Sunday, 14 December 2008

Norwich City 3 lost to Stingers 1: 7-5

Good game -really competitive. I scored twice a beautiful long shot that went through barely touching the sides and a running in shot where my player tried to be too clever and I was able to arc round him and score from further out than normal. Defensively solid and was able to switch and cover a lot of the time. Only disappointment was Player A coming back from injury and over-committing time and time again. He conceded three penalties and was responsible for allowing two more goals through silly plays. Hopefully he will learn.
I never believe how tired I feel now when I reflect in the summer. A quick update

1.Work is exceptionally busy with a mixture of parent's evenings, revision sessions and meeting. There also seems to be a lack of realisation from management that the more other stuff that management schedule the lower the quality of lessons produced. If all my time is filled doing stuff then there is less time for lesson planning.

2 Novovirus or winter vomiting sickness has made it to Norwich. Sprowston was shut after an outbreak and while we have had a few isolated cases it appears to have no spread widely through the school yet.

3. The quality of the drama in the European cup rugby has been great although trying to play on a pitch that is underwater has meant that the quality has not been too good.

4. I rang up and asked them to send the next pack of contact lenses early and they decided to send them to an address that I have not lived at since 2001 rather than the address they have been routinely sending them to since them.

5. Last korfball match before the Christmas break today.

6. Little Dorrit was excellent and who would have thought that a financial institution such as Mr Merdle's bank would be a pyramid scheme and it collapse would ruin its investors being announced on the same day as one of the largest hedge funds collapsed owing $50 billion as it was also a pyramid scheme. Funny Old World

More updates later

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Two new sports for the 2016 Olympics

Chess Boxing

A sport with alternate rounds of boxing and chess. You can win by knock out, checkmate, referee stops fight or time runs out on the chess clock. Thus a good boxer could be beaten by a good chess player and he cannot stall at the chess table and a good chess player has to be able to box or risks losing in the ring. What a fab idea.

Quidditch

Monday, 1 December 2008

Conservatives are off kilter

The Conservatives seem to be a party that might be about to make themselves worthy of being voted before but then an opportunity arises that shows that at heart they haven't changed.

Recently an MP was arrested and held for 9 nine hours before being released on bail to appear before police in February. The Conservatives are in uproar and proved themselves to be way out of line.

1. They argue that he was arrested for doing his job but leaking information to news paper is not doing his job. If he is in receipt of information likely to embarrass the government then raise it in parliament and ask for an official response. If it is worthy of coverage the newspapers will cover it. By leaking it directly to the newspaper they show that they are not interested in improving the country merely the promotion of their own party.

2. Other leaks have been occurred in the past. Two wrongs don't make a right

3. MP's should not have their offices searched as their might be confidential information in them. So do doctors. Plus there was no outcry when it was Labour MP's being arrested for the cash for questions.

4. This is the start of a police state. Ministers directing where the police investigate. The civil servant, the minister and the police have all said that ministers did not know that the MP was about to be arrested. This would show that it isn't a police state or Stalinist. The Conservatives have also spread innuendo. MP's are not allowed to call each other liars but to be honest they as well have done.

5. The evidence is not strong enough to make an arrest. but we don't know what all the evidence is, what might have happened or been revealed in questioning or what the search of the computers might reveal. Was he paid to leak the information? No-one knows but the police are tasked to find out.

All in all they should realise no-one is above the law and any attempt to try and argue anything else makes them look like they are trying to be superior to the electorate and that is why they lost the last elections. It should also be noted that the spokesman on the radio last night has continually pushed for less influence of government on the police until today when he was arguing that ministers should step in and tell the police what to do. What a hypocrite.


Sunday, 30 November 2008

Norwich City 3 tied Norwich City 4 4:4

Played awfully. Spend the first 15 minutes passing to the opposition. Appear to have got stronger as kept throwing the ball to strongly or too high. The whole team was a bit pants but recovered from 3-0 down to tie 4-4. Created two gaols but scored none. Referee inexperienced. For the second week in a row the concept of a contact free game was a bit of a joke.

Norwich City 3 lost to UEA 2: 5-4

In this game my division attacked for 3 mins the other division attacked for 47 minutes and were generally rubbish. No goals scored by myself.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Rugby

It would be so bad if we hadn't played well. We did a lot of things right. We dominated in the scrum, turned over loose ball and won opposition lineouts. We had lots of possession and territory was even. South Africa had 5 chances and took them all. It seems that N hemisphere teams need about 3 chances to score a try and the South Hemisphere need about 0.1 of a chance At the beginning of the year new laws were introduced and there seems to be a huge inconsistency in the way they are applied and last week England were penalised for things that were fine this week. It needs more time to become more consistent.

Snow

Love snow. It takes a standard scene and makes it more interesting and highlights new things that you do not notice usually. Must of had about a 1cm in total and it is laying everywhere. Hopefully it will keep being snowy for a while.

Friday, 21 November 2008

A strange old week

1. I accepted a promotion. Ages ago i vaguely mentioned that when a colleague went on maternity leave that I might be interested in the job while she was away. Evidently this made its way to the head and I had a five minute interview and then I said Yes. Still not sure I want it as extra work for not that much cash but it looks good on the CV I suppose so after Christmas I will be the assistant head of house until the summer. I also get to be involved in all the activities when Yr6 come to the school.

2. The exam board who I mark for rang up and asked if I wanted to review the teaching materials for the new GCSE due out in the summer so I said yes.

3. Took Yr7 to the castle in Norwich on a joint History and Geography trip and really enjoyed it. They got to meet a medieval monk, a town planner, see the dungeons etc. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you have an opportunity.

4. England put out a weak looking team against Germany and played them off the park. Had the members of the Gentleman's Sports Watching Group over and provided a potato and broccoli curry which was remarkably tasty.

5. Going to be a bit of a loner next week as other members of the department are taking a trip to Malham for the week leaving me on my own and in charge.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Who said prayers don't get answered. Sky and Virgin have made up TODAY and I can get to see the rest of the series in January. My appeal yesterday clearly was read at the highest levels and decisions made. Will try world peace tomorrow

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Battlestar Galactica

One of my favourite TV programmes is Battlestar Galactica. It is proper grown up science fiction and leaves Star Trek looking a bit dated and worthy. I knew that they were going to make 4 series and carefully did watch or see anything to do with it. After Ofsted left I bought the box set and have been carefully watching it for about three months savouring every moment, every twist and turn, every nuance. I got to the end of the DVD's that had been provided and found it ends at episode 12 in season 4. This is a climactic moment but its not the end and one very important piece of information has left to be revealed. Due to the writers strike the remaining 12 episodes have not been aired yet and won't be until January 2009. Such sweet agony having to wait plus does anyone have Sky 1 and tape it for me?

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Obana wins

Glad Obama won Don't think that McCain would have been too bad but not sure where the rest of the Republican party might have taken him. Plus if he had passed away Palin would have been in charge and apparently she can't name the three countries in NAFTA which is a bit worrying. Rumour has it she travelled so little as she was scared of the edge of the world. I woke up at 4.30am on Wednesday and put the radio on and heard Obama's acceptance speech from Grant Park in Chicago in which I spent a lazy Sunday summer afternoon reading and dozing before watching a brass band from England. Good speech - better memories.

Norwich City 3 beat Norwich Dragons 2 7:3

Scored two goals both penalties, played pretty well and was pleased with my change of pace. Got in a great position yard from the post with the ball in my hand, defender no-where and missed. Was going to fast and couldn't get the ball high enough to o in.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I want to stay and watch the results on the US election comes in through the night but after an open evening, an observation and a field trip I am going to have to go to bed and trust Americans will do the right thing when I wake up.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Seth Lakeman

Saw Seth on Sunday night. Still the best gig around. He plays guitar, banjo and violin. He is capable of playing accurately very quickly so he starts a melody and the pace and intensity increases and increases till he is playing at a blur but the quality does not suffer. He was playing so hard that you could see the horsehair strands in the bow snapping. What a great performance.

Friday, 31 October 2008

An amusing sign post


The English is clear enough to lorry drivers - but the Welsh reads "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Paul Heaton, Cerys Matthews and Attic lights.

We went to a gig last night at the Waterfront.

First off were the Attic Lights, a 5 piece indie rock band from Scotland. They had 4 guitarists which seemed a bit excessive with rhythm, melody, bass and 12 string and some of their best songs were when they had a keyboard instead of the 4th guitar and the sound was a bit more balanced. Overall however they were tight musically and well engineered to provide an entertaining performance with strong vocals and some interesting themes . Listen to them by clicking here.

Secondly was Cerys Matthews who used to be the lead singer with Catatonia and is now doing some work with just a rhythm guitarist. Originally she is Welsh and the strong accent dominates her songs and provides a unique song. Her songs ranged from 19th century drinking songs sung in Welsh, some more mainstream pop songs and some songs written in her current base in Nashville and has bluegrass influence. She was really good and has an amazing range and power to her voice with her best songs being when she dropped into the lower octaves and sounded more dirty/ sleazy/ sexy. My only grouse is the people around me who paid good money to stand and chat about X-Factor 3. If you are reading this, and you know who you are, go to a coffee shop next time. Listen to Cerys here.

The headlining act was Paul Heaton, ex Beautiful South and The Housemartins, who had a number of particularly vociferous fans along. Despite taking slightly too long to come on stage they did not quite get the balance right and due to the bass being a bit too loud the vocals were obscured which was a shame as he is known for his social conscience and having a strong narrative running though the songs. After a couple he went a bit more acoustic and they seemed to sort out the issue and the gig improved. Overall a good night out with friends. Listen to Paul here

85 emails

When I logged on this morning I thought that there was an error when it said I had 85 emails but it was true. An email was sent out and 1 person replied saying that it had come to them be error but instead of replying to the person who sent it they replied to the whole list. People keep emailing saying they are getting things by error but everything is being sent to everyone. Now people are sending emails saying don't reply to everyone and they are sending this to everyone. People are defending themselves and saying I didn't and everyone is finding out about it. It seems to be self-perpetuating.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Falling in love

At Kat and Andy's wedding they had a reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin which I had not heard before although after research it appears to be one that registry offices can provide. With my enquiring mind I was interested as to what the next lines are it is interesting but needed a context. It turned out that there was two similar quotes, one from the movie and one from the book.

The first quote is

When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No... don't blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

The other is similar but a little different.

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like a volcano and then subsides and when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part, because this is what love is. Love is not the breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promise of eternal passion, and it is not the desire to mate every minute or every second of the day. That is just being "in love"which any fool can do…Love itself is what's left over when being in love has burned away, and this both an art and a fortunate accident.

I think that the first one is from the movie as they can get away with phrases such as erupts like a earthquake (which obviously earthquakes don't). The second is the one used at the wedding and I think it is a very powerful analogy.

Norwich City 3 beat UEA 2 8:3

We won. I was at a wedding. Co-incidence?

TV

Liitle Dorrit by Dickens from the people who did Bleakhouse has started well and has some excellent actors and performances.

Spooks is back which is one of my most favourite shows as it is not scared to kill off the main characters. Only 2 of the original cast are still in it and there is no guarantee that either of those two will survive this season.

Hole in the Wall - where celebrities dressed in silver Lycra contort themselves to try and get through strange shaped holes. I shouldn't like seeing them fail and fall into the water but somehow I can't stop laughing at it as it is just so silly.

What a week

The final week has been so busy in a number of ways. Workwise there was an open evening meaning working till past 9pm, a gruelling half term with Ofsted that seemed to go on for ever and the amount and pointlessness of paperwork reaching every skyward. An example of this is when marking books we need to note down when we do peer -assessment ( grading another students work). Why? The students know we did peer assessment as they where there but management don't so the tasks increase workload to benefit management but make little real difference to the students progress. The job that I applied for at British Schools of America has been advertised so I am going to give it one last shot with Boston my favourite location.

This weekend was Kat's wedding to Andy which ran smoothly. It has always been obvious that Kat is attractive but I usually see her wearing sports clothing and running around a korfball hall so the contrast to her in her wedding dress was most marked. It was nice to see Andy let his hair down a bit as he does not spend a lot of time in our social circle and can be quite shy. It was nice as everyone has been busy with new houses, babies and jobs so to have a night out was good to catch up. The only downside was having it on a Sunday which meant that it kind of drifted and petered out as everyone had to leave as they had work the next day until there was a hard core of teachers and close family.

My PC has come down with a malady which means it turns off suddenly and for no reason and won't start again for five minutes or so but the repair can't find anything wrong and the problem only ever occurs in my house.

Monday, 20 October 2008

My frustrating drive around Mile Cross

Every year the Year 11's go on work experience and as their teacher I have to go and visit them, check they are behaving themselves and ensuring that they are completing all of the paperwork that they have to do. I had the address, looked up where it was and arrived promptly on time. Unfortunately the school was all boarded up and was due to be knocked down.

So, I went to the nearest pay phone at Asda and rang the school but the lady in charge of work experience was out doing her own visits. I then tried to ring directory enquires but the pay phone won't let me so so I went to customer service and they lent me a phone book so I established the road it was on but Asda do not sell Norwich maps as it was not a road I had heard of. The people is Asda had a rough idea and with little more than that I set off to a vague area.

After asking people on the street, the lady in the post office and all the people queueing up in Lidl (and boy did that get me some strange stares) I found that I was gradually closing in on this school. Eventually I saw another little news agent stopped and found that they did have maps and that the road I was looking for a tiny cul-de-sac in the centre of a housing development. Just I arrived at the gates 80 mins late I realised that I had to rush to get back to school to teach period 4.

The moral of the story, never leave home without your mobile phone.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Norwich City 3 lost to Norwich Knights 3: 7-6

Goals scored 1, goals created 2, 1 losing bonus point captured. A missed opportunity. Probably should have won this one but failed to fully exploit the opportunities that were presented to us. When they moved their best defender on to our weaker attacker it should make the game easier not harder and a team that over commits so often should have been taken but certain members of the team had Teflon hands and it just wasn't happening. Poor refereeing as well, in a game that physical should have more than one free pass from start to finish.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Reduced Shakespeare Company

Do The Complete Work of God: Abridged and it is very funny. Three actors spend 90 minutes explaining most of the famous stories in a fast paced and unsubtle way. It is very amusing and well worth doing to see but I must warn you that if you sit on the end of a row then you might end up on stage as my friends Sarah and Ollie did taking part in a rendition of Old Man Noah had an arc having to take the part of gorillas although slightly unconvincingly. I wouldn't arrive late either if I was you.

Norwich City 3 lost to Stingers 1: 12 -5

They played better and took their chances. Both teams had about the same number of chances but Stingers were more successful at taking them. Played okay but did not score when I probably should have.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Comedy French accent

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, published the story that France's foreign minister said,
"I honestly don't believe that it will give any immunity to Iran. First, because you will eat them before."

When he said eat he actually said hit. Trying saying hit with a French accent and you exactly where the mistake came from. It remind me of a joke from the EU parliament where the Spanish stormed out after someone said that it was not working because there was a Spaniard (Spanner) in the works.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Norwich City 3 beat Norwich Ice 2 - 6:4

Goals scored 2
Penalties 1/1
Season penalty percentage 33%
Played pretty well but missed too many shots. Was effective in the feed position. First goal was pretty pleasing as it was at the end of a nice move where I created three chances in swift succession and although the first two were close the final went in. The penalty was the last play of the game and irrelevant but boosts the number of goals and makes up for the two that I missed last week. Mostly shut down my opponent which was good and I was able to setup one of the other goals.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Mitch Benn

In an attempt to have a social life I have taken it upon myself to become the social secretary for the department. Mark Thomas was the first event and last night we went to see Mitch Benn. He can be heard on the Now Show on Radio 4 and is Ask Elvis on Radio 2. He is very funny doing a mixture of political songs and those that that mimic other performers or styles of music. The one song that had me in hysterics was one about when an Aunt came over for tea and he gave her pot, acid and ecstasy. Each verse was performed in the style of the decade associated with the song. So the pot verse was Bob Marley style, the acid verse was in a psychedelic style and the ecstasy verse was in a dance/trance style. The only disappoint was that it is weird to watch music sitting down. If he is performing near you I recommend that yuu go and see him.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfJNKHpyrek

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Sarah Palin jokes

She went to New York because she heard it was a bear market.

Stock prices are down, major companies are being purchased by the government. It is a bear market and, I have to say, Sarah Palin is just the lady to shoot it for us."

She said she's a life-long member of the National Rifle Association. Which may explain why she's in favor of shotgun weddings

She does know about international relations because she is right up there in Alaska, right next door to Russia." "When you think about it, Alaska is also near the North Pole, so she must also be friends with Santa."

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is in town. John McCain took her over to the U.N. to introduce her to all the world leaders. It looked like Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Sad incident at Toys 'R' Us today -- a Sarah Palin doll shot My Little Pony.

Mark Thomas

Last night went to the Arts Centre to see Mark Thomas. He was very funny and I love his anti-capitalist stance on things and the sideways look at things that he take. An example of this is the laws surrounding protesting outside Parliament. Organising lots of one person protests all on the same day, organising as many 10 mins protest as possible in one day, applying to protest to reduce police paperwork and writing the application to protest on a cake in icing and allowing the police to figure out how to photocopy it. I like the way he looks for the absurd in the legal system and exploits the silliness for humour. He also has a campaigning streak mainly for workers rights and standing up to big business, highlighting how they abuse the positions they hold especially in the third world. The only downside is his anti-religious hectoring where I can't see what he hopes to achieve. There are certain sectors of Christianity such as creationists that deserve to be mocked and when that invades politics it puts itself in line to be criticised and humoured but to mock people for having faith should be beneath him.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Norwich City 3 beat Norwich City 4 5:0

Sounds like we scored a comfortable win over the 4th team but nothing could be further from the truth as we lost 8:2 but as they were fielding an illegal team they forfeit the game. The main problem our team seemed to have were the following
1. I missed two penalties. They were very close but last season I was at about 80% do that was annoying
2. Team member A decided that he was quicker and faster than his opponent and to adopt a high risk defensive strategy. He wasn't and conceded 5 goals.
3. Two of the team will only pass to their right
4. The coach decided that our tactics would be to try and get team member F running in shots, a person who didn't score any goals last season.

It might be a long hard season.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

All round Norwich city centre there have been small statues of elephants located for the last couple of months. Some of my favourites are pictured in this post. Follow this link to see the rest. Tonight they have all been auctioned off and should raise around £200000 which is a shame as I would have lied one but they are a bit expensive.


Norfolk Broads
Camoflaguephant
The Bush administration plan to buy all the bad debt from the banks and thus free up the financial system. With no worry about the liquidity of the people you are buying and selling from everything should return to normal. I have a couple of questions

1. What is there to stop the banks running up more bad debts (and making profit for their shareholders) knowing that they are too important for the government to let them go bust.
2. What price are the government going to buy the debt at? If they set the price too high then they will beggar the US economy, too low and they put the banks back in financial peril.
3. How much of the debt do the US expect to recoup or sell on? It is after all bad debt. If the banks had been able to collect it, or being received payments on it, then they will not need to sell it to the US government.
Sarah Palin is a rather scary moose hunting antiabortionist who wants to be Vice-President despite not knowing some of her own parties policies and thinking that being able to see a country amounts to understanding its complex geopolitical history. She also has some strangely named children. If you go to this website you can find your name if Sarah Palin had been your mum. Thus I become Timber Challenger Palin.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

What a week and a bit

1. Last Tuesday Lisa had her baby - little Charlie. 8lbs 15 born at 8.20 in the evening.
2. last Thursday - my PC gave a little shiver rolled over and died temporarily
3. Last Friday Ofsted ran up and said we will be in Wednesday. So all the weekend disappeared as well as every minute of every evening since.
4. It is now Thurs and Ofsted have left. We find how we did tomorrow but rumour has it that it will be Good with Outstanding features. PC is repaired and back running. A trojan virus decided to rewrite the operating system that turns it on.
I was seen by an inspector with the Yr11 who all did themselves proud and at one point one of them lent back and said how else got an A like me in the exam. At this point most of the rest of them put up their hands - what a bunch of liars! They weren't quite that good.
People ask well for Ofsted surely it should be like a normal day which is true but imagine that your boss was going to spend the day looking over your shoulder and noting down any little thing that goes wrong. On top of your normal job you also have to write down everything that you are going to do, justify why you are going to do it and what action you will take if things go awry.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Doomsday

Had lots of fun today gently teasing children about the end of the world. Leave homework for Thursday till Wednesday night just in case the world ends. There was an interview with a scientist who got very upset when it was suggested that the large particle collider might pose a risk and so far nothing bad has happened. If they find the missing particles then the last 40 years of subatomic physics will be justified - if not then at least they have identified what the answer isn't!!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, messages and presents that I recieved. A lot of them seemed to revolve around beer and its consumption. It always remind me of the episode where Pingu gets drunk which I have included below. It is funny that they made this but not sure if they ever showed it to the kids,

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Aboriginal leaders in Australia have called for a book teaching girls how to play the didgeridoo to be scrapped. The Australian version of the Daring Book for Girls is due to be published next month. It has angered some indigenous leaders who view the didgeridoo as a male instrument not to be played by women. Publisher Harper Collins Australia said it was not aware of any taboos on women playing the didgeridoo, and has apologised for any offence caused.

The Australian version of the book has replaced much of the original British content with distinctly Antipodean pastimes. But its advice to young readers on how to play the didgeridoo has offended some Aboriginal leaders. In many indigenous cultures, the hollowed out wooden pipe is viewed as a male ceremonial instrument, and women are forbidden to play it. Some Aboriginal cultures believe even touching a didgeridoo can have terrible consequences - and even lead to infertility. One academic called the book's inclusion of didgeridoo lessons "an extreme faux pas". Harper Collins Australia apologised for inadvertently offending anyone, but said there was a "divergence of opinions" within Aboriginal culture on whether girls should play this ancient instrument.

1. Aborigines my not believe in sexual equality but the rest of Australia do.
2. Levels of infertility are probably not increased due to didgeridoo touching
3. How are the rest of us supposed to do the right thing when the Aborigines can't work out the best thing to do amongst themselves. Maybe it is only a problem in groups that have suffered terrible consequences (like finding out they it better than the men).

Back to school

Same old, same old but this year it smells of fish due to the introduction of SEAL into lessons (Social and Emotional C? of learning). A new fancy label for what we all ready do.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Running trips.

A student from Durham has died after suffering an attack brought on by a heart condition. It appears that she had an attack previously when on a school trip was taken to the doctor but the parents were not notified at the student's request. This is line with the Gillick Principle that says teachers and doctors should not reveal medical information to parents if the student tells them not to. The parents are now suing the council despite the law being followed heaping more stress and pressure on the individuals involved. As someone who leads trips I will take full responsibility for anything that happened if I am responsible (such as the teacher that decided to take a group of students next to a railway line) but someone has advised the parents poorly as they seem to seek someone to blame. In many opinions the law maybe wrong or at least misguided but don't pressurise those people who have to follow it.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Fun Olympic stories

The Iceland men's handball team got to the final, everyone had the day off and cinemas were showing it for free. They lost but got only their fourth medal ever.

Du Li who allowed her nerves to get the better of her and instead of winning gold ending 5th, broke down on national TV and had so many letters of support. A few days later she won gold in her next event.

Sally McLean won silver when the leader in the hurdles fell over and in the post race press conference all three medalist were laughing and giggling about how lucky they had been.

Matthias Steiner who had an argument with the Austrian Weightlifting Federation, he moved to Germany and whilst waiting three years for citizenship to come through met and married a local lady who in the run up to the games was sadly killed in a car crash. He won gold by 1 kg

Matthew Emmonds blew the lead in the shooting for the 2nd successful Olympics. In Athens on his last shot he fired at the wrong target and scored 0, this time he needed to get 7 or better but he got the shakes and could get 4.

Steve and Christophe Guenot who won medals in wrestling by practice on each other and their father, mother and uncle who are also wrestlers.

Togo winning a gold in canoe slalom.

The Olympic Ideal tarnished?

I have enjoyed a lot of the sport in the Olympics but the whole thing has left me with a few concerns.

1. The way that China approaches sport through the setting up of sports factories to mass produce athletes to compete, taking young children and putting them through a gruelling program until they are either the best of they break (physically or mentally). I am not bothered that the two Chinese gymnasts might have been under the age of 16 but rather when interviewed they admitted having not talked to their parents for over a year and not being home for 5 years. China seems to have missed the point, after all its not the winning but the taking part. Apparently after the star Chinese hurdler pulled out with an injury the state media was broadcasting reassurance that it was okay to still support him despite the fact that he had failed.

2. Some of the judging is set up to fail. By placing a judge in each corner of the ring/ mat so at least one will not see each punch /move/ throw and these leads to some wild inaccuracies in the scoring. The TV coverage is so good and general from a good angle that the judges often are better off watching the TV.

3. The lengths that the Chinese were prepared to go to enjoy success. The fabrication of passports for athletes, sentencing old women to hard labour for protesting that they were not paid for the compulsory purchase of their house, arresting people who went to the official protest area they had set-up, the forced clearance of residents from various areas and all of the other various issues that have arisen makes it questionable whether the decision to locate the games in China was a good one - despite the quality of the sport.

4. Selling a lot of tickets to sponsors who then don't turn up leaving half empty arenas while real fans can't get tickets. Why not re-sell any seats that are not filled 10 mins from the start.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

UK Olympic medal table


1 China Gold 46 Silver 15 Bronze 22 TOTAL 83
2 USA Gold 29 Silver 34 Bronze 32 TOTAL 95
3 Britain Gold 17 Silver 12 Bronze 11 TOTAL 40
4 Russia Gold 16 Silver 16 Bronze 19 TOTAL 51


US Medal Table.


1. United States Gold 29 Silver 34 Bronze 32 TOTAL 95
2. China Gold 46 Silver 15 Bronze 22 TOTAL 83
3. Russia Gold 16 Silver 16 Bronze 19 TOTAL 51
4. Britain Gold 17 Silver 12 Bronze 11 TOTAL 40

Interesting yet subtle difference. to show yourself in the best light.

The A-Z of the great adventure

Jess came up with a really good idea and as a teacher I am used to borrowing/ stealing good ideas and adapting them for my own use so thank you Jess and next time I see you I will get the beers

A is for Airshow. The Chicago Airshow provided a big tourist event when I was beginning to flag even if the Blue Angels were anti-climactic.

B is for Beer. In 1908 a canal was dug to change the course of the Chicago River so it took all the pollution away from Lake Michigan into the Mississippi River, when it got to St Louis it was then bottled and called Budweiser

C is for Commercialism. Everything in America is sponsored but my favourite was providing money to sponsor the fact the next TV program had less adverts then normal.

D is for Dogs on planes. In one airport the travel box had to go through the x-ray machine and will the dog was out it got loose and caused chaos.

E is for Environmentalism. The high price of petrol means that all the car adverts are not about how good the vehicle is but how efficient they are.

F is for Filipino Day - a rather lack lustre parade in San Francisco with a number of odd floats.

G is for Greyhound. I am glad that I noticed that the long distance coach was first come, first served as the people at the back of the queue did not get on as the bus was full and had to wait four hours for the next one.

H is for Honesty. The number of people asking me directions (with a broken sense of direction) or to take photos (usually wonky) was high. Must be the honest face.

I is for Information. After the loss of Internet through the damaged laptop I found that I was addicted to information especially when GB went from 2 to 11 gold medals and I could not find out who had won them.

J is for jogging. Jogging is good for you but a lot of people do it right next to main roads where pollution decreases its benefits somewhat.

K is for killing. In Chicago someone fired some shots into the air close to the hotel (within earshot) the police arrived swiftly and shot him dead. It did not make the news but the concierge told me about it.

L is for Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who approached me on three separate occasions asking questions like if god answers prayers and is life pre-determined?

M is for Mazda. The second hire car had a semi-automatic gear box which was much better and allowed me to choose when to change gear.

N is for Nathanael Starbuck - when away for a long period good books are needed and this series by the writer who created Sharpe were very good.

O is for Olympics. Glad to be back to BBC coverage.

P is for Phelps. Even after he had won eight gold medals Phelpsmania was in full swing. Three days after his final win what he had for breakfast was the first news story (seriously). They also tried to link his name to every situation so for instance Barack Obama was described as having to do a Phelps ( i have no idea what they meant either).

Q is for Quality. One of the best hotels provided free gin and tonics, another gives lifts to the airport or metro stops, a third had free afternoon tea. Also if you just arrive they will usually check you in anyway. The earliest I arrived was noon and they had a room ready.

R is for Richard the tour guide. A very amusing Brit who did the tour round LA and was an aspiring actor.

S is for Star. When in Hollywood Brooks and Dunn where getting their star on the sidewalk (no I had not heard of them either). Apparently to get a star you have to have been famous for five years and pay $15,000. Not as glamorous as it seems.

T is for Taxi Drivers. Why are you asking me where it is? You live here or are you taking me round the houses to inflate the fare?

U is for Undignified. Trying to take a large suitcase through a narrow turnstyle in a metro station and I pretty much got stuck and had to try and climb over the whole thing. Made me look like I was fare-dodging.

V is for Variety. I went by jet, turboprop, train, coach, car, bike, trolley (tram), trolleybus, metro, cable car, weird vertical tram thing, foot, and boat.

W is for Water. Tap dancing in water seems tricky and adds to the probability of slippage but they were very good.

X is for Xylophone. At a performance in Chicago they were using the Stradivarius of xylophones.

Y is for You are now arriving in Houston. No we were not, the attendant appeared to be on the wrong flight.

Z is for ZZZZZZ. If you are travelling from US to Europe then get the very last plane (9pm or later), board as the very last person and head for a bank of empty seats so you can lie down and sleep. Both times the plane has never been more than 25% full.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

New photos have been added all the way back to the 8th August

The Bean

In a park in the centre of Chicago is this piece of sculpture which reflects the skyscrapers that surround it.




Chicago



Thursday, 14 August 2008

Friday

On Friday I have to take a taxi, to catch a bus to get to a tram stop to get the air-train to the airport that will fly me to a new city where I will have to take the Metro so I can walk to the hotel. Can't see any problems in that plan. I will also have to repack my suitcase in the middle as there is a limit on the weight of suitcase (but not hand luggage)I can carry on the bus but this means my hand luggage is to heavy for the plane where the suitcase limit s higher.

Avenue of the Giants





California redwood (sequoia)is the tallest tree in the world. All the words in the world can't describe what it is like to walk under their boughs and more impressively see the roots and trunks of those that have fallen. I suspect that the pictures won't do them justice either.

Contrasts

Sacramento and San Francisco are about two hours apart but what a contrast. Sacramento is hot (around 99 degrees) while SF was around 80. Sacramento is till and humid where SF was windy and fresh. Sacramento and the surrounding valley are exceptionally flat from horizon to horizon whereas SF is famous for its hills. Sacramento seemed quiet to the point of desertion whereas SF was heaving and finally Sacramento is a perfect grid whereas SF has a diverse street pattern.

The stupidity of people


The cable car system of San Francisco is proof positive, if it was necessary, that a high percentage of the people in the world lack common sense and should probably be sterilised shortly after symptoms show themselves. The cable cars pass close together and if you are standing on them there are signs up saying turn backpacks inwards and wear them on the chest so they don't stick out too much. Click here to see a picture.
On my journeys around the system I saw a woman with a kid in a papoose arguing that it wasn't a backpack somewhat missing the point. A range of items people also thought were suitable include a large pushchair/stroller, a cello and three suitcases. How the gripmen keep their sanity and don't shout humourous suggestions is beyond me. Oh yeah they don't and are pretty scathing. The system reaffirmed that Italians don't really get queueing/ standing in line.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Swimming

Last night there were two excellent swimming races in the Olympics. I was in a sports bar and was watching as the US swimmer took a big lead and the commentators were fawning over how good she was, except that she was outkicked by Rebecca Adlington who brought it home for the UK and the gokd medal. Everyone in the bar was unhappy except for me. This went on for about five minutes until Michael Phelps started an improbable relay win. Find them on the BBC or NBC website if you have time.

Picturesque






I think that San Francisco might be one of the most scenic cities in the world. The bay, hills and oceans are naturally attractive and the islands in the bay add to this. The city is built on a number of hills and the views towards the bridges are spectacular. The variety of architechture adds to this. In the distance the sea frett (fog) plays with the hills so the view you had five minutes ago is all different when you look again. The view from the top of Lombard Street is amazing as you will see when I can post pictures.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Olympics

It is interesting to see Olympic civerage from a different perspective. There was an intersting article in one of the newspapers asking if the coverage was too biased towards the US but from what I have seen it is no better or worse than the UK. There has also been some controversy as NBC paid over $500 million to move events from traditional timing to suit US prime time, hwever, in the West they have employed a time delay thus Michael Phelps winning his first gold medal was on all the news channels (and there are a lot of those) as well as the Internet three hours before it was shown "live" on the West coast. The coverage also seems to be a little more personality based than the UK - you must watch this because Phelps, Torres, Bryant etc is in. It also lacks some of the analysis as that time is used for adverts. My main issue is that if their is a heat with no US swimmer then apart from cursory commentary, the commentators mainly talked about what was happening next rather than what was happening currently. The mix of channels and sports is interesting. Firstly some sports especially team sports get more coverage in the US than individual sports (volleyball (beach and indoor) especially). Also some channels with a more masculine demographic have been given more masculine sports (boxing) presumably due to linking sponsorship to demographic while more feminine channels have got dressage!!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

San Francisco

San Francisco is a good place to visit and it has some interesting places to see. My only caution would be to bring a detailed amp of the public transport. There are cable cars (think funicular railway), trolleys (trams), metro, buses and light rail but I honestly couldn't tell you where each goes or where they stop as the maps provided is a huge tangle of similarly coloured lines that bear no relationship to the roads above.

Big City Improv

In Union Park there is a little booth that sells half price tickets to the theatre that evening. I went to see Big City Improv (think Whose line is it anyway) and they were really good. For one of the sketches they picked a name out of a hat and of course it was me so I got to go on stage. The aim was to tell a comedic story one word at a time with two of the cast. It was really good fun and after it was over one woman asked if I was a plant in the audience so I must have been quite good.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Monterey

Staying tonight in Monterrey as it is thew first big place North of Big Sur - going to take the scenic route into San Fransisco tomorrow. I know it is called the Econo Lodge and the price is low - but it id d not have to be this bad!! Always check that the hotel you are staying in is not under the flight path of an airport.

Driving in the US


1. As noted earlier by Sarah other drivers are not very polite and at times i thought they might have been trying to steal my suitcase they were so close to the back of me.
2. Driving on the right hand side of the road is definitively the wrong side as if I need to active the controls in the centre then I have just my left hand on the wheel which is weaker and this is therefore more dangerous. Most of the population are right handed.
3. Automatics suck. The problem isthat as I was going uphill a slight increase on the accelerator did not have any effect tehn all of a sudden with no warning the car would shift and accelerate suddenly forward towards what ever might have been there.
4. RV (Winnibago) towing a Jeep, with four canoes on the roof, a moped and three bikes strapped to the back.
5. Being overtaken by two semis - one each side at the same time is scary as the car shakes.
6. Only scared myself once as the angle of the mirror made me thing that the car behind me was to the side of me.

Big Sur






It was a dream to drive along Highway 1 through Big Sur in California and one that I have now completed. Words cannot do the view justice surfice to say that the scenary was fantastic, the roads were twisty, windy with hairpins, sweeping corners and tight turns and the rental car was a brick. Oh for either my car or at least a clutch pedal.

Santa Barbara




If you had to design a tourist resort from scratch then you would probably end up with Santa Barbara. I was not going to come here but wanted to go somewhere out of LA were I could rent a car so ended up in Santa Barbara. It has palm tree lined esplanade running along the sea front mirroring the mountains in the background, all of the buildings are white walled with a red tiled roof (Spanish style), it has beautiful beach with a cold Pacific Ocean sending good sized waves up the beach. There were a number of good restaurants including a fish one that is to die for. In fact Santa Barbara was everything that LA was not and it was no surprise that a large number of the celebrities forsake LA for Santa Barbara. It should be noted that there was an earthquake in 1925 and they did plan it from scratch.

Amtrak

Travelling by train in the US over long distance is a bit like travelling by plane in that you have to check in you luggage and they load it for you. So I would like to publically thank the guard who threw the suitcase across the room to the carousel and thus damaged the wireless Internet connector. The laptop was in my bag but the connector was not. She asked if there was anything valuable in there - not anything fragile!!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Mad dogs and Englishmen

I wanted to go the La Brea tar pit museum (and very interesting it was to) but a touch inaccessible. I took the Metro to the nearest point and then pounded the sidewalk for the two miles to the museum. After having a good look around I walked back but as I was walking down Wiltshire there was little shade because it runs East/ West. Doing this in 85 degree heat was not the best idea but it did give me a chance to view LA culture up close from a couple of handy coffee shops. 50% of people seem to be working, whilst the other 50% indulge in cafe culture and try looking as glamourous as possible (both men and women). There are a large number of attractive people in LA but thy also seem to know it and act accordingly with little concern or courtesy for those around them, especially sweaty ones like me.

Going to Santa Barbara tomorrow (Wed), hiring a car on Thurs and driving to San Fransisco stopping in Monterrey on Thurs night. At the start of the trip there were three objectives. Don't get arrested, don't test the medical part of my travel insurance and have fun. The driving gives me the biggest chance of the first two so need to take care as my instincts might be backwards. California also has a habit of just leaving large areas of concrete with few markings in lieu of junctions. By leaving from a small town I hope to avoid roads such as the eight lane freeway the tour took yesterday. Going to try and add pictures to previous posts.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

An earthquake




Los Angeles is a beautiful area. The Santa Monica Mountains are gorgeous and provide spectacular views across both the San Fernando Valley and you should be able to see the ocean but for the smog which overlays the area providing a haze that obscures things in the middle distance. I had the opportunity to go to Dodger Stadium and watch a game and I was looking out and admiring the view of the mountains I could see when the smog lifted and there where more mountains behind them and a smudge which might have been more more clouds or mountains but it was tough to tell. The smog is a function of a large amount of exhausts, onshore winds trapping the air against the mountains and warm, stable air.

The morning tour in a number of famous sites. Starting downtown and taking in some building such as Walt Disney Concert Hall and the original area around which Los Angeles started. We then went to Hollywood Bld with the stars in the pavement, some hand and footprints and the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars and held. It had the kind of tacky feel that I associate with Leicester and Times square. This was in contrast with Mulholland Drive with spectacular views of the Hollywood sign and the whole city. From there we went to Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. There were some stylish buildings but when it comes to cars there were some that were gaudy (red and yellow panelled Rolls Royce anyone). We then finished at the Farmer's Market for lunch.

In the afternoon it was Universal Studios which has an excellent tour, although sit on the left if you can. They show off a bit like experiencing an earthquake of an intensity of 8 and some of the sets from famous films such as Jaws. There also some 3D rides and shows which are good any through a fast pace, good planning and a ruthless attitude to others children managed to see most of the things I wanted to.

Le Brea tar pits to start with tomorrow.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Did you wake up this morning?

Prescription Medicine Ads on TV are very funny and go something like this

Did you wake up this morning?

Did you need the loo?

Are you going to die in the future?

Then you might have Condition A.

You might need new prescription strength Wonderdrug

Wonderdrug has been clinically proven to stop all wars, cure all diseases and make you a cup of coffee in the morning

Wonderdrug will not cure you if you have a serious illness


In a quieter voice -

Wonderdrug should not be taken if you are male, female pregnant, have high blood pressure, have low blood pressure, have two legs, have one leg, have parents, eat food on a daily basis.

Wonderdrug can have the following side effects - dribbling, dizziness, tiredness, drowsiness and possibly brain death. Consult a doctor for more information.


You start of feeling you might have the symptoms and end never wanting to see a doctor again.

Frustration



LA is a frustrating place to visit.

It has a Metro system but it does not go anywhere near many of the famous places (The Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive etc.) so I had to bite the bullet and buy a ticket on a tour and whilst I prefer to operate at my own pace I can live with that so I actually get to see things.

An example of this was my trip today to Medieval Times. It is a bit preposterous in that all the serving wenches call you sire and they will sell you a real sword (don't think I would have got it through customs) but the show was really good with excellent horsemanship, fighting choreography and drama. The tension was built nicely with a clearly defined baddie to boo (although not chivalrous) and hero to cheer. The jousting was not quite at full pace and they used tourney lances (designed to break) so the sense that they might get really hurt wasn't there. The frustration was that I could either sit on a bus for about three hours to get there or take Metro, train and taxi combo to get there. Sure it was next to the freeway but the idea you would not come by car did not occur so to see a 2 hour show took from 11am to 7pm. The section I was in were supporting the red and yellow knight who looked like he was dressed in the Spanish flag and was holding the flag of Albania but he was very skilled. There were other things on show such as falconry and dressage skills from lovely Andalusian stallions. Well worth a visit.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

San to LAX

As the train leaves San Diego it goes through an area of hills with some valleys and is quite slow. The area is quite spectacular in a bleak and barren sense. The vegetation is similar to Southern Spain away from the coast, a misture of dwarf trees and xerophytic shrubs, mainly brown with areas of green where there is water under the surface.


It is this type of chapparal vegetation that is causing so many problems in Northern California currently with a number of wildfires. The area has not had fires for along period and any that start are put out. This means a lot of dead material builds up and subsequent fires are worse. A lot of the vegetation requires fire to stimulate regrowth. The area is inacceable and lightly populated so I would change the policy. Let the fires burn and open up a state run insurance people pay into which pay out if there houseis destroyed by a fire.

After this the railway finds the flattest part of the countryside, along the sea front. There are a number of lovely houses and towns in this area as well as some really ugly buildings as well.

After this the train crawls for over 40 minutes through the LA suburbs which are a mixture of attractive, modern areas, morerundown areas, strange looking industrial areas and rivers that are channelised running through high concrete banks (picture the car race in Grease or thelorry/motorcycle chase in Terminator)

Thank you for the supportive emails. To claeify an experience shared is an experienced doubled as you then have a common point of reference from which stories or jokes can spawn.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

San Diego




San Diego is worth a couple of days of your time especially if you have children an a car. Some of the attractions such as SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo are world famous but I did not go to them as the most of the animals I have seen before although the SeaWorld shows are pretty spectacular. It was not a good use of the time that was available and both are tricky to get there from the San Diego Trolley (Tram). Instead I spend some time at the Marine Time Museum which has four lovely ships including the Star of India and a replica of HMS Splendid (used in the film of Master_and_Commander with Russel Crowe). I also went to the area called Old Town where the original settlement of San Diego was which has some reconstructed buildings that are from the appropriate era and apart from a bit of over-commercialisation was fine to sit in the shade (80 degrees, blue skies, nice breeze, not to humid) to read. The most disappointing area was the Gaslight Quarter which had some nice buildings from the Victorian Period and is well lit by the eponymous Gaslights but there are no information boards, visitor centre etc. and is choked with traffic.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Stay-cations

The rising price of fuel seems to have had a number of effects but the one I like the best is the idea of a Staycation. Stay at home but go out and visit local attractions, museums and galleries. Save money but do things that you won't not normally do. A good idea and a new word all in one go.

Not the best day

Not all of a holiday can be great and today was not a great day. I don't mind travelling alone and don't feel lonely but today reminded that it is always best with someone to share the experience with. Part of keeping a blog is to remind me of what I have done and also to share some of the experience. It is always sad to say goodbye to someone that you might not see for a long time. It is also sad to say goodbye to someone who I can beat so convincingly at cribbage. The 2 point victory was just a small measure of the dominance that I enjoyed as I scored a number of crushing victories all by huge points scores. It was also was a travel day which means a lot of hanging around. San Diego looks good but I am staying about 20 mins South in a place called Chula Vista which should have nice views of the sea but instead has views of the Highway. The hotel looks like one that women go to in films when they and the children are leaving abusive husbands although inside the rooms seem alright. The major downside is the speed of the Internet which at 5mbps is slower than dial up. I also had a lasagne that was basically a huge tomato and my aversion to that fruit is well known. Not the best day but lots of exploring to do tomorrow.

More airport things

1. Feel sorry for the Army Officer in the airport. It must be a rule that they travel in uniform as there are lots around. This officer was very smartly dressed with lots of bits of metal all over his uniform and maybe in him as well. Try as he might, he just did not seem to be able to take off enough clothes to stop the metal detector beeping.

2. Why at point of landing can you make phone calls but not listen to an Ipod - and should I be worried that a music player can affect the navigational features of an aeroplane.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Olympics

Unintentionally I appear to be visiting the sites of previous Olympics. So far I have been to Olympia in Greece (776 BC), London (1908,1948), Paris (1900, 1924), St Louis (1904), Amsterdam (1928), Berlin (1936) and Barcelona (1992). I also aim to be in Los Angeles which was 1984. The Olympics in St Louis was part of the much larger World Fair which was held in 1904 and I thought that these were unique events that were held rarely but there seems to be a large number of them (full list here).

The world fair covered a huge area with over 1500 buildings as different countries tried to show off their new inventions and also trying to avoid getting invaded or taken over. Even the British Army was allowed in to show off their drill skills with a Trooping of the Colour each day. My favourite story comes from the Olympic marathon competition.

First to arrive was Frederick Lorz who actually was trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes after he was forced to drop out of the race after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony.

Thomas Hicks was the first to cross the finish-line legally after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy. He was supported by his trainers and when he crossed the finish but this was allowed to stand. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and might have died had he not been treated by several doctors.

Felix Carbajal stopped off in an orchard to have a snack on some apples which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to take a nap but despite becoming ill from the apples he finished in fourth place.


The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics who were two Tswana tribesmen named Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani. They weren't there to compete in the Olympics but in a sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit. Len Taunyane finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth but this was considered a disappointment as many people were sure Len Taunyane could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by ferocious dogs.

Just had the remnants of Hurricane Dolly sweep through St Louis washing out an outdoor concert we were going to go to.

St Louis




With a lot of the other places that I have visited I have stayed roughly in the centre of the city and have only really left it to get to and from the airport. With St Louis and access to a car ( Thank you Sarah) we have stayed at the edge and consequently I have seem more of the suburbs and outer areas of the city. St Louis I think it is fair to say is an untidy city. It has no real central area as it has sprung up along the river front with many little centres where bridges were built and also along the railway lines. I don't feel that it has been helped by the planning laws as the city seems to sprawl, with a lots of unused space in the city and areas that have been left boarded up or derelict while new buildings have been built towards the outside. In areas I have just started to see areas of gentrification starting where older areas are either redeveloped or renewed and then sold off. In the UK as space is at a premium so 40% of all new building must be on brownfield (or previously used land) and therefore rundown areas are reused more swiftly but at the premium of costing more. On a car journey last night after having been to see My One and Only at the Muny, we found ourselves getting deeper into one of these more rundown areas and the prickles on the back of the neck started to rise (it was the maps fault as it said that was the way to the Interstate) but all was well.

Here be dragons

Lady: So are you from out of town
Sarah: Its kind of complicated but I live down by Cape Giradeau and he (me) is from overseas
Lady: Are you from Iraq
Me: No, England it is a bit more civilised.
Lady: You're lucky
(Lots of attempts not to die laughing)

In fairness I think she thought I was in the military and posted overseas but it still gave both of us a good belly laugh

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Airport Drama

The flight from Boston to Philadelphia took off 30 mins late which was an issue as the connection to St Louis was due to take off 32 mins after the original landing time. We arrived at the airport in Philly 10 mins early which meant that 1 had 12 mins. The stewardess asked that me and this other guy get off first but when we landed a load of people stood up and blocked the aisle, one even commenting on my rudeness at pushing passed her!! We then had to run from one end of Terminal B to the far end of Terminal C. As we were doing this it looked like I was chasing this other guy and he got stopped by the Police briefly which would have been funny in other circumstances. We eventually made it to the loading point just as they were letting the stand by passengers on and the look on this women's face when she found out that she would be on the flight as I had arrived was one of sheer frustration. As we were getting off we were given alternative flight plans had we missed the flight which would have taken me to Charlotte, North Carolina, arriving around 11pm. More from St Louis soon...

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Boston






Picture the scene. I am lying on my back with my knees in the air so that the transmitter on the keyboard is facing the unmovable receiver using possible the most useless TV Internet service (there are no scroll bars so I can't move from what I can see) and it is under these conditions I will try and describe Boston. I think that Boston is my favourite US city so far. It feels vaguely European with a hotpotch street arrangement and variety of architecture. It celebrates its history and unlike Philadelphia has the actual buildings to show for it. The number of universities in the area is huge with at east 4 (Harvard, MIT, Boston College and Boston College and Boston University) and that gives the area the same feeling as Cambridge. It should be noted that Harvard and MIT are actually in Cambridge , Massachusetts). It is also a huge walking city with lots of trails to wander through the backstreets and that separates it from other US cities. Today I did the tourist tour and went to see the historic sites in Lexington and Concord where the noble and gallant Colonial oppressed threw off the evil yoke of the British or an ungrateful group of settlers where unwilling to contribute to helping settle debts run up to protect them from the villainous French and Indian attacks in the 7 years war. I suppose it is a matter of opinion. One mans freedom fighter is another mans rabble rouser. Getting to the bottom of the page so will have to start a new post.

Strange things

1. Lots of places in New England are named after English places (Boston, New York, Washington (only kidding with that one)) but sometimes it is the strange ones for instance Braintree, Woburn, Chelsea, Malden, Reading and Billerica (no y).

2. Rubbish sense of direction returned

3. Major plane story when I am on or about to be on a flight.

4. TV's in lifts (elevators)

5. Irish pubs get everywhere.

6. Fried Dough (not doughnuts)

7. At Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox (Chelsea) are leading but the New York Yankees (Manchester United) are mounting a comeback. They have loaded the bases, the count is full, the pitcher must throw over the plate so the man in front of me decides its food time. Watch the game!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

It is the holidays

Well after 700 exam papers, the loss of two relatives on the same day, remortgaging the house, an seemingly endless term and some emergency welding on the car to get it through tis MOT its the holidays and time to kick back, chill out and not worry as there is nothing stressful happening until Sept 1st except for the Great American Adventure Part 2 starting on Friday so time to clean the house, work out the clothing situtation, organise the holiday reading, pack the bag and get to the airport. Plus with Aaron and Clare leaving on their round the trip a few goodbyes need to be said.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The blog has not been abandoned but it is marking season and thus I am incredibly busy. I started with 780 to mark and am now down to 240 to go. A friend recommend these clips and I think that you will agree they are rather amusing.


Cat man do



TV Dinner



and Let me In

Monday, 30 June 2008

Swearing

In one exam paper the question asked you to describe the room that you are in. The examiner is looking for number and quality of descriptive words used as well as the SPAG (spelling, grammar and punctuation). When a student wrote f*** off as an answer he didn't score many marks but did get 2 out of 27 for accurate spelling and ensuring that words are in the correct order. Suffice 2 out of 27 will not get you a pass.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Mess

Today I had two new electric sockets fitted. I know that this involves removing plaster but have they had a mess. I mean there is plaster and dust everywhere. I am not sure they could have made it dirtier if they had tried.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Next Great Summer Adveture

Leave Norwich on the 25th of July stopping in Boston and St Louis before spending around two weeks in sunny California before heading back via Chicago and Boston before arriving back in Norwich on the 21st August in time for the A Level results day. All that stands between me and that is a vast pile of exam papers which need to be marked so from the 2nd July to the 24th I am going to be using every minute trying to get the papers marked.

Observation

In each school year a teacher can have up to three observations which can be graded either unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good or outstanding. In my teaching career I have had every type of good, good with outstanding features, good with both satisfactory and outstanding features, outstanding with some good features but in the two observations I have had in the last week were just outstanding. No caveats, no extras, nothing that can be improved, just outstanding. I am pleased.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Education Policy

The government has threatened to close over 600 schools , give them new names, more funding and specialist expertise in an attempt to improve the GCSE pass rate. The schools to close are those with less than 30% A*-G. This does not affect me directly but feel it is harsh in a number of areas.

1. Some of the schools are in areas that stream children such as Buckinghamshire and Kent. Of course you are going to get low results if at the age of 12 you cream off any students that show any academic spark and but them in a separate school. Schools in this category should be considered as a whole. Fine have Aylesbury Grammar but how do they help Mandeville Secondary (which is on the list)

2. Schools such as Oriel High are on the list. This is a school that specialises in children with Special Education Needs. If you look at the link you will see that it has over 52% of the students had SEN. Amazingly having a lot of students with SEN does not allow them to reach the target.

3. Schools in central Birmingham where there is a high number of students with English as a second language are judge to the same standard with those where it is less of an issue (Norfolk)

4 Turning schools into academies, separate to any outside control, would allow the school to set it its own terms and conditions for their staff. Too high and all the other local schools will suffer as the best staff leave (shifting the problem) or too low and everyone leaves. There are also fears over curriculum, if you take money from an organisation do they have a say on what is taught (creationism, intelligent design, evolution/ or what about schools designed to supply call centres with staff). There is some evidence that academies having different rules for aceepting and excluding students. Oh and exam results are no better.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Busy week

What looked like it should have been a quiet week became very busy but was productive none the less. I have been planning the next great adventure in the summer, planning a number of school trips, writing reports and planning a last minute observation, which went really well. Theoritically this week should be a quiet week but I have a feeling things will make it busy.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

The end of an era

Today is the end of an era with Lawrence Dallaglio playing his last game of rugby today. Lawrence broke into the England team ion 1995 just after I started watching and was in the forefront of the game going from amateur to professional. This change has seen an vast improvement in the skills and fitness of the players and helped the game become more watchable and increase its popularity. He was the only player to play every minute of the 2003 World Cup win by England and was one of the best back row trios England have ever had with Neil Back and Richard Hill. In his career he has won all he is capable (85 caps for England, 3 Lions Tours, World, Cup, European Cup, 6 Nations Grand Slam, English League and English Cup whilst staying loyal to one club (London Wasps). Today he goes for one last league title against Leicester Tigers and I hope he gets it. I include a video of him scoring one of my favourite tries with the Welsh powerless to resist.

Friday, 30 May 2008

On Tues day I took my glasses to the optician as a weld had gone apart. They ordered a new pairs of frames and told me to come back on Thursday. At the same time I booked a check with the contact lens specialist for Thursday. The assistant commented that I could do both at the same time. I returned on Thursday, picked up my glasses but found that the appointment is next Thursday. Yesterday evening I took out my lenses and found that they had put the wrong lens in the wrong side so I couldn't see anything. Today I returned to the optician for the third time this week and asked them to swap the lenses over. Unfortunately they had a real struggle to get the lenses in and had damaged the screw so it took about 45 minutes. Odd how a straight forward job has escalated into four separate visits.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Not a great day

Today I have combined three of the activities that I hate the most to get them all out of the way in one go.

1. Car servicing and the quote that will tell me how much it cost to get the car through the MOT for another year or whether it is time to part exchange. It could almost nothing it could be expensive. The uncertainty hovers over me all day.
2. Sorting out a new mortgage as the old ones comes to the end of the 3 year introductory offer. I can't thing of many things worse that going through your finances in detail with a stranger
3 Watch shopping. I need a watch with a big face, good looking, analogue, relatively cheap as it is for day to day wear, that shows the data and has a long strap as I have inherited the trait of not having a wrist. They are almost impossible to find and takes forever in jewellers or department stores that are crowded with people. Grrrrr