An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

not just giant, it's colossal

Just stumbled across this on the BBC News website. A museum in New Zealand is in the process of dissecting a Colossal Squid -- this thing is even bigger than a Giant Squid, a creature near and dear to my heart.

You can watch a live stream here.

It's pretty cool.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

fur-based technology

I am not what you would call a "morning person". Once upon a time, I used no less than four alarm clocks to get me out of bed in the morning. I had them all: the loud obnoxious alarm clock, the quiet obnoxious alarm clock, the radio alarm clock, the alarm clock on the other side of the room -- all going off at staggered times for optimal waking power. They never really worked. I just got better at sleeping through noise. Which is something that has come in handy.

These days, I still don't like to get up early, and I've pretty much reduced my alarm clock needs to one. Or two.

But I've unwittingly introduced a new form of alarm -- the fur-based alarm.

When I was teaching full time, I would get up at 6am, feed the cat, make the coffee and get to work. The cat, understandably, got used to this pattern. He started "helping" me wake up in the mornings. He's a big boy, and currently on a diet. So feeding time is a serious business. He's very punctual. At the time, it was nice. I didn't have to worry about sleeping through my alarm because the cat is very persistent.

And then my schedule changed, and I realized that I wasn't so keen on being awoken at 6am every day. Especially weekends.

So his feeding time has shifted to the evenings. The only problem is that the cat still likes to wake me up at 6am. But only on weekends.

Friday, April 18, 2008

public service announcement

Friends of mine have started a super cool awesome website called kountr.

The basic premise is simple: count stuff.

So please, go visit their website and make up a "kount" or two or three or four or... you get the idea. Although the site doesn't automatically provide authentic "The Count"* laughter, you can easily do like I do and add your own.

Ah, ah, ah, ah!

*uhhh, ever heard of Sesame Street?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

vocabularily challenged

(presented in French for extra humour and practice for me)

Ring-ring! Ring-ring!

"Oui, allo?"
"Allo, c'est moi. J'ai juste appellé pour te dire que je vais revenir tantôt avec les amis."
"Bon. Je suis en train de faire un peu de ménage. J'ai passé la souffleuse --"
"La souffleuse?"
"Oui... l'appartement était plein des poils du chat, et j'en ai eu assez."
"Mais, il n'y a pas beaucoup de neige dans l'appartement, et en plus, on n'a pas une souffleuse."
"Je pense que tu veut dire l'aspirateur ou comme on dit, la balayeuse."
"Et qu'est-ce que j'ai dit?"
"La souffleuse. A snowblower."
"Shit. Ce n'est pas ma faute. Ils parlent toujours des souffleuses à la radio, jamias aux balayeuses. Même pas les aspirateurs. T'as raison. J'ai passé la balayeuse."

Effective language learning in action. On the phone last week with the boy I told him I'd done some cleaning around the appartment. And done the snowblowing. I will never mistake a vacuum cleaner for a snowblower ever again. To be fair, all anyone ever talks about are snowblowers, not vacuums. No wonder I got the wrong word. And then there's the fact that balayeuse is a québecois word. Crazy province. Making up their own language as they go along!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I have seen the light.

I'd just like to point out that the real maple syrup, straight from the tree to your mouth (via a kettle for a little boiling) is the most amazing thing on earth.

That crap from the bottle you got at the store?

It sucks.

I will try to make this the last maple sugar themed post of the season.

We can move on to hockey or something equally awesome....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

first balcony day of the season!

first balcony day of the season!, originally uploaded by anyram.

Well, that was last week. We opened one of the balconies to take advantage of a day of warm weather and sunshine. Nothing says nice like a beer on a private patio. We only opened one though, figuring that there would be more cold days to come. And we were right. This weekend, winter is back. With snow and everything. Stupid winter.

But the snow is starting to melt, and outdoor tables are starting to take over the streets.

In related news, the cat who is afraid of everything is also afraid of the outdoors. We tried tempting him out with treats, but he thinks we're nuts. There's all those wierd smells out there! I'm sure he'll change his mind eventually...

Friday, April 11, 2008

les pouvoirs extrordinaire

Last night, I discovered my maple sugar powers.

I have this theory. People here consume so much maple syrup (in all forms) that it has to give some kind of advantage. Special powers, if you will. I've never quite decided what those powers are, and I never expected to have them myself. As an Albertan, my special powers either come from putting Tabasco on my eggs or drinking crude oil as a nightcap. Maybe not.

We went out to a local bar in town where they brew excellent beer and make a pretty good burger. You may have heard that there was also a hockey game on. Which, incedentally, has been the lead news story everywhere today. They had a special spring beer on tap -- erabière. Get it? Erable for maple and bière for beer. A little on the sweet side, but tasty.

We drink our beers, the game starts, and when they drop the first puck I jokingly say, "et le but!", better know to non-French speakers as, "he shoots, he scores!". You get to use the same over-excited hockey announcer voice and everything. Thirty-four seconds into the game, there's a goal. The next face off, I say it again and laugh. Until the Canadians score again within the next minute.

I did't try agin. You know how it is. You don't want to jinx things. And I'd already finished my erabière.

But now I know. In beer form, maple syrup gives me special powers.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

You want me to stay how long?

Yesterday was the end of my three weeks teaching math. And just as expected, I was asked to stay on. Until May 9th. Another 5 weeks. 25 days of teaching.

I said no.

Things have definitely gotten better. I know the students better, both their names and their needs, which allows me to deal with them in the classroom. I've got a better idea of their skill level (or lack thereof -- I had to explain exponents to a Grade 9 student this week, during the exam no less). The students have become more comfortable with me and my teaching style. It's not great, but I don't feel the same dread about going in to work as I did at the beginning.

However, I am not prepared or qualified to teach this class until the end of the year. And despite the reassurances of the principal, I'm pretty sure that the teacher I'm replacing won't be coming back. Coming in on weekends to remove personal items is not a good sign.

Like I told the principal, I don't know the system, I've never taught the course and I don't have the resources to prepare these students for the end of the school year. I have nothing to go on, other than the textooks. We've almost finished that material, and will have to start revising and working on the "cross curricular competencies" that the government requires. I would have to learn not only the math so that I could review with them, but also learn the curriculum and the exam system to prepare them. Yes, one of the teachers will be going through it on the next pedagogical day, but one day is not going to give me an understanding of the reform. I am not willing to burn myself out working as a supply teacher. Part of me feels bad about it, but I know myself and I know my limits.

I agreed to stay on next week until they can find someone to replace me.

Like my boyfriend's dad said to me, you can bet I'll be happy to be finished.