27 March 2007

My Latest Guilty Pleasure

The joy of 80s nostalgia will not be denied. And yes, Hugh does his own singing.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

15 March 2007

Do the Words 'Fire Hazard' Mean Nothing To You?

To be filed under: things I miss about the USA.

Let's ignore the fact that most shops and pubs in Poland have entrance doors which open inward, making them into death traps should the need arise for the patrons to leave in a hurry. Let's forget that I can't remember the last time I saw a fire extinguisher in a public building, let alone a smoke alarm.

Leaving all that aside, let's examine the stairwell in the building where I work. Not the main stairwell, but the secondary, smaller stairwell at the end of the hall. The one I use just about every day, because it's closer to the office I visit every day, to check my mail, collect classroom keys, etc.

Each floor has a door leading to this stairwell. The doors are usually left wide open. Except for the past two days, when the door to the 6th floor hallway has been shut, because there are two small tables stacked on top of each other on the landing, so the door will only open halfway.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me reveal the fact that I spent a few years working as an usher, so I'm trained to notice when an exit may be blocked. I was also raised by "Mr. Safety," so I sometimes see danger where others might not.

Regardless, I don't think I'm overreacting when I think, every time I see the tables on the landing, "If there were a fire right now, many people would not be able to escape. These tables should not be here. What the hell are tables doing in the stairwell???"

And then I remember where I am.

04 March 2007

Tag, I'm IT!

Thanks to Lisaopolis for the tag.

10) Favorites
COLOR: purple
FOOD: cheddar cheese
MONTH: June
SONG: I can't possibly choose just one, but anything by the Indigo Girls ranks pretty highly
MOVIE: Again, too many to choose one, but, gun to my head, I'll go with The Princess Bride
SPORT: rowing
SEASON: late spring
DAY OF THE WEEK: Saturday
ICE CREAM FLAVOR: mint chocolate chip
TIME OF DAY: 8:32 PM

9) Currents:
MOOD: distracted
CLOTHES: jeans, t-shirt, hoodie
TASTE: mint tea
TOENAIL COLOR: natural
TIME: 4:38 PM
SURROUNDINGS: my apartment
THOUGHTS: why am I doing this? hmm, I'm hungry
WONDERINGS: who invented liquid soap and why?

8) First:
BEST FRIEND: Andrea, we were in kindergarten together. Every day we'd try to convince the bus driver to let me get off with her at her house. Sometimes we were successful.
KISS: Joe Robertson
SCREEN NAME: raisin
PET: I think it was a hamster
PIERCING: ears
CRUSH: Bob Karczewski
HOME LOCATION: Redmond, WA

7) Lasts:
CIGARETTE: sometime in 1998
DRINK: sometime last month
KISS: too long ago
MOVIE SEEN AT THE MOVIE THEATER: Breakfast on Pluto
PHONE CALL: a student's mother
CD PLAYED: Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up the Girl
GIFT RECEIVED: cheddar cheese & Cadbury Creme Eggs

6) Have you ever...
DATED ONE OF YOUR BEST FRIENDS? yes
BEEN ARRESTED: not yet
BROKEN THE LAW: I shoplifted a pack of gum in high school
SKINNY DIPPED: yes
BEEN ON TV: on KIRO news, spreading rock salt on Queen Anne hill
KISSED SOMEONE YOU DIDN'T KNOW: define KNOW

5) Things...
YOU'VE EATEN TODAY: toast with peanut butter, bagel chips, strawberry yogurt
YOU'VE DONE TODAY: woken up, showered, taught English, worked on my resume
YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT: music, friends, rain, sleep, air
YOU CAN HEAR RIGHT NOW: the fan on my laptop, traffic outside my building
YOU DO WHEN YOU GET BORED: read random blogs, watch DVDs, grade papers

4)
PLACES YOU'VE BEEN TODAY: my apartment, 2 trams, 3 buses, a coffee shop

3)
PEOPLE YOU CAN TELL ANYTHING TO: define ANYTHING

2) Choices:
a. BLACK OR WHITE : if we're talking clothing, black, if we're talking coffee, white
b. HOT OR COLD: how about warm?

1) THING YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE:
live in Seattle again

03 March 2007

Fighting the System

As promised, here's the story of my new schedule.

During the semester break, I got an e-mail from the secretary's office informing me of my new class load. Once I figured out how to read it, I noticed a couple of changes - a new writing group, and the loss of one of my speaking groups. I inquired about the changes and was given the run-around, but I figured I'd just let it be.

Jump to the mock writing exams at the end of the break, where I bumped into a few of my students from my lost speaking group. They were upset about the change, and wanted to know if I had requested it. I was rather flattered that they felt so strongly about it, and promised to look into it.

It turns out, one of the Brits resigned from the university, causing a reshuffling of the schedule to find people to take his classes. That explains the new writing group. Unfortunately, since that particular group has 4 hours of classes per week, keeping my speaking group gives me 2 hours more than a full-time schedule, which means I get paid more.

Having established all the facts, I decided to protest. And was rewarded with an overfull schedule and a happy speaking group.

So I won...sort of. I'm missing the free time I had last semester, but I'm really glad to know my students enjoy my classes. It's the kind of verification you rarely get in teaching, finding out that your students actually want to be in your class. So I guess I'm doing something right, at least with one group.