Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I am officially done with work until mid-August. Whew! I went in to school yesterday and turned in my computer and the substitute-request cell phone, and I must say it's great to be back down to just one phone -- my battered old iPhone, which almost never rings. (The only person who ever calls me on it is Dave, and we're more likely to text.)
It's also great to have my workspace cleared from the dining room table, and have the computer cord off the floor so I don't have to wrestle it aside while vacuuming, and have all the accessory wires and the lock and the dongle (whatever that's for) out of the drawer in the spare room. Begone!
The breakfast meeting was fun yesterday morning, but I was suddenly aware of my middle-agedness -- I had to hold the menu far, far from my face to focus on it, and I had trouble hearing over the clatter of dishes and hiss of the espresso machine. I'm not sure it's time for a hearing aid yet, but I probably should get an eye exam. It's far down on my list, after some new clothes.
We also had an all-school meeting and a luncheon, and I finally got back home to Olga at 3 p.m. or so. She was fine, but she'd eaten the mail after it came through the mail slot -- including a birthday card for Dave from my dad and stepmother -- and she was raring to go outside. We took a long walk so she could blow off steam.
Dave and I rented "The Guilt Trip," with Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen, last night. It was a cute movie that required very little analysis or critical thinking -- perfect after a tiring day!
It's amazing how long our daylight lasts now, on the cusp of the summer solstice. When we went to bed at 10:30 p.m., there was still a tinge of sunset, and this morning I woke up briefly at 3:48 a.m. with light in the sky and the birds singing.
(Photo: A colorful wall of student artwork at school.)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
...so I don't have time to write much! I have to be at a cafe near school in a few hours for an end-of-the-year gathering with my new coworkers.
Yesterday we had a lunch meeting with a consultant who talked about ways to bring technology to students. He said he's worked with a school that creates a public blog for every third-grader, using Blogger and their real names, where they immediately start posting articles, pictures and videos. The kids then blog throughout their school career -- and continue the blogs, if they like, when they graduate. We asked about the dangers of allowing such young kids an Internet presence, but he downplayed any risk. He said the kids are instructed on how not to post compromising information, and in any case, studies have shown online predators are virtually nonexistent.
I kept imagining how some members of my family would react to news that their children would be online with a blog at that age. I don't think it would go well. But this guy argued that in the end it's beneficial for the child to have a positive Internet presence -- when applying to colleges, for example. Colleges, he argued, are more likely to choose kids whose creativity they can gauge than those with no online presence at all.
I think third grade is a little young, but that's just me.
He also talked about social networking, and mentioned about a dozen networking sites that I've never even heard of. (I can't remember their names now! The Internet -- so much change, so quickly.) And he emphasized the importance of Twitter. That, he said, "is where the community is now."
Hmmm. I do not tweet. I am not a tweeter. I really don't want to start, either. Maybe I'll just leave that for the next generation. I'm sure I could bring more readers to my blog if I tweeted my entries -- but do I want hundreds or even thousands of people coming here? That might really change the tone of my blog and my blogging community.
(Photo: Portobello Road, yesterday. I've been trying to shoot that bedraggled mural for ages, but there's always a truck parked in front of it. Yesterday the truck had to move for the roadwork, and I had my chance!)
Monday, June 17, 2013
Here's one for the "what-not-to-name-your-business" photo file.
Dave and I stayed close to home yesterday. We toyed with the idea of going to a movie, but we couldn't find one we both want to see. We decided he could see "Superman" while I saw "The Great Gatsby," if we managed to find relatively synchronized showings -- and we did, but they were all the way over in Islington, and besides, what's the point of going to the movies with someone if you're going to sit in separate theaters? So we stayed home.
We did take Olga down to the canal and let her run loose. She loves the long grass that grows along the shore. She runs back and forth through it at top speed, then skids to a halt on her belly. It must feel ticklish and cool.
Speaking of which, we watched a show on TV last night in which British women were asked to design a new sex toy. I am not kidding. From a group of eight or so women, two were then chosen by the corporate sponsors to travel to China and see their devices manufactured. One of the winners came up with a vaguely heart-shaped "clitoral stimulator" and the other an expandable vibrator. Soon enough, the bright pink toys were rolling down an assembly line in Hong Kong, in front of banks of uniformed, blank-faced Chinese workers. (And what do they think, I wonder?)
Once again, I marvel at British television. It's not all "Downton Abbey"!
(Photo: Green Lanes, on Saturday.)
Sunday, June 16, 2013
I had a chance to go for a photo walk yesterday, starting in Islington, north London, and heading northward along Green Lanes to Wood Green (about 4.5 miles). Animals seemed to be the theme of the day.
First, I saw this heavyset little staffie sitting outside on a windowsill in Islington, watching the world go by. I got the impression this is a favorite perch.
Then I found this amazing fox art by Irony & Boe, who also painted a pigeon that Sally and I photographed in Hackney back in April.
So it was a good walk, and I got a few other shots I like, too. For the first time in months and months I am pretty much caught up on posting my photos -- everything is on Flickr (except yesterday's shots). I usually run a backlog of a couple of weeks. I need to get out more!
Last night we went to tea with Sally and Liz and their families. I must say, I'm not sure I understand tea, especially fancy tea. We all got suited up, went to the exceedingly posh Ritz Hotel in Mayfair, and had pots and pots of aromatic tea beneath the gilding and mirrors and an ornate skylight. There were tiny cucumber (or salmon, or ham, or cheese) sandwiches. There were scones with clotted cream and jam. There were cakes. But at the end of the day, you're still paying £45 for white bread and sugar and water. I suppose it's the experience that counts, but frankly, I'd rather go to a pub.
And actually, when tea was over, we did go to a pub, where we ran into a bevy of young women out for a night on the town. They were tottering about on towering high heels, squeezed into brightly-colored dresses as tight as sausage casings, with their hair piled in a carefully careless way. Young men were circling them like fruit flies. They were far more entertaining than anything we saw at the Ritz.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Why do I find papered-over windows on a storefront so intriguing and photogenic?
Not much to write about today. I had a very low-key day yesterday, walking the dog and finishing my book. There aren't even any details to bore you with! So please, carry on, and enjoy your weekend.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Olga got her long walk yesterday, the one my bad planning denied her the day before. We walked not only along the canal but up into Queen's Park and Maida Vale. I was exhausted and starving by the time we got back home. Olga wasn't starving, because she ate innumerable bits of bread and other tasty morsels on the street. That's my girl!
I spent much of the day reading "A Garden of Sand," that distasteful book I mentioned a few weeks ago by Earl Thompson. I hated it so much I set it aside for a while, but now I'm plowing through, and this is a good example of a book that improves with time. The crude behavior of the characters -- the domestic violence, incest, binge drinking and cruelty -- continues apace. But I've become somewhat numb to the shock of all that, and the underlying struggle for survival -- these people really were starving at times -- has become the real message. I wouldn't recommend it, but I think I will finish it.
Did you see the article about the census revelation that more white people are dying that being born in the United States? I read the headline and thought, "Oh, lord, I'm sure this will set off the right-wing kooks." I wish we didn't even keep track of these ridiculous statistics. I mean, does it matter, really? What is white, anyway? A hundred years ago, an Italian, a Jew, an Arab may not have been considered white. Now they are. And anyone from Latin America is set aside as Hispanic, even if they're of European descent. The lines are blurry and arbitrary and, frankly, silly. (Anybody convinced of the supremacy of "white culture," whatever that is, need only read "A Garden of Sand" to see the other side of that coin!)
(Photos: Messages from the universe, found yesterday or the day before.)
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Yesterday morning I took Olga on a walk down by the canal, where she ran and frolicked as usual. I spent the time shooting some detail photos of the boats moored there.
We left the house at about 10:15 and I had to be at work at noon. So I don't know why I thought I had so much spare time. Suddenly I looked at my watch and it was 11 a.m. -- and I was half a mile from home, unshowered, no lunch, with a half-hour commute ahead of me. Panic!
I dragged Olga home (literally) and in a frenzy of activity managed to get myself to work only five minutes late.
I think my time management skills may have slipped a little since I've been working at home on a flexible schedule. It's funny how relentless going to work every day seems now! But my act will get together, don't worry. I've always been the punctual type.
Today, I don't have to work at the school, so Olga will get the longer, more leisurely walk that was denied her yesterday. In fact, though I have a couple of meetings next week, I am pretty much finished for the summer. I signed my contract for the new job yesterday. Woo hoo!