Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Are you out there blog readers?

So I don't really know how other blog writer's measure their success. Maybe it's by the number of hits per day they get or maybe it is by the number of comments left on their post. If that is the case, then I am not doing so well. I got 9, count em 9 visits yesterday. My last blog had 1 comment. What happened to the glory days of 5 comments and 18 visitors per day? Haha. Are my posts boring? Has this blog become the cyber space version of watching your neighbors slide show of their recent vacation to Nebraska? I know that the real reason I am doing this blog is for me. I enjoy reflecting on my travels and expressing random thoughts and stories...I just wanted my readers to know that I have not been feeling your love lately.

On another note: I had a great day today. I had a very real moment with a student. The type of student who is VERY quiet and is often dismissed as unintelligent. I pulled him/her out of the class and had a heart to heart with them in the hallway. I feel like it was the first time that any teacher had shown him/her a certain level of respect and concern. They area good person, and very intelligent, but they just need information presented to them in a very specific way and they need to express it in a very particular way. I was able to communicate this with him/her and make some great strides today! I was proud. And I feel like I responded to the situation not like a teacher, not like I was taught in college, but like a human being. When it comes down to it, that's all I really know how to do.

BIG NEWS! This weekend I will be traveling to "a place where the women flock like the salmon of Capistrano, where the beer flows like wine." (if you don't get a Dumb and Dumber reference, then you don't get me). A little slice of heaven I like to call Amsterdam. Colin and I booked our flights earlier this week. We will be staying in a nearby town called Haarlem (Hair- lem). it is supposed to be all the cool and fun aspects of Amsterdam without all the sketchy and dangerous aspects. Besides it is a quick train ride into the heart of Amsterdam. I am really excited. Van Gogh Museum, Ann Frank's house, Clogs, Cheese, maybe a cafe or two, Heineken brewery! Come on folks! Its going to be great.

By the way (that's right, I didn't use BTW!... Shoot I just did) my phone number is now on the side bar above my phone number. Just in case you wanted to give me ringy dingy!

A couple of shout outs:

Wicks family- you have done it again! 3 care packages so far! Thank you so much for the two books (one on french wine, one on Italian, a spider man activity book, and a DVD. More on this later. Anyways you have been so great to me via the post system and have completely warranted a fun return keep an ear to the ground, and listen for the hooves of the postman's horse! Love you.

Steve- He is leaving this weekend for Morocco, for over 2 years, enlisting in the Peace Corps. I am going to miss you, but maybe in a year's time I will near a North African vacation and I'll come and visit you buddy. Safe travels and I know you will really impact some people's lives in an incredible way. Your heart is too big not to. Love you Buddy.

Mom- here is a public reminder to practice the two things that I told you I would be checking up on. Both are important. Exercising and re-learning the guitar. Do it. Dont put it off til later. Life is now. I love you.

Dad- I'd like to talk to you on skype sometime soon. I look at one of the pictures of us in the frame that mom sent me and it makes me miss you. Lets set a skype date soon! I love you.

Thats the news from my Island in the Atlantic. Where all the men are handsome, the women are strong, and all the children are above average (also if you dont get Lake Woebegone references, then you dont get me :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright.

I have felt a little bogged down lately with feeling like a ton of things need to be done. Plan lessons, make reservations for upcoming weekend travels, make plans (flights, hostels, etc) for my summer Mediterranean travel-a-thon with my brother, deal with the U of I not correctly sending my transcripts to WSU, dealing with the utility company billing me for January instead of the new residents, and more. “Let’s get this straight Hal: your biggest problem in the world is figuring out where you are going to travel next weekend? Shut up, and enjoy yourself!”

Looking Back, Looking Forward, Looking Out, Looking In:

Looking Back:
This weekend we went to London. Now when I say “we” I mean 9 student teachers. Holy schnikies it was a ridiculous amount of people to try and travel with. We split up each day and kinda did our own things, but I do not know if I will do it again with a group that big. With that being said, it was such an incredible weekend!

We went to London because we had once again procrastinated on planning a weekend trip, so our “fall back” was London. It is such a cool city! There is too much to do. We booked the hostel the night before (again) and I find out where it is located as I am driving the van full of 9 people (7 seat belts) to an outlying tube station. The hostel was located in south east London. There is not much in southeast London. Transit included. We had minimal trouble finding a bus to get to the neighborhood, and after I got instructions from a very drunk british girl- we were on our way. I was the first one to walk into the hostel/bar/restaurant (I took a little bit of a leadership role this weekend, it was kinda fun to be the one who had to figure out which bus, which tube line, directions, opening times, etc for the group!). I walk in and I am the only white person in the bar. I hear some great roots Reggae being played as the entire group of Black individuals eye me and my backpack. I actually notice a couple older fellows give each other the not-so-subtle “Hey check this guy out” elbow bump as I walk by them. I was not uncomfortable with the situation, frankly I was excited that there was a bar below the hostel and that it played great music, but right as I asked the woman behind the bar to check into our rooms, I thought about the group of 8 other students. They are a bunch of white (1 korean, 1 native American) folks from rural Oklahoma. As I am processing the entire situation I look toward the door and all 8 of them are walking into the already crowded bar with looks of “oh sh!+” painted all over their faces. I really wish I had a picture of all of them at that very moment. This is the point when I decided that this weekend was going to be great.

We end up getting our room after some trouble with the calculations of 9 people trying to pay separately. It was a great place! I will take my brother there when he comes to London, you will LOVE it Kale! Good rooms/facilties, great music that goes until about 3 am on weekends, very friendly people, and amazing and authentic Jamaican food. We straight up stumbled into an incredible situation that defined the tone/theme of the weekend. We end up drinking into the wee hours of the night while dancing, eating, mingling, and laughing. It was great.

Yesterday we went to the Tower of London, which is probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in London (I had to do it right?). It was cool. I enjoyed seeing the crown jewels and the largest diamond in the world! It was about the size of my fist. We also saw the royal guards that have to look straight ahead and not say anything. We didn’t mess with him…but I wanted to. I wanted to fart on him, or maybe do a somer sault in front of him. After that we walked around east London for a bit and eventually made our way west to Buckingham palace. I wasn’t that impressed. I think it would be cool to see the changing of the guards, but other than that it just a big building ya know? There were some cool statues and fountains nearby though.

We ate dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant. It was one of the girls’ birthday her father bought us all dinner. I had a glass of house red wine (Merlot, too fruity, not strong, or dry), a spinach frittata appetizer (a quiche like consistency), and Cannellona pasta main dish. Cannellona was a long large noodle filled with spinach and cheese of some sort dressed by a tasty red sauce. The restaurant had a great drink, appetizer, entrĂ©e deal and the food was exceptional.

That night we went back to the hostel bar to celebrate the birthday and had another equally as fun night dancing, playing games, talking, drinking, eating (cake this time), and more! They really were warm and welcoming people in the hostel/bar. Can’t wait to go back there.

Today we slept in and strolled to a near-by restaurant and I bought my first traditional English breakfast. I was unimpressed with the fried tomato and mushrooms (and I love both those foods!) but the bacon was some of the best I have had! We then spent about 2 hours in Camden walking around the markets in that area. Some of the best people watching I have ever done! Lots of weirdos, freaks, musicians, travelers, people from all over. It was great. I didn’t buy anything, but maybe next time I will.

Looking forward:
I still do not know what I am doing this weekend. However I did buy my plane ticket to Dublin, Ireland for March 27-29th. I will be going with Colin and his cooperating teacher. Should be a great weekend of history, lush green fields, and beverages. High on my places to go for a weekend list are: Amsterdam, Edinburg, Paris, Stonehenge, Prague.

Looking out:
The weather is getting better everyday. I think we are finally through the cold part of the winter. From here on out the days will get longer and warmer. That should help me get through some of these foggy, dreary days in the English countryside.
I buzzed my hair tonight!

Looking In:
I was on a “life has been really good lately” kick for a couple of weeks…well basically since I first got here in England. I thought this very intense feeling would go away after a bit, but it hasn’t. I have been appreciating how great life is everyday, and thanking my lucky stars that I get to live it. I hope this feeling sticks around for my entire time here. Its a good life.

Rose of the Weekend: Finding a Jamaican/Trinidad and Tabegan Hostel that just happened to be throwing a party the night that we got there full of free drinks and a free Jamaican food appetizer buffet! (Also dancing ALL weekend to reggae!).

Thorn of the weekend: Travel home from central london. There was a section of our tube line that was closed for "Engineering purposes" and the detour that we had to find for ourselves was as follows: Bus from Camden to a Tube stop. Tube to closed point on line. "Over ground" train to another closed stop on tube line. Buse from said closed tube stop to first open tube stop on the other side of the line. Tube back to where the car was parked. jeez, that was a thorn and a half! :)

That’s about all I have to report for now.

Side note: If you have a question or something you would like me to explain further then post a comment, dork!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Its my Birthday and I'll Blog if I want to!

If you have not been updated on my weekend in Lille, France then please read the post below this first :)

Well world, it’s been 23 good ones. Here is a halbury B-day in review:

I woke up at the ripe time of 6 am, so that I could talk to my mom on Skype. This gave me about 5 hours of sleep, being that we didn’t get in from France until about 1 am that same day. In my drowsy, 6 AM, 5 hours of sleep, morning state I stumble to the bathroom. Wake up shower time right? Wrong, the temperature of the shower was colder than the artic and not showing signs of improvement. So what do I do? After a 3 day weekend of not showering, walking around a foreign country, sleeping in a hostel, riding a train? I turn around and make my way back to my room, no shower, cursing the day only to realize that it was my very own birthday. Reality check: I am not going to start off the next year of my life with “one of those days,” I refuse to!

It seemed that my students disagreed. Even though I told them it was my birthday (and in some cases, jokingly forced them to sing me happy b-day), I could not rein the class in. I had planned out a hands-on activity where they actually measure out a proper serving size of various foods (or what they thought a serving size was) and I was handsomely rewarded with periods of uninterruptible talking, spilling (custodians must hate me!), off task comments, and generally ungrateful students. It would have been a hard day no matter what, let alone running on such little sleep after an exhausting weekend (again see blog post below for more info).

Dun, da da, daaaaa! Here come family and friends to the rescue. I immediately made my way to the post office after school and found 1 envelope, 1 small package, and 3 large package slips inside my PO Box. The contents were as follows:

1 envelope- a valentines letter from my mother (see 2 posts down), I knew should would be my valentine this year!

1 small package- a VERY thoughtful package from my friends at “The Grove” in Pullman, Washington. The package included 3 CD’s of artists/bands that I had not heard of, however upon loading them to my iTunes I have previewed each one of them and let me say this: thank goodness I have friends with such great taste in music! The CD’s were 1. Current Swell- Trust Us Now, 2. Hotel Lights- Firecracker People, 3. Goldfish-Perceptions of Pacha. I have not heard of any of them, however this new music came at such a crucial time. I am so tire of my own music that I needed something completely new to listen to. It was perfect guys! Thank you!

Large Package #1- a valentines package from Madre including various Valentines day candy (I cannot eat half of it!), a puzzle, MDA camp info, “Into Thin Air” by John Krakauer (a book I have actually started in the past, but not finished), a couple of double DVD movie cases, the TIME magazine commemorative edition of President Obama’s path to the whitehouse (amazing articles and very candid pictures!) and a great framed picture of swiss family Iverson on their great summer get away to Hawaii, tan, smiling faces and all.

Large Package #2- a valentine/b-day package from the wonderful wicks family in Puyallup. Contents include: 3 DVD’s, 1 model (96 Dodge Viper GTS coupe, yellow with black racing stripes), a hand-made deluxe valentines day card (signed by all Wicks family members), and a hand-made deluxe b-day card (all signed again). Package # 2 from you guys, thank you so much! It’s so great to get love from home!

Large Package #3- a red, black and white striped cougar polo shirt for teaching. I can now officially wear professional collared cougar gear for everyday of the week. Am I becoming a living version of my mothers Christmas cougar tree? Thank you mom.

Other very notable B-day presents:

A very charitable contribution to the “Save a Hal Fund” by my very tolerant and loving parents to help me in my travels over here. I love you so much, and I know I did not ask for much, but the experiences that I have had in my life and the opportunities that you have allowed for me are simply the best present you could ever give me. I love you so much mom and dad. I miss you and think about you everyday. Thank you for being such great parents.

My brother Kale wrote me an email that made me cry. He too has given me a lifetime of presents with his presence. He has been my leader, he has been my partner in crime, and has probably had one of the largest impacts in the development of the person I am today. I love you Kale, and I do not know what life hold for us, but I am ready to attack it, explore it, and enjoy everything it has to offer right beside you brother.
Kale also gifted me two albums, Tegan and Sara “The Con” and Umphrey’s McGee’s new album “Mantis (Bonus Track Version). He also gifted me an iTunes gift certificate.

Leslie Mac made me lug a wrapped present over here in my carry on. It was hard, but I promised her that I would not open it until it was my b-day, and I kept that promise. The reward was something quite unexpected. It was “No Such Place As Far Away” by Richard Bach. This short book, almost written in the form of a children’s book, explains very subtly how not even distance can separate you from the ones you love, especially on your birthday. Thank you Leslie. I already told you how much the book meant to me, but I just wanted to let you know that I feel your love, and I appreciate the note in the book. It was very thoughtful. The feeling that the book portrays is really applicable to the rest of my friends and family. Even though I am far away from you all on my birthday, you really have given me an incredible gift of love. As cheesy as that sounds, I feel very loved on my birthday and I want to thank you all for being such a great part of my life.

Enough of the mushy stuff. I returned back to my luxurious dorm, and the other student teachers helped me celebrate my 23rd year with a Taco feed and home-made cheese cake, my favorite! Candles and all! It was very nice of them to be so warm and thoughtful. They are a great crew.

Thats the skinny on my B-day. It was great. I feel loved. I live a great life and constantly find myself surrounded by extraordinary individuals. Thank you all!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I see London, I see France, I see…Halbury’s underpants?

Its time for me to report on my amazing weekend in Lille, France.
First I will explain “why Lille?” Colin, my fellow coug student teacher traveled to London this weekend to see his brother and his sister in law. I did not have anything planned for the 3-day weekend and did not want to spend it alone on a USAF base. I jumped on the bandwagon of some of the other student teachers from Oklahoma State University, who were going by train to France.
Let me tell you a little bit about Lille. Lille (pronounced leel) is a large CITY in the northern “Nord” region of France. I imagine that even in high tourist season it is not a touristy city, let alone in the middle of February! I know this because when we arrived to the train station in Lille and asked a person selling tickets behind a desk if she spoke English she could barely muster the words “ay leet-ul beet”…she could not. The entire 3-day weekend, we found about 4 English speaking people. Luckily the group of student teachers had some “French learning sessions” the week before, hosted by yours truly. I was surprised to learn how helpful my Spanish background would be when trying to learn French. I guess I was the only one of the bunch that put extra, extra emphasis on the language aspect of this weekend. I did this because I know that language is a conduit to the real culture and country of wherever it is that you are traveling. You will never experience the true culture of anywhere in the world if you do not speak the native language! That is the simple halbury truth folks. Long-story short, I learned a lot of French this weekend and I think it is a beautiful language.

Day 1:

We manage our way from the train station to the hostel and find English speaker # 1! The hostel was fine and breakfast was included, we were satisfied. We walked. And walked. And walked. This weekend was full of so much walking that I think I am now sporting the calves of Lance Armstrong. Everywhere we went, nobody spoke English, which in a way made the entire experience so much more fun, new, and exciting.
The traveling crew: Will, Jill, Nicole, Joanna, and Me. We all had very relaxed, go with the flow personalities, which made the experience great!

As we struggle to find a restaurant (one that looks friendly to English speakers) we explore the French streets with vigor and wide eyes. We buy a mystery item off a guy and his large open coal cart. It turned out to be Chess Nuts. Chess nuts? People actually roast those….on an open fire? I thought that was all a bunch of BS! They were great! So tasty, we ate the entire bag within a couple of minutes. I liked the burnt ones the best. We finally find a place, “Aux Moules” a great Mussel restaurant. Jill, one of the pickier eaters of the group (but not too picky) saw a child 2 tables away from us get what looked like a patty of raw ground beef with an egg cracked over it. It reminded me of some sort of cheesy 80’s movie or show where someone orders something random at a French restaurant and then something nasty or weird comes out…like snails, eels, brain, or stomach. Jill’s exact words were “I don’t care what I get, just as long as it’s not that!” So we all order. I get the big bowl (BIG!) of mussels in a creamy garlic sauce. It came with fries and bread. I also ordered the largest carafe of house red wine (at a great price too) based on a recommendation from travel book author Rick Steves. I was not disappointed; it was great, cheap, and everything that I look for in a red wine. Jill orders the Steak Tartare. Now I should tell you, none of us at the table knew what steak tartare was. It had the word steak in it and we figured that it was prepared a certain way. When it finally came, we understood that we were right. Sure as sh!+ it was the raw ground beef patty with a raw egg cracked on top. We were all laughing too hard to have the wit to take a picture of it, but the waitress was called over and she understood the situation right away. She took it away and had it cooked. I think even Jill will tell you that the story alone was worth the entire experience. It was the best meal that I have had yet in Europe, I could eat that huge mound of mussels every day of my life and be an even happier fellow.

Day 2
Breakfast at the hostel:
3 cups of coffee
2 baguettes (and 1 for the road)
Hazelnut spread (like Nutella, but not)
Strawberry yogurt

The tone of the morning was relaxed, goofy and elating. We started off walking around again, but this time happy as clams (or mussels :) ). We finally find out where this “Sunday market” is and speed up our step. We find the “marche” and it end up being the highlight of my weekend. Through my travels I have found that markets are the epicenter of culture. There was food, produce, antiques, clothes, fabric, electronics, knick-knack’s, cheese!, art, and people all over the place. It was so great just to walk around and people watch. I wasn’t really even looking for anything to buy in the market, I was more looking to understand what the northern French culture is like, and I think we did. There were drunks on corners yelling at passers by, there were people sifting through rotten tomatoes, there were families selling old black and white postcards, there were tons of people selling all sorts of patterns of fabric, there were farmers selling their produce (I like to think from their farm that is just miles away), there were bakers, butcher, fromagiers (cheese makers), and cooks selling their once a week specialties. It was amazing. The people, the culture, the moment was beautiful. We even had a soundtrack from a man and his two sons playing the accordion and tambourines! The perfect traveling experience, the type of thing that you hope you see when you go to a new place, but don’t usually find.
We then found out that the wine and gastronomy festival that we were so looking forward to was not happening that weekend. Frown. So we decided to walk around until something found us. Guess what!? It did. We stumbled across a huge park and a free zoo! It was wonderful. We saw pandas, kookaburras (with a dead rat in his mouth), zebras, peacock walking around the zoo, murecats, owls, monkeys, pelicans (pink), alpacas, tropical birds, lemurs, absolutely beautiful ducks, and more! The French phrase for “that’s cool” was “C’est chouette,” pronounced say schwet, which actually means “that’s a female owl.” We were saying this A LOT inside the zoo. We stopped by a bakery and I fulfilled a dream of mine: to buy a large baguette from an authentic French bakery. I also bought a croissant. They were both oh-so-delicious (deliceaux in French). We got wine and beer that night at a local restaurant, only to fall asleep, sober and very tired at 10:30 pm.

Day 3
We started the day going to the largest book store in Europe, “Foret du Nord” and I bought a book called “Cuento Sorprendientes” in Spanish. They are all short stories that are meant to inspire the inner child. We ate lunch at a Thai restaurant (Thai? In France?) and I took the helm on ordering for everyone…it was actually kinda fun. We then crossed another “to-do” off the list and went to the “Palais du Beaux Arts de Lille.” It is the second largest art museum in France (behind you know what). It was great. We saw Goya, Greco, Monet, Van Gogh, and more. It was a nice museum, and free, but no the best that I have been to. We spent the evening waiting for our night train and walking some more.

It was an exhausting weekend and my lesson on Tuesday was proof of that. I did a lesson on serving sizes and had the student actually measure out what they thought the serving size of various foods were and then showed them what they actually were. It was meant to get them talking, using their hands, keeping their attention, and showing them appropriate portions. What actually happened was chaos. They were all hyped up at the thought of getting to play with/eat food before lunch and I could not rein them in for the life of me. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and now you have the facts of life. The facts of life….or so I’ve heard. Today’s lesson went really well though and made up for any shortcomings that I had yesterday.

I have written a lot tonight. I hope I did not lose your attention. It was my birthday yesterday and I received some very thoughtful and loving gifts, on which I will write a post tomorrow. However I can not continue to devote time to this blog post, when I still have to plan tomorrow’s lesson. Sorry. I hope you are well and look for a post tomorrow.

Au revoir!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Valentine

Okay. I hate valentines day. I'm sorry, but I do. I do not hate spending the day with someone I care about, I do not hate taking them out to dinner, or telling them how special they are to me, and I don't really hate the hard little candy hearts either. What I hate about the holiday is the fact that I feel like a piece of poo if I don't buy "that special someone" candy, or flowers, or jewelry, etc. Do you know how much flowers run a guy nowadays?...thats beside the point. I hate the phrase "that special someone." I don't really like watching couples on Valentines day either, especially if I am not in a relationship.

With that being said, there has always been a soft spot in my heart on a day full of hearts. That soft spot belongs to my mom. No matter what, she has always been my #1 valentine. Whether I have been in a relationship, just left one, not even thinking about one, or wishing I was in one....she has been my valentine. Not only has she been the most consistent valentine, but she has been a very caring and loving valentine. The type of Valentine that you know does not need to tell you she loves you on the most superficial holiday ever, but does it because she really does...and she wants you to know that everyday. Now I know this cheesiness is all a part of this crappy holiday, but it is true. my mom is great. And I love her.

So mom, here's the big question...WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE....again? I love you and even though I did not receive your V-day package in time, I cannot await to open it on Tuesday when I return. I will be away in France (thank goodness not in Paris) so I do not know if I will have internet. Regardless I love you and miss you, and I don't need a special day to be able to tell you that.

On a different note, the 8th grade girls have become very aggressive at LMS. Do you remember me talking about some girls switching into my health class because of the new, young student teacher? Well with each time that I ignore their remarks in the hall, they become more aggressive. Like sharks. Little, girly, 8th grade, sharks. Today my path was blocked in the hall by a pack of them. I panicked. They had me cornered. They said "WOOOO" loudly. I made my way out of the circle and ran away feeling like a violated....alter boy. As I walked away they whistled the classic "wheeee, whoooo" like construction workers to a female passer-by. It was sick. And wrong.
The middle school had a valentines day dance this evening as well. The same group of sharks cornered me on the dance floor and pummeled me with questions like "How old are you?" or "Do you have a boyfriend...I mean girlfriend?" or "Are you going to teach here?" "Whats your favorite song?"
I didn't know what to do, but cut the chit chat short and give them a stern look and walk away. Cue the whistling again. Since when do middle school girls express this type of aggression? I dont like it. How the hell am I goign to teach sex ed. to them? haha.

Tomorrow I leave for Lille france and all the wine, cheese, bagettes, and snails that I can eat. Wish me luck, and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY you bunch of saps! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meet a "Wade" today!

Oky doke artichoke!

So I had an interesting experience last night. We went out to dinner at this "nice" restaurant over on RAF Mildenhall. I will explain why I put nice in quotations later. Some of the wonderful staff memebers from the school offered to buy us steaks...because it was 2 for 1 steak night. That sounded better than top ramen, so I was in. On the ride there, I sat next to a friend of a teacher at the middle school. His name was Wade. Now let me tell you a little bit about Wade (because I know his life story). He got great grades in high school, until he met the pot and the women, except for in English...when right before his last exam, he stole the answers and got his first "A" in English! Ofc ourse in his PE class his senior year his teacher told him "Man I could have put you through college had I seen you run earlier." He grew up in Philadelphia, "Man those eagles almost did it, didn't they. If it weren't for those cardinals. Well at least the Phillies won the World series, thats all that matter right?" You see Wade used to go to every Phillies game as a child. if he wasn't there, he was listening to it. He only was allowed to play 2 sports, baseball and gymnastics. The rest of the time he was working a full time job, because his family was so poor.
He was born in London, but has a thick Philly accent. This one time when he was waiting tables in Daytona beach, a man at one of his tables must have been from CIA linguistics because Wade said one sentence and he could pinpoint the neighborhood that Wade was from. Wild stuff! Now he mostly does odd jobs. He frames things. Doesn't charge too much, just what is fair for good work. He also writes caligraphy. He is big on poetry and religion, and often the two mix. He has had many people tell him "man why aren't you published?" He says "You don't open a bottle of fine wine before it is aged just right" or something to that effect. He has been compared to Helen Steiner Rice on more than one occasion.

That is how this man really talks! He jumps from one subject to the next, you can't get a word in edge-wise, before he on another subject, or reciting a poem, or ridiculous cliche. Anyways, that was just the ride there. Man, he was a talker!
So we get there and one of my fellow student teachers has to take her hat off...after all it is a "nice restaurant" right? So we sit down...and there isn't enough place settings for everyone. No big deal. The waitress comes and asks "What do you want?" (In a British accent) Well I'm sorry lady, but in the 2 minutes that we have been here, the 1 menu for the 5 of us has not made its way around the table...sorry. I ask for a drinks menu or a wine list...because it is a nice restaurant right? "We dont have one of those" Okay...Ill take the house Cab Sav (Blank look by waitress)...Cabernet Sauvengnon please. "Oh, ok."

We order the steaks because it is 2 for 1 steak night. "What type of sides do ya want?" Well I would like to know what the sides are first please. "Baked potato, garlic mashed potatoes, 2 types of gravy, french fries, pasta with white or red sauce, vegetables." (got enough potatoes in your sides?) I'd like the pasta with white sauce and the garlic mashed potatoes, do you think they would be fine without gravy and just a little salt? I say. "There is salt right there on your table" I know miss, I was asking a person...a human being, with thoughts and feelings, if you thought they would be okay without gravy and just a little salt!?! "No, it is too garlic-y for me" JEEZ lady! Are you getting paid to work here! Finally our food arrives...dispersed throughout 10 minutes, and waddayaknow, the extra place setting still has not arrived.

I am not one of those people. I never complain about service. I never send food back. I ask for a mildly pleasant waiter, clean food, and time with my fellow diner's. Thats not too much right? I think it is ridiculous that a fellow student teacher had to take her had off to eat in this friggin place. what a joke. by the way, the steak was undercooked and had more fat then meat on it...take that!

I remember one particularly bad dining experience at an airport with my parents and brother. I must have been 10 years old. Somehow the bitch of a waitress started raising her voice, which gave my mom full rights to flip her bitch switch and raise hers back. Regardless to say, I have never been so scared to eat food in my life. It was the first and only time that I have seen my parents (who normally tip very well) tip poorly. We left 1 cent on the table for the lady. Way to go mom! Great memory! haha.

ANyways, Wade was a good guy, even though he talked waaaayyy too much. I could tell he had a good heart, and was enjoying talking to all of us young student teachers. I talked to him on the ride back, until he had nothing left to say. I listened to his poetry. I looked him in the eye. And now I can say that I appreciate him. I appreciate him as a person. He is a kind, warm, outgoing individual that has been through a lot of bad stuff in his life, and now has an incredibly positive outlook on life. If I become a person like Wade, when all is said and done, life wouldn't be so bad. Thanks for the talk Wade!

Thats about all I have to update for now. Check out the new "Obama Song" by Michael Franti and Spearhead on my playlist. Free for download at :

Hope you are well, and meeting all of the "Wade's" of the world out there. Keep on traveling folks!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Looking back, Looking forward, Looking out, Looking in

(Above- a picture of my under a "John Barleycorn" pub sign. I took this for you dad. Google "Traffic-John Barleycorn" to be in the loop!)

Looking back: It was a good week. I taught my first lesson, we had 2 hour delays for most of the week, saw some snow, received a package, and had a relaxing weekend.
Yesterday Colin and I went to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Now you say, Imperial War Museum? Didn't you go to one of those in London H-bury? Yes I did. this IWM was more of a tribute to planes and the aerial aspect of war. There were about 5 huge hangers (it used to be a british Air Force base) each with its own theme and time period. The greatest, most comprehensive exhibit, and this is not me being an arrogant american, was the American Aviation exhibit. There were planes, jets, airships, fighter jets, fuel jets, cargo planes, everything you could imagine. From about each period of war, from WWI to WWII to Korean war to Vietnam to Desert Storm and more! I felt a real connection to this place. One because I think about how all of this innovation was due to the fact that at each time that each plane was created, the world was in a state (or preparing for) war. War! Where people fight, people die, people live on with scarred lives, and people like me get to live a life free, happy, without major hardship. there was a lot of history in these planes, and I felt it. I also had a connection to these planes because both of my grandparents on the Wicks side were aircraft mechanics around WWII. I imagine which planes they worked on, which planes they saw. The time period that the nation was in. Furthermore, I think about my grandpa Iverson who devoted countless years of his life to Boeing, and during those years the amount of aircraft that he oversaw, even if they may have been for commercial use (I dont think they all were...I'll have to ask him). And now my father, who devotes his working hours to the same company, be it unhappily or not, and how all of these planes of the past, present, and future have all had hundreds of thousands of families surviving on their creation, maintenance, flight, and defense. Wow, there was a lot going through my head to say the least. It was a great museum and I would go again.

Today was spent, sleeping in, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning my room, getting emails sent, etc. Pretty typical sunday.

Looking Forward: This week, I am all alone again. My teacher will be out, recovering from his surgery (he is fine, and on mild pain pills, walking around, etc). So I have about half the week planned out, the other half should be easy to finish today or tomorrow. On saturday we take off for London to catch a train to Lille, France. Lille is a rather large city in the north of France. We chose this place, because we procrastinated on the flights to other places and the high speed train was fairly priced. Also it WASN'T Paris!!! I cannot think of anything worse than spending Valentines day weekend in Paris. I am not a fan of the holiday, and certainly would not want to be in one of the most romantic cities in the world, on the most fabricated romantic holiday of the year (especially if I weren't with someone I was in love with). Right?! Looking even more forward, I am thinking more and more favorably about Egypt for spring break. It is a great solution. My brother is coming in May, and we will be hitting up a lot of Europe. I do not want to do any overlapping with Kale, so why not spend my largest time of vacation before he gets here outside of europe? In Egypt! I will give more details when I know them....I am just really excited for the possibility of it all....

Looking out: It is overcast right now. Yesterday was a beautiful blue sky day. Cold, but the gorgeous kind of winter day that you appreciate. Looking out on my particular self....I am trying to decide if I would like to cut my hair. I haven't had it this short since freshman year in High school, and frankly I dont know what to do with short I comb it? Do people still use combs? or is that reserved for 60+ year olds in a barber shop? I think I want to use a comb. Tuck it into my front left shirt pocket, whip it out and lick it and then run it through my hair a couple of times. No? Then should I cut it?...that doesn't feel right either. I do not know if I can get through the ugly stages of growing out my hair while I have to teach....I can't wear a cap everyday.
Enough of that.

Looking in : I have hit the contemplative stages that come to an individual who is traveling once again. I like this part. I am really caught up in my own head a lot. I have been thinking a lot about my life, my future, MY SURROUNDINGS!, my family and friends. I am really enjoying myself here and I feel like I am in a good place emotionally. I cannot wait for what my future holds, I am such a lucky person and have lived such a blessed life so far. I try not to take it for granted every day.

Mucho paz y amor!

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Lesson

I took over my class yesterday. However the lesson that I taught yesterday was created by my cooperating teacher. It was an okay lesson, the kids were mostly finishing up vocabulary words and lesson review questions, but at the end of it….I had this feeling like I was being blamed for a really nasty fart that wasn’t mine. The lesson was not my own. I know my own brand.

So today, when we started a new unit on nutrition, I was hoping that I could feel a little better about presenting a well planned out lesson of my own. Wow! It was such an encouraging day! I had a fun PowerPoint, got all of the students to talk and share about their own lives and eating habits and influences. They really responded, and even though I had a substitute (who took attendance and then sat back and watched), I felt….for the first time in my life….like a real teacher. I enjoyed it. I got high on it. It was the first time that I was teaching a lesson that I created, teaching it to the audience it was meant for, teaching it without supervision or critique, and establishing an environment and a tempo to the class that I have envisioned. It was an extremely rewarding experience and I can’t wait to do it all next week.

At the end of class I had students submit anonymous questions to the “question box.” This is a box that I created so that students can ask questions that they might not necessarily be comfortable asking in front of their classmates, or even asking me directly. I told them that this week the question should revolve around our unit: Nutrition. To no surprise, over half of the questions had to do with eating disorders. I was already planning to cover eating disorders for a couple of days, but now that I know there is even more curiosity about them, I can tailor my lesson to these students. I liked the idea, but loved the responses.

I also had my students submit anonymous critique of my lesson today. They had to tell me something that I did well, and something that I could work on or do better. Half of them said something along the lines of “You did really well, I enjoyed today’s lesson. Nothing for you to work on.” A lot of them said “you made the PowerPoint fun and interesting. You could make it more interactive though.” One said, “You talked to us like we were on the same level, great! Keep it up, I really enjoyed today!” I especially liked that one, because I think that SOME teachers tend to talk down to these students….like they are 5 year olds, and I can see how much they resent that. Overall I got some great suggestions for future lessons.

I know that I should enjoy today’s success and take it with a grain of salt. If there is one thing that I consistently hear about teaching it is that some days are great and some days are horrible. I am sure the glory of today will be trumped by some frustration next week…but I am happy with my performance.

I dined on some local fare tonight. At a quaint little fish and chips joint, in the near-by town of Brandon, I found an item on the menu called “Big Cod.” Sounds safe. I was hungry, so I could probably eat a BIG cod, rather than the regular cod, right? Wrong. This thing came out and no joke, it was about as big as my head. Not to mention it was accompanied by a large stack of chips. It was great. Not the best I have ever had, but very good for a street corner fish n’ chips joint. After dinner Colin and I went to the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” on the Lakenheath base. It was so good! A very hard ending to watch, but a very real movie about a Nazi soldier’s son who becomes friends with a Jewish boy at a near-by camp. I recommend it to you all! It definitely reaffirmed my desire to go to some concentration camps while I am over here. I was thinking about what it would be like to visit a camp like Auschwitz. It is not like most traveling, or visiting a new place. It would not be out of pleasure. In a strange way it is out of sorrow, remembrance, disgust, and most of all respect. I am putting it on the top of my list, I think it would be such an incredibly real experience that I would be a fool to pass it up.

That leaves me here. With you. Thinking about how screwed up the Holocaust really was. And further making me appreciate my life and all of my loved ones so much more.

I will be traveling around to some local country towns this weekend. See a castle, maybe catch a Saturday market. I will post pictures and an update soon.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Package, pyramid, blog

I got a package today! From Chris, Jen, Maddie, and Alex! Thank you guys so much! the items were as follows:

A Jimmy Buffett Flip Flop repair shop poster
A bottle opener
A really cool ring swinging game (try to land it on a hook) that I played over at their house
A card game (I am playing tonight with some other student teachers!)
A hand-painted picture from Maddie (I hear they go for thousands on the market!)
and a card from Maddie.

Most of all it made me feel special and loved. thank you so much, I cannot tell you how nice it was to open that depressing little post office box and see a glorious yellow slip in there. The anticipation almost killed me. you guys were really sweet to have sent that, and I greatly appreciate it.

See guys? the type of international acclaim and promotion you could get for sending me a package! Did that sound needy? I dont really care. If you do want to get me a package before my B-day, you should think about sending it very soon though...

My teacher is out for a week and a half, getting minor surgery. What does that mean? It means I am completely taking over the class in my 2nd week of student teaching! I am really excited. We have been getting 2 hour delays all week (they freak when it snows 1 inch here...just like washington!). Tomorrow I start Nutrition and I have made some really fun and interactive lessons. The kids are used to my teachers...interesting teaching style (out of the book) which includes lots of copying vocabulary form the book, writing journal responses, and answering lesson review questions. I think I will win them over in one day! haha. The biggest challenge of this expereicne will be gelling his teaching style with my own.

Mom....dont freak out....I might go to Egypt for spring break! I went to a travel office on another base today, and they have some affordable (kinda) trips that fall right into my spring break. Can you imagine? Seeing pictures of your very own Halbury with a giant Pyramid behind him? Or a huge sphynx? Or atop a sand Camel? It looks like a pretty sweet deal, but I am going to research it a lot more. I still have time.

Also, it looks like Stonehenge is winning the "Where should I travel next" poll. I will put it on top of my list...maybe over this 3 day weekend we hae coming up, eh?

Hope you all enjoy this post over a nice strong cup of tea and crumpets :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tangled up in Blog

This whole weekend I had the song “Tangled up in Blue” by Dylan stuck in my head. It took me until now to figure out why. I saw a street sign that read “Montegue Street” and one of the lines in that song has that name in it. It was actually a great soundtrack to have in my head for the weekend. Here is your update:

We stayed in on Friday night. Finally some other student teachers got here. There are about 7 of them. They all seem pretty nice and hopefully will turn into great travel buddies.

Saturday morning, going against what feels natural on a last Saturday, Colin and I got up early and were out on the road by 8:30. The 1 hour 45 minute drive to the nearby town of Epping seemed like a half hour. Before we knew it, we were at the last eastward stop of the tube. Mom: lets just say that “Hal luck” was in full effect this weekend. We got a tip from my teacher to buy an Oyster Card the first chance we got. It costs 3 pounds but then after you top up (load it with money) you get discounts on all modes of transit and you can just swipe it over a sensor….very easy. The train had just pulled in as we had, and we were on our way into the heart of London. The tube line that we were on, central, happened to take us within about 2 blocks of our hostel.

After a few wrong turns we found the place, SMART Russell Square budget hotel. Sounds posh right?

We checked in and stored our bags in lockers and headed out. The British Museum was only a couple of blocks away from the hostel. Colin and I didn’t know much of what we wanted to see in London, but we knew that we wanted to check out the British Museum. Let me say this: HOLY CRAP! This place was so cool! There are so many exhibit and interesting displays that I think it would take weeks to scratch the surface. My favorite exhibits were ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. I did check out the Moai statue, but really folks…I have been to Easter Island, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands of those Moai, on their original island…some of them still in the bank of the volcano, only partially carved out. It was weird to be on the other side of the world and see the same statue though. Here are some pics:

This video is of some stunning stone heads of Roman Rulers. Notice the chiseled features of the perfect specimen of mankind (4th head in, haha).

After about 4 hours, we had reached the museum fatigue point. The point where you start to stop appreciating how amazing each piece is. So we promised ourselves that we would return before the end of this trip and called it a day. We went to a local pub and got a bite to eat. I have heard people say that British food is disgusting. I decided to challenge this notion and order a local dish: Chicken Stroganoff. Chicken? I have heard of Beef Stroganoff, but chicken? It was served as a type of stew, no noodles, in a flakey bread bowl with some thick cut “chips.” It was absolutely delicious! It was a great choice and reinforcement enough for me to try the local cuisine again. After diner we hopped around to about 3 or 4 other pubs, finally settling into one about half a block away from the hostel. We thought that would be a good place to close the evening on account of its close proximity. Wrong. There was a really funny and outgoing bartender at this pub (the name of the bar escaped me). She was Canadian and making fun of us arrogant Americans (granted Colin did try to order a Budweiser at a london pub!). None-the-less she invited us to go out with her and her buddies after she got off and a quiet night turned into an all-nighter. It was great fun and a great welcome to this wonderful city. Thanks for your hospitality Hayley!

We woke early the next day (technically same day) to check out of the hostel by 9.30. We then made our way over to Big Ben, heard it ring, walked around the house of parliament and decided to walk about a half mile away to the Imperial War museum. Colin is a history teacher and I could not have picked a better travel buddy. I do not know that I would have gone to two museums if I were on my own during a weekend in London, but his influence turned out to be a great surprise. I am hooked. I loved both of these museums and cannot wait to return to see more (Kale? Interested?). There was a really special Holocaust exhibit at the IWM.

What else?...Snow! It has been snowing quite a bit here. It wasn’t snowing in London when we were there, but then evening after we left they got a bunch. Enough so that many flights were cancelled or delayed and an estimated 1.7 billion dollars were lost in British companies. (does that mean the value of the pound will go down even more?). It was the most significant snowfall in 18 years!

We had a teacher in-service day today. The middle school is being observed in mid April for accreditation (or whatever the middle school equivalent of accreditation would be), and today all the teachers got together (after late arrival was announced) to make sure that all the t’s were dotted and i’s were crossed :) Tonight me and the other student teachers are going to meet up to eat leftovers from today’s provided lunch. Then I will start writing some lesson plans for the end of the week and next week (my cooperating teacher is getting surgery and will be gone for a whole week!).

I will try to post another random blog before the end of the week

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