Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night. »

Merry Christmas to everybody. May you all have a peaceful, lovely Christmas with those you love.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life of a teacher

Sometimes it isn't easy teaching but many times it is very satisfying. I could always pass up the paperwork and the endless meetings but what keeps me going are the kids.
Often adolescents are said to be lazy and will amount to nothing, yet each year they amaze me with their work and creativity. My students are in Secondary 2, the equivalent of grade 8, so they are 13-14 years old. They are on the cusp of becoming adults balanced between childhood and adulthood and they go back and forth between the two. It is a remarkable age because you can see the child that they are and at the same time, the adults they will become. Their enthusiasm for new things is a wonder to see and when properly focused they can really do great things.
We have just finished the Christmas Project where they researched different countries, their Christmas traditions, songs, food etc. They were presenting all this week and their work was excellent considering that it was all done in their second language. They also had to bake Christmas cookies from their country to give to their fellow students after the presentation. Let me tell you that the cookies were good and I'll have to do some extra exercising to get rid of the calories.
Some of my former students have gone on to do great things. There is one studying in the Université d'Ottawa and is presently working as a page in the House of Commons (the equivalent of Congress for our American cousins), another is studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. We have some studying in medicine, science, law and education. One is presently doing an internship as an radio host on local radio. Needless to say that I am proud of them all. :o)
I am a lucky guy. I have a wonderful family that I adore and a job that I love. What more can you ask for in life?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weird Canada III

I haven’t blogged in a while, well make that a long while. All blogged out I guess, no inspiration and when I get home from a day of teaching, there are always odd jobs to do such as correcting and preparing classes. When I finally finish I just haven’t got the energy to think up something original to write about. Anyhow here is some weirdness about the Great White North that I picked up in the last edition of the Bathroom Reader, just to prove that we are not any less wacky than the rest of the world.


Outside Samia, Ontario, in June 2010, a driver flagged down a police officer on Highway 402 to warn him of a semi truck meandering all over the road. The officer caught up to the truck and pulled it over. The driver's explanation for his erratic driving: He was attempting to pull out one of his teeth. No longer able to deal with a toothache, he tied one end of a piece of string to the bad tooth and the other to the roof of his cab. "One good bump" and it would come right out, he told the officer. As it turned out, he was right‑the officer could tell by the bloody tooth on a string sitting on the seat.


In Japan, Wagyu cattle are fed beer and massaged with sake each day. The result is the richly flavored and expensive (more than $100 a pound) Kobe beef Seeking to create his own specialty beef market, Bill Freding of Southem Plus Feedlots in Oliver, B.C., has developed his own booze‑based method: wine‑fed cows. Like the cattle at other high‑volume beef producers, Freding's cattle eat a diet of primarily grain. But they also drink a liter of wine every day for 90 days prior to slaughter. The red wine is from wineries in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, and Freding claims the beef tastes "sweeter."


Wildlife officials in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, had to put down a moose in 2009, after someone reported the animal collapsing from exhaustion in their backyard. Witnesses reported seeing three teenage boys chasing the moose for hours and hitting it with sticks The teens were quickly caught, brought up on animal cruelty charges ... and acquitted. Why? One of the boys' fathers testified that they couldn't have been abusing the moose, because at the time they were busy vandalizing a local church.


For Valentine's Day 2010, the Toronto restaurant Mildred's Temple Kitchen pulled out all the stops for romantic diners‑serving intimate meals for two ... and openly encouraging couples to "couple" in the restrooms. A handful of concerned citizens reported the Mildred's promotion to the Toronto Public Health office. The agency investigated and found nothing wrong with the idea, as long as frisky patrons stayed out of food‑preparation areas.


In June 2010, Marika De Florio's five‑year‑old neighbor was driving her crazy, riding his battery‑powered four‑wheeler past her Seeley Bay, Ontario, house over and over again all afternoon. She asked the boy's grandparents several times to keep it down, but to no avail. So De Florio went outside and, in full view of the boy, took off her shirt. That, she reasoned, would convince the boy's grandparents to bring him inside. Indeed, Mike and Nancy Berry quickly hustled their grandson inside and then called the police on De Florio. No charges were pressed, however‑it's legal in Seeley Bay for women to be topless in public.


Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse of the University of Montreal's social work department began a project in December 2009 investigating how pornography affects the way men view and relate to women. Part of that research required a "control group" for comparison, so Lajeunesse advertised around Montreal to recruit 20 young men who did not view pornography. He received zero responses.


In the 1910s, Toronto police had full authority over movies, including the right to ban films they considered offensive. The criteria: Any movie that showed a pro‑America attitude, murder, or an extramarital romance could be banned. Any movie. In 1911, an inspector reported, "I witnessed a moving picture show of Hamlet, written I think by Shakespeare. That's all very well to say it's a famous drama, but it doesn't keep it from being a spectacle of violence." A few weeks later, the same inspector banned a film version of Romeo and Juliet.