Friday, June 29, 2007

School's Out!

Here I sit in front of my computer on the first day of summer vacation. School is finally out, all exams corrected, all marks dumped into the system and all students passing. My job is done. Being a teacher is not always an easy way to make a living. (Yeah I know we have summer vacation off) My students today live in a much more complex world than when I was a kid. The pressures they endure are sometimes mind boggling, broken families, peer pressures, an over organized lifestyle, parental pressure, and all the advertising materialism. I'm sometimes surprised that more of them don't burn out. As teachers, we often have to be more of a counsellor, an attentive listener than a simple dispenser of knowledge. We have to be able to get to the bottom of things, get help for those who need it and discipline those who won't listen or follow the rules. We also have to deal with uncooperative parents (in the minority thank god) who protect and sanction their child's misbehavior. (In French we call them "les enfants roi" or royal children) We also organize trips, activities, committees, clubs and many other things, often on our own time. We often have to do this with less and less resources and despite interference from bureaucrats and paper pushers who are completely disconnected from the educational world.
So why do I keep doing this after 3o years? Well as Ian's blog said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” Horace Mann.
I guess teaching is my small victory for humanity, a way of maybe making the world a teeny bit better, of maybe helping a student become what he or she wants to be in an ever more complex world.
Last week out first cohort, had their graduation ceremony. They were the first and I remember them as being little munchkins with school bags bigger than they were. Now they are handsome and beautiful men and women, off to college and the rest of their lives. In their hugs, tears and thanks lies my motivation for the job that I do. They are our small victory for mankind.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What you see isn't what you get.

I came across this site on illusions while browsing. It gives interesting explanations about the different types of illusions and why our minds/eyes see what they do. Have fun.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Siblings

This week both my sisters, Artsis and Jazz celebrate their birthdays. (The month of October seems to have been a busy one for my parents) For those of you who don't like mushiness, please go away cuz I'm going to sing the praises of my two little sisters.
I have been extremely lucky to have the family that I do. Our parents were caring and loving people who did all they could to see their children become successful adults. Our home life was harmonious and we always knew that our parents were there for us. Both of my sisters married men that I not only approve of, but that I also call friend. I often hear people going on about family squabbles between members of their family, and I count myself lucky to be in a family where that has never happened. My sisters and their husbands are our best friends as well as being our family and it is always fun to be together.
So let's start with my Artsis, she is two years younger than me and when we were kids we fought like cats and dogs. Having completely different characters did nothing for the peace of our relationship or for the patience of our parents. It took me until adulthood to really appreciate her intelligence, charm and iron will. Of the three of us, I think she is the one who most resembles our mother. Soft spoken, always polite and caring, she none the less has a will of iron. She has the knack of making people see her point of view without rubbing the person's nose in it. (She must have had a lot of practice with me when we were young.) She gets things done without fanfare and hoopla, but she always gets them done. She is an exceptional artist and we are the proud owners of a collection of many of her paintings and I hope to collect a quite a few more. (see her latest paintings)
My little sister Jazz has always been the bohemian of the family. She is younger than me by seven years, so she kind of became a mascot. I must admit, being a guy and seven years older than her, I wasn't always the nicest person, but in my defense, teenaged guys rarely are. After all I had to toughen her up didn't I? I obviously did a good job because she really turned out to be a beautiful, funny, articulate woman, with a wicked sense of humour. She knows exactly what she wants and she is, as we say in French, "bien dans sa peau." My wonderful daughter greatly resembles her and I'm glad that is so, because she can't go far wrong in being like her aunt.
So here's to you, my siblings, may the coming year grant you whatever your heart desires and may all your hopes and aspirations become reality. :o)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Big Brother Revealed

This weekend was the family celebration of my darling mom's 80th birthday. The whole family trooped over to my artistsister's place in Québec and had a great old time. It's not everyday that one's mom gets to be 80, and yes, she's still going strong as feisty as ever, all five feet of her. ;o)
During the party my lil' sister Jazz begged me on bent knees to take our picture together, so being the generous Big Brother that I am, I got out my trusty digital camera and took a picture of us. (It is totally true that despite the fact that she is a modern woman, Jazz is still living in the first half of the 20th century. I'm surprised that she has electricity at her place.) So if you have been intrigued by what we might possibly look like, go to Jazz's blog and there we are. (I would have published it myself, but she absolutely wanted to be the one to reveal our anonymous selves, and being a good Big Brother I let her have the honours.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ah Paris

Not Paris the city, but Paris the rich whinny blond brat. American justice just is not what it used to be. Paris Hilton, who was supposed to serve 23 days in prison for having ignored a judge's ruling about her driving her vehicle, was released yesterday. (She was banned from driving because of her DUI, but decided to drive anyhow since obviously that shouldn't apply to her.) Last weekend she reported to the slammer only to be released yesterday morning for medical reasons (she probably had a hissy fit and went all hysterical). The poor child will be confined to her million dollar mansion for 40 days instead, unless she does like the last time. She is quoted to have said, hours after leaving jail, "I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes." What ordeal? Has she ever learned anything from her mistakes? This girl seems seriously disconnected from reality as we know it. Is it the peroxide?
Anyhow it now seems that the L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has demanded a hearing before Judge Michael Sauer. They want to know why the Sheriff's Department permitted Paris to be released from jail when the judge had ordered her to serve her entire sentence. Maybe the poor little rich girl will have to finally serve her sentence. Hopefully justice will prevail, and she'll go back to the slammer with an additional time for contempt.
As for the icing on the cake, it seems that she might be paid 1 million $ for the story of her "ordeal"* and another million for her interview.
Is it me or is there something strange out there. Sometimes I wonder if we already are in... (insert music here)... Twilight Zone and we just don't know it.

*Beware, heavy sarcasm here!

*** LATE BREAKING NEWS... Judge Sauer has put her back in prison, so she can finish off her sentence. I'm amazed, I really am and I tip my hat to the judge who had the guts to finally stop her charade and make her do the time. My faith in the American justice system has gone up a notch. When she left the courtroom she was crying and yelled "It's not right." She then called for her mommy. My heart really does. hehehe.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It was all a hoax but be a donor anyhow.

Jazz has let me know that the infamous reality show "Big Donor" was a hoax. Certainly it was in very bad taste, but in a strange perverted way they did draw attention to the fact that donors are in short supply. As strange as it may seem, people are still hesitant at giving up the parts that they no longer need. Hey, when your dead, you're dead and you no longer need kidneys, eyes, heart, lungs, liver and anything else that may be useful.
I have had my little signed card in my wallet for years saying that they can take anything they want from my dead carcass if it can help someone. It's not as if I was going to miss it. I've also told my family that that is what I want. (Mind you being dead doesn't really give me much of a say and since I don't believe in an afterlife it's rather hard to come back and haunt them.)
So people if you haven't yet done it, sign a donor consent card (in Québec there is a sticker to sign and stick on the back of your medicare card) and tell your family that you wish to help someone after you're gone.
Here are some sites for different parts of Canada.
British Columbia,
Government of Canada site (contains the telephone numbers to become a donor for each province)