Friday, September 22, 2006

Jewish New Year and an Apology

Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) begins tonight, so happy 5767 to my co-religionists.

And to all my readers, an apology: Since July 23 this blog has not been a training blog but an assorted-feeble-excuses-why-I'm-not-training blog. My apologies. I'll be back post holiday once I've actually handled a bar.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Time Flies

Another 12 hour day at work with barely 1/2 liter of water. It's not finding time to drink that's the problem, it's finding time to go to the bathroom. There's only one bathroom for teachers on each floor, located inside the teachers' lounge. There isn't always enough time to go there between classes. Gym news will have to wait.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Books and Report Cards

The books I had shipped from Israel prior to leaving Jerusalem finally arrived, somewhat earlier than expected. Most of them arrived on September 10, and the last two boxes arrived yesterday. The books are stacked by the wall of my living room awaiting the bookshelf. I returned the bookcase that I had bought with the desk because it turned out to require drilling a support strap into the wall, and I have no desire to drill into my walls. So now I have a desk that won't match any bookcase I buy. Whatever. It's really not a big deal. Every Sunday I read the flyers, and there's always some store that has bookcases on sale.

Nutrition has been ok by virtue of the giant lunchbox which keeps me from eating stupid things during the day. (I told my students that if they spot a soda can on my desk they get an automatic 5 point bonus. Since the only thing I allow them to drink in my class is water, I figure that's fair.) But, if I finish everything in the lunch box and then stay late at work and then drive home hungry, I find myself stopping for a coffee (with milk) and three donut holes on my way home. I've been doing that far too frequently lately. I'm working very long hours: 12 hour days are not uncommon. I went in on Sunday to familiarize myself with the grade tracking system and ended up staying all day. I discovered that my school does report cards eight times a year, and since we are in the middle of the 1st quarter, it is report card time, so I have to enter my grades and write a comment about each of my students.

Today was the first day since I started work that I've worked less than 10 hours. I came in at 7:00am and left at 4:15pm. I'm not saying that this is a good thing; it emphatically is not. It's just my current reality and I need to change it by putting in some routines and improving my organizational skills. One of my colleagues suggested that I give less homework. The consensus among veteran teachers I've met over the past two years is that homework is no longer reflective of students' abilities. Too many students have parents that will do the homework for them rather than deal with a bad grade. The solution seems to be to assign more reading assignments followed by in-class quizzes and grading more of the students' in-class work. In any case I am not assigning any homework between now and October 15. The Jewish high holiday season is upon us, starting with New Year this weekend, and I want my students to focus on spending time with their families and attending services without having to worry about schoolwork.

My social security number finally arrived, so if there are no hiccups, I will finally see a paycheck in about a week and a half.

The Russian-owned gym I was looking for seems to have vanished. I went to the address I was given, and it was an abandoned storefront. Through the dusty glass I could see a sign that said "weightlifter parking". Should have called first, obviously. :-)

But there are good gym tidings on the horizon. More about that tomorrow. In the meantime, all my clothes fit fine. I'm disappointed I didn't get to go to LA for the strength seminar, but there will be other opportunities.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My Faintly Exciting Life

This week I fainted at work. It was a shock to me too, since I had never before fainted in my life. I was in class talking to my students when their voices started getting farther and farther away, as if I was hearing them through a filter. I said to them that I was feeling a little dizzy, and that they should keep themselves occupied for a few minutes while I stepped outside. I started walking towards the door of my classroom, and that's the last thing I remember.

I came to outside my classroom, covered in cold sweat, with two of my colleagues hovering over me looking very concerned, and several other colleagues standing nearby. As my colleague tells it, he had just come out into the corridor and saw me at the door of my classroom looking wobbly. I asked him if he would sub for me for half an hour, then my eyes rolled back and I started sinking. He caught me and lowered me to the floor. Now, not only do I have no memory of speaking to him, I have no memory of seeing him or of getting to the door. But I'm pleased that even in that condition I was thinking about my students. :-)

The school nurse came by, took my pulse and put a wet towel on the back of my neck. Eventually I made it to my feet and then to the nurse's office (accompanied, of course). I drank some water and warm sprite and rested there for awhile. The nurse said it could be a virus, and regaled me with tales of how white I was when she saw me. (As a proverbial sheet, apparently.) I don't know what caused the fainting, but I suspect that it was a result of working 12 & 13 hour days in a row with only 3-4 hours of sleep per night and almost no water consumption. Eventually I went home, drank 2 litres of water, and slept for about 16 hours straight. My colleagues took over my remaining classes that day.

The next day I brought my rescuer a bottle of wine and thank you cards to everyone that subbed for me. I also made sure to eat a larger breakfast and second breakfast, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Four weeks and no SSN. I talked to the SS office and they said they hadn't heard back from Immigration yet.

More shopping today: I took advantage of the Labor Day sales and got a food processor and two very discounted suits. The former should help my veggie consumption, and the latter is just my idea of how teachers should dress. I've decided that I'm only buying suits from now on, no more separates.

Still no car or gym membership. I'm wary about buying a car before the SSN comes. I'm very fond of the xA, but it is not sold in Canada, and if I have to go back to Canada I can't get support for it there. As for gyms, I looked at another one, but they had no membership coordinator around to give me prices and contract details. The more I look around my furniture-free living room, the more I think it would make a great gym. Cheaper than buying sofas and a coffee table, too. I'd just have to make sure to position the power cage out of range of the ceiling fan.