Saturday, 21 October 2017

Now Teaching: Week 7

Stress Recap. Week 0, before school: 5. Week 1: 6. Week 2: 8. Week 3: 8. Week 4: 7. Week 5: 8. Week 6: 8. This Week: 10. That’s an AVERAGE. So there’s been 11s. The scale first broke over a week ago. It’s been broken most of this week. I’ve been broken most of this week.
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Something I really don’t deal with very well is CHANGE. Just ask my wife. I mean, I need processing time to deal with dinner plans changing. A corollary to that, I also don’t deal very well with TECHNOLOGY, because it seems to be largely about change. And boy has it changed in 10 years. Coding still sucks though (seriously, how is that fun).

I’m pretty sure the match of me+tech would have flatlined on 90% of alternate timelines. Hell, I haven’t upgraded my phone since 2001. I have texted exactly NEVER. With everything else that’s happening in this particular life branch, yeeeeeeah, flameout was inevitable. Bookies would have taken bets on WHEN, not IF.

I had no idea what the state of computers was really like these days. I couldn’t read the signs. So kudos to me for lasting six weeks, particularly after what week three looked like. Nine more months is impossible.

I don’t yet know exactly how this is all going to play out. Slipping into a coma feels like a viable backup plan. I can’t tell if I’m joking. At any rate, my personality is such that I am either off or on. I am *OFF*, as of now. Almost everything is off. I can’t. There is no joy in any of it any more anyway. If Plan A comes through, I’ll start fresh.

I’ll probably still track this stuff week-to-week, but I doubt I’ll even write these intros any more. Peace out.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Oct 15) to Saturday (Oct 21).

Step Count 2016: About 53,450.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 61,600. 15 stars.
Sunday was the low point again. Sunday is when the panic sets in now.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Dealt with figuring out benefits, and found my writing groove. Simpler times.

SchoolMail 2016: 88 (1 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 120 New (12 sent)
I have limped past DAY 33.


There is nothing else.

TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Emailed dept heads on Sunday. Finally forced myself into grading a bunch of CS, not that I really had a choice. Catatonic Wednesday morning. Implosion. Talked to different admin. Missed parent-teacher interviews, followed up on the Friday with parents. That is, once I managed to get through the horror of Friday itself. Got a SirWil tie, that helped.
 -I can’t lose “Teaching Related Items”, or my failure is complete, but there is “Plan A” before the coma. Also, thank god for Math, it’s a sanity branch.
 -Attended Teacher’s Council meeting. Likely CUTTING this for November, the way Cappies has basically been pawned off on AlexB already. Anime’s on the chopping block next.
 -Pins: none, none, Xin Hua, ‘Who Me’, Mayu (yandere).

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Coloured comic for Oct 16. Inked, coloured comic for Oct 23.
 -COMIC IS NOW ON INDEFINITE HIATUS.
 -Wrote brief post about no Epsilon entry. Off schedule for first time in 3+ years.
 -SERIAL IS NOW ON INDEFINITE HIATUS.
 -Wrote post about “My Curious History with Computer Science”.
 -WE’RE DONE. Any future writing will be focussed on time travel, I got accepted to the TTNexus, that’s one thing I want to do.
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat. Also keeping this, it’s a sanity branch too. (I haven’t been in a Twitter chat for over a month.)

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Tuesday Yoga class. MIGHT NOT SIGN UP FOR NOVEMBER.
 -My wife’s birthday also occurred, which I had mostly worked out in advance thank goodness. She’s so amazing. I love her.
 -ALL SOCIAL EVENTS ARE OUT, as they mostly have been for three weeks ANYWAY, I don’t know why I thought I could manage even part of a day at CanCon. Keeping Roleplay though, I hope. Sanity branch. We’ll see.

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Medical appointment. Possibly NAC play, if I’m not a sobbing mess.

STUFF THAT WILL NOW NEVER HAPPEN IN 2017:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Recap for CanCon 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Catching up with web serials
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 10 (Barrier Burst)

Monday, 16 October 2017

My Curious History with Computer Science

I’m writing this partly as a way to understand my own issues, partly because writing itself is therapeutic, and partly because there may be people out there who can relate in some fashion. Perhaps not with the subject of computer science, but with some other school subject that you’ve grappled with over the years?

Love it or hate it, you can’t seem to escape it.

HIGH SCHOOL


We’ll start the story in Grade 9, mainly to mention that it’s the last year I did computing at school on electronic typewriters. It was computers after that. So in reality, we start in Grade 10. Or possibly Grade 11? As tends to happen 20 years later, events when I was a teenager blur together.

During one of those years in CS, I remember coding up a maze game. Couldn’t tell you the language. You moved a small ball through a maze. Then there were additional levels, including walls that would move and multiple floors within a level, that sort of thing. I must have worked on some of that at home.

That’s possibly the last time I actually enjoyed coding.

Speaking of home, my parents had started us with a Commodore 64, which at some point was upgraded... I have memories of ASCII “Duck Hunt” from the former, and playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” followed by “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego”, which must have been on the latter - but I couldn’t tell you when that was. I also programmed in Logo with a turtle at some point. Grade 10?

In the summer of 1993, I attended Shad Valley, and learned something about using tech for splicing audio tracks, something I still do to this day. I also advocated with my parents for getting a modem, in order to maintain contact with the program’s alumni. (It was on the ShadNet system where I first started writing reviews, of Star Trek Voyager when it first premiered in January 1995.) I also went to Computing Insights in the summer of 1994, where I believe we programmed in “Turing”. Honestly, one of the most important things to come out of that was my friendship with Sonal. None of the coding really stuck.

Here’s what I basically remember of my last high school computer science course, which was probably OAC (could have been Grade 12). We had 3 (kind of 4) teachers back then. Mr. Brush, bless his heart... I don’t know if it was the year he lost his home to a fire, or the time that he was involved in a car crash, but he was unable to continue that semester. His two student teachers took over temporarily, followed by another teacher later on.

I ended up paired (or maybe they were groups of three?) with Joey, whose name I remember mostly because he had a prosthetic limb. He wanted to do coding in C, and I was already feeling a bit out of my depth on code, so sure, whatever. I don’t think I ended up doing any coding in the end, I left it to him. My grade in that course was the worst out of all my OAC courses. Still a 78, granted, but enough to tell me that this was not where my strengths lay.

It didn’t matter anyway. I was going to university for MATHEMATICS. Because THAT was love. I had a 97 in Calculus and a 98 in Finite, or maybe the other way around, so even though my Algebra/Geometry was in the low 80s, I was in.

POST SECONDARY


At the University of Waterloo, Mathematics and Computer Science was wrapped up under one umbrella. I entered under the belief that I could handle “Pure Mathematics”. I discovered by second year that pure mathematics was, well, REALLY damn pure. I started to look for a backup plan. Or rather, a new primary plan.

Applied Math was out (like really, who cares about actually using this stuff), Statistics was too much of a head scratcher, Combinatorics & Optimization was plausible... and then there was Computer Science. I’d had to take CS courses as a matter of course in first year (and I still remember having to wake up early in the morning to pick up jobs off a print queue, to submit it into the assignment box).

I’m not sure exactly how my new major ended up being Computer Science. To this day, I maintain that I only passed third year “Operating Systems” because I paired off with a guy who liked coding but disliked documentation, while I liked documentation but disliked the actual coding. (Granted, human memory is a curious thing.)

In fourth year, I loaded up on ALL the theoretical courses I could. I can program a finite state machine like nobody’s business. Ask me about Turing Machines, go ahead, they’re cool. I think I only passed the MatLab programming course because they graded on a curve.

The funny thing is, I also ended up as a tutor for first year (second year?) computer science courses, as part of one of my Co-Op Placements. I even kind of liked it, because they were working with a language I actually UNDERSTOOD, since I’d had to use it in first year. (It wasn’t Java. I avoided Java as much as I could.) That’s what ended up steering me towards teaching. In large part because the thought of sitting behind a desk and coding all day was a little nightmare inducing.

Ergo, without Computer Science, I wouldn’t be where I am today. To sum up, I got a Mathematics Degree, major in Computer Science and minor in Music. (Because you gotta have music.)

TEACHING


My first year teaching was at a private school, where I taught Mathematics and Science (with chemicals, not computers) to ESL students. It wasn’t right out of University, but anyway, that was enough to get me into Queens for a formal Teaching Certificate. What would I declare as my teachable subjects there? Obviously Mathematics, and... well, computer science was more rigorous than music, and I already had some experience with that.

After graduating from teaching, my first Long Term Occasional work was Semester Two (start of 2004, so 2003-04 school year) at Sir Wilfrid Laurier SS. Teaching the TIK 2O Grade 10 computer science course. I still have my notes, because of course I do. Programming was in RealBasic, which I figured out while teaching flowcharts and and hardware components. That course didn’t lead to a contract. Bounced around from school to school in 2004-05.

I ended up back at Sir Wilfrid Laurier SS in 2005-06 on a Long Term mathematics contract (started in October). This time around, there was a contract opening for Sept 2006 for TTI 1O, Integrated Technologies. It was mine, so long as I took a University Technologies course to have all the qualifications. (The TTI course involved a shop component, which would be taught by a different teacher, but still, gotta dot all the i’s.)

I once did spot welding in Grade 7 or 8. Not the sort of thing I’d ever thought I’d have to repeat. Anyway, upgraded my qualifications, then tried to forget about all that practical stuff. I think there’s a mousetrap car somewhere in my basement.

Along with TTI 1O (co-taught with Mr. Chalmers) I ended up with the TIK 2O course at least once more in 2006-2007. All I remember is going through it more or less the same way I had two years previously. I knew how to use “Binary High”, the school’s intranet, and the tech was generally manageable.

Within a year or so, I’d transitioned into the mathematics department. (It was the year Ron Gaudreau retired. I vividly remember being at a retirement gathering and lamenting to him, “I finally have a contract in math and YOU’RE LEAVING.”. We have similar senses of humour.) I think part of the reason for it was picking up the Statistics course (“Data Management”) which has a number of tech aspects to it.

That course (MDM 4U) has actually been a great fit for me.

TEN YEARS LATER


I took the year 2016-17 off of teaching, for mental health reasons, having put in for the leave back in late 2014. (See the post “Year Of Hell”.) In late June 2017, I got the news. Two sections of ICS 2O, Grade 10 computer science. They revised the tech curriculum in 2008, TIK 2O is no more. I have been assigned a course that, for all intents and purposes, I have never taught before.

Added context: My phone is from 2001 and I have texted people exactly ZERO times in my life. I don’t know Siri by name. My last Windows machine ran Windows Millennium (seriously, I transitioned to Macs after) and I do not use the Cloud. I have not done any coding for 10 years, nor have I had any desire to do coding. I am a fiction writer these days. (I even had a teacher ask me if I wanted to talk to a Creative Writing class once.)

O-kay. Computer Science. Back from the grave.


We try anything once, right? I scrambled to try and get some advice. “Processing” is apparently the language we use now? Sure. We don’t use optical drives any more? Oh, USBs, I have one of those. There’s this magical “Google Classroom” thing that can organize courses? Alright. I can have a bunch of files and assignments from previous teachers of the course? Good. Now what?

Sink or swim.

Sinking.

Siiiiiiinking.

The rational part of my mind knows that there’s always aspects to teaching that a person won’t enjoy. If it wasn’t ICS 2O, there would probably be something else to complain about. The levels grading system, which I’m STILL wrapping my head around 5+ years later. Efforts with homework, or chronically absent students, or failed attempts to implement math debates (not gonna get to THOSE this year). Always something. Sacrifices are necessary.

But on the other hand, why am I sacrificing happy aspects of my life for COMPUTER SCIENCE?

Actually, when we get right down to it, maybe that’s the real fear.

I’m scared that I’ll sacrifice the things I enjoy doing for CS, and as a result, I’ll end up getting it again. Oh God. A bit like what happened with Statistics, except that the Stats is actually fun. That’s something with just enough tech, but not too much. (I still need to find a good replacement for Fathom, something ELSE I’ll have no time for this semester.)

Here’s a nightmare: What this semester leads to more permanent tech? I’ll NEVER get back to the happy things.

I think that’s the problem. It’s a Catch-22. If I somehow make this course work, I might have to do it again. (I already have to do it again in second semester, the way things sit now.) Whereas if I DON’T make it work, well, I’m too much of a perfectionist to simply do it badly (though we are getting there!!), so it’ll be a spectacular flame out. SPECTACULAR. Either way, I’m caught. Trapped.

Computer Science helped guide me to teaching. In the end, it helped me to get a contract. I can’t fault it as a discipline, but we’re hardly friends. In part because, in my personal opinion, the actual CODING is a horrible thing to inflict on a person. Mad props to my wife, who does it for a living.

I'm not sure if I have my answers, but I think we’re at the end of this post.

Has anyone else out there ever had a love-hate relationship with a subject? Was it anything like my experience? For that matter, has anyone actually read this far?

I may never know. All I know is, doing this bit of writing over the past two hours has very possibly made me feel better than anything else has over the past seven days. Thanks for taking a look. (Now, what on Earth am I going to do tomorrow in my tech class...)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Now Teaching: Week 6

I feel like there’s a point where I blast past Stress Level 10 back into Level 0 where there’s just this dead sensation inside. Which is pretty much where I was on Friday. Four classes (because on-call) plus anime and math help at lunch, and I was trying to do my first Google Quiz with my computer course. How have I been able to do all the things? Answer, I haven’t. My marking is WAY behind, and I’m kind of screwed for this weekend. But I have no buffer for my blogs either.
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Also, big news came on Wednesday, but I haven’t really had a chance to enjoy that yet. No, not the Nexus big news, the other news. Also editor contact early this morning to figure out as well. Related, was recognized at CanCon, both by cousin of a student and the filk people. My life is interesting. A bit too interesting.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Oct 8) to Saturday (Oct 14).

Step Count 2016: About 59,600.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 63,300. 14 stars.
Sunday was the lowest in a long time, 6250.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Bought cheap calculators, in-laws in town, lacked clear direction.

SchoolMail 2016: 38 (1 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 123 New (5 sent)
We have completed DAY 28.

TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 Got a quiz together for CS, screwed up the naming. Math courses was largely tests. Progress reports went out Wednesday. Cappies trip for students was mostly left in Alex’s hands, particularly given on-call. There’s too much grading.
 -Pins: none, Avanna, Stardust, Miku

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Sketched, inked comic for Oct 16.
 -Sketched comic for Oct 23.
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Family Thanksgiving dinner Sunday
 -Gaming with in-laws in Toronto Monday
 -Mon, travelled back to Ottawa
 -Dinner with friends Monday
 -Tuesday Yoga class
 -Wednesday medical appointment
 -Two CanCon panels on Friday evening
 -More CanCon on Saturday afternoon

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Anne-Lise birthday. Teacher’s Council. Parent-Teacher interviews. Probably high blood pressure.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Recap for CanCon 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 8 (Starlight Breaker, Extension)

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Now Teaching: Week 5

Is my stress level back up to 8? I think I have to say it is, based on how tense I’ve been the past week. That sort of feeling where if something small goes wrong, you’ll snap. On the plus side, I’m caught up with my math courses, and have a location on the Ink & Insights Top 10 website now. Also picked up my comics (the store is moving later this month). On the down side, computer science, AGH. Also wrestling with “You Can Book” site for interviews, which has changed since everyone else signed up last year. Then there’s the weird side.
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On Thursday night, me and Anne-Lise went to see "Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion" at the NAC. Today I was reading a review in the Citizen as we boarded our Porter flight to Toronto. I made a comment to my wife about the review referencing the "bear spray" humour we'd also laughed at. The guy sitting in front of us on the plane turns, and asks if it was a good reference or a bad reference.

It's the playwright, Drew Hayden Taylor. Sitting in front of us, on the plane. Small world! We chatted briefly about his choice of the name "Hugh", the fact the play might not go over well in Kingston ("Friends don't let friends go to Kingston alone"), how it all came together ("Hugh" and "Drew" as song lyric substitutes), and one change made owing to vocal range of the actors. There's my brush with greatness for the next while. Go figure.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Oct 1) to Saturday (Oct 7).

Step Count 2016: About 55,800.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 60,000. 16 stars.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Writing motivation stalled, car broke down, went to AFEMO french math conference.

SchoolMail 2016: 61 (2 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 216 New (24 sent)
We have completed DAY 24. (one being a PD day)



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 There is really no point in itemizing this. On Monday I dealt with CS marks, etc. On Tuesday (after Cappies training afternoon) I finished my first set of 3U tests. On Wednesday I worked past midnight to be caught up in all my math, so that I could try to focus on CS this weekend. Yeah, how’s that working out for me? Well, JP gave me some hints during a break at PD. Also, my Annual Learning Plan is done, as are Progress Reports.
 -Pins: Maika, Mayu, Stardust, none, PD (none).

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Coloured comics for Oct 2 and Oct 9.
 -Wrote an “Epsilon Project” serial entry.
 -Revamped Story Catalogue after Ink & Insights Top 10 placement

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Math Meeting Monday and Minutes.
 -Tuesday Yoga class.
 -Thurs, World Premiere @ NAC of “Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion”.
 -Sat, travelled back to Southern Ontario

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Wednesday Medical. Haven’t decided on CanCon yet. x.x

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 8 (Starlight Breaker, Extension)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Now Teaching: Week 4

It all came together on Wednesday. Now it’s a bit of a waiting game. Meanwhile, I pulled together a computer assignment and didn’t hand it out yet, so mild reprieve with school. Thursday I didn’t go to a math thing, Saturday I didn’t go to a social thing. I’m sort of mending. As a reminder that for everything that ends there’s more things starting up, I got news on Friday about being 6/152 for the I&I Rose Story Writing, as well as being accepted as a writer for the Time Travel Nexus.
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So, many good things that would feel more good if I wasn’t so spent. But other teachers are feeling similarly, so I know a chunk of this is simply the job. And the fact that I frigging care, which adds exhaustion. Anyway, I now have new pants. Onwards?

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 24) to Saturday (Sept 30).

Step Count 2016: About 62,500.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 65,500. 14 stars.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Had an eye appointment, queued T&T for all Oct, started playing Sakura Dungeon.

SchoolMail 2016: 74 (2 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 131 New (19 sent)
We have completed DAY 19.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Including an On Call.
 -Returned first test, it still takes me a week. Two hadn’t written.
 -Pins: Mayu, Stardust, Miku, Avanna, Xin Hua.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat.
 -Drew, inked comic for Oct 2.
 -Drew, inked comic for Oct 9.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Caught premiere of “Star Trek Discovery”. At 2 hrs, I’m counting it.
 -Tuesday Yoga class.
 -Wednesday medical appointment.
 -Saturday brunch with friends.
 -Cut lawn, did sweeping and yard work



UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Math Meeting Monday. Cappies training Tuesday. ALP due in. Progress Reports. Play at the NAC. Flying home for Thanksgiving. GAH.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 7 (Starlight Breaker)

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Now Teaching: Week 3

This week was supposed to be lighter. Not so much. For mostly good reasons. We’re at daily injections, which makes little sense unless you know me well. Still, all the things are happening at once, which is rough. A lot rough, I’m back on the potato chips. And stress levels definitely reached 9, but on average I think we’re still 8?
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Here’s the social media post I put up, which is relevant:
“I suppose it might be prudent to clarify my posts this month so that people aren't worrying about me, or so that if they are, they're at least worrying about the right things. The problem is, all the things are happening. Bad things. Good things. Everything.
My coping mechanism in such cases is to take things about six hours at a time. If I look at a full 24 hours (or more) at once, the howler monkeys can take a foothold, and all is lost. Six hours. Sometimes four. This is not unusual, it tends to be how I survive around exam time. But it's happening in September, and has been for about two weeks straight now, and that's unusual.

All the things. Teaching, for the first time in 14 months. Years of medical issues (that I'm not bringing up on social media) are peaking. Technology issues, after 10 YEARS of lying fallow, are back with a vengeance, in the worst timing possible. I've resumed doing role-play, which frankly I need right now, though it is another thing. And other things in my life continue, like secretary work, replays of my writing efforts, and social forums online.


I am cutting back on those last. I HAVE to cut back. I'm trying not to cut back on all the things I enjoy (like my comic). I'm trying not to cut back on things that will be problematic in two weeks time (like work emails). I am starting to forget things. Sometimes things that happened half an hour ago. This worries me, but at least I'm aware of it. My window is six hours going forwards, not back.


This week was supposed to be better. I can say it hasn't been worse. I can do another six hours. Or at least another four. Then I'll re-evaluate.”


*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 17) to Saturday (Sept 23).

Step Count 2016: About 67,900.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 61,500. 14 stars.
Didn’t reach 7500 today. It’s all slipping a bit to maintain sanity.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Felt like I’d be busy until end of year. But with writing, etc.

SchoolMail 2016: 76 (1 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 138 New (22 sent)
We have completed DAY 14. Emails are harder to track, I’m filing them away into separate folders.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Came up with a new coding assignment to buy time. Didn’t help.
 -Dept meeting Monday lunch. Clubs Day Wednesday issues/Anime Club.
 -“Meet the Teacher” BBQ evening.
 -Marked two sets of quizzes, one from each math class. Like last week.
 -This section blurs fast. Re-developed math lessons a bunch?
 -Also dealing with benefits problem, other emails.
 -Pins: Xin Hua, Maika, none, Miku, Avanna.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Thursday StArt Faire Comic Chat.
 -Inked, scanned, coloured comic for Sept 25.
 -Wrote an “Epsilon Project” serial entry.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Monday dinner with friends.
 -Tuesday Yoga class.
 -Wednesday medical appointment.
 -Friday medical appointment.
 -Saturday RPG Gaming after creating Torg character

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Wednesday medical.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 8 (Starlight Breaker, Extension)

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Now Teaching: Week 2

Glerk. I’m not sure how I pulled through this past week. Thursday night was my only free night, in that I used it to get quizzes marked and figure out some new programming things for students to play with. Because that new CompSci course remains a horror show. I still have to research... everything, frankly, and come up with new coding assignments, ones that aren’t ones they saw the previous year. And no one can really help me, because my teaching style is different. Well, okay, actual tech help might be good.
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This week I had a network fail for where things save making me a wreck first thing Monday (I have no backup plan any more), and downloading assignments is a pain (half hour shot on Friday), and you can’t run Processing off a plug-in hard drive, and less people use Google Classrooms than I thought, and one person already has one player pong going while another is struggling with how static images overlap. FML. Missing that class for medical reasons once was simultaneously a relief, and problematic in that my personal life remains complicated.

I’m trying to stay positive. But I took today (Saturday) off. I had to. And not only because I got some feedback on my writing that I wanted to address.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 10) to Saturday (Sept 16).

Step Count 2016: About 76,300.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 69,000. 19 stars.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Went to BC with Anne-Lise. Considered making these posts into a newsletter.

SchoolMail 2016: 45 (2 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 129 New (21 sent)
We have completed DAY 9.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Monday, math meeting and typing up minutes
 -Tuesday, staff meeting
 -Wednesday, Teacher’s Council meeting
 -I can’t even daily. Friday was insane, especially at lunch.
 -Pins: Maika, Mayu, Miku, Stardust, Avanna.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat. Upgraded to CTP VIP.
 -Wrote a bit more of my comic into October.
 -Sketched out comic for Sept 25.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Sunday niece’s birthday lunch.
 -Monday dinner with friends as I tried not to melt down.
 -Tuesday yoga classes restarted.
 -Wednesday medical appointment, left materials for one class.
 -Friday NAC musical “Onegin”. (Ran into teacher there...)

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Dept mtg. Medical appointments. Meet the Teacher BBQ. RPG.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 8 (Starlight Breaker, Extension)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Now Teaching: Week 1

Oh right, teaching. Tues through Thurs evenings I was trying to pull together CompSci work, having used my prep for paperwork (new phones!) and handling my actual math courses. Next week will be worse, meetings almost every day. >.< Don’t get me wrong, I actually like meetings, but I don’t like worrying about being able to teach the next day as I attend them. The stress will continue because of this, even through this weekend.
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Google/Gmail randomly shutting down my course website midday on the first day didn’t improve things. I put in a ticket. It seemed to be back by end of day Wednesday with no further communication. (Apparently happened to Denise once too.) I was going to set up this series’ Index page Tuesday, forgot, put in a placeholder Friday, need to get to that. “Epsilon” took priority.

For steps, I knew we’d lose the 20 stars streak. But 7500 per day is feasible; looks like an average teaching day is about 6,000 steps, followed by another 1,000 (to get a single star at 10 minutes of more intense activity) by going out for a jog later. Also this week, nice chat with a colleague, and in general people (students included) seem happy to see me around. My ability to handle names feels even worse though. I’ve reinstated the nametag random seating thing. I guess we’ll see how it all fits together.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Sept 3) to Saturday (Sept 9).

Step Count 2016: About 49,000.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 69,800. 14 stars.
Half the stars on the weekend (Sun/Sat).

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Labour Day Parade, CanCon 2015 posts, and start of CanCon 2016. (Also when I got RWBY from Scott, so took 11 months to get to that.)

SchoolMail 2016: 57 (1 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 79 New (16 sent)
We have completed DAY 4.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Monday, Labour Day Parade
 -Tuesday, figuring out Wednesday (mostly CS)
 -Wednesday, figuring out Thursday (mostly CS)
 -Thursday, figuring out Friday (made new learning strats sheet)
 -Friday was weirdly calm
 -pins: Miku. Stardust. Xin Hua. Avanna.

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Created Meme comic update to provide extra buffer
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat
 -Wrote an “Epsilon Project” serial entry.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Monday at underground exhibition Kontinuum with Anne-Lise
 -Met financial advisor on Wednesday
 -RP on Saturday with friends (as Ezren of Pathfinder)

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -Niece birthday, Math meeting, Staff meeting, Medical appointment, Council meeting, NAC play, possible Cappies and Anime club meetings. Ow.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 6 (Break Shoot)

Friday, 8 September 2017

Now Teaching: Index

This is (going to be) an index page! I will possibly get back to editing it tonight. Or not. Basically, when one is teaching, there is definitely a list of priorities towards staying sane while getting things done. (Okay, it's an index now.)

What makes this year more interesting? I took a year off (Not Teaching) in 2016-2017 before returning to work here (Now Teaching) in 2017-2018. Couple that with teaching a new course (I did teach a variant of it in 2007, but it's tech, everything changes) and... yeah. Away we go. Fingers crossed.

I anticipate much horror for the first month or two (Sept/Oct), followed by spikes of uncontrollable sobbing during the usual worst months of the year (January, June, April and November in that order). There should be some bright spots as well though, and I can draw comparisons with statistics from when I wasn't teaching. Enjoy this look into a (strange) teacher's life.




PRELUDE


Week -8: July 2017. I'm very depressed.
Week -7: I CLEAN EVERYTHING.
Week -6: Stats video, general reflection.
Week -5: Vacation to Stratford.

Week -4: August 2017. Mood swings! Start re-learning how to program.
Week -3: Stubbornly back to creative stuff.
Week -2: Final writing push, then back to programming.
Week -1: Crunch time. Fit in everything I can.
Week 0: Spent time at school. Allons-y.

FREIGHT TRAIN HITS


Week 1: Working almost every night this week.
Week 2: CompSci remains a horror show.
Week 3: I start cutting back on life.
Week 4: Mild reprieve, stress backs off to 7/10.

Week 5: I haven't snapped yet.
Week 6: I'm dead inside.
Week 7: *SNAP*

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Now Teaching: Week 0

I will be coming back after a year away from teaching. There were nine weeks until the start of school (which is right after labour day) but any teacher who doesn’t come in at least once in the week prior to that (to figure out classroom setup, make photocopies, et cetera, all at no pay) is crazy. So if that’s “Week 0”, we’re... there. That happened.
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I’ve been a little bit all over the map this week, but I guess average stress was the same? Wednesday’s the only weekday I didn’t leave the house to do something teaching related. I think maybe I’m good for the first day of classes? Not for the days after though, those remain very sketchy. So I guess I got in as much writing as I could. I also did that summer summary post, which crystallized where the last few months have gone (I know where 2016 went).

Housekeeping - from “may never get to” - nixing “weed through/organize emails”, I probably got as much of that done in passing as I ever will. Also “French Citizenship project” because I don’t want it glaring at me for the next 10 months, it’s definitely a summer project at minimum due to the paperwork. And “series on BIAS” for similar reasons. I may junk the articles next week, we’ll see. I guess I’ll keep books; I still have too many to even enumerate separately.

In two days, everything changes. I won’t be able to stay up on Monday to watch all of “Radio Dead Air”, for one.

*
Item counts run Sunday (Aug 28) to Saturday (Sept 2).

Step Count 2016: About 57,550.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 68,000. 20 stars.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Posted ConBravo recaps, continued T&T rewrites, read and walked.

SchoolMail 2016: 22 (2 sent)
SCHOOL EMAIL 2017: 59 New (13 sent)



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -On Monday got keys, did physical room setup, checked logins, etc
 -On Tuesday, PD session downtown
 -Organized all the electronic clutter from school
 -On Thursday, cleaned up files, learned Google Classroom
 -On Friday, finalized course outlines, photocopied

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Coloured “Epsilon” image and wrote a behind the scenes post
 -Coloured banner/intro and launched on Tapas(tic)
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat
 -Drew and inked strip for this Monday
 -Drew and inked strip for next Monday



OTHER ITEMS:
 -MosaiCanada exhibition with family
 -Dinner with much friends Monday
 -Lawn care (mowing and weeding)
 -Dining with in-laws
 -Saturday brunch with friends

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -TEACHING OMG WTF. Also Labour Day Parade.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk


RH Stress Level: 5 (ACS Standby)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer's End 2017

Like always, the end of August is more of a conclusion to a year than the end of December could ever hope to be. I wrote one of these “summer wrap-up” posts for 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, I was off work, but now we’re back into old habits. Here, have a “Year of Summer” AMV (courtesy my AMV Friday #49, 2014).



Am I ready to go back on Tuesday? Yes and no. There are things I didn’t get done, but I think that will always be the case - for 60 weeks, I was always on the go. My reluctance is more a fear of being overwhelmed, particularly now that I’m back in a tech class after 10 years. (Verified: My old files are from 2007.) It’s not only the new material, it’s a whole new way of evaluating and delivering content too. On the flip side, it’s good to reconnect with people and colleagues, the bank account is nearly drained, and one hopes that I’ll be making a difference out there.

Oooh, the waking up before 8am is going to be painful though.


LESSONS LEARNED


Before going into a roundup of the old categories, there’s a few things I realized about myself in the past year or so.

1) I Cannot Focus. The only exception to this seems to be in my writing, when I can vanish for a few hours as I play with my characters - but even then, sometimes I need to walk away for a bit. Or I’m distracted by a shiny thing. Or I’m scrolling through Twitter to confirm I’m not crazy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing... until you pair it with grading.

I have this mental block on grading, where I feel like I need to be as consistent as possible (perfectionism!), hence a need to do a full class set at the same time. So I procrastinate, not wanting to do a half hour here and a half hour there. But then I can’t FOCUS for a three hour long stretch of grading papers. And at exam time, there’s too much of it, and everything blows up.

I don’t really have a solution for this yet, aside from trusting in my ability to recall what I do in a sequence of short bursts (which is a thing I’m capable of, my memory’s good). But the diagnosis is something of an eye opener.

2) I Am That Damn Introverted. Often when out with friends, or even when spending time with family, I’d stress out over the other things I needed to be doing. Mostly school related things, like quizzes sitting on my desk. But remove the job, and the deadlines, and I STILL stress the SAME. Turns out I simply can’t be around people longer than about two hours.

Oh, it’s different in a classroom, because I’m not having to wrack my brain to come up with social questions or charming details about my life - we’re there for math. Or tech, or drama, or whatever, there’s a PURPOSE. I can do purpose. I can’t do extended before dinner conversations. Which is not because of other commitments or time management, I simply get tapped out spiritually. So yeah.

3) The Week Starts on Sunday. I’ve posted my weekly summaries for 60 weeks now on Saturday nights. I think this is in large part because my step counter summaries end the week then, so it makes those tallies easy. But by documenting Saturday, I find myself doing OTHER things on that day, so that I can mark them complete before the next week starts. Like drafting posts, lawn care, or what have you. I then start the week not by waking up at 7am, but with a day open for anything that didn’t get done.

With those universal truths out of the way, let’s break the rest down as usual.


WORK RELATED


I went to “Twitter Math Camp” in July 2016 (and the Desmos Pre-Conference). Math debates still tickles at my senses, but in the name of not changing over 10% of one’s practice in a semester to stay sane, teaching programming would seem to be that 10%. Let’s file debates away for another year. I also went to the French AFEMO conference in October 2016. I participated in the MTBoS January 2017 initiative again. And this past month I’ve been trying to re-teach myself programming.

Through COMA I also ended up coordinating emails for a conference (that didn’t have the numbers in the end), and I did present at uOttawa with Cathy. My online video on the Cubic Formula has played well (just hit 900 views in 14 months, making it about 9 times more popular than my other videos combined). There was an accompanying post. I did another Christmas video, and another video last month. Two per year seems to be the limit. I also got my files organized.

I finished JLV’s “This is Not a Test” book (bought at TMC). I got no further in “Fooled by Randomness” (by Nassim Taleb). I caught up in all my Conference Recap Blogging. I didn’t go to OAME 2017 because they were full by the time I thought to register. I did just attend a PD on Aug 29th, not sure if I’ll blog that or not. A blog post I made about MTBoS and ITeachMath gained some traction.


UPKEEP RELATED


Finally cleaned up my home office. And organized all the boxes of old materials downstairs that my parents brought me. And hung pictures, and the spoon rack. Installed new smoke alarms, learning about electrical wiring. Cleaned the back deck (last done in 2015). Swept out downstairs and cleaned the air filter. Removed rust from shears. Installed netting on the eavestroughs to keep out leaves. Cleaned the ice out of the freezer in May.


We had to replace the air conditioner (2016) and washer/dryer (2017), which was a downer, but hopefully that won’t be an issue for years to come now. The car broke down briefly in October (which led to the attending AFEMO) and later the airbag component was replaced. Also, just called insurance to tell them the car’s being driven back to work, so $10 more expensive per month. Trimmed hedges in 2016. Also we renegotiated our mortgage.

On the personal side, I kept with the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Clinic) program through to last month (the program’s now effectively dissolved, but I can still book an appointment). Related, I think nothing of walking to and from the store - or yoga sessions, which I have now maintained for a full year. I did get a persistent tingling in my left arm in January, went to the doctor, and have since had some massages. Got new glasses in October 2016. Depression is still a thing, I hope I continue to keep it at bay.

Family-wise, a wire transfer was done in early 2017, we’re into the third attempt at treatments. Me and Anne-Lise went to British Columbia in September 2016 and Stratford (Ontario) in July 2017.


HOBBY RELATED


Went to ConBravo in July 2016 AND July 2017. Went to CanCon in 2016 (including a workshop). Went to Anime North in 2017. I’ve caught up in all the serials I follow, and in the webcomics I’ve latched onto this summer as well. Not quite caught up in blogging (owing to ConBravo 2017) but a lot was pushed out.


From July through October 2016, I wrote “Time & Tied” Book 4. In a sense it was edits, but there were massive changes and lots of completely new scenes. Those 26 parts would later get published to my serial blog. From November through December 2016 I wrote 90,000 words in “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”, an LGBTQ/math crossover story in first person female. Yup, I did NaNoWriMo. That would get edited in April 2017 (with Camp NaNoWriMo) and the first 10,000 words were submitted to “Ink & Insights” (results in this past month) to good reviews.

T&T Commentary posts were written, and more T&T drawings were done towards the end. I wrote a TANDQ article in December 2016. I dropped my math comic in August 2016 because (as usual) it was an echo chamber, focussing on T&T - but I resumed the comic on October 31st and have kept it running weekly ever since. In April I even created an entire Personified Math Series BIBLE, with new sketches of most old characters (except fractals) and historical data to match (this after putting navigation tables into old entries). And I even got fan art for a couple months, whoa. Launched the comic on Tapas(tic) yesterday.

I did guest posts for Stable’s serial, the website Time2TimeTravel, Drew’s serial site, and an April Fool for both serial (Fantasia) and webcomic (M9 Girls). I gave a writing interview in December for Alastair Luft (appeared in January). Edits on all of T&T were done to make small parts for RRL (plus changing Woodlands’ location) as well as to make characters sound less like technical journals. (“Algebra” went on Wattpad, was less well received.)

“Epsilon” started a new arc to start of June 2016, with a new emblem and story art. “Marmalade Mercury”, a fanfic begun in Dec 1996 was finally finished after a 16 year hiatus. “Off Target”, a temporal lemon was written. A number of shorter stories were put on the blog (including post 300). “No Reason” (post 200) was revamped into “Free Will” and “Relative Change” was written (both submitted into the ether and rejected).


I transcribed old “mathNEWS” columns into the computer. I started a new column, “Series Scan”, watching all 24 eps of /Steins;Gate/, 24 eps of /Certain Magical Index/, 24 eps of /Certain Scientific Railgun II/, 12 eps of /Erased/ and Volume One of RWBY. (Also caught up in /Sailor Moon Crystal/ in Summer 2016, no blogging.)

I watched far too much “Andromeda” (blogged about it ALL), “Stargate” (skeleton of a blog post exists for 200), and “Mayday” (no blog planned). I kept up with “Supergirl”, “Agents of SHIELD”, “Timeless”, “Doctor Who” and “The Librarians”. Caught up with “Bones”, which then had it’s last season. To a lesser extent, I also saw many pieces of “Castle” and “Wynonna Earp” (and Star Trek reruns).

I stayed tapped into the pulse of the WebFictionGuide Forums. Thanks to AngelicEmpress, via another forum, I found a Discord community of webcomic authors (connected through StArt Faire, a monthly publication) and have participated in weekly chats for a couple months now. I’ve tuned into “Radio Dead Air” pretty regularly for community and media purposes. Also, I bought and played “Sakura Dungeon”, just because, so there.


MISCELLANEOUS


Made it to the Fringe Festival in June for some plays, along with the usual ones at the NAC. Also events at the Aviation Museum (Star Trek, “Doors Open Ottawa”, Global rallycross, eclipse). I figured out slightly more complex recipes in terms of cooking, being in charge of dinner most nights; that’s why Rose knows how to cook fish.

Celebrated our 9th anniversary at a new restaurant (and the 8th happened in there too). Gathered all the Doritos Guardians and won a movie pass, that was weird. Finally put in paperwork to replace my red stripe health card. Dealt with benefits switchover too.


WHERE TO NEXT


What DIDN’T happen? Well, T&T Book 5 aka “Time Untied” still needs a kick start. I never did anything with Simon’s story “The Last Magical Girl” either. And actual READING wasn’t a thing, as far as physical books go (versus online).

I managed to get through “The Temporal Element II”, a collection of time travel short stories. I then started reading James Gleik’s “Time Travel” in early February. I’m still reading it. Behind it are “Doomsday Book” (Xmas gift, I did start it, wasn’t pulled in), “All Our Wrong Todays” (b’day gift), “Air Awakens” (gift from #K8Chat over a year ago, the chat doesn’t even exist now), “Making Comics” (b’day gift), “Random Dingoes” (CanCon 2015), “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” (found in Stratford), “Thinking in Numbers” (bought in 2014), “Mindset” (from my former principal), “Finding Zero”, and at least a half dozen others. I am not a fast reader.


What else? Well, at one point I was going to turn my weekly posts into a newsletter. Nope. That column “Becoming Informed About Statistics” (BIAS)? Nope. And I still can’t market. Tumblr never really worked out, and while I’ve joined reddit and Instagram, I haven’t done anything with them. There’s also the low song parody output, but I can accept that two per year is my speed.

I’m also writing without a buffer on all three blogs. This blog still needs ConBravo posts, my serial site’s “Epsilon” vote closes Saturday, and my math comic has written content only for the next month. Yet I applied to write for the “Time Travel Nexus”, we’ll see how that works out (applications close Sept 15th).

I guess that’s it. 60 weeks of “summer”, done. Thanks for reading, consider following one of the aforementioned blogs as I continue to try and churn out content. Assuming I can function for a full day, after getting out of bed at 7am. >.<

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Now Teaching: Week -1

I will be coming back after a year away from teaching. There were nine weeks until the start of school (which is right after labour day) but any teacher who doesn’t come in at least once in the week prior to that (to figure out classroom setup, make photocopies, et cetera, all at no pay) is crazy. So if that’s “Week 0”, we’re at “Week -1”.

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I guess I need to decide how I’m running the Raging Heart Stress Level scale at the bottom. Normally it’s been pretty even keel all week, but I was all over the map this past week. Do I go with a maximum? An average? I doubt I’ll reach 10 that way, but I guess that’s a good thing, so we’ll go with that. The first major thing that happened (I’m not even including the eclipse) was medical. The second was work related.

Met the tech dept head (which is weird to say, not used to the tech aspect) to go over the new course I’m teaching (in period one of all things). Feeling better about the flow, but I really don’t know about the day to day. Went into the school, but the floors were being waxed; still got to see my class sizes. 30 for 3U (max out, no surprise), 24 for 2O (likely max out on computers), and 19 for 4U. Also sharing rooms 128 and 114. Yay, I know stuffs now.

Also organized the big box of school things that I legit hadn’t cracked into since I packed up my desk in June 2016. Dept head reminded me though that I took the time off for a reason, and that I should feel okay about such things. So, I guess. And I feel like I’m kinda positioned for this last week... but not the first day. Gaaah, we’re 10 days away from the start, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. (It's drill hair.)

*
Item counts run Sunday (Aug 20) to Saturday (Aug 27).

Step Count 2016: About 51,250.
STEP COUNT 2017: Over 61,500. 24 stars.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
-Kept editing my story instead of doing recaps. (Well, that’s consistent.) Also finished “Outlander”.

School Email Count: 8 New (2 sent)
The “Summer Letter By Email” is in.



TEACHING RELATED ITEMS:
 -Completed Processing lessons 6, 7, 8. Coded a minor program.
 -Met tech dept head for over 2 hrs to discuss my new course
 -Organized all the paper clutter from school

WRITING + ART RELATED ITEMS:
 -Drew, inked and coloured strip for last Monday.
 -Drew, inked and coloured strip for this Monday.
 -Wrote an “Epsilon Project” serial entry.
 -Thursday stArt Faire Comic Chat.
 -Condensed “Erased” review for application to Time Travel Nexus.
 -Drew banner/intro that’s useable for Tapas(tic).
 -Sketched image for Epsilon Story4.

OTHER ITEMS:
 -Brunch with family Sunday.
 -Eclipse viewing at Aviation Museum Monday.
 -Dinner with friends Monday.
 -Met friend for tea Tuesday.
 -Yoga Tuesday.
 -Medical appointment Wednesday.
 -Dining with in-laws. x2.

UPCOMING FOR SURE:
 -PD on Tuesday, Dinner on Wednesday, Trip to School. Hopefully Tapas launch.

STUFF I MAY NEVER GET TO:
 -Recap for ConBravo 2017
 -Write a TANDQ article on Polling and Bias
 -Write a post about types of praise/encouragement
 -Organize all the electronic clutter from school
 -Weed through/organize emails
 -French Citizenship project
 -Read some of the books sitting at my desk
 -Do an entire (illustrated?) series on “Bias”


RH Stress Level: 5 (ACS Standby)