Thursday, 1 November 2012

Dear Moderate Republicans

Dear Moderate Republicans,
I'm speaking to those of you who are 'fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.'  Some of you are Christian, but not radically so, and many of you aren't Christian (or perhaps any religion) at all.  You are ashamed with how the Republican party touts to the extreme Christian right and appalled at the misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim (or frankly anti any religion that's not Christian) rhetoric coming from a 'few' loud-mouthed bad apples tainting the entire party.  However, you don't agree with the financial plans of the Obama administration because you're possibly in a tax bracket that would benefit under Republican rule.  (Or, you're hoping to be.)
So, you're still going to vote for Romney despite disagreeing with him on his social issues.
Okay, fine. That's your choice, but I'd like you to do one thing for me before you cast your vote.  I want you to stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say the following.
"I'm voting for Romney because the amount of money I make means more to me than the health and individual rights of my female friends, the basic civil-rights of my homosexual friends or the First Amendment in the Constitution, which establishes the freedom of religion.  I'm voting for Romney because money means more to me than any of that."
Then look me in the eye and say that to me the next time I come to visit.  Frankly, if the only reason you're voting for Romney is a fiscal one, you've just admitted money means more to you than other human beings.
You don't have to vote for Obama.  There are other options, but there are plenty of Republicans for Obama. So perhaps you should listen to what they have to say.  At the end of the day it is, as I said, your choice, but to me it speaks volumes about your character.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Music Top 5s with apologies to Nick Hornby

Last week a friend gave me a bit of a fun task.  In a 'High Fidelity' theme I was to name the following:
  • Top 5 Artists
  • Top 5 Songs or Albums
  • Top 5 music experiences - gigs, soundtrack to point in life, first album bought etc.
I don't do anything half-assed and gave this some serious thought before I replied.  After looking over my email to him I decided it would make a rather interesting blog post, plus it's been ages since I've written anything publicly that's over 140 characters.  And so, here's my response in case you're interested.

Top 5 Favourite Artists:

Number 5- The Grateful Dead- Many of my current gig buddies/music friends do not understand this, but there was significant amount of time in university that I spent on the road following them around.  The only thing I regret about my cultish behaviour of the time was that I had a fantastic 4AD vinyl collection that I sold to pay for a few shows.  I don't listen to them as much as I used to, but any time I hear them, I get nostalgic. Thus, they must be mentioned.

Number 4- Manu Chao A friend of mine introduced him to me Manu Chao when I lived in Seattle. I didn't really listen to him much until I moved to Mexico (to help my Spanish) and I fell in love with him.  He almost appeared later in my Top 5 Gigs too, but as it is I had to extend that list to 6.  The Manu Chao gig in London last year would have been number 7.

Number 3- Nick Cave He's so lovely. So very very lovely.

Number 2- Polly Jean Harvey. I love her. That is all.

My number 1 artist of all time is Ani DiFranco.  I could go on and on about how her music is poetry and she lives her songs, but I won't.

I'm separating songs from albums as some of my favourite songs aren't on my favourite albums.  And, not all my favourite songs or albums are by my favourite artists.

Top 5 Songs

Number 5- Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden- "Bonkers" This song makes me cycle super fast.  I love it, plus Dizzee is from my 'hood' more or less.

Number 4- David Byrne and the Dirty Projectors- "Knotty Pine"

Number 3- Richmond Fontaine- "Lost in Trees" These guys are friends of mine (I went to university with the bass player), but I'd still love them even if they weren't.

Number 2- Beta Band- "She's The One for Me". 

Number 1- Ani DiFranco "32 Flavours" It's such a pretty song and at one point mirrored my life.

Top 5 Albums

Number 5- The Cocteau Twins- "The Pink Opaque" Sold to fund my Grateful Dead wandering.

Number 4- Guided by Voices- "Do the Collapse" ("Hold on Hope" almost went on my top 5 favourite songs, but since I was doing separate list for albums, I decided not to put it on that list)

Number 3- The Flaming Lips- "Soft Bulletin" This was partially due to the gig I saw, which will be mentioned later.

Number 2- Elliot Smith- "From a Basement on a Hill"  I actually like most of his stuff, but this album is special as it was released after his death.  Quite sad really.

Number 1- PJ Harvey- "Let England Shake" This is a fantastic album! That is all.

Top 5 Gigs
- I can't do 5.  You're getting 6.

Number 6- Sleigh Bells at Heaven in Feb 2011.  Who would think that 2 people could put on such an amazing gig? I was pleasantly surprised.

Number 5- Nirvana at the Seattle Center in 1994- Sadly this was the last live gig Kurt would ever play in Seattle.  It was also his best (in my opinion)

Number 4- Flaming Lips at the Showbox in 1996.  The audience wore headphones- it was an audio and visual treat.  As an added treat, Krist Novaselic was there and approached me to say hi and talk.  But then realised he didn't actually know me and said, "Sorry, I thought you were someone else."

Number 3- PJ Harvey at the Troxy in Feb 2011.  Wow!

Number 2- Ani Difranco- each time I've seen her she's amazing and I've seen her 3 times, the most recent being at the Union Chapel in January.  In fact I just found a clip of her playing my favourite song at that concert.

Number 1- Neil Young (Patti Smith opened and then came on stage with Neil at the end) at The Gorge, 1996.  The Gorge is a naturally beautiful venue in George, WA.  It tipped down rain and was also quite windy.  Neil was rocking to Like a Hurricane with his hair wet and blowing in his face.  It was as if he was defying the forces of mother nature.  I was blown away (literally and figuratively).

And that's my musical me.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Mitt Romney/BNP Diet

I'm not happy with my weight. Currently, I'm about 5 kilos above a healthy BMI and would like to get back there. 

When we had a Biggest Loser competition at work a few years back, I was almost down to the weight I managed to lose that weight and more, but I put it all back on slowly in addition some extra pounds. I know my personality and I need something with a competitive edge that rewards me and I need it to be constant so that I make a healthy lifestyle change, not just a short term change.  I also need to have an achievable goal, so that I don't get discouraged and give up easily or wind up yo yo dieting. 

So, It's decided.  I'm going to lose 5 kilos by American election day in November, damn it! This is completely achievable and healthy. And what if I don't lose 5 kilos by American election day? Well, then I will have to vote for Mitt Romney. That makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

Once I lose that weight, I will establish that as the base that I can never again go over.  If I go above that weight and stay above it for two weeks, then I will have to donate £100 to the BNP another thought that makes me feel ill.

I'm using a very cool and free social-media(esque) app called My Fitness Pal and have notified some close friends and family of where they can find my profile, so they can track my progress online. If you are using My Fitness Pal already and would like another friend for encouragement please message me and I'll add you. 

Of course I know that I don't really have to vote for Mitt Romney or give money to the racist BNP, but the simple fact that I've now blogged about this has committed me.  If I fail, I will always feel shame of betraying my political and moral values.

Right, I'm off to do some exercise.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Just when I was thinking of quitting…

Last week was not a good week for me.  In fact I would have to say that it was perhaps the worst week of my teaching career; good thing it was only a three day week.  On the Friday I found myself in my assistant principal's office threatening to "fucking quit" right there and then.  Probably not my finest moment as a "teacher leader", but I do believe it got my point across. 

So we are now in the final stretch.  Just five more days with students and then two more days to 'post plan'.  Somehow I need to mark the projects that are still being handed in (seventy left) and calculate final grades by Wednesday afternoon.  Hahahahahahahahaha

Of course at this point you're wondering, "Well, if you have so much work to do, why are you blogging?  Shouldn't you be working?" 

And to that I reply, "Fuck off, it's my lunch (half) hour and I deserve some time to vent on-line before I work well into the evening."

I rather like the F bomb lately.  However, don't worry. I'm not saying it to my students-at least not intentionally- but I digress.

I came in to school this morning determined to have a better attitude and to just suck up and deal for the next seven work days.  It worked for a bit, but I still was running a list of other career opportunities in my head.

And then I received this email from a parent:

Hi Ms. M---I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for everything you did for XXX this year---in and out of class.  He really enjoyed you as a teacher, and I know it was your positive attitude and encouragement!

This is an excerpt from a note I sent to Ms. XXXX
(my principal) :

"Dear Ms. XXXX:

I wanted to take a minute to pass along our appreciation for a few special teachers in our Middle School students' lives this year.  Their other teachers are amazing, too, but we think that special relationship that develops with some teachers in support of their students is extremely important ...

That being said, I will also express our thoughts to the teachers directly, but please know that we especially thank:   ...

Ms. M for her straightforward, respectful, yet nurturing style of teaching---always expecting the best of XXX, but hanging tough when she thinks he can deliver more, and encouraging him to maintain his effort.


Thanks, Ms. M!  XXX'x sister is looking forward to meeting you next year! 

I then remembered why I kill myself in this job.  It's not for the outrageously high pay (hahahaha) or long luxurious holidays (that I work through or take courses during).  It is for the kids, our future, and despite all this crap, it is worth it at the end of the day.

So, if you're a parent of a student with teachers who have made a positive difference on him or her over this academic year, take a moment to send those teachers a quick email showing appreciation of their hard work.  I promise you they have probably been thinking of quitting too.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled workload.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Some ideas are better off staying in my head

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."  Sometimes it seems I say that, or at the very least think it, quite a bit. My "See-food Diet" was no exception.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It wasn't.

It was a pain.  Entering calories into an app is far easier than taking a picture of everything you eat.  Often times I would just plain forget to take the damn picture.  A few times I ended up with pictures of partially eaten meals or empty plates. In the end the pictures I ended up getting of my meals just didn't look as tasty as the food actually was. Nor were they in any way aesthetically pleasing (my Martinis look much better when photographed) and posting pictures of my food to Flickr every night, when what I really wanted to do was go to bed, was annoying as hell.

But the main reason why I am leaving the "See-food Diet" behind is....(drum roll)...I gained a pound and a half, not exactly the result I was hoping for.

So what did I learn? 1) I probably eat probably too much sugar and white flour.  2) I need to drink more water.  3) I eat a good amount of fruit and veg, but could probably eat more. 4) I eat less at the beginning of the week and more on the weekends, and 5) I might drink a smidgen too much on the weekends.

I now return you to my regularly scheduled diet where I need to monitor everything and not just take a picture of it...well eventually.  Not right away.  I've some indulgent social plans within the next few days.

There will probably be more picture of Martinis.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

What NOT to say to a woman walking alone in Whitechapel

The other day I was walking along Whitechapel High Street at dusk, just running some errands before shops closed.  Suddenly, out of the blue, a man stepped in front of me stopping me in my tracks.  He was "my type", tall and blonde and rather good looking, except for what I identified later as a slightly crazy look in his eyes.
"Excuse me," he said in what I think was an American accent.  I may be American myself, but I've been known to get Limerick accents mixed up with American accents, and even I cannot, at times, distinguish an American accent from a Canadian one.
"You know Jack the Ripper, yeah?" he asked.
"Well, not personally," I responded. I can't resist quips like that.
He laughed a bit, but went on, "I mean, you know who he is, yeah.  He lives around here, right? I mean he did all his killing around here, yeah?" and then he smiled strangely. 
"Uh, yeah," I replied, "around here...uh...there are walking tours you can book," and with that I scurried away.
The whole exchange creeped me out a bit. Part of the reason I love living here is because of the history of the area, but I don't really need to be reminded as I'm walking alone while the sun is setting that there was once a serial killer, who would essentially fillet his female victims, working in the area.
This guy was probably just a tourist and didn't think that perhaps a woman walking alone at sunset isn't the person you want to randomly ask about Jack the Ripper.  But, as I said he did have a slightly crazy look in his eyes and his smile was a strange one.
I had planned on walking home for the exercise, but after that I took the bus.

Monday, 30 April 2012

My 'See-food Diet' Begins

The idea for this came to me a couple of weeks ago.  I was at a pub with a friend taking pictures of our martinis on my phone.  I like taking pictures of martinis because to me they look so pretty, like delicate flowers, but they don't last long.  Here are two of my favourites from the past.

So I am the loon who at the bar will take pictures of her martinis.  Oh but it's not just martinis.  Depending on where I am, I may take a shot of table setting, like this.

But I digress...
Anyway, as soon as I had taken pictures of my drinks that night, I instantly went to an app called "My Fitness Pal", entered in the calories for those drinks and that's when the idea of photo-documenting everything I eat occurred to me.

I find tracking what I eat helpful to keeping me healthy, but sometimes entering the details (especially on the small keyboard of my iPhone) can be cumbersome. I also am not fond of counting calories, as there are times I just end up making a guestimate on what I ate that day.  Thus, a photo journal of everything I eat seemed like a perfect idea.

And so here's my plan.  For the month of May I will...
1. Take a picture of everything I consume. (This will all be done primarily with my iPhone and I'm toying with the idea of using apps like Hipstamtic or Instagram to make it more interesting.)
2. Upload my daily consumption to Flickr nightly.
3. Every Monday record my progress here (what I noticed about my eating, if I lost any weight, how my perception of food and drink may have changed, etc).

What I expect will happen:
1. I will make healthier choices of food simply because I know that people might see it.
2. I will make more colourful choices of food, due to the photography, and my consumption choices will become more healthy as a result.
3. I will do more public writing, as I am recording my progress on here weekly.  (Maybe my creative literary juices will begin to flow again and who knows? Maybe some of it will end up being funny.)
4. I will have fun trying to think of different ways to depict the same food and drink.
5. I may lose followers because of my weekly food posts, but then again maybe I won't.  At the end of the day, I'm doing this to get me into a habit of healthy eating, not to win a popularity contest.

All this starts tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, 6 February 2012

My Commute

I created this little song on my way home today. I think it accurately reflects what my commute is like.