School update

The tie in question
The tie in question

Another couple of days under my belt and I’m still not ready to kill anyone else, let alone myself. I am becoming more and more aware of the workload and issues to be dealt with – as well as the ongoing lack of employment opportunities for qualified teachers – but they’re all problems to worry about further down the road.

Tuesday breezed by with a couple of lectures with some staff members and a visit to a second “associate” Primary school. I’ve been warned against calling them “Feeder Schools” as apparently it upsets the staff there. Not something I want to do! Not because they’re scary but because they’re lovely and I’d not want to insult them!

One event of note in the secondary school before I left after lunch was a shout of “Sir! Help!” in the corridor. A boy, I’d guess about 15 years old, was being pinned against a wall by a girl who was not overly pleased with him for some reason. It was obviously a light-hearted matter, so I just looked and said “No, you look like you’re managing fine by yourself.”

Then she kneed him in the spuds.

“Ooh… you’ll have to get used to that. It happens a lot in later life.”

He grimaced, nodded and wandered off cupping himself. Poor sod. He’ll learn.

The Primary we visited covers a different catchment are from the one we went to on Thursday, and is run in a completely different way. It’s surprising to see that two schools so close geographically (there can’t be more than 1 1/2 miles between them) can operate in such different manners and have such varying facilities. This one seems more like the one I used to go to with the addition of a (sadly understaffed, but utterly wonderful) nursery.

Once more I left wondering if I shouldn’t have been more tenacious about getting on to the Primary PGDE! We were left to wander between forms and the children were all pretty well behaved and pleasant to spend time with. I must have had about twenty or more telling me how much they liked my tie! Covered in Warner Brothers cartoons, for those who are interested.

Today was another “novelty” day where I was to shadow a first year pupil across all her classes. I’d been “warned” about the girl I was shadowing being a bit of a loudmouth and I’d likely want to try and ditch her by the end of second period. This didn’t turn out to be the case and, despite not being the most model of pupils, she was very nice to me. Sometimes being given something “important” to do can bring out the best in a pupil.

We covered a variety of classes including Art, Music, English, German, Science and History. The way the school’s structured, not all of the pupils are in the same class for each subject – there’s some “streaming” based on ability and previous experience at Primary. For instance, some children did French at Primary, so they go into French in S1; others go into German classes.

What was most interesting was watching the class as a whole in each subject. You can tell by their behaviour which ones they enjoy most. One boy who was slouching around in German was bouncing (in a good way) in Art. Another who wouldn’t stop talking to his friends in History was completely focussed in Music.

I was tired by the end of the day, but I’d learned a lot. I also came to the conclusion that I’d be more than happy teaching English at S1/S2 level. The creativity shown by the children in that class was nothing short of fantastic. They were working on poems – haiku and “lantern poems” – in a bid to teach them about syllables. Whereas many adult-written poems seem to be over-thought, the sheer simplicity of the works this class came up with was eye-opening.

Don’t get me wrong, the other classes were good but I’m rubbish as Art and Music so there’s no way I’d be teaching them!

Two more days left and back to college where, I gather, the “real work” begins. Argh.

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Poll: Which is worst?

I’ve not had a poll on the blog for years! After hearing about Ourman‘s random barging in by his landlord this morning, I just have to ask (ideally, you need JavaScript enabled):

Sorry about the pale colours. Please note that Steve wasn’t naked and wasn’t bashing the bishop when the landlord walked in… Before he sues me or sends Vietnamese mafia over to beat me up.

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R.I.P. Ed :(

Pussy in a tight hole
R.I.P. little fella

Before I left the UK to go travelling in 2006 I had two lovely cats. Both were adopted from other places – KK from random chav neighbours who moved house and abandoned her, Ed from a friend who had to move house and couldn’t take him with her.

Anni, being sweet and lovely, volunteered to take them both in for me while I was away. This was when I was only going to be out of the country for 6 months… and not the three-and-a-bit years it ended up being. Oops. So off I drove to deepest, darkest Cardiff to deliver them to their new carer.

That was the hardest moment before leaving the UK for me. Anni will tell you – I cried. Just before I left and I saw my cats for almost the last time Anni cuddled me and I cried. I am a soppy git, but I love my animals.

When I came back to the UK after 18 months for a short visit, I saw both of them. By that time, Ed was doing a good impression of a Manx having had to have his tail removed. We never did find out what caused the problem, but first the tip and then the whole thing had to be surgically snipped as he was suffering a lot of pain.

Anni got a new job and couldn’t look after the pussies any more. Fortunately, she found good homes for both.

Up till now, that was the story. There is, however, a very sad new chapter. And the final one for Ed.

Today his new owners found him outside, stone dead, with not a mark on him. They took him to the vet who reckons he was clipped by a car and died instantly. So thankfully he didn’t suffer.

He was a lovely cat. Never any trouble, very playful and I always missed him. I’m so sad I won’t get to see him again.

R.I.P. Ed 🙁

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And in music today…

The "devil's horns" symbol that Dio ...

A few things music-y popped up today so I thought I’d bang a post up rather than just raving about them on Twitter.


As well as being overjoyed at getting a ticket to see them at Glasgow Barrowlands in November, I’m well impressed with the title track they’ve started streaming from the new album (World Painted Blood). It’s available from their MySpace page so you’ll have to put up with formatting that looks like it was dreamed up by a 6 year old with spatial awareness issues, but it’s worth it.

Much as I adored the ball-out utter thrashing heavyness of God Hates Us All, I was underwhelmed by Christ Illusion, it seeming like just more of the same. This new title track shows a lot more variety and a touch of the cleaner sound harking back to the likes of South of Heaven. If the rest of the album holds up then I’m very excited indeed.


One album I’m no longer waiting for is Hatebreed’s Hatebreed, their fifth album. It’s superb, and the first real change in tone I’ve heard from them in their history. Not quite as in-your-face heavy as… well, everything else they’ve ever released. There’s even an instrumental on it.

This will be on repeat play in the car along with…


Got ahold of the new Mustaine & Co album Endgame last week and that’s been looped to death already. Definitely their best release in a long time, though I still think The System Has Failed was pretty good.

And finally… a 4 year old on the drums

Yeah, this is rather cool. I can’t include the video as they’ve disabled embedding, but head over to YouTube and check out this immensely talented kid. The prime video to check is the one of him drumming to Harvester of Sorrow (check out around 5:20 for some real skill), though he’s got loads more on his YouTube channel.

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Windows 7: XP Mode

Windows 7
Windows 7

Time for a geeky post – it’s been a while. I was tinkering with the beta version of Windows 7 for a while before it expired and was… well, I’d not say “impressed”, as it had problems with basic graphic drivers on my Acer TravelMate 2410. Otherwise it looked like it had the nice stuff from Vista without running like a two legged dog that’s been shot in the back of the head, then buried in concrete. As Vista does.

One feature I couldn’t check out is the XP Mode, which uses the virtualisation (I’m Anglicising that) of a copy of XP SP3 because my PC won’t support it. The idea is that anything you can run on XP should run on 7 using this feature… as long as your PC is beefy enough to handle it. The thing is, it’s not just beef – it’s functionality of your processor that actually comes into it.

The core requirements for XP Mode to run are:

  • Minimum 2GB RAM
  • Chip-level virtualisation in your CPU

Do you know if your CPU supports chip-level virtualisation? No, neither do I. I’d assume anything made in the last 6 months or so has a good chance of doing so but there’s no guarantee. Thankfully, Intel and AMD both supply free downloads that will give you a ton of information on the magic box within your PC including whether or not you have this level of functionality:

Download the relevant one and run it. You’re looking for confirmation that you have some kind of virtualization (American spelling, ick) technology. If you don’t have it, then you won’t be running XP under Windows 7 without upgrading your PC – and possibly having to get a new Windows 7 license if it works like the old XP ones did!

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