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Well, my neighbours anyway. 8 days ago, I came home from work to be greeted by the sight of one of my neighbours approximately 10 feet up their tree with a chainsaw. It's their tree, completely in their garden except for the branches that hang over into mine, so they can pretty much do what they want with it since it's not protected or anything.

We then had a brief discussion about what I should do, or let them do, in relation to any branches that ended up in my garden as a result and that was it. Apparently it blocks too much light from their kitchen so now I also have a semi-Mediterranean garden as well and will have to see what effect it has on some of the stuff I planted which was quite happy with the amount of shade there was.

Likewise, who knows when the remaining third of a tree is going to get a chainsaw taken to it? He must have started mid-afternoon and then stopped after a couple of hours, which makes little sense to me since the job is only part-done. It's true we've had a couple of wet days since then - chainsaws and water don't really mix well - I'd kind of expected the rest of the massacre would happen sooner rather than later, though to be perfectly honest I'd rather they got up to chainsaw-related shenanigans when I'm out of the house.

I have college work to get finished this weekend, so what's the bet we'll hear the revving of chainsaws at an inconvenient time tomorrow?
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I really don't know. I can see a bunch of folks resolutely declaring that they have no intention of shifting off LJ and others moving over here, but maybe this isn't quite as much of a devastating blow to fandom on LJ as it would have been five or ten years ago. The days of the massive communities which were the heart of any given fandom seem to be in the past, unless there's stuff going on (which is quite possible) in fandoms I'm uninvolved with to give the lie to my opinion.

For myself, I really don't know either. I'd backed up to this account so my personal stuff isn't an issue, but I'll probably end up going over to LJ and having to agree to the TOS one way or another - I have a couple of communities which are slash-heavy but also not active for years, so perhaps it's time for some housekeeping. And then there's Danielpix, which I stopped posting to in January but feel differently about because of the significant part it played in my life for so long and the sheer size of it. Because it's picture-heavy rather than written, I doubt it's in such a vulnerable position unless LJ decides to start going after people for copyright violation, I guess. I'm tempted to just archive it, by removing everyone's posting rights, because deleting it seems wrong somehow.

In other news, I have escaped being saddled with the most annoying guy on my course as we get ready to do small group presentations. Just a couple more sessions of tedium and then I'm done for the year! And an observation tomorrow, which naturally comes when I'm tackling how you plan writing, possibly the most dreary part of the curriculum. Pah.

Better news came around when I told my boss I was probably going to need some more Saturdays off because I wanted to do some competitions - I've entered the first proper non-beginners one, which is in July but on a Sunday - I was pleased that her immediate response was 'well, I believe in work-life balance' and then she suggested we just list the course as less classes overall for the year and adjust the dates as required. Naturally, the competitions are not quite spread out evenly, because I'm roughly looking at one in early November, another early February and one late March, but that's also not too close together either. We're starting to plan next year's classes, so at least I should know within the next month or so what I'm likely to be asked to do from September, even if the exact Saturday dates may need tweaking once competition dates are finalised.
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Ugh, norovirus. Well, that was Saturday - I had lots of things planned for my class but spent pretty much all day in a small circuit between bed and toilet, which was not fun at all. I thought it was food poisoning at first, but on the rare occasions I come down with that (last time, it was eating yoghurt without checking the Best Before date), as soon as I puke I feel much better. This time, not so much. I literally couldn't keep anything down at all on Saturday and even drinking water was debatable at times.

So that means I need to try and find another Saturday to catch up that missed class, since most of the folks on it are paying for themselves, but that's a job for later this week when I can check which Saturdays the building is open. It also got me out of college tonight, because you're supposed to stay home for 48 hours, but I could have done without the reason for it!

In other news, I'm currently struggling a bit with finding good fanfic to read. I've been reading all sorts of stuff but the majority of it doesn't really strike me as good enough to rec and there's only been a few exceptions to that rule (since it's always lovely when someone whose writing you like gets sucked into your fandom, hello [personal profile] przed!). That ice-skating anime seems to have infected lots of people but I'm still catching up with Legend of Korra for the first time, so the chances of me getting that particular bug are slim to none.

However, I did stumble across some stonkingly good original fic and would like to recommend it - The Course of Honour by Avoliot. Lots of slow burn angsty arranged marriage stuff and updating regularly, currently 9 chapters in and still going strong. *sighs happily*
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Help me, flist, to make up my mind about something...

So, I've bought my first pair of fencing breeches with my unexpected backpay, which was great - I recently also bought some new court shoes (since tennis or squash shoes basically double as fencing shoes, for half the price) and some nice dark blue socks to match them. I'm now about 6 months in to learning to fence and enjoying it a lot, though I'm not always sure whether I'm actually improving. Part of what we do on a Thursday is that the beginners fence for an hour and then, if we like, we can stay on and have the opportunity to fight the more experienced fencers.

Anyway, in January we've got the annual club competition and for over 14's that's a team one - it looks as though how it'll shake out is the beginners all fencing foil and the more experienced fencing either épée or sabre, so a team will be a randomly-selected group of 3 with all weapons represented. I'm a bit nervous and this isn't helped by it being on a Saturday afternoon so I'll basically be finishing work at 12.30 and potentially fencing at 1pm.

But that's not the dilemma. Nope. I've also been given an entry form for the regional beginners & intermediate fencing competition, which is in February. A beginner is someone who's started fencing since August 2015 so I'd qualify for that and the intermediate is a longer period, so ditto (and for the next 2 years by my reckoning). I could borrow the relevant equipment from my club so that's not an issue but I would need to get the day off because, again, it's a Saturday but it's in the next town and I'd need to sign in for beginner's foil at 9.30am. It's probably not going to be a massive competition - last year there were 5 women beginners at foil.

Here's the thing: if I don't fence the beginners competition in February, I won't be eligible for that category any longer by the time it rolls around again, I'll have to go up to intermediate. If I wait to see how well I do in our competition, I won't be giving my boss enough notice to get cover for the one in February. If I do enter the beginners competition, I could still get my arse handed to me and finish bottom of the list.
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Okay, what's been going on since my last post way back in September? Well, the weasel is still alive, though I swear he gets scrawnier every time I look at him - still, as long as his quality of life is okay, I'm not going to complain.

In work news, we got a bizarre email last week going 'oh, btw, you should have got a pay rise 18 months ago but we forgot, so you're getting it and your resultant back pay in the next pay packet' which led to a few raised eyebrows. I'm still teaching 3 courses, though the second of my 6-month courses (which is due to start in February) may well end up being whatever level is needed for demand. I'm also hoping to negotiate a slight time change so that I get more than a 30 minute turnaround to get one lot of learners out, shove some lunch down my neck and be ready for the next lot to come in the door. Fortunately that only happens one day a week but it's a real pain.

I also got my first plagiarism of the academic year this past week. I'd asked for my folks to write something about an interesting place they'd been, only for one of them to give me something that was very obviously culled from Wikipedia. So I made a few choice comments to the group as a whole and also gave her some written feedback and hopefully that won't recur. Full marks for trying, though!

I've also just started at a new gym, which is based in my local high school. It's not open all day but the location and not having to pay parking charges makes up for that. I've had a year's free membership with the council gym but wasn't going to any classes other than Pilates once a week, which I want to continue, so I've saved money from not paying parking and just the sheer aggravation of driving into town. I'm a little annoyed that the people who're supposed to be supporting me from the council scheme apparently forgot I exist a few months back and I'd had nothing to say what should happen next, so I think a terse email will be heading their way next week. I didn't really need it, but I hope other people who need more support than me get a better service!

In college news, it's all a bit tedious at the moment, interspersed with the people who know the least about teaching apparently being the ones with the most opinions on the subject. Naturally, when faced with the prospect of a 2,500 word assignment, my response as a fic writer was only 2,500? - I've started work on it and it's already past that but I figured cutting it back would be easier.

Finally, I'm still making progress with the fencing lessons. Passed Grade 1 Foil a few weeks back and I understand the coach is keen to get those of us who're currently having lessons through Grade 2 before Christmas so he can then take on a new lot of learners in January and use us as examples as and when required. Or something like that. I have a continuous set of bruises on my leading thigh but am about to order proper fencing breeches (thanks, unexpected back pay!) which I hope may reduce that a little. My only regret is that, because of their location, I can't show off my bruises to the folks at work! :P
graculus: (oh please)
Okay, that sounds much more dramatic than is actually the case, but it's as good a title as any so we'll go with it! Yes, it's the summer holidays (so that, in the UK at least, means torrential rain alternating with days which are quite nice) and I have 3 weeks left before I have to actually start trying to teach something to someone. Which means schemes of work and lesson plans - slightly complicated by the fact that for one course I need a scheme of work for the entire year and have never taught a course that lasted more than two terms, and for the other I'm teaching at a level I've not taught before.

I'd had a couple of speculative enquiries from the firm where I temped last year as to my availability (both over the summer and in the autumn term) but was uncharacteristically realistic with myself in terms of what I already have going on. Sure, money is great but so is not losing the plot because you're trying to do too much! And then there's the little matter of starting at college myself too, which I'd pretty much forgotten till I looked at my calendar for September and saw a not about enrolment. *headdesk*

For the courses I've taught before, a new issue also arises in the form of returning students. How it works in my particular subject is that folks need to pass three exams (Speaking & Listening, Reading and Writing) before they can move on to the next level courses and it usually takes people a year to do all three. Sometimes a little longer if they're really struggling with one of the units - usually Writing is the hardest of the three, though occasionally we get people who can write grammatically but then the tenses fly out of their head when talking. Because I just finished teaching two Entry 2 classes which were less than a year, I now have the pleasure of at least 3 learners in my Entry 2 class who've already been through some of the material I'd normally use and in recent months to boot. Which means finding other stuff I can use so that I don't make life too easy for them!

In other work-related news, one of my former students who messed me about a lot (not turning up and then insisting he was better than he actually was) pestered his way into doing a Speaking & Listening exam while I was away - I'd put him in for it then he promptly disappeared, having attended less than 30% of the classes, only to state he'd 'missed a few'. Is it wrong of me to have laughed like a drain when I discovered that he failed it?

In non-work news, after just about recovering from bronchitis, I then went to Nine Worlds and got con crud, so I've been living on cold relief stuff again since getting back last week. At least I got to do what I wanted there, which was as much catch up with people (including some fan-girling of two particular authors) as go to panels. It's hard sometimes to balance the 'oh, we've already discussed this to death in fandom' aspect with other people's enthusiasm for what is new-to-them and so some panels I might have gone to ended up being ones I knew I could quite competently do and so avoided. The panels I went to were interesting though, so I didn't feel like I'd missed out too much - this year the location meant they were much closer together and I only missed out on one I wanted to go to because I arrived too late to get in.

Next year, of course, is WorldCon in Helsinki so it's fairly unlikely I'll be going to Nine Worlds as well (since it's the weekend before) as if I'm going to Finland, I want to get a chance to see more than just the capital. Now I have my timetable, I know that I'm finishing classes earlier this coming year and so I could go out before the con for a couple of weeks, but that's still a decision to be made - I need to have a look at where I want to go and get some costings, as it might be cheaper (in terms of flights and hotels) to finish with WorldCon than have it be the start of my trip. Helsinki! \o/

Other than that, stopped writing a while back and have been too lazy to get my arse in gear since - once I broke my streak on 750Words I didn't get myself going again. Knowing the way my brain operates though, I fully expect that once I'm back in a routine and at all under the cosh in terms of time, my creative side will suddenly start wanting an outlet. That's usually what happens, never when it's convenient of course! :P
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Finished everything in terms of work on Friday, now to get off on holiday. Tomorrow I'm off to the Scottish island of Mull for about 10 days, though given the weather forecast it's quite possible I may decide to come home before then, as I'm camping and the forecast is Not Great. Still, as long as I have coffee and books, I shall struggle on heroically and see how it goes!

I've got a couple of trips planned, but didn't want to over-organise myself and I'm also hoping to use my newly-refreshed navigation skills at some point - I've actually used them already, since I went out to the Peak District and got slightly turned around so then had to use map & compass to re-orientate myself. For map nerds like myself, discovering WH Smith were doing a sale on Ordnance Survey maps was just too much to resist, so I now find myself the proud owner of maps covering the entire Peak District National Park and also Mull (for obvious reasons).

Today is packing day as I'm leaving early tomorrow and driving up to Scotland, though I also need to go and see Ghostbusters this morning and drop the lone ferret off at the local pet place - they're looking after him and the woman who helps run it is so excited about having him. She has ferrets herself but this is the first one they've had to board, after a false alarm a few months back when someone called about boarding a parrot and she misheard them. It's literally over the road from the local vet, so if old and cranky turns into old and sick, he's as close as possible. All my washing is done and I want to pack the car tonight, though I'm still wondering if I've chosen enough books for if I do get stuck on a waterlogged island! ;)

Photo spam on my return, assuming that I didn't spend the majority of my trip underwater! :P
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I managed to lose my house keys yesterday so had to call a locksmith, which I don't recommend not because said locksmith wasn't a really nice guy (he was) but because it cost a load of money. Since he couldn't pick the lock, he had to drill it out and replace it. And I'd just picked up my car from its MOT and was rejoicing over the fact that it had passed without needing anything done to it. Knowing how my income works, all I could think was 'well, that's x hours teaching'. :(

I'm very much enjoying working part-time but the drop in overall income is not so enjoyable - I used to travel a lot more, but now what with teaching in term time and the money thing that hasn't really happened. However, we have a couple of people retiring in July so their hours should soon be up for grabs. We run a load of ESOL courses every week (weekday mornings, afternoons, late afternoons, most evenings and even Saturday mornings) at various levels and in four different centres so I'm really glad I'm not the one who has to timetable it all!

I'm trying to get out more on my day off and also really want to have a proper holiday at the end of our year (the week before the schools break up), to the point where I've been offered the possibility of more work by the university but they want me to do more training and I'm probably going to blow that off in favour of going to Scotland for a week. Going to conventions is nice but it's not really a holiday, you know?

I also got invited to stay behind this week at fencing and train with the rest of the adults for the first time, so I must be making progress; that means I got out of warming up again, as I was still very much warmed up from my lesson! At the moment, there are only two women turning up regularly (both of us relative beginners), so that means I got to fence a couple of teenage boys this week in addition to my fellow learners - I don't mind losing, though it's frustrating, as long as I've given it a good shot and hopefully taken at least one point off them. I'm now about halfway through my first set of lessons so I can definitely see myself carrying on past that, though I plan to delay buying any equipment for as long as humanly possible.
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Apologies to the folks who find my recent foray into the world of fitness etc. of zero interest - in recognition of that, I've put the next part of my post behind a cut so you can skip onto me whittering about other things instead!

blah, blah, rowing machines and fencing... )

In other news, well there's not a whole bunch to say. I'm still teaching two classes, though I've now been given a student teacher for a few weeks so she can see what life is like in adult education - she came today and I asked my learners to talk about their course and they immediately told her what a good teacher I was, which made me laugh a lot. I've been given an idea of what I'll be teaching from September and it's pretty much the same, unexpected funding cuts permitting!

I'm also reading a lot (no surprises there) and went to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday when it opened in the UK. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I loved it, though I still prefer the Russos' previous movie. Without spoiling anyone, since I know it's only opening elsewhere this week, I'd say that it probably tries to do too much but still manages most of it. Also Chris Evans' eyelash game is very strong. ;)
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Okay, so I'm no Arya Stark but I have just come back from my first fencing lesson, which was good fun. The local club does lessons for adult beginners and I was delighted to discover that I'm not the only newbie in town - there's a guy attending who's done 3 weeks more and another woman who's done 6 weeks more. I was warned by the guy that my legs will probably hurt tomorrow but we'll see - I have faith in the 4 months' worth of gym work I've been doing before now (the leg press machine and squats, as suggested by at least one person reading this!) and hope to prove him wrong. Part of my telling people I wanted to do it was to make myself actually follow through, so I'd given myself a deadline of Easter to make enquiries otherwise I knew it might well come to nothing. I've committed myself for 10 weeks and then we'll see what progress I've made and if I want to carry on, but there's a structure there to do it in if I do.

Part of my trying to be healthier was also about sorting out my diet a bit, though not ridiculously restricting what I eat as much as being a bit more aware of what's what. By just eating a little more sensibly in terms of more veggies and less carbs has seen me lose about a stone and a half since November (that's just over 10kg for those metrically inclined) without neglecting the odd cake or pizza. I've always been of the opinion that those ridiculously structured diets may work for some people but if I end up feeling like I'm being punished, that's never going to stick.

I have to say, I've been quite happy with my gym experience as well, though the classes have been a bit more hit and miss. I started doing Pilates every week, but then the management apparently decided that class I was going to wasn't popular enough and began to mess about with it, before cancelling it completely - I've now joined a class on another day, but it's early evening, which I didn't really want. After a couple of weeks of being the only person turning up for another class, which meant one-to-one attention, I have now dropped out of that one and am committed to going to the gym instead.

It probably helps a bit that my gym is at a council leisure centre, so I suspect that has an impact on the clientele being a bit more diverse and all shapes and sizes are usually present. To date I've had no hassle from anyone, even when I started using the weights recently, with that area being a bit stinky with testosterone and unwashed men at times. It probably helps that I have resting bitch-face and a set of headphones, as well as being that bit older, so the only thing that's happened is people wanting to move stuff for me if it's in the way!

I've also found that, of all the cardio-related machines, I like the rowing machine the best. I was immensely amused the other day by the bloke who plonked himself down on the other one when I was midway through my second trip to that machine that afternoon; I could almost see him thinking 'if a woman can do it, then it can't be that hard' but there is still a certain amount of technique involved which he couldn't quite seem to master. What with him and the guy who grunts when lifting like he's giving birth, there's always entertainment to be found...
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As we rapidly head towards the Easter break, I am looking forward to trying to get ahead of the game in terms of course preparation for the two classes I'm teaching - I'd already got a lot of material I could use since I'd taught stuff at a similar level in the last academic year but (of course) no two courses are completely alike. I've also had to adjust what I'm doing for one class because it's being taught alongside functional maths and ICT classes, which means teaching the kind of vocabulary that you need to be able to follow instructions around those subjects and also talk about what you're doing. So that's a bit of a work in progress!

In theory, there's a bit of an overlap in terms of ability between my two courses but the extremes at both ends drag things out of a nice sensible shape. At one end I've got a chap who says he's bored because he knows everything I'm teaching - though when I get him to do stuff in class, that's not always borne out by his work, so I'm taking that with a big pinch of salt - and at the other end I've got folks who sit and look at me like rabbits in the headlights. So there's a lot of repetition in that class. A lot of repetition. *sigh*

Anyway, at least I've started getting paid again, that's the main thing - the outstanding wages from the university turned up, I got paid for the hours I taught in January and I'm looking forward to wrestling with the tax office soon about the money I've given them which I'll be having back. Unfortunately for them, I keep meticulous records of all my incomings (good thing too, since I got paid by three different employers last year) so it's not as much of a chore as it could be.

In other news, my aged computer finally fell over and breathed its last, just refusing to boot up at all. Considering it had gone through various bits being replaced over its lifespan, not to mention outliving the company that made it by a matter of 7 years, I decided that enough was enough. So now I have a refurbished Windows 7 computer that cost me less than a night in a London budget hotel and so far, so good.

Speaking of London hotels (see, what a neat segue!) I'm still currently undecided about what to do about Nine Worlds this year. I enjoyed last year's convention, mostly because of getting to hang out with folks, since a lot of the fandom panels in particular were quite basic in nature. And this year, after a bunch of understandable complaints regarding the hotel it's moved to, of all places, Hammersmith. Very convenient for the folks running it who I assume mostly live in London but a little more difficult for the rest of us who weren't able to get a hotel room in the hour that the discount rate rooms were on sale.

Being in the hotel itself makes a big difference to the experience (in my opinion), both in terms of being able to disappear off for a bit of peace and quiet if needed and also not having to worry about carrying everything you're going to need for the day. A list of back-up hotels has gone round but I've yet to organise anything, so who knows if any of those other places even still have space? I was also underwhelmed by the concept of having to phone to book stuff, because phones... bleurgh. So I may or may not be going, I really don't know right now.

If nothing else, I will be going to Helsinki next year. I'm already starting to look at what else I'll be doing while I'm there, though sadly I think I'm missing the main season for spotting flying squirrels!
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Oops, how has it been a month since I last posted? Anyway, last time, I was making plans to go down to London and then do some work, first for the university and then getting back to teaching again.

I highly recommend the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum, in case anyone here has the chance to go and hasn't yet - all sorts of cool stuff from the history of Russian space exploration, though the gift shop was shockingly lacking in cool stuff I wanted to buy (except for all the posters, where I could have pretty much cleared the wall if I'd let myself). What I wanted, more than anything, was a mug with the Valentina Tereshkova poster artwork on it, but nope.

Since I've been back, I did a week at the university and then started shadowing the folks who're currently teaching the course where I'm taking over the ESOL part when it runs again from after half term. Getting the other tutors together to review this (since it was a pilot) was a nightmare though, since there are 4 of them and nobody could do the same times as everyone else, so we've ended up having two meetings to cover that. I suppose I should probably be grateful we've managed it with only two!

Meanwhile, I've also picked up another course to teach, starting the same time, which is excellent news in financial terms. I'd like to say I've been prepping stuff for both of them, but that'd be a lie, though I have been organising what I already have so I can actually find what I'm looking for. And I also got given a load of stuff by one of the tutors who retired, so I have no shortage of possible material, only needing the time and concentration to look through it and see what's still useful.

I also did a solid week's worth of invigilation in January, so I'm looking forward to getting paid for that this month. In related news, I was in the supermarket and bumped into the woman who organises the medical school exams, only for me to completely blank on where I knew her from (since it was utterly out of context) and have to blag that I remembered when I didn't. *headdesk*

Meanwhile, in terms of health and welfare news, I signed up for something last year through my local council which offered free gym and classes for a year if you met certain criteria (which I did) and am trying to improve my overall fitness. Not quite a New Year resolution, since it started in November! I think I'd got to that point where anything like fatigue was a toss-up between 'am I ill?', 'am I just getting older?' or 'is it just that I'm not very fit any more?' (like the question about whether there was something going on with my thyroid function, which came back as not proven) and decided the best way to sort out between the two was to remove one of them as a possible factor. Sadly, it wasn't 'am I just getting older?', which nobody can do anything about! ;)

Anyway, I've been going to the gym although I find the cardio aspect of it incredibly tedious, and also trying out Pilates, which can best be summarised as 'I was never very coordinated when I was younger and that has not improved'. This week I was also persuaded to attend a circuit class, which would have been fine if I hadn't been the only person to turn up - free personal training is not fun, my thighs can tell you all about it two days later!

Longer term, I'd also like to get back into some kind of regular sport and am currently looking at what's feasible for me considering age and attention span. I played hockey (field hockey to the folks across the water) for more than 10 years but don't really fancy getting back into that again, even though there are 'veterans' teams. One thing I've been looking at is fencing, since there's a local club that does adult lessons quite reasonably priced and it's something I've always wanted to try. But improving my basic fitness comes first, I'll make some enquiries after Easter about that and see where things go from there...
graculus: (oh please)
Finally met with my boss so now I know what I'm going to be doing next year, when my new teaching contract kicks in. I've been asked to do evaluations for a particular course that's currently running for the first time (which gives students an IT, ESOL and numeracy qualification) and then take over teaching the ESOL part of it when the next cohort starts after February half-term, right through to late July by the time we've done exams. It's only a little more in terms of hours than I was teaching last year, but it is the next level up from what I was teaching last academic year so that's another new curriculum and new things to figure out how to teach!

Anyway, in terms of my interview apparently there were a bunch of folks who didn't score as highly as I did despite being more experienced/qualified. Likewise the teacher I'm taking over from had never actually had an interview before and since this is a course specifically for jobseekers, that was one of the reasons I've been asked to take it over - the other was that my manager wanted someone with 'a bit more spark' (which doesn't surprise me, since the teacher I'm taking over from always reminds me of Eeyore).

Anyway, the way it's going to work next year is that I should be able to do a week's invigilation for the university before I start with this job, so that'll help out in terms of money. I'm currently temping 5 mornings a week which is a bit tedious but helps immensely in terms of regular income as I continue to figure out how much the tax office are going to give me back in the new financial year. ;)

If I'm going to get to London, it's going to have to be the first week in January, which is always risky in terms of weather, as the Celts exhibition ends that month. I've discovered I will in fact only be teaching 3 days a week, not 5, so that's a little less traumatic in terms of organising my life although my only opportunities for a block of time off will now be the same as school terms, which is not so good for getting anywhere cheap. That's not so much of an issue this year, but in 2017 I really wanted to go to Finland for a couple of weeks before WorldCon, which is the first full weekend in August so that's going to take a little bit of organising once I know what next academic year's timetable brings.

I'm going to do a separate post for books, since I've read some absolute crackers since the last book-related post back in June and possibly a TV post too over the next few days - currently really enjoying Jessica Jones (though I'm only 2 episodes in so far) and hoping it continues to be this good all the way through!
graculus: (oh please)
Just got the letter offering me my classes for January onwards and apparently I will be teaching every morning, Monday-Friday, as a minimum. So that basically means I need to get myself organised and down to London this side of Christmas as there are currently a number of fantastic-looking exhibitions on and the thought of missing them/struggling through Saturday crowds makes me come over all peculiar:

  • The Celts: art and identity at the British Museum, which includes a visit by the Gundestrup Cauldron, which is usually in a museum in Denmark, among other things.

  • Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age at the Science Museum - the main challenge with this will be not leaving with an armful of posters and so on... There's also an exhibition on at the Science Museum about Ada Lovelace.

  • Black Georgians: The Shock of the Familiar at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton.

    There's bound to be even more than that, once I get looking at everywhere else, but that ought to be enough to be going on with - any London folks, if you'd like to meet for dinner or some such, let me know? I'm currently looking at Wed-Thur-Fri-Sat of the last week in November as provisional dates, but it could be the week after.
  • graculus: (Default)
    It really is downhill and no brakes till the end of the year, isn't it? It seems like only five minutes ago I thought I knew what I was doing and then it all went to pot - I've just started back working 4 hours a day on a temporary basis at the place I worked at in August, doing data entry. And trust me, 4 hours of that is more than enough! The money's not great but every little helps while we see what's what and I've told them I'm available till Christmas, which works for them as well.

    The process with the other job is going to interviews, so I don't hold out a great deal of hope I'll be one of the lucky ones, since there are others out there with a lot more qualifications and experience than I have, but I may claw back some credit because I actually bothered to do training this year (which I know some of the 'old hands' didn't) and because I am prepared to do any day, any time. My interview is on Tuesday afternoon, so I plan to give it my best shot and see how it goes.

    Since I have time on my hands, I'm currently trying to get my garden cut back before winter really arrives, as well as clearing out extraneous crap in the house. And cooking, a lot of cooking - I subscribe to a bunch of cooking blogs and use an app called ChefTap to get them onto my tablet, so I can use it as a cookbook. Also it's now apparently pumpkin season, since the local supermarkets have loads of them (for carving, not eating, I presume!) so I expect my newly-cleared-out cupboard under the stairs is about to get some new residents. ;)

    In other news, I'm still writing every day and have well over 60,000 words written in the period I've been signed up to 750 Words - it's all been Man from UNCLE movie fic so far, but when I'm done with the story I'm currently working on, I intend to dive back into my WiP (where some Mag7 and WWW lurk) and see if I can knock some of those on the head finally.

    Since it's new TV season, I'll do a separate post on that and maybe also a book post soon - I'm still regularly posting on Booklikes if anyone is interested and am currently at 102 books read this year. I'd set a target for myself of 100 so I'm past that and still going, courtesy of my TBR bookcase and my local library's 45p hold arrangement.
    graculus: (oh please)
    I've been a vegetarian for about 20 years - not a vegan, because god knows I would sell my soul for cheese and usually have at least 3 or 4 kinds in the fridge at any one time, and then let's not get into the horrorshow that is non-dairy ice cream - but any time I tell someone they always seem to ask the same question. What do you eat?

    Well, for starters, I don't eat meat or fish or seafood. And then I also am quite picky when it comes to checking the ingredients of pre-prepared food; you'd probably be horrified if you realised just how many things have beef or pork gelatine in them, especially if you know how gelatine is made. This is particularly a problem with desserts, including at one point a whole swathe of Muller yoghurts. Yeuch.

    But when people ask me what I eat, what they actually mean is 'I couldn't imagine not eating meat and so what is left to eat if you remove that?' Erm, lots of things. And that's even without touching on the whole pretend-meat segment of the vegetarian market (which I don't really like all that much, except for occasionally the Quorn pretend-chicken burgers). Not really sure what it is they think vegetarians eat, if not soy mince and, well I have no idea...

    So, what do I eat? Well, today I had mushroom risotto, yesterday I had potato and cauliflower curry and tomorrow I'm probably going to have kitchari (which is rice and lentils, in this case cooked with cauliflower and peas). I eat a lot of Indian food, probably more than any other kind of cuisine, and my spice rack is starting to feel the strain as a result. I have a lot of jars and could probably do with a few more, if I can squeeze them in somewhere.

    Luckily I also live close enough to shops where I can buy slightly more obscure things like asafoetida or get my hands on decent paneer (for some reason the variety the main supermarket I shop at stocks is far too crumbly) and also all sorts of weird and wonderful fruit and veg. I also usually end up with 2 or 3 meals at a time, so I really need to get another freezer and get myself more organised!

    I haven't quite got to the point of grinding my own curry powder or making my own paneer yet, but I can sort of see the attraction. ;)
    graculus: (olivia)
    So, in the past couple of years, I've become a fan of cycling. This is mostly the fault of some people on my flist (they know who they are) and at least it's not ice hockey and the resultant RPF that seems to generate, so that's a small comfort!

    I'm not overly obsessive about it but it does mean that I get a little over-excited about what's going on particularly when the three main stage races - the Giro d'Italia (which usually takes place in May-June), the Tour de France (yes, the one people have usually heard of, which takes place in July) and the Vuelta a España (which is on at the moment, poor buggers) - are taking place. There are other stage races but these are the big ones and also the easiest to keep track of via the media as a result. Unfortunately, out of those 3 races we only seem to get reasonable coverage of the Tour on non-pay channels here and I'm restricted to highlights each evening for the Vuelta, which are still pretty good though.

    These guys are seriously nuts. They'll ride a couple of hundred kilometres, climb a couple of mountains in the process and then get up the next day and do it all over again. But what I really like about it is that it's a strategic thing and a team thing, not just one star athlete who's out to prove they're better than everyone else - sure, each team has the big names as well, but they can't possibly win the overall race without the support of the rest of the riders.

    To date, I'd been pretty much non-aligned in terms of a team. I've found myself applauding good riding on the part of pretty much any team rather than having a preference, though I was pleased to see how well Chris Froome did in the Tour. His team did everything right, everyone worked their respective arses off, and they got the result they wanted.

    And then the Vuelta came along and so much for me being non-aligned any more! :P

    Yep, I'm now very much supporting one particular team, in this case it's Orica GreenEdge, who are (mostly) Australian. It all started when one of their riders, Esteban Chaves, won Stage 2 and they had to literally stitch him into the stage winner's red jersey the next day because it was much too big for him. My liking for them as a team is also helped immensely by the fact that they regularly post behind the scenes videos which give a real insight into what's going on not just on the road during races but also before and after each stage. As I write, Chaves is still race leader but we're a long way from the final stage so I'll be hoping he can manage to keep that lead.
    graculus: (smirk)
    After the metaphorical smack-in-the-face that was last week, I figure I deserved a break and on Monday I seem to have got a small one at least... I got a text from the agency who organised the time I worked in the university library (and I didn't think I was still on their books, as it was more than 18 months ago) asking for someone to do admin work for a couple of weeks locally.

    I started yesterday and it's going to be 17 days' worth of work in all, in the office of a small manufacturing company (don't ask me exactly what it is they manufacture, something to do with insulation) dealing with purchase orders and all that sort of thing. Yesterday was a crash course in what to do, as the person whose job I'm covering is away on holiday, though she's only been there a couple of weeks herself!

    And yes, they know I need next Thursday & Friday off (I can't believe it's time for Nine Worlds already!) and were cool with that too, so that's excellent news. Hopefully I'll be getting some work from the university in August too, as it's resit time and apparently there's a lot more demand than they were originally expecting (uh oh!), though there's a bit of an overlap so I won't be available for just over half of the resit period. Hooray for money! \o/
    graculus: (olivia)
    Still waiting on final details of my classes for September, but I'm keeping 'my' evening class, along with picking up something else (as yet still to be confirmed). Instead of 3 evenings, I'm going to be teaching slightly longer for 2, as I'll be at college myself on the Wednesday. Still, even if I don't get anything else consistent, I've survived so far and there's always cover and exams hours to pick up.

    Speaking of exams, my students have done me proud. We usually do exams in all three terms but since I only took over the class in January, I'd put a hold on everything till this term. That gave me a chance to see where everyone was at, get them all lots of practice at what they needed to be able to do and also catch up the new folks. We have rolling admission, so people can join any time of the year (if there's room in a particular class) and that means going over everything on the curriculum more than once throughout the year. I've got a couple of folks re-taking one of the exams next week, after very narrowly failing, but if they pass I will have pushed a significant majority of my class up to the next level. And now some of them are going 'but what classes are you teaching in September?'. ;)

    I'm picking up some mandatory training next month, as well as (hopefully) resits for the university in August, but that's pretty much it in terms of work till September. So I've decided that it's time for a major sort-out of the house, including the dreaded cupboard under the stairs. *shudders* This is not a task that fills me with joy, but it definitely needs doing - I've just recycled about 5 years' worth of carrier bags, as well as getting rid of broken electrical items that had been lurking in various cupboards. All sorts of minor domestic chores need doing and, if I'm not working, I don't really have an excuse for not doing them except for 'I can't be bothered'.

    Being an adult sucks. :P
    graculus: (hero)
    Status: currently waiting for an email to tell me what classes I'll be teaching in September, which is apparently also known as 'the time when we all try not to kill each other' according to one of the admin folks.

    At least I have passed my probation, with comments being made about how much better I was than they expected a new tutor to be and how their feedback was to help me be even better, rather than just 'good enough'. Hopefully that bodes well for what will be offered from the pickings of the carcass of classes left by the permanent contract tutors (and yes, I am one of the hyenas in this scenario, but meat is meat). I could do with the same hours again as I have been teaching, to be honest, but I'll take what I can get.

    I need a minimum number anyway, as I plan to get qualified starting in September - my tuition fees loan application came through very quickly and I won't have to pay it back till I'm earning at least £21K, which could take a while. ;)

    The main craziness of exam season is over too, though there are still the August resits to cover - I fully expect I'll see a few of the folks I did exams with these past few weeks again, like the lass who came to a foundation science exam but forgot to bring a calculator. *headdesk*

    In other news, I went to the GP because I've been feeling lethargic and cold - though as I'm getting older, it's becoming increasingly difficult to separate 'feeling tired' and 'getting older' - and the blood test says I'm on the borderline for hypothyroidism. So, back in a few more weeks for another test to see if that's what is going on. In the meantime, I've been really glad I'm not working full time, because I can drag myself off to work to teach for a couple of hours (perform, really, because that's what it is - a performance) and that's perfectly doable.

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