Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Photos online

I put my photos of the Olympics online last weekend, and they can be found here. Some of them are a bit blurry because they're shots of people in action (diving, gymnastics, etc).

You can view my photos of Herakleion (Crete) and Brussels on my normal Webshots account. My Santorini ones should be up next weekend.

The best way to view them:

1. Click on the name of the gallery you want to see
2. Click 'View slideshow'
3. Click on the play button (3rd one from the left).
4. Sit back, relax and watch the photos go by.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Back to school teachers' meeting

Our day classes have resumed (after summer break), and as with every year, we start off with a teachers' meeting. A few notes:
  • All of our classes have to make two oral presentations per year, same as last year, but this year they'll be required to use an overhead projector or Power Point (per Bossman). I asked him if a beamer (for the Power Point presentations) had been ordered, and he assured me that one was on it's way. I then asked him about a laptop, and he looked puzzled. I followed that question up by asking him how on earth students were supposed to do Power Point presentations with a beamer and no laptop, and he said, 'Good point, I'll order a laptop soon.'
The next two are from the 'Information for teachers' handout we received at the meeting:
  • 'Dictations will be given during correspondence classes this year. The correspondence teacher has to give all dictations, but the grade will be counted as a grammar grade, not correspondence.'  
That struck me as odd. If it's going to be a grammar grade, then why not have the grammar teachers give the dictations as we did the previous two years?
  • There is no standard or fixed grading scheme. The only thing that is important is that teachers give the office the grading scheme according to which they want to grade an exam in advance.
A school without a standardised grading scheme. Imagine that! This also means that we can use different marking schemes for ever exam if we want. How bizarre!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

An observation from my hols

Parking Tickets

Greece - The driver of a car parks in a no parking zone, leaves the car there, goes to a nearby cafe and sits down with friends. Five minutes later, the traffic warden that saw him do it walks over to the car. He whistles and waves his arms for the driver of the car to move it, waits a few minutes, but no one comes so he gets out his pad and opens it to start writing a ticket. The driver sees he's about to get a ticket, yells "Hey" and runs over to the car. The traffic warden talks to him, points out the "No parking" sign, the owner gets in car and moves it.

Country-that-won't-be-named - The driver of a car parks in no parking zone, leaves the car and runs into the post office for a few seconds. A traffic warden comes along and starts writing a parking ticket. The driver runs back to the car, traffic warden yells at him for parking in a no parking zone, gives him the ticket and moves on.

Friday, August 27, 2004

As expected,

Part-Time Colleague didn't follow my lesson plan for my Friday afternoon class last week. Sigh. I had hoped he would have.

Here's what it said:
Collect their essays and put them in my inbox, please. Go over answers to the practice test I gave them before going on holiday (the reading seciton of the BEC Vantage Practice Exam #3 (Oxford book)), and make sure they understand their errors. Continue on in the (name of book) book, starting on page 68.

I'd say that's pretty specific. What did he do with them? He had a 90 minute conversation with them on NATURE!

Also, we have a teachers' meeting at 8h30 on Monday. Those are always a waste of time fun, because you never know what to expect. At one of them, two teachers spent 20 minutes argueing about desks.

Finally, Young Secretary told me that two new teachers started while I was on holiday. A 38 year old man from England and a 28 year old woman from Scotland. I haven't met them yet, but assume I will on Monday.

Happy Birthday to my friend Mr Weird.

Why I dislike the country-that-won't-be-named Part 1

(Yes, part 1. I've decided to make it a series).

What brought this series on?

The straw that broke the camel's back was last night.

I went out to a restaurant for a few beers with good food that I frequently patronise at lunchtime. I had two on the patio, then moved in to the lounge because it was getting cold. I met a couple from North America and we started talking. I finished my beer and ordered another one. An hour later, I was given a bill for four (they had been drinking wine and had paid for it before that). I questioned it and was told that I had drunk two outside and two inside, which was totally wrong. It turns out that the reason they had charged me for four, was because the waiter had heard me tell the the couple (who had asked about it) that we round up to the nearest Euro here, not tip 25% like they do back home and the waiter had been expecting (after hearing their North American accents). I told the manager if she was the desperate for my extra € 3.30, she could have it (and she took it).

I won't be going there again, which is a shame because I really liked the food and atmosphere.

Anyway, Part 1 of the series:

People are very cold unfriendly here. They eye each other suspiciously as they walk down the street with blank stares on their faces. If they bump into someone, 'Sorry' is rarely said, they just glare at each other. Heaven forbid people would actually smile at each other. If that happens, people think, 'What do you want from me?'

A few weeks ago as I was walking into the supermarket, I glanced to my left and saw someone smiling at me. It's such a rare occurrence in this country that I got scared! It turned out to be one of my students (that I like).

Customer service people are so unfriendly here that it makes the words 'customer' and 'service' oxymorons when used in the same sentence. In most shops, including supermarkets, and restaurants they treat you like you're inconveniencing them as they launch your purchases off the end of the belt and glare at you while you put them in your trolley.

You have no idea

How much I dislike the country-that-won't-be-named.

More tomorrow (actually.later today).

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Back from holiday

I've just returned from great holiday. Cheers to Quickos for filling in while I was gone.

Here's a (very) brief summary:

- Started out in Brussels with a visit to MBiaT HQ and a tour of the city by Quickos, sproglet, zed and the twat, followed by the arrival of our friend Ansh and hours upon hours of great conversation about everything and nothing. The twat graciously cooked a gourmet dinner for us also. Sproglet is an adorable boy and the twins are as beautiful as their mom. Unfortunately, it was too cold to use the OSSP.

- Flew to Athens for 3 days of Olympics.

- Took a ferry to Herakleion (Crete) for a couple days.

- Took a ferry to Santorini for 5 days.

- Flew back to Athens for two more days of Olympics.

- Returned home to the same weather I had left (15C and rain)

I took heaps of photos and will upload them to the 'net soon.

A few notes:

- Whomever decided to build a Metro in Athens and not include air conditioning ought to be shot.

- The Greece Shade Removal Project has successfully been completed.

- It is possible to hop on the Athens Metro at one station, proceed to the next station and end up at the station you started at. I have no idea how, but it happened to me.

- The Greece Air Conditioning Elimination Program is progressing at a rapid pace.

- Having to yell your destination into the window of a taxi so the driver can decide if he happens to be going that way, and actually wants to pick you up or not, is idiocy when you're a paying customer.

- Greeks are good at making signs to get you to an event, but lousy at making signs once you enter it to help you find your seat.

- 35C and sunny totally agrees with me.

- 'Blimps' are now called 'airships'.

- Having to remember to take your sunnies is much better than having to remember to take your umbrella.

- Walking on cobblestone streets is neither easy nor fun with a sprained ankle.

Finally, good news. When I turned on my mobile phone on the train home from the airport, Young Secretary had sent me an SMS letting me know that my (in-company) Thursday afternoon class had cancelled. This means that my first class isn't til 15h30 on Friday (day classes don't resume until Monday).

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

On My Travels


Well, I think this is my last day over here, so I'm packing my special guest-blogging bag. I'm putting in all the clever things Mr Teacher told me. I'm going to keep them all really safe, untill my brain get's big.

Thank you all very much, I have enjoyed my internet holiday.

Quickos loves walking into the sunset.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Space Rock


Wow! You won't believe what this is! It's a meteorite. From space. It landed in Tervuren in Brussels. I'm glad it didn't fall on me, because I would have been squished. Mr Teacher is going to tell me all about space.

Here's a special thing Mr Teacher taught me: My very educated mother just showed us nine planets. That is special because it helps you remember the names of the planets in the solar system, and all in the right order. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Juspiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Space is a really exciting place, and I want to go there and have lots of adventures.

Quickos loves the final frontier.

Monday, August 23, 2004

On The Road


This is my favourite car. Apart from our red car. It's got lots of things written all over ti. I like it because If we ever broke down, I would have something to read while we waited for the repairman to arrive.

I would like a special Quickos car, so I could go and visit all my friends.

Quickos loves going for a spin.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Entertaining Mr Jones


I had a really exciting adventure with Mummy yesterday. We saw lots of really funny people. first of all was Mr Jones who couldn't get his tricks to work properly, but he did catch a flying pig. That was funny. Mummy has a photo of him and his pig.

Then we saw some marionettes. They were really funny. I gave them a special hello wave and they waved back to me. They told a scary story about the Devil kidnapping people. Then a brave man chased him away. Hooray!

Quickos loves happy endings.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Quickos Media Centre


Here I am with my laptop. I'm writing out my latest adventures for all my friends to read. I'm really excited to have so many friends, all over the world!

One day, I would like to have a special Quickos Says Hello Party and invite all my friends. We could have a BBQ and then play lots of games. It would be really exciting to meet all my friends.

Quickos loves parties.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Road to Halle


Yesterday I went on a special journey. I went to Halle, because our car needed to have a service. This happens every year. The car is checked to see if everything works properly.

Then we get a hugely ginormous bill. Halle is a nice place. It's got a really old church and a big river with lots of boats. It's got some lovely cake shops, where we had a special 'waiting for the garage' cake. It was really nice.

Quickos loves good intentions.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Cloudbusting


Yesterday we had a huge storm with lots of lightening. I think thunderstorms are really exciting, so I go to the window and watch them. I keep counting the seconds between the lightning and thunder.

Mr Teacher told me that the storm is a mile away for each second between the thunder and lightning. That's how you can tell how far away a storm is. When you see the lightning at the same time as you hear the thunder, the storm is right over your head.

Quickos loves lightning.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Making My Brain bigger


Every week, I go to the library with my friend Anshul. We look at lots of books and look for really exciting ones I can take home to read. Sometimes I also get some Cd's or DVD's too.

Then I can have an exciting adventure, just by opening a book. Isn't that great. At the moment I'm reading a dictionary. It's got all my favourite words in. And lots more. Mr Teacher told me to read lots of books as it will make my brain bigger.

Quickos loves literature.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Atomic Quickos


This is the World's most ginormous atom. It is squillioons times bigger than a real atom and was built for a special party in Belgium a long time ago.

Atoms are really small. So small you can't see them, even if you squish your eyes and stare really hard. But atoms are everywhere, and when they are all piled up, they make everything in the whole world. Even the Atomium is made of lots and lots of atoms. Mr Teacher told me this. He said you can even make them go bang, but that's not a big or clever thing to do.

Quickos loves quantum mechanics.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Staring death In The Face


Isn't this scary! I met Death today, But I called him Mr Death as I didn't want to make him angry. I gave him one of my special happy waves, and he gave me a little wave back.

But he wasn't looking for me. He said I was too full of life and I wouldn't see him for a long time. I asked him about his funny curved sword on a stick, that he had. But he said scythe's aren't important, it's what you do with it.

Quickos loves being on this side of the river Styx.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Feast of Flowers


Isn't this really exciting! I went for an adventure in the Center of Brussels and I got a huge suprise.

The Grand Place had been covered in flowers. I asked a nice lady about it and she told me that they had spent all night placing 700,000 Begonias to make this pattern. It's a pattern by a man called Horta, who is a famous Belgian.

Quickos loves tiptoeing through the tulips.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Hello To All My New Friends


I've come along to look after Mr Teacher's blog while he is on holiday. It's really nice here, and I like the wallpaper.

He gave me a ginormous mobile phone, so I can call him if I have any problems. But I think I'm going to be really happy here, and I want to meet all his friends. I have lots of adventures and I'm going to tell you about them. Then Mr Teacher will tell you about all of his adventures when he gets back.

I did have a great adventure today, and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Quickos loves teaching.

Setting off

Right, so I'm off on hols. You lot take care and I'll see you close to the end of the month. I do hope someone will be so kind as to look after my blog while I'm gone.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ask me anything*

I've decided to do a Q&A for my blog, with reader participation, so here's your chance to ask me anything*. I hope to have a whole slew of questions to answer when I return from holiday in late August.

*questions about where the country-that-won't-be-named is will be ignored and possibly deleted. See previous posts for info as to why.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Double post: 1. Are you sure? 2. Exam results

Some of the Cambridge exam results were sent out (from England) on 23 July, and some were sent out on 6 August. Every day of the last two weeks, I asked Old Secretary and Secretary from Hell if the ones dispatched on 23 July had been received (we usually get them the following Monday), and both assured me that they hadn't been. I asked both of them to alert me when they were.
 
When I got to work today, I saw Bossman keying in the results of the ones mailed on 6 August, and asked if the others had also arrived. Young Secretary told me that they had come in sometime while she and Bossman were on holiday (not together) and were sitting in the pile of mail. OS and SfH are the two that had received the mail while she was gone, so I asked OS why she hadn't told me about them. She just shrugged her shoulders.
 
Results, ALL of my students passed again, and some of Bossman's didn't. Same as last year - and he hates it when my students do better than his (because it's a common occurrence).
 
O passed the FCE exam with a C grade. I've just emailed him to let him know.

Four days til holiday.

It's going to be another slow week for me. I don't expect anything exciting/interesting/stupid to happen at work this week, other than the fact that a new colleague is supposed to start sometime (only Bossman knows, and he hasn't told anyone), so I'll have to find something else to blog about.
 
I go on holiday on Friday morning. Hooray!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Quiet

There hasn't been much to blog about this week. Bossman is in Cape Town, Bosswoman is visiting family in another part of the country-that-won't-be-named, Young Secretary is in the Canary Islands, Part Time Colleague is in London and Tall Colleague is at the beach in the Netherlands. That leaves only Fun Colleague and me. Luckily, not many people want to take summer courses in August.

 

I managed to get out of an intensive course this week (FC is teaching it), and have been able to catch up on my sleep (I taught an intensive course the previous two weeks). One interesting thing that's happened this week has been working with a student on her translation skills. Fascinating. It not only shows you how important it is to know grammar, but also how important it is to know different ways of saying different (and the same) things in different languages.

 

Learning a language is a lot more than just learning grammar.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Normal blogging resumes

I've been offline at home since 23 July when lightning fried my DSL modem and the power supply box for my laptop. I've just replaced both of them and normal blogging will resume now. The posts during that time were made via Blogger while I was alone in the computer lab at work.

Talk about playing with fire.

(PS: I'm quite behind in responding to comments on my blog and reading other blogs, so bear with me.)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Update from Friday:

Not completely unexpected, Bossman never actually contacted the remaining Saturday student to tell him that the class had been cancelled and that that day was the last class. I had to do it.

Luckily, he's an easy going guy and took it well.