Wednesday, November 29, 2006

a close shave

Whilst googling about instead of working I stumbled upon a Canadian political blog.
Don't even.

testing times

I'm not happy about this, the kids are busy doing tests this week. The desks are in rows and there is tension in the air. It's dull.

My week has been "Sit down, turn to page 23 , read the text carefully, no talking, make sure you have two sharp pencils ready, if you need anything raise your hand and I will help you but remember, I can't help you with the test."

I vastly prefer interaction and actual teaching.

Roll on next week.

Gas, not Cole.

I haven't thought about them in a while, I'm hoping they are OK. I refer of course to my second team, Bristol's worst. They have a history of homelessness and below average league form (currently residing mid table in League Two) but in some small way, some nostalgic relic from my past, I cannot give them up. They also have one of the best nicknames in sport.
Bristol Rovers, affectionately known as "Gas'eads" .

Our rivals are Bristol City, affectionately known as 'Shit Heads' Because, well, you work it out.

I became a Gashead when I worked for the club back in the early 90's as a steward. I was already a die hard Norwich fan but my head was turned by this bit of rough, this dirty jewel of the South West. I needed my weekly fix of live sport and working for them provided me with a paid opportunity to watch lower divison footy for the first time (Norwich in those days were a Premiership force to be reckoned with).
My roomate at the time, Ringer, a local lad from Keynsham was a fervent Shithead and was aghast at my choice. "How would you feel if I moved to Norwich and became an Ipswich fan?" I replied that he wouldn't ever do that because it just doesn't work like that in Norfolk. In Bristol the teams live on top of each other, In the east we are 40 miles apart and know little of each other's ways and habits. His own Brother in law was a Gashead, Ringer ended up marrying a Norwich fan. Funny how things turn out.

When asking Bristolians about their preferences the following is not uncommon. "Are you shit or gas?" "Me? I'm shit, I fuckin hate the gas." It takes some getting used to.

A meme.

With apologies and thanks to Weasel I include this meme.
This is because I am having a frantic week at work so what better way to spend my time than blogging silliness.

5 things you don't know about me.

1. I am the same height and weight as Lyndon Baines Johnson. Sure the weight fluctuates a bit but 6'5 is 6'5. The weight is in the same ballpark, look it up. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, he had multiple heart attacks and drank himself to death at 65.

2. I am a fully qualified soccer referee. The offside rule and everything. I even have a badge and a whistle.

3. I find my cosmic centre on water. Water and being on it makes me most happy. Always. Boats generally do the trick, especially sailing ones. There can be nothing better than a day sailing with the nearest and dearest, or failing that, Henry Holland. Don't get me wrong , I also like land and am quite good at being on it but it's water that really calms me down.

4. I once bumped into Bobby Moore. At the 1987 FA Cup Final, in the car park at Wembley. He was very nice about it, it was completely my fault.

5. I am not scared of flying. I actually love to fly, especially in small planes. Some people assume that because it took me 27 years to get into the air there was some deep seated traumatic phobia. The real reason was that for most of my destinations up to that point there was a train, car or a boat that would do the job just as well (if a little longer).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Of course!!

It had been bugging me for a while, since yesterday actually . Who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1974-79 Labour government? Was there more than one or was it just one person?

Such things rattled about in my brain as I tried to think of what the hell to write about in order to clear the 'Thanksgiving" post from the top bumper.

I was trying to work out a British equal to Walter Mondale.

In desperation I had to resort to Google.

Of Course!

Denis Healey!

His political career follows many a similar path to our favourite Veep, in power in the second half of the seventies, vocal yet impotent in the first half of the eighties. Fought right wing iconoclasts and lost, badly.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for so many reasons, the food, the football, the family dysfuntionality. One of the perks of being an elementary teacher is the inventive ways teachers and parents dream up to bring such celebrations into the classroom (and into my stomach)

Behold, the pot simmering away in a nearby First Grade classroom.

I was alerted by the smell, I was soon investigating, camera in hand.

Before you could say "Thank you Sarah" this delicious bowl of Stone Soup landed upon my busy desk.

There were many other splendid offerings throughout the building but this soup was my favourite.

Thank you First Grade Friends!

Running scared, the debriefing.

Out on the road at 4pm, Back home by 5.10pm. Bloody marvellous. Every time something felt tired, uncomfortable or just plain 'ugh' something else clicked in. The wind direction changed for the better, the gradient improved, some tourists got out of the way, a great piece of music came on. I'm going out again Wednesday morning, bright and early before three days of eating.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Running scared.

I've been out a few times since the knee specialist pronounced me fit for running again.

Following the 'incident' at the end of August and the swelling, the ice, the acupuncture, the six week wait to visit said knee specialist, the almost nervous breakdown 'I'll never bloody run again" and the entire day spent in his waiting room. The new ipod filled with enthusiastic running tunes and the reading of Runner's World on the loo, I'm getting back.

The route is the same as it was last year, just building up strength and reaping the rewards of getting outside and running. All told it's about five and a half miles (closer to six if you include the walk up and the walk down)over the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, alternate directions each time today (if I get out of here in time for the last hour and a half of daylight) it'll be the Manhattan first then back via the Brooklyn. With fading light it's a bit safer to run that direction there being more people about.

I'm keen to up the ammount of runs I get in a week. I want to start getting up just before dawn again and getting out at least once a week in the morning. You may think it's easier to get up just before dawn when dawn is later, trouble is a later dawn comes with colder airs and snugglier bed. An almost lethal combination!
Also, heading out to Long Island this week for the holidays. Not a great running environment, massive ammounts of food, TV, large sofas etc plus a dull suburban route as opposed to the vistas of the bridges and the streets of Chinatown and Brooklyn. They do have a neat runnning track at the local high school, I could do a few laps whilst listening to music.

Two free periods at the end of a Monday means I'm going to try and get out of here ASAP and get on the road by 4pm. Now I just have to watch out for those parents wanting a 'word'.

The Manhattan Bridge, A killer gradient but at least no tourists.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Random musings are often irrelevant, sometimes just stupid.

There's not been an huge ammount of excitement here at Mondale Towers. Listening to Johnny Cash, hoping the unseasonably warm weather will chill out (in all sense of the word) and looking forward to a bunch of beers with coworkers after school.In fact that's really what I'm doing right now, just killing time untill the beer begins to flow.

Who doesn't love pictures of Kitten?

She's really not half as grumpy as she looks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An observation.

Something happened yesterday that made me think.

At least one of my co workers is old enough to have voted for Adlai Stevenson.
At least one of them is young enough to have voted for Al Gore.

It's a bit like the time my former Headmistress did an assembly on 'memory'. She asked all the faculty to conjure up their earliest memory and share it with the school.
She was startled when I told of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. She had been teaching for 10 years at that point.

We grow old quick.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Buck stops here.

A kid in Listmaker's class incorrectly identified a picture of Harry S. Truman as "Mr Mondale".
I might wear my Harry Truman costume next week.

Look upon this image and consider his plight.

Not such a bad day.

November 8th 2006 was sucky in many micro ways. The weather was obscene and the work day just draggged, but there were some good macro bits.

Democrats seem to have gained control of Congress.√

Mr President is now a fully fledged lame duck.√

Kev and TJ had a baby girl, 7lbs, healthy, happy etc (as is mom). I was slightly put out that it wasn't a boy and that I had no controlling vote over the naming process. If both of those things had slotted in place the kid would have been called Donald.
I did enjoy TJ's eccentric restauranteur friend turning up with a large bottle of champagne in the hospital, and proper glasses.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Mom: Well I never really know what he gets up to, I mean does his handwriting look right to you? I said to my husband that if his handwriting didn't improve perhaps we should get him a laptop. Does he get along with Bill? I ask because Bill's father was the coach of the soccer team and one day he had to substitute Job and then Job spent much of the weekend in tears, oh god it was awful, do you teach the times tables by rote or do you do some kind of actual teaching because when I was in Grad school I had to learn the US Constitution word for word I think it was really useful but also totally unfair, like if you didnt really get it, you didnt kinda, get it. Once there was a kid in his class and he really didn't understand Job, not because he didn't speak properly but more, emotionally, I used to say. Oh, look at that is that his math book? Can I see it? He really never talks about math at home, we have a hell of a job , oh my god 'Job' do you see? I just made a pun out of his name! That never happens. Right, where was I? Oh, the math homework and are you going to move the desks around again because last year Ms Bean used to move them around but she used to let the children vote on where they would sit, I thought that that was a really cool entry into democracy. uh hu.

Another Mom: So do you do alot of handwriting in class because I think it's really important, I remember that my mother had a bunch of letters written by my father from Vietnam and they were in the most beautiful handwritten script and I just thought how awful that my daughter won't be able to go there and live that life as he did and write such beautiful, thoughtful letters because all they do now is use computers.

Dad: So is he messin about? That's all I want to know. Is he messin about? Can I tell Julie that the boy's not messin about?

Sometimes I just like to let them talk.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Book learning. THE LIST.


I'm trying to compile a list of the very best of Book learning 2006.
Out of 27 books read so far I only have 4 that I would recommend as being superb f*cking reads.

One of them involves rabbits.

I just find it interesting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Book Learning #27

On Royalty By Jeremy Paxman.

Americans may feel free to disregard this post.

Oh Blimey.

There's nothing like a superbly written analysis of the monarchy to make you rethink most of your comfortably held beliefs about the hereditary principle, democracy, representative government, The Duke of Edinburgh and that Royal Wedding party your mum made you go to in 1981.

I am confused.

I am a republican.

Arent I?

Monarchy, in the modern world is at best a hangover from a feudal age, at worst a joke in poor taste. The hereditary principle, when taken beyond haircolour and the size of your feet is an outdated concept.

Eveyone agrees on that.

So why do we still have one?

Paxman come up with a wealth of great arguments, both for and against the idea and practise of Monarchy. He also regales us with some insider gossip about hanging out with The Prince of Wales, The late Princess of Wales and (most amusingly) the Duke of Edinburgh. He delves back to examine what happens when you finish a royal family or kill a king (I learned a hell of a lot about the trial and execution of Charles I).
This book is a serious piece of journalism tackling a subject often left to the gossip mongers and tabloid editors.

But it's also a book that makes you think about something you've probably not thought about for ages, something you've left in the back of your head;
Monarchy= stupid, crap and wrong.
Now I'm less than sure. Do I care enough to get rid of them?
Would I prefer an elected president, some wanker like Richard Branson?
Would you want another layer of electoral politics, either for a meaningless figurehead or for a powerful president?
Do the British need a monarch to portray them in the wider world? Surely we are more mature as a nation. Or are we?

Surely there are more important things to worry about.