Friday, December 31, 2004

Snow!

Continuing the theme of reminiscing a little mistily about my school days, I've been inspired by some recent snowfall in Heidelberg to write a little bit about the times at school when it snowed. It only happened a couple of times whilst I was at secondary school, but they were great times.

For some unknown reason, any heavy snowfall we had always occurred between morning break and lunchtime. This meant that by lunchtime the entire school would be under a good couple of inches of snow, including the school playing field, which was enormous. This isn't good when you've got 1400-odd teenagers around.

We obviously had snowball fights, and they quickly became epic. I remember one in particular which became the Sixth Form (around 90 students) versus the entire rest of the school (around 1300 students) in a lengthy pitched battle.

I was part of the bigger group, and we penned the older kids into one corner, where they quickly ran out of snow and became lambs to the slaughter. We had the rest of the field to grab supplies of snow from, so it was a very one-sided affair. Hey, they were bigger than us!

Our lunch breaks were supposedly only 45 minutes long, but whenever these snowball fights kicked off they were endless. We'd have the teachers coming all of the way up the field to force us back inside, being pelted with snowballs as they did so. It was the ultimate payback for us, because they had no idea who had thrown it, since there were hundreds of kids around, all with snowballs in their hands and covered in snow from top to toe. Sneaky sneaky.

Of course, when everyone eventually got back inside the classrooms, there was steam and condensation everywhere. The radiators were a foot deep in coats and gloves and all that crap, and you couldn't see into or out of a single window because they were all thick with mist and damp.

I'm surprised anyone was even able to concentrate for the lessons, because we were all freezing cold and at the same time high as kites, with adrenaline still pulsing through us. Those lessons always seemed the longest, with the minute hand of the clock taking hours to move even a smidgen. All we wanted was to be let out of school so that we could carry on the snowball fight.

It's strange how these things never leave you though. About this time two years ago, whilst I was studying in London, there was a huge snowfall one afternoon, a good 2-3 inches in a matter of hours. Public transport naturally went to pieces, but thankfully I'd already got home from my lectures.

My halls were in the middle of suburbia, on a quiet road in North London, which was affected by the snow as much as anywhere else. The only thing worth doing at 5pm that afternoon was, of course, have a huge snowball fight. We ended up with two groups on either side of the street, having a running battle with each other.

This went on for hours, and was great fun. We'd take momentary pauses to let 'civilians' walk past, as well as having to stop for cars (flashback to the scene in Wayne's World where Garth and Wayne are playing hockey on the street: "Car!" "Game off!" "Game off!" "Game ON!" "Game ON!"). We were just like kids, playing in the snow for the first time. The only difference was that we went to the bar and got so very drunk immediately after.

You can't do that when you're 14, believe me.

Have a great new year's eve, whatever is it you're getting up to, and wherever you may be!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Interjection...

Hello, my name is JonnyB and I am a louse and a worm.

When Mr. Teacher asked me to write something here, I did warn him that I wouldn’t have a lot of time over Christmas. I just didn’t realise HOW little.

Maybe its for the best. Guest blogging is like sleeping with your friend’s girlfriend whilst he’s away at a sales conference in Newport Pagnell. It’s quite fun to do, but you really don’t want to do it too many times just in case he notices when he gets back.

Having said that, if one is going to risk getting beaten up by an angry ex-friend then it does seem a waste not to try to make it the best shag ever in the history of shags. Which is why it’s so frustrating that I’ve only got a couple of minutes here, and all I can manage is a drunken fumble followed by many embarrassed and self-conscious apologies.

I read the Guardian’s interview with Mr Teacher as homework for this. I liked two things about it. Firstly, I liked the fact that Mr T gave simple and honest answers to an interviewer who came across as fairly unperceptive – it would have been so easy to get drawn into agreeing with a preconceived thesis. Secondly, I liked the fact that Mr T takes the time to write down exact quotes if he can. It seems to me that if you’re going to write about other people in a manner that implies it’s the truth, it’s only courteous to them and fair to both them and the reader that it should be the truth. That’s what I feel anyway.

Oh dear – gone all serious. Anyway. You people all have a Happy New Year. I shall be spending it in the village with some nice friends, and hope to get all sorts of funny stories out of it.

Onwards to 2005. The Real World contains such terrible horrors. Let’s at least make the Virtual one a fun place to be.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Deck the halls or something like that.

(in media res)...and then Wacky Wild Woman disappeared into the Christmas Abyss, never to be heard from again.

Ha! Since I was invited to be a guest blogger for MrTeacher whilst he was away sunning himself on some high-falutin' vacation, I feel compelled to offer up an explanation for my slackitude at my blogging duties.

Yes, I looked into the Holiday Void, and yes the Void stared back, but I! Have Emerged! Relatively! Unscathed! You have heard of man vs. nature, man vs. man, man vs. society, but my narrative conflict lately has all been in the realm of waif vs. endless rounds of holiday cheer, and I am proud to say it has mostly turned out in my favor. And in this corner, in the black trunks, we have me, having just delivered the biggest roundhouse punch ever to the holiday season. Red and green, black and blue, take that, YULE!

But you care not to hear me whine incessantly about my holiday social life and the many reasons why I have not posted as a good little guest blogger should have. You come here for the naked pictures of MrTeacher. So here is a short, mixed-up summary of a few of the holiday warm fuzzies that have kept me negligent.

IN WHICH I RECEIVE MYSTIFYING ARTIFACTS

Then hey ho what the fuck it was Christmas. Did everyone survive the holidays okay? No holiday suicides? No mortifying mistletoe incidents? No injuries when your mom or your grandmother or whoever is the Food Enforcer around your house came after you with yet another plate of cookies? I had three different Christmas things with three different family sections, and although I am never against day-long wine drinking and hanging out, I sure am glad it's over. I gave good presents. My 11-year-old nephew is a Packers fan, because he is the twisted middle child who has to be an iconoclast, and where do you think you can get a child-sized foam rubber cheesehead? At Cheesehead.com, of course. It was a big hit.

My stepfather is famous for giving strange gifts, but even he did pretty well this year. There were only two confusing items. First was a hollow crocheted snowman, covered in some sort of glitter paint. Why is this for me? The other gift proved conclusively to me that my family huffs a bunch of nitrous before doing their holiday shopping: I received an Elmo Bounce Around Ball. I wish I could find this product online to show you people exactly how strange this is, but basically an Elmo Bounce Around Ball is a round soft red ball, about 20 inches in diameter, with a somewhat Cubist rendering of Elmo's face on it. When you press the ball the whole thing vibrates rather strongly and the Voice of Elmo giggles and says "Whee! Look at Elmo go!" Why am I picturing entire preschools full of toddlers humping away on the vibrating Elmo ball? Hell, I would do it myself if I wasn't a little creeped out by the whole sitting-on-Elmo’s-face aspect. Maybe one of these days, after a lot of wine.

Okay, immediately after typing this I managed to bang the bony part of my wrist on a metal door handle, which hurt like a motherfuck and it is even starting to swell a little bit. I'm signing off now. Do you think I could sue MrTeacher for workman's compensation for being injured "on the job" while guest blogging? Just kidding MrT!

That's it for me. Hope everyone's remaining 2004 is wonderfully alluring and 2005 brings even more happy moments.

Melissa (wacky wild woman)

My Wild Words Blog

Monday, December 27, 2004

Hello, I haven't forgotten.

Yes, yes, before I get rapped across the knuckles by the old MrT for not guest-blogging when I had initially agreed to, here is my second post. Rather grand of me to spend my holiday blogging for someone else who is prancing around in a country with a much warmer climate than Europe, but there we are. I'm a truly wonderful person. The other guest-bloggers are just here out of boredom. I'm in the know, you see.

Actually, I came here because I miss my kids already although it's great when they're not around as I can spend hours using Skype to talk to people on the opposite side of the world. You know the sort - those that walk around upside-down. The Twat was chastising me this morning saying "that was two hours, you know." So ? Who's paying ? No one, that's who. I also made a call to my friend who works at the Indonesian Embassy to see if she's alright. Fortunately, her and her husband's family all live in Jakarta and are all safe. This doesn't apply to thousands of other people who are already dead, injured or missing.

Let's say a little something for the less fortunate.

I'm okay

A quick note to say that I'm not holidaying anywhere near the parts of Asia that have been affected by the tidal wave. Actually, it makes the cloudy weather we've had the past couple of days seem not so bad. I was supposed to holiday in Thailand again this winter (now), but my plans changed for reasons that don't need to be mentioned. Last winter I spent time in parts of Thailand that have been devastated, and my thoughts go out to those who have been affected.

I'll be setting off for Warm and Sunny Place #1 (again) shortly and won't have internet access for a week.

CALLING MR T



Please check in and let us know that your warm and sunny place is not bordering the Indian Ocean.

Your Pal

Haddocktwat

Saturday, December 25, 2004

So, by now, Father Christmas has already been over to the country not to be named, but still let me...

Wish you a very Merry Christmas from the other side of the pond. Santa has yet to arrive here and if small son doesn't soon park his rear in the bed, may never put in an appearance at the HR Lady Abode.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Man.

Friday, December 24, 2004

A postcard from Warm and Sunny Place #2

Having a great time, hope you are too.

I trust all is well with my blog? I haven't looked at it yet, and don't plan on doing so til I return on 9 January.

Merry Something Everyone

Merry Christmas/Holidays to all of the readers of 'The Report Card' and MrTeacher himself.

From Mike & Penguin of IamthePenguin.com

Thursday, December 23, 2004

RATS

No matter how hard I try I can't do anything except post and edit my own posts. Looks like Mr T is techno-smarter than me. Oh well, that's hardly a surprize as I am probably one of the most techno-challenged techno-twats around.

Your Pal

Haddocktwat

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Manly Boys

We were in Year 11 (5th Year), and as such were accorded certain privileges due to our elder and supposedly more mature status. One of these privileges was being allowed to stay in your tutor room at lunchtime to eat, which the rest of the school wasn't allowed to do. They had to go to either the canteen or the school hall to eat their lunches, whereas the 16-year-olds were believed to be able to clear up their own mess and be responsible.

We got bored a lot of the time (there's only so much Snake you can play on these new fangled 'mobile' phones), which led to the creation of a number of games. Whether we created them from nothing or they were already in existence, passed down from year to year is something I sadly can't be certain of.

Most of these games were played solely by the male population, and as such involved such manly things as pain and blood. You're 16 years old, you've got a point to prove. You don't have a salary or a penis extension luxury car to do it with, so a higher than average pain threshold is one of the ways you can prove your blossoming masculinity.

Here are a couple of the games we played.

The Pound Coin Game
This was my personal favourite, and was usually the only one to guarantee a bit of blood on show.

To play this game, you needed two willing players, a table and a pound coin. For those non-British amongst you, a pound coin is a particularly thick round coin. Its diameter isn't huge, but it's the thickness which mattered with this game. The only Euro coin this game could be played with is a 2euro one. I don't know an equivalent American coin, but go for the thickest one you can find.

The two players sit either side of a table, on the long sides. You don't need a big gap between you for this one. The first player takes the pound coin and spins it on the table.

The second player then takes his hand and puts his fingers in such a position. The important thing is that the thumb and index finger never seperate. They must always be touching. The middle finger does the work here. He then attempts to stop the spinning coin between his index and middle finger, like so.

He only gets one attempt at this, and must do it before the coin stops spinning. He must be able to lift his hand off the table with the coin trapped, to show that it has in fact been caught. It's actually surprisingly difficult to do this, especially since you know what will happen if you don't catch it.

If you don't catch it, you receive pain.

You have to stand up and put your fist on the table, with the middle knuckle pressed down onto it. Just like this. It's important that as many knuckles are touching pressed down onto the surface as possible. Well, important for your opponent, at any rate. Any attempt to hover just above the surface is frowned upon.

The first player then puts his hand flat on the table, with his middle finger touching your middle knuckle and his thumb stretched back as far as it goes. He puts the pound coin under his thumb. The trick is to stretch your hand as wide as you can get it, because what happens next depends on how much acceleration you can give to the pound coin. It should look something like this or this, depending on your perspective.

In case you haven't figured out what happens as punishment for being unable to stop the spinning coin, what happens next is that the first player flings the coin as hard as he (always a 'he') can at the middle knuckle of his opponent. Direction is given by placing your middle finger up against his knuckle and then lifting it as you accelerate the coin with your thumb.

You see why it's important to make your hand span as wide as possible? The greater the distance the coin has to travel, the more force you can give it by moving your thumb as quickly as possible. It's all about speed.

The coin usually impacts right on the middle knuckle of your opponent. This is where the thickness of the coin comes in: if the coin was thin, it could slide underneath the curve of the knuckle and inflict less (or, heaven forbid, no) damage. With a thick coin, it is guaranteed to make a nasty impact with your opponent's knuckle.

It can take a couple of hits to break the skin, but if you're good (I was) or playing a haemophiliac, it can be quicker. My personal favourite was making a friend of mine bleed quite nastily (well, as nastily as a small wound on the knuckle can bleed...) with the first hit. That was a proud day in my pound coin gaming career.

We would all be sitting there in afternoon classes sucking on our knuckles, hoping the redness would be gone by the time we got home. Usually it didn't. The worst thing about playing was when you played every lunchtime for a week, and had the same cut reopened every day.

Nasty stuff, but this is what we did. As I said in my last post, boredom is a terrible thing.

Knuckles
Another game which involved making your knuckles as raw as raw can be.

Again, two players who sit (or stand) opposite each other. Each puts out their right hand in a fist, and they bring their knuckles together. The first person then attempts to hit the other person on the knuckles with their closed fist. If you hit, the game continues and you can keep trying to hit the other person. If you miss, because the other person moves out of the way, the play swaps to let the second person try to hit the first.

The interesting part comes with the rules concerning flinching. As I said, the second player can move his fist to dodge any incoming strike, in an attempt to win the strike from the first player. If he flinches, however, things change.

A flinch is when the recipient breaks the contact of the fists before the striker does. For instance, if the striker rotates his wrist slightly, but doesn't move his fist back, contact is still there, and it will be a flinch if the recipient jerks his wrist away. The game thus becomes one not only of reactions, but of gamesmanship and tension.

If the recipient flinches three times (it can be two, but three is the more usual number), the striker gets a free hit. This means that the recipient cannot move his fist whatsoever, and the striker is allowed a hell of a backswing. These hurt. A lot. There's nothing you can do as you see the other guy's fist raise up to his shouder and crack down on your knuckles. He can miss, of course, but he never does.

The game continues until the first person wimps out. Unfortunately, the whole game can swing on the first couple of hits, because it's harder to use your fist when your knuckles hurt. You're also more likely to flinch if your knuckles are throbbing, which leads to more free hits and more pain. It's a bit of a vicious circle.

There is a bit of skill involved, such as your ability to make quick hits with barely any backswing, and the ability to make a number of hits in a row. Mostly, however, it's about pain threshold.

Ug, man.

Slapsies
Similar to Knuckles, but with a different position of hands.

This time, instead of fist-to-fist, it's praying-to-praying. The hands are put into a praying position (you use both in this one), and then put horizontally in front of you. Your opponent does the same, and the correct position is to have the tips of your middle fingers touching his, with thumbs on top of the hands.

Instead of going for the knuckles, this game is about slapping your opponent's hands as hard as you can. Hence the name. The same flinching rules apply, as do the rule for exchange of strike when a miss occurs.

This game is a little different in that it's more about multiple hits. If you're half-decent, you can use your left and right hands for an old 1-2 strike. I've been on the receiving end of a 1-2-3-4-5-6 strike a few times, and they make your hands red, I can tell you.

Again, this is a last man standing game. Great fun!

Card Knuckles
Exactly like Knuckles, but the striker uses a full deck of playing cards instead of his fist to do the hitting. Unfortunately, they don't also receive the strike. Cards in this number are painful.

And that's about all I can remember right now. There was a non-pain game that we played, a variation on shove ha'penny, but it had a very complicated scoring system. Try these out and see how much 'fun' we used to have at lunchtimes.

Of course, a few years later we discovered the joys of drinking, but that's another story...

Monday, December 20, 2004

DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE



Given the extremely poor job I have been doing recently on my own blog I find it difficult to imagine why Mr. T. thinks I'll do any better here. Still, lets look on the bright side, I might. You never know.

I wonder if this guest blogging access will let me fuck with Mr. T's template? I can see a few changes I'd like to try. I have been thinking of fucking with my template but every time I do I have nothing but pain and grief. I often completely fuck things up and have to start from scratch. Recently I have been unwilling to do this. But .... if I fuck up someone else's template I won't have to fix it will I? Mr. T. wouldn't know it was me anyway. Would he?

Your Pal

Haddocktwat

Bleurgh.

Just an apology as I haven't done much of a job guest-blogging. In fact, back home is a bit sparse and postless at the moment due to the Office Chirstmas Party on Friday, another late and boozey night on Saturday and severe over-indulgence symptoms lying around yesterday. Staring at a monitor made my eyes hurt, the thought of food had me running to the bog and it was unwise to mention the word booze.

Not a blog has been read over the weekend and I still feel sick. I'll be back as Mr Teacher scares me.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Back In MY Day

Good evening all and sundry, I'm Rob, another of the guest bloggers that Mr Teacher has left to take care of his blog whilst he's off sunning himself in some remote corner of the world. I blog at Honestly, I'm Sober, and have done so for nearly two years.

I'm an English university student, but at the moment am studying in Germany for a year. Well, I should be studying, but it's more of a holiday at the moment, what with my ineptitude in going to lectures. But that is not what I intend to write about here, because it'll just be like reading my blog!

Based on the fact that Mr Teacher is a, erm, teacher, I am going to use my posts here to reminisce about my school days. They weren't all that long ago, and I can still remember most events with a certain clarity. Hopefully the stories will be entertaining, and will give any older readers an insight into secondary education at the turn of the millennium.

I'll just explain a little about my school before I get into any stories. I went to a bog-standard comprehensive school in a relatively small rural town in England. The total number of pupils there, including the Sixth Form, was somewhere around 1500. Not a huge number, but not small either. It was the kind of school where you knew who everybody was in your year, but weren't necessarily friends with them.

It wasn't a bad school, and I did alright by it, but it had its share of characters and seedy areas. Just like every school on the planet, the toilets stank of smoke, and the 'cool' kids knew just where to stand outside so that they could smoke without being caught.

It was the kind of school where you could put out a call for some weed at the start of morning break and have some by the end of break fifteen minutes later, but there was a sufficiently large supply and demand of harder drugs for you to be able to get hold of some by the end of the day if you asked at the start. Not that I did, you understand, I don't touch any of that stuff, but I knew about it.

Now that I've set the scene, I'll just tell a little story about the type of tomfoolery and madness that we used to get up to.

In Year 9 (3rd year), my tutor group was moved to a new room for our registrations each day. It was in the music block (if you can call it a block, with a grand total of two rooms), and was usually occupied by a teacher that we loved to hate. We'd been taught by her for a couple of years in Music, and there was a general dislike for her. We'll call her Mrs N.

Mrs N was a bit of a battleaxe of a teacher, and used to have a go at us every single day, usually for no reason whatsoever. OK, well that's a bit of a lie, because we'd usually be doing something which merited a moan, but some of the time she complained non-stop.

Her favourite topic was to complain at the slightest bit of mess left in her room after we'd had lunch in there. We were kind of not supposed to eat our lunches in classrooms, but a blind eye was always turned by every member of staff. I guess that teachers have better things to do with their lunchtimes than worry about us.

Eventually, we got fed up with being moaned at, and decided to play a few pranks on Mrs N. Specifically, smelly pranks.

There was a skylight in the room, you see, set back a little from the rest of the ceiling. It was about a yard square, and was about 2 feet higher than the surrounding ceiling. If you stood on a table and jumped, you could just about get your head into the cube-shaped gap. It was basically inaccessible, and served its purpose in letting light into the room.

What made this skylight particularly interesting is that it had a small ledge around it, right under the window. Owing to the distance from the floor, it was impossible to see onto the ledge, and very difficult to reach it full stop. I've no idea how far back it went in each direction, but I'm guessing somewhere around 6 inches.

Between us, we came up with the idea of shoving as much food as possible onto this ledge and leaving it there for as long as it took to be found. Dairy products were the obvious choice, but we shoved just about anything we could get our hands on up there.

It was like the classic milk-carton-behind-the-boiler trick, but only more devious and dastardly in its execution, since there was absolutely no way of getting these foodstuffs back out of the ledge / crevice. The sun streamed in through the skylight all year round, concentrating the heat up there, which aided the decomposing process no end.

I don't know how much stuff we managed to get up there, but it stank. You could put your head up into the skylight area because it smelt so bad, and the smell was beginning to seep down into the room itself when we were moved into another room.

I dropped music at the end of that year, and never returned to that room again, but I've heard that the room smelt pretty damn bad a year or so later. Mrs N was still teaching there, so at least we managed to hit our target.

For all that I know, the food is still up there, and the room stinks something chronic. Bearing in mind the fact that we put the food up there in 1998, it would have peaked for smelliness sometime around 2000. That's a good long-term prank.

So yes, this is what we did at school when we were bored. And they say that kids these days get bored easily...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The season of...?

It's got to be said, Christmas is meant to be the season of goodwill. In reality, it's the season of dread, fear, and loathing.
I'm certainly old enough to not get all excited about presents, trees and trimmings. And i don't lay awake on christmas eve, restless with wonder at what tomorrow will bring. I also don't have any christian beliefs, so i don't exactly celebrate the life of Jesus either. No, for me christmas is the end of the year. The one time when you, hopefully, get to see your family, have a nice big dinner, and forget about the stress of the twelve months that have recently passed.
Personally, the last year has been a pretty emotionally draining one. Almost from start to finish, 2004 has been a string of troughs and no peaks. Sometimes i've struggled to keep a smile on my face, but i have. 'My christmas' is about putting a full stop at the end of the year and being free to start 2005 with as little of last year's baggage as possible. But typically, even this is being taken away too. The family part has been expanded somewhat and ,due to the amount of children, will entail a very full house and precious little 'quiet time'. Being that Mrs P and myself live away from all of our family, the prospect of 'doing it ourselves' would swing the pendulum the other way....i certainly don't want a christmas so quiet you would mistake it for a boring sunday afternoon!
I know you're probably thinking that i'm having a good old gripe but there's more to it than that. For reasons unwritten, the 'extra' guests deserve a family christmas more than i can ever imagine. To resent their presence would be criminal, not to mention heartless. No, my family's christmas will have to take a back seat, we have no choice.
And that's what has got me thinking. I'm sure many of you are reading this and feeling the same as i am. It has become almost traditional to feel that fear of christmas. People joke about the likely arguments that will erupt over the turkey, but that cliche has grown from a reality. So few families are perfect and christmas seems to highlight this.
I can think of so many reasons to hate the 'festive' season; the alcohol fuelled violence and destruction, the turning of a religious holiday into a capatilist greed celebration, the misery of families struggling to cope. But mostly it is the enourmous pressure that people feel to make christmas 'special'. Everyone runs around in circles trying to get everything perfect, and for what? What does christmas really mean to most people?
So with only 7 days to go, in a effort to understand the perils of the next two weeks, i have kinda unloaded on you lot. The mechanism of writing this has brought into sharp focus what christmas means to me. It's not the dread, fear, and loathing....no, it's the precious moments inbetween. The rare times when i can enjoy the people close to me. Yeah sure, i'm not going to get the christmas i want, and neither is Mrs P but that's out of our control. My efforts will be spent on the things i can change. You know, the important things.
So take it from me: It can get as nasty as it wants because there's no way i'm going to let christmas spoil my christmas!
(Mike C. - www.iamthepenguin.com)

Friday, December 17, 2004

HR Lady logs in!

Well, here I am. In a foreign land, but at least I speak the language. Mr. Teacher was good enough to stamp my passport and make the necessary arrangements for my Foreign Blogging Visa. I'll be guest posting with a host of others until Mr. Teacher's return. It's certainly amusing enough that in the real world I substitute teach and here in bloggyland I am substituting for The Teacher. To me at least. ;D

So now that I'm here, whatever shall I do? When in Rome do as the Romans do, but when in the Report Card???? I'm not terribly clever today, so I'm open to suggestions. Any questions class?

Searching for sun

I'm off on my annual end of the year search for the sun and will be back in three weeks. Don't worry my blog won't lie dormant, I've asked a few mates to stop by to look after you lot. I will have internet access for part of the trip so I may pop in.

Or not.

Happy holidays to those will be celebrating them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

My kingdom for a simple explanation

When I got back to school yesterday evening, I went into the office to get the log book for my class D. Old Secretary looked at me and said, 'You teach class D, don't you?' After confirming that I did, she said, 'Your class has permanently been moved to room 23, second floor,' to which I responded, 'Why?' Apparently that was the wrong question to ask.

OS: Because it has.
MrT: Why?
OS: Room changes.
MrT: Why?
She ignores me.

I have no problem being flexible with room changes and things like that, but I felt that after teaching the same class in the same room for 2 1/2 years, I was owed an explanation - AND I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BEG FOR IT! Especially because I knew that my students would want to know why, and I'd have to tell them why (I told them it was due to 'office stupidity' yesterday).

MrT: OS, why has my class been moved to the second floor? We've been in room 14 for 2 1/2 years now.
OS: Nice Spanish Teacher is now in room 14.
MrT: Why?
OS: NST can't teach on the second floor anymore.
MrT: Why? Can't he walk up the stairs?
OS: No.
MrT: Has he broken his leg?
OS goes back to ignoring me.

Realising that any further attempts to get a straight answer would be fruitless, I went to the teachers' room. A few minutes later, NST came in.

NST: Do you know that I'm in room 14 now?
MrT: Yes, but I don't know why and no one will tell me.
NST: I don't know either. All I did was tell them that the heating on the second floor wasn't good and they moved me to the first floor.
MrT: The heating isn't good on the second floor, so they moved you to the first floor and me to the second?
NST: Apparently so.
MrT: This place never fails to amaze me.
We chuckle together.

Young Secretary walks into the teachers' room:

MrT: YS, is it true that my class D has been moved to the second floor because NST complained that the heating wasn't good?
YS: Yes.

YS walks out of the teachers' room.

I'm fairly sure that OS refused to tell me why because she was afraid that I'd tell her what a stupid idea it was.

On an unrelated note: If you're wondering: I'm still ill but can't take another sick day today. My evening class is having a going away party for a student who's off to Australia in January, and I want to be there.

**** Update 7h59 ****

I've called in sick to work.

When I was shaving, I managed to shave half my face off, and then as I left my flat for work (part of my face still bleeding) I slipped and fell down a flight of stairs, banging up my knee so badly that I could barely walk. Figuring it just wasn't meant to be, I hobbled back upstair and called Bossman - who told me he's also sick and not going in - and he told me to call the office. Our office opens at 8h, but Old Secretary usually gets in around 7h45 if her train isn't late. SfH answered the phone at 8h06. I bet she's going to love scrambling around to find a teacher for the 8h30 intensive class I was supposed to teach today.

I've just emailed the student the going away party is for and wished him all the best.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'll never learn

(Alternate title: No good deed goes unpunished part #526)

Tuesdays are my busiest days, so I went back to work today. I could have easily stayed out a few more days, but my sore throat was feeling a bit better (though not 100%). Also, I figured it'd be a good thing to do so that they didn't have to run around and find subs for the six classes I had today.

I taught my 7h30 class this morning and headed into the office at 9h to put the log book back, when Secretary from Hell came up to me and said, 'I have another student for you. She can come either at 17h on Friday or 19h10 on Wednesday.' Of course, she didn't bother saying, 'Are you feeling better?' My reply was, 'Sure, send her to the airport on Friday and I'll be glad to teach her.' I also told her that my first class was at 8h30 tomorrow and I didn't want to work until 20h40, not to mention the fact that I'm ill. Here's how the conversation continued:

SfH: You have to teach her at 19h10 on Wednesday. I don't have any other teachers available.

I then looked at the schedule and saw that Secret Smoker only has one class on Wednesdays and that it does not conflict with time SfH had told me.

MrT: Have Secret Smoker do it.
SfH: She has a lot of hours this week. You had extra time off. Plus, you've taught her before.' [Once back in August}

Right, extra time off due to being ill.

MrT: (still in a calm tone of voice): 'I also have a lot of hours this week. I don't want to do it.'
SfH: 'You have to.'
MrT: 'Sorry, I don't want to.' and walked out of the office.

I suppose Bossman will talk to me about this when I get back to work in about 20 minutes.

**** Update 19h30 ****

I went back to find a white card on my timetable over the card that said I had to teach the above-mentioned student. It turns out that SfH didn't care what I thought or said, she still scheduled me to teach the student but when she called the student to give her the time of the lesson, she found out that the student has been on holiday and won't be back til 10 January! I left the card in my timetable so I can have BM take it out tomorrow.

More stupidity happened when I was in the office, but I can't be bothered to think about it right now. Look for another post tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Taking a siccie, kind of

I've been getting a a sore throat the past few days, so this morning I decided to take a sick day. When I called Bossman, he told me that Pompous Ponce also had called off ill. Knowing that BM was left a bit short handed, I told him that I'd teach my company K class this afternoon 15h - 16h30, because:

  • I have all the materials and log book at home;

  • I've already prepared the lesson;

  • I live closer to company K than the school, so it's easier for me to run over there and teach the class than run the materials back to the school.


  • So, I'm kind of but not really taking a siccie.

    Hey Geeks! RSS help needed, please

    A friend told me about RSS yesterday, so I thought I'd give it a go. I downloaded RSSReader and set it up. It seems to work fine, but there are a few things that I hope some knowledgeable people can help me with.

    1. I have the type set to new headlines and date filter last hour, but it keeps importing the same stories after I clear the history and press 'get'. Hence, I receive about 150 things that I've already read. I've tried 'mark as read' to see if that would help, but it doesn't. How can I prevent that?

    2. I know that if someone's blog is hosted by Blogger, I can enter http://blognamehere.blogspot.com/atom.xml to get the feed, but how do I set up a feed for other blogs, for example http://myboyfriendisatwat.com ? I've tried putting /atom.xml after it, but it hasn't worked.

    I'll probably be back with a few more RSS questions later.

    Cheers

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    Bloody forgetful

    In mid-November, Bossman asked me to send him a list of students that will be continuing classes in January for each of my company K classes, as well as a list of the dates the classes will resume after Christmas break. He wanted the lists by 30 Nov, so on 30 Nov I sent them to him. A day later, he asked me why I had sent him that email - forgetting that he had asked me to - so I reminded him.

    Earlier this morning, he asked me if I would send the (same) lists and dates as soon as possible. I reminded him that I had sent them 1 1/2 weeks ago, he had confirmed receiving them and told him I wasn't going to send them again.

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    Video Night Part 2

    We're having another video night tonight. The first one was 15 days ago. Bossman paid for beer and snacks and Young Secretary arranged the whole thing (I assume it's going to be the same this evening). The only problem was that we saw Kill Bill - a completely idiotic film. However, it was fun because eleven people attended. This evening we're going to see Bridget Jones's Diary.

    Why have we started having video nights? Apparently BM has found out that some teachers have been complaining that he never does anything nice for us, so he's trying to change that.

    I'll report back tomorrow.

    **** Update 6h55 - 9 Dec 04 ****

    It was basically the same as the first Video Night. Ten people showed up, mostly the same with the addition of Bosswoman. Same snacks, but we ran out of beer. All in all, a good time.

    2004 Weblog Awards

    Perhaps I'm the last one to find this out, but voting has started for the 2004 Weblog Awards. Hurry, though, as the polls close on 12 December.

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    The Christmas Do

    We left the school at 17h on Friday for a restaurant on a hill in a village out of our city. Bossman sat at the head of the table, with Bosswoman to his left and me across the table from her on BM's right. Secret Smoker sat next to me, and Pompous Ponce sat across from her, next to BW. Some people had rented costumes (I hadn't), including Bossman who went as Santa Claus. PP went as Henry XIII and the minute I saw him, I said, 'Hi Robin Hood' (yes, I knew he was really Henry XIII) which made steam billow from his ears.

    Dinner was soup, pork and baked potatoes, and the alcohol flowed freely (I had three beers). I get on well with BM and BW, so we talked about many different things.

    As far as pressies go, we had drawn names and bought our person a present. I had SS's name, and went €4 above the limit of €6 and bought her a book on our region - the history, sights to see, etc (I try to be thoughtful when buying presents for people). She loved it and as far as I know, she still doesn't know who bought it for her. What did I get? A crappy diary for 2005. Apparently someone had found it in a bargain bin and splashed out the €2 or so for it. It was obviously someone who doesn't know me at all - or just couldn't be arsed to look for something useful - as most know that I do all of my planning electronically.

    I got bored after a while and caught the 22h15 bus home, using the excuse that I was tired. Actually, I really was. Overall, it was a not too painful experience, but I hope to be out of town for Do 2005.

    Saturday, December 04, 2004

    Exam Day

    Today's the day. As mentioned here, here, here and probably in a few other posts, seven of my ten students from company K are taking the BEC Vantage Cambridge exam today. Overall, they've been a hardworking lot. They've done a lot of work at home (practice exams, essays, etc), far beyond what they needed to do for the course, and the harder they worked the more motivated I was to spend a countless number of hours of my own time correcting, making more practice materials etc. The exam starts is 10h - 15h10, but I'll be at school at 9h15 with a bit of a cold breakfast for my students (tea, coffee, rolls, etc) and for last minute motivation. After the exam, we're going to a pub.

    Wish them luck.

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    Christmas Do

    Our Christmas do is this evening. We're going to a restaurant for a meal in a village about 25km from our city, and Bossman and Bosswoman are buying dinner and two drinks for everyone. Some are wearing costumes (I'm not) - Bossman is going to be dressed Santa Claus.

    The saving grace? There's a bus stop across the road from the restaurant with buses back to our city every 30 minutes, so I can leave shortly after we're done with dinner (we've been told that we're coming back on the 23h15 bus) - which I plan on doing.

    **** Update 23h****

    I survived the Christmas do, but don't have time to write about it now. Quick rundown: Food: Good; Beer: 3; Pressie: Sucked.

    Thursday, December 02, 2004

    An update on this story.

    Bossman sent his contact at Company K an email later that week (after I hounded him each day to do so), to which she replied that lessons would not continue after the contract expired in December. That was that, as far as BM was concerned and he decided to drop the issue.

    Three of my four Company K classes are my favourites classes overall, not to mention a significant part of my monthly income, and I wanted to see them continue so I went straight to the top. That's right, Power Woman again (she's in my Thursday class at Company K).

    On 21 Oct, She asked me if I had heard about lessons continuing and I told her that Mr D's Secretary (the person we thought was in charge) had told Bossman that they wouldn't be. PW responded that that was incorrect, as Mr D was only a second level manager and that the first levels were still discussing it. She said that she wanted lessons to continue and would talk to her boss (one of the two first level managers) about it. I smiled, because I knew that after she talked to him, lessons would be continuing.

    BM received an email the following day asking him for a proposal for six more months of lessons, which he sent on 25 October after asking me if I had had anything to do with it.

    On 29 October, an email was sent out to the students in the classes taught by our school telling them to call the personnel department only if they didn't want to continue lessons. All four of my classes will be continuing, Tall Colleague's class won't and Secret Smoker's class might be if they can find one more person (each class has to have at least three people and one in her class of three won't be continuing).

    I'll probably have to go through the whole process again in July.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    Gossip

    After my 16h30 class yesterday, I went into the office to finish putting comments on report cards for my students and Young Secretary told me that teachers weren't allowed to use computers in the office anymore, but I could use Translator's computer in Bossman's office, so I did. He and I are known for chatting, and we lived up to that while we were both working.

    I asked him about the new teacher that he's been looking for, and he told me about his search. He then told me not to tell anyone, but that secret Smoker would be leaving at the end of January or February. He didn't go into the reason, but I'll find out in time. That really surprised me and is a shame, as she's a very nice person.

    Why can't it be Pompous Ponce who is going?

    ***** Update 2 Dec 04 8h35 ****

    I vaguely remember talking to YS two weeks ago about a no-frills airline that flys to Scotland, and her reply, 'Oh good, then I can visit SS after she leaves,' but I thought she was only talking about when SS goes home for Christmas for 2 1/2 weeks. Now I know what she meant.