Thursday, August 31, 2006

Answers to your questions and more of my teacher's college journey

It's official: my host school is Agincourt Collegiate Institute. I am very happy about this as it is quite close to home (I think even closer than the school I used to attend and, later, volunteer at)...therefore even though I have to be there on practicum days earlier than I have to be at York on the days I have my own classes, I actually get to wake up later. I may wake up at the same time anyway in the interest of developing a more regular sleep schedule for myself, but then that means I will have more time to do other things before I leave the house on practicum days than on days when I have my own classes. It is a little lonely that I'm the only York TC (teacher candidate) in my program being placed there (not sure about TCs from other programs), but that's okay if the alternative is travelling farther :). Oh, Kef asked about my host teacher(s)...well, all I know at this point is that my contact person at ACI is Mr. Stuart Burns. I don't know if that means he is my host teacher or just the site coordinator or someone else entirely, but I will find that out on Tuesday. Remember that my teachable subjects are chemistry and physics (though any new science teacher in high school gets the junior grades, too, and the junior science courses are just general in nature rather than specialized by discipline).

I have been asked if I've done the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to find my personality type out under that system. I haven't done the official MBTI test but I did read the book Type Talk--which is by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen and talks about the MBTI--at an early age (I think I read it in grade 8, and I re-read it later in grade 9 and then again when I was in college...though not all of it each time, I think). By doing the version of the test that is in that book and by reading over some of the personality profiles in it, I determined back then that I am an INFJ, although my J-ness was borderline at the time...still, I thought the INFJ profile sounded more like me than the INFP. My mom is an ESFJ and my dad is an ISTP. There is a whole portion of my grade 9 "Book of I" project where I found out both my mom and dad's types and compared them to my own and detailed how our typological differences created some interesting situations in our home. I was just a little fascinated by the MBTI back then :).

I mentioned that today we would be with all the B.Ed. students from all the B.Ed. sub-programs and all the satellite sites at which York runs its B.Ed. programs. Well, I was a little mistaken...the concurrent education students weren't there...but everyone else was. To give you an idea of what that was like, let me tell you the statistics today's first major speaker told us: approximately 5800 people applied to York's consecutive education programs. Of those, approximately 775 were given spots. I suppose those approximately 775 were the people I was with today. It didn't feel like that many but it was indeed a lot of people. We heard speeches from the dean of York's Faculty of Education, the associate dean, the president of the Ontario Teacher's Federation (OTF), and the president and vice-president of the Faculty of Education Students' Association (FESA). A student panel of recent York B.Ed. consecutive program graduates also gave us their advice and reflections. This was all pretty interesting...I only found one of the speeches boring not due to content but due to the way in which the speaker presented themselves (something to learn from!).

The most fun part of the morning, though, came when we had to present our cheers. See, each of the sites and/or programs attending had to come prepared with a cheer with which to represent themselves. The Barrie campus came with a cheer (or, rather, a string of cheers...some of us decided that they must have a former cheerleader in their ranks), the Glendon campus came with a cheer, the Urban Diversity group came with a cheer, the ECE program, our own MST program, the Fine Arts program, and so on. At the end of it all, FESA presented their cheer. Well, of all the programs attending, our cheer was pretty of our membership pretty much summed it up and decided that we had come in third last (I would have said worse than that, frankly). We decided that we had managed to place in the top 7, anyway :-T. We had spent maybe 15 minutes on our cheer, though, if that, so we justified ourselves by saying that for the amount of time and effort that we'd put into it, we had come in first place, hahaha. Of course the Fine Arts TCs had an impressive cheer that included a uniform (black clothing and sunglasses), various actual or improvised musical instruments (the drums made from water cooler bottles were especially neat), and a beat you could actually groove too. Now, they didn't have a lot of words (they basically told us over and over that "you can't spell party without A-R-T!"), so it wasn't as impressive that way as some of the groups that made up whole new sets of lyrics to "Take Me out to the Ball Game" or, um, I think it was "Happy Together" originally [edit: I just remembered it was actually "Yellow Submarine" that the group I was thinking of modified], but the rest of the Fine Arts presentation was so good that it really didn't matter. Darn those trained-in-performance people ;).

The free food for today wasn't terribly impressive, though I still appreciate that it was provided. You know how I said "I hope they have lots of hamburgers"? Well, there were no hamburgers. You got a hot dog bun and your choice of either a veggie dog or, well, a meat dog. Macaroni and potato salads were also both available, as was a selection of pop. It took me about ten minutes to eat what I wanted to...and then my bun started falling apart and I started to be a little not-impressed. I understand that hot dogs are a good easy way to feed a large crop of people but they're just not my thing unless they're done one of a couple particular ways. Anyway, it was about 11:10 a.m. when I decided I was done with lunch, but our next "class"/orientation session wasn't until 12:30 p.m. What to do. Well, one of our classmates decided that it would be a good idea for some of us to hit the Blueberry Hill patio for the remainder of our waiting time and get to know each other some more over there (Blueberry Hill is one of the eating establishments on campus). I wasn't terribly impressed with the idea of having a few beers before class (I say that because even a little bit of alcohol makes me sleepy fairly quickly...I know not everyone is affected by it the same way, but let's just say I know I can't have any alcohol before class...and I don't like beer anyway!) but I figured I would be able to get myself something over there that I would like and would be able to further develop my relationships with these classmates at the same time. That did end up being pretty enjoyable despite the fact that I had to change my order twice because the items I tried to order (nachos and cheese at first, then grilled cheese) weren't available at the moment (I ended up with a salad, which was good enough, and I sneaked in the Pepsi I got at the BBQ). Some of my drinking classmates pointed out the irony of having a few beers before going to our next "class"/orientation session...which according to our orientation programme was going to be on professional misconduct. In fact, one of the situations we got told about in that session involved a TC from a previous year who ended up removed from the program because of alcohol being smelled on his breath repeatedly (besides making some inappropriate comments to students in the school and so on)! What was really shocking was he was still in the observation period at the time (as in the period when the TC observes how the host teacher--HT--runs the class, not when the HT observes the TC)...he never even made it to the point where he could show his stuff teaching-wise! Ouch.

The professional misconduct session was pretty sobering and even scary as we watched a video by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario entitled "It Could Happen to You" detailing at least three separate cases where teachers were accused of having assaulted a child (one sexually, two physically) and how it affected them even though all three were in the end found not guilty of the charges brought against them (in two of the cases, the students eventually admitted they had lied; in the third, the staff member who had initiated the charges eventually recanted her story). It was quite eye-opening to see that even when you are totally in the clear and haven't done anything wrong at all, you can still suddenly find yourself receiving a call from your superintendant saying, "Don't go to school tomorrow. I can't tell you why. Don't talk to anyone from school either." That's your signal that some complaint has been brought against you...possibly by a student who's decided that because she is failing your class, she is going to accuse you falsely of sexual assault and make your life a living hell. I gotta say, I am glad I am female, since the ladies find themselves facing such allegations less frequently. We also found out that at the point where a formal investigation begins, your name is put in the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT)'s publication Professionally Speaking in a section at the back along with details of the case, and this information is also put on OCT's website in a particular section. OCT is the teaching profession's self-regulatory body in Ontario, and they do this publicizing of names/etc. in order to maintain public accountability. (It is because of such actions on OCT's part that the teaching profession is apparently more respected since OCT's formation in 1997 than it was before.) This section of Professionally Speaking is called "the blue pages." Unfortunately, if you are found innocent, there are no "gold pages" where you are publicly exonorated/etc. Even a false accusation does tons of damage to your career as a teacher, not to mention your public reputation outside of the school system (with parents/etc.). We spent a lot of time today on this topic, with some of my classmates bringing up instances (true or false) that they knew about, with our course directors somewhat reluctantly responding with stories they knew about relating to TCs (who weren't even teachers yet!), discussing how to keep boundaries with the younger kids who are still very touchy-feely-huggy without coming across as cold and mean, how to deal with schoolyard fist fights, and so on. There is a big paradox in that the unions and sensible people constantly advise us that a completely "hands-off" policy is the best way to go in order to avoid most accusations, yet the policies and so on do state that teachers, just like parents, are allowed to use "reasonable force" in order to deal with discipline situations and so on--and indeed those who work with special needs kids may well need to use physical restraint at times to protect the other kids in a class from a dangerous child. The problem is of course that there is no legal definition of "reasonable force" so anytime you do use physical force you are putting yourself at risk of accusations. But then, just by being alive and a teacher you are putting yourself at risk of false accusations...sigh. Hopefully I will not be "lucky" enough to experience that. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries...

Well, that is the end of orientation. We get tomorrow off and Monday is Labour Day...4-day weekend, hooray! Tomorrow I am taking hubby to a dentist appointment and then we are going to have dinner with some of his relatives; otherwise, the weekend is free for me to catch up on sleep, catch up on some of the things that got neglected in the busyness of this week (such as laundry), relax a bit before school starts in earnest, and prepare myself for next week, when I will be in the class observing the start of ACI's classes Tuesday through Friday. Then my own classes start Sept. 11 and the real busyness will begin, yikes! I'll let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My first parking ticket and other joys of teacher's college

I drove to school today. Like I said in my previous post, normally I will drive to York on the days I am only there (and not at practicum) to avoid paying for parking at York (plus reading on the bus is much easier than reading while driving, plus it's the "green" way to go), but up 'til today it was still a little up in the air as to whether the I/S teacher candidates would be visiting their host schools in the afternoon or not (the J/I teacher candidates did visit their schools this afternoon) so I brought the car just in case. Being a novice to driving places in the morning when lots of people are trying to get to work/school/whatever, I decided to leave myself plenty of time to get there. I left here at 6:36 a.m. I was parked at York at 7:18 a.m. The mandatory orientation activities for today started at 9:00 a.m. I think next time I drive I will leave a teensy bit later. Oh, apparently no attendants are in the booth in the flat-rate lots (read: cheapest on-campus lots if you don't have one of those parking permits those who drive there every day purchase) at 7:18 a.m. I drove in, paused at the booth, shrugged and went on in (the "arm" was up), assuming we paid on the way out. There was no machine to get a stub or anything, either. I even walked up to the booth after I'd parked to see if there was any helpful signage to explain...nope. When I came back to my car that afternoon, though, I could spy from quite a distance that there was either something tucked under my wiper blade or a strange patch of sun on my car. Well, it wasn't the sun. It was my first parking ticket. I should explain at this juncture that the daytime flat rate for this lot is $9.00 for the whole day. My parking ticket was for $18.00...but only half of that if I paid it within 10 days. In other words, this is just standard procedure for how early birds like me pay their flat rate fee (I confirmed this with the parking attendant who was in the booth on my way out). The tickets don't count against my student record or York parking record or anything; it's just how they handle the fact that no attendant is there at that time in the morning and they have no stub-giving machine in that lot. Insert sigh of relief here (I was afraid the fine would be higher, too).

I now have got mostly-answers to two of the three things I said I was still uncertain about in my last entry: I now understand that the apparent conflict in my schedule isn't really a conflict, and while it has yet to be confirmed, the host school they are trying to place me in is Agincourt Collegiate Institute--a mere hop, skip and a jump from my place (I have to drive from Ellesmere to Sheppard and then over a block...I think I can handle that!). My third uncertainty was regarding textbooks; I do know most of the ones I'll need for this semester, but I have to find out about one course yet (and won't likely find out until we have the first meeting of that course on Sept. 12). Our campus bookstore has had to change the way they handle our getting our books "due to fire regulations" (I don't believe it)...they have to take our course list from us now and get the books for us, and we can't go down to the text floor ourselves during this week or the next few weeks. I think this will cause huge lineups...and I don't think that includes the step where you go to the cashier and pay for the books the staff got for you, either! Thankfully the bookstore is offering free shipping on textbook orders shipped anywhere in Ontario during this period, so I've ordered all the books I could locate on their site and am just waiting for them to arrive, and will order the rest once I know what they are/how to locate them in the online system (with free shipping, it doesn't matter that I am placing multiple orders this way, hooray). No lineups for me, thank you very much, unless no one's home when the books arrive and there's a lineup at the post office.

The last couple of days have been pretty interesting. We did some group exercises yesterday using different group work styles, then analyzed not the content of what we'd discussed in the groups, but how effective/etc. those different group work styles had been. Later in the day we similarly did some problem solving in groups, then looked at not only the solutions to the problems, but how we'd approached and learned how to solve the problems. By that point we had all also been through some activities either that day or the day before on personality styles (the True Colours system first, then some discussion of intraversion versus extraversion), so often in our discussions on the problem-solving and even in our interactions today someone would pipe up with, "hmm, that's a very blue thing to say" or "you're a gold, aren't you?" I have done the True Colours system before but I was surprised by how hard it was for me this time around to put blue, green and gold in order...when I added up their scores for one portion of the "what colour am I?" type exercise, one was a 23, one was a 24 and one was a 25 (not respectively...don't remember which was which without dragging out my sheet), and looking at the pictures and statements in other parts of the "what colour am I?" exercise had me really wondering which I identified most with, then second-most with, then third-most with. I identify with the blue's desire to maintain harmony, with the gold's desire to be on time and respectful of the rules, and with the green's independence and (though to a lesser extent than when I was younger, perhaps) curiosity...and I could go on. I think my True Colours can basically be described as "not very orange at all"! I am not generally the adventurous, fun-loving risk-taker...not to say I've never exhibited orange traits at all, but they are far from dominant for me.

The first part of today dealt with what practicum would be like and what the roles and responsibilities were of all involved (us, the host teacher, course directors, etc.). Once that was looked after, the real highlight of the day started: some of the alumni from the past two years of the MST program came in to share how they found the program, advice, and answers to our questions. Those who graduated two years ago have already taught for a full school year after graduating, so they were able to tell us what information they used from their courses and so on, but those who graduated last year also had very valuable things to say. I didn't get to ask all my questions but I'm sure they'll all get answered in due time (or will turn out not to matter anyway). Once that session was done, we got free food wasn't a pizza lunch as originally scheduled, but the mini sandwiches and cookies and danishes and other sweets and juice and so on were still good...unless you're a vegetarian, which it turns out at least one of our classmates is. He ate a cookie and that was it (guess he didn't feel like having anything to drink). Then I took off and enjoyed having a free afternoon, since I'm an I/S student and won't be doing a site visit like the J/I students. I'm back at school tomorrow (which includes a BBQ, hooray), and then we have Friday (and Monday!) off. Tomorrow morning we will be with all the students from all the B.Ed. programs that York runs, which means we'll be with a lot of people. I hope they have lots of hamburgers.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to school!

This will be a long one as it allows me to gush about my first day back at school. Feel free to read in sessions or just skim or skip altogether ;).

I had my first day of my mandatory orientation for teacher's college today. It's mandatory because it's considered part of our courses and we're expected to use the ideas we learn these 4 days (we get Friday off) throughout the rest of the year and even in our practicum. (Any faculty of education is pretty strict about absences, including absence from orientation...not like I'd planned on missing it anyway...I need my schedule and to know where my host school is, after all!) I took the bus there because York knows it's a commuter school and charges outrageous parking rates; as a result, my plan at the moment is that on the days when I am only on Keele campus, I will take the bus, and on the days when I am at my practicum school, I will drive.

I was given my first task of the school year when one of our course directors arrived and only I and a couple other people were in the classroom pretty early. My task set out plates and napkins. They fed us bagels (a choice of 3 or 4 different kinds, even, with a choice between 3 different kinds of cream cheese) and juice (a choice of apple or Five Alive)! If I'd known that was going to be coming, I wouldn't have eaten breakfast! A lot of others said the same thing. Well, we were given a break later in the day so the bagels and juice did get thoroughly enjoyed after all, so the food was not wasted and the professors who provided the goodies were not insulted/disappointed.

Today we did the usual "getting to know you" kind of stuff. Well, I say "usual" because that is usual for, say, a camp setting or a class of children. It's quite unusual for what I've seen of university education the past 5 years or so. We had to talk to our "elbowmate" and find out his or her full name and the story behind it. Later we were given sheets with one of those grids on it where you have to get someone to sign who has bungee jumped, one who has a green thumb, one who can name four characteristics of a dwarf planet, and so on, and turned loose to try and complete them in 15 minutes. Also, throughout the day we were asked questions and asked to introduce ourselves before we answered...and then were often asked to recall the names of others who had responded previously! Yikes. I'm not so good with names so I was kind of glad I didn't respond to questions aloud today, though I will have to do that more soon so I can make a good impression and get participation marks. Oh, in our class of 60 people (that's just those in the J/I and I/S programs who have teachable subjects in Math, Science and/or Technology--the MST program--not those in the whole Faculty of Education, whom we will be all together with on Thursday morning), two have been bungee guy and one gal.

We had a mini-lecture on relationships and "emotional trust" today...complete with lots of questions to think about and exchange ideas with different people around the room on (more getting-to-know-you, i.e.). Our lecturer made the point that a student likely will not remember the Pythagorean Theorem 15 years down the road, but they will remember the day your fly was down the entire class, and they will remember if you cared about them/encouraged them or if you told them they would never amount to anything. He also reminded us that the girl sitting in the chemistry class you are trying to teach may not hear a word you're saying because she is busy wondering when her boyfriend is going to kiss her (or thinking about any other of a multitude of issues laden with emotions and insecurity). It's good to be reminded what it was like to be a teenager...he basically told us it's not about teaching them to be good scientists/mathematicians (he said he'd never taught a one of those), but future good citizens.

We weren't fed lunch today, but there will be a pizza lunch Wednesday hosted for us by one education-related organization (the York/Seneca Institute for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, or YSIMSTE) and a BBQ hosted for us on Thursday by another education-related organization (the Faculty of Education Students Association, or FESA...gotta love acronyms :P). Free food? I'm there! I bought myself some Japanese food for lunch today after my attempts to go with some other people for lunch kinda fizzled out, but on my way back way too early for the next session I ran into a classmate who needed to find a place to buy gum, so we went off exploring some. 'Twas fun. Been a while since I met some new classmates to hang out with.

Today I was re-introduced to FirstClass as well. Some of you will know and love this from the days when ScriBE was around...the electronic bulletin board of the Scarborough Board of Education. Well, the Faculty of Education at York uses it. I've downloaded it, I've got an e-mail address through it, I've been led through our tutorial today through sending e-mails to classmates (when we were told to send an e-mail to a classmate, one of my new friends sent me an e-mail saying, "no passing notes in class!" tee-hee, oops!) and conferences (forums) and pulling them back so no one could read them anymore (don't you ever wish you had that "unsend"/"recall" button in regular e-mail?). You can even pull up the message's history to see who's read it (and therefore whom you have to apologize to because you didn't hit "unsend" in time). There's now an address book as part of the system, the résumé is now a full contact card where you can put your phone number and photo and such rather than just a bunch of text, there is now a way to access the FirstClass system using just a standard web browser (though using the stand-alone software is more reliable), and there are all sorts of interesting discussions going on in the forums, such as tips on the interview the Toronto District School Board gives and a whole section where people post lesson plans so others can use them, too. Well, it's not as interesting as ScriBE was yet (it will get more interesting when we start interacting on it as a class), but I'm still kinda tickled that I'm using the software again that my hubby and I used to chat and send those gushy e-mails when we first started dating.

At a certain point during the day those of us who were recent grads from York (as in those of us who just got our degrees and are going straight into the B.Ed. program without going out into the workforce first or coming from another university) were asked to show ourselves. Of my class of 60, apparently ten of us fall into that category. Later in the day we were asked to stand up again and volunteer to lead people on tours of our campus based around different themes (listed on a sheet everyone was given) so everyone could find the things they needed to know about. Turns out there weren't ten categories so I didn't have to lead my own tour; instead, I joined the tour of the guy who got "volun-told" by the course director to show people where to look after getting parking permits...and he said he would also explain where to party/get a drink on campus. Our tour became the "parking and paryting tour" (one of my new friends realized this meant it was also the "drinking and driving tour," but after we laughed loud at that at first we decided that was no laughing matter..."parking and partying" it is). I figured of all the tours being given I knew the least about where to drink on campus, so I went to learn something. I didn't really learn much (I knew where the Underground & Blueberry Hill were...though a couple pubs were briefly mentioned I might not have known about), but we had a fun tour anyway. Then we went home.

Tomorrow I get to do the True Colors workshop. Again. I've done True Colors at least twice in the past, although I have to admit I don't remember a whole lot about it other than the fact that I think I'm a blue and I think my friend Jen is an orange. Well, this time I suppose we will focus on not only discovering ourselves but on looking at how having a blend of the colors in the classroom can have an impact on group dynamics and teaching style or whatever (only guessing here), so it should still be interesting to learn from.

Wednesday afternoon we will visit our host schools. Aie! This is when the jitters will come up again as I wonder if my host teacher(s) will like me, whether the kids will like me, etc. At one point the course director said this will just be a "drive-by" to see where the school is, but then he started telling us to go in, that we'd be given contact names and so on (you mean you're not coming with us???)...aie. So this will probably be when I'll meet my host teacher(s). I just hope we'll get along well.

Well, that's been my day. I still don't know what all my textbooks are going to be (and hence don't quite know how much $ I'll have to spend on them), I still don't know what my host school is, and I still don't know how an apparent conflict in my schedule is going to work itself out. However, I do know that I will have a lot of Fridays off (all Fridays on which we are not invited to special seminars or conferences) and I have had a number of other questions answered today. I've made some friends, too, and have generally gotten along well with my classmates it seems. So...I'm pretty pleased. Still nervous, and will be for some days until I settle into the swing of things, but I think I am going to get through this year alright. Then I am off to the real world! That thought is still slightly terrifying...yes, I do have this year to do before I am out there, but we were told a couple times today that the year is just going to fly by on us. This means it is going to feel like I am facing the real world much sooner than I may like...still, God has guided me every step of the way to this point...He's not going to drop me flat on my face now. Breathe in, breathe out...I'm okay. Bring on the opening week practicum block!

Friday, August 25, 2006

You mean there's a 4 o'clock in the morning, too?

Yesterday my husband informed me that the person he carpools with wouldn't be at work today. He told me this last week, too, but this week the tone with which he told me this was slightly different. Last week I asked if he wanted a ride, given that I have my license now (and that he used to schlep me around all the time, after all), but he insisted on taking the bus, telling me it was too much gas to take the car out just to take him all the way to work and then come home by myself again. Like I said, though, this week his tone was different...this week it was that "I didn't really enjoy taking the bus for 2 hours to get to work last week; could you spare me that?" tone. So this morning I allowed my alarm clock to wake me up at 4:00 a.m. I hit snooze twice, but I'm not usually one of those people who can fall asleep again during the snooze's more a dozing time/time to convince myself that it is worth getting out of bed and starting the day/time to start processing what I have to do that day and/or worry about it. I put on my walking clothes (in anticipation of going for my walk on my return home), made myself a tea, made the bed, tidied up my jammies and my clothes from yesterday, then hopped on the computer to balance our bank accounts with Quicken and my tracking spreadsheet while I waited for my husband to be ready to go.

I discovered that it's really not too hard to feel awake at that time in the morning while conversing with someone, driving along and singing along to Bon Jovi. It's when I got home again that I really started to feel tired. However, I am going to try to stay up for a while and take a nap later, as I want to try to get myself used to early mornings again in anticipation of my return to school on Monday (3 days! eek!). Oh, my husband also took me into his workplace this morning and showed me around, so that was kinda neat (though a little serious when he showed me where he was when he had his AVM stroke 2 years ago and where he collapsed). I still didn't get to meet his coworker who plays WoW with us but that's alright.

I've decided I ain't going for a walk today after all. This is partly because I'm way too tired, partly because I don't want to go out walking while the garbage men are making the rounds (call me self-conscious but, well, it's true) and partly because tomorrow is the big annual birthday bash to celebrate the birthdays of 3 people in my extended family...the elder of my nephews, my brother's father-in-law, and the elder of my sister-in-law's adopted nieces (whom my sister-in-law's twin and my sister-in-law's brother-in-law adopted from China). Look out, here come some nested parentheses! [The latter two "relatives" really aren't related to me in any way whatsoever so me and my husband and my parents don't buy them presents (which was a little awkward when the adopted niece asked me and my husband one year if we'd gotten her a present, and why not), but we got my nephew (at my sister-in-law's suggestion) a Sea Monkeys kit (I got the "Sea Monkeys on Mars" one which looked pretty cool and the only boyish one of the non-ordinary kits besides). Pretty much all the other presents we know about that he's getting are clothes so I'm told our present will be the big hit.] Anyways, this bash is always held at some large park that includes hiking trails and so on. We used to go to Presqu'ile every year (and walk their boardwalk every year) but we have tried other parks more recently. This year we are going to Emily Provincial Park near Peterborough. I don't think I've ever been there so this should be interesting; thankfully my parents are willing to carpool with us so I won't have to worry about how to drive there (especially as I have yet to do a highway run since I got my G2...I know the highway is nice and all but I just haven't been ready to try it yet...I will, though, no worries). There is a hiking trail there which I am sure we will hit given the usual trend for these birthday bashes; it won't be at the pace I normally go for my walks but seeing as there will be at least 6 kids (my 4 nieces and nephews plus my sister-in-law's 2 nieces) and probably at least 4 dogs there I think I will get in enough exercise to make up for not going for a walk today. Well, yes, you're right, there will also be 3 different birthday cakes to try and a large meal besides, but it will all work out eventually :).

There, I've blogged. Haven't done that in, like, a week. Not that I'm the only one too busy playing WoW to blog ;). (Actually, in my case I've been partly busy being productive, partly busy playing WoW and partly too boring to have anything to blog about!) Oh, I got a haircut, too, so my hair won't be all straggly when I meet my classmates and profs on Monday. Now I just have to figure out what to wear...I wonder if I should get some new shoes? Aie, first day jitters...and this year it's not just "I wonder if the other kids will like me?" This year, it's "Will my classmates like me? Will my profs like me? Will they like me enough to sponsor me for one of the scholarships I need a sponsor for? Will my host teacher(s) like me? Will the kids I'm going to teach like me? Will the kids like me enough to respect my authority and listen to me, or will they like me because they think I'm a pushover and will then act up on me?" Oh well, really I'm pretty sure it will be a good year. Once I get a new pair of shoes.

Alright, I'm off for now. I have WoW to play, after all; I have fallen behind in my WoW playing due to my recent spurt of productivity and so I am only level 39 now. At level 40 I get this cool horse with flaming feet and eyes to ride (only warlocks get this cool horse; the regular horses that the other humans get to ride at level 40 don't look nearly as cool) so I can get around the game world faster. I won't be able to join in the high-level "endgame" content that my guildmates are regularly participating in as a large group until I'm level 60, though, so I have quite a ways to go. I'm still enjoying growing my character, but the pressure to grow up to 60 quickly is much greater than I felt when I had my first character on another server (and was not in this guild of all my husband's in-game friends), so I'm not enjoying it as much as I did on that character, but hopefully I will enjoy level 60 more than I did on that character (which I didn't enjoy much at all as I was not in a guild that was doing all the endgame stuff). Anyways, less blogging and more WoW-playing...and then, in a while when I am more awake, more going back to being productive. WoW really isn't my life, after all, don't worry.

Catch you in Azeroth.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I just can't get enough.

It is 14 ºC outside. It is 8:00 a.m. and I am wide awake. The windows have been open for much of yesterday and all night and the sounds outside are beckoning. I can even hear the electric guitars starting up inside my head (not a new link but I had to explain myself :)).

You know what that means. It's time for a walk.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No title for you!

Woohoo, Emma decided to put up her wrong number story. If you haven't already, take a gander and enjoy.

Wow, I am actually up and feeling pretty awake at 7 a.m. Looks like I'll be okay transitioning to school mode after all.

I got a lot of errands done yesterday. I finally decided to pick up the multipack of ink for my printer (my printer uses 6 separate ink cartridges--1 black and 5 different colours--and buying the 5-pack of all 5 colours saves you a bit of dough...they all tend to run out fairly close to each other anyway), put in a photo order for prints of 2 of our missionaries for a bulletin board (except I forgot we wanted 2 copies of one of them so I may have to put in another order later...d'oh...though we may not actually need the 2nd copy so that can wait), bought some Sunday school supplies for a craft project they've been working on over the course of the whole summer (or at least the weeks I've taught them :)...candy is involved this week so they'll be happy :)), and bought bus tokens that it turns out we didn't need anyway (I assumed hubby still needed them as he needed them a while back, but you know what happens when you assume things...turned out he'd already looked after this). I also finished my assigned task of writing up some "blurbs" on some of our missionaries for the bulletin board and talked to one of those missionaries on the phone to catch up and see what their needs are before they come back to Toronto for a bit (having finished their language training in Quebec) and then head out to the field in the fall. Forgot the dry cleaning in the car so I'll just drop that off when I go to pick up my photos today. I also have a dentist appointment today, and in order to do some preparation for this week's step of the craft project I need to pick up some things that I left at the church (I hope the papier mâché is dry). All this done yesterday while still getting a bunch of dishes and laundry looked after (though I did forget about lunch and ended up very hungry later in the day as a result). Anyway, I know this is boring, but my point in writing this is to point out (to myself) that I am getting quite a bit done despite the hours that I am spending on WoW.

Speaking of which, I am level 35 now, I have done the quest to get the highest level of first aid possible, and I've picked up the quest to get the highest level of cooking possible (now if only someone would put enough of the giant eggs I need on the auction hall, I could complete the quest easily enough). Yes, I know, the world of Azeroth is being troubled by monsters and demons and bad people galore and here I am worried about my cooking skill...I just enjoy seeing high skill points, regardless of what they're in, alright :)?

Okay, off to start my day now. Have a good one, y'all!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just some randomness...

I'm level 34 in WoW now. Just thought you'd all like to know. Only one more level before I can try the artisan first aid quest, hooray! I'm glad that's no longer only doable at level 40-and-up. (I wonder if they changed the starting level for the cooking quest, too? Hmm, something to check out...) I also have 11 honourable kills (kills of players of the opposite faction that are within a certain level range of myself). I don't like killing other players much, but when they start the fight I'd rather finish them off if I can than have to run back to my corpse. I allowed myself only about a half-hour playing this morning and then I promised myself I could play again if I got a couple certain things accomplished I had planned for today. I got most of what I'd planned to do today done so I got to play again for a few hours tonight after dinner. Tomorrow morning server maintenance will happen from about 8 a.m. to about 2 p.m. so I will be forced not to play during that time. Tomorrow is my first official "Tuesday is errand day" day anyway so I will be kept occupied anyway; this just ensures that I will hopefully get done what I have planned for tomorrow (such as planning my Sunday school lesson for this coming Sunday).

I went for a walk today. I love getting my heart rate up. I like getting my exercise in first thing in the morning (once breakfast is looked after) to energize me for the rest of the day and give me a sense of accomplishment. I even like sweating. I don't enjoy dealing with the cold, wet clothes once I get back to the house and I'm cooled down, but I like the warmth and knowing that I'm working hard during the walk itself. I accidentally walked down one side street too far at one point and added 0.4 km to my usual route (oh noes!). In other health-related news, I'm beginning to enjoy fruit cups as a dessert item (mandarin orange slices in a light syrup or applesauce cups is what I've been doing so far), so I don't find myself looking for less healthy sweets much (I also don't have much by way of less healthy sweets in the house now unless I want to go to the trouble of making a hot chocolate or raiding the chocolate chips--which are semi-sweet rather than milk chocolate and thus don't really do it for me anyway). I've also followed pretty well the menu plan I made myself for about the past week and I have made a new one for about another week, plus when I went shopping last week I pretty much only got what was on my list and I think that will happen again when I go again tomorrow or Wednesday. At this point I am not doing any of this to lose weight, just to be healthier.

In environmental news, line-drying is still good. It still makes me feel older doing it, but not as old as it used to; now I just feel grown-up as opposed to an old washerwoman. My DMIL is also trying to save on the power bill and this hopefully is helping that, too. I bought some plastic clothespins with rubbery tips at the dollar store; they are colourful, they work well for me, they are fun. Yayness. When I am doing a lot of laundry and I don't know how to fit it all on the clothesline "tree" outside, I hang stuff on hangers from the pipes in the laundry room like we always used to do with the odd thing (and delicates) year-round.

And just because Kef has told us some of his wrong number stories and I have heard Emma tell a good one in person, too, I have to tell you that someone called me by accident today as well. I will steal Kef's formatting.

Me: Hello?
Random Clueless Woman: (silence)...hello?
Me: Hellooo?
RCW: Oh, do I have the wrong number?
Me (in head): And you are asking me this because I am supposed to know if you were actually trying to reach me or not how?
Me (aloud): Who are you trying to reach?
RCW: (pause) oh...oh, yes, I think I do have the wrong number. Sorry.
Me (in head): Thank you for answering my question.
Me (aloud): That's okay. Goodbye. (or some such thing)

Me (in head): Watch me be the person she was really trying to reach and call back now.

Thankfully she did not call back, but her question made me want to go, "Duh!" This is not as good as the other wrong number stories I have heard but it is mine :).

Off to bed now as I am trying to try to train myself to wake up at a decent is fast arriving, after all. As is a 10 a.m. dentist appointment on Wednesday :-P. Goodnight for now...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hmm, stuff...WoW...structure stuff...yeah, whatever

Now that I have been freed from work responsibilities for the month of August (no, I haven't called them or anything yet...I'm not sure that I'll bother...the break is nice), I have been back to playing World of Warcraft ('cuz really, all those freebie escape-the-room games and such were fun and all, but in comparison to WoW...not so much). When I let my subscription expire a little while ago, I was level 21; now I am level 32 (and I'm actually over halfway through level 32) in the week or so that I've been back to it, I've gained about 11 levels. My hubby is level 39 so I am slowly catching up to him >:). I play a human female with brown hair and blue eyes (I had a night elf on another server, but various drama between guild members and such coupled with the desire of the guild to move to a PvP server have led to my abandoning my n'elf) original of me, eh? Her name is Jaynda and she is a warlock (my n'elf was a druid...I like the caster classes). Yeah, I know, a warlock is a male witch so you would think my class should actually be that of witch, but that is the WoW terminology. As a warlock, I get to summon various "minions" from the Twisted Nether or wherever demons live in WoW (I don't have all my lore straight) and get them to do my bidding. Currently I can control an imp, a voidwalker, a succubus or a felhunter (you can only have one minion active at any given time). This is handy because casters are pretty weak on their own; having a minion to help you attack something is like having a perma-friend who will always follow you around and help you and never expect you to help them with any quests or argue with you. Oh, well, actually, the imp talks back, but he still does my bidding. Another nice thing about being a warlock is the "Drain Soul" ability. If a monster has been giving me a particularly hard time and I've died trying to kill it, it is rather satisfying at to pop this ability near the end of the eventual successful fight and say, "oh yeah? well, guess what? your soul is mine!"

I'm okay. Really :). I am just having fun with this game and letting it slowly take over my life (no, really, just kidding about that last part :)).

Playing on the computer is not all I'm doing; I'm also slowly working on getting myself into a regular routine around here and looking after errands and such. Life is indeed easier when you can drive (getting to and from Bible study and meetings and to-and-from-the-mall-when-you-buy-so-much-you-wish-you-could drive-oh-but-now-I-can, e.g.)...I haven't been doing that much of it now that I don't have to commute all the way to work, but I have been enjoying it when I have driven. I am trying to get myself back into a regular routine so that I will be ready for the early mornings again when school comes around (I start Aug. 28) and so that the house will not fall apart while I re-adjust to the new structure.

I got the cartoon shown above from my mom via e-mail a while back, but I just came across it again. At first it sparked thoughts of envy, but a feeling that something was missing, and musing about what it was...and then I decided it was probably several things, but definitely two of those things were a fridge for a cold drink and a sink for washing dishes while continuing to check e-mails. Then I decided that setup really isn't ideal for me at all because if it weren't for the dishes and the laundry, there are times when I would be sitting down for far too long. Just kidding (mostly)...I have actually been pretty productive lately. At least I am past the point where I would go to bed at a decent hour and not be tired (partly due to being used to working late nights...I've adjusted now, I think) and be kept awake thinking about what else I had to do in WoW, leading to a late night of playing, a long sleep-in, and not feeling tired again that night...lather, rinse, repeat...not anymore.

But I gotta say, doing dishes would be a lot more fun if I had a voidwalker under my control doing them for me :).

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Well then.

Well, I'm not working today. Or tomorrow. Or for a while. I called work last night to see if we'd been given our new schedule yet; the girl I used to work with 99% of the time, Carrie, was there, and she was surprised that I hadn't been called yet as the person who made the schedule was supposed to have called all of us former-guest-services-and-now-customer-service-representatives gals. As far as I know we don't have an "office manager" yet--the person who is the "boss" for the guest services people--as the posting is still up online, but someone had come in from B.C. and made a schedule for us and who knows what else (perhaps she is the person who will be interviewing people for the office manager position). Then Carrie looked at the schedule for me and told me that I wasn't on it for this week. Then she kept looking and said that I wasn't on it for the rest of August. Carrie used to work there practically every day (usually with me, like I said), and she is now only scheduled for 1 shift a week. I know as the closing date approached she said at one point that she was worried because she had been there the shortest amount of time of all the regular girls (she had been there a year; only me and one other girl have been there for any shorter amount of time); I think maybe whoever made this schedule must have gone by seniority in deciding who to leave off the schedule. That the schedule is pared down compared to what it used to be isn't terribly shocking; we always knew that there would be fewer shifts in a week once we got owners (during the bankruptcy we had 2 guest services people on each night and we knew we'd likely go back to one person each night once we got owners). Also, at the meeting that I went to that our new general manager ran before the closing to give us our job offers and tell us about Canlan, he had said (when asked about how much availability part-timers needed to have) that consistency was important; they would rather the schedule of people working look the same from week to week so that the teams that play on Tuesday always see the same people, etc., so that if they have an issue they need to talk about and get follow-up on they have some consistency in who their contact person/people is/are. That's probably why they didn't even put me on every other week or on some other infrequent schedule.

Anyway, I'm not upset that I'm not on the schedule (a bit of a break between working and starting school Aug. 28 isn't a bad thing), but I am upset about the way that Canlan handled this. They have practically laid me off without so much as a phone call or an e-mail. I think I will probably get in touch with the general manager (since we don't have an office manager yet) and ask about this just to clarify whether I am still being on their list of people to keep in mind or if I have been laid off. For now, I am on vacation.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Some of Billy Graham's musings in his old age

It's not often you see stuff like this pop up in the "Windows Live Today" window that pops up when Windows Live Messenger starts. Here is a link to a Newsweek story about Billy Graham and some of what's going through his mind these days: It's an interesting read. Visit all 6 pages of the article to read the whole thing.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

The chemistry teacher in me loves this :)

I just don't know how I could do it with a class without making a huge mess. Oh, well, I guess we could go outside...yes, yesss (rubs hands together in anticipation)...

Go check this out because it is cool (click on the "Click here to play the video" when you get there). If you don't find it cool, well, maybe you're not cool. Yeah. Take that. Oh, and turn your speakers on if you want to hear the music that goes along with it.

Sorry, I saw still photos showing parts of this video on page C1 of the Toronto Star July 17 and I just had to see the video (yes, I know that is a long time ago relatively speaking...I was just going through a stack of old newspapers now and came across this again...there are various articles related to the environment and teaching and a few miscellaneous things that I was saving some of these papers to clip, so that's why I wasn't just tossing all the papers in the recycling bin). If you think this kind of thing belongs in the "there is way too much crap on the Internet" category, well just humour me and remember that I still laugh out loud at some of the comic strips in the newspaper, too :).

Going back to the land of the easily amused now :)...