A quick life catchup

Me at Dunnet Head
Me at Dunnet Head

I don’t post much beyond film reviews and the occasional complaint letter so I thought I’d pop a quick catchup on the page.

Right now, I’m approximately halfway through my PGDE (Secondary) and very close to my second School Experience. I have a one-day visit tomorrow followed by 6 weeks beginning on the 8th of Feb. This one’s going to be a lot of work as, in addition to lesson planning, I’ll have assignments to do for my additional module (“Teaching in the Outdoors”), Contexts and ICT – plus the handful of short tasks and portfolio updates.

Just to be clear, though – I am still very much enjoying the course and the teaching.

In other news, I was recently up in Thurso to see Laurie. She’s a friend who ticked the “I will go anywhere” box for her qualifying year as a primary teacher. And ended up on the north coast of Scotland! This may well happen to me as I’ve ticked the same box for next year. On the Friday I walked up to Dunnet Head – the northernmost point in mainland Britain. Details of my visit are over on the travel blog. Thanks you to my kind hostess – I had a lovely, chilled (and chilly!) weekend.

On the downside I’m currently carless. On Friday I was due to head over to Mugdock Park for some orienteering, part of my Outdoors course. It snowed briefly in the morning and the roads around my aunt’s aren’t gritted. Despite driving really slowly, when I turned the wheel right about 50m from the house, the car decided to keep going the same direction.

The left front wheel hit the kerb while turned and there was quite a bit of a bang as I bounced onto the kerb. Partly the outside contact and partly the airbag erupting from my seat. It did no good at all, actually causing me some injury (nothing bad – just skinned my head and ear) and adding a few hundred, I expect, to the repair bill.

I changed the wheel as the rim had been damaged and I didn’t trust it, then tried driving on but something wasn’t making a nice noise so I returned to the house. An exceedingly kind uncle drove me to Mugdock and picked up the three classmates I’d agreed to give a lift to… and picked us all up again in the afternoon. Thank you, James!

As it stands, the damage to the car is:

  • one sheered bolt behind the wheel (fixed for pennies)
  • steering assembly jiggered (£161 cost price for the parts, plus markup, plus tax, plus fitting)
  • driver’s seat needing replaced, or at least the airbag canister “recharged” and the seat restitched

Methinks it will be going via the insurance. And I was only doing about 5mph when it happened. Still, it’s nowhere near write-off and I’m fine apart from some scabbing behind my ear courtesy of that flipping bag.

And now back to ploughing through a Higher grade computing paper to see how bad the marking scheme is…

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Open letter to the Confederation of African Football

Flag Togo
Togo needs your support

For those who don’t know the story behind this, please check this BBC News article. A load more links at the bottom.

I hope I am one of thousands who email you to voice my and our disgust over your treatment of the Togo national side. To not only suspend them, but to fine them also is, frankly, sickening. Your organisation decided to host this year’s Cup of Nations in a known warzone. Despite this, you blame them for dropping out after suffering two deaths and numerous injuries.

I simply cannot comprehend how you could even conceive of passing this judgement, especially when your own regulations (Article 80) states that such a withdrawal *can* be understood and taken into account.

Looking around in various places on the internet I have seen countless messages of anger and disbelief at what you have done. I have yet to see a single one which takes your side.

Wake up. Realise that what you’ve done is incredibly wrong and repeal this awful decision.

I’ve sent this to their email address. You can find this and other means of contacting the organisation via this page on their web site.

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Armored / Ninja Assassin

Seeing as I was away last week, I missed the usual Film Thursday. I partly made up on Tuesday night by popping through to see two movies after uni.

Armored

First up is this taught action thriller with a mis-spelled title. You’d think they could at least have given the UK a proper set of posters. But, no, Armored it is.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A group of security guards get involved in a heist involving $42 million, only (surprise) not everything goes to plan.

I wasn’t expecting a lot from Armored. There’s a decent cast, including Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburn who I particularly like. It’s a nice, simple plot. The running time is under 90 minutes.

Given the low-brow plot, Armored does OK. It doesn’t outstay its welcome and the action is mixed with some reasonably tense moments. Yes, it’s hokey. Sure, you can see what’s coming. Of course, there are plot holes you could drive one of the armored… sorry “armoured” trucks through.

The thing is that the 88-minute running time means that you don’t have enough of a chance to dwell on these. I also enjoyed the limited setting. After thirty minutes or so, the film is set in one location. This reduced set still allows for a fair bit of action including two vehicular chase scenes.

Very much a film involving little to no use of the brain whatsoever. No classic, but a good way to pass a little time.

Ninja Assassin

Well, what else do you need to know given how cheese-tastic the name is?

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Raizo (Rain) is a ninja assassin turned traitor, trying to destroy the school that created him.

This is a ridiculously silly film. Let’s get that out of the way. It’s stupid, it’s gory and it’s over-the-top. I’d liken it to Enter The Dragon meets Saw. The grisliest sequence is actually in the opening segment. After that, a lot of the combat and bloodshed occurs in much darker surroundings.

What plot there is follows two strands – a flashback one detailing Raizo’s upbringing, and a current-day one featuring a couple of wooden “Europol” officers trying to track the ninja school themselves.

There’s not a lot else to say about it. I enjoyed it, although the gore just got silly after a while. Some scenes are artily done, but others are just over the top.

It works. I mean, you’re sat watching something called Ninja Assassin, for crying out loud. What do you expect?

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Mmm… fajitas

After dinner last night, I can definitely recommend Tesco‘s own-brand fajita box set. At a pound, it looks too cheap given that the likes of El Paso can be twice that. This just isn’t the case.

However, a couple of changes to the recipe on the back of the box will improve it.

First off, we used nearer 400g of chicken for the two of us rather than the recommended 550g. This means you’ll get the right amount of food for two. It also means that there’s more spice per unit weight of meat so the fajitas are hotter!

Secondly, the instructions state that you just chuck the powder in with the chicken that’s cooking in oil. I’d change this. First of all, you don’t want to be using that much oil. Secondly, the powder would just sit there. Instead, get a small mug and use it to dilute the powder with boiling water. Once the chicken’s started to cook, pour the spice/water over it and leave it to bubble away. This soaks the flavour into the chicken far more effectively.

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