our relationship: window fetishes.

Tuesday

Some pictures! I scanned them today at school and here are two good ones (but not all that clear).

Your host(ess) in the Abbey Gardens the day it snowed.

N on the bridge by the Abbey Gardens the day it snowed.

"Diplomacy dies, now it's war" is what greeted me this morning on the front page of The Guardian. I ask, what diplomacy? At what point did Georgie act diplomatically? Robin Cook resigned yesterday. One of the things most often quoted in the newspapers and on the telly today is: "history will be astonished at the dimplomatic miscalculations". Again, what diplomacy?
Eric Alterman writes it very well:

We are now about to enter a world in which the values we practice are pre-emptive war, fiscal indiscipline, domestic theocracy and the good opinion of human kind be damned. Since 9/11, Bush and company have done almost everything possible to alienate the world and inspire more terrorists to hate us, despite the initial wellspring of sympathy and solidarity the attacks inspired worldwide. Meanwhile, for all its collective bluster, the Bush crowd has done almost nothing to protect the nation from the entirely predictable consequences of their folly and the hatred we have engendered across the Islamic and Arab worlds.
(courtesy of Craig's Booknotes)

The Weekly Lowdown goes into the Prez's address from last night to pick out lies.

George: We believe in the mission of the United Nations.
False. Otherwise you would submit to its authority.
...
George: The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.
False. You never brought up the vote, remember? You caved when it was apparent that it would not pass. Rather, you failed to live up to your responsibilities as a member of the United Nations and the Security Council.
After having read that, I am glad that I saw only part of Georgie's speech. I don't think I could have stomached such lies and propaganda. Also courtesy of Craig's Booknotes

I feel blue.

Monday

The weather for the last three days has been beautiful. It's been sunny and clear. It hasn't been hot but the sun has made the days seem warmer than they really are. The sun is meant to continue for the rest of the week and I hope it does! It's just a much nicer way to live.
I discovered notsosoft.com today. It is an excellent read. There is much still left to explore on that site. I'm trying to read it in my usual fasion (older blogs first) but am getting distracted by the newer posts.

I've also been reading Imperial Doughnut lately and I love it. It's v. funny and I really like the design (white and orange, an excellent combination)! I wish my webdesign was like that. It's not at all cluttered and looks funky. I like it (have I said that already?). His love for Snoopy is also something that I can relate to.

There is also an excellent site: Things my girlfriend and I have argued about which is also a column in the Guardian Magazine (Saturday's edition). Always an enjoyable and, sometimes, shocking read (especially the part where she kicked him in the head as he drove). It is really a unique site, unlike any other I've ever seen (the web design isn't great, but the content makes up for it).

I've also discovered another readable Polish blog called Indian Summer. It's in Polish, naturally, and it's not bad. I'm still looking for an excellent Polish blog. When I find one, I'll let you know.
Buzzcocks have started now. Am off to watch it.

More of Ari Fleischer. I have found the press briefing containing the passage that I described on Thursday. In case you're not willing to sit and read through it, here is the absolutely hillarious Ari (stand up comedian, or what?):

Q My point is, why is the President going through this charade of diplomacy when he obviously plans to go to war? MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, this is a very serious word, the diplomacy. And the President is carrying it out because he believes in the value of consultations. Q But he obviously is not going to follow, no matter what happens. MR. FLEISCHER: I think that, frankly -- Q How can you do that, really? MR. FLEISCHER: -- when you use the word "charade" -- which, if I'm not mistaken, has French roots -- (laughter) -- you may want to address your question to those who say they will veto any resolution. Q Aren't you glad you -- MR. FLEISCHER: I'm glad I minored in French. (Laughter.) Q You did? MR. FLEISCHER: Mais, oui. Q It's come to this. (Laughter.)
And we are going to have a war. And the whole "dyplomatic" process (of trying to bully the non-decided into siding with the US and UK) was a sham. And Georgie believes that God wants him to fight this war, so war it'll be. And I'm disgusted that a vote on the second resolution is not happening, but maybe it is for the best because the US would only go out and "punish" economically those who voted "against them". The US, who haven't paid their UN dues for years.
Please, don't even get me started on the "partial birth" abortion ban, because it's not like we didn't see THAT one coming from a mile away. And I don't really want to think of the "Democrats" who helped to push this one through.

It was a flying visit. Good to see N's Mum and Dad and his brother, but it was so short that we barely sat down before we had to drive back again. We went to scout out some wedding locations; well, one to be exact. The one we had our heart set on (and I still think it's beautiful) has a kick-out time of 11:00pm, which I think is ridiculously early for a wedding. We're still going to think about it and see what else is possible. Wish us luck.

Friday

Just spotted on the BBC website:

The town of Carrboro in the southern state of North Carolina decided it was time someone fought in the French corner after a local Republican succeeded in rechristening French fries "freedom fries" and French toast "freedom toast" in House of Representatives restaurants. The town's council, or Board of Aldermen, have passed a resolution declaring April "French trade month", and will be encouraging residents to buy as many French products as they can all month in protest at the action. ... Ms Hall Broun recalled that, were it not for the French, the Americans would have lost the battle for independence against their now close ally Britain, during the American Revolution.
You can read more on on this page .

We're off to Bristol this weekend, so there won't be much blogging from me. We're leaving tonight and stopping over at some friends in Reading. Then, on Saturday, we're off to Bristol and to see the possible wedding venue.

On another note, today is my Great-grandmother's 97th Birthday. Impressive, eh?

And finally, you can now make comments by clicking on the "comments" link underneath the post.

Thursday

Is this real?
There is a page with posters for peace which are copyright-free.

Just overheard on the telly: Ari Fleisher being "clever": (all this is from memory, so apologies for any mistakes)
Q:Why is the President going ahead with this dyplomatic charade if he plans to go to war?
A: I believe "charade" is a French word (pause for laughter)...you should ask those who plan to veto the resolution...(or something along those lines)
That didn't answer the question, Ari!!

UPDATE (on the French toast): It was first made by Joseph French. More information and a recipe are to be found here . This is courtesy of Joe Conanson at Salon and Atrios. In case you can't be bothered to surf on down, here's an excerpt:

The confusion comes about because the owner of the tavern at which the dish was invented had a very poor knowledge of grammar. When Joseph French decided to name the dish after himself he should have written his invention as "French's toast" (that is to say, the toast of French). Because he did not know how to use the possessive apostrophe, however, the dish appeared on his menu simply as "French toast". In short, the dish has nothing whatever to do with French culinary history but in the two hundred and seventy years that have intervened, no one has taken the time to correct the grammatical error.
P.S. French fries also aren't French. We knew that already, though, eh?
P.P.S. I love French toast...with lots of maple syrup. Mmmm. Niebo w gebie (Heaven in my mouth).

This week I've been having green tea with my breakfast. I read somewhere that it was healthier than coffee and still packed quite the caffeineous punch. I've not noticed too much difference, so I've kept going. For a while, though, I've been having Genmaicha which I found by accident in one of the local small shops. I love Genmaicha, I used to always get a cup of it after lunch when in Japan. The tea lady would bring me a cup and I would savour it, looking out the window at the kids playing in the filed. I love the nutty taste that it has because of the roasted rice grains. Yum.

In the March 10, 2003 edition of "Staffroom", I find the following article on p. 11:

House of Lords Back Teachers in violent pupil cases
Law lords recently announced that teachers were within their rights to refuse to teach violent pupils, even if the children were legally entitled to be in school. The lords also decided that an expelled pupil allowed back to school on appeal had been "reinstated" even thought he was taught in isolation from other children after teachers, backed by their unions, refused to have him in the classroom.
Interesting. The article also cites quotes from the General Secretary of the NASUWT union and the NUT union. "Teachers cite pupil misbehaviour as one of the main reasons they leave the profession prematurely..."

Last night went fine, though. I had a nice chat with the HOF (Head of Faculty) about teaching and about possibilities of leaving. It seems that so many of us want to go, but few of us actually take that step because we've got families, mortgages and responsibilities. I'm still itching to go and retrain, but constantly change my mind as to what I want to do. It's very interesting to see that those higher up in the system also aren't 100% satisfied and want to get out, as well. What is this profession turning into?

Wednesday

Wonderings about Job Change #457:

How can I become a librarian?

The day went well (even group from hell co-operated) until last lesson when a snotty, bitchy little thing ruined my mood with her damned mobile phone (why, why, why must ALL children have them these days?) which she then took back from me without permission (going into someone's desk while they're going "Excuse me! Don't do that! No, no, stop, what are you doing? Don't do that!" is not really permission, is it?) and against school rules. I was fine all day; tired, yes, but fine. Good lessons. Lovely yr. 9s in period 5. Fine. Looking forward to the end of the day and then *SPLAT* it hits the fan. It was unnecessary.

I've got to go back to school tonight to do something which I shouldn't really be doing as its someone else's responsibility. Unfortunately, that someone is out of action (and has been for months now) and cannot be there. I'm not happy about it as it's not really my department, it's not something I get paid for and at the end of today, I really don't want to go back. But I've got to. Duty, etc.

On a happier front, my Mum rang last night and has suggested putting comments forms on this page. I've got to look into it! We had a lovely chat (like we do) and talked about the wedding and the wedding dress, politics and the cold, cold weather spell in Winnipeg. Brrr. My parents live too far away. I must, I must, I must get them to move closer.

Tuesday

We didn't get the house. We got gezzumped (sp??). We always knew that because we didn't have the money, because we were still waiting for N's flat to be sold, that anybody could come along and offer them the asking price and they could take it. We keep telling ourselves that there'll be other houses. Just have to keep looking. We showed it to N's mum and aunty when they were up here. It's sad that we won't actually be living there.

N and I are Buffynatics at the moment. We have bought all of the first three seasons and the last half of the 4th (why the last half? It was a "buy one, get one free" sale and they didn't have the 1st half of the 4th season). We have watched the first two and I finally got to see it all from the beginning. We started watching season 3 a couple of nights ago and I like it. Shame that it'll end (sort of) at the end of this year. I'm no longer reading the season 7 summaries because I don't know if I want to know what will happen. Although, due to lack of sat. tv. and SkyOne, we're stuck with season 6 on terrestrial. Should I or shouldn't I? At this rate, it'll be at least another year before I know how it ends.

Note to self: when you're approaching a group that you're about to cover and they cheer at your sight that does not bode well.

It went ok, though.

Niiiiicee . Apparently forgeries had nothing to do with the US or the Brits or any other country.

We haven't had the war yet, we haven't "won" it yet, but already, the US is planning to rebuild Iraq and is offering contracts for "the biggest rebuilding project since World War II."

Not only that, one of the companies tied to Dick Cheney has already won a contracts for giving advice in rebuilding Iraq's oilfields after the war. Courtesy of This Modern World. Lovely.

I'm sure to be back later on with more news.

Monday

I made bread and am now eating it with some Lavender Honey I purchased in Cambridge. It is good.

Tony Blair has a lot of rebels in his party. He is, however, supported on the Iraq issue by pretty much all the Conservatives' in the House of Commons. This leads me to think: Is Tony "The Poodle" Blair a Tory in hiding? Is he the real leader of the Opposition? How can you have around 125 Labour ministers/backbenchers/junior mini-ministers against you, Tone? They are your people. This is your party. Aren't you supposed to be united in the cause of labour and not so willing to jump when Georgie Boy says to? I think that Tony Blair may just be the most left-winged Tory in hiding.

A couple of things to note about Poland:

    Apparently, as of this year, Poles will have to apply for a visa to enter Russia. Until now, citizens of both could enter the countries without a visa. Poland is complying with EU regulations. Poles will still be able to enter the Ukraine without visas, but Ukrainians will now have to apply for (free?) visa. I read about this during my morning surf on Dziennik Internetowy Polskiej Agencji Prasowej (pl), but cannot find it anymore.
    Also according to PAP, 69% of those who plan to vote in the referendum are going to support Poland's entry into the EU. The support seems to be increasing slowly in Poland. I read this morning (I think in Gazeta ) that we have received a yellow card over a couple of issues from the EU. The integration is progressing nicely, but EU had a few areas where there must be some improvement. I think one of the things they mentioned is ease of movement into Poland (queues on the border can be horrific as the Polish border guards search for...???). Interesting, I feel.

Today in morning registration one of my students calls me over. He is one of three boys in my form who are really cool and unusual (not in a rebellious way, but in an intelligent way) and I like him a lot. He shows me a list of his heroes (now why a 15-year-old boy would write a list of his heroes is beyond me, but he's just unique enough to do this sort of a thing) and the choices varied. I can't remember now exactly, but two choices struck me as odd: Jeff Goldblum (huh?) and Bryan Adams. I asked him about the latter and him and his friends agreed that Bryan Adams was definitely cool. I was surprised, to say the least, as he's not released anything recently and 15-year-old boys don't normally listen to Bryan Adams, do they? As I said, they're "unique" boys. Gave me chuckle this morning.

Sunday

George leads you on a tour of the Oval Office. Key points to remember:

    The windows let the light in (the inventor of the windows rests happily in his grave).
    The rug captures the light (sort of like chlorophyll?).
    American Eagle on the seal keeps looking at peace, but must have enough arrows in the talons to keep the peace (how 'bout cruise missiles, George, can the eagle hold them in his talons?).
    Not surprisingly, George's preference of paintings in the office are of a Western-themed variety.
    The President must be a President for all the people (even the poor, female, left-wing, non-Christians?), not just those who voted for him (or give him money?).
    Words like "gotta", "mah", etc.
I don't mean to poke fun at this man, but he makes it too easy.

In semi-related news, Polish Pro-Americanism is discussed in the an LA Times article.

"Those positive feelings are a result of something which is rooted much deeper," he explained. "Poles think of America as a country which is powerful, democratic, economically successful. The attitude of Poles toward America is almost mythological. In no other country in the world -- except maybe America itself -- is there such a strong belief in the American dream."
How true and just slightly sad.

The weekend's gone by quickly, like they always do. Yesterday we went to Cambridge and run acros a peace protest (anti-war with Iraq) and thought about joining in and then decided to get some food instead. We went to a nice Italian restaurant in the market square of Cambridge and had a lovely, leisurely lunch. We spent much of our time in Cambridge in bookshops, which is my favourite activity to do when out and about anyhow. Good day. It was great to see both N's mum and his aunt.

Today is going to be a lazy day. N is studying Greek as I type and I've just finished making a rye bread, that is now rising in the kitchen. It's my first time making this bread and I wonder if it's going to be any good. If not, I won't make it again, I guess. I'd like to explore rye breads and make different ones; I've got a recipe for a Polish Sourdough Rye bread, but it is a bit more time-consuming (will taste better, probably), so I'll have to make it another time.

The weather today is beautiful: sunny and crisp. Yesterday had a cloudy, rain-soaked feel to it, although it didn't really rain all day. The first signs of spring are all around us: snowdrops and crocuses (which I always want to call "croci" in plural) are coming up and blooming, there are also leaves and leaf buds on many trees and bushes. When the day is sunny and clear, like today, you can almost smell the spring. It's lovely. I like this weather. I hope we won't have too many more rainy days. I hope that April isn't a deluge and that May and June are warm.

My bread is not rising well enough. Worry. I may scrap it and try the more complicated one. I made a cake this weekend, as well, which was NOT a success, in my opinion. I am not sure what went wrong with it, but it just did. I will not be making that one anytime soon. Unless I can figure out what went wrong.

Not much time to do an actual post, but I ran across this last night while surfing randomly. Poland is known for its corruption; bribes are still common and the addage of "I'll scratch your back, you'll scratch mine" is still one of the unspoken laws of the land. Not surprisingly as during the Communist era this was the only way to get anything done (from buying toilet paper to building a house) and some habits die hard. Rywingate has taken the country by storm. People are tuning in; it's like Monicagate for the Poles but more important. There is more information on this issue at the WarsawVoice website: older news and newer news on the topic.

Friday

A teacher has been jailed for three months after being found guilty of forging test results. This isn't surprising to me, as the league table pressure is increasing each year. What did surprise me was the fact that these were Key Stage 2 results, not GCSE or A-level, which attract very high attention each year.

Also spotted, Charles Clarke's son was suspended for swearing at a teacher. This bit from that article is interesting:

Education ministers have repeatedly condemned misbehaviour by pupils.

Teachers say this is one of the main reasons for people leaving the profession.
...
Teachers' rights were strengthened last week when the law lords backed the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' over its members' refusal to teach an unruly boy.

Interesting that this decison was annouced without much furore from the press. I didn't notice anything in the newspapers.

It might be quieter here than usual, as N's mum and aunty are visiting us this weekend. We're planning a good weekend that includes a foray into Cambridge. It will be great to see them both again, as they are both lovely ladies. It's important to get on well with the mother-in-law-to-be, non?

A few bits and bobs, very American-focused, for you to read through.

    Americans get insulted by some seriously over-zealous and narrow-minded Europeans.
    The Americans have been criticised and looked down at for a long time, apparently. I'm not sure how Europe managed to be disgusted with the American slavery, while at the same time making heaps of money off it. Hipocrisy has always been a European vice.

Thursday

An excellent point was made on Craig's Booknotes. In his post he points out that America is now "punishing" Turkey due to the latter's decision not to allow any more of US armed forces on their soil (to which they have every right). Far be it for me to defend Turkey's democracy and their history of human rights violations, but America, as pointed out by Craig, is the bringer of democracy and free trade. Why are they penalising Turkey for agreeing on something democratically? It's that old, mature stance of "I'll take my ball home and won't play with you because you won't do what I want you to do."

The Booknotes website also has numerous interesting links on Bush's economy, AIDS Initiative and the CIA's interrogation methods. Very good reads.

Joseph Stalin died 50 years ago. I meant to post this last night, but because of the parents evening, I didn't. He died on 5th of March, 1953. The Guardian has an interesting article about Stalin's legacy.

Ok...I cannot stop looking at this clock . I will, though, once I've posted this link. But it's addictive.

Wednesday

I've added the second page to this Blog. It's still in its infancy, so don't get put off just yet. Give it a few weeks, it'll grow.

It's been a busy week. We've got parents' evening tonight, followed by a grocery shopping trip. The parents' evening won't be as long as last week's, but it still means that I've got to stay here. It's been a v. good day, though. All 6 lessons running smoothly and even my "class from hell" was in good spirits and felt like co-operating with me today. It was quite scary for them to actually settle down and get to work when I'd just asked them to do that. Wow.

I have spent a great deal of time working on another page to this website. It's all from scratch, so I've had to go and relearn about html and tables and some other bits an bobs. It's been interesting, but time consuming. I spent a large part of Tuesday evening working on it and trying to get it doing exactly what I want it to do. Once it's ready and uploaded, I'll link to it.

Monday

I forgot to mention this on Friday. 50 years ago on February 28th, Watson and Crick came up with the model for the DNA molecule. It was an incredible discovery and has had a dramatic impact on genetics. Some links from the Daily Telegraph that I found: a timeline, some information and about the people involved in the discovery. I also found an interesting article about Rosalin Franklin whose x-rays helped tremendously in the discovery.

US warplanes attacked five targets in Iraq. The UN is going to vote on the second resolution. On Friday, Hans Blix presents his next report to the UN on Iraq. People, we're heading for war. As John said to me this weekend, "There'll be a war." No matter what any of us say, because GW wants a war, we'll have a war and bomb the shit out of a country. Hooray for us.

In other happy news, when he's not busy attacking Iraq, destroying funding for contraception and AIDS prevention and screwing up the US economy, the self-appointed, fearless leader of the western world (and some central european countries) is getting ready for the 2004 elections (quietly, though...shhhhh...someone might hear him). Hot dog! Aren't we lucky? Well, to be honest, he's not doing the preparations. He's too busy thinking about the conflict with Iraq (a man can only think of so many things at one time! How does Tony "The Poodle" Blair manage to think about Iraq and the Northern Ireland conflict all at once?). He is having his aides do the thinking for him. Is that unusual? I reserve judement.

Now some of you might say, "Why the hell do you care?" I don't know why I care, I just do. And the thought of that imbecile sitting there in the White House for four more years is enough to keep me worried. I'm not American, I don't live there, I shouldn't care...but I do. Figure that out.

Just found: how the US will win the UN resolution. Sad, really.

An Apostrophe Test. Try it.

I am, what Cartman (of South Park fame) would call a tree-hugging hippie. Me 'n' my SUV*. I came across this by accident, as I do with most pages, and the deer on the first page, this gorgeous little deer...anyhow, go read this and try to save the BioGems.

* I DON'T HAVE AN SUV...don't want un either. I was being, what you call, sarcastic, non?

Sunday

Food for thought. Humour for the laughter. Candy for the eyes. In other words, links I've seen recently and am now willing to share with you all.

    How to be a good wife in the 50s. "Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it." And more gems to be found there.
    I like Communist propaganda posters. They make me nostalgic for my childhood in Communist Poland where propgaganda posters in town were more common that queues for toilet paper. Here are some Chinese propaganda posters . They are a treat to look at. I love the colours, the classic broad strokes and the atmosphere captured by these posters.

More classical arrangement of some of Radiohead by Christopher O'Riley to be found on NPR's Performance Today website. I'm mesmorised. Sitting in my chair and just absorbing it all, familiar, beautiful in a completely different style. You'll need RealPlayer for this.

Listening to Christopher O'Riley's version of Radioheads' Exit Music (for a Film). It is brilliant and you can find it here (it should be the second one from the top). I read about this and Brad Mehldau's Radiohead reworkings in a neat-o magazine I picked up today. It's called WORD and it seems really interesting. It's the first issue of the magazine and in his first editor's letter, Mark Ellen writes:

[W]e can't be the only people who want some reading matter we can get our teeth into.
...
[W]e plan to point up a careful selection of the records, DVDs and books that are really worth your time and money (we're not bothered about being first, we're just concerned about being right), and procide powerful and amusing and provocative journalism about actors, artists, musicians and novelists who all think that what we call entertainment matters, that an inquiring mind does not turn back at the borders of a genre, that the search for inspiration leads you forwards as well as back, that the really interesting material is always found in the cracks in the road, and that everybody has a story worth hearing.
It sounds v. good and, so far, it's fab. I will try to pick up the second issue in two week's time (it comes out on the second Thursday of every month). The articles are insightful and are as varied as they get within a magazine and the issue has quotes from various people scattered throughout, which I love. There's also a webpage for it to be found here...but there's not much to be found on it yet.

Saturday

An interview with Adrien Brody, who played Wladyslaw Szpilman in Polanski's The Pianist can be found here . The Pianist recently won 6 Cesars (the French equivalent to the Oscars) and 2 BAFTA awards (including one for Adrien Brody). I've written about The Pianist before here .

N's brother John is visiting us this weekend. We managed to walk into town and do a bit of shopping on the market. We came back and had a great lunch of prawns in garlic and french fries. Now we're gorging ourselves on the cinnamon rolls that I baked. It's the second time I've made them and they're better this time around. Less time in the oven means they're less dry and the icing tops it off. Well done to me, I say. The boys are v. happy, also. I am now looking at some recipes for breads. Such a happy baker I am. I haven't got many links to good cooking/baking sites. Here are the favourites out of my Favourites (in no particular order):

    Babka Marmurkowa from the 50+ Friends Club Cookbook. I'm not 50+, I know, but I made this once and it was a very popular marble cake. Not bad.
    Mniammniam (in Polish): a brilliant collection of recipes.
    The Red Kitchen is a team blog to share recipes, kitchen tips and other cooking goodies. Absolutely brilliant!

Did you know that vegans are modern day witches? No? Well, Brother Harry Hardwick thinks they are. This is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. Here are some examples:

Today’s witches are called “vegans.” One needn’t look any further than Christ’s words to see that so-called “vegans” are nothing more than sorcerers and demons, mocking God while spitting on His Son’s final supper. They know God loves meat and has ordered us to eat as much of it as we can.
...
When the apostle, Peter, woke up hungry, what did God give him to eat? Not a pansy platter of carrot sticks, lettuce leaves and orange slices. He gave him every type of four-footed beast on the earth and every fowl of the air, telling him, “Rise, Peter, kill, and eat” (Acts 10:9-13).
Not satisfied with just spewing hate about vegans, he then turns his attention to a favourite topic in the pulpit:
But add another a/k/a to that list - homos. You see, veganism offers a place of solace for sodomites every bit as attractive as a Catholic confessional. Fruits and vegetables are what housewives and sissies on Weight Watchers eat, whereas meat, cheese and butter are what real men eat. If every meal you eat doesn’t contain something that lives in, or comes out of something that lives in, a barn, you aren’t a real man.
It's a beauty, isn't it?