Monthly Archives: October 2016

Disaster After Disaster, Calmly

Today was a day filled with disaster alarms. They didn’t affect my teaching much though.

First, during my fourth period class, a voice blasted over the intercom that we were all about to die. All my students quickly crawled under their desks to await their doom. Well, that’s how it sounded, and that’s what happened, but after the earthquake warning and the desk crawling, nothing else happened. A few minutes later, my students emerged from under their desks and we continued with class.

I thought it might have been a drill, but later confirmed there’d been an earthquake somewhere.

Then, during my evening class, the fire alarm started ringing. I went out to check and found a bunch of people playing with the alarm box, but no one seemed to be in a hurry to get out of the building. One guy was coughing though, but it didn’t seem to be from any kind of smoke or a from a gas leak. I was then told to go back to class and await my doom. I announced to my students that we were probably all dead and they laughed and continued doing their assignment.

Eventually, the staff completed their quick inspection of all the floors and determined that we were probably not going to die. After 10 minutes or so, someone found a way to turn off the alarm.

An hour later it went off again, but then was quickly turned off and I think it was another test.

Although I’m glad we all ended up being safe, I find myself less trusting of alarms, and that probably won’t end well in the long run.

Diet Busting and Possibly Expensive, With Models

It could have been worse. Well, some of it could have.

A friend and former photography teacher to treated me to lunch in exchange for reading the first several pages of his novel. (It just keeps getting better and it may be time for him to submit it.)

Because it was an all-you-can-eat salad bar that featured soft tacos, various pastas, soups, ice cream and cake (oh, and actual salad) I did as much damage to the salad bar and my diet/lifestyle change as I could.

I also got a couple contacts from him for people to read my current work in progress.

After that, we went to the Olympus Gallery which is a kind of porn shop for people interested in Olympus cameras. My friend turned out to be their most effective salesman and convinced me that getting one the cameras used might be a good idea, especially as the value is dropping thanks to a new version coming out. (Luckily there were no used versions around.)

While we were there, we saw a small exhibition off to the side that seemed to be staffed with women dressed in flowing robes and/or togas. We were both immediately impressed (with the photographs, not the women, although, well, more on that later) and spent a lot more time studying the photographs than we’d planned.

The photographer has a fantasy style that involves lots of costumes, make up and smoke machines that let him print the photos on large sheets of paper that look like paintings. We were trying to figure out how he spliced in all the models so seamlessly but later, when we spoke with him he assured us that everything was taken in one shot with no heavy post processing.

Eventually we realized that all the women in robes/togas were models who appeared in a number of the photographs, including one that was the center piece and that explained why they were dressed the way they were. (Note: we met the one on the far left and the one center left who appears to be wiping a tear.) Even with the robes/togas, they looked much different without all the stylized make up and bank of Profoto lights. Also, because it was the last day of the show, other models showed up to get pictures of themselves next to their pictures.

Eventually I got home and She Who Must Be Obeyed asked how my day was and I said it was good. She asked what I did all afternoon and I said “Looked at models, um, of cameras.”

Which is not, technically, a lie.

Simple Instructions Are Difficult

One student sends me screen shots that are too small for me to read.

Another student sends me screen shots of the wrong page.

Yet another student sends me screen shots that show he didn’t finish.

Today, one sent me a screen shot of the page with the instruction that tells him what to do but which, alas, he didn’t do.

All of them are supposed to click on a link that emails the results to me.

Part of the requirements for the night class I’m teaching is that the students read several articles from an online source and then email the results. Unfortunately, because the website requires flash, they can’t do the assignment on their phones. This creates a lot of problems for them as they have to track down a regular computer.

Once there, they are supposed to follow the instructions, answer some questions, and follow more instructions. This is supposed to help prepare them for reading English instructions when they get to the USA and help them conduct online research.

This weekend, just for fun, I may send them to a different website. I can’t wait to see what happens then.


For Want of a Stun Gun

One was worse, the next one was bad, only one made me wish I had some sort of stun gun. Both are causing me problems.

Today I met two classes that hadn’t met, thanks to sports, for three weeks. The problem is, because of other holidays, they will only meet seven times this term whilst other classes will meet 11 or 12 times. Because of this, today, which was only their third class this term, was supposed to be their speech contest for my class. After that, we would move on to the textbook.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is their mid-term exams and because my class doesn’t have midterms, suddenly becomes unimportant to them. Also unfortunately, the topic is show-and-tell which means the students are supposed to have a “treasure” to show to the class.

Between the two classes, only four people out of 32 had their “treasures” and only four out of 32 actually practiced and memorized their speeches.

The first class was rowdy and thanks to my “if you’re noisy, you are next” rule, one student had to go up front three times (the record is four). About half way through the class I was ready to start using a stun gun but, alas, I have no such item readily available. Instead I’ll be giving them homework and watching them not do it later this term.

The second class was better behaved, but not actually better. I’ll have to do another speech class next week. After that, I’ll be meeting people during lunch time and after school.

Something tells me I’d better pack a lunch every day next week. But I’m cynical that way.


Honey Do or Do Not

I was off work today which meant I got put to work. Sort of. Eventually.

The plan was for She Who Must Be Obeyed and I to brave the dangers and monsters of the variety room closet in order to start winterizing the house. This involves clearing out the the “variety pile” in front of the closet. That is followed by cleaning, breaking down and putting away the summer fans and dragging out the kerosene heater, the electric carpet and the heavy blankets.

Unfortunately, there was a delay as She Who Must Be Obeyed had to take our youngest to a special game event involving the game she likes to play. There was a further delay when they returned and announced they’d have to go back. The event was apparently popular enough that game time had to be scheduled.

This slowed every thing down. Although I could have dragged everything out, I learned a long time ago that it was necessary to wait. As husband, conditioned by decades of commercials and TV shows telling my I am incompetent, I cannot be trusted to clean the fans properly. Because I cannot be trusted, the “variety pile” will have to be moved so that SWMBO can check my handy work (translation: clean stuff no matter how clean it already is).

Not wanting to do the same job twice, I waited.

Eventually we tackled the project and the house is properly winterized. This means it will be unseasonably warm for a few more weeks.


Put Off the Knives by the Revenuers

Was late to a knife show thanks to the Kansas Department of Revenue. Then wasn’t that impressed.

Emailed Kansas Department of Revenue yesterday about my driver’s license renewal and then got strange replies I should have got two weeks ago. (Long story for a future post.) Spent time sending in new and improved versions of forms and then headed to the knife show.

This delay meant I was late, which is unusual. My Canadian friend was on time and had already scouted out locations and/or dangers.

We walked the rows of what is usually one of the best shows of the  year but came away underwhelmed. The trend was mammoth tusk ivory handles (which look great) and black DLC coating (which looks black from certain angles) but there was nothing special. (Of course, my earlier news had complicated things.)

After saying no to a few temptations, we decided one pass through was enough and then went for burgers and beer.

The next show is the Tokyo Folding Knife Show. It’s in February and is usually my favorite show of the year. I’ll be there. Until then, I have to save in case I have to travel. If I don’t. Well. Then.

Making it More Than My Problem

A couple of my students misunderstood angles today and they probably had some ‘splainin to do.

I’ll probably have some, too.

My Friday afternoon classes include JHS 1 (US 7th grade) and a JHS 3 (US 9th grade). Today, a few of the JHS 1s decide to cause trouble.

All they had to do was rewrite a conversation, memorize it, and present it to me. One pair, though, decided that practice time was actually free time. I warned them a couple times they’d go first yet they acted surprised when I called them to the stage. (Note: each classroom has a short platform at the front that serves as a stage.)

As I expected, they not only couldn’t get past the first few sentences, they didn’t even know which parts they were playing.

I put them in the hall to practice. This made them nervous as their homeroom teacher teaches and English class directly across the hall at the same time and each room has large windows

. Although they tried to slip away from the spot I put them in, the angles from the other room allowed their homeroom teacher to see they were in the hall. He came to the window and watched them a few minutes whilst the rest of my class laughed at the punishment the boys in the hall were going to receive.

Eventually they did their role play.

Now, I’m figuring I’ll have to have a chat with their homeroom teacher…

Gift Horses Looking You in the Mouth

I won several things today, but only got to keep one of them. I burned through a lot of chances on the way. I got cranky, but am not sure if I deserved to be.

Today, before my evening class, I stopped by a convenience store to pick up a few things. Because I hit some magic expense number, I was given the chance to draw for something free.

My ticket revealed that I’d won a canned coffee. As I’d be buying one anyway later, I agreed to take the coffee right then. The clerk disappeared for a few minutes. She returned with only empty hands and an apology as that particular flavor of coffee was apparently out of stock.

She told me I could draw until I won something else. The second ticket revealed that I’d one a package of Haribo Gummi Bears. The clerk once again disappeared for a few minutes and then reappeared with empty hands and yet another apology.

My reaction was a polite “Gimme Gummi Bears! Me Want Gummi Bears!”. I was then allowed to draw more tickets. The next five or so were losers until I finally won some sort of hand wipes. I then had that odd moment where I was disappointed I was going to win those, even though they were free. I felt oddly guilty that I was happy to discover that those were also out of stock.

At this point the absurdity of it all began to hit me and I was like, just give a me a damned can of coffee, but was instead allowed to burn though a few more tickets until I won a set of dust masks. Those, of course, were in stock.

The masks are useful for emergency kits, but they bring the same joy as getting socks for Christmas. They ain’t Gummi Bears.

Virus Here Fever Here Fighting There

I’m the only one who’s not sick, but I don’t expect that to last long, and I also have dishes to get done, so this will be a short one.

Our youngest has been home from school a couple days and according to the school she’s not the only one. In fact, because of this, they said not to hurry back. This means She Who Must Be Obeyed has had to miss work which is not something she’s happy about.

Our oldest is a teenager which means getting the dishes done will involve a fight. (It’s actually already started. More on this in a future post.)

Just Because You’re Paranoid

It was such a nice day back after a three day weekend, that I feel compelled to write about it.

I started with my current worst class and was stunned when they remained quiet through a spelling test. Bad classes typically like to make strange grunts and other noises or like to make a show of either cheating or not caring.

After that they got through the assignment with little trouble. Of course, this is the third time I’ve taught this lesson so perhaps I’d finally figured out how to teach the lesson.

The next class were doing a different assignment, and although a few of them were bad, they mostly did the work.

My last class of the day were also pretty good, although they were doing a filler assignment because next week they won’t have class.

I left school feeling oddly positive because it’s rare to have all three classes be good. Then again, I’m pretty sure that’s never actually happened before.

Of course, this means the next day of classes will be a disaster, but that may just be my paranoia.