Sunday, May 25

Istanbul in Brief

I realize I never wrote about our trip to Istanbul. As assistant softball coach I went with the team for the tournament. We won 2nd place.

The Team

Istanbul seems like a great city to visit. I don't think I could live there though. It's 98% Muslim. This has it's benefits, very little smoking, beautiful mosques throughout the city.

Blue Mosque

And they have a light rail system that looked great.

However, in general women are still in second place there and alcohol is expensive. But we only got 3 hours in the city before we headed out to the school, which is an hour outside the city. Their teachers either live in the city, thus commuting 2 hours a day! Or 15 minutes from the school in the middle of nowhere.

Heading to the field

Also, I am apparently incredibly allergic to it. On Saturday, after taking 3 Claritin in 4 hours, I thought to myself "Can one overdose on this?" After a day on the fields here's what my eyes looked like:

44/365 (self-portrait in a mirror)

As I've already mentioned, the behavior of our students was amazing. Even when getting shut down by the team from Prague, they handled it with grace. As a side note, based on the behavior of the Prague team and coach, I never want to teach there.

Here's my favorite shot. Our amazing short stop:


"Extra" Time

Since the seniors are all done with their IB exams, that means they're all done with school. Thus, every other day, I have one more prep period. In theory, I should be using this time to get ready for next year, where I'll be teaching the much harder part of the higher level syllabus. Including integration to find the volume of surfaces made by revolution as well as differential equations and advanced sequence and series type stuff. Formulas named after people, McLaurin, L'Hopital, etc. I know I knew their names once long ago but it is going to take some serious brushing up.

Have I been using my prep to do that though? No, of course not. I have spent some of the time writing new exams for my grade 11s since at this point I have no idea what they've seen and what they haven't. I've graded some tests and thought about the best way to teach completing the square to my grade 10s. Does anyone remember doing this? I used to love it and loved teaching it, but mostly as I'm excitedly bouncing around the room my students just look at me as though I was crazy. Which is probably true.

However, most of the time has been spent reading blogs. And I thought those people should get some acknowledgment, so here you go. There are my friends from the bay area, they're being all crafty and shit, making wedding dresses and funky baby blankets, there's one who's about to add a new addition to the family. Then there are my other friends to catch up on, my cooking friends and of course the constant stream of amusing tales from The Prettiest Denny's Waitress. Occasionally I'll go and check out the ex-boyfriend's blog as well.

What I notice most of all is that all the witty posts that I come up with in my head, never actually end up online. Once I'm actually in front of the computer, what tends to come out is stream-of-conscious dribble. A lot like when you talk to me in person. It's only in my head that I can form organized, amusing thoughts. Hell, who am I kidding? Even in my head my thoughts jump around, "jump, up jump up and get down."

Friday, May 23

In a funk

It's been grey and rainy all week. I wish that I was at home on my couch reading my book club book - The Devil in the White City. Normally we read fiction, but this is historical non-fiction. It follows two stories, the creation of the Chicago World Fair and a serial killer who was preying on young women who had just discovered independence. I'm really enjoying it and learning a lot. For instance, the Ferris Wheel was created to out-Eiffel Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris World Fair), Cracker Jacks were invented and sold as a fair snack and on Dedication day someone in the department of education thought it would be great if every child in America recited a pledge at the same time...

I masochistically keep looking at job postings for other schools. There's a United World College school in northern Norway still looking for an IB maths teacher. I did my IB training at the UWC in America. They're all small 2 year boarding schools; all students are there on scholarship; there are usually around 200 students from 80 countries - good bye racial cliques! There are 10 around the world all with the focus of helping the world through global education. The one in Norway is on a fjord. I could hike or snow shoe every day. I hope who ever they hire is temporary and that I can convince them of how perfect I'd be for the 2009 and on school years.

Sunday, May 18

2nd Place

I'm back. I took tons of photos, of course. I'm so proud of the boys. So proud. They showed amazing sportsmanship throughout, had great attitudes and reminded me that there is still good amongst AAS students.

More tomorrow, I'm sleepy.

Wednesday, May 14


I'm leaving the cold and hail behind for Istanbul in the morning! Woo hoo!

Saturday, May 10

Luzhniki Bridge

Luzhniki Bridge
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

I really like this picture.

Ups and Downs

This past week has had many ups and downs. Mushroom picking was great. I came home with a basket of false morels and made another delicious stroganoff:


It was a short week, but full of long days. I had softball two of the days and stayed to invigilate an IB exam until 6:30. On Wednesday, I had the terrible news that more of the students in my higher level class were part of the cheating that occurred when the substitute was there. In the end, the majority of the class will probably end up suspended. Future exams were taken and copied - on the photocopier no less - and distributed to most of the class. As these were the students that I had put the must blind trust in, I'm feeling especially betrayed.

However, there has been plenty of distraction on my two days off to help take my mind off of them. I went for a really long walk across the city to pick up my summer plane tickets. Into Bangkok July 1st, flying out August 8th. Perhaps a trip to Bali, Cambodia, Loas and Vietnam mixed in there.

Yesterday, May 9th, is celebrated as Victory Day, the day the Germans capitulated to the Allied Forces. Russia lost more troops than any other country, half of the total number of casualties, including those who died in the concentration camps. Moscow is home to the largest Victory Day celebrations across Europe.

I started the day with some friends. We headed out early to try and see the tanks parading down Tverskaya. We just missed them, but stuck around long enough to see them on their return. It was awe inspiring and simultaneously terrifying.

First marching soldiers (there were soldiers and police everywhere!)
Boy Soldiers

Then there was an air show:
4 Planes

Color Play

Finally the tank parade. These could have spelled disaster to any number of US cities during the cold war:

So many young men (boys) out marching or driving tanks:

And so much of my favorite, air pollution:

Following the show, I went down to Victory Park with my friend Nat. She brought carnations to give to Veterans. The whole experience there was a mixture of somber and moving to wholly inappropriate. Seeing the veterans, all quite old, or the widows walking around with their medals and arms full of flowers was incredible. But you're having to look past all the wig, angel wings and cotton candy stands.

We walked from Victory Park back to Kievskaya where we got on a boat to that my school arranged so that we could watch the fireworks from the Moscow River. That was great too. It's been a long time since I've seen fireworks. Gorgeous.

Sunday, May 4


I woke up about 10 times last night because I kept smelling smoke. No, the building is not on fire, that's just the air in Moscow. So when I think about staying a third year, someone please remind me that this is one of the reasons NOT to.

But then again, today I'm going outside of Moscow to a forest to go mushroom picking for morels. Maybe this afternoon I'll have a reminder of why I should stay a third year...

Friday, May 2


Our security coordinator just brought me my camera. Now my pictures of the day can continue uninterrupted. Oh, so excited. All my classes are done for today, I'll swim this afternoon, Cinco de Mayo party at the US Embassy tonight, softball game verses the staff this afternoon, and my advisory is selling popcorn for charity during the intermission of the HS play this weekend. It's busy, but it's all good!

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

Dumb, dumb. Argh. I had a really terrible day Wednesday. One of my students was suspended because I figured out that he cheated on his exam. Not only did he cheat, but it was so obvious that was annoying too. He didn't even have the smarts to make his answers look different from the key - that he'd taken when I had a sub and made a copy of.

So I was in a bad mood. Not angry, but so hurt and upset because this puts him on the border of expulsion. And really he's a good kid, he just feels like he's under so much pressure to succeed that he'll do anything.

Anyway, all this is in my brain as I leave at the end of the day to head to softball practice. I just had to pick up some copies off the printer in the staff lounge to submit to our copy room. So I set down my sweater and digital camera, and go submit my copies. Then I go to practice... without the sweater and camera. I actually realized in the locker room that I didn't have my sweater, but didn't go back for it, because it's so warm out. I assumed I'd had the smarts to put my camera in my bag. But no, I finally look for the camera when I get home to take the picture of the day and it's not there. So of course, yesterday when I went to look for it, the sweater is there, the camera is not. SO DUMB! Oh, so angry with myself.