Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A Week Off to Procrastinate?

Last week at work was review week. A nice handy week, spent going back over things I'd already covered, answering questions from panicked students about the content and difficulty of the impending mid-term exam and then breezing out the door at lunch time on Thursday, not having to be back in until next Thursday, when they'll be sitting my exam.  I was expecting to be bribed with a tonne of presents from my students, in exchange for the promise of a good grade, but presents were disappointingly lacking.  All I got was an orange!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

101 Things in 1001 Days

Writing a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days has become a bit of a trend it would seem.  It's the newer, cooler version of writing a bucket list, from what I can tell anyway.  Bucket lists can be great, but I think the main problem with them seems to be the endless time frame, or at least the perceived endless time frame, in which to complete the tasks on the list.  The trending 101 things in 1001 days is more restricted time wise and as such aims to help focus your time and energy a bit better in the hope that you will actually complete the list instead of stumbling on it in years to come and glancing at it wondering if you ever actually did any of the things you'd wanted to!

Anyway, I've written one, of sorts, and posted it here for you to see.  I'm going to keep it as updated as possible and hope to complete all the items on it at the end of the time frame.  That's the plan anyway....

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Sick and Tired of the News

The daily post is a blog that runs a weekly photo challange that I've been meaning to get involved in for some time.  Whether the fact that they're wordpress born and bred and I'm on blogger is an issue or not, remains to be seen!  Anyway, this week the theme of the photo challenge is 'Colour' only they spelt it 'Color' but I won't hold that against them!

This week for me has been both colourful and colourless all in one go.  I've had a chest infection (green) and as a result I've had no voice for most of the week making my speech, and more noticeably my classes, colourless.  However, the frustration at not being about to communicate effectively has made my thoughts extremely colourful, in a way that was perhaps better left inside and unspoken, at least for the sake of my students!!

But, had I not been sick, and had I been able to be out and about, and if by some small miracle I'd been able to take photos of what I'd wanted, this week my entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge would've been of the vividly colourful, bolshy rhetoric being spouted by the man-of-the-moment up North, Mr Kim Jong-Un! 

Now that I think of it, that could be why I've been sick.  Sick of Kim Jong-Un and his bellicose nonsense but even more sick and tired of the world's media and their sensationalist portrayal of life on the Korea peninsula in a desperate attempt to sell more newspapers, with little or no regard for the truth.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Food Stamps for the Poor and a Pay Rise for the Queen

I have a read a couple of things over the course of the last week that have caused me a certain degree of alarm.  Alarm, and a sense of increasing uneasiness.

The first was an article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian where she talked about how food has become the ultimate class definer and divider.  She talks about Britain being one of the richest nations in the world but that there are people all over the country 'who go to bed early with a bag of chips to keep warm.'  She goes on to say that television programmes such as Master Chef are seeing contestants whip up meals that are becoming more and more outlandish and alien to us, and often bear little resemblance to what people actually eat on a daily basis but they are increasingly a talking point, a driving force of culinary competition and neighbourly rivalry.  What you eat and where you source your food, has become another status symbol, another rung on that ladder to a place of social utopia where not only have you kept up with the Jones', you've surpassed them.

Eating lots of fresh, local produce, as is encouraged by the ever-increasing number of celebrity chefs, is to be applauded, certainly.  Its numerous benefits, from health to environmental to economic, can't be argued, but it all comes at a price, literally.  So to combat this and help disadvantaged people make ends meet and to eat better along the way, and this is where there alarm began to set in, the British government have announced the introduction of food stamps, claiming that it will aid in the move away from a welfare and entitlement culture.  From now on, local residents who apply to the council for emergency assistance, will be given a one-off food voucher, as opposed to the cash loan that was given previously.  It can be used to buy food and nappys but not alcohol or cigarettes.

The term 'food stamps' brings Junior Certificate history lessons to mind, and with it, images of 'The Emergency' in Ireland during WWII where petrol, butter and bananas were all rationed and regulated via food stamps.  Then and now seem hard to compare in the same light, and the idea that policies of old are back in use, seems even harder to comprehend.

The aim, I presume, in this fantastic time of austerity, is to save cash.  Why then, are the councils who are switching to providing food stamps rather than providing short-term loans, also 'preparing to give cash grants to food banks to enable them to take on full-time staff and increase opening hours' and therefore increasing their expenditure.  Putting money into people's hands, rather than vouchers which can only be redeemed against items approved by the government, increases spending power and therefore helps to stimulate the economy, or have I got that all wrong?? 

The second alarming piece of news came today, from the same newspaper.  It was this article, which states that the Queen is to get a £5 million pay rise from the taxpayer.  The article goes on to say that about £10 million of this is to be spent on staff wages, wages which have been frozen for a number of years and have not increased along side the Queen's substantial pay rise.  The total paid to the Queen this year, known as the sovereign grant, is set at £36.1 million and provides for the running costs of the Queen's household.  It does not however, cover the cost of security or police protection.

Food stamps for the poor and marginalised and a £5 million pay rise for the Queen.  After a week which saw 2.7million Facebook users changed their profile pictures to an equals sign in support of gay marriage, it would appear that the idea of equality for all hasn't quite reached the fat cats in Westminster.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Two more gifts and a postcard from home!

Today I got too more gifts from my students, an iced white coffee and a freshly baked baguette, which I've added to my 'A List' tab.  The coffee arrived just before class and just as I had been debating whether or not to go and get one to perk me up a little....no need!  The baguette came later, before the start of my second (and last) class of the day, and sat on my desk teasing me for the rest of the class.  As soon as the class was over and I was safely behind closed doors again, I devoured it!

This evening I went in search of some other waygooks in this little town.  I'd gotten wind of a book club that was due to meet tonight so I took myself off to that.  Everyone was very friendly, we made plans to meet once a month but the best part of the evening was this coffee....

Such a cute little bear!

Then, too top it all off, there was a postcard from home in my postbox when I got back, which means that I successfully translated my address from Korean into English!

Successfully received postcard, unsuccessfully uploaded and hence on its side!

All in all...not a bad Tuesday, and only three more classes to go until the weekend....I definitely have one of the world's best jobs!