Monday, January 10

First day of teaching in 2011

Before leaving for the year, the staff was reminded to turn off our computers, projectors, printers, etc. I, of course, already do this daily. However, someone in staff also followed up on this and unplugged all our projectors from the projector itself, where it hangs suspended from the ceiling. Upon plugging it back in, I had to readjust the alignment and recalibrate my SMART board so that the mouse would click where I touched rather than an inch below. But all that is fairly standard. However, my colleague's projector couldn't find a source. Even after consulting with me (during which time I made sure everything was plugged in, connected and turned on), still no dice.

Her (both of our's really) plan was to use a PowerPoint from last year to introduce quadratics. Remember, this is the Monday morning after a 3 week break. So it was either leave her hanging to wing class sans technology or bring her class into my room and squish the students all together. We went with the latter and it was actually a great lesson.

However, it really made me realize how dependent upon technology in the classroom we are becoming. I had my first formal observation in the weeks before break and one of the comments I got was on how well I used my SMART board. While I don't feel as though I'm doing anything revolutionary, it is hard for me to imagine teaching without it. It's easy to save all my lessons as pdf files and then post them online for students to access (the perfect solution to "what'd I miss?") While teaching it's easy to go back and say, "Remember this? We talked about it <10 minutes ago>, , ." Beyond that, I find my lessons are much better prepared because I can create an outline in advance that gets filled in as class progresses.

Today I had students looking at a "Deal with the Devil" type problem where the devil offers you $1000 today, but at the end of the day he takes $100 commission leaving you with $900. Tomorrow though, he'll double your money (giving you $1800) but will also double his commission and remove that at the end of the day. And the question was, would you take this deal for a month? By day 8 the numbers start to get big. And I would immediately turn to a spreadsheet to help with the calculations. But this class I was working with all groaned and said that they "hated" it. And then told me that they would just type the numbers in rather than having the spreadsheet make the calculations. These students are 16/17 years old! I'd assumed that they'd be comfortable with entering formulas by the time they got to me. But I guess not. And I guess it's up to me to turn their hate into love.

By the way, at the end of day 10 you're left with zero dollars. So remember, it never pays to make deals with the devil.

Saturday, January 8


I hate cleaning. It's just not how I want to spend my time. However, I want a clean house. I've taken care of it myself since I moved in in August, but my one and only 2011 goal is to find a house keeper, preferably to come once every two weeks primarily to dust and to do my floors (I hate, hate, hate vacuuming and mopping). My neighbor's were having their window's washed and I jumped on the man to have him come do mine (to my credit, I don't own a ladder so I couldn't do the tops myself ever) and he's now coming every six weeks.

I'm taking applications now if any of my 5 readers would like the position. ;)

Thursday, January 6

Winter Holidays 2010

I left a really snowy Amsterdam
and was one of a very few flights to get out of Schipol, but I got out because I was headed to Asia. There were so many people stranded that weekend though. While I was there, they shut down all the transfer desks, telling people to check the monitors and if their flight was leaving to go to the gate, otherwise they were to call or check the internet. Friendly, right?

First stop, Kuala Lumpur and the Sheraton Imperial. It was fancy pants, and you all know how much I love fancy pants hotels. Here's the view from my window:
View from KL Sheraton

Then I headed off to Brisbane to meet up with my Moscow friend Lydia. She's living inland from there in a town called Toowoomba (emphasis on the "woom"). It's set up in the hills and for summer, it was a bit cool.
Lydia and I

We also toured a bit and I got to see some chickens with furry feet:
Furry foot chickens!

And we also went to look at Christmas lights:
Australian Christmas Lights

In the second photo, those are Lydia's clothes I'm wearing. Turns out that when leaving Amsterdam it was too icy to unload the luggage and hence there was no space to load any new luggage. Yet somehow it was not icy enough to take off... I got my bag 4 days into the trip.

And just in time for us to head off to Rainbow Beach where you find the Carlo Sandblow. Named after one of Captain James Cooks's ship mates. It's a huge expanse of sand that is spreading. It's also part of the Great Cooloola Walk, which is a 5 day, 90 km walk that would be awesome to do sometime.

Carlo Sand Blow

We spent the 2 sunny days on the beach:
Rainbow Beach

Turns out it's very common to drive your 4wd on the beach, park and sit by it all day. While I prefer my beaches without cars, we did it one day and it sure was nice to have a bit of shade. Australian sun is hot!

I spent a lot of time knitting (perfect rainy vacation activity) and hanging out with this little guy, the grandson of some of Lydia's fiance's friends:
Blue Cowl

I made two skull snowflake hats:
Deathflake hat

Once the rain stopped, I was actually glad we had the rain. Because when it wasn't raining, it was hot and humid. I've said it before, but I'm a terrible southerner as I hate the heat. But, on the nicer days though, we were out and about. And I got to see some wildlife in the wild:

A cockatoo:

A dingo (sorry it's blurry, it's taken from the car) (also, don't joke about them taking babies, apparently it's still a touchy subject and there are still people who don't believe the story!)

A wild turkey:
Wild Turkey

And best yet, a koala just hanging out in a tree in Noosa:

I'd like to spend more time in Noosa, hiking and on the rocky beaches, but it was crowded, so I'm glad most time was spent at Rainbow.

Returning, I had an overnight flight back to KL. Landed at 6 am and departed at midnight for another overnight to Amsterdam. However, the layover at KLIA was not bad at all. For just 60 USD, I was able to get a hotel room for 9 hours with access to a sauna and steam room. To lay down flat and sleep for 7 hours, it was totally worth it. They also have a street food restaurant that's cheap (for airport food) and an affordable spa where I spent an hour having a facial. Plus upon checking in, I was able to pay a totally reasonable amount to upgrade to business class. For a 13 hour flight, that was the best decision I've made.

And now I'm back in rainy Amsterdam. However, given the choice, I'll take 31 F over 31 C any day!