Saturday, December 19

Shabu Shabu!

I was invited over to a parent's house this evening. She's Japanese, he's American, I've taught their son for 3 years now and tonight I was invited over for dinner. The son should have been on his way to America. However, due to the snow storm hitting the NE, he was there as well. No matter.

It was a wonderful meal of shabu shabu (meat cooked in boiling broth), then with the left over broth rice and egg was added to make a porridge (sounds better than gruel and way more delicious than gruel sounds also, want not, waste not, right?) all with sake, lots and lots of sake. Then we adjourned to the couch and the student adjourned upstairs and the evening continued with wine. It was great. Of course, now I'm wondering if I'm going to make my flight.

You see, Delt4 has canceled their direct Moscow-Atlanta flight, so I have to connect through JFK. And as we all know, my luck runs either really hot or (especially when coming from Moscow) really cold with air travel. A and I are supposed to arrive within an hour of each other. I really hope it all works out!

PS - I'm really, really annoyed with 1tunes. All the music I purchased under my old AOL screen name on my Mac Mini won't play on my MacBook. The customer service woman I've been working with for TWO days seems to be useless. Give me the music that I paid for, jerk holes.

Wednesday, December 16

3 more days

Still really, really cold. The windows on the bus have been frozen (from the inside!) for the past 2 nights driving home.

It's seriously f*cking cold.

However, in 3 more days I get to go to my parents for Christmas vacation. Here's what that'll be like:

Christmas in Atlanta

Except that we'll get to insert my friend A! Yep, I've got a friend coming from California for a visit. In talking to my parents recently:

Mom: "Now who's A again? Is he the one that you went to visit Aunt Cathy with in his van?"

Me: "Yep, on our way to Death Valley"

Mom: "Oh, right, the hippie." (I have no idea where she got this from except maybe my Aunt thought we were strange for going to Death Valley to sit in the hot springs in the middle of the summer... note: she was right, it was a bad idea)

Me: "Um, mom, you know I'm a hippie too, right?"

Mom: "I prefer to think of you as 'bohemian'"

Me: [involuntary shudder]

Tuesday, December 15

Minus 24 is cold

I know, I know it seems obvious. But really -10 is managable. However, I've discovered that I can't figure out how to layer to keep my thighs warm when it's below minus 20.

Sunday, December 13

Play Write

Every year for the last assembly of December, there has been a Pantomime in which the teachers perform a mostly improve play where each character is based on a senior. It's always been written by a staff member who left last year.

The Student Council took up the slack... supposedly. However, it's a busy time of year, one student dropped the ball and it didn't get written. However, this is one of my favorite things of the year and I really wanted it to happen. As such, I spent all day writing it.

It's based on A Christmas Carol and I hope it will be funny but not offensive. I'll try to get it recorded.

In other news, it's gotten cold, but not horrendously so. And I've been watching season 5 of Angel obsessively. I like it much better than season 4.

Oh, and I got an A in my class (missed an A+ by 1%). It really does make a difference when you like your classes or are freakishly good at writing papers that you don't really care about.

Tuesday, December 8

Winter Wonderland!

It's finally snowed here. I watched it snow all afternoon and then went and took the first shuttle home. It only took me an hour. The people who left later, it took them from 2 to 6 (SIX) hours! But it's beautiful. This was taken by Nat from our apartment windows today.

Sunday, December 6

Executive Thriller

Executive Thriller
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
Remember when I told you that the Student Council was creating dances to Thriller? Well, I didn't get a video of the final production, but here's a rehearsal. This video is of the executives. Head over to flickr to see the other grades!

More Music

Even though I've yet to write about them, I've been getting out and going to a few concerts recently. On the day before Thanksgiving, 6 of us went to see the Harlem Gospel Choir. I was really hoping for a few hours of gospel, but the fine print was that it was gospel plus a MJ tribute. Now, I really like MJ songs, but a gospel choir has no business singing "The kid is not my son!" At least they didn't do any crotch grabbing.

Our favorite part: "When I say Jesus, you say Christ."
Choir: "JESUS"
Bree and I: "Christ"
The rest of the audience: Silence punctuated by crickets.

This past Tuesday (I just want you to note the above was on a Wednesday and then I went out on another week night! Wild and crazy, that's me), was the Moscow Oratory Society's annual concert. They always do a medley of carols and then part of Handel's Messiah. I really enjoy this every year. This year especially as they were in a church and there is really nothing better than a huge cathedral filled by choir music. The only downside was that it's a church in the middle of renovation. As such, the enjoyment of the music was detracted by the smell of paint fumes and the huge outdoor flood lights on the second floor. You can see what I mean in the video:

Monday, November 30

Ludovico Einaudi

I can't stop listening to the music this guy has written. Before today, I hadn't really considered "contemporary classical" as a genre. However, I gave my students a quiz and had my favorite classical radio station on. When I heard this song, I wrote down the artist and title: Einaudi - Two Sunsets. I've been listening to many more on You Tube and tomorrow will buy ever album. I'm addicted. Have a listen:

Saturday, November 28

What is that?

It's already gotten to the point that seeing the sun leads to questions like the above. We've been having 10 days stretches with no sun, but Friday it was out and was bright enough that for about 10 minutes I could have the lights off in my classroom.

No new job prospects, though I've started considering Latin America, tentatively. Better climate than most of W. Europe, you know? Any suggestions, besides me coming back to America? I'm still not ready for that.

And now a reminder of blue skies from this summer at Storm King Art Center:
Land as Art

Saturday, November 21

Crockpot Catastrophe

Tonight was our 3rd annual Thanksgiving potluck. For the 3rd year in a row, I brought stuffing, because there is nothing I love more on Thanksgiving than stuffing. At least I tried to bring stuffing. I made a big ol' crockpot full. And then carried said crockpot over wearing oven mitts because it was hot, dammit. However, oven mitts lack grip. And as I walked in the building entrance, in slow motion, the crockpot fell out of my hands and shattered. Stuffing everywhere.

At least it made the entrance way smell good...

Editted to add: Finding a replacement insert is looking to be far more difficult than I'd anticipated. Meh.

Friday, November 20

Successful StuCo Event #57

I never wanted to be a Student Council adviser. But one was needed last year and my principal asked me if I was interested. So I gave it a whirl. And while I didn't really enjoy it all that much, when this year's executive team was elected, I decided to stick with it another year. And I'm so glad I did.

Earlier I mentioned how they all made up their own 30 second dances to Thriller. The Halloween assembly was awesome and the student body got really into it. This week we had another spirit assembly where the activity was drawing.

Yep, 4 kids per grade level up on stage drawing. Sounds a bit like watching paint dry, right? But nope, they were given Edward Munch's The Scream divided into fourths.

The first person had both hands. The second person only one hand. The third, no hands. The fourth no hands and blind folded. It was hilarious and the crowd was TOTALLY into it.

Tonight, we had our first Homecoming dance. 150 out of 380 kids showed. This is AMAZING. Our record for students attendance was 70. Yep, I love my job.

But just so you know, I still don't feel the need to stay next year.

Tuesday, November 17

Let it snow!

Winter is coming late this year! Mind you, I'm not really complaining, but I'm happier with snow than I am with rain and the snow is finally beginning. Temperatures are still hovering right around freezing, so things are a bit slushy still, but the trees were coated with white this morning as was the football field and it was really just beautiful.

Monday, November 16

One Quarter Done

Grades have been submitted, parent conferences are on Thursday. This is it. One quarter of the school year done. And really, it flew by. I think the next 3 will go by even faster. Pretty excited about that.

Thursday, November 12

That time of year

I've stayed home sick from work twice this week. Was sick most of my time in Houston, especially the last 2 days in which I only laid around on the couches of my friends (thank you and I hope you haven't caught what I have). Pretty sure it's not N1H1, no fever, no aches, just a lingering cough and sniffles.

I'm feeling a bit better this evening, cooked dinner (well, it's cooking as we speak) and I brought home a bunch of grading I could be doing. There's also report cards (written narratives) are due by Monday morning, rough draft of my huge project for my masters class turned into my proofing partner on Sunday, an additional paper for said class by Saturday. But you know how when you have so much to do, that you can't even begin. Yeah, that's where I'm at.

The best part of Houston, well, second best, because the best really was seeing friends and family, but the second best TACO TRUCK! I wish I'd've felt better because I wanted to hit way more than 1, but the one we hit. Hot damn, Gina. It was great. Tender meat grilled to have crispy bits, generous tacos with cilantro, grilled onions and avocado. Yum-o. Although, I've decided I prefer my onion raw. Yeah, baby, I like it raw.

Antwerp, Belgium and Vienna, Austria have added posts for math jobs. There's one in Zagreb, Croatia as well.


Tuesday, November 3


I'm sitting in one of my favorite cafes in Houston (Brasil). Since I was last here, at least 2 years ago, and maybe I didn't even come here then, they've remodeled. Where the bathrooms used to be, they've expanded and added a second outdoor patio. However, the laid back atmosphere remains, as does the free wifi.

I'm writing this on my new MacBook. YAY. I heart it already.

So this is my November break. My plane ticket to Houston was bought early this summer on a Singapore Air sale (direct from Moscow for $650!) back when I thought I'd be having a romantic rendezvous. Well, that part didn't materialize, but I'm here nonetheless. And even though the flight was long (12 hours of long), it's nice to be here.

I spent the last 2 nights with my aunt, uncle and 2 cousins. They're totally little people now and fun to hang out with.

Tonight I'm cooking dinner for AJ and Ashish. It's amazing how quickly routines re-emerge.

I also just got off the phone with an Asheville real estate agent. It seems like now is a good time to invest, so I'm looking into it. I feel like every time I catch a glance of myself in the mirror, I think, "wow, you're becoming a grown up." And, "you need a hair cut."

Yep, and I'm taking care of that on Wednesday, right after lunch with my college roommate RTK! Speaking of grown up, she's now got 2 kids and is teaching at Rice.

Monday, October 26

Supose I must

I keep checking in on the blogs of my friends and am often disappointed when there are no new updates. Likely they've all stopped even looking at mine with the frequency I update!

It's spirit week at school. As such I was dressed in all black today, black being the grade 12 color. Tomorrow is geek day - tight rolled jeans, here I come. Wednesday is pj day, known amongst the teachers as "wear your sweat pants to work day." Now Thursday is the hard part, it's "Hollywood" themed. I have no idea what to wear for that. Friday is Halloween costumes.

My favorite part of Friday is that the student council (StuCo), which I am an adviser for, is doing a dance to Thriller at the beginning. Yes, it was my idea. No, the students weren't really excited at first, but they're getting into it and it's AWESOME. I'm super excited about it anyway.

In the mean time, I've also begun looking at other schools as potential new jobs in earnest. A few months ago I was all ready to move back to the US, but I'm not sure that my itchy feet are ready to settle so I've been looking more at western Europe. Any opinions?

Monday, October 12

In which she is so busy her head explodes

There's a lot I've been doing, work wise, master's wise, head of department wise. None of it very exiting, but while I'm crazy busy, it's not necessarily stressful.

I did make time this weekend to see 2, yes TWO!, films. They were in English and everything. It was part of the American Film Festival here. I saw Trouble the Water and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Trouble the Water is a really well done documentary on those left behind in hurricane Katrina. It could have gone whacked out political but it didn't and as the directors said "the material speaks for itself. We didn't have to add any slant." That's right, the directors were there answering questions. Unfortunately I left that early to see the second one directed by the cute guy from the American version of The Office.

This was based on a collection of shorts by David Foster Wallace (did you know he died? I only learned in the credits). It was ... well, interesting. It wasn't bad, but I'm not certain I enjoyed it either.

So there you have it, work, work, work, zone, work, work, watch Angel (I'm so addicted), work. Oh, I also waxed my legs this weekend. That's right, the fun never stops.

Thursday, September 24

After a summer of posting

I've really slacked off. Bad, Traveling Em, bad.

You'd think that nothings going on or perhaps I'm so depressed about being here I've lost the motivation to write. However, neither are true.

My college buddy Phil and his girlfriend Abby just came out for a visit. It was AWESOME. So nice to get to spend quality time (read, insane amounts of board game playing and eating) with them. And they were the perfect guests. They arrived on a Saturday, stayed until Monday, spent Tues - Fri in St. Pete's and then Fri-Sun back in Moscow. It was grand.

Then last weekend we went camping for Bree's birthday. Man, how I love sleeping outside in the cold.

And now, the seniors have all headed off to Cyprus for Discovery Week, which means I technically have no classes to teach today, but instead loads of time to be productive (please, let me be productive) and today I get to sub for a PE class, which normally would be fun, except the weather has turned cold and rainy, boo. But hey, we've had SUN until now!

Oh and I'm up to twice weekly private ballet classes, um, heaven! And I still love my job. And I'm still in constant debate as to what to do next year. I was all set to move to Asheville and now, well, back to debate mode.

Friday, September 4

The People You Meet

Bree and I took the metro home tonight. We were commenting on the "fashion" of Moscow. Sitting directly across from us was a man who appeared to be mid-thirties. Seemed like his hair was thinning, but that didn't stop it from being bra strap length and tied into a pony tail. He also had a ZZ Top beard, except it was sandy blond. He was wearing an "Aria" t-shirt which is the Russian equivalent of Mega Death. That was topped by a two-tone, tan and black, leather jacket that said "RACING" on the sleeves. Oh, and he was drinking a "Trophy" which seemed akin to Red Bull.

His girl friend had on a long sleeveless black dress. It had metal studs around the arms and could have been goth, except she still had the "tarty female Russian" look that abounds. On her it said, "I desperately want to have my own style, or the style of my boyfriend, but if I stray too far from the image, then I'll be left." Ugh.

So anyway, mid train ride, dude pulls out a leatherman. You know, the 100 tools within a tool - screw drivers, knives, scissors. And I'm thinking, "What the hell is he doing?" Then he leans over and hands it to Bree who'd been picking at a loose thread. It was awesome.

And I remembered to write about it.

Go us.

Less Cranky

Now that the students have returned, I'm reminded why I'm here. That's right, I love my job. And how many people get to say that and mean it?

Tomorrow my good friend Phil and his girlfriend, Abby, arrive. Yes, more visitors to Moscow. The more the merrier!

I'm really excited about this visit. Phil and I were really good friends. It's been years since we've had some quality time. I'm being very martyr like and going all the way to the airport to pick them up (sorry if you've visited me and I didn't do this for you, but they're arriving on a Saturday).

Also, ballet classes will resume next week! Phil's bringing me new leotards and tights, so I'm super excited.

What else? Oh, right, it's been stunning. Indian summer abounds.

Bree and I are trying to maintain a positive attitude to see if it makes a difference in our enjoyment of life here. I'm thinking it will. I'm also thinking I'll be able to maintain the attitude for oh, 2 more weeks, if I'm lucky.

Friday, August 21

Back to the Motherland

Well, I came back to Moscow on Tuesday via an overnight London. It was nice to break up the travel as I was coming from SF, however my bag didn't make it to London. This was a bit of a relief as I didn't want to haul it to the hotel and back the next day. However, they couldn't get it to London in time for my Moscow flight. Now this is where it gets annoying because in ANY other city, the airline would be responsible for delivering the bag to your house. But no, not in Moscow. You have to go to customs and declare your suitcase yourself. Super pain in the ass. Huge. However, it was helpful in getting over the jet lag as I went to get it Wednesday night and the whole process took 3.5 hours. If I had been at home, I'm sure I would have fallen asleep. And being tired, gave me the right level of stubborn cranky determination not to leave the airport without my bag. Bitches.

Oh, and the leaves are already changing and it's only 10 degrees C (50F) here. Fuckity.

Man, apparently I'm still cranky. At least my hair (and pillow and fingernails) is purple.

US Wrap Up

I had an incredible time in SF, seeing many of my friends. I spent the last 4 days with my "cooking" friend, a group that I met through the Cooking Light bulletin board years ago. We've been gathering once a year since 2002(?)! Kayaksoup arrived a day early and we had dinner with Joy! and Nate at Pizzaiolo. She did an amazing dinner write up on here on her blog.

Here's the whole gang. This year we had 2 new awesome additions and were said that a few regulars were unable to join us. I'm not quite sure what was said to crack us up, but there you go:

Something funny

I'm not sure how well you can see it in the picture, but my hair is dyed purple! Yippee, back to funky colors for me.

On this trip, I also discovered that I'm not as much of a hippie as I used to be . I know, the horror. My dear friend Adam took me to Harbin, a hippie mecca for hot tubing nude. And for doing yoga nude. Having random bullshit conspiracy theory conversations ... nude. You get the picture. And while it was quite liberating to swim laps, yes, nude, I really could have used a pants cannon. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, August 4

Snorkeling in Honduras

Snorkeling in Honduras
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

By far the best part of the cruise was visiting Isla de Roatan, Honduras. In the background is a ship wreck, likely from the 1970s, that we snorkeled around. I found us independent tours, this one we were a group of 11 snorkeling and saw no one else the rest of the day for about half the price of a ship tour. If you go on a cruise, do your research people!

PS - After this day even though I'd been wearing 30 spf, I ended up so burned on my shoulders and ass, that's right, I had an ass sun burn. And my poor tattoo. I used to have such a dark complexion, I guess that's what happens when you move to a sunless country.

In Miami

In Miami
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

Well, I'm off the cruise and have been in Miami Beach the past two days with my sister. Here I am drinking a bellini at an awesome pizza place. I found us great pizza, empanadas and an awesome burger all off the main drag (thank god!)

My thoughts on Miami:
Almost everyone walks around without their shirts. I think it's tacky, but I'm getting more and more crumudgony as I get older. Thankfully about 80% of these topless people have six packs so it's nice people watching.

There are a disproportionately large number of Corvette drivers and gay men, they are not the same.

I saw them filming Burn Notice, eeeeeeee!!!!

It's definitely a multi-lingaul place, beyond just Spanish and English.

Overall, it's nice to visit, but I'm happy to be returning to my reality of San Francisco summers where almost everyone will have on not only shirts, but also likely sweaters.

Saturday, July 25

Home again, home again

I'm not quite sure what I refer to as home, besides America really. I've now been here for a week.

I spent the first 3 days in NY state about an hour north of the city with a guy that I'd met online. We had a really great time. However, even though our email conversations are incredible that "thing" that I was hoping for in person, just wasn't there. So back to the drawing board for the whole wanting to be married sometime in my 30s thing. However, the weekend was still fantastic and I wished that we lived in the same city so that we could hang out more.

Our three days were really fun. We met in Newark's aiport and headed to this dive Italian restaurant in a neighborhood that's a bit ghetto (although this is how I'm inturpretting most of Newark to be). Anyway, we had some great spaghetti and meatballs and wine served in water glasses. We asked for red wine and the only question was "You want that chilled or room temperature?" I'd never realized that was even a question...

Then we drove out to our B&B for the weekend, the Alexander Hamilton House. This place was great. Tons of information in narrative form about what to do in the area. We took our host's advice on our first full day and headed out to an incredible outdoor museum, Storm King Art Center. Think of all the cool art of Burning Man without having to be covered in playa dust.



T and I

At the end of our walk we ended up at a pavilion having a piano, violin and cello concert. Perfect.

Then that night we went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Ever since reading about this place on Kayaksoup's blog, I've wanted to try it. Holy fuck was that expensive. You all know me, I'm totally willing to spend money on food and spend it we did. However, I have to say that it was incredible. Truly a once in a life time meal. The restaurant is situated on a working farm. Almost everything your eating from vegetable to animal comes from the farm. We went with the 8 course farmer's feast and wine pairing, because if you're going to do it, then you should go all out, right? The presenations were incredible, service was spot on. Our only complaints was that in one course we couldn't really taste the pancetta due to the overwhelming presence of sesame seeds and that face bacon is a bit disappointing. It's funny now going back to L's blog to see that we had identical starting amuse bouches. Which would mean they've been serving them for over a year.... boring! Below are some of my photos, but her's are better, so go look.

Loved the first presentation:
All lightly salted and perfect.

Zucchini in a die
Slightly disappointing course. But I love that it's a die that's been skewered.

The next day, I woke up stuffed and maybe just a bit hung over. It was a low key day. We started by checking out the Croton Dam. This place is huge.


And while we were there empty. It was lovely to wander around. We saw some berries I'd never seen before (anyone?)

What is it?

After that T induldged me and we went out to a book store so I could get the next book in the series I'm reading (The Liveship Trilogy by Robin Hobb, I'm addicted). And then decided to do a tour of West Point. I'd never have thought of doing this. However, I really enjoyed it. It was pretty and I learned a lot.

Million Dollar View

Marching Cadets

We ended the day with a movie and a new Scrabble game. Darn near close to a perfect day.

And now I'm back in the Heartland with my family. I've been with my parents in Waynseville, Ohio, where their antique store is. My mom induldged me (I'm so spoiled, really) and made stuffed cabbages. Relatively easy, but a pain with all the rolling. However, with the two of us working together it went pretty fast. And was super delicious.

Cast of Characters for Stuffed Cabbage
In my kitchen, those would be Penzey's spices, however, I don't actually have any dried onion or garlic salt. In the past I've used fresh onion, but I think the concentrated flavor in the drying is necessary.

Currently I'm at my cousin's place in Amherst, Ohio. Last night I saw many aunts and uncles, a few cousins and their spouses and a 2 year old second cousin who's got a charming personality. It's great. But I don't want to live here.

The constant question has been, "What will you do after Russia?" All I can answer with is "move." At this moment in time I'm thinking Vancouver, Portland, Asheville, France, Spain or Italy. As always, I won't know until the minute I've decided.

Friday, July 17

Planes (2), Trains (3) and Automobiles (1)

Due to my super advanced planning and then plans being changed, I ended up having to fly from Scotland to Dublin, Dublin to London, taking a train from Gatwick into London Center, the tube to Kings Cross and then a train to Peterborough so that I could catch a bus to Oundle. The worst part about all that was that in trying to get into the tube, the gates closed on my bag while I was pulling it and the handle snapped off. So the rest of the day I was having to drag around my 17 kilo bag with no handle. Terribly annoying.

Nonetheless, after roughly 12 hours of travel I made it to Oundle. "Where?" You say or might say if you could figure out how to pronounce the town's name. It's north and a bit east of London. It's really cute.

OUndle School Great Hall

And that's about it. I was there to learn how to better use a math graphing software in my class. And while I learned how to use the software better, I can't say that I'm really that much more ready to use it while teaching. But my goal is to use it often next year. So we'll see how that goes.

I've also been slogging away at my masters course. Almost done!

And tomorrow I fly to America. I can't even begin to describe my excitement... So I won't.


I was very lucky to get to spend 5 lovely days in Kilcreggan, Scotland with the family C.

Family C

They live directly in front of the Clyde River Estuary surrounded by hills. Though it takes a while to get there by car due to the location of the bridge, a 10 minute ferry ride gets you across the water to the town of Gourok and from there it's a quick connecting by train into Glasgow. I wasn't expecting like Glasgow, but it was lovely!

Glasgow Train Station
Train Station

Willows Tea Room
Willows Tea Room

Glasgow MoMA
Glasgow MoMA
Somehow it was asking to be photographed in black and white.

They also took me out to Loch Fyne. The drive alone was gorgeous, but upon reaching our destination we went to an oyster bar and then a micro-brewery. Hello, perfect day. I was sad to leave, but a conference awaited me.


Ireland, Day 6

Day 6 in Ireland found me solo as Nat left on a 7 a.m. flight for Paris. Rather than exploring the city of Dublin, I instead headed south on the DART to the sea side town of Bray. From there I hiked along the cliff out to Greystones. Rather than stopping in Greystones, I hiked back to Bray. It was stunning.

Cliff Walk

I was alone practically the whole time, though occasionally passed other walkers. It was the perfect way to spend my last afternoon. I returned to the hotel early as I had an early morning start the next day.

Ireland, Days 4 and 5

Another driving day. After breakfast we walked over to Muckross Abbey to take photos. Then back in the car. We took the indirect route along the coast so that we could go see a ring of standing stones that date back over 1,000 years! They weren't nearly as tall as I was hoping for, but when you think of how old they are, it was pretty incredible.

Then it was driving, driving and more driving. We stopped in at a pub for a great lunch of lamb and mushroom pie and by 6 had made it to our final b&b, Ballyogan House. This is owned by a co-workers aunt and uncle and is gorgeous. We're out in the country and it is lovely. However, being out in the country meant driving into town for dinner. Boo, no beer for me. Food was meh as well, we went to a restaurant, definitely should have stuck with pubs! What was really unfortunate is that our hosts had dinner plans and we couldn't have dinner here, I think that would have been lovely. We've already seen the chickens out back and we're excited about fresh eggs for breakfast.

And indeed, breakfast was good. Better than the eggs though were Fran's homemade jams and marmalade. We left soon after breakfast and headed to Dublin where the afternoon and evening was spent with friends of Nat's. It was a good day, though not really remarkable.

Sunday, July 5

Giddy-Up, Ireland Day 3

First about our pub music. It was just "meh." We were hoping for raucous Irish pub music and instead, heard a version of "When You Say Nothing at All." Which is a song I happen to really enjoy, so hearing it with an Irish accent was fun, but we left shortly after that.

We woke up early and headed over to O'Sullivan's riding stables for our 3 hour trail ride. Nat got a smallish girl horse named Ginger, I was on a slightly bigger boy horse named Mystery. Nat's was lazy - all day "Come on, Ginger. Let's go!" and mine was a pig trapped in a horses body - he ate everything that was in sight. If it even looked like we were pausing his head went down often pulling me with him. He especially liked the ferns. But it was fun, and beautiful. We rode on trails that wound down to the castle and along the lake. There were also loads of people walking, this is really a pretty great place. We also go to trot for a bit, those are the parts I liked best.

It was pretty amazing to me how the landscape changed. Dense forest, rolling hills, to golden fields that reminded me of the midwest.

The four of us

It almost looks like Kansas

Ross Castle

After our 3 hours we could barely walk though. For me, the outside ligaments of my knees hurt for Nat, it's her spine. I'm not quite sure what part, but likely because it took her a while to figure out trotting so she was jostled around a bit, that and she has no ass to provide any cushion.

We headed into town, inadvertantly actually as I missed a turn somewhere, but along the way we saw an Aran sweater outlet, so of course we stopped and are now each the owners of an Irish sweater.

We had a late pub lunch that included watching rugby with a whole bunch of Irish folks. Man, that game is violent! Super violent! The Nat napped while I finished my homework (I'm taking a summer course for my masters, Inquiry into Learning. It's pretty great, but way more work than I want to be doing on vacation!)

Then, we had a chill night of going to see The Hangover. Go see this movie now. It was so funny, I cried throughout and almost peed myself at one point. Really, really funny. I'm impressed, as I thought it'd be funny, but then thought, "Who can write a script that will be funny throughout?" Well, apparently Jon Lucas and Scott Moore can!

Saturday, July 4

Sheep Run

Sheep Run
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
The Prettiest Denny's Waitress has been inspiring me to take more video. This is of an agitated, "fatty" (Nat's description) sheep just outside our castle. Loads more photos up on flickr. Go look!

Friday, July 3

Kakashka Way - Ireland Day 3

One of our goals for Ireland was to go hiking. Originally we'd planned to hike the Wickwillow Trail hiking between b&b's. However, as you know, this is the start of my summer and I have to be packed into one small rolling bag for a variety of climates. No room for rain gear, really. So we nixed that idea and decided to just rent a car and hike on the nicer days. This didn't stop Nat from being very well prepared, she's equipped with hiking boots, rain pants and a rain coat. Me, I've got my rain coat (luckily I still have it!) and I brought my hiking sandals to wear on days it might rain so that my feet get wet and then dry again. We're an amusing pair.

Today at breakfast we were discussing our plans with Brigid. She was a wealth of information. She advised us that since it looked like it would be a nice day, we could take a boat trip across 3 lakes and then walk the Dunloe Gap. She told us it was about 7 miles and very manageable if you're at all fit. So we start with our breakfast first course, rhubarb compote with a bit of yogurt for me, porridge for Nat and ask her to book us seats on the boat. By the time we're done with that it's pouring rain. Pouring - cats and dogs. She comes out with our mains, full Irish for me, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for Nat,

and says, "Ok, maybe we'll wait until 9:30 to book." By the end of breakfast the rain has stopped and we decide to go for it. The boat trip was great. A small boat with 6 passengers and 2 guides (1 official, Rory and 1 in training, it appeared).

Ireland is really everything you read about and dream about. It's green everywhere. There are hills and mist and big clouds. You know why leprachauns, sprites and fairies come here to recharge their magic.

Note all the horses in the pictures? Well, for those who want to see the gap but are physically incapable of doing the 7 mile walk, you can get a ride in a horse. The path the whole way is paved and wide enough to accomodate the carriage. And as such, the whole way is also covered in kakashka (Russian for you know what).

Tonight, we're planning on going to a pub for dinner and to hear pub music - smoke free! Yep, I'm loving Ireland.

Notes on Ireland - Day 2

This was predominately a driving day for us as we went from our castle in Wexford over to our next B&B in Kilarny:

View Larger Map

However, before we headed out, we spent an hour or so walking around near the castle and discovered some horses living near by.

Then it was on the road again. We headed through Waterford, home of the crystal and stopped at the visitor's center. The chandeliers and trophies were the most impressive:

I also tried to change money but apparently no one in Ireland, Bureau de Change or Banks, will change 100 dollar bills as they've had a rash of counterfeiting. I have never had this happen before. And of course, I'm traveling with dollars as I still have no ATM card. Luckily Nat changed a bunch of rubles to Euros before we left so I've been able to pay for our lodging with my credit card and use her as an ATM.

After a very boring lunch, we were off again. The drive was slow and a bit frustrating as we seemed to get stuck behind every tractor on the streets of Ireland. And then g00gle maps gave us the most direct, but longest in the sense of time, route. We traveled for about 10 km on a small back road, terrified our b&b was in the middle of no where and we'd have to retrace the road to get to dinner, we arrived to discover we were 400 m from the main road and a pub. Our latest b&b, Friar's Glen is also lovely. It's definitely more modern, we have a big room that doesn't smell like old, but the hosts are lovely.

We headed off to the close pub for a quick dinner of Irish stew and beer. And by quick, in both of us ordering the Irish stew, it arrived in less than 5 minutes. The meat was super tender, potatoes were not mushy but the broth, was well, broth, not a thick gravy as I'd expected and it needed salt in a bad way.

Thursday, July 2

Ireland, Day 1

Day one of vacation. Yes, I've been on vacation for two weeks technically and have already had a great trip up to St. Pete's, but that still didn't really feel like vacation. Nope, that feeling is just now starting to sink in.

Nat and I got up at 3:30, the school sponsored ride was coming at 4 to take us to Domodedevo (my favorite Moscow airport). Right as we were getting into the car, Nat realized she was flying out of Sherymetevo! Thank goodness she didn't get in the car with me as these two airports are way far apart from each other.

The story of my flights has been moved down below, to Ryan Air Rants. Long story short BMI to Heathrow bus to Gatwick and eventually get on my flight to arrive in Dublin. Nat arrives within 10 minutes of me via Paris and finally things are starting to look up.

And that continues. We have a great car rental experience at Dan Dooley (highly recommended). At Dublin's airport, after you exit customs just to the right are all the "big" companies, Avi5, H3rtz, etc. However I'd booked online through Payle55, not just for shoes anymore. Well, turns out they're actually run through a local partner, Dan Dooley. I show up to the counter and the woman is playing Tetri5 on some sort of hand held device, so out of touch I am, I can't even tell you which one. I actually have to clear my throat she's so into it. Anyway, she looks up, clearly having just offered directions all day and I say I have a reservation. After a look of mild surprise (yikes, that can't be a good sign...), she's very helpful, gives us a LOWER rate with all insurances and theft protection thrown in. After a coffee we head to the rental site. My first thought, "wait, the drive on the left here?!" (duh!) Quickly followed by, "Oh, god, the car is a manual transmission and the steering wheel is on the right!" I'm scared, as I'm our only driver (Nat says she's going to learn and get her liscence this year, at 30, but obviously there's no need in Moscow). However, relatively quickly, I adapt and we're off. Traffic sucks getting out of Dublin, but in just over 2 hours, we've traveled 134 miles to Killiane Castle for the night.

It's so lovely here. We're currently down on the southeastern side of Ireland in Wexford. Our castle room is small, but totally functional and the bed is really comfortable. Nat's first comment, "It smells like old house." And it's true, everywhere sort of does have a slight odor, but the place was built in 1470! Our window over looks a field of cows, it was just delightful. So it was right around 8 pm in Ireland when we arrived, 11 pm in Moscow and we were starving. We ask if they have dinner and they do not, but she advises us to head back to the main road. "The tavern in the hotel actually has really good food." Well, y'all know me and my food. As soon as she says "hotel" and "restaurant" in the same sentence I am skeptical. But we could walk (about 2 km, but I was done driving) and it had food, the only requirements at that point.

In the end, We had an INCREDIBLE dinner at the Drinagh Court Hotel! You could either order off the menu, or they had a condensed version of their menu, from which you could take 2 courses for 20 euros. This was the far cheaper option (in some cases cheaper than ordering just the single main off the menu). We took both of their soups - a cream soup of the day that turned out to be vegetable for Nat (yes, she was eating veg, but it was after all, cream based and her only requirement was that she wanted hot food) and the Atlantic seafood chowder for me. We also both ordered a pint of beer, Guinness for her and Smithwick's Ale for me.

The soup arrived scaldingly (made up word) hot and I can't even describe just how good it was. The chowder was full of seafood and highly seafood flavored without being fishy, topped with lovely contrastingly flavored croutons. Nat's soup, even though it was vegetable, was equally as tasty for her and since I always love veg, great for me as well. Along side came Irish soda bread with soft creamy butter. I could have died and gone to heaven right then.

But then our mains came. I had ordered the sizzling Schezwan duck breast and sizzling it was. It came on a red hot cast iron pan and smoking like crazy as there was so much sugar (I assume) in the sauce. But boy was the meat tender and the sauce, though sweet, very flavorful. Nat ordered the steak, which we had to send back as it was over cooked, but when the second one arrived she dived in and loved it. However, we each preferred our entrees to the others. Along side came choice of potato and veg. We chose "mash" and "garlic". It was enough food to feed an army. Really we could have just gotten one of the potato sides and definitely that would have been the garlic. Lovely au gratin garlicy potatoes. The veg side was (previously) frozen peas, cauliflower, squash and carrot (BLECH!), I ate all the peas from both and most the cauliflower. Nat took one bite of carrot to verify for me before I ate it and that was all the potato she ate. I felt bad as the portions were so huge (American sized) that we left more than half the food behind.

Ah, so nice. We followed up with a brisk walk back because at 10, the sun was fading and there are no street lights on the small road leading to our castle. It was heaven sleeping at night, window open, sound of rain and this morning of birds greeting the day (at around 5). It's still raining, but it's so lush and green and after all, it's Ireland, so no complaints from me.

This morning's full Irish breakfast was also lovely. My favorite part being a rhubarb compote and clove spiced apples from the granola bar:

Ryan Air Rant

I had a BMI flight to Heathrow, she was on Air France to Paris. In each of our cities we would then catch a budget airline to Dublin. I don't know what I was thinking. I bought a Ryan Air ticket (absolutely, no way, EVER again. FUCK YOU RYAN AIR) that went out of Gatwick. I don't know why I didn't look harder for a flight out of Heathrow. I guess I didn't think it would cost me almost $40 to catch a bus there.

Anyway, I get there. And promptly forget about my rain coat on the bus. Thankfully I remembered within 5 minutes (as opposed to the usual 2 days later) and further the bus hadn't left, it was in the car park! Phew.

Rain coat (and hoodie!) retrieved, I go back inside and am now able to check in. I was 4th in line, get up to the desk, hand over my passport, try to check my bag, only to be told that I hadn't prepaid for this. But, I was so certain I'd prepaid to check my bag, why wouldn't I have done that? I think what happened was I'd assumed it was the 9.50 x 2 "airport handling fee" because what else would they be handling if not my luggage. Oh, and then I also had to pay another 9.50 (all pounds) to check in at the desk because I couldn't do it online as I'm not a British citizen. So I go to the desk and ask the guy to look up my reservation, so certain was I that I'd paid for a bag. He says no. So then I look on my computer (I knew this new toy was good for something) and shit bag, no I really hadn't paid. So then I tried to pay online (10 GBP as opposed to the 20 airport fee) but of course I could only buy it for the return. So I had to go back to the second guy and pay the 20 pounds. I hand over my credit card, the one I'd just used to buy the return baggage and it doesn't work. Frustration level at a maximum especially as I still don't have an ATM card (remember last year's mugging and the bank refusing to send me a new one, well, I'll finally replace that this summer). So I whip out my cell phone, call Chase who says, "Oh, did you tell us you were traveling?" YES, 3 DAYS AGO. Grumble. Anyway, it all finally gets paid for and I check in .

Tuesday, June 30

Domestic Summer

Nat and I leave for Ireland in 2 (two!!) days. As such we're trying to finish the food in the house. I brought back some smoked salmon from St. P and made it into this absolutely wonderful Smoked Salmon Pasta with Scotch. Seriously it was money. Did I really just say that?

Of course I modified it. I added fresh mushrooms, crushed red pepper (as I can't imagine any pasta dish without it), used clam juice for fish stock, well, ok, I used that recipe as the guidelines for what I made. Regardless, it was delicious and we all (4 total) had seconds. Some had thirds.

Afterwards, it was dish carnage, especially as we also had dessert (A made apple pie!). However, for one to two weeks each summer the hot water is turned off across the city to repair the pipes. Spoiled life that I lead, I actually have a mini hot water heater that gets turned on in this occasion, however, it only feeds the bathroom. So, to wash all of tonight's dishes, rather than boiling a bunch of water, I just brought the dishes into the bath tub.

Sunday, June 28

Dear 60sih woman walking down the street,

Yes, you, with the sagging breasts (no criticism, I understand gravity) and multi-rolled belly (Russian food is not very healthy), I'm happy that you are so secure with your body that you feel that it's ok to where a see through black shirt with flowers. That's great, more power to you. However, for the love of all that is holy, please do not wear a see through white lace bra under it.

Thank you,

Traveling Em

St. Petersburg!

Oh, St. Petersburg, how I love thee. You torment me though as you are so much more appealing than Moscow. However, your school has only 120 students K-12. Could I handle that? Will the 1 math teacher ever leave? And your curriculum is AP based. I love the IB so...

Perhaps, I shall content myself with the knowledge that you are but a 5.5 hour train ride away. And try to remember that in the winter you are dark, grey, cold and rainy (much like Moscow) but also with a frigid wind off the shores!

We arrived on the evening of St. Petersburg's biggest party, Red Sails. It was like Mardi Gras without the great costumes, parades, floats or beads (so basically, really drunk people urinating everywhere and throwing beer bottles down, but in New Orleans they no longer allow glass on the streets). It was a zoo trying to get to where we were staying, but eventually we arrived unscathed. We set out to grab some food around 11 and enjoyed the day light.

The next day we headed off to Peterhof (also spelled Petergof). This is a 30 minute hydrofoil ride from St. Petersburg, a palace and series of gardens designed by Peter the Great. It was beautiful! So nice to be out in the country, surrounded by great fountains, all gravity fed! It was crowded, but the park is so big, it was easy to feel as though you were on your own. It was full of statues and fountains, two of my favorite things, especially as all the fountains are gravity fed!!

I love statues

More fountains

That evening we walked around endlessly trying to find a Korean restaurant that no longer exists (fuck you LP and Rick Steves) but ended up at another one right near where we were staying. No granted, at this point we'd been walking for 2 hours longer than anticipated and it's been almost 6 months since I last had Korean, but it was still really good.

One of the things to do in St.P is to go out and see the bridges raise so that the ships can pass under them in the twilight of white nights. However, the first bridge doesn't go up until 1:35, so you can guess who slept through that while EE went out. As such, the next day we had a leisurely morning (read, I worked on my summer course work and EE slept in), then we had a Greek lunch. We spent the afternoon strolling about. I met up with the drama teacher who also is head of Student Council with me and we did a little jig in front of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Spilt Blood as Alexander the II was assassinated there. The best thing about this church are the mosaics inside.

We also went to the Mariinsky Theater to see ballet. It was incredible. Very minimal backgrounds and a focus on the dancers. At most 6 on stage. Such good ballet, such a nice theater. Though, should you ever go, don't get seats on the 3rd level. We had a great view, but we were on a narrow, painfully hard bench and it was difficult to enjoy sitting there as good as the show was.

Mariinsky Theater

Sunday, June 14

Summer Travel

I have planned a jam packed summer.

June 19 - school ends
June 20-23 St. Petersburg (finally) with Erin - staying with last year's principal
June 24 - June 30 in Moscow - ballet, business lunch, walks in the park
July 1 - 8 Ireland with Natasha - castles and B&B's for lodging
July 8-13 Scotland with Steve and Dianne - their place, pubs on the agenda
July 13-18 Peterborough, UK, I'm going to a "Technology for Secondary Mathematics" conference
July 18-21 Country side of NY - maybe more about this later
July 21-26 in Ohio with my parents
July 26 - Aug 4 on a cruise and then 2 nights in Miami with my sister
Aug 4 - 16 back in SF with friends
Aug 1-17 flying to London
Aug 18 flight back to Moscow
Aug 19 first day of work

Insanity, I know. But I'm so looking forward to it.


Thank you to my 5 readers for the patience you have shown in awaiting my random and rare posts.

Thank you especially to my friend Vero who encouraged me to continue watering my orchid even though the flowers I bought it with fell off in the first week. See I bought it the first weekend I moved to Moscow, back in August 2007. For a very long time it just had two pathetic leaves. But I continued to water it. Eventually it grew a few more leaves, so in fact I knew it was still alive, well now in June 2009, here it is:

4 Flowers!

That's right it has 4 flowers which are stunning. And I've watched them open one by one. The last one I literally got to see open as it did so on a weekend day. In the background you can see my jade which I repotted to give the other succulents more space. It seems to enjoy it's new house, but I don't know if they other succulents are as happy with out it.

The school year is wrapping up. Students were given teacher evaluations to fill out. Overwhelmingly my students think the pace in class is too fast for them and that I don't make it interesting. I'm not sure how to fix either one of those problems. A few students said I should be more patient. And that I can definitely work on. I think if they did their homework more consistently I'd have more patience though...

I was also under a bit of stress trying to finish up my first masters class, dynamic spreadsheets. I'm hoping to finish with an A, but it'll be an A- at the very least. I've signed up for 2 classes this summer, but I'm not sure how well that will go with my insane summer travel schedule (to be posted next).

My classes are all done now, finals taken and half graded. Report cards to write this week and preparations for the incoming teachers. I also want to get some more stuff prepared ahead of time for next year.

I have a few days in Moscow before I leave for summer vacation though, so plenty of time to do that.

Wednesday, May 27

Pain in the Neck

What I don't love is my neck. It's really been bothering me the past few weeks. So I went to see an American chiropractor living here. He interviewed me, felt my neck said "Ooh, I bet it hurts here" up near my C1-C2 vertebrae, my constant nemisis. Then he said, "I'd really like you to go get some x-rays." And then he asks for 2,000 rubles, roughly $60. I was with him ~maybe~ 5 minutes and that's being generous. Yep, I felt just like I was back in the states. Except that here my insurance will cover it!

So he then tells me where to go while drawing on a google map. You go to building 14 by Krasne Varota (Red Gate) metro. Easy enough. Then you walk through the building out the back door to the building sort of behind it. Um, not so easy. I have to ask two people. The second one being a "nurse" - she's wearing a hair covering and shoe coverings and a white coat, smoking a cigarette outside. She motions for me to follow her. Turns out she's the radiologist. I get 4 x-rays of my neck and mid-back, the mid-back one requiring me to learn the Russian for "does your bra have an underwire? Take it off." That cost another 1,600 rubles. The cool thing was that it lasted about 10 minutes and I walked out with my x-rays! Super fast.

One Cool Thing After Another

Well, sadly I didn't win the boat. I was a bit relieved, it would have been a pain to try and store. But after I saw it in the water I was totally bummed! I think I would have loved having that boat!

Tonight I stayed late at school for the AAS Oscar ceremony. Guests were invited to vote on their favorite performers over the school year. The students were decked out - I can't believe I missed the opportunity to dress up, but all the dresses I wanted to wear, I'll be wearing this weekend for grad ceremony and the actually graduation. It was awesome. There were 3 really great speeches that mocked Oscar speeches.

I'll just say it once more, I love my job!

Sunday, May 24

Boat Building

There was a really cool project started at our school this year. A boat building club where the students built the boat pictured. I've got myself a raffle ticket and the launch is this afternoon, hopefully not in the rain.

Saturday, May 16

No, I didn't bribe her

The thoughtfulness of students at my school never fails to astound me. I'm away in Warsaw (check another city/country off the map) with the girl's softball team and just got this email message from a student:

hello mrs s~
thanks for adding points to our quiz:) and i just wanted to say thank you for trying so hard to teach us! everyday you grow white hair because of our little side comments and our spontaneous outbursts but we can really see how hard you try to enlighten us with the "beauty" of math.haha
we definitely havent been able to thank teachers enough for their hard work and instead complained, and complained.. and complained, and once again,complained of OUR hardships without even considering your hardships as well. Although we are a looooongg way from being responsible and sensible, i hope by the end of IB, we will be able to make all teachers/parents/ students/etc. proud><
thank you~ have a nice weekend.

Isn't that great?!

Our girls played really hard and lost 3 really close games to come in 4th place. We also won 2 games handily. And the team spirit and comrade between all but 1 of them is awesome to see. Awesome enough that I'd like to coach them next year - this year I'm here as a chaperon, but didn't work with them during the season. I was a bit horrified to hear myself yelling them at times they way my dad used to yell at me. "What are you doing?! Throw the ball to second! Get it in already!!!" The other coach was so calm and supportive the whole time. I need to work towards that.

Oh and Warsaw is pretty great. Nice clean air, smaller city with a bizarre mix of Soviet and modern architecture. Pretty good food so far. And their movie theaters show movies in English with Polish subtitles! So tonight, I think I may go see a movie, the first I'll have seen in over a year! I can't even remember the last one I saw. That will be after the girls get sent home to their host families. I love the host family program, no duty at night and we're staying at the fancy pants Hyatt which is cushy.

Alright, enough avoiding my homework assignment.

Saturday, May 9

Day in the Park

Day in the Park
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

I had an incredible day with my visitors Eva and Che. I finally went to the Armory museum in the Kremlin. We were lucky to even get there as most of the entrances to the Kremlin were closed due to Victory Day preparations. Luckily we had an awesome local guide who got us in. We had the place almost completely to ourselves. On the way out, we wandered through the park towards Red Square. While Eva was taking photos Che and I sat on a bench and behind us were these two priests. I really like this photo!

Saga Conclusion

Remember almost 2 months ago when I ran into Za German again and there was talk of me heading to Germany. Well, I headed. I'm back. And I can safely say, for real this time, that I don't think we'll be talking anymore or seeing each other again.

Not that it went badly. It didn't. It was incredibly easy, but "it" just wasn't there; the world did not disappear. We sat around making breakfast, making dinner, watching a lot of tv and movies and there was a decided lack of anything of substance. On the car ride to the airport for my return I even asked, "So are we going to talk anymore?" You know me, always blunt and to the point. He, not so much. "Of course we are!" "So should I think about coming back in June?" "Oh, we'll talk about that later." Um, not so much; I think if I even have to ask the first question I know what the answer should be. I just wanted him to admit it too. While I want to be settled in a good relationship, I'm certainly not going to force it.

Back to the drawing board.


Me and Nat
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

My friend Erin, shown in the gala picture below, threw me a surprise birthday party. A month to the day after my birthday. I was flabbergasted. I didn't see it coming at all.

I went out with another teacher immediately after school for a walk through the park and at her suggestion we returned to my place to go to the Georgian restaurant near by. We stop in at the apartment complex first and I call Erin to see if she wants to join us. Note, Erin lives in the apartment directly below me, so as I'm unlocking the door, I hear her phone ringing. And ringing. I open the door wondering why hasn't she answered yet and notice the streamers hanging in my kitchen doorway. Now I'm still thinking, "why hasn't she answered yet" in addition to, "why did the green guys come and hang streamers??" After a pregnant pause I walk into the living room and am shocked to find it FULL of people!

We all headed down to Erin's where she had prepared loads of food with the help of many others including Carol, who made the cake pictured. It was a great evening!

Gala 2009

Gala 2009
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

You know I love getting all dressed up and I got to for the PTO gala. I mingled, had a lovely dinner and left at 10:30. The perfect evening!

Sunday, May 3

Where oh where?

Oh, horribly delinquent blogger, where have you been? Has your life been so exciting that you don't have time to post here?

Well, I have been off to Italy for a week.

We're here


Then I had a friend come in for a few days. Also, I've started an online masters through Oregon State. I have two assignments due per week, so the time I could be here with you, I'm reading articles on technology and education.

Or so mundane and repetitive that your inspiration has been stripped?

Quite honestly, the snow and cold was getting me down. We had our last snow on April 22nd.

Well, I have been into work to help my seniors continue to prepare for their IB exams which are this week. Aforementioned masters program has also had me very keen to immediately begin to incorporate more technology into my lessons, as such, I've been spending time designing web projects and math lessons around Autograph and Excel and I didn't really think people would want to read about that sort of stuff.