(short) stories

i was never really good at english. i could read, write, and speak, but when it came to really delving into literature, you’d be safe to say that i was someone who more so glossed over things. however, i have recently come to really enjoy reading short stories. there’s something awesome about being able to tell a story in such a succinct way that i love. perhaps this is partially due to my inability to read through whole novels. today, after a wonderful conversation with heids about novels and writing and other fun things, i decided to go to the library and take out a whole bunch of short stories for my own reading pleasure. i’ll start with this one…
roald dahl - umbrella man

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a brain training update

so i embarked on my brain training challenge a little less than a week ago. today is day 7 (though i just did day 6’s training, and will be doing day 7 later on today…i’ve been good every other day though!) and already i have seen a 30 second improvement in my time for my daily 100 questions. at my 5-day check-up, i was able to memorize 18 words as opposed to the original 11, but that might have something to do with the fact that they were easier to pair this time (e.g. life-safe-belt, dew-point, colour-wheel). anyways, it’s going well, and i’m enjoying it :)

early wake ups + big breakfasts

i am on a quest…a quest to live healthier and to make better use of my day.

as such, i have decided i will try to wake up earlier (and thus i will need to go to bed earlier), have three real meals, and also spend less time doing things that i shouldn’t be doing (i.e. playing tetris battle). i will attempt to chart at least my sleeping and breakfast habits on my daytum and we will go from there.

fill ‘er up

i am not normally one who comments on such things as gas prices, but the prices in kingston lately have caught my attention. not too long ago, i was filling up at 125, 126 cents/litre. today, as i was driving past the pioneer on princess (probably the cheapest gas in kingston…though the ultramar down off collins bay is usually the last one to raise its prices), the price was at an all time low – below 115! then i thought back to a decade or so ago when we regularly saw prices in the area of  50 to 60 cents. do you recall that year where the gas price was hovering around 100? the stations only had room to go up to 99 cents, and we had no idea what would happen! there were those days were the price was 01.09 and you thought WHOA what a bargain, but then realized immediately after that there must be a 1 in front of that, they just have no room on the signs. well, looks like we smoothed out that kink nicely enough.

anyways, the point of this story really is to say that i’m surprised gas prices are so low. if you’re in the kingston area, and you find yourself with an empty tank, it’s a good time to fill ‘er up :)

the future of public education

when you’re an educator, you want more than anything to see students succeed. you know in your heart that all students deserve the best education, and you do everything in your power to make that the case. unfortunately, it seems not all teachers in the field are providing a quality education.

growing up, you’ve probably had a handful of really good and really bad teachers scattered between the ones that were okay. but watching “waiting for superman” today, i witnessed first hand not just a few teachers, but a whole system that is defunct and in need of desperate change. more than anything, it was heartbreaking to see children who want to learn have to sit through something that reinforces to them that their ability to have an education is decided on nothing more than chance. i don’t know much about the charter school system, so i won’t make a judgment on what they do or do not do for students, but i do want to reflect a bit on public education as i understand it.

let’s start at the beginning – the “way it is” for public schooling. how does schooling work? well, it seems that you’re supposed to go to school every weekday (minus a few) for ten months of the year, learn something, and progress through a serious of stages with the hope of being better suited to contribute something to the world when you finish. great. so how do we do that? we bring these people in – qualified teachers – give them a document called the curriculum that tells them what to cover (in addition to a plethora of other booklets and papers), and hope they’ll produce something of value to present to the students coming into their classrooms. it all sounds simple enough, right? wrong.

when you’re a classroom teacher, you are asked to not only present information to students, it is implied that you will also develop the whole child, teach them transferable skills, be sensitive to their needs and their circumstances, work in partnership with their family and other staff, deal with the photocopier when it breaks down, use the newest educational lingo, attend a certain number of meetings, do supervision duty…oh, and you only have one year with your students. is this really the best way to go? so much of a teacher’s time is spent on things that often aren’t even related to teaching the students themselves. are we trying too hard to cram the profession full of extraneous things? how can we make the core of what we do effective while providing a relevant education for our students?

education is important, no questions asked. amongst other things, students need amazing teachers who are committed to providing that quality education through effective assessment and evaluation, working together, innovation in education, and clear and open communication. we need accountability in our schools, and perhaps that is where things get tricky. we have no direct, reliable and valid way of measuring how teachers are doing in their classrooms, and we need to keep in mind that we shouldn’t be encouraging teachers to all be the same. there are so many variables when it comes to education, and controlling it is not the way to bettering it, but we need to work towards improvement. our society is moving so quickly, and there is a huge need for innovation and for a competent, qualified workforce. beyond that, we also want communities that are active and thriving, where people are contributing positively and working together for the good of mankind.

at the end of the day, i’m both an optimist and a realist. i know change is happening, but it will take time. i constantly need to ask myself “what can i do to improve as a teacher, and what can i learn from those around me – both in and out of the field of education?” i’m all for dreaming big, and then figuring out the steps it will take to get there, and to stay there. hope you’ll join me.

today was one of those days…

…where i was reminded that i serve an absolutely sovereign God who can make all things possible. He answers our prayers in ways that we cannot even imagine, and sometimes, at speeds that seem virtually impossible. something that we prayed for just last week at prayer meeting has now become a praise item. i have a jar at home full of rocks with significant dates and stuff on them…reminders of God’s faithfulness to my family and i. today would be a great day to put a rock in that jar :)

training my brain

growing up, i did a lot of things that you might consider stereotypically asian. i went to chinese school, took piano lessons, and was pushed to excel academically at school. one thing i didn’t do, though, was kumon. as fate would have it, kumon has now become a very large part of my life, and with Canada’s youngest kumon instructor as my better half, it seems as if kumon is here to stay.

anyways, amongst all of the kumon paraphernalia that is in his household, there is one item that has been catching my eye for the past little while. i’m one of those people who really likes puzzles (of all sorts) and actually finds enjoyment in using my brain constantly. so, you can imagine that when i saw this book entitled “train your brain”, i was intrigued. my lumosity trial account expired a while ago, and i’ve been wanting to do something to keep memory loss at bay, so i thought of this as a potential solution.

after watching the book for a few weeks (and also being the only one who actually moved it at all) i decided today that i’m going to go for it. i am going to take this 60 day challenge to improve my brain activity. every day, i need to do one page (front and back) of simple computational math problems, and at the end of each week, i do number recitation, word memorization, and the stroop test. my pre-training score was 42 seconds to recite 1-120, 11 words memorized, and 36 seconds for the stroop test. i’ll let you know how it goes!

 

a good morning.

i’m one of those people who likes to stay up really late and then sleep in the next day. unfortunately, when i actually do get around to waking up, it feels like i’ve wasted half my day, and this often becomes my excuse to just laze around for the remainder of the time i have. today, though, i am happy to say that i’ve had a pretty good morning. my formula for a good start is…

devos
+
music

my disney mix was playing this morning
+
breakfast

except the oatmeal i make is never hot enough
+
crossword