Friday, December 30, 2005

Catching up

Is it really six days since I last wrote a blog entry? It must be time to kick start myself again with a stream-of-consciousness blog entry.

So what have I been doing for the last week? The short answer is, not much. The thing with my job is that I'm busy all the time when I'm working, and then classes finish and suddenly I'm not busy, and the days stretch out and I think I have plenty of time to catch up with everything, but then I do nothing. I just ... stop. It's such a relief not to have to get up early, and such a relief not to be facing yet another hoard of students demanding to know what they need to do to pass that I just bliss out and do nothing for a while. And then the 'while' gets longer and longer...

But I haven't been doing ABSOLUTELY nothing. On Xmas eve I went shopping and bought a new skirt and jacket. They were very cheap, which is why I bought them even though they are not made of natural material. I usually avoid artificial fabrics because of the static problem, but these were lovely and I thought I could deal with it. The first time I wore them I went downstairs and as I went I could feel the skirt starting to stick to my legs. When I walked out the front door all the rubbish in the air for 100 metres around instantly attached itself to the skirt. It was amazing. I added anti-static spray to the shopping list.

It occurs to me that wearing this skirt I don't need a vacuum cleaner. I could just walk around the house and the dust bunnies would come to me crying Mama! I don't want to try it, though. I'm afraid I might self-combust.

This reminds me that when I was in London I looked for some anti-static spray after that horrible airline blanket experience. I didn't want it to happen again flying back, so I went into a chemist and asked if they had anything that would work to take out static. They didn't know what I was talking about. I explained what had happened, and explained about the anti-static spray you can buy here, and they looked at me as if I was mental. They suggested that I try an electrical shop. When I went to an electrical shop they looked at me as if I was mental and suggested that I try a chemist. At that point I was reminded of the old joke about how to keep an idiot awake all night: you write USE OTHER SIDE on both sides of his pillow. I didn't tell the joke, though. I gave up. The way everybody looked at me when I tried to explain why I wanted the spray made me think that perhaps I was exaggerating. It can't have been that bad, surely? Maybe I was just being overly dramatic about the whole thing. And maybe it was a one-off thing anyway, and wouldn't happen again.

I was wrong, of course. It did happen again, and it was that bad. I guess Londoners don't have static problems. Certainly I seemed to be the only one on the plane who got attacked by their blanket.

The other thing I've been doing in the last few days is marking tests. I made a wee mistake this year, and gave tests that are a pain in the arse to mark. I thought I'd get them out of the way at the beginning of the holidays, but it didn't work out that way, because the first day I tried I only got one class done. It took three hours. At the end of that I didn't feel like doing more. I was tired of snarling at bits of paper. I've been doing one class a day for several days now, and have four to go.

I do not understand why everybody didn't get 100% on this test. I didn't only tell them what the questions would be, I told them the answers. How could they get so many wrong? I don't know what to DO with students who self-sabotage. Not all of them do, of course, and one guy did get 100%. The problem is that he wasn't one who needed to do well. The ones who needed to do well, and whom I reminded of the answers so they could actually pass the test and thus pass the course (even though they don't deserve to), didn't. They turned up and acted as though the test was a big surprise and it was all my fault.

I want to bang their heads together. Instead, I will fail them. This means that when classes start back (and almost instantly finish again) and I tell them their grades I have a whole lot of grovelling to look forward to. I hate it when they beg. Why don't they just offer me money?

On a brighter note (and because if I write any more about hopeless students I'll get snarly again) I wore my new outfit (liberally sprayed) on Xmas day when I went to a flea market with friends. That was lovely, but I'm happy that Xmas doesn't fall on a Sunday next year because the flea market was way too crowded. I tried to take photos, but it was hard. There were just too many people. But I took some, and here they are.

The Man told me that I should try to get an overview. This proved to be impossible. You cannot see the whole market from anywhere. There are several lanes of stalls, and once you enter a lane you are surrounded by stalls and people. But at the end of one lane the road rose a little and the crowds thinned, so I took a shot looking back. (Click for larger images.)

Who is old enough to remember this dog? (Spot the odd one out!) The same stall was selling old wind-up gramophones.

Beckoning cats are considered lucky, here. These are Kutani, so were probably quite expensive, although I didn't ask. They probably don't look like they're beckoning to you, but that's because you are not Japanese (except you. Yes, you. You know who I'm talking about) and do not beckon with your palm down. Japanese people beckon palm down, using a motion like... like ... (I'm waving my hand around here trying to figure out what it looks like) ... like the motion your hand makes when you scratch behind a cat's ears. Well, a bit like that, anyway. If I had a cat I would experiment further, but unfortunately there is no cat in my life right now.

This last picture is of the beginning of a lane of food stalls. On the right those bags are full of candy floss (that's cotton candy to you Americans). The bags are decorated with cartoon characters.

So, that has been my life for the last few days. Today I marked another class's tests and got grumpy. After that I needed to relax so I had another go at this.

(And if you clicked on that link, you'll know what I've been doing when I haven't been shopping or marking tests or going to flea markets. I am embarrassingly addicted to this game.)


Cheryl said...

Poor you with those silly students, how deflating.

Glad you're back!

Wendy said...

His Masters Voice? Staight out of my childhood....memories indeed.

I did exactly the same thing with my tests...I thought they were so well done until I sat down to mark them...but mine are all finished and reports are done too.

That game...I tried it a few times...damn difficult.

Wiccachicky said...

I always feel the exact same way after the semester is over! I think I'm going to get caught up on things, but really I end up sitting around doing very little for several days and trying to catch up on all the sleep I lost the semester before!

I also feel your pain on the students - I had final exams this semester where I provided a review sheet two full weeks before the exam, and at least half of the questions were exactly the same as previous quizzes, but the average was still a very low C. I don't know - sometimes I just don't get them. Luckily, I only have one groveler so far...

BerlinBear said...

Oh my LAWD! I see what you mean about that game (half an hour later). Grr, I hope I forget the address.

Robert said...

I guess students are the same everywhere. I've vowed to stop giving onjective exams entirely. From now on it's all painful as that will be for me to read.

shammi said...

"HORDE of students", right? :) Unless you're putting them away tidily in a cupboard somewhere for a rainy day? :D