Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 5:40 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI know that many people become teachers every year and most of them manage to survive and even thrive.

This does not help me right now because I start teaching a week from today and for some reason all the confidence I used to have has evaporated and I'm in full panic mode. I have forgotten how to teach, they will see that I'm a fraud, and then I'll be out of work.

Or I could be fine.

I KNOW I'll probably be fine. That doesn't do much to calm me down right now. I'm trying to plan out things, but not having even seen the English office, much less the school beyond the front entrance, is not helping.

People say the first year or two are the worst for teaching. I wish no one had really told me this because I'm already feeling under the gun. I'm petrified that I'm going to screw up teaching and give a shoddy education. I keep feeling like I'm going to show up, go into shock, and just not be able to do a thing. Kind of like a deer in headlights.

I wish there was some sort of tranquilizer here. I'm totally out of my depth.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 12:03 PM | 0 comments
Today is a big day. It's exciting and terrifying all at once. I've alternately jumped for joy and been shaken to the core. My poor heart can't take all of this.

The most important piece of news is that today is Catherine and I's 8th anniversary. Yes, we've now been together for 8 years which is a huge amount of time. We met last century, took a trip to Jasper, and have been together ever since.

I know many people have often found it strange that our two personalities not only found each other but function so well. I'm talkative and Catherine is... not so much. However we have our own language that has carried us through thick and thin and to this day we love each other very much. I can't imagine how difficult it has been for her to support me through the past year, but not only did she do it with a smile but she made me feel like I was doing the right thing the whole way through. She's something truly special and I'm incredibly lucky to have her.

The other bit of news, less important, is that I took a job in the TDSB today. This opportunity has positive and negative aspects, but the positive outweigh the others enough that I just couldn't say no.

I'll be teaching two grade 11 English courses at the academic/university level and one grade 10 locally developed class. What the LD class focuses on is generally comprehension and general skills for kids to use in the real world.

Sounds great? Well, it's not bad. The school is on a nice piece of property and the principal seems really relaxed. She's very excited about having me come to the school and is promising support out the ying-yang, so I can't complain.

The downside to all of this is that it is what's known as a .5 contract. The contract part of this sentence is good because it means I'm in the system as a full TDSB employee and that puts me first in line to get a new job down the line. The .5 sucks because I've only got a job at this school until the end of the first semester in January. At that point, the school either keeps me (if they can) or else I'm assigned another .5 somewhere else in the city.

I could have waited to get an LTO (long-term occasional) but the nature of an LTO is that it can last one month, two months, six months, or the school year. As a contract employee, I get full benefits, start my pension, and I'm in place for regular raises. An LTO doesn't get these things and has to reapply to the school board every year.

So I'm in a good position, but not perfect. I certainly didn't expect to get this job because I didn't think I was that great in the interview and I had delays getting to the school because of the TTC.

Now I just have to panic because I don't have a freakin' clue what I'm doing from this point on.

I'll avoid thinking about it as Catherine and I are going away to Niagara Falls this weekend for our anniversary. At least we have two things to celebrate!
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Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 7:46 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFirst off, I went to see Superbad on Friday afternoon. All that I knew was that it was getting really positive reviews and that it was supposedly funny. Turns out that it IS very funny and has jumped up to be in my top five favourites for movies this year. That's pretty high praise, but this movie had me laughing the whole way through... even with its 'Andrew Loh, NO!' moment.

Jamie in particular will greatly enjoy this film. I think Catherine might like it, but she's an odd duck when it comes to movies. She picked out American Dreamz to watch tonight and it was possibly one of the worst things I have seen in my life. It made me hate breathing.

But Catherine does have her pleasant moments. Last night I was expressing some doubt over my future as a teacher (I do it to get the sympathy) and I said I was going to go back to school.

"No," she said. "Don't do that!"

"I'm going to," I replied. "I'm going to go back to school so I can join a circus."

"What are you going to do in the circus? Trapeze?"

"No."

"Clown?"

"No."

"Then what?"

"Um. I'll be the fat lady."

And without missing a beat, she said "but you're not a lady."

Silence. Then she started laughing uncontrollably having realized that she just implied I was fat. In about a minute, she started to stammer an explanation in between taking breaths from laughing. I stopped her short. "It's a little late for that!"

But I still like her. For those of you who know, there's been an ongoing debate between Catherine and I over the prospect of marriage. She's been hesitant about taking my last name, but for some oddly traditional reason I feel strongly that it's important to show some kind of cohesiveness as a family unit. She reasonably asked why I wouldn't take her name and I told her that I don't truck with that idea.

After some time, she finally said that she'd take my name if we got married, but if she did this then I must provide her with a pair of socks bearing the family name. Catherine has a thing for socks, don't ask me to explain it. I agreed and while she was in the bathroom, I grabbed a pair of white socks and a magic marker and then proceeded to write 'Wilkinson' on each sock. I then placed them on her pillow. Catherine, ever the great detective, walked into the room and laid on top of the socks. Sensing my exasperation, I told her to look on her pillow and she obeyed by looking on the wrong side. I swear it felt like I was in a comedy.

Eventually she found the socks and laughed quite a bit. The big surprise was on me, however, because I think she's going to keep the socks. At least now I know what to ask her for my birthday.
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Friday, August 17, 2007 at 10:01 AM | 0 comments
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe next two weeks is going to be a test of my patience, stamina, and my resolve. Yes, once again it's hiring time in the TDSB.

For those of you who weren't paying as close attention the first time around, I turned down the first job offer I had for teaching. It was for a year round alternative school, and while I'm sure it's an excellent place to teach, it just really wasn't what I had been working and building towards for so long.

So as I wait patiently, I'm doing my best to fill up my days. I've hit the stage where all of my time blends together and any ambition I might have to write the next great novel, or indeed even go for a walk, seems to fall by the wayside. I expect this to be a smaller problem next summer as I might have enough money to actually do things.

Today, I'll probably just watch television. Catherine and I just finished watching Freaks & Geeks, and during the day I watch The 4400, Eureka (not the cheesy Canadian kids show, but a sci-fi show out of the US), and season 3 of Deadwood. See? I'm productive. I think I might even go out of the apartment to the movie theater to watch Superbad.

Next week I'm hoping will be much different. I'd like to be hired for the school I most want to work at on Monday so I can actually start planning. The only stress factor at this point is the unknown, so I'd like to get that out of my way and then I can enjoy these last couple of weeks off.

If you're wondering about the image at the top, it's from an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. I made it into a wallpaper which looks quite spiffy on a widescreen monitor.

By the by, Random Changes is being updated regularly these days and is all caught up on some story called World War Hulk.
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Friday, August 10, 2007 at 12:13 PM | 1 comments
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An actual shot of the in-movie armour that Robert Downey Jr. wears in the upcoming Iron Man movie. Having seen the trailer from the San Diego comic con I just have to say... damn. This looks like it'll be an amazing flick.

Jon Favreau (Swingers) is directing and it has a decent supporting cast as well.

Do you think I can rent out that armour to wear around the house while I'm waiting for school to start? Or would that just be weird?
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 at 4:24 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy quest for glory has finally come to an end. After months of searching, I know have all five of the autobots that appeared in the Transformers movie.

Yes, you read that correctly. I actually did something worthwhile with my summer. I read message boards and travelled to Toys 'R Us and Walmart on a regular basis. You know, now that I've typed that out, it doesn't sound as cool as I thought it was a minute ago.

Well, despite what any of you think, this WAS a lot of hard work. A few of the figures were really easy to find such as Ratchet, Ironhide and Jazz, but the last two were the toughest at all.

I got a tip from an online message board that they had the Optimus Prime figure I wanted (the $30 one, not the $70), was finally at the Dufferin Mall Walmart. I went there the next day and they had four left. Since then, I have been to a dozen or more stores and I have never seen this figure on the shelves again. Many people are still searching for him from my Transformers message board. This was REALLY lucky. Every other figure in that size class could be picked up today, but that one is just gone for good.

Yesterday, I managed to track down Bumblebee. His first toy was based on the 1976 camaro, but this is a crap figure. Poorly designed and just doesn't look good at all. The 2008 Camaro, however, is a work of art and possibly one of the best Transformer toys I have ever seen. As such, he's almost always sold out and nearly impossible to find. Scalpers have been known to clear out stores where he's found because he goes for around $35 US on eBay. A friend from my board found him and tucked him away in a Walmart in Scarborough, so I made the trek out yesterday.

Yes, I know you all think this is a lot of effort to go through for a toy. Heck, I've even made Paul and Victoria stop at stores so I could search. I had my Dad search in Guelph before he came to see me last week.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBut now, my struggle is over. I know it'd be a waste to actually call and ask stores if they have figures in stock. My favorite example of the futility of this action was when I was in a Walmart a couple months ago looking for Marvel Legends figures. I asked the stockperson if they had the new figures in. He looked at my blankly. What follows is the actual conversation.

"No, we don't carry those figures."

"You don't carry Marvel Legends?" I asked.

"No, we don't."

At this point I reach over and pull one of the older series figures off the shelf. "You don't carry these?"

"No, we don't have those."

"You don't carry the toy that I'm currently holding in my hand that I just pulled off your shelf?"

"No."

"Oh, well then. My mistake," I conclude in a very pleasant tone of voice. I'm trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. I put the toy back on the shelf and thank him for his time.

This is one reason of many why I should be in charge of the planet.
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