2016… we’re almost there!

24 02 2018


For Chinese New Year, I flew to the USA to see Casey and see his family and friends. I met his brother and sister in law for the first time, they were really cool and even though I was very nervous about meeting them I had a great time. Due to our complicated past, I was really stressed about meeting and getting to know Casey’s family. I got to know his mom better and meet his grandma, who is real treat by the way. Casey and I got engaged and traveled around for a few weeks between Minneapolis, Iowa, and Milwaukee.

I was given and signed a new contract for the next year at my school, and a month later was again offered a job at the other school. I feel bad always saying no, but I’ve already signed and made a commitment plus… it feels pretty nice to be wanted. If things don’t work at the private school then I have something great to fall back on.

Casey had a manic episode and ended up in the hospital, that was really challenging and stressful. Especially while working fulltime and doing my masters. I had a class at that time and almost dropped out of school to go to the states. In the end, it was ok, but it was a really tough time.

Another summer of travel, back to work in August. There was some unfortunate and uncomfortable work drama but I tried to stay out of it.  Casey moved to Taiwan, but was still working for Mary which meant she kept pulling him back to the US, he went back for Christmas which I was surprisingly disappointed by it. I moped about and told him he’s not to abandon me again :P.

… to be continued.

The years keep Marching on 2015

22 02 2018


This was a big year of changes. Regis and I spent a few weeks ignoring each other, avoiding the inevitable but finally in January decided to officially break up. We decided to not announce it but tell people as we talked to or ran into them. This was easier I think but lead to some funny conversations next year.  I decided to bring mom to Taiwan to help kick her depression and to enroll in the master’s degree at Framingham that held classes in Taipei. While I was still thinking about leaving teaching, the thing is a masters degree just looks good, you know?

Mom came out, I started my first class during Chinese New Year, I was super nervous because it had been out of school for more than a minute and I hadn’t done that well the first time around. School was great, I realized I do know a thing or two about education and teaching. TESOL was really a great class for me to start with, I mean come on, what have I been doing for the last 14 years???

Casey got back in touch, and went to great lengths to try to get me back. A lot of talking, and he wrote me a handwritten letter every day for several months. The general tone was, I love you, I want you to be happy, I think I can make you happy, let me try. There was a lot more to it, but ultimately how do you keep saying no to that?  I finally agreed to him coming out to see what might be there, and we got back together… Jesus here I am in another damn long-distance relationship.

I have to say he was smart about it though, we made sure someone went somewhere every 3 months or so, and that we just combined and split all the travel costs regardless of who traveled where. Which really addressed the frustration that comes from one person doing more of the traveling or shouldering the lion’s share of the expenses because that breeds resentment.

I completed the first three of my classes and made a good impression on my classmates, so much so that they recommended me to their employers. I had an amazing interview at a school and thought that was going to be my new job but it fell through at the last minute. The same day I got “the strange” you maybe aren’t getting a job here email, I also got an email offering me an interview at a fancy private school that I didn’t really think I would get an interview at. I rocked my interview and they offered me the job, Hizzah I started in August.

Went home that summer to see family and Casey, then to work in August. Before my job had even really started, the school who I’d not been able to take the job because of flight timing the previous year emailed to offer me a job, but my master’s classes interfered plus I was excited about teaching science to lower elementary school, really fun. University trucked along, work was challenging but good. The year carried on like this.

…. to be continued

Some updates:AKA Magda has been garbage at blogging.

19 02 2018

I was looking at my blog and it’s been legit years… since I’ve properly used this thing. I have lots to say, so why am I not saying it? Well, I’m busy, I work far more than I used to, plus I was doing my masters, and I have a cornucopia of excuses :P.

Anyway, I thought a good way to try to get back into it was to try to update Y’all on the past few years … I tend to be cagey on facebook bc it’s bum. So here is the first installment.


I quit my job at Chingshin, actually I wanted to transfer to a different department but that didn’t work out and then my boss used that as a way to squeeze me out. Which annoyed me because I actually wanted to leave but my co-teacher had convinced me to stay for her and the kids. They dragged the whole thing out for a long time, I tried to get a different job but my tickets were already purchased based on my start date at the end of August.  I had a lot of trouble finding something I wanted. I was offered something at this school I’ve been dying to work with, but they needed me a week earlier and I couldn’t make it work.

I ended up taking a job at a kindi that had tried to hire/poach me from Chingshin before, the devil you know. In some ways it was great, my boss was lovely and really appreciated me, which was lovely. But it had a really strict curriculum and there was no room for variation based on one’s own experience and knowledge. There was a supervisor who was a huge pain in the butt, no experience, no teaching knowledge.. guh. And the guys there, my god talk about white male egos… they were shocking in their horribleness to work with. They felt they were the best thing to hit teaching, and I’m not saying they are bad at what they do.. but they were such raging assholes they created the most hostile work environment I could imagine.

My mom had been laid off from her job the previous year and she was struggling with what to do, her words “No one wants to hire a 60+ year old with no education to speak of”. Really got me thinking, you know I don’t have that much going for me education-wise, basically, everyone has a bachelor’s these days… and all my resume really talks about is teaching, mostly in these after school joints.  Jesus, what if I go home? At the kindi I was getting really depressed and tired of the job’s I’ve had. Maybe I was burned out and done with teaching.

I had known about this master’s degree for a year or more, but I’d never really looked into it much. I always think of it, no matter how bad Chingshin was, it was still a decent job so I wasn’t looking for improvement. But as a friend told me, nothing with push you to improve yourself like a terrible job. And how true it was, I was really unhappy where I was and needed to make changes. Things weren’t going well with Regis, he had broken his neck in an epically stupid stunt with his drunk friends, he ended up healing and being ok… but it was a strain on us.

Rolling up on the end of the year, I was depressed, my mom was super depressed, My relationship was clearly ending, I was burned out and was weighing my options. I was seriously considering moving back to Canada.. but when, how, do what?

…. to be continued

Testing Testing Zaption

20 05 2016

Here is the YouTube video

And here is the Zaption (hopefully)  if not click {here}.


(apparently it can be embedded but it would take me too long to fiddle with it now as I need to finish my project perhaps later when I have more time, though honestly I don’t think I’d bother.)




Critique Paper 1

12 11 2015

Magda Vince

November 11th, 2015

My article: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1058486.pdf
Principals’ Perceived Supervisory Behaviors Regarding Marginal Teachers in Two States

This article describes a study in which they looked at how male and female principals identified and managed marginal teachers.  A marginal teacher, as defined by this article, is:

a teacher who is not quite good enough, of middling quality or second rate, or one who manages to perform just well enough to keep their jobs, to the detriment of student learning.

Marginal teachers may have a reasonable handle on the material, but have poor classroom management skills. They are characterized by their negative attitudes about teaching, and also have difficulty or an inability to relate with others, including colleagues, parents, and students.

The main line of defense against marginal, or inadequate, teachers is the principal of the school.  It is known and accepted that that students with ineffective teachers are harmed. Students will likely recover from a single year of having a lower quality instructor, but multiple years under a marginal teacher will lead to lasting problems.  Unfortunately, principals have a lot of responsibilities, leaving little time to properly identify and address the needs of the marginal teachers.

The purpose of conducting this study was to fill the gap there is in the literature on the subject.  They wanted to determine whether male or female principals differ in their views in supervising and evaluating marginal teachers.  They also wished to “expand the understanding of how male and female supervisors view the challenge of identifying and working with marginal teachers, this study examined the perceptions of male and female principals about the identification of marginal teachers and the strategies they use to supervise and evaluate them”.

This study followed a descriptive format, they used an online survey, and used these three questions to guide their study:

  1. What data sources do principals use to identify marginal teachers, and how their views differ by gender?
  2. What supervisory methods do principals use when attempting to improve marginal teachers, and how do their views on the methods differ by gender?
  3. How do principals working with marginal teachers describe their supervisory styles, and do they differ by gender?

They concluded that both male and female principals felt their evaluations of the teachers to be the main source of information when making decisions about marginal teachers.  Classroom walkthroughs and informal observations are their primary diagnostic tool.  Female principals leaned toward a procedural supervisory style, while male principals had a more situational style. Female principals were more inclined to consider outside opinions, such as other supervisors, parents, students and even teacher self-evaluation than their male counterparts.  This study also corroborated other studies that indicated that there was a pattern of female support concerning data sources. That female principals value instruction and perceive their supervisory role as important, they have strong instructional leadership and are more involved with the teacher on a personal level.


I found it interesting that this study seems to indicate female principals are more likely to manage using a style with procedures, documents and data while their male counterparts may be more inclined to just go with their ‘gut’.  I agree that many female leaders can be more, at least seemingly, interested in the lives of their staff, but on the other hand I find many female supervisors feel they have something to prove.  They can be as tough as the next guy and make it their mission to prove it, while male supervisors may either be strict and firm or friendly and jovial.  I, personally, feel this more often comes down to an individual’s personality and circumstance far more than anything related to their sex.

In this study they only surveyed two states, one in the Midwest and another in the Rocky Mountains.  I would be interested to see how the data varied with a larger pool of principals and in different areas.  For example: the southern, northern, eastern and western states or non-continental USA, how about Europe, Asia, Canada or South Africa?  I have a feeling the results would vary strongly in these different regions and would likely reflect the sexual equality and attitudes toward female and male roles in those societies.

I found the article to be well written and put together. Data charts helped demonstrate the relevant numbers and how they related to one another.  When I finished reading, the first thing I thought was that it was leaning rather heavily on the side of female principals being more effective, involved and possibly better managers of the teachers and therefore the school.  I immediately wondered if the authors were female, if they had been all female or even more than half, I would have been inclined to think that this article was biased toward women.  But given only one of the cited authors of the study was a female researcher it seems less likely to be women touting the glory of women.

If there were more information about the relationship in areas with less gender equality, I would try to use this information to tailor how I would interact with my principals in Taiwan.  But as is the cultural differences are significant, I do not believe that the data provided in this study is particularly relevant to my current situation.  If I ever transfer to a North American location, it would be interesting to see how my personal experiences and behaviour would be affected by the differences between male and female supervisors.

EDUC 921 Pre Course Paper

8 11 2015

EDUC 921    Pre Course Paper

Magda Vince

November 5th, 2015

At first I had no idea what to write, it should have been easy, I should have known my personal philosophy in education.  My personal philosophy in education is not really something that I have given a ton of thought.  I balked at it because I found the task to be a daunting one, but ultimately this is good for me because I need to clearly think and write about my philosophy for my full application to the program at Framingham.  I was not sure how to proceed, as we have not been given examples or guidance on what is expected.  I looked online, read some examples and realized, hopefully correctly, that I should be writing about what I personally consider to be important in education and teaching.  If I have incorrectly identified the objective, I apologize.

There are many things that I consider to be very important to keep in mind in regards to what I am teaching and trying to achieve in the classroom.  As teachers, we have a responsibility to not only educate the children academically but to help shape them into responsible, ethical and good people.  It is not just about imparting information and knowledge, it is about making sure that they understand the importance of honesty, integrity and a job well done.

It is very important to make learning engaging and exciting.  I find ways to hit on students’ personal interests. If I can get them involved and excited about a topic it will have a greater impact on them.  It is of the utmost importance to try to make personal connections with my students to help them feel more comfortable talking to me in and out of class.  If they like me they will be more inclined to listen and learn, and if I take the time to get to know and like them I will be more invested in their future and comprehension.  This is especially true in Taiwan where a lot of the kids spend the vast majority of their time at school with their teachers. It is important to make the kids feel cared about and safe in the class room.  There is a culture of perfection here, it is not acceptable to not know or to be wrong.

An amusing example of this that happened often in the past was to ask for directions and have someone confidently explain how to get to a destination, only to discover that the person had no idea. Rather than admit it, they gave random directions hoping someone else help upon becoming lost.   In the classroom this translates to quiet, shy kids that are extremely hesitant to speak up in class.  They do not like to ask questions because that is an admission of ignorance.  I make a point with every new class to emphasis the importance of asking questions, encouraging their natural curiosity and helping them shed their cultural inhibitions.  I want them to feel safe to admit when they do not know something, and to realize that we all have questions and things we do not know.  For this reason I always admit when I do not know something. If I make a mistake I own it, I correct it, and we move on.  I lead by example and show that it is ok to not know or make mistakes if an effort is made to learn from it in the future.

Something I always strive for as a teacher is to ultimately make myself obsolete.  I teach my students to be independent, giving them the tools to succeed on their own.  I give them independent study skills, test taking skills, and the confidence to dissect an assignment on their own.  I am always available to help, but I expect them to try to complete tasks on their own.  They, eventually, are able to complete the majority of assignments with little to no intervention on my part.  I also make my classroom student centered as often as I can, because it is important that they are invested in what they are learning.  In my experience I have observed that students are more engaged and invested when we incorporate student centered learning into the classroom.

Communication is key to the success of any relationship.  That is why I always have an open communication policy with students, parents, colleagues and even administration.  With the students I am open and honest with them, as much as appropriate.  If I feel sick or if a particular class or assignment is important, I simply take time to discuss it with them.  They know what it is like to be sick or sad and are very understanding when time is taken to explain my mindset to them.  If a class or assignment is important, and it is explained why, they will have far more respect for it and me for discussing it with them.

I have an open classroom, anyone is welcome to come observe at any time.  In addition I often share plans, ideas, activities and classes that I plan to do or that have gone particularly well with my colleagues and administrators.  This is an important attitude to have as an educator; I get a lot from sharing with others as they share with me as well.  Sharing my accomplishments keeps me excited about what I am doing.

As for parents, I find that most problems often come down to misunderstandings or a lack of trust.  I speak with parents often and am sure that they know they are welcome to ask me anything about the class or their kids.  In addition, I started a class blog to share what we have been doing with pictures, worksheets, videos and even communications with the parents.  So far this has been very well received, the kids love it and the parents are delighted to be able to see pictures of activities and watch videos that we have watched in our class.  It encourages parental involvement and also helps the parents feel more confident in myself as their children’s educator.

Good instruction is made up of clear, understandable directions and material.  It’s important to consider the audience, and make the lessons level appropriate.  There is nothing worse than going to a class to have the book or teacher aimed a mile above students’ head.  It is frustrating and discouraging to the students, and shows a lack of connection and possibly disinterest or even worse apathy on the part of the instructor.

Instruction should be succinct and meaningful.  Assignments, lectures, readings and activities need to be useful, not just busy work.  It is also important to keep things as interesting as possible, depending on the subject matter. If a class or lesson is fun, or personalized to the students, it will have a far greater impact.  Student centered activities are a great way to get students involved and keep them interested in the subject matter.  It can also help when trying to make potentially unexciting material more personal and interesting.

Good supervision is something that is easy to speculate about but to be frank, in my experience, a little harder to find.  I would ideally like my supervisors to be fair but firm.  Again, communication is extremely important, I expect my supervisors to communicate clearly and honestly with me.  It is important to be able to talk to administration and that they are approachable, not kings on the mountain.  It is also important to know that they will listen, trust, and be supportive in a conflict or dispute.

One school, that I ultimately did not work at but was really looking forward to the positive environment, the director of the English department was personable, open and easy to talk to.  All the teachers that worked under her confirmed that she listened to the staff and took their feelings and perspectives into consideration.  When it came to reports from parents or complaints she always supported the teacher, regardless of what was said. Her first take was that of support of the teaching staff, and she reserved judgment of the situation until after discussing with the teachers in question.  I, personally, have not experienced that kind of support in schools in Taiwan.  The usual maneuver here is to assume the teachers are in the wrong without even discussing it with them, and then trying to do damage control to clean up the mess afterwards.  The party line for a lot of teachers is to constantly do everything you can to ‘cover your ass’ in case anything goes wrong.  I have yet to run into problems of this kind at my current job, but I have heard that our administrator is quite busy but tends to try to trust the staff, which I hope is the case.

What helped me the most to become a successful teacher?  Well, in part I would say that my own personality is the main driving force behind my success.  I really enjoy teaching, I get excited when I reach the kids and get them involved in a lesson.  I like to learn new things, but I have a short attention span and am easily bored.  As a result, I am constantly driven to try harder to make my lessons interesting, to spice things up, which keeps me and the kids interested and excited.

Also, this program has been a large positive influence for me as a teacher.  Not so much the courses themselves, they have been useful and informative, the most important thing that I have gotten from the program is a reigniting of my passion for teaching.  I had lost the spark, and was seriously considering leaving education and pursuing a different career.  I was extremely unhappy, especially after a very negative experience with unprofessional and shockingly poor management at my previous school.  When I left, we had nine foreign homeroom teachers, and that year six of the nine left the school permanently, and one transferred to a different department.  I attempted to transfer as well, but it did not work out.  The coordinator left mid-year, and her replacement left in June, three of the teachers were so ‘scarred’ by the experience that they left the country, two more left the city.  In the aftermath, I felt so disillusioned that while I changed schools, I was honestly considering leaving not only teaching but leaving Taiwan which has been my home for the past 14 years.

I decided to join the Framingham Master’s in International Education, to improve my resume and in the hopes to improve my situation if not now, at least in the future.  I knew that I would learn new things, meet new, people and have new experiences.  What I did not anticipate was the affirmation that I am actually good at my job, that I am a good teacher, and the realization that I still have a lot to offer.  The interactions, shared experiences, and lively discussions that I have engaged in with my classmates have made a world of difference to me personally and professionally.  I have learned about education and teaching, but most importantly I have learned about myself.  I have also made valuable connections and hopefully have improved my prospects for the future.


6 11 2015

I didn’t vote for him.

I couldn’t even if I wanted to because my right to vote was taken away.

I have recently and rapidly become ashamed of my country and what it has become.  Especially approaching the election.  I was disheartened, enraged, embarrassed, and even ashamed of my country.  I have been an expat for 14 years, I have often joked and jested about my homeland, but it has always been just that.  I refused to even consider giving up my citizenship, not because the Canadian passport is ‘better’, which is of course a factor.  But because deep down, Canada will always be a part of me and my home, no matter where I go, where I live, where my new home may be.  Canada is part of me, part of who I am, shaped me, and ultimately a huge part of my identity.

In the short time since the election, I have been nervously watching to see what our new Prime Minister would do.  He’s a politician, and … well they can be a shady bunch.  He’s done a number of things that may well, come lets be honest they are, publicity stunts.  But at the same time, he’s doing them.  And let’s consider, all people in the lime light do things to get your attention but what are they doing?  Regardless of why, what are they doing?

He ran a clean and positive campaign.

Meeting people in the morning after the election in the metro to shake hands and say thank you.

He used google hangouts, to reach out and chat with school children across the country about issues and their concerns.

Continually talking about, and making real moves toward, transparency in the government.

He promised a cabinet that was gender equal… and then he actually did it. 0.0

Speaking of the cabinet… I’ve heard some grumbling about how, it should be based on qualifications not getting the job for being a woman.  <- ok holy fuck off.. because all the men in the previous cabinets were the best candidate?  Like there aren’t any freaking qualified women in government?  Really.?  HUFF

When he was asked why he made a gender equal cabinet, his answers was simple “because it’s 2015”.

But seriously look at this..


In case you haven’t seen this floating around


These are some of the cabinet members…

We have a Minister of Environment and CLIMATE CHANGE.
We have a Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and REFUGEES.

Our Prime Minister is a sci-fi geek.
Our Minister of Health is an actual Doctor.
Our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is a poverty economist.
Our Minister of Science is an actual Scientist (oh, and she has a Nobel Prize).
Our Minister of Status of Women is an actual woman!
Our Minister of Veterans Affairs is a quadriplegic because he was shot in a drive-by shooting.
Our Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is a Professional Geologist.
Our Minister of Democratic Institutions is a Muslim refugee.
Our Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a Paralympian Athlete.
Our Minister of Defence is a badass war hero, Afghanistan combat vet, and police officer.

Half of our Ministers are women.
Half of our Ministers are men!
Two of our Ministers are people of First Nations (Kwakwaka’wakw, Inuit)
Three of our Ministers were born outside of Canada (India, Afghanistan)
Two of our Ministers are Sikh.
At least one of our Ministers is Muslim.
At least two of our Ministers are Atheist.
One of our Ministers is battling breast cancer. frown emoticon
One of our Ministers is in a wheelchair.
One of our Ministers is blind.
One of our Ministers is openly gay.
One of our Ministers is openly ginger.
Also, Hon. Navdeep Bains has a perfect twirly moustache.

Justin, if these are signs of what is to come, how you plan to run our country.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  I didn’t vote for you, but you’ve given me my Canada back, or at least have started to.  I am proud of my country again.  And I had a little hitch in my breath, my heart skipped a beat when I read his open letter to the country.  If nothing else, thank you for giving me hope.


Dear Fellow Canadians, We Need to Talk. (Part II)

5 10 2015

[Link to Part One]

A quick recap

  1. Nazis were bad
  2. Some business about coming for people who aren’t me
  3. Environmental stuff <– meh, doesn’t effect me
  4. Human rights violation something or other <– meh, doesn’t effect me
  5. Activists and protesters could be terrorists and arrested <– meh, doesn’t effect me
  6. Dual citizens are now second class citizen who can looks their Canadian passport with no due process  <– meh, doesn’t effect me

If you’re lucky enough to have actually gotten all the way through there with the ‘doesn’t affect me’s, um.. Kudos? But remember good ole Martin?  Here let me toss that in here in case you’ve forgotten.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I am guilty, I have been guilty.  Even the dual citizenship, I mean that’s complete crap but it doesn’t effect me.

And then they came for me.

I’ve never been politically minded or even vaguely interested.  But at some point you have say hang on a minute, what are the people who are running our country doing?  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, growing up?  Realizing I can’t just sit idly by while someone does something horrible because that makes me complacent?   But in the last couple of years I’ve started to take note, and thinking I need to get more involved, more active.  I certainly need to be exercising my right to vote, it’s my responsibility as a citizen of this nation to educate myself on the issues and vote.

Now in fairness, the removal of the right for expats to vote was done a while ago, but it was overturned. In May (2014) last year, Superior Court Justice Michael Penny threw out the voting ban, noting that mass murderers have the right to cast ballots but long-term expats who care deeply about the country do not. Penny also said expats could well be subject to Canadian tax and other laws.

But this July (2015) it was reinstated, how convenient, just before the federal election.  But… what about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which came into effect on April 17, 1982? Under section 3:

Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly [of a province or territory] and to be qualified for membership therein.

I’m a Citizen.  Why can’t I vote?  I am subject to laws and taxes in Canada.  Why can’t I vote?

In 1993 they passed  Bill C-114, which in part “removed voting disqualifications for judges, people with mental disabilities and inmates serving less than two years in correctional institutions.  And extended the use of the special ballot, enabling any elector to register and vote without having to appear in person on election day or at an advance poll”

Hang on, let me see if I have this straight, long term criminals, murders, rapists and the like, have a charter given right to vote.  Because they are citizens.  But because I reside in a different country, in which I maintain my Canadian passport and citizenship, I do not get to vote.  Ok, that makes perfect sense (no it doesn’t).

But you’re probably thinking… <– meh, doesn’t effect me

Wake up and smell the shit storm of disgustingness!!!!  Revoking the citizenship of Canadians?  Labeling people who are protesting a pipeline that has potentially horrible environmental consequences as terrorists???? Taking away the right, the RIGHT WE HAVE HAD SINCE 1982, to vote?  None of this is bad enough for you?

Ok, fine.  How about this little disgusting bit of xenophobic trash and racism?

The whole niqab issue that is blowing up in the press. The woman who wanted to wear her niqab during the citizenship ceremony, and no no no.  Worse yet according to polls most people seem to agree it’s just not on.  If this is how you feel, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, you’ve probably not thought about it much and just thought “hey that’s, yeah, weird I don’t like it”

Let me explain it to you, it’s not about confirming her identity, that was done in interviews and during the whole citizenship process in which she was required to show her face to female agents. So forget it being about security, it’s not.  It’s not about women’s rights as some have tried to make it seem, that no one should ever tell a woman that she must cover her face and that these women want to do so is only because they have be brain washed to do so.  Even if that is true, I’m not even saying it’s not.

A woman is an adult, and socially conditioned or not, if she doesn’t feel comfortable showing her face in a group of mixed company she shouldn’t have to.

Think about it this way, there are many conservative religious groups in the world, that have ‘odd’ practices.  Some always cover their hair, only their husband can see their hair.  Some wear little hats.  Some eat little cookies and drink wine claiming it to be blood and flesh. Some wear head, or face coverings. Some wear skirts only.  Some won’t wear anything modern, with zippers and velcro.  Others still wear orange and shave their heads.  And that is their right, as long as they are not hurting anyone else with their beliefs they can do so.

A prominent Canadian Leader was quoted as saying

I will never tell my young daughter that a woman should cover her face because she’s a woman

Hear hear!  But… why do you think it’s ok to tell a woman who according to her faith and her beliefs, whether you agree with them or not, that she must show her face?

Imagine there was a society that went topless all the time, it was a matter of pride for the women to show their bare breasts as a badge of honor of their femininity.  And they met one of us, and thought us so strange that we covered our breasts.  How degrading, that we have be taught to cover ourselves, we’ve been brainwashed by the misogynistic men in our society.  We’re just confused.  Should they then tear our clothing from our bodies? to force us to live their way?  We need to be enlightened like they are, they must force us to join their correct way.

Again, you’re probably thinking <– meh, doesn’t effect me

And then I see this, and this my friends, my fellow Canadians, this was the straw that broke my camel’s back.  It wasn’t even when they came for me, because meh screw em.  But when I saw this this morning, I felt sick.   {link}

pledging that a re-elected Tory government would establish a tip line for reporting “barbaric cultural practices”

Don’t be fooled by the window dressing, of it’s to protect young girls being forced into early marriages.  Or to help abuse victims. Or to protect us.  Because that is not what it is, it’s a hotline to report anyone you don’t like, especially if they have strange cultural practices.

Seriously?  What happened to the Canada that celebrated diversity?  The Canada, that when faced with the issue of a Sikh RCMP officer wanting to be able to wear his headdress, ruled in his favour?  Sure people bitched and moaned and many didn’t like it, but the Law stood for the rights and diversity of our nation.  Did we learn nothing from the Americans literally THROWING their rights away after 911?  Snowden telling everyone that the government was indeed abusing the shit out of these ‘safety protocols’

Can’t you see? This is how it starts.  This is how it has started in the past…. Do I think we’ll be another Germany with another Holocaust and spark a world war?  No…We as a people would never let something like that happen. Not here, not now.

I bet if you asked Germans in the 1920’s if they thought the same thing, they would have scoffed and said don’t be preposterous.  We’d never let something like that happen, not here.

What’s next Canada?  Marriage equality? The right to chose?  The right to a fair trial?  We’ve only had those since 2005, 1988, and I’m not even sure.. but it’s way back there.  But then again so was the right of every Canadian to vote.

And if you’ve read all this, and you still think.  Well it’s not that big of a deal, or there isn’t really a problem.  Then you, my dear, are the problem.  

Dear Fellow Canadians, We Need to Talk. (Part I)

4 10 2015

Have you ever met a German?  You know anyone from Germany?  I have, and like all people some of them suck, but the vast majority of them are quite lovely people.  But wait, makes you wonder doesn’t it?  I mean how did that whole Nazi party, thing happen?  I mean sure a lot of Germans are a little fussy, tidy, punctual etc. but evil Nazi types, not really.  But we all, well except Alex Johnstone, know about the holocaust, the Nazi reign, and World War II. So if Germans aren’t a particularly stupid or evil people, how in hell did that all happen?  How did the people not stand up and say, “Whoa hold on, you can’t do this!”  Ever wonder?

There is a famous quote, by Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Mmmm, I’m sure you’re all nodding sagely at this point and wondering what this has to do with you.  I mean, Germany in the 1930’s and Canada in the 2010’s, how is there any connection?

Maybe there isn’t, maybe I’m being dramatic, that’s what people will say.  That’s likely what people said about Martin, or anyone who though “gee… this isn’t right” when shit started in Germany.

What’s my point?  Well, I’m pretty horrified by what’s happening in Canada right now.  Never mind the environmental atrocities and horrors that have been happening, or the selling out human rights for a few bucks (FIPA).  The childish and dirty pool politics coming up to the elections.  <- all of which I’ve turned a blind eye to for the past few years, because you know I was not ‘a Socialist’ or ‘Trade Unionist’ or even a ‘Jew’.  Doesn’t really affect me so meh.  I’m very guilt of being complacent.  And now I realize my error, oh they have come for me, and it’s too late.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Let’s start with Bill C-51, which  has the potential to scoop up environmentalists, aboriginal rights activists, union members and anyone who is seen to stand in the way of national security.  The act’s interpretation states that it applies to any activity that “undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada.” This includes the following: “Interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defense, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada.”

So, the First Nations people who are blocking the pipeline from being built on their land?  Rightfully so by the way, the pipeline has no right to build on their land.. but you know they are messing with the financial stability of Canada.  Dirty terrorists.

But I’m not first nations, I’m not an activist or protester… so you know whatever right?

How about Bill C-24, that allows the Canadian Government can now revoke the citizenship of Canadians holding dual citizenship. Plus it only applies to immigrants, not natural born Canadians.  Wrong.  It creates an inferior class of Canadians, whose citizenship can be revoked at the whim of the government. While many assume that the provisions only apply to “new” Canadians, whose primary allegiance may rest with their country of birth and initial citizenship, even though, as a matter of convenience they have also acquired a Canadian passport, this is incorrect: even citizens born in this country, with Canadian heritage going back many generations, can lose their citizenship if they also hold another passport.

You might be thinking but it’s not like they are just going to run around taking passports from people because they don’t like them, you’d need to be like REALLY bad.  A traitor, a terrorist, some kind of hideous criminal, right? Wrong.  They’ve already started taking citizenship away, Paul Watson lost the right to come home without any shred of due process. No hearing, no right to challenge the decision, no appeal. {link} <-google it if you want to know more … it’s terrifying.

But, I mean, come on I don’t have dual citizenship… so it doesn’t affect me.

Tell me your sensing a pattern at this point. If you’re not… sigh. <- you’re what’s wrong with our country right now.

To be continued…..  (because It’s going to be ‘too long didn’t read’ otherwise)

[Link to Part Two]

Protected: The Plot Thickens!!!! (ask)

23 06 2015

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21 06 2015

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The Kidney Conundrum

3 05 2015

A couple of months ago, I started going to this Chinese Doctor.  My wrist hurt, and I wanted acupuncture, but also I’ve been struggling with my weight for a couple of years.  Thought, screw it, can’t hurt right?  I mean I’ve been super frustrated, I’ve exercised, I’ve eaten well, and nothing, plus I’ve had this annoying feet swelling, leg cramps, and a lot of general aches etc.

While I’m at the doctor, he says that my kidneys are not working properly and that why I can’t lose weight, and that my main problem is water retention.  I’m like, sure, sure.  Whatever, I take my medicine and life goes on.  Well after 3 or 4 weeks of seeing the Chinese doctor, and every time he mentions my reduced kidney function, I think.. hu.  I wonder if he’s full of shit?  I mean how could your kidneys keep you from losing weight?  So I go online, and I find these lists about symptoms of kidney disease and failure.

(✓)puffy eyes, hands, and feet (called edema)

(✓)high blood pressure


(✓)shortness of breath

(X)loss of appetite (I wish)

(✓/X)nausea and vomiting (dunno, don’t think so)


(✓)a bad taste in the mouth or bad breath (off and on)

(X)weight loss (I never get the good symptoms!!!)

(✓)(✓)generalized, persistent itchy skin

muscle twitching or cramping

(✓/X)a yellowish-brown tint to the skin (hard to say… my skin tone doesn’t really help)

(✓/X)urine that is cloudy or tea-coloured (sometimes)

Holy shit…. SERIOUSLY?  That’s way too many solid yeses…  What the fuck.  Is there something wrong with my kidneys?  I just chalked the fatigue and the aches, cramps, swelling … pretty much all of that stuff to getting older.  I mean, Some of you may even remember my commenting in the past year or so, that does everyone get achey young but just doesn’t complain about it until they are a lot older?  Turns out, from the sort of horrified response of a couple of colleagues and friends when we got into this (as in beyond my vague comments, and details of my issues),That  no.. in fact it’s not normal.  I’m not nearly old enough for all of this to be chalked up to getting older.  I didn’t know, I just figured it was normal, sucks but buck up.

I figure I should probably go to the hospital and have it checked out or something but I had a class coming up, I was super busy.. meh I’d get to it later.  Well the two friends I had talked about it to, flipped out.  AREYOU INSANE you don’t fuck with kidneys, damage is permanent, they don’t heal, if they get fucked up your fucked… so I do more research and get really scared.  All the web stuff uses scary words, like disease and failure and death.. um.  But let’s be honest, I hate doctors, and hospitals and the only thing that was going to get me to go short of being dragged was fear of death.  I finally broke down and made an appointment for the Nephrologist (yeah that’s not a scary sounding specialty) at the hospital near my house a couple of weeks back, and took the morning off work.

I thought to myself..  do I tell people or no?  I thought about telling my sisters, and mom.. but the morning I was going for tests there was that wedding Crisis (you may or maynot have heard about it, in the end everything was ok).  Then I posted that thing on fb asking people about their opinions on sharing vs not, I was genuinely curious what people thought about it.  I had been thinking about the subject long before any of this came up, and then I thought hey lol lemmi posts this and the people who want to know will make themselves apparent. <- ha litmus test

It was really genuinely interested in thinking about and hearing all the different perspectives, and honestly, I , personally, still prefer people tell me.  I don’t get stressed out and scared about that stuff for other people so it’s not a burden to me, and I know for me I freak out in my own head so I’m all about spreading it around a little and self counseling so I can handle my own omigod.  But then I don’t want to be burdening others… shit’s complicated.  Anyway I did my best to help with the wedding crisis, and went in to see the doctor.

I head in, and wait.. they tell me it’s going to be ages till my number comes up, and I can go home and come back in a couple of hours.  Sweet, I can work on my homework for class!

I get back and it’s like ha no, nowhere near your number.  Fuck.  Ok, good thing I brought my laptop, so I sit on the floor and wait.  I’m getting worried I’m even going to get in, I have to get back to work for the afternoon and It’s still ages till my number, I ask the nurse and she says they will see everyone but it might go into the afternoon.  Crap, Ok well I might just have to call in, not coming, to work.  Then, not even, 10 minutes later the nurse grabs me and says, come now.  Hu? Ok, cool, I figure she just talked to the doctor and they are trying to do me a solid, I sit down and he tells the nurse I’m his daughter’s favourite teacher and he says to me.  OH my god, how long have you been waiting out there?? Why didn’t you tell me that you were coming?  I would have brought you in much earlier.  I’m super confused, because he’s wearing a mask and lab coat, he looks like.. well a doctor.  He takes off his mask and says ‘I’m Peggy’s Dad’.  My Jaw hits the floor!.  One of my kids from last year, I actually knew her dad relatively well, I even knew he was a doctor I just didn’t know what specialty or where.  What are the odds that one of my favourite student’s dad would be the random doctor out of 4 that I picked.  Wild.

Anyway I tell him the whole story, the Chinese doctor, the internet stuff, the symptoms, everything.  And I’m kinda freaked out, but trying to stay chill.  They took my blood pressure, and it was through the roof (stress).  While I’m talking, he’s typing the symptoms, and looking at the screen he begins to talk, and he says ‘”yup, well that sounds like some kind of kidney failure so we’ll order some tests… oh my god no no don’t cry, sorry, sorry it’s mild it’s certainly mild it’s ok!”  Because I’ve started to weep, I’ve got dialysis machines and kidney transplants swimming through my mind.  I calm down a little and explain that I’m just really scared, because these symptoms have been going on for well over a year closer to two maybe even three, and everything says you need to catch this early.. or there will be irreversible damage.

Well it turns out, that ‘early’ is in the many years category.. like 2 years IS catching it early, it’s more like don’t let it go one for 10 years.  Oh.  and by the by, FUCK YOU internet, like that wouldn’t have been a good thing to include in your scare mongering?  He orders tests and sets up an appointment the next week for the results.  I go back the next morning to give the urine and blood sample, and that was an unexpected gong show, but I got it done, and made it to work.  I honestly felt a lot better, shit was being handled and one way or another I’d have some answers and a plan of action. Plus I was pretty enthused by the idea that the exhaustion and other issues had a name and a cause.

A week later, I went back for the results.  And mostly yay.  Let’s be honest here I didn’t want it to be BAD, but I did want there to be something.  Because if it’s nothing then why the fuck do I have all these other problems??  I had checked my blood pressure a few times in the week and it was fine and on that day it was totally fine, so I was right I was just ouber stressed that first day (you know I always kinda thought that “you’re stressing me out and raising my blood pressure” Thing was just something people say.. hu turns out no, it’s a real thing.)

The results:  I do have lowered kidney function, my kidneys are working at 88% of capacity so not the end of the world but indicative of a problem.  All my numbers are high, but not dangerously high, salt is fine (thank god I would have cried if I had to take salt away).  Blood sugar was too high, which worried me because of the Diabetes in the family but he said it’s not high enough to be worried about that yet but we’ll keep an eye on it.  My liver function is lower than normal.  My Cholesterol is too high. And I’m super dehydrated, according to the tests.  But, nothing is high enough to warrant medicine even.  Basically, just keep doing what I’m doing (exercising a few times a week, and eating reasonable food) and try to up the exercise a little if I can.  The only real change I need/ed to make  is I need to drastically increase my water intake.  Um, but I generally drink 1-2 liters most days it’s closer to two.. how much do I need to drink?  Bare minimum, 3-4 liters.  OOF do you know how much water that is?  Let’s be honest though, having to drink stupid amounts of water is like nothing compared to how bad it could have been.  (Note, I have actually been really good about it and have been drinking on average 3.5-4.5 liters every day for more than a week)
There it is, there’s my story :).  Some of you already know, but here’s a bit more detail and the results.  Those of you who didn’t know, look, yay all good.  I just need to go back in tomorrow, for a sonogram of my liver and kidneys to see if there is any damage, liver whatever it will heal even if there is damage, and kidneys he’s hopeful that it’s just reduced function and no damage which means it should all go back to tickity boo as long as I take care of myself.  He did deliver that news about the possible damage with a keen eye on me to make sure I didn’t burst into tears again, lol I guess we can’t break the daughter’s beloved teacher, chuckle at least I know he’s invested in keeping me well!

Worst case, is there is damage, and my kidneys will not go back to 100% function, but even if they stay where they are as long as I drink copious amounts of water, and take care of myself it’s nothing.  Will be going back in, in 3 months to do the tests again, but I’m pretty confident that everything will be fine, even good.  I already am feeling a bunch better, less fatigued, the Chinese medicine has been helping with the water retention, and weight loss (I’ve lost about 5 kg in the past 3 months).  I just need to pee every 15 minutes and I hate, nah loath the water.. I call it names.  It’s agony trying to get all the water drinking in, but I power through because, let’s be honest as far as medical treatments go, it’s pretty much nothing.

Any questions?  I leave anything out?  Ask away 🙂

Pre course Paper Magda EDUC 925

12 04 2015

Finished my pre-course assignment for my upcoming class, I don’t really have any idea if this was what the professor wanted.. but I’m hoping it is.  Regardless, I’m done, nay DONE with it.. it’s handed in and bleh.  So there.  All grow-ed up about the topic.

The two books are “How Children Learn” and “Drive”.

Reaction Paper:                                                                                                           Magda Vince

April 13, 2015

I feel as though much of what these two authors, Pink and Tough, had to say were not actually on the same topic and neither implicitly discussed how their concepts applied to how children learn in the assigned chapters.  Pink primarily discussed motivation and what drives us to succeed, improve, and do more in business.  Where Tough discussed how environment, and life experiences can affect one’s health, well being, and ability to learn.  With that in mind I can still see how one could make them relate, because in the end, how well one learns is greatly based on their own motivation and the cards that they have been dealt in life, so to speak.

The two women in Tough’s book, the teacher  Elizabeth Dozier and the doctor Nadine Burke Harris,  are both shining examples of ‘Type I’ personalities (Drive, p64).  They are both women who are driven by their own personal goals to be altruistic and make the world a better place.  And while they came from very different backgrounds and had a much different experience in their youth, they both learned to be Type I motivated individuals, an idea that is supported by Pink (Drive, p64).

I found it to be very interesting how so many, experienced, and even later applauded individuals were unable to turn Fenger high school in Chicago around.  They had done it before, or went on to be very successful in makes changes in other schools (How Children Succeed, p21), they had funding support, and nothing changed.  Some would look at that and see a lost cause, or perhaps even a cursed situation.  Dozier’s approach, to install afterschool programs, trauma counseling, and mentoring programs (How Children Succeed, p25) as well as to attempt to involve and engage the community was really quite clever.  I have seen examples in other situations, where if one invests in the community, and is able to get the community to invest in itself there is a much greater chance of change.  Community gardens, or breathing life into a community with small businesses run and partially owned by locals, brings a sense of pride and ownership, a desire to make the place better.  I believe that she is on the right track and the documentary ‘Chicagoland’ seems to agree, according to the Huffington Post article that I read.  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/liz-dozier-chicagoland-cnn_n_5007924.html)  They reported that Dozier has made great progress where all those before her have failed.  The Fenger graduation rate has gone from 47% to 73%, while still below the national average, it is significant progress and quite impressive.   Ultimately, I do not find her success to be that surprising given the approach that she took.

I had not heard of the theory, presented by Tough in How Children Succeed, that our physical well being can be so strongly affected by experiences, especially traumas from our youth.  I found the idea that having a higher ACE score can have profound effects on adult health even when negative behaviors such as drinking, drugs, or overeating  are not present (How Children Succeed, p31) to be fascinating and eye opening.  The numbers were astounding to me, that someone with an ACE score of 4 is far more likely to smoke, drink, and be promiscuous at a young age. An ACE score of 5 is much more likely to be a drug addict, and a score of 6 greatly increases the chances of suicide (How children Succeed, p 30).   I would genuinely like to look into this further, take the ACE, and find my own score as well as that of some colleagues to get a better understanding of the whole process. I intend to look into this more in my free time because it is a very interesting concept and I can see far reaching implications, not only personally, but in how I interact with others and perhaps even how I approach new students.

Conversely, much of what Pink had to say in Drive, are concepts I have personally believed to be true.  I have not actually seen any research, read his books, or heard any of his talks on the matter before so it was extremely validating to read this book.  For many years I have refused to give out rewards, goodies, prizes or any ‘carrots’ with any kind of predictability. With the exception of verbal praise, of course, which I tend to be rather lavish with.   I have always feared, and thusly avoided, that if you ‘pay’ students with points (or whatever your system is) consistently for any positive action that you  are setting yourself up for disaster.  Ultimately, the payment, or prize will become expected and therefore is no longer an “Oh goodie” reaction but a “excuse me where is my xyz, and if I don’t get it I’m doing nothing.”  Which is beautifully illustrated time and time again in Drive, for example when they rewarded the children for drawing and the children who expected the reward lost interest in an activity that had been such a treat before the ‘payment’ (Drive, p35).   I frequently reward students to engage interest, but I try to mix up how and when.  I have been asked, “Why did he get a point and I did not?” and I explain that the reward is being engaged and participating or learning, not the ‘prize’.  You should answer the question because you want to take part, not for the ‘prize’ you may or may not get one, but you will always have the satisfaction of a job well done.  I have had great results with this, and my students are generally very active and happy in class.  They are usually engaged, and always volunteer to join in, speak up and even help out in class, with no expectation of any rewards.

I believe it is an important life lesson, that can have far reaching effects, but to frank I had no idea how far reaching.  In my own experience, I can attest to the ineffectiveness of the carrot and stick in the workplace, yet it is the first thing that we all seem to go to when we are discussing how to motivate people.  Some could say that mentalities have changed a lot on this subject, but have they really?  Pink’s example of Encarta vs Wikipedia is a perfect example of this, no sane sober economist would have predicted the result of that battle ten years ago(Drive, p19).  But forget economists, forget the encyclopedias, couch it in different terms to present it to most people today, and I think the majority of people would fall on the side of paid for work, carrot stick ,Type X behavior even though it has been proven to not be effective.  To use Pink’s metaphor, our operating systems are slow to upgrade, even though motivation 2.0 is no longer particularly effective in motivating people, most of us have not gotten the memo, in our conscious minds, yet.  Even myself, when I think about how to modify behavior, I may have intrinsically somehow known that the carrot is not effective when used as payment.  Yet to modify negative behavior the first thought I have is ‘stick’, a fine or something to make said behavior an unpleasant prospect.  For example, I have been considering running a private class from my home, but I would not appreciate the parents being late to pick up their children.  When brainstorming solutions I immediately thought, I will just have them pay a fine if they are late that way I will be compensated at least a little.   Then I read the example in the book that proved this is a terrible idea, where the fines actually brought about an increase in the negative behavior the parents showing up later and more often late because they felt it was now ok as they were compensating someone (Drive, p46).

A lot of what was presented in Pink’s book is about the workplace and adults, but I see many applications for children, youth and school.  For example, the sawyer effect, which as adults we see in children all the time.  I certainly remember a time when I longed to be able to use the lawn mower to cut the grass, or was dying to be allowed to help vacuum the floor.  But the moment I grew up, and HAD to do these tasks, I loathed them.  I believe we all know that when a task is voluntary it can be and often is fun, but when it become mandatory it is work and therefore is undesirable (Drive, p34).

I was also very intrigued by Pink’s concept of goals, and how they can be beneficial and detrimental.  He said that goals that people set for themselves are healthy and lead to mastery, whereas goals set by others can not only lead to unproductively, but can even be dangerous and lead to unethical behavior (Drive, p44-45).  Negatives such as, risk taking, theft, cheating and dissatisfaction are all serious problems to be considered.  He even sites a survey where they asked MBA students about regular cheating and 56% admitted to it (Drive, p109).  Cheating is a big problem, and I teach my students that the one they are really cheating is themselves, but it’s difficult when society, schools and parents put so much pressure on students, and athletes to perform and excel.  The idea that setting your own goals is far more effective is supported by an interesting book that I highly recommend if you have time, Influence Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.  Cialdini talk about POWs in Korea, and how they used commitment and consistency pressures to gain compliance from their captives(Influence, p61). You might think, hang on how do communist POW camps relate to goals and even more alarmingly to children?  But actually the core concept behind what they did is really interesting and works amazingly well on all people.  Once someone has made a commitment to something they are intrinsically driven to follow through, and to be consistent.   Also giving people choices, once they have made a choice even if both are less than desirably, they have a much stronger commitment to it than if you had just demanded they do what you ask.  This ties in perfectly with setting your own goals, you will be far more invested in them if you have been involved, or even just feel as though you have been involved, in the creation of the goals.

Something I had not considered before were the different kind of goals, such as performance goals versus learning goals.  I must get an A on this assignment versus I will be able to use this information effectively in my work.  It is simple yet profound, that performance goals may lead to results but they rarely if ever lead to mastery.  Whereas a learning goal, like I am able to speak French may be difficult but has a much higher chance of leading to mastery (Drive, p97).

I look forward to exploring how I can use what have I learned from this assignment in my own life, to improve myself as a teacher and to improve the educational experience of my students.

TESL 928 Reflection Paper

18 03 2015

Here is my reflection paper from my first class ….  Not sure how I feel about it.  But I got an A in the class, so musn’t have been that bad 😉

Self Reflection Paper:                                                                                                 Magda Vince

February 23 – March 14, 2015

For me The Element and Ken Robinson’s ideas about finding that magically something, was a touchy and slightly difficult topic.  While the studies and cases that Robinson talks about are interesting, and I agree that finding passions and following happiness are the way to go.  I personally have always struggled with my own “element” and as such I find it to be a difficult thing to foster in others.  I find a lot of people who I discuss this sort of topic with are just as lost as I am on the subject when it comes to how it relates to them and their lives.  What do you like? Lots of things.  Ok, what do you have a passion for?  Nothing really, well not for any extended time.  What are you good, or talented at?  Many things, and at the same time, none. Nothing stands out.  In the end you end up feeling even more lost and inadequate because you can’t even identify a passion, that can be disheartening.

On the other hand, I really feel that there is something there.  I agree whole heartedly with Robinson when he says ” For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim to high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.”  I have always believed in setting the bar for my students and their progress high, foolishly high some might say.  But, and here is what I consider to be key, I communicate with the students.  I tell them, depending on their age, motivation and lot in life, that other people think it’s too hard  and it may well be but I think they can do it.  I also lay it out, using lines on the board or my hands saying, if we aim for here most of us will make it, a few people will ‘excel’ and a few of us might miss the mark.  But if we aim up here, this lofty goal, and just try to reach it something special will happen.  There will be no ‘good enough’, everyone will exceed “the other expectation” the one other people think we should do, some by a little some by a lot.. and heck we may even surprise ourselves by reaching that lofty goal!  It’s worth a shot, let’s show “them”, them being the common enemy that doesn’t believe in us.  This has always brought out the “HEY, who do they think they are, holding us down.  We can so do this” in my students in Taiwan.  I suspect that a lot of this has to do with cultural attitudes and expectations here, but at the same time I think there is something universal about it.  I always say I think they can do it, I believe in them, and they usually rise to the challenge.

I try to foster an environment where it is ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to be wrong.  I teach my students that the most important thing is that we are learning from the mistakes.  That it is perfectly reasonable to get something wrong, but pay attention, learn from it, get better, stronger, more confident.  Which can be a challenging concept for anyone, but especially in Taiwan where it is more of a say nothing unless you are certain that you are correct environment.  As a result, I find that kids will berate themselves, tear themselves down and give up.  I have had this exact conversation with many kids over the years. “Are you smart?” And they say “No.”  I ask, why they would say that? Who told them that they aren’t smart?  Because I am their teacher and I know they are smart, I ask them to repeat ” I am smart” and tell them if I know it, they should too.  Invariably, I see an improvement in that student’s performance and attitude in class, it is such a small thing but seems to make such a difference in how they see themselves and then how they project themselves to the world.

I found it quite interesting that when you used the word pedagogy in your email to me, the first thing I thought was “Hang on, what the heck is pedagogy?”  I have a pretty expansive vocabulary, though I will admit that living in a non English speaking country has stolen a plethora of my words, and I was pretty surprised to find a word that I had to look up.  It is interesting that I have never run into the word before, but then again perhaps it is because I did not seek out teaching as a path for myself.  This is a career that I fell into, I happened to be pretty good at it, and I find it satisfying and rewarding.  Would I call it my element? No, but I am somewhat convinced that some of us may not have one, or perhaps we do not have just ONE.

You asked if I have made connections between pedagogy and culture, and to be entirely honest, I do not know.  I have only worked and taught in this culture, but I come from a western culture.  I have tutored at home, I taught my friend Becky grade nine math because her teachers wrote her off when I was in grade twelve.  But have I been a formal teacher with my own classroom in Canada?  No.  As a result I am not entirely certain that I really know or understand teaching culture back home.  I do have my own beliefs about the role of education and the teacher’s role, but I honestly don’t feel that my philosophy is a reflection of the education that I received in the past as much as what I have learned and come to believe over the years via trial, error, and my own experiences.

I believe that my role as a teacher is to guide and direct the students into learning on their own, to be independent in their education and to ultimately make myself somewhat redundant.  I want my students to be confident that they can achieve what they want, or that they are attempting to learn, on their own and come to me to discuss, confirm, and help them when they get stuck.  That is not to say I abandon them, but that I spend a lot of time and effort trying to give them the tools to learn with minimal interference on my part.  I believe that my role should be more of that of a guide than a leader.  This is certainly not the educational culture here in Taiwan, here is it more I am your teacher, nay your god.  I have all the wisdom and knowledge and you will soak it up, you will study what I say and memorize everything.  I often buck the system, trying to convince and show my bosses or parents that while I may be doing something different that they do not fully understand, it is effective.  Something that I hope I give my students, are the skills to compensate for a teacher that is less interested or dedicated to their future.  Because that is a reality that most kids will have to face, that I had to face, teachers that are just going through the motions and do not really care what you learn.

Ultimately though, does this come from my culture as Canadian, or my own personal culture?  I have been an expat for most of my adult life, and I know that it has coloured my experiences and views on life, the universe, and everything.

While reading this text on the SIOP model, I was frequently struck by the thought “Of course, who doesn’t do this?”  Then I realized this book, and the whole method, is written and aimed at teachers in the states who are expecting to be teaching “American” kids.  Who may not be trained, or in any way prepared to deal with language and cultural barriers.  How to cope with a student that doesn’t understand what you are saying and how to reach those kids, to give them the language to be functional and even succeed in English.  I come the from the unique, or perhaps not so unique in our class in Taipei, perspective of teaching primarily ESL students.  And on top of that, they are homogenous ESL, they all come from the same or at least similar cultural and language backgrounds.  I even speak their mother tongue well enough to assist them in L1, and have lived in their country and culture long enough that most of it is very familiar to me.

Not to suggest that there was nothing new or interesting to glean from the book or the model.  I for one, almost never clearly state the objectives, language or otherwise, before a lesson.  Stating and posting my objectives in class has even been suggested to me in the past, and I have completely failed to see any point in it.  “It’s too hard, it’s above the students, it would just confuse them, they don’t need to know that”, are among the reasons I had for resisting.  But after reading about the SIOP model, I found a lot of clarity as to how and why having clearly stated objectives can be helpful to students and the teacher.  For myself it reminds me to stay on task and for the students it can help them focus and to have a better understanding of where the lesson and the class will be going.

I believe I may have less formal teacher training than some of the other students in our class at Framingham, so one thing that I found interesting and positive for myself from studying the SIOP model was validation.  There are many techniques and suggested activities and methods that I frequently use in my own classes, and to see that they have been studied by others and have been proven to not only be effective, but also practices to be modeled by others is very gratifying.  Methods such as activities with getting the students to discuss background knowledge, group activities, getting creative in the activities, scaffolding and strategic starter sentences are all things that I personal have found very useful in my own classrooms in the past.

On one hand, I found the idea of using the whole protocol in a single lesson to be daunting and to be frank, somewhat impossible.  So when Richard and I attempted to include all thirty features in our presentation, I was concerned and felt quite overwhelmed.  Once I got into the groove though, I discovered that most of it is what I believe most teachers do, or at least try to do in most lessons.  And for me, what I got from trying to use the protocol to build our lesson on the Review and Assessment feature, was that while it may not be possible or even practical to include all the elements or features in a single lesson a lot more can be achieved by keeping it all in mind.  That we can enrich our lessons and the classroom experience by having the list handy when planning lessons.  And while the focus on this is to be teaching content and language at the same time, I think that it really can and does apply to all teachers all the time regardless of the students that you’re teaching.  They may all have the same social, economic, cultural and language backgrounds or not but elements and parts of the SIOP model can be used to round out your lessons and make sure that you are reaching more students and using your time in class effectively.

For myself, one of the most appealing aspects of this program is the human factor.  There is a real, live, in person professor, a classroom and students.  I’m fully aware that there are many ways to study and learn, and that while many may find studying online courses and on their own to be effective,  it is just not the way for me.  And I would like to think that it is a good thing that I have learned and accepted that about myself, I think it is important to try to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.  Personally I like, and have always responded well to,  collaboration, discussion, debate, and the human experience as it were.

I had a job a while back, they called it ‘editing’ but essentially we were marking stacks written papers.  There was zero interaction with students, the ‘teacher’ lectured to a hall of anywhere from two hundred to six hundred high school students.   They wrote essays, that were then brought to us in a small office or back room, we were not supposed to speak to each other or really interact in anyway, just mark and grade the fifty to seventy papers we had been given as quickly as possible.  I hated it.  It took away everything that I enjoyed about teaching, the connections I make with students, the laughs, the excitement of seeing understanding, or engagement, the humanity of it all.  The students could not come to me and ask, why I had marked this as incorrect, or why I had changed this or that.  I could not ask them what they meant in order to help them clarify and correct.  I hated it.   I learned something about myself as a teacher at that job, that what draws me to education is the human connection.  Naturally, that sort of learning also appeals to me for myself, I stand firmly behind the idea that it is far more effective than “here read this, memorize, write a test” for anyone in any circumstance.

I feel that this class has been a wonderful experience for me, for several reasons.  As I had mentioned at Mary Jane’s Pizza that Friday evening, I’ve had some negative experiences in the past couple of years that have clearly affected and scarred me.  I was terrified of the first presentation, not that I would have issues standing up and speaking in front of others, but that I would do it “wrong” and that would have long reaching adverse effects.  The discussions we had in class, and after, watching others present and then finally presenting myself with Richard was a wonderfully cathartic experience.  And even though I was not particularly happy about the topic and was concerned about the second presentation, I was able to find myself, my voice and (even though we had a little tug of war going) managed to produce a decent product that I was pretty happy with.  If only there had been more time!

I found the discussions in class to be interesting, many of the teachers (classmates) come from the same background as I and then at the same time completely different.  I didn’t always agree with what some of my classmates postulated , however it was very engaging.  I thought a lot about myself, and what I have learned and how I teach, and in sharing that found a lot of support and validation that I didn’t even realize I wanted or perhaps even needed until it was there.

In conclusion, I feel that the course was over all an extremely positive experience for me.  The material and content were good, but ultimately I have been an ESL teacher for 13 years, living and working in cultures outside of my own, Taiwan, Brazil, France, and traveling all over Europe and South East Asia, so the majority of the content was not particularly new to me.  However, the lively discussion, presentations and building my own presentations as well as the experience of taking a class with a group of adults, who all wanted to be there and are dedicated to something, was the meat and potatoes of the experience for me.  I am more energized and excited about teaching and future possibilities.  Which is something I feel that I really needed; a push, a boost in a more positive and productive direction.

Gong Show

22 01 2014

Wow what a cluster fuck.  I bought my ticket online, no problem.  Ended up packing way late because work was nuts, then a series of unfortunate events (that really just boils down to me leaving too late) made me miss my flight.   The thing is if any one or two events didn’t happen I probably would have made it.  The guy to get Angela’s elliptical calls as I’m supposed to be leaving, my fault I should have just ignored it.  Sent rob thinking it would be ok, I lost so many things throughout the day and was constantly searching for, my camera, my make up, my soap etc. 

Finally it was like fuckin hell we have to go, so we go grab our cab and off we go.. and the cab driver is like hey sorry I need to grab gas.  Ishould have said no got out and got another cab, he goes a stupid way and that ends up taking 5 minutes it didn’t need to take.  Then there was random bad busy traffic in a couple of spots for no damn reason.  

(side note, this dude is pacing and yacking on the phone, when he was speaking French I just wanted to kick him because he was being such a dick… then he makes another call. First call was to his wife or secretary.. someone who he drastically lacks respect for.  Second call is girlfriend, or friend he wants to be banging.  First call is in French second is in English.  And it’s the English call that really gets under my skin.. he sounds like SUCH a sleaze and he’s not even saying anything interesting.  I literally just hate his accent) 

Anyway back to my story, so we’re on the way traffic clears up and I’m like pedal to the metal buddy, but he’s worries about speeding tickets. I’ll pay just go! Ugh nope put put put.. I get to the airport about 10 minutes too late but I sprint in .. you know just in case.  No luck, they’ve all fucked off and no one is in a helping mood.  Finally I get ahold of someone in shanghai and they said don’t worry you can just change your flight to tomorrow. I’m like don’t mess with me, he swears it’s no big deal I can just change the flight, he just can’t do it because he’s not in Taipei.  Only the Taipei office or my travel agent can do it.

So I call expedia, have to install skype on my phone because (long story I hate skype) I don’t want to pay to call a 1-888 number.  I talk to them 3 times, and the system keeps hanging up on me so I’m there in tears hating the world.  I finally get someone one, and I give her my number telling her to call me if the call drops.  We check a bunch of stuff and finally figure it all out she’s just about the change the booking… call fucking drops.  I wait a bit I try to call back I can’t get through at all now.  So I go home, I figure fuck it, I’ll call the airline in the morning.  I take the bus back, get home all dejected, go out for some sushi. 

In the morning, I get up and am immediately bowled over with a barrage of questions about some wine, will tell about the wine fiasco in another post.  So I’m trying to deal with that and I’m calling the airline.  The airline tells me, sorry we can’t rebook the ticket because it’s ½ operated by Air France, but don’t worry your agent can do it.  Oooookay.  So I call expedia, spend 2 hours on the phone with this guy who insists the flight I want doesn’t exist in his computer which blows my mind I’m fucking looking at it.  But whatever.  So he’s like how about this, this this this.. finally we agree on a suggestion.  HE goes to book it.. and then he’s like hmm there is a problem the airline is blocking me from making this change.  So now I’m on hold and he’s calling the fucking Taipei office of the airline… eyeroll.  After a while he comes back and he’s like, I can’t do it.  They won’t let me, you have to call them yourself and they will either rebook you or give you your money back and you can rebook, and he advises me to stand my ground and insist they fix the ticket so I don’t get screwed.  I’m fine with paying a fee or a fine.. but how complicated can this get???

So I call  the Taipei office and they are like well we.. and I totally got mad (politely) and was like listen, I’ve been on the phone for hours.  To people in three different countries, the guy in Shanghai YOUR main office said it wasn’t a problem… HELP me.  Arg.  She’s like ok, hang on.  Puts me on hold, comes back and is like it’s all ok.  Give me your email I send you the confirmation.  Um… what?

And she does just emails me, all the changes are made, but in a way so it looks like there was no change… the dates even say my original purchase date and price… no fee, no fine… nothing.  I’m completely gob smacked.  To be honest I was kind afraid it was all a trick.

Then I figure hey lemmi go get some stuff done I didn’t have time for yesterday, found my make up bag, got some medicine, was too lazy to repack, but did leave money for ed to take the cat to the vet and got a much needed haircut.  I’m at home just kinda killing time, updating money stuff and watching tv and think heck lemmi go to the airport.  So I call the taxi and THE FUCK they are high on shrooms I swear I ranted about it on fb… basically they were being COMPLETE morons and pissing me right off.  They finally gave me a cab though and off I went… THE FUCK TRAFFIC in the same spot for the same nonexistent reason!!! But I arrived at the airport with plenty of time.

I check in and the girl is like, ok your continuing flight is tomorrow so I can’t issue your boarding pass.. um.. it’s LITERALLY  5 minutes into tomorrow (1205am) stupid but shrug.  Then she’s like so you need to go to immigration get your bags, and re check in.  um.. ok.  You know I don’t have a visa for china… that isn’t a problem is it.  Great she thinks it is.  SIGH.  After much conferring and checking of rules they decide I’ll be fine I just have to show them my ongoing flight information.  You know that paper that I never print because you NEVER need it?  Yeah that one.  UGH.  So they print it for me and off I go.  I (foolishly) think ok this has been a little nuts but I’m in the clear now. Wrong.  I go through security, drink my water… get to immigration and being all cool I use the e-gate (which is usually awesome) you have to register (I did a few trips ago) and then you just put your id on the screen it scans it lets you into a little glass chamber and takes a photo (face recognision software) and it’s like NO MATCH NO MATCH.. hmm it tries again, no dice and now it’s made at me…. So it asks for my finger print (also in the system from the registration) and NO NO NO NO.. it’s freaking out.  Now I’m trapped and it refuses to let me pass or excape.  I have no idea what to do.  Turns out I picked a broken fucking gate… dude put up a sign!! The immigration dude is pissing himself laughing at me as he manually opens the gate and lets me out (back in) and says just use a different gate.. BLARG  I got through that one no damn problem. 

But there couldn’t possibly be more… oh there is.  Somehow I completely fail at the basics of travel and go COMPLETELY to the end of the fucking line in the WRONG SONOFABITCH DIRECTION… I realize my fuck up basically 10 minutes from take off and have to take a dead run in the other direction… I get there and they are like.. the fuck.  Yeah I’m a retard. Face palm.

I finally got on the plane, and arrived in Shanghai.  All has been fine here actually except I hate it here.  I hate how rude everyone is… and nasty.  Like the people SCREEECHING at the security officer as I was trying enter the immigration area.. why were they mad? Because their gate was at the other end of the airport and they wanted dude to magically fix it.. um.. you’re crazy can I go in now?  And China sucks ass balls and blocks like everything and has like 1980’s dial up speeds for the internet… ugh

Finally, 2013 in Review

17 01 2014

2013 Boom .. look at that!!!!   Here we go!

January – Finishing up exams and grades at school.  Busy as hell, pretty sure I didn’t get into much excitement.

February -Work a super intense 4 days of winter camp at work, and then flew to France via Vietnam for the rest of the Chinese New Year break.  Had a great time with Regis for the winter break, but I was super sad because we get to spend so little time together.  One of my students bought me a cute dragon USB with his own money <3.  Got a fancy signature stamp that I played with endlessly.

March – Went to a Taiwanease social night with some friends, met an interesting assortment of people.  Took a couple of pole dancing classes with a friend.  While cool, I was/am in too bad of shape to really enjoy it.

April – Officially paid off all of my debt. BOOM DEBT FREE BITCHES. Mom sent me photos of a moose in the safeway.  Applied for and was approved for a real Taiwanese card! (a very difficult task).  Went to Carnegies, for the first time in a very long time.  May have danced on the bar… maybe .. probably not though. Resigned for my school.

May – Almost bought my first new fridge, but in the end I bought a second hand one from Xiamen Street.  Got a Wii for super cheap (wanted the guitar hero… I play it all the time all the time… honest).

June – There was a biggish earthquake.  Rob and I made a “time out” group for people not acting right.  Finished off my first school year at ChingShin.  Raygan came to Taiwan to visit Tracey and I on her way back to Canada. We all went to Ounce a speakeasy style bar.

July – Took the summer off, except for a summer camp that I did at Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.  Finally got my broken micro sd card replaced.  We had a sissy typhoon.  I finally actually used my buy-sell-trade page to sell some stuff.

August – Went back to Canada to see the family, via China for the first time.  Regis arrived in Vancouver and we spent the month with my family and friends, spend some good times with Becky and Phil, then rented a car and drove to see Nadine.  Drove up to Smithers, then back to PG with mom where I made full use of the new wireless paying machines to pay the bill mid meal (I win) was deeply entertaining watching Regis and mom fight over the bill. Regis and I flew to Shang Hai, we went into town but we were too jet lagged to have fun.  Then on to Taipei and straight back to work for me.  School was a mess.

September – Went to paint ball with Regis and some other friends.  I turned 34?  wait… damn no 35.  Regis and I celebrated both of our birthdays.  Thought my Credit card had been used illegally, but no I’m just a dummy.   Signed up for two theme runs (beer and zombie).

October – um… oh yeah there was a biggish earthquake and it was awesome because Regis was white as a ghost! Regis went back to France for his dad’s funeral. School told us that the bonuses that they promised us (that were the reason for most of us to resign) weren’t happening at least one possibly two.  Oh yeah did the beer run with Regis and Mickeal (I stole a case of beer, yay me!)

November – I got a new kitty!!!! Went to Peng Hu with Regis for the first time, loved the island!  Much contemplating of names for kitty. Did the first ever Zombie run in Taipei.. not what I expected but really cool and fun!

December – Had a fake Christmas with Regis because he was leaving at the beginning of the month.  Had a big going away shindig for Regis, same as the previous time all you can eat and drink BBQ followed by a hooka bar.  Had a second fake (but closer to real) Christmas party with some friends, made a nommilcious turkey.  Finished the kid’s Christmas play finally.  Angela and I went to On Tap for dinner and couple of drinks on New Year’s eve, deliberately early and went home at ten.  Because we’re cool like that 😉 Bought my ticket to go to France for Chinese New Year.  Had Kitty’s nuts chopped off.

2014 so far! –  Finally named kitty (Shinobi, Osiris, Sir Dick Head the Third).  Marked all my tests for work.  I almost quit at work, but decided to stick it out for now.  But I’m seriously considering making some changes this year.  I’m looking forward to going to France for Chinese New Year.  I’m sad that my neighbor and really good friend is moving away at Chinese New Year.

Chapter 2 oh me :D

14 01 2014

2011 –   Decided that I wasn’t happy with these pretend personality and behavior changes I had made, in reality for my ex even though if you asked at the time I would have denied it.  Started living the life of “why not”, when things came up I thought why not? And if I didn’t have a good reason then … woot.  Which is how I met Regis, I was having ‘fun’ and it turned it to something unexpected.  I went to Macau for the first time with TPT, that was a weekend to remember.  Started chatting with Regis a lot.  Went to Canada for the summer again.  Raygan came to Taipei to hang out with Tracey and I.  Raygan convinced me to stop being a negative Nancy and let Regis come to Taiwan to see what could happen.   Regis moved to Taipei on Nov 4th,

2011 for three months.  I started hating my job.  I decided that I didn’t know what was happening with us, but wasn’t ready to call it quits.  Rolling up on the ten year mark and decided I’m a grown upa nd I can do what I want, ie not moving back to Canada since I don’t want to.

2012 – I had all the money to pay off my debt, but re-borrowed it so I could I quit my job, and move to France at Chinese new year. Feb 3rd 2012.  Went to England for the first time in April, Portsmouth.   Was really just a visa run, couch surfed and met some cool people.  I went to Prague in the Czech Republic for the first time, caught up with some old friends from the early years of Taipei).  Stayed a really nice and cool hostel, was disappointed that Regis couldn’t come with me.  Regis took me to Mont St Michel.  I moved back to Taipei and started looking for a new job.  Found a couple of good prospects was really torn between a kindergarten that was going to pay me really well but in the end I decided to go with the private elementary school near my house.  Met my new co workers/friends Angela and Candice.  Started a crazy job, that was a lot or work but something very new.

History of Me 1978-2010

5 01 2014

Everyone seems to be writing these, year summary blogs (or letters, like Emily).  I know I haven’t really posted or blogged in ages.. and I may ore may not actually finish this and explain.

So Just this past year seems like not enough.. so I I’ve feeling nostalgic and am going to do something more silly.

My life in summary!

321074_10150328165758425_1018715296_n1978- I was born, I’m pretty sure the world stopped for a second because I’m so awesome!

1979-1997 – Lived in Smithers, it’s a boring story.  My grandmother passed away.  We moved into town.  A few years later my Grandpa passed away.  Went to France on a school trip, I always wonder if this was the beginning of the end. 303803_10150328166543425_714939757_n Met my little brother and dad’s side of the family. I graduated from high school, started working at my mom’s company (Newpro), got laid off  and on the same day received a uni acceptance letter.  Applied for loans and off I went.

294756_10150328172083425_1119687750_n1997-2001 – Moved to Prince George, BC, went to UNBC.  Partied, studied, and all that good uni stuff.  Made lots of new friends, had ups, had downs.  Ended contact with my dad.  Dated, ended up with Erik which while the relationship was terrible and we should have ended it when I originally.  It was a pivotal factor in the rest of my life.  Tracey moved to Japan on Jet. At the end of school, had a conversation with my friend Mike Yeh where he suggested I love to Taiwan.  I scoffed.  I broke up with Erik, and suddenly realized why the hell not?

2001-2002 – moved home to stay with mom (saving money before the move), made plans to hang out in Thailand for almost 2 months.  Got a passport, all my visas, and finally on a jet plane. Arrived in Bangkok on December 7, 2001.  Exited the plane to be hit by a wall of hot wet air.  Travelled around Thailand with Tracey, we took sleeper trains, busses, boats, planes, stayed in hotels, hostels.  Went diving, got certified with PADI.  I got some weird unexplained sickness, hallucinated my way around a tiny town (because I dipped and Tracey was frantic trying to figure out how to fine me) in the south and Tracy found me chatting with dogs, sorry about that.  Went back to Bangkok, Tracey went back to Japan and I headed to Taipei. Cue next chapter.

400966_10150477776398425_1432733508_n2002 – Jan 12, 2002 I arrived in Taipei city in Taiwan.  I always said that I planned to stay for at least 5 years, I wanted to stick it out, make money, learn a language, and a new culture (all part of Mike’s sales pitch).  I did say that if I was still here after 10 years, that I had to move home to see if I was really wanting to stay or if I was just scared to move.  Moved into my first apartment in Taipei it was hideous.

2002-2005 – Travelled to Japan to visit Tracey in March 2002.  Travelled to Thailand a few times.  Tracey came to Taipei to visit.  Went back to Canada, a couple of times to visit the family.  By being snotty, I offended Sammi, made myself less than popular and was blissfully ignorant of what I had done. Got my first passport abroad (was actually my third passport) the guarantor was an interesting challenge. Moved to a much better but more expensive place, when our landlord sold out place my friend Sarah and I got the place I’m in now and furnished it.

196133_17606138424_5039_n2005-2009- Taiwan changed the APRC requirement from 7 years to 5 years, right about my 5-6 year mark, no I didn’t apply. Tracey moved back to Taiwan after her south American back packing trip. Met and fell in love with my ex, who was married and bipolar, that was a ride that went on for a while (on and off for years). Went to Thailand again in 2006.  Moved to Brazil for 5-6 months with Tracey  in the fall of 2006.  We lived in Sao Paulo for a while, travelled around and spent the last month (2?) travelling around, drinking, partying and beaching.  oh I miss it.  Went on a visa run to Argentina, accidentally and illegally went to Paraguay. Moved back to Taipei in The spring of 2007. 208354_18145513424_5463_nWent to Hong Kong for the first time with Tracey and Melissa for my birthday, stayed at Mike’s place.  What a crazy weekend! Also went to Disney Land (even though it was micro Disney) for the first time. Went to the USA for the first time ever 🙂 in 2007.  226920_21520463424_8954_nWent to Boracay (a beach holiday destination in the Philippines) with a big group of friends, that was a wild and great time. Went to the states again in 2008, still with on again off again ex.  Made peace with my soon to be sister. Got back in touch with my little brother.

26383_334470878424_8030386_n2009-2010 – Went to Thailand for Jody and Kai’s wedding, and I almost missed my flight.  It was the last hurrah for our circle, Tracey moved back to Canada, Melissa stayed in Thailand and then moved back to Canada. Had a big trip to Canada, went to Toronto and Niagra falls for the first time, actually the first time I’ve ever been east of Alberta.  Got over my ex and let all that go, finally.  Ended up having a great bonding moment with Sammi and we adopted each other <3. I went to Hong Kong to Visit Gabby twice.  Raygan moved to Japan, and I went to Japan to visit.  Got my finances under control and it seemed like I might actually be able to get out of debt.

Back To Blogging, With a BANG. Botox Bang.

18 01 2013

So I got botox.  Bam. There you go… lol… I didn’t tell anyone because… well have you have noticed that when you want to do something.. almost anything. Someone tries to talk you out of it?  Tells you all about how bad it is, or what a stupid idea, or irresponsible it is.

Amusing side note, while I was going to brunch yesterday I was thinking about how I decided that I wasn’t going to tell anyone because I didn’t want well meaning concern to talk me out of what I wanted to do.   And I walk up to a conversation about how one of our number is thinking about moving to china and working on this project with this guy that some of us know.  And everyone (myself included) proceeded to go on and on about what a terrible idea it was.  Part way through I thought .. see this is why I’m not telling anyone, I apologized to my friend and said hey do what you want, I’m selfish so I hope it doesn’t work out and you come back here, but you should do it if you want to.

Anyway after lunch I was giving my friend a ride and I told her why it was so funny/ironic that I had been sitting at the table trying to talk her out of taking some job that she wasn’t even certainly taking, just something she was thinking about and discussing with friends.  That  I was going to go get botox, but I hadn’t told anyone (other than my sister) because I didn’t want well meaning friends to talk me out of it. Interestingly, I wonder what the reactions would have been if I hadn’t done it yet?

I mean the two people I told before were really supportive.  Actually after I dropped my friend off at the mrt I went right over to the clinic and was like… screw it.. lets do this. My sister asked me to document everything, and funnily I had already decided to do that.  What the heck, if I’m going to do it … why not blog about it :D.

It’s not like I’m really the type to be all cagey about anything I’ve ever done. I have been thinking about it for a while, mostly as a preventative measure, I’ve heard that you can prevent deep wrinkle lines with lower dosages if you get botox before the wrinkles are a big issue.  I did some reading, and everything was pretty clear that it wasn’t as bad as some make it out to be.  Even people who had bad experiences say that it is definitely temporary.   I read up about how much to take, how much it costs and all sort of things. I went to the same clinic where I get laser hair removal.  And asked for a doctor and nurse who spoke English, I do speak Chinese but when you’re doing something for the first time it’s much more calming if you can speak your native tongue.

The first nursy type chick was like, oh hey if you buy 40 unit you get a discount of x amount of dollars.. and I was like uh no thanks.  Then she told me I needed a minimum of 3 units anyway and I was like.. yeah ok you need to go away.  First of all all the doctors I had talked to in the past several years had suggested 12-15 units for me.  So her suggestion was insane. The actual doctor wasn’t an idiot like that girl.  I told him I wanted a very low dosage because everything I had read was that it was better to go with less and get more later than to go overboard and look like you just had a stroke.  😀  He suggested 14 units, I asked if 10 or 12 would be ok.  Because I’m rather nervous about the whole thing, being the first time I’ve ever tried it.. that and I’m going to France in a couple of weeks to see my boyfriend and it would suck to have frozen face. He said 10 would be fine, I then asked if it was enough that I would see some results, I mean why have it done if it’s going to do nothing.  He assured me that I would definitely see something with 10 units and that that it wouldn’t be too dramatic so a good middle ground.

Oh the cost, it’s 400 nt per unit that’s about $13.50 a unit.  Seems pretty standard from what I saw online, prices ranging from 8-20 dollars a unit.  So my total cost was 4000 nt and the effect is meant to be 4-9 months.  They suggest you come back in every 4-6 months depending on your results. So In the clinic, they put a little numbing cream on my face (not necessary but they are really keen on numbing cream in Taiwan) and I waited playing with my phone.  After 20 minutes, I went into the doctor’s office, had our little chat and then I laid down on the little massage table in the office.  I got a blankie and everything  meanwhile the nurse went out and got the botox.  The doctor and I chatted while we waited for her to return, actually he was really good, very confident and calm and answered all my questions clearly.

He did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and calm, if you’ve ever been to a doctor in Taiwan, you’ll know how rare such a good bedside manner is. On to the injections!  I am being treated for crows feet, which to be honest aren’t that significant, and under eye wrinkles, which have just become an issue in the last year and actually bother me.  I think they make me look tired and old… booo! So I got three injections on each side, one near the corner of the eye (for crows feet) and two slightly below the eye top of the cheek to stop the under eye smile wrinkles. The shots didn’t hurt, of the three I only even felt one of them.  The pressure of injecting liquid into the muscle tissue was, not uncomfortable, but well.. I don’t know how to describe it.  One spot hurt a little, but I mean so little that it doesn’t count, just enough for me to categorize it as pain.  The other two, I felt nothing or just a little pressure.

After that, I asked was there anything I should or shouldn’t do.  The doctor was like, oh yes don’t go to a sauna or hot spring in the next week.  I asked anything else, food?  Exercise?  Rubbing the area?  What about tanning? Can I go tanning?   The answer was I can do what ever I want, just try not to get the area too hot for a week, so no tanning, sauna or hot springs but exercise is fine.  and do not massage or rub the area for a week.

Another interesting thing I didn’t know, was that I won’t see any results for a week… well he said a week, but I looked online and they said 3-7 days.  I assume he said a week so I wasn’t calling in 4 days being like.. WTF why don’t I see anything.  Apparently results are in full effect with in two weeks. Interestingly, botox is used for a bunch of stuff including migraine treatments,  muscle spasms, and a number of other things.  Anyway since I’ve already done it, now I’m telling people and the responses have ranged from surprise  because they don’t feel I have any wrinkles, and curiosity.  So far no negativity at all.. interesting :D. I took some pictures, of before during and after.  So you can see what it all looks like.  If you have any questions feel free to ask, I’m a (mostly) open book.

Ok so I mostly wrote this right after I did it, and here is a little post op info :).  There wasn’t much of anything to see for a couple of days, and then a slight lessening of the crow’s feet.  Now it’s been 6 days since the injections and there is a notable difference.  To be honest I’m quite pleased with the results, I might go with a slightly higher dose next time (1-2 more units, which was what the doctor recommended in the first place).  But so far, it’s really worth it.  Of course that is assuming it actually last a few months, it wouldn’t be worth it if it wore off in 1 month.  But I look a lot less tired around the eyes, and just knowing that makes me feel better :).

Anyway here are some pictures I’ll try to make them as big as I can, but if you want big versions you can just ask me to email them to you.. it’s quite interesting all large on the computer screen!

Jan 12 before relaxed

Before the Shot, relaxed

Jan 12 before smiling

Before, Smiling

Jan 12 cream

They put this numbing cream on before the shots

Jan 12 shot

I got the nurse to take a picture while the doctor was doing the injections

Jan 12 xpost smiling

Just after the shot, you can see the red spots.

Jan 13

This is the next day, not sure why it’s out of focus, obviously nothing to see yet

Jan 14

Monday Jan 14th oooh a little less crow’s feet

Jan 15

Tuesday Jan 15th, wow! can totally see something

Jan 16

Jan 16th, ok, definitely can see a difference!

Jan 18 b

And this is Today, Jan 18th so 6 days after the shot.

Ok and here are a before and after side by side 🙂 wadday thing?

Jan 12 before smiling


Jan 18 x night


Really Frustrated

30 09 2012

It’s a long story, but basically I went to France.  And I missed my gaming friends, I came back and no one seemed to come out.  Totally bummed me out, especially because a lot of them were playing DND instead of coming to play games.  I have no interest in DND and obviously the whole I missed my friends and then they were not coming to play because they were playing DND was kinda depressing.  Then salt in the wound, when they would come hang out, they would always talk about DND.  K fine what ever.

But then on the board game group they started completely hijacking other people’s threads.  So someone would post something about board games (the name and purpose of the group) and then someone into the DND or models would completely take over and hijack the threads.  It was annoying, but instead of being a bitch about it and yelling at them, I thought hey… since they have so much to say and I know that the people who are not interested in DND aren’t interested in it.  It would be cool if there was a second group, then everyone could have as much discussion as they wanted without stepping on anyone else’s toes.

Then I thought, Gee I better not tell them or suggest to them to make a separate group for dnd and model discussions, because someone will get all offended and it’ll be a big fight.  So I created a group, invited all the people who I knew who were interested in that stuff to it, made an admin (then made another because the first one left the group) and then I left it.

Jesus… you’d think I crucified kittens.

I created a group.. I created one… yet some people got all in a huff about how I was kicking them out of the gaming group.  0.0 If I had kicked you out, how are you still posting in it.. oh because no one kicked you out of anything?  But hey, people were offended, my bad. Sorry I didn’t mean it as a fuck off, I just thought it made sense.  and I was really surprised and taken aback, I never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings or upset anyone.  I mean I’m not one to mince my words, if I wanted to tell people to fuck off… I would.

So the week after, one of the guys (the one who is really upset about the whole thing) told me he was upset.  I was kinda surprised, but I said I was sorry and explained that I didn’t mean it as an insult.  He spent the rest of the day with me, even had dinner with me.  All the time still all pissy with me, completely unbeknownst to me.

Then the passive aggressive digs started.  Ok ha ha.  Then it got kinda mean.  And I was like … what the fuck?  And it come to my attention that He thinks I’m being a total bitch and refusing to apologize. Um?  I did apologize, clearly you didn’t accept it… but that doesn’t mean I didn’t apologize.  But he’s got a bee in his bonnet.  Turns out, whenever my name comes up he’s taking the opportunity to bash me and go on about what a shit I’m being.

First off, when have I ever… ever done anything intentionally to hurt anyone else?  I’m a nice person and I try to be nice to people.  Even people I actively dislike.  So why would I go out of my way to do some massive passive aggressive fuck off to a large group of my friends?   Why would I sit around and plot shitty things to do to them? Hell I’m the first to admit that I do things without thinking them through, and sure I hurt people’s feelings.  But it’s never intentional, and I always feel really bad.  I felt horrible when he said he was really upset and offended by my creating the group.  When I said I was sorry and that I never intended to upset anyone, I was being really genuine.

Hence I was so hurt by the malice and bs that followed.  And to make matters worse, not a single person went, hey hold on… That Magda girl is a pretty nice kid.  She’s probably didn’t mean it this way… no instead it was silence or joining in.  Seriously?  These are my friends?

Then another friend, who genuinely meant well and was trying to help called.  And the next day his suggestion was that “After sleeping on the matter, I’m suggesting the following course of action. 1) Remove yourself as an Admin of the group. 2) Send private messages to “them”etc. letting them know you did this, and apologize to them for the way in which you handled the situation. Let them know you understand what you did was wrong, and you’re sorry and leave it at that. Don’t explain anything, just admit your fault and move on. 3)Then give them some time to get over it.”

I know what I did was wrong?  So even though I’m the one constantly asking new people to join, following up with new people, organizing events etc.  And I’m the one who goes every weekend as long as I’m in town.  I should not be an admin because one person is upset that I created a group.

I mean come on, if anyone is being run out of the group, it was me.  I didn’t really care about the being an Admin thing.  It’s the complete lack of faith in me, and complete disregard to my feelings.  If I had done something genuinely abusive to the group, like removing posts without reason.  removing members  blocking people etc.  Sure obviously, I’ve done something wrong.  But at worst I made a political misstep, and was insensitive.  But did something horrible, wrong or with any kind of malice?  Certainly not.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally aware that I over reacted and I was more hurt than really made sense.  But like I said at the beginning, I missed my friends.  And I get back and everyone is absent.  And then there is this silly kerfuffle, and I’m sad.  But WAIT there’s more!  So when I’m bummed out, and feeling down crying my eyes out about the whole thing.  I feel like I get kicked when I’m down. No one gives me a call and says, hey I’m upset with what you did.. or hey I’m sure you didn’t mean it they way it’s being taken.  (well one person did, but now he’s irritated with me because I left the group).

And it doesn’t end, I can’t win.  I feel like shit because the people who were my main social life here, either want nothing to do with me, or actually think I’m such a piece of crap that I would intentionally do shitty things. Or that I’m ‘playing the victim’.  So even though for the past .. oh 4-5 years I’ve been trying to organize people to get together to play games on Sundays.  I can’t go, because I’m just going to either end up fighting with someone, or I’m going to feel like shit and end up crying.

So I quit, because I was tired of feeling sad all the time.  I am trying to move on and put it behind me.  But my living room has a big shelf of games, that I’m thinking about getting rid of because why keep them?  Plus it just keeps coming up (hence I’m writing this post, trying to vent with out subjecting anyone to it all), my friend and co worker, he keeps feeling really bad, because on my birthday everyone blew me off (except Rob, Tarra, Angela, and Tanya) including him, and he keeps calling me asking about events or things with our group of friends.  And he ends up feeling like shit, because I am usually in the middle of organizing things, so asking me makes sense.  Except no one is talking to me, so I’m not invited to anything.. and then he feels bad because he just told me about another thing that I was not invited to.  Drawing it to my attention, which obviously makes me sad.   But then I feel bad for him too.

And my roommate, he goes every Sunday.  And he tries to not tell me about it, but that is one of the main things we used to gab about is games.  Plus it turns out, my name comes up, and then there is a complain fest about me, and he tries to stay out of it but he gets dragged into the middle of it all the time.  Sure I talked and cried to him about it at the beginning, because he’s my friend and I didn’t have many people to talk to that would understand.  But when he mentioned he didn’t want to hear about it, I mostly stopped.  It comes up now and again, but it’s usually because he mentions something.

So now it seems I suck because I left, and also no one believes me because the other guy insists I didn’t apologize   And as my roommate says I’m not there to give my side, and the other guy is quite persuasive.    So I do something, I’m the devil, I do nothing, I’m terrible, I leave because I’m hurt and I don’t want to spend my time crying anymore.  And I’m a jerk.  Awesome.

Know what I would have done if it was anyone ANY one of them?  I would call them up and ask their side, I would take into consideration their personality and the fact that I’m friends with them for a reason.  I’d ask if they were ok, I’d be bummed that they were so upset that they felt like they couldn’t come in.

The worst, WORST part?  I want to say, I’m better off, I don’t need friends like this.  But they’re all I have here, and while some of them can be dicks from time to time, I like most of them. So I miss them.  And they all sit around and bitch about me. great.  I feel like such a chump.

Ps Happy birthday to me.

APRC finally applied

7 08 2012

Well after all these years not only did I apply, I did it in record time.  From start to application meeting, basically 3 weeks.  Waiting for approval will take longer!  Course the whole, waiting for approval.. eek.  Because that means there is some possibility for rejection, not that the officer can make any guarantees, but she said as much as she can it’s gonna happen.    It’s just about timing, my boss is saying he will cancel my ARC on the 31st of August and that’s not enough time.  So I have to see if he’ll keep it for a little longer if not then I have to do more BS to make sure I remain legal.. sigh.

So when I did it all I had to ask a million questions and drive everyone half bananas, but on the plus side my interview took about 15 minutes and she told me that I was the first person to ever have everything ready to go all at the same time.

I thought it might be nice to write the whole thing up.. so here it is.. (boring to most of you, but useful to some I suppose)

Step By Step Process For Getting an APRC
for a Canadian 2012
I recently went through the whole process and documented it for other Canadians

  1. (Depends, only took me 15 minutes, free)  Open through lunch  8am-5pm
    Go into your NIA office (National Immigration Agency, where you go to get and renew your ARC # 15 Guangzhou street, Zhongzhen district Taipei city.   Tel: 02 2388 9393) And ask if you’re eligible for the APRC, they will do a check and make sure you’ve had an ARC for long enough (5 years) and make sure to ask if you have any gaps in your ARC that you might not know about.   Also make sure you made enough money in the last Calendar year… the last I checked it was around 450,000nt but confirm with the agents when you’re at the NIA.  You can ask the Tax office for that information if you’re not sure.
  2. (less than 5 minutes, free)   closed at lunch  8:30-am-5pm
    Go to the Canadian Trade office in Taipei: pick up fingerprinting papers
    This was easy as pie, just scooter over, parked by the Mitsikoshi malls zipped up, asked the receptionist and voila.
    6F, Hua-Hsin Building, No. 1 SongZhi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei 11047, Taiwan    Tel: +886 (2) 8723-3000
  3. (10 minutes, Free calling with Skype)
    Call the law office in Canada and confirm what they need from you as well as have them  send you the application form for them to submit the check for you.   Need to call after 10:30 pm  Taiwan time, during Alberta Business hours.  You need application form, sign the release to have your criminal record sent to someone in Canada.  Photocopies of two pieces of Canadian ID,
    Webpage: http://canadianlegal.org/     Phone:  1-800-320-2477

    Copies of my driver’s license and Passport (Canadian) as well as my ARC.  Printed the Documents, and application forms.
  4. (30 minutes or less, 100nt per fingerprinting set)  Friday 13th    open for lunch
    Go to the NIA office in your area, go to counter 58 in the basement of the Taipei office and have the officer take your prints.
  5. (5-10 minutes, 300nt)
    Friday 13th  it arrived Tuesday the 17th and was submitted to the RCMP that day

    Mail documents to the legal office in Canada, there is a post office in the basement right next to the counter for the fingerprinting.  I sent it EMS (express post) and it’s supposed to arrive within 3-5 days.  I also took photos of everything that was included in the packet and emailed them to the law office in Calgary to make sure everything was in order.
  6. (10-15 minutes, free with skype)
    Converting and Processing of prints costs $78.75 including taxes
    Called the law office again and gave them my credit card number.  Also called the TECO office in Ottawa to confirm everything needed for them to authenticate my Criminal record check.
    http://www.taiwanembassy.org/CA       Tel: (613) 231- 5080 ext. 225 or 239

  7. (20 minutes, 750nt) Thursday 19th    open at lunch 9am-5pm
    Had my letter of power of attorney notarized, allowing my friend (that my Criminal record check was being released to) to apply for the authentication.  The notary office was very friendly and easy to deal with.
    Phone 02-2729-3139   http://www.twnotary.org (last I checked their site was down, but just call they speak English) The office is just upstairs of the Tavern, on the corner of Keelung and Xinyi, the door is right next to the Hang Ten.  You’re also meant to authenticate a copy of your passport, but it was expensive and annoying so I didn’t bother , I sent my passport itself.
  8. (20 minutes, 300nt) Thursday 19th
    Arrived in Canada Tuesday 24th, so did the Criminal Record check from the RCMP
    Mailed my power of attorney letter, my passport, the TECO application form to my friend who was getting my Criminal Record Check in Canada.  Used EMS again 3-5 days.
  9. (2 hours, 1660nt) pick up a 5-10 business days later   Friday 20th   CLOSED at lunch
    You can do it at most national hospitals, I went to He Ping Hospital (because of their quick processing time, 5 days)  unfortunately because you need to get health check type B, NOT type A (the one you get for your ARC) which many Taiwanese people need to get, so you might need to do some waiting.  Blood test and X ray themselves were quick. Went back on Friday 27th to pick it up.
  10. (Time?, $107 Canadian)  Wednesday 25th arrived in Ottawa on 26th (2 days for processing)
    My friend took a photo of my criminal record check and emailed it to me (so I could have it translated).  She put everything in an envelope and sent it to the TECO office in Ottawa.  My friend got a certified cheque or money order, made out to “TECO in Canada” from the bank for  $16 Canadian.   This link explains everything you need to do http://www.taiwanembassy.org/CA/ct.asp?xItem=170084&ctNode=166&mp=77


My friend went and got a money order/cheque,  the application forms, copies of their ID, my passport, my criminal record check, a letter requesting they send everything back to me in Taipei, and the money order for $76 and put them all in an express envelope to the TECO office in Ottawa.  Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada 45 O’Connor Street, Suite 1960, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P1A4  (613) 231-5080.  $60 for the EMS to send it back to Taipei, $16 for TECO processing plus postage to send it to Ottawa.


  1. (5 minutes, 100nt)  pick up in 5 days     Friday 27th  open at lunch 9am-5pm
    Went into the foreign affairs police station in Ximen, gave them my ARC and 100nt and requested a criminal record check.  Picked up my Health Check from the Heping hospital.
  2. (an hour or so driving around, gas money)  Friday the 3rd
    Picked up my Taiwanese Criminal Record Check, went to the tax office (open at lunch) and picked up my blue tax paper, went to my boss and picked up my employment letter.

  3. (an hour or so, 750nt)  Monday 6th     open at lunch
    My passport and authenticated criminal record check arrived in the mail on the 4th.  I took them into the notary on Xinyi with the Chinese Translation of the Criminal Record Check AND MY TRANSLATOR (this is very very important they are not authenticating your translation they are notarizing your translator’s signature on the document, which means they must see them sign the document in front of them).  Also popped by my work and made a photo copy of every page of both my current and previous passports.   Then went to my meeting at the NIA with the APRC agent.

Check list of everything you need to prepare

  • Fingerprinting document from Canadian Trade Office in Taipei
  • Photo copies of ID, application form, completed fingerprint forms for your Criminal Record Check (valid 3 months)
  • Authenticated and certified copy of passport, or original passport, application form, letter of power of attorney to be sent to the person receiving and forwarding your Criminal Record Check to the TECO office for authentication
  • Chinese Translation of RCMP Criminal Record Check, anyone can translate but you need them to go with you to the notary office to sign their translation in front of the officer (the signature needs to be notarized )
  • Health check type B  (valid 3 months)
  • Taiwan Criminal Record Check  (valid 1 month)
  • Tax ‘income’ form from the previous fiscal year (it’s blue)     (valid 1 month)
  • Employment certificate (letter from your boss, same one you use for your ARC)
    (valid 1 month)
  • The originals of your work permits, for the past 5 years (at least) and a photocopy of the most recent year.
  • An ID photo
  • Photo copies of every  page of your current and previous passport and if your ARC on A4 paper (You can copy both of them on the same paper, it just has to be clear).

Weekend Away in Dieppe

30 05 2012

This weekend (oops I wrote this in the car and then forgot to post it..  so actually it was like three weeks ago) we were supposed to have a paintball extravaganza, with camping out in the woods (I can’t even begin to tell you how ‘excited’ I was about that part) for two days.  Technically it’s been planned for well over a month, but as the weekend approached suddenly people who were all for it started dropping like flies. Originally there were like 15 some people going but by Monday there were only 8 or 6 and by Wednesday most of them were making noises about the weather and the wetness.  It looked like the whole thing was rather doomed, and Regis was super bummed out.  But then he thought about it, checked the weather forcast (which wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either) and was like well fuck it, let’s go to Dieppe instead for the long weekend.  I was like, um ok, long weekend (my life is a long weekend at the moment) ? And what’s in Dieppe? 

Turns out we were actually supposed to go to Dieppe the first or second weekend I was here to hang out with his cousins.  I don’t remember why we didn’t go, perhaps weather or other plans, regardless I’m glad we didn’t go when I first got here or I would have spent most of the time sitting in the corner not sure how to talk to anyone.  But as is, I had a really good time this weekend.  Which is funny because we didn’t really do anything, we got here on Friday late afternoon and hung out with his cousin and her son and step son.  When her husband got off work we had some drinks and dinner (which in Europe is usually a bit of a productions.. with the food order and all :D).

Honestly, there was a lot of time were I just lounged about on the sofa on my computer, facebooking or goofing around or reading my book.  But in the company of other people who were similarly occupied but still socializing with each other if that makes sense.  Sometimes we all watched TV, someone or other was playing video games… just sort chilling out at the house.

On Saturday we did end up going to a rally car race, which had it’s moments, but I wasn’t thrilled about standing out in the cold in a muddy ass field waiting for a car to go ZOOM and then done.  It wasn’t terrible, but I was cold and such a baby about all the mud.  Then we decided (and by we I mean they I was so not involved in the decision process) that the location we were in had given all it had to offer.  Including the idiot kid who kept jumping into the road so he could see the car and wave at it… um death wish much?  We all got massively splattered with mud bc of that dumb kid… the car had swerve half off the road to avoid him.  As dumb as the kid was, his father deserved a massive smack in the head and it kinda took all I had to keep from telling him off.  I mean who fucking takes a 9-11 year old boy to rally race and then lets him stand on the fucking road in front of a speeding car (sure the kid jump off the road every time.. but what if he slipped? What if the car slipped.. or crashed trying to avoid this idiot kid).  Anyway we moved to the start/ check point of the race (they do several circuits) because it was different, but of course we couldn’t get anywhere near to anything to see… The guys could sorta see… but the kids and I were pretty much hooped.  I was cold and bored so I wandered off looking for a better spot, where I could at least see something.

I had already decided that if I didn’t find any action, or a good spot I was going to hide in the car with my book :D.  So I wandered around for quite a while, crossed the street behind the start line (ie where the cars were not zinging off) and got some cool close up looks at the cars before they went on another circuit, then I continued on down the other side and found a great little spot (that was technically in the ‘hey hey don’t go here because it’s dangerous zone’) were I could see the cars start off.. and then they passed right in front of me (did a little loop) before zinging back down the road.  Excellent, I even had a little step to sit on!  And not a soul in front of me, win.  But I was still kinda cold.. and bored.  I mean the thing about rally cars is they zing by and then you just sit about waiting for the next one.  So I started to read.  Now I secretly, ok not so secretly as I said it out loud like 5 times, wanted to see a car crash in a spectacular fashion, and barring that I at leats wanted to see one skid out, bang into something or break somehow.  AND wish received… right in front of me a car came flying down the road with one wheel FUCKED up ended up stopping and pulling off right in front of me yay.  Not long after that we went home, for drinks and dinner and interneting.

Another day went for a walk down town, checked the Saturday morning street market, went to the super market a couple of times, I made dinner one night.  I also bought some popcorn (shit I forgot that at the house.. oh well) and made that.. which was a huge hit and I was asked to make it almost every night as an aperitif (snack with drinks before dinner).  And another night they wanted to try sushi, since I know how to make the rolls (it’s hardly rocket science) we popped down to the store to pick up some things and I made some salmon, shrimp and crab rolls, also a big hit.

Oh and we played Karnaxis one night, it was a bit of a gong show bc only Regis and I know how to play and the whole game is in English … which only I really speak.  Plus they’d all never really played this kind of game before and were really confused.  There was a lot of explaining and questions, and the game took forever.  But in the end it was a pretty good time and it was pretty cool because at the end of it, they were all like.. ‘man that was really fun and cool’ I love introducing new people to gaming.

It’s now it’s Wednesday and we’re in the car heading home.  Anyway I had a good time this weekend, and I’m glad we came now instead of a couple of months ago, because even though my French still sucks I can hold my own in a one on one conversation.  And everyone was really nice, trying really hard to help me and to understand my stories and conversation.  His cousins are really nice people. J.

Oh and one other thing, I love that everyone invariably ends up mentioning his ex and what a cow she is, and how I’m so nice 😀 lol.  I told Claire (his cousin) about his ex doing the whole kiss kiss thing with me and how taken aback I was and her reaction was fucking priceless.  She was like, WHAT? Seriously.. what a bitch.  I told her how when I tell folks back home about it, they brush it off as normal French kissy kissy business or that she was trying to be nice to me… and Claire was like.. hell no, she was just trying to make you uncomfortable and being nasty, this is wildly inappropriate of her.  Ha… I knew it.  Obviously I’m not going to be hearing songs of her praise, but man that woman seems like quite a prize.. hell even some of HER friends, they Regis met because they were friends with her… are no longer friends with her bc of all her manipulation etc.  Amusingly enough their the first ones to trash her, I swear to god I never bring her up.. and I have yet to meet anyone with a nice thing to say about her.  The best I’ve seen is, silence on the subject, for example Regis’s mom says nothing, not a word about her.  But then again his mom is like the nicest person ever, and I don’t think she’s every uttered a bad word about anyone in her life :D.

Ok, I’m done with writing now.. I’ll post when I get home.  Maybe I’ll watch a movie or read my book for a while.

Portsmouth at a Glance

27 05 2012

Because that’s all I really had to be honest.  My trip to England was more of a visa run than anything else, my vacation in France is longer than the three month landing visa I get into the Shenzhen area (am I the only one who thinks that sounds super chinesey?)  Anyway, I think I mentioned it but perhaps not, when I arrived I asked the immigration officer (who amusingly didn’t speak English, really at the international airport???) if England was in the Shenzhen region or not, it’s not.  So I popped over on the Wednesday afternoon ferry, let me just stop right here for a second.  I love boats.  And Ferries, just tickle me pink, I think it must be one of those childhood pleasant memory things, because I can’t get on a ferry without immediately going exploring and delighting at every little thing. Which is precisely what I did, I beelines to a nice little sofa area, got the old couple to watch my bad.. and disappeared for a couple of hours taking every staircase, elevator, and exploring every floor, room, deck, and nook and cranny of the place that was open.

I wasn’t even particularly interesting in most of the facilities available, but I was still delighted that they existed and where there if I wanted them (well wanted to pay exorbitant prices for them).  Including, two bars, and arcade, cabins, gift shops, restaurants, and all sorts of other little doodads.  Due to high winds, while we arrived on time, we weren’t actually allowed into the port for an hour, and I was worried because I had arranged to couch surf, and my host had offered to pick me up at the ferry on the way to the coach surfing social.  But luckily he’d been caught up at work so it all worked out.  So that evening we went to a pub, and hung out with some other couch surfers, it was very entertaining, and so delightful because everyone spoke English and while it’s not really an issue… it’s just nice to hang out with people who all speak your language fluently sometimes.

The next day, my host Chris had to work all day and didn’t have a spare key so once I was out, I was out till he got back from work.  Which was fine, and also he’s such a nice guy he loaned me his water/wind proof jacket which was quite the blessing a couple of times during the day.  I meandered down the coast using a little tourist map to check out any and everything free along the way (a bunch of pay museums too.. but I’m a cheap little thing, plus I don’t really like museums).  I took a ton of pictures (you can see them on Facebook.. but as usual I was too lazy to take out the good camera.. it’s not my fault it’s really big and heavy and I walked all over hells half achre for like 6 hours… I didn’t want to be lugging that monster along.

While in a bit of a shopping district I tried to find a little present to bring back to Regis, but everything was either quite expensive or something he didn’t need or probably wouldn’t want.  In the end I went into Boots of all places (a drug store) and got him a Cadbury Crème Egg, I really don’t like them… but they definitely don’t have them in France.  Besides other people go on and on about them.. he might like it.  Then I had a major brain wave and popped into a TESCO (a supermarket) and picked up a selection of beers for him to try.  Which of course weighed a ton and made the walk back just smashing :P.  But it was worth it, as he was absolutely delighted by his gift.

Anyway it was getting toward the time Chris would be getting off work so I started heading back (about a 30 minute walk), by the time I got there he’d already gotten in.  We spent some time chatting about where I went and what I did for the day.  We also had a really good chat about his travels in the States and plotted some nice gifts and things he could do for his GF who was coming to Portsmouth in a couple of months (she’s living in Spain at the moment).   Chris was greatly amused that I had compulsively tidied his kitchen (cleaned all the dishes and the stove and counter tops) and that I had actively stopped myself from doing the bathroom too.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t dirty, I’m just a nut.  Seems I’m a good house guest lol.. and he told me if I need a place to stay in oh say two weeks that would be just great..lol.   We had a bit of dinner and then headed to bed.

Because Chris being the nicest guy ever, he had offered to get up silly early in the morning to drop me at my ferry.  He works one of those jobs with flexible hours, so it worked out for him being Friday if he went in early he could go home early and start the weekend.  So we were up at 6-7am and off we went back to the boat.. YAY BOATS… (side note … I can’t hear, think, write or say the word boats… without thinking of that dude in Taipei that had named himself boats… not one boat.. several).   I hoped on the Ferry, had a long entertaining chat with this friendly older guy (who was quite the chatty cathy.. and this is coming from me of all people) who was going on a little one day hiking trip in France.  Explored a little, but as it was the same boat… meh.  And then back to France.

Oh, one last thing did happen, which amused/annoyed me.  To enter France (as in England) we had to pass through immigration.. on my way into England I got quite the grilling.. I mean she wanted to see my on going ticket back to Taipei… I was like why the hell would I have that with me??  And why do you care? You have my ongoing ticket back to France… plus I got a billion questions and warnings about taking work while in the country… um.  Do you have so many jobs that people are just flinging them at tourists?  I mean I’m here for like 36 hours… what could I possibly do in that time?  By contrast, when I arrived in the France the guy was like. Oh hi.. standard 1-2 questions, lemmi get my stamp.  😀  Meanwhile, I guess people from England just show their passport and walk through, this woman behind me was nearly apoplectic at the fucking 5 minute wait.  Which was all my fault for being a dirty foreigner, no she didn’t actually say anything but she was all big sighs, frantic eyes, and muttering obnoxious things like ‘oh for fuck’s sakes’ under her breath.  I mean for one…. Not a particularly intelligent way to behave at immigration, anywhere else and she would have been dragged off to a little room, but luckily for her the officer was 1 busy and 2 chill.  But it was so passive aggressively obnoxious, I wasn’t able to hold my tongue.  I finally said, (keep in mind she was being such a cow that I couldn’t keep from saying anything and this was like a 5 minute wait… at most) listen lady, they have to stamp my passport, it’s not my fault calm the fuck down.  You’ll get through in a minute.  So which she got all ‘well I never’, and insisted that she hadn’t said or done anything to the contrary.  I was like well quit the sighs and muttering comments and chill out.  I really just wanted to slap her :D.

Well that’s it.. 😀

Protected: Well good morning to you too…

12 05 2012

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Protected: Well good morning to you too..(ask 4 psswrd)

12 05 2012

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